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Dev Diaries

EVE Evolved: Rubicon 1.3 and repainting ships

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Hands-On, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
EVE Online's recently released Rubicon expansion was an important first step toward a truly player-run universe for everyone, allowing corporations to wage empire wars over planetary customs offices and introducing a series of new personal deployable structures. The initial release was a little light on content, but developers have since expanded on it significantly with three major point releases. Rubicon 1.3 went live this week, and the changes seem pretty good all around. This release overhauled the directional scanner, buffed the SoE Nestor battleship's capacitor recharge rate and remote repair range, and nerfed remote sensor dampeners into the ground.

Large corporations like EVE University were pleased to hear that the limit on the size of corporations has been increased to 12,600 thanks to changes to the corporation management skills. And in response to an emerging trend in fleet warfare involving hordes of drone ships assigning their drones to an interceptor, developers have also limited the number of drones that can be assigned to another ship to 50. The 1.29 GB patch also included several overhauled ship models and new ship shaders, but the new feature I see the most potential in is the ability to finally repaint our ships. This could eventually help corporations establish their own visual identities and might even link into gameplay or EVE's spying metagame.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the Rubicon 1.3 changes and how repainting your ship could become more than simply a cosmetic upgrade.

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Elder Scrolls Online promises 'polished, lag-free launch experience'

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, Dev Diaries, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

TESO
ZeniMax Lead Developer Matt Firor rallied the legions of Elder Scrolls Online fans today with a lengthy post about what the studio's done and what it's planning to do to ensure a successful launch of the game.

Firor said that beta feedback and testing has been invaluable, prompting the team to streamline the starting experience and make combat "more substantial." He was also impressed by what he saw during testing: "Some of the things we've discovered with your help excite and inspire us -- like seeing that 98% of characters created have a unique appearance, or seeing the first emperor crowned in our epic PvP system -- while other findings challenge us to make the game better."

To ready the game for launch, there will be one final stress test this weekend. ZeniMax has prepared megaservers for both North America and Europe, and the studio assured players that playing cross-region will not result in any drop of latency. The team also has a number of overflow servers on the ready to deal with the initial crush. Finally, Firor said that we'll soon hear more about the first post-launch update that will add the Craglorn zone for endgame players.

"We will make sure that no matter where you live, every player in North America, Europe, Oceania, and many places beyond will have a polished, lag-free launch experience," Firor promised.

Latest Heroes of the Storm blog post details heroes, mounts, and more

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, MOBA

Want more information on Blizzard's upcoming MOBA Heroes of the Storm while waiting for your technical alpha invite? The latest blog post dishes details on the availability of heroes, a try-before-you-buy feature, leveling, earning in-game currency, acquiring new skins, and mounts. Every player starts with a basic horse mount. For the free-to-play crowd, five heroes will be available to play each week, with the list rotating every Tuesday. Players can buy other heroes at any time using cash or with in-game gold that is earned after reaching level 5. Various skins with tint slots can also be bought. For more info or to apply for alpha, check out the official site.

We've got the video first look of the alpha after the break.

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Fallen Earth gives a sneak peek at its player-built town

Sci-Fi, Fallen Earth, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Housing

Fallen Earth
The Fallen Earth team is hard at work on the next major update of the game, which will include a player-built town called the Outpost.

In a new state of the game post, the devs show off a few of the structures in this town. "Since the plot for the area revolves around the Outsiders and GlobalTech, we wanted to take advantage of those groups' love of technology and give the buildings some high tech pieces as well as keeping the aged pre-fall feel," the devs wrote.

The Outpost will be bigger and "more robust" than Citadel and should be hitting the live servers some time in May.

World of Warcraft monkeys with health and heals in Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Dev Diaries, Subscription

WoW
World of Warcraft has another dev watercooler out today, this time talking about health (your character's, not your own), healing, and what the team will be doing to improve related systems come Warlords of Draenor.

For starters, the devs will be doubling player health in the expansion to make characters more durable in PvP. "The net result of these changes is that individual attacks will knock a smaller chunk off of a player's health pool in PvP, but your survivability in PvE won't be affected," Blizzard posted.

Other upcoming changes include reducting base resilience and battle fatigue to practically nil, increasing creature damage, increasing the effectiveness of heals, reducing the power of aborbs, and "making smart heals a little less smart." Some smaller, cheaper healing skills will also be removed from the game, and a few instant-cast heals are on the chopping block as well.

Shroud of the Avatar eyeing PvP balance while placating its 'large segment' of PvEers

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

Shroud of the Avatar dev party
The 63rd edition of Shroud of the Avatar's Update of the Avatar is a biggun. It covers topics ranging from upcoming events to the latest chapter of the Blade of the Avatar novel to current dev thinking on various game mechanics.

One of those mechanics is PvP, and executive producer Starr Long's treatise touches on the fact that the team wants to a) have PvP, b) have PvP that isn't segregated via dedicated servers, and c) avoid forcing PvP on the "large segment of the community" that doesn't want it. Some of his proposals include PvP zones, duels, and guild warfare.

Click through the links below to read more details.

Pirate101 explains the making of its combat system

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Dev Diaries, Pirate101

Pirate101
If you're the type of player that likes to know how the sausage is made, then strap on a peg leg and wobble over to a pair of dev diaries explaining the making of Pirate101's combat system!

"One of the systems that reviewers feel stands out the most in Pirate101 is the combat. Combat in Pirate101 has been described as 'deceptively simple' and 'really fun,' but it took years of iteration and changes to finally arrive at the experience that players have today," the devs wrote.

The diaries go through the early prototype of the system, how the team figured out combat sequencing, and the difficulties of getting the camera placement just right. The devs said that once the basic system was in place, adding the extra elements such as reflex talents and bullet time was a blast to do.

Star Citizen vid shows off the Hornet's 100 different damage states

Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen Hornet damage
If you've yet to watch this week's episode of Wingman's Hangar (or any episode of Wingman's Hangar, for that matter), number 59 features plenty of interesting nuggets for Star Citizen fans. Nearly half of the show's 32-minute running time is devoted to the space sim's ship damage states, and Cloud Imperium shares plenty of behind-the-scenes footage on the creation process as well as a roundtable discussion featuring the principal designers.

Lead ship modeller Chris Smith says that the Hornet alone has 100 different states. "We wanted a lot of fidelity, kind of movie-like breakup on these ships with lots of little pieces," he explains.

Click past the cut for the full episode!

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Pathfinder Online opens new storefront, posts first video dev blog

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

Pathfinder
The Goblinworks team has this evening posted several bits of news about its forthcoming sandbox, Pathfinder Online. The studio has revamped its website and opened a new store it's calling the Goblin Squad Store, a "portal for merchandise that is currently only available to Goblin Squad members." The store appears to be a way for would-be backers to toss some (or more) cash at the developers even though the Kickstarter has ended. In return, gamers can select from a lengthy list of add-ons both physical and digital, including tabletop miniatures, forum titles, gametime, and even a swanky messenger bag.

If you're keen more on learning about the game than on funding it, the team's new video blog might be of more interest. The first of planned biweekly episodes went live tonight and features Goblinworks' Lee Hammock and Stephen Cheney explaining how slots and divine powers work in the game. We've embedded the vid behind the cut.

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Valiance Online preps for combat testing

Betas, Super-hero, Game Mechanics, Dev Diaries

Valiance Online
Superheroes of the world, stop moving around so much! This is the cry of Valiance Online's creators, who said that they are rooting players during combat to achieve "a familiar feeling" in the game.

This is just the tip of a new postberg in which the devs talk about plans for upcoming combat testing. Valiance Online will be doing a stripped-down pass of the game in the near future that will allow players to level from 1 to 50 in one of 10 different archetypes. However, the devs warn players to expect unbalanced powers, gimped powersets, and a complete lack of secondary powersets during the test.

"Our first pass will be all about inclusion, and not so much about balance, so don't be surprised if you find the majority of the powers to be a bit unsatisfactory in regards to balance. The balancing pass is planned for later patches," the devs said.

Valiance Online is one of the self-proclaimed spiritual successors to City of Heroes.

DUST 514 jacks up its arsenal but nerfs damage output

Sci-Fi, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, DUST 514, Dev Diaries

DUST 514
DUST 514's small-arms arsenal is getting a few new options with Uprising 1.8. The patch will add three new guns and reduce damage to allow for longer fights.

The new guns include the Caldari Bolt Pistol, a high-DPS, small-clip handgun; the Caldari Magsec SMG, a semi-automatic with higher damage than other SMGs; and the Gallente Ion Pistol, a plasma-shooting beast that punches right through enemies' armor and shields.

The devs said that they will be tweaking time-to-kill in 1.8 by reducing the power of high-level damage modifiers, taking one grenade away from what players could previously hold at a time, reducing base damage for several weapons, and applying weapon proficiency skill bonuses against either shields or armor.

212 devs are working on Star Citizen, dogfighting launch 'shortly after PAX'

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen Void Alpha Terra concept art
Feel like you're not getting enough info on Star Citizen's development progress? Cloud Imperium chairman Chris Roberts has penned an epically long update that's now live on the game's website. "The concept is simple -- a high level monthly production progress report from the various teams from around the world working on Star Citizen," he writes.

Those teams include a whopping 212 developers, which Roberts says is more people than typically work on a triple-A console title and which makes SC the largest space sim project in history. In terms of alpha progress, Roberts says that CIG will unveil the long-awaited dogfighting module at a special backer-only pre-PAX event. It will be playable "shortly after PAX."

There's much more to the post, including updates from all of CIG's studios, so grab your favorite beverage and click through the links below to get caught up.

Landmark video diary hints at the Pulverizer, new harvesting tools

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting

Landmark tools whiteboard
It's time for another EverQuest Next Landmark video dev diary. Your host is EQNL lead systems designer Michael Mann, and he's a got a lot to say about harvesting tools. He enlists a bit of help from lead character artist Kacey Helms, who takes viewers on a journey from in-game axe concept to finished in-game axe model.

Next up is lead animator Aaron Carlson, who shows off mining animations, followed by VFX artist Lisa Charriere, who explains what SOE's thinking in terms of particle effects. Finally, we're treated to a sneak peak of the Pulverizer, which is a new tunneling tool currently in the works. Click past the cut for the full video!

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The Repopulation adds adversarial camps, preps for Alpha 3

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, The Repopulation

Repopulation concept art
Above & Beyond has released its latest monthly status report on The Repopulation. In February, the design team added the adversarial camps stretch goal to its sci-fi sandbox, which will allow devs to "generate much of the game's content on the fly and help ensure that players do not have a static experience."

Additional work was done on the title's customizable XML-based UI, the harvesting mechanics, and a fitting system for robotic pets. February's "largest changes" came in the form of additional world content, as the dev team is looking forward to adding more testers for Alpha 3 "in a few weeks."

Pathfinder Online's Ryan Dancey on crowdforging a 'minimum viable product'

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

Pathfinder Online
In response to our recent editorial questioning whether we are in fact in the middle of a sandbox renaissance, Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey has penned a Massively-exclusive dev blog to explain why his game, Pathfinder Online, is indeed at the center of such a renaissance. Pathfinder was specifically mentioned in our article as a possible example of those pseudo-sandboxes that rely too heavily on creating a space for players to butcher each other without bothering to create the mechanics for anything else.

Dancey hopes to clarify his game's outlook today. Read on for his dev blog, in which he discusses what he means by "minimum viable product," distances Pathfinder from the cripplingly expensive graphical arms race plaguing the industry, and elaborates on just how Goblinworks plans to roll out this "crowdforged" MMO.

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