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Interviews

Destiny hedges on raid info, character names, and chat channels

Betas, Sci-Fi, Interviews, MMOFPS, Community Q&A, Dungeons, Destiny

Destiny
A Destiny community Q&A posted today on IGN is quite illuminating as to Bungie's approach to this upcoming online shooter. The studio is "very cagey" on releasing any details about its raiding system pre-launch, is struggling to figure out whether the game will have a chat system, and is against letting players give their avatars unique names.

"The team thought a lot about how best to have players identify themselves in the world," Bungie said in regard to the last topic. "Ultimately, we've landed on PSN ID and Xbox LIVE Gamertag, so other people don't have to manage a third list of identities (real name, platform tag, Destiny character name)."

Bungie was non-commital following beta feedback that players wanted a chat system: "We've seen the feedback, and there's quite a bit of ongoing discussion happening around this right now." The studio promised that it was hearing out players on this issue, however.

The Game Archaeologist: Kingdom of Drakkar

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

drakkar
You'd think that by now I would be running out of older MMOs and their kin to cover, but I just keep discovering more. Some of those discoveries are helped by Massively readers, who have urged me from time to time to investigate certain games. One such commenter, Space Cobra, has been after me for quite a while (as in years) to do a write-up about Kingdom of Drakkar, and I finally caved. Here you go, good buddy!

Kingdom of Drakkar, also known as Drakkar or Kingdom of Drakkar II, is a really odd duck in the MMO history books. While being very small potatoes for the industry as a whole throughout its entire lifespan, it's notable for an extraordinary long run (it began in the 1980s, people!) that's traversed through several format changes and handlers. I've seen it described, somewhat unkindly, as a "shoddier Ultima Online," but I think that is a surface judgment that doesn't take the effort to get to know the game or its legacy. There must be something to this game if it's been around for three decades, yes? Let's find out!

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Romero: 'PC is decimating console, F2P has killed a hundred AAA studios'

Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items

Doom co-creator John Romero gave an interesting interview to GamesIndustry.biz recently in which he compares the modern free-to-play model with the early 1990s shareware revolution driven by id's hellish sci-fi shooter.

"Our entire first episode was free -- give us no money, play the whole thing. If you like it and want to play more, then you finally pay us. To me that felt like the ultimate fair [model]. I'm not nickel-and-diming you. I didn't cripple the game in any design way. That was a really fair way to market a game," Romero said. "When we put these games out on shareware, that changed the whole industry. Before shareware there were no CD-ROMs, there were no demos at all. If you wanted to buy Ultima, Secret of Monkey Island, any of those games, you had to look really hard at that box and decide to spend 50 bucks to get it."

He goes on to say that F2P design will mature and at some point lose its stigma. "People are spending a lot of time trying to design this the right way," he explained. "They want people to want to give them money, not have to. If you have to give money, you're doing it wrong. For game designers, that's the holy grail."

Romero also remarks on the parallels between today's industry and the fledgling game industry of 30 years ago that he says was wholly created by indies, as well as the autonomy enjoyed by modern developers as a result of the move away from retail and traditional publishing. "With PC you have free-to-play and Steam games for five bucks. The PC is decimating console, just through price," he said. "Free-to-play has killed a hundred AAA studios."

Massively interviews EVE executive producer Andie Nordgren

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Expansions, Interviews, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Online title image
If you've been following the development of EVE Online lately, chances are you've heard of Andie 'CCP Seagull' Nordgren and her mission to make deep space colonisation and player-built stargates a reality. Andie has spearheaded the direction of EVE's development over the past few expansions and has gathered a considerable following in the EVE community. At EVE Fanfest 2014, we heard her plans to overhaul EVE's outdated sovereignty and corporation management systems, and to eventually introduce new deep space colonisation gameplay.

Today CCP announced that Andie Nordgren has been promoted to the position of Executive Producer on EVE Online. I caught up with her for a chat about development on EVE and to find out what this promotion means for the future the game. I've pulled together the important details from the interview in this article, and if you still have burning questions for Andie Nordgren, she's doing an AMA thread on Reddit right now!

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Trion Worlds grows to over 12 million players

Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, RIFT, ArcheAge, Defiance, Trove

Trion
In an interview with Forbes, Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman revealed that his studio's game portfolio and distribution has resulted in populations that number in the millions. "A year ago we were a company with two games," he said. "This year we are a company with three of our own MMOs, plus our first published MMO, plus 10 other distributed games [through the Glyph digital storefront]. So, we're seeing user numbers in the 12 to 13 million range."

For most of the interview, however, Hartsman discussed the positioning of business models in a changing market. If you've ever wondered why MMOs keep launching with a subscription model in this F2P era, Hartsman has a notion: "There are two reasons why companies can't do it from the outset. Number one is that the larger the company, the more public, the more they have to aim for predictable revenue, and there's not a lot of information sharing on free-to-play on the PC and console markets. The other big challenge is the technology it takes to do sales effectively in a free-to-play game -– there's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than a lot of people would think, where an initial purchase plus subscription model doesn't take nearly so complex a model to drive sales."

Flameseeker Chronicles: Introducing Guild Wars 2's Dragon's Reach

Fantasy, Interviews, Lore, Patches, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

Can this sharktoothed flopears gnaw through Mordremoth's vines?! Stay tuned!
Today's edition of the Flameseeker Chronicles is a little bit special. We've got the teaser trailer for Guild Wars 2's next living world release, The Dragon's Reach: Part One. We've got some sweet screenshots provided by ArenaNet to feast your peepers on: aw, yeah. And if that's not enough, I got the chance to chat with Associate Game Director Steven Waller about next week's episode. Check out the video, and then read on!

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Nerd Kingdom on Yogventures!'s implosion and the future of TUG

Fantasy, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Legal, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

Yesterday, Massively reported on the impending bankruptcy filing and cancellation of Kickstarted Winterkewl/Yogscast game Yogventures! and the alleged transfer of its assets over to TUG, a sandbox game by Nerd Kingdom that we've written about since its reveal last year. Journalists and gamers have suggested that in spite its claims to the contrary, Yogscast itself might be liable for refunds, as would any beneficiary of assets entangled in a future bankruptcy filing. We spoke to TUG's Peter "Ino" Salinas to shed light on the situation and its implications for TUG.

Massively: Yogscast has distanced itself from Winterkewl, the studio making Yogventures!, but statements made by Winterkewl seem to suggest that Yogscast is simply transferring its support for Winterkewl's game to your pre-existing game, TUG, causing Yogventures to go bankrupt and disavowing any obligation to underwrite the spent half million in Kickstarter funds. Is that your understanding of the situation? Can you clarify it for our readers?

Nerd Kingdom's Peter Salinas: There are a lot of details to the discussions that Yogs and Winterkewl had before we started to develop our friendship with the Yogscast. We were also honestly wary of the situation ourselves at first, having been aware of Yogventures! around the time we did our own Kickstarter campaign. The reality of the situation was this: A young and ambitious developer overscoped a project... this would not be the first time that happened; it's just a total bummer that it had to happen with a massive community involved. And during that time, the Yogscast group, knowing little enough about development, agreed to let them use their likeness in their own project. Yogs knew that Yogscast itself was not equipped to manage the project, so they let Winterkewl use their brand and a community to build on. Sadly in that process, all the milestones that were set by Winterkewl, which would have allowed the Yogscast to promote the project, never were hit. How can you promote or make an experience with nothing to share? Even we had our own time to put in before we were able to demonstrate anything reasonable.

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Camelot Unchained emphasizes horizontal progression, won't rule out story

Betas, Fantasy, Historical, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Lore, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, Camelot Unchained

Welcome back to our coverage of City State Entertainment's batshit-crazy days for Camelot Unchained! A few weeks ago, we spoke with CSE co-founder Mark Jacobs about each of the topics being revealed this week via livestream; this afternoon, on the last and final day of BSC, let's tackle character power and progression.
Massively: We're curious about how, exactly, the vertical progression will keep new players competitive. After the initial rush, new players will spend a long time being less powerful than their player enemies. What exactly is the benefit to creating the equivalent of a long level grind in a PvP game that lacks PvE? Isn't the team worried that power discrepancy might cause newcomers to wash out the same way raid gear or levels might in a game with both PvE and PvP?

CSE's Mark Jacobs: Not at all. First, the horizontal nature of this game means that while the veteran player will have some scaling in his stats and abilities, the difference will be a lot less than in any MMORPG I've played. Please keep in mind one of the things I said during our Kickstarter, which is that I want a new player to be able to meet a veteran (just for example, say a six-month one) on the field in a 1:1 match. The new player needs to know he has a chance of either winning or at least putting up a good fight. Now, compare that to any other MMORPG that has meaningful PvP or RvR, and can you say the same thing? I know it wouldn't be true in any I have played.

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Camelot Unchained isn't 'recreating WoW' with its magic system

Betas, Fantasy, Historical, Business Models, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, MMORPG

Welcome back to our coverage of City State Entertainment's batshit-crazy days for Camelot Unchained! A few weeks ago, we spoke with CSE co-founder Mark Jacobs about each of the topics being revealed this week on the game's livestreams; today, let's talk about making magic.
Massively: When developers use the word "spellbook," visions of meditating into an EverQuest-style spellbook and repeatedly switching commonly used spells come to mind. Far from creating welcome immersion, that spellbook created headaches for casters [enough that SOE changed it]. But CU's spellbook seems more like a cross between an achievement panel and a spell design tool. How else will CU's spellbook improve on the concept?

CSE's Mark Jacobs: First, I think the characterization of the EQ spellbook as a headache for casters is a very personal one. Let's keep in mind that EQ was the most successful MMORPG prior to the coming of WoW [We presume he means in the West -ed], so not everybody could have hated it. In our game, being a caster will come with some disadvantages, and having to deal with a spellbook is one of them. However, it will also come with advantages. Like so many other things in Camelot Unchained, we're not afraid to say players won't love everything. Indeed, as I've said all along, I know that certain things we are going to do will piss off some people.

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Camelot Unchained's use-based stat system will trade grind for immersion

Betas, Fantasy, Historical, Classes, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, MMORPG

Camelot Unchained
This week, the folks at City State Entertainment have a massive game mechanics infodump planned for Camelot Unchained fans as part of its "batshit-crazy" reveal week. A few weeks ago, we spoke with CSE co-founder Mark Jacobs about each of the topics being presented to backers this week on Twitch, so to coincide with today's announcements, we asked about the mechanics of the sandbox's proposed stat system. Enjoy the reveal and the interview!
Massively: Can you explain the thinking behind allowing players to fall into "gotcha" builds, unwittingly creating characters that simply will not perform well in the game? By the same token, does the studio not anticipate the preset classes to result in attendant cookie cutter stat builds?

CSE's Mark Jacobs: We've been very clear from the beginning of the Kickstarter that we are going to allow players to create builds that aren't 'ideal' for their class or even race selection. Now, having said this, we've also been clear we will present plenty of information so they can make informed choices. I want to give players the freedom to play a race/class/stat combination that is not ideal, but to also warn them and give them the ability to read lots of information at the same time. We are also considering giving out a limited respec after creation just in case, for example, you quickly realize trying to play a Luchorpan tank that you made as small and weak as possible wasn't a great idea.

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MechWarrior Online vid talks upcoming changes

Sci-Fi, Video, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, MechWarrior Online, MOBA

mwo
In a new MechWarrior Online video, members of the dev team take time to discuss the upcoming overhaul to the module system, gameplay updates, community warfare, and new maps. One of the neat features coming to the game is the match rejoin feature, which will give players a grace period to get back into a match and get rewards if they are disconnected for some reason.

There's a ton of preview drops in this 13-minute video, and it's all yours to enjoy after the jump!

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Braben: We 'would be stupid not to' look at Elite on consoles

Sci-Fi, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Consoles, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Frontier is considering console versions of Elite: Dangerous, according to Eurogamer.

"I don't want to do something that constitutes an announcement," studio boss David Braben said, "but we would be stupid not to support other platforms, including console."

Frontier has experience making both Sony and Microsoft first-party games, and Elite uses the same engine as Xbox One launch title Zoo Tycoon. A possible Elite console port will take a while, though, as Frontier is currently laser-focused on the PC release. "We will then do the game on Mac and during that time we will be looking at other platforms as well," Braben said.

David Braben explains Elite's high prices

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Buy-to-Play

If you looked at the £200 alpha and £100 premium beta price tag for Elite: Dangerous and thought, wow, that's pretty damn expensive, you're not alone. Frontier boss David Braben recently explained the price points to Eurogamer.

"We've taken flak for it," Braben said. "But the important thing for the alpha is, for it to be a genuine alpha, we didn't want huge numbers. Maybe we shouldn't have restricted it by price but it seemed like a logical thing to do. It seemed like a fair thing to do."

He goes on to say that while Frontier could have "thought more carefully" about how the prices would appear to gamers outside of Elite fandom, the devs "planned it this way for sound reasons, and part of that is going toward backing the game. We don't have a publisher here," Braben said. "That backing helps financially."

ArcheAge's closed beta begins on July 17th

Fantasy, Screenshots, Video, Interviews, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox

The time has finally come: ArcheAge fans who've been been anxiously awaiting a beta date now can mark their calendars and start canceling other plans. Next weekend the closed beta doors will swing open at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday the 17th and remain so until they close at the same hour on Monday the 21st. Founders and invited testers will have a chance to dive in and experience ArcheAge's sandbox world, including -- but not limited to -- pirating, farming, questing, crafting, fishing, PvPing, or even just in gliding from the mountaintops.

With so many possible adventures by land and by sea, it may be impossible to get to them all during the first beta weekend. But don't despair -- there will be more! We sat down with Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman to chat about the upcoming beta tests. We've also got the beta trailer for you.

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Trion Worlds' Scott Hartsman: F2P reduces barriers

Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play

rift
Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman is preaching the gospel of free-to-play far and wide these days, saying that it makes sense to have games as accessible as possible to players.

"If there's one thing we're learned through all of our own prior development, it's that the barrier of having to purchase a thing before getting into a game is proving to be a bigger and bigger barrier as time goes on," Hartsman told MCV.

But will F2P backfire by giving away the store for nothing to penny-pinching players? Hartsman doesn't think so: "What we're discovering is that if you take great content and great gameplay and reduce the barriers and take that leap of faith, customers will be there for you and will be there to support you."

All of Trion Worlds' game library is free-to-play at this point.

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