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H1Z1

The Stream Team: Peeking into H1Z1's PvE server

Betas, Video, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, H1Z1

When the servers were finally sorted last weekend, Massively's MJ was able to bring you a first look at H1Z1's early access on one of the many PvP servers. But folks have been asking to see the world on the PvE server, so she's diving back into the sandbox and facing death at the hands of zombies, bears, wolves, and any really peeved deer. Oh, and let's not forget starvation! Will MJ find friends as she did in the first part of her PvP journey, or will folks be more like those near the end? Join us live at 1:00 p.m. to see.

Game: H1Z1
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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H1Z1 suffers overnight downtime, whispers of server wipes [Updated]

Betas, Horror, Bugs, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Buy-to-Play, H1Z1

Move along, nothing to see here.
It's not an easy time to be playing H1Z1 right now, especially since you sort of can't. The game's servers went down last night for a quick fix, according to Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley; they've been down since, with players getting increasingly vocal and anxious about what comes next. No further updates have come from the company after Smedley's assurance that there are issues to be fixed that cannot be solved simply by rolling back to the previous patch.

Once players can get back in to the game, there may very well be a server wipe greeting them (a possibility suggested by the technical director), although perks like tickets, crates, and cosmetic recipes will not be lost in the event of a server wipe. SOE has promised to give plenty of notice before taking such drastic measures. Players are divided on whether this is a good thing or not, although widespread reports of item duping sit at the root of the issue. There's still no ETA on when the servers will be back online or what will be fixed when they come back up, but players could be looking at a very different environment.

[Update: Servers appear to be up again now. SOE has said that the promised European servers are still incoming: "getting MORE servers, still calculating what we can fit."]

First Impressions: H1Z1 is more boredom than terror

Betas, Horror, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, H1Z1

h1z1
What would video game purgatory look like? After spending an afternoon wandering aimlessly across a mostly-deserted countryside, I'd have to say that H1Z1's early access build fits the description of limbo perfectly. I even smacked into a wall of grey nothing that bordered the eight square kilometers of play space and wondered whether it might be more interesting in that haze than back among the living dead.

H1Z1, as SOE will emphatically tell you, is not anywhere near to being done. Features are missing, placeholder art is everywhere, and there isn't a female character to be seen. It's only just playable on a larger scale, and yet the studio felt fit to open hundreds of servers (and take in thousands of dollars) so that the early crowd could sate its curiosity. There's no NDA, either, which means that the studio definitely wants people to chat the game up, whether good or bad. I'm happy to oblige.

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H1Z1 is going 'nuclear' on hackers

Betas, Horror, Bugs, Patches, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, H1Z1

h1z1
From the sound of it, the H1Z1 crew put in some serious overtime during this past weekend. SOE President John Smedley has been posting updates across Reddit, especially in reference to hackers and important patch fixes.

Smedley said that the team is "extremely on top of" any hacking going on in the game and will only get better as time goes by. "What we have is extremely robust in terms of detection and prevention," he posted. "Now that we started with detection, you'll be seeing the prevention go nuclear."

Patches that are coming soon to the game will cover many vital issues, according to Smedley. These fixes include more loot, frame rate fixes, the infamous G29 problem, the floating arrow bug, and a slower drain rate for hunger and thirst.

SOE's Adam Clegg apologizes for H1Z1 airdrop snafu

Betas, Horror, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play, H1Z1

H1Z1
In the wake of this week's H1Z1 early access launch issues and "pay-to-win" airdrop controversy, SOE's Adam "Arclegger" Clegg offered a lengthy apology and explanation to the unruly mob on Reddit.
I wanted to address what I said in an earlier stream with NGTZombies prior to our release. I said you cannot buy a gun or ammo and it had to be found in the world. When you are on a stream, and you are talking about your game, you tend to talk a million miles an hour both to keep the information flowing and to keep it entertaining. But sometimes things get said without completely thinking about what you are saying 100% through. H1Z1 is a massive game with a lot of systems, some of which we were tuning every day and finishing last minute. When I said you can't buy any guns or ammo, I completely disregarded the possibility of airdrops and meant that you can't buy a gun or ammo and have it go into your starting loadout, or your loadout immediately like you were buying a gun from the gun store.

All that being said, I totally understand how what I said was at the time lying to you guys and I apologize. But please understand that's not what I was trying to do. For those of you that don't know me or understand me, know that I'm not trying to be this monster that is conniving and lying in hopes that you get tricked into buying the game. I am very passionate about making video games and I want more than anything in the world for people to love the games that I am a part of making.
Clegg explained that during testing, the loot-heavy airdrops resulted in a "gladiator style brawl" that epitomized the conflict SOE wanted to generate in the game. "Whether you agree with us or not," he wrote, "that is how we want airdrops to work." The second half of his post covers the details of the changes incoming to the system as noted yesterday.

SOE President John Smedley announced last night that the studio will grant refunds to those early access purchasers who request them by Sunday. Self-initiated refunds through Steam are also now possible.

The Stream Team: Hopping into H1Z1's early access

Betas, Video, New Titles, PvP, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Post-Apocalyptic, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, H1Z1

Are you ready to face the plague in H1Z1? Massively's MJ is -- or at least that's what she thinks. The post-apocalyptic sandbox that's swarming with zombies opens for early access today, and MJ has been looking forward to checking it out since she got a taste back at SOE live. How long can she survive in a world where the living are as much a threat as the dead? Join us live at 12:15 p.m. to find out in this first look into H1Z1.

Game: H1Z1
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, January 16th, 2015
Time: 12:15 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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H1Z1 bests login issues, justifies and tweaks 'pay-to-win' airdrops [Update: Refunds being granted]

Betas, Horror, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play, H1Z1

H1Z1
Zombie sandbox MMO H1Z1 launched into early access on Steam yesterday evening only to be plagued with login server issues that caused even us to cancel our planned stream. In other words, it was an MMO launch. Overnight, SOE's John Smedley told Reddit that those problems have been mopped up that that SOE is currently working on G29 and G99 errors, server framerates, disappearing chats, crash bugs, and a "runaway memory situation."

Reddit and Steam's user review section have exploded not over the predictable early access technical issues but over cash-shop airdrops, which some players say constitute pay-to-win in violation of SOE's stated philosophy. Smed denied obfuscating the presence of airdrops, saying SOE has "been straight about it" and justifying the mechanic:
1) You cannot call in airdrops until the servers are 1/4 full. 2) You can't call in airdrops without generating a ton of zombie heat. 3) the airdrops are random in what they deliver. 4) you are not guaranteed to get a single thing out of the airdrop you called in. You could die trying and you're out the money. 5) We fly the plane in very slowly and loudly.. we also stream green smoke from it you can see from very far away.
But he does note that SOE will be "making some big changes" to airdrops, including widening the radius, reducing the chance they'll drop guns, slowing the airdrop planes even more, and increasing the number of players who can call them at any given time. "If you think it's P2W don't buy it. Don't play it," Smed posted. "But I have to say wait until you've personally tried them before making the call."

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H1Z1 is now available, here's a trailer

Betas, Horror, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, H1Z1

Zombie survival sandbox H1Z1 is now available to play. Or test. Or whatever it is ya'll are doing inside these half-finished games that are killing it on Steam. What can you expect for your $19.99 or $39.99? Well, lots of bugs, placeholder artwork, and low-quality character models, according to a recent dev post. You also get to shoot your fellow zombie fans in the face, though, and purportedly influence development of the game going forward.

SOE has released a new trailer to mark today's launch. You can view it after the break!

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Leaderboard: Are you playing H1Z1 this week?

Horror, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, Leaderboard, H1Z1

SOE's zombie-flavored sandbox comes to Steam early access tomorrow, and despite the under construction warnings of CEO John Smedley, I'm betting that lots of people are going to buy it. The question, though, is whether or not you have bought it.

How about it, Massively readers? Are you playing H1Z1 this week?

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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H1Z1 boasts 150-200 early access servers, including 'carebear' servers [Updated]

Betas, Horror, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, Humor, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, H1Z1

Shut up and give me my ten bucks per month, little man. My Porsche needs some performance upgrades.
In preparation for the early access launch of zombiebox H1Z1, SOE's John Smedley has been busy on social media. Over the weekend, he asked Redditors for suggestions for 50 zombie-themed server names. Last night on Twitter, he indicated that the game will have far more servers come Thursday:
looking like we'll have 150-200 H1Z1 servers on 1/15. [9:19 PM - 12 Jan 2015]

we'll be announcing the distribution of them (i.e. rulesets, etc) in the next day or two. I think people will be happy. [9:19 PM - 12 Jan 2015]

even the disgusting PVE carebear servers will be ready day 1. I'm not happy about that but people tell me I need to get over it. [9:20 PM - 12 Jan 2015]
Don't worry, PvE players who've been buying SOE MMOs for 16 years. We're pretty sure he was kidding.

H1Z1 early access launches January 15th. Smed has previously warned players that they should "NOT BUY EARLY ACCESS" if they are hoping for a completely finished game, but given the number of servers, we expect no one is listening to that advice.

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Perfect Ten: New MMOs to watch in 2015

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Black Desert, The Repopulation, Shroud of the Avatar, Trove, Skyforge, Landmark, H1Z1, The Division

all the mmos
As I've done for 2013 and 2014, I'm going to use the turn of the year as an excuse to look ahead at what MMO releases we may have to look forward to enjoying in the next 12 months. As always, it's a mixture of research, guesswork, and weeks of anguished ranking to come up with 10 titles that I think will define the new year.

After the huge launch year we had in 2014, 2015 will most definitely be a smaller year for big-name releases. That doesn't mean it will be a complete write-off, but perhaps it will challenge us to look beyond the heavy hitters to find more diamonds in the rough.

A couple of notes before we launch into the list, if you please! First of all, I limited this list to MMOs that at least have a shot of launching in 2015; games that are popular but are definitely not going to make it this year had to be excluded. Second, I am expanding the "honorable mentions" section this year to include more upcoming MMOs and my brief thoughts on them. So you are really getting 50 games for the effort of reading 10! You are welcome.

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H1Z1 early access available January 15

Horror, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, H1Z1

SOE's H1Z1 zombie sandbox is coming to Steam early access on January 15th. CEO John Smedley posted the news to Reddit a few moments ago, and he was quite specific about who should purchase the title in its current form.

"Is it going to be a finished game? Absolutely not. If that's what you're expecting, DO NOT BUY EARLY ACCESS," he wrote. "The goal here is to let you in early and help us mold it into a game you want to be a part of for quite a long time." Smedley went on to mention the entry-level price point ($19.99) and he also addressed comparisons between H1Z1 and Day Z.

"Is H1Z1 going to be better than Day Z day one? No it won't. We'll get asked that question a lot and I wanted to be up front about it," Smedley explained. "We're not as feature-rich and they have a lot of really cool stuff we just don't have yet. That being said, we're also a different game. We're an MMO and our goals are to create a large scale world that gives you the incredible feeling of being a survivor in a zombie apocalypse."

H1Z1 talks about the details of animations in new video

Horror, Video, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, H1Z1

Stupid zombies can't climb, stupid zombies get taken out easily.
You probably don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about the animations of your favorite game, but they're still important. H1Z1's latest dev spotlight video highlights senior artist Dave Carter, the man behind motion captures and animations in the game, and he talks at length about what is in the game and how much influence animation has upon elements in the game. For example, adding zombies who can climb over vehicles and through windows is a balance issue, but it's also an animation issue; the developers can't add one without the other.

Carter also discusses the existing animations in the game and some of the flow between them in the video. Although the animations aren't completely finished, the motion capture sessions have taken place and the team is fairly far along in bringing the game into motion. Check out the full video just past the break.

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H1Z1 dev vid talks cities, barricades, and more

Horror, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, H1Z1

SOE has published another H1Z1 dev spotlight vid. Environment artist Ruby Opfer is your host, and she spends the clip's three-minute running time expounding on various fan-submitted questions.

Want to know about the zombie gankbox's underwater exploration potential? What about cities and the ability for players to take them over? How about structural barricades and whether or not you can line your bunker with crafted wooden spikes?

All these questions and a few more are touched on just past the break.

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H1Z1's audio is a key part of its immersion

Betas, Horror, Video, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, H1Z1

h1z1
When done right, you hardly ever consciously acknowledge a game's sound, but when it's missing or done poorly, it can jar a player out of desired immersion. In a dev diary posted today, H1Z1 Technical Architect Greg Spence talks about the sound of the game and demonstrates a few tests.

"So much goes into making these sounds seem realistic beyond just choosing an audio file to play," Spence explains. "Taking into account your surroundings, whether you are inside or outside, what type of ground you are on, time of day, and even weather can play a big part in the final thing you hear."

Spence discusses sound effects, environment sounds, and, of course, music. You can check out the audio test videos after the break!

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