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PAX East 2014: State of Decay eyes multiplayer, stays offline

Horror, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Consoles, Events (Massively's Coverage), Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous

I know we're fleeing from zombies, but would you guys like to hit Burger King on the way?  Maybe... no?  All right.
The ground is fairly littered with zombie games of some sort these days. That isn't meant as a mark against Undead Labs' State of Decay, but it does raise questions of focus. How do you make a zombie game more unique? According to the studio's Jeff Strain at this year's PAX East, you focus upon building at the community level rather than individual survival. While games like DayZ focus on the personal, State of Decay is much more focused on the idea of putting society as a whole back together and trying to accumulate resources and structures for survivors as a whole.

Of course, most of our readers are more interested in what comes next, specifically Class4. That's the proposed sequel to State of Decay, previously codenamed Class3; it's meant to be a full MMO according to previous statements, a game in which you can worry about rebuilding not just a local community but the world as a whole. And Undead Labs certainly isn't hurting for talent that's familiar with online games, especially with the acquisition of ArenaNet co-founder Patrick Wyatt in January. So what's happening?

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SOE's H1Z1 is a zombie-flavored sandbox after all

Historical, Horror, Game Mechanics, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, MMORPG

SOE has just released more information on its upcoming F2P zombie MMO H1Z1. In a letter posted to Reddit just moments ago, President John Smedley explained his vision for the game. "It's a massively multiplayer game in which players fight for survival in a world where death is the only sure thing," he writes. Set in middle America with a distinct zombie flavor, the game will be a sandbox with a "deep crafting system" with which "players can build shelters out of resources in the world" and "work together to make amazing fortresses complete with weaponry to help defend against both the Infected and other players."

How is the game different from the multitudes of other kill-or-be-killed post-apoc zombie sandboxes already in existence? Smed says it's a persistent MMO with thousands of players and different rulesets, a strong economy, open looting in PvP, access to devs, an emphasis on "player ownership and building," and cool tech borrowed from PlanetSide 2. The studio plans to have a player-playable version within four to six weeks; it will fall under the $15 All Access Pass and have microtransactions but will not be P2W.

Have a look at the first released screenies below. The Game Talk Live stream is now over.

[Source: SOE press release]

Fallen Earth nodes to get less 'willy-nilly'

Fallen Earth, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Dev Diaries, Crafting

Fallen Earth
Tired of node placement refusing to make a lick of common sense in Fallen Earth? There's a dev for that.

Fallen Earth's new state of the game post for April has a word or two to say about how the team is moving around gathering nodes to fit the environment better. "What this will look like is an increase in hand-placed nodes that reflect the setting and environment better and fewer nodes scattered willy-nilly," said Producer Marie Croall.

The post also talks about new armor suits and cosmetic gear recipes that are coming soon as part of the rewards for controlling the Outpost.

Free for All: Will there ever be another setting like Ryzom's Atys?

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Culture, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Races, Casual, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Ryzom map
Ah, Ryzom. To this day it remains one of my favorite MMORPGs for several reasons. I was reminded just how much I still enjoy the game when I logged in to witness a storm rolling through the land, lightning sizzling from the sky, rain falling straight down on my character's head. The planet that Ryzom players find themselves on is called Atys, and it's no ordinary planet. In fact, it's not a planet at all. Instead, it's a giant rootball that floats in space.

Yes, a rootball.

I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure that a massive rootball is an impossible thing, but it doesn't matter. The game's original designers were French, and if you follow French MMOs, you know they always seem to come up with something completely unique. In this case, Atys is literally made up of a wad of giant roots and bark. I have to wonder: Why aren't there more unique settings like Atys in gaming today?

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Bohemia Interactive acquires a new team for DayZ and assembles a roadmap

Horror, Previews, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Marching forward, relentlessly consuming every bit of zombie gaming we can... wait a second.
Are you ready to kill your fellow survivors and take their stuff in DayZ? If so, you've got plenty of company; according to creator Dean Hall, the game has sold 1.7 million copies on Steam thus far. It's given the team good reason to expand, at that. Bohemia Interactive has acquired Cauldron Studios, now renamed Bohemia Interactive Slovakia, and will be putting that team to work developing more content and systems for the zombie sandbox experience.

Hall also outlined a roadmap of the game's coming updates, stating that the end of April should see the inclusion of fireplaces, loot respawns, and crossbows. New pistols and AI pathfinding are next on the list, followed by a 64-bit upgrade and the inclusion of animals for players to hunt and cook. Whether you're looking forward to what comes next or just like the current state of beating up players and taking what they've found, if you're a fan of the game you should take a look at the full rundown.

Post-apocalyptic sandbox Xsyon adds a PvE server

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, Xsyon, Post-Apocalyptic, Player-Generated Content

Xsyon campfire
Who says MMO sandboxes are all about PvP? Not Notorious Games, which has announced the formation of a new PvE server for its post-apocalyptic Xsyon title. "Data from the original main world has been duplicated to both servers, allowing players the choice to play on either or both servers. New players can maintain a character on both servers as well," Notorious says in its latest press release.

Xsyon is a player-driven MMO focused on building towns, forming tribes, and the shaping the environment. Players may "create quests, hunt, gather, and develop a new world."

[Source: Notorious Games press release]

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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.

Dean Hall is leaving behind DayZ and Bohemia Interactive

Betas, MMO Industry, News Items, MMOFPS, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous

How could you leave all this behind?  Easily, apparently.
Games are a bit like children. You work with other people to craft them, to help them go from little more than a twinkle in your eye to something capable of surviving without you. Dean Hall created DayZ, but he's jumping ahead to the part where he metaphorically kicks it out of the house and tells it to get a job. Or he's kicking himself out of the house... the metaphor is a bit tortured, but the important point is that he's leaving DayZ behind.

Why leave a game that's still early in testing and doing well? As Hall puts it, keeping him on the project could eventually lead to his being someone who tells others how things are done rather than adapting along with a changing game and culture. Instead, he's heading to New Zealand with plans of opening a different studio. The changeover is not happening immediately but should take place before the end of the year.

[Thanks to Zipzopboobidybop for the tip!]

Field Journal: Picking up the pieces of Fallen Earth

Fallen Earth, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Crafting, Field Journal

Today. At the edge of the Grand Canyon, after the end of civilization, we have chosen not only to read old manuals, but to write new ones. Today there is not a clone here that shall scavenge alone. Not today. Today we face the prairie chickens that are at our door and roast them. Today, we are crafting the post-apocalypse!
I was introduced to Fallen Earth way back in the mists of time, around when I first started reading Massively. It was one of the earliest Choose My Adventures, and I was so impressed that I made my own account and joined in on the fun part of the way through. My character even made a few cameos in the column later on.

I have a lot of fond memories of the game, and a significant part of that is due to the crafting system. There are some really good ideas in there, even if the execution has always been a bit flawed. Despite those flaws, I wouldn't trade my early days with the game for anything. Well, other than a better version of the same game.

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Chaos Theory: Why TSW's quest art thrills me to no end

Horror, Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Lore, Opinion, The Secret World, Post-Apocalyptic, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Every Secret World fan has his or her own list of reasons why the game feels special and unique. Perhaps it's the investigation missions, the contemporary setting, the flexible character builds, the dark subject matter, the well-done voice acting, the creepy tone, the immense pile of lore, or the sheer fun that is the dressing room. Steadily climbing to the top of my own list is an aspect that I haven't seen mentioned much at all: the quest art.

Is that the best terminology for it? I don't know what else to call it. What I'm talking about here are the images that often pop up through quests, from photographs to journal entries. These pieces of art aren't just sprinkled in here or there; they are so dang prolific that I've devoted an entire screenshot folder to holding them. Once you start really noticing them, it's hard not to marvel at all of the work that was done to put them in the game.

So excuse me this week as I go on about why quest art is seriously terrific and terribly underrated. I may even share a favorite or 27 of them along the way.

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Nether adds crafting, creature mode, and tribes

Betas, Horror, Video, Guilds, Patches, MMOFPS, Post-Apocalyptic, Crafting

The mean streets of Nether are easing up a bit on players, as Phosphor Games has patched in a slew of helpful systems for its February update.

The trio of new features includes crafting, a creature mode, and tribes. Crafting encourages players to scavenge from their adventures and fashion gear and weapons to use and trade. If being a bad guy is your thing, then the new creature mode allows users to step into the twisted role of a nether to stalk victims. And tribes, Nether's version of guilds, are now in the game with bases, a skill tree, and special objectives to be patched in later in the month. Players who join a tribe from now through February 15th will earn special bonuses including currency and a free uniform.

We've got a video showing some of the February update features after the jump, so get a move on, little doggy!

[Source: Phosphor Games press release]

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ArenaNet co-founder heads to Undead Labs

Horror, Guild Wars, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, PvE, Post-Apocalyptic, MMORPG

State of Decay
Undead Labs announced today that it has hired Patrick Wyatt, co-founder of ArenaNet and co-creator of the original Guild Wars. Wyatt, who left ArenaNet in 2008, joins fellow Guild Wars co-creator Jeff Strain at the State of Decay studio, which has not been shy about its intention to build a zombie-themed MMO. State of Decay, codenamed Class3, launched in 2013 and was confirmed by the studio as a test run for an eventual MMO release, codenamed Class4.

Here's Strain on the announcement:
Today, I'm very happy to announce that Patrick has joined Undead Labs, and will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with Team Zed as we dive into the development of...well, what's next, and beyond.
Undead Labs recently struck a multi-game agreement with Microsoft, paving the way for the studio to continue work on the Class4 project.

DayZ griefers force victims to sing

Video, Culture, MMOFPS, Humor, Post-Apocalyptic

It may be the most genial stick-em-up of all time. A group of DayZ bandits are ambushing players in game for a truly sinister purpose: to make them sing.

In the following video, you can see and hear players sneak up on unprepared foes, force them to their knees at gunpoint, and then offer them a choice. Either they sing their national anthem or they get shot. The bandits don't make their victims sing the entire thing and are recorded saying that they'll help them out with in-game supplies if they go along with it.

You can preview the spectacle after the jump.

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Free for All: My three favorite MMOFPS games have a shoot-out

Sci-Fi, Video, Culture, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Casual, MMOFPS, Humor, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Livestream, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Defiance, Firefall, Buy-to-Play

MMOFPS screenshots
I love a good MMOFPS or MMOTPS. A good one. Currently, I have three favorites: PlanetSide 2, Defiance, and Firefall. I have enjoyed other shooters in the past, games like Mechwarrior Online and APB: Reloaded and even a handful of standalone titles. There's something in a shooter that satisfies on a primitive level, some sort of textural quality that when done right can generate a good gaming session of zoned-out, open-mouthed pleasure. There's something even cooler about a multiplayer version of the same genre. I don't mind killing baddies alone, but blasting the face off of a monster is a lot more fun with dozens of other players around.

As you can see, I have a problem. Let's forget the fact that I play way too many MMOs as it is because between these three games I can easily kill a weekend and leave no room for games that I need to write about. That means I need to pick a favorite. Let this be a shootout to determine which MMOFPS will be my home. My awesome, loud, deadly home.

I've nominated three categories and will pick a winner for each. May the best shooter win!

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Nether's January update introduces dirt bikes and group options

Betas, Horror, Sci-Fi, Video, Patches, Post-Apocalyptic

The survival horror world of Nether continues to take form and shape as the devs are introducing the year's first update this week.

The big addition that will come in this patch is the dirt bike, which gives players a faster means of navigating the post-apocalyptic landscape. Of course, when you do so you'll be making an awful racket and since the enemies are very sensitive to all sound, any riders will probably enjoy a few breezy minutes of transportation followed by a few painful minutes of being disembowled.

The patch is also including group features such as group chat, invites, nametags, and locations on the map. There are also some new cosmetic items to check out (Russian hat, anyone?) and plenty of fixes for various bugs.

We've got the video of the dirt bike in action after the break.

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