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Interviews

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.

What you need to know about Guild Wars 2's second season living story

Fantasy, Expansions, Interviews, Patches, Guild Wars 2, Events (Massively's Coverage), Buy-to-Play

The wait for Guild Wars 2's Season 2 is finally over! Today, players will dig into the next arc of the living story with the new Gates of Maguuma content (or save the content for later by unlocking it in their story journals). What exactly is in store? If you don't mind a few spoilers, we've got some of those answers for you right now.

Back at E3 2014, ArenaNet Associate Game Director Steven Waller and Studio Design Director Chris Whiteside gave us a recap of the first season, but they also gave us a preview of the second. And yes, that next step is through a portal into a whole new zone!

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DayZ switches over to DirectX 11 and reworked controls

Betas, Horror, Interviews, MMOFPS, Buy-to-Play

dayz
The days of DayZ as we knew it are over; all hail the upcoming changes to everyone's favorite gankfest featuring the occasional zombie!

In an interview this week, DayZ creator Dean Hall outlined six improvements that the team is working on for the standalone version of the game. Right out of the gate is the decision to add an option to toggle DirectX 11 to make everything look a lot better. "Implementing DirectX 10 or 11 will have a dramatic, instant visual difference and quite a significant performance difference," Hall said.

Other changes include new 64-bit server architecture, better hunting mechanics, improved controls, a reworked loot system, and an early game experience fashioned specifically for new players.

SMITE claims four million players since launch

Fantasy, Historical, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA

smite
In a new interview with RedBull.com this week, Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris revealed that since SMITE's launch last March, both the MOBA's dev team and its player population are on the rise. In fact, he says, the game has become so profitable that Hi-Rez has "double[d] the size of [its] studio."
At the game's release in late March, we were at three million players, and we are now well over four million. We are not on Steam, but comparing to Steam stats, SMITE would sit around number 10 to 12 in terms of popularity and daily players. Most importantly to us, the playing population has increased every month since the start of the Beta. [...] Our players are currently 45 percent Europe, 40 percent North America, 10 percent South America and five percent other.
Harris drops a few other bits of trivia, including the fact that SMITE's original sci-fi IP was based on the studio's MMOFPS Global Agenda, but the mythology theme was deemed more "compelling."

[With thanks to keen-eyed tipster Sorenthaz!]

The Division dev talks districts, mobile, and more

Video, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items

Co-Optimus has posted an interesting video Q&A with Division IP developer Martin Hultberg of Ubisoft. Hultberg talks a bit about the game's backstory as well as how players will interact with the game world. There are certain level restrictions, for example, as well as equipment requirements for entering a given area (gas masks to deal with contagion levels, etc.).

Hultberg also mentions that players who buy The Division get a tablet version as well, so if you can't make it home to your console (and eventually, your PC, right Ubi? RIGHT?), you can be a fifth wheel of sorts and "support the four other players" via your tablet.

The interview clip has a lot of gameplay footage spliced throughout, so head past the cut and have a look for yourself.

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Star Citizen's new persistent universe director loves economic, strategic gameplay

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

How important is Star Citizen's persistent universe? Important enough that Chris Roberts has hired game industry veteran Tony Zurovec to oversee its direction.

"The game has become so big that I can't actually direct every single aspect of it every single moment of the day," Roberts explains at the outset of a new 40-minute interview vid posted on Cloud Imperium's official site. Zurovec previously worked with Roberts at Origin and Digital Anvil. He also developed the Crusader series and brings a love of economic and strategic gameplay on a galactic scale to the table.

Roberts also mentions Zurovec's work on an unreleased Digital Anvil game called Loose Cannon that was essentially "Privateer on wheels" and a pre-cursor to the sort of open-world sandbox mayhem found in Grand Theft Auto III and its sequels.

Click past the cut to watch the full interview.

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E3 2014: Warhammer 40K devs on development and founders packs

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Events (Massively's Coverage), Warhammer 40k, Buy-to-Play

As part of an established IP, Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade has had a fanbase from the get-go. And those folks have been watching and proving the development of the MMO fairly closely. How closely will the game resemble the IP? Will it hold to the lore and fit into the known universe, or will it splinter off and do its own thing?

I sat down with Warhammer 40K Creative Director David Ghozland, Senior Producer Stephanie Marchand, and Behavior Online studio head Miguel Caron at E3 2014 to talk about how development is progressing, discuss how the MMO fits in to the IP, and find out more about founders packs.

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E3 2014: Recapping Guild Wars 2's first season

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Interviews, Patches, Guild Wars 2, Events (Massively's Coverage), Buy-to-Play

With Season Two of Guild Wars 2's living story starting up on July 1st, players are eager for more information. So far, only snippets and clues have teased fans. To try and glean more details, I sat down with Associate Game Director Steven Waller and Studio Design Director Chris Whiteside at E3 2014. Before moving on to what lies in store, however, the devs wanted to look back at the impact of the first season. Oh, and they offered a new trailer that adds a bit more fuel to the teasing fire!

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E3 2014: Shroud of the Avatar's Garriott and Long emphasize immersion

Fantasy, Interviews, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar

Touted as the spiritual successor to Ultima Online by its creators, Shroud of the Avatar aims to fill a sandbox-shaped void in the modern MMOverse. Judging by the successful crowdfunding campaign and continued support by backers, I know there are plenty of players who are eager for that to happen and believe SotA is the game to do it.

Are backers getting what they paid for? One weekend every month they can jump in and experience a new release of the game and offer feedback to the development team. And thanks to E3 2014, I also got to jump in and get some hands-on time with the latest release of the game. On top of that, I spoke with Richard Garriott and Executive Producer Starr Long about everything from player economy and pay-to-win concerns to combat, immersion, and player-contributed content.

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E3 2014: PlanetSide 2 PS4 demo showcases visuals, performance

Sci-Fi, Interviews, PvP, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), PlanetSide 2

While PlanetSide 2 has been out since the end of 2012 on the PC, it isn't due out on PlayStation 4 until later this year. At E3 2014, we got a hands-on demo of the game with lead game designer Luke Sigmund and executive producer Clint Worley to check out how the console version of the MMOFPS is coming along. And it's definitely coming along.

Sigmund said that In order to get PS2 ready for release on the PS4, the team has been focusing a lot of attention on optimization and getting the controls feeling right. Currently, the team is doing daily playtests to get feedback on the look and feel of the builds. Sigmund emphasized, "The things we are focusing on for the PS4 are usability, new player experience, and optimization. For us, it's just a matter of getting it right. We don't want to put it out there and not be happy with the way it looks."

So how does it look right now? Pretty darn good!

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The Game Archaeologist: Tales from Neverwinter Nights' Arelith

Fantasy, Culture, Interviews, Free-to-Play, The Game Archaeologist

NWN
Back in May, I touched on the fascinating field of Neverwinter Nights' persistent worlds (PWs). I never expected it to draw so much attention, least of all from the folks still running these communities. But it did, and I was contacted by one of the player developers of Arelith, Mark "Artos" Friebus.

Artos and his colleagues wanted to share more about the history and makeup of this 12-year-old server and why, in 2014, they're still as crazy about doing it as ever. If you want an insider's point of view as to what goes on in a persistent world -- and perhaps are open to be tempted to roll a character on one of them -- then stay tuned for the fascinating tale of Arelith.

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E3 2014: Underground and underwater with Landmark's Terry Michaels

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Patches, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

You didn't need to be at E3 2014 to partake in Landmark's latest (literally) groundbbreaking patch. In fact, if you were at the con as I was, chances are you haven't been able to log in and experience it for yourself yet! Luckily, Senior Producer Terry Michaels was on hand to offer me a peek at the new features before I broke down in heap of deprivation-induced agony from my Landmark withdrawals.

What was the big deal with this latest update? It included the first iteration of caves and the second phase of water. Players can now go spelunking deep in the earth to find large veins of minerals, explore uncharted biomes with new plants, and even find treasure chests filled with special items. On top of that, they can swim through the bright blue oceans that surround each island. As Michaels helped me get my Landmark fix, we talked about everything from the newest content to heroic movement to my pet topics: player books and theme-enforced islands. Oh, and did I mention that combat is planned to appear by SOE Live in August?

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Crytek's Arena of Fate aims to change the MOBA as we know it

Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, MOBA

Arena of Fate
Crytek's new MOBA Arena of Fate is best described by our sister site Joystiq as a MOBA for people frustrated by MOBAs. Sitting down with Crytek Producer David Bowman at E3 this week, the Joystiq interview focuses on what makes AoF different from every other MOBA out there by removing the "toxic elements that exist in [...] some of the other products."

How is this done, exactly? "The store is gone, getting the last hit on a minion doesn't matter, matches operate on a 20-minute countdown, and the first team to 10 points wins," according to the interview.

Be sure to check out more on Arena of Fate as the game approaches beta later this summer.

E3 2014: FFXIV's Yoshida on 2.4, 3.0, new classes, and more

Fantasy, Interviews, Events (Massively's Coverage), Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

After the recent E3 2014 announcement that Final Fantasy XIV was getting a new class and a marriage system, fans have been understandably eager to learn more. And the best way to do that is go to the source! We sat down with producer Naoki Yoshida to discuss the content slated for upcoming patches and expansions.

Before delving into the new, Yoshida spoke about the old. He noted that since last year's expo, FFXIV has enjoyed a successful relaunch, added a couple of major updates, and given millions of gamers around the world the opportunity to play. He then led into the new by saying, "We want to continue to grow the game from here. We have a lot of exciting content building up to 3.0." Part of said growing includes expanding the availability of the game by getting it into even more regions; this summer, for example, FFXIV will launch in China. Another part of the growth process is expanding the content and introducing new features, which is where patch 2.4 and the 3.0 expansion come in.

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Player-driven development at 'core' of SOE's philosophy

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

landmark
SOE President John Smedley is preaching the gospel of player-created content to any and all who will hear, saying, "Our player-driven development process is really at the core of who we are and who we've evolved into."

In a new interview with Fortune, Smedley talked about the approach that SOE is taking with its open development, player-created content, and community monetization opportunities. "What we're trying to do is to expose the development process to our players and get them excited, let them see the stuff we're making as early as possible and get their opinions on shaping our games," he said.

Smedley praised the "revolution" of Twitch streaming as a communication pathway, saying that it's helped players to truly understand what goes into making MMOs. He also pointed out how free-to-play has finally been embraced by the console crowd: "There's evidence now. It's fair to say that consoles took longer to get to free-to-play simply because the business model has been the same way for quite a while now. But they're seeing this amazing revenue generator from micro-transactions in free-to-play games."

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