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The Daily Grind: What's the longest you've anticipated a new MMO?

Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

When Trion announced ArcheAge's western launch date last weekend, the first word that came to mind was finally. I'm not looking to bust anyone's chops here, but damn have I been waiting to play this game for forever.

The only other MMO I've followed so closely from its public announcement to its release was Star Wars: Galaxies, and that was only three years of waiting compared to over four for ArcheAge. What about you, Massively readers? What's the longest amount of time you've spent anticipating a new MMO? Which MMO was it?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Star Citizen's Arena Commander V0.9 patch delayed

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

If you were hoping to get your hands on Arena Commander V0.9 this weekend, you've probably guessed by now that that's not happening. Star Citizen's website published an update blurb that details the reasons behind the delay.

It's also worth reading if you're a casual SC follower and weren't aware of all the stuff that 0.9 will bring to backers. There's the new Murray Cup racing map and game mode, a co-op Vanduul Swarm mode, and two new flyable ships (the M50 and the 350R). The update also features Star Citizen's first stab at private match functionality and a few other bells and whistles.

Cloud Imperium says that it "will be working around the globe through the holiday weekend to deliver on the promise of V0.9."

[Thanks Cardboard!]

EVE Evolved: Wormholes should be more dangerous

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
When unstable wormholes began forming all over the EVE Online universe in 2009's Apocrypha expansion, players approached them with extreme caution. The promise of riches in the form of new loot and Tech 3 cruiser components was balanced by the incalculable risk of facing a powerful new enemy in untested circumstances. Between the Sleeper AI that had been reported to melt players' ships in seconds and the player pirates taking advantage of the hidden local chat channel to sneak up on unsuspecting victims, we had no idea whether any ship we sent into a wormhole would ever make it back out again.

The risk of venturing into something truly unknown made wormhole exploration the single most exciting thing I've ever been a part of in an MMO, but the past five years have completely eroded that danger. Farmers now know exactly what to expect in every wormhole site and can efficiently farm Sleepers with the minimum of effort or risk, and PvP alliances can rapidly cycle through systems to find weak targets to attack. We've mapped and tamed all of the wormhole frontier, systematically reducing the risk to the lowest possible levels under the current game mechanics. Tuesday's Hyperion update aimed to shake things up with a few disruptive changes designed to keep wormholes dangerous, and I think it's a definite step in the right direction.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the changes in Hyperion designed to keep wormholes dangerous and ask what more could be done to keep things interesting.

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PAX Prime 2014: Trove moves at the speed of lightrail

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Trove

trove
Probably one of the coolest features that I've seen in an MMO in a long time came during a Trove demo at PAX Prime this weekend. The devs were keen to show off the game's magriders, which are tracks that players can lay down to take others on a pre-planned route around the world. Think of it as a combination of rollercoaster, lightrail, and slip-n-slide, and you might have a notion of how insane these can get. Magriders can obey the laws of physics or not and have several options for speeding up and slowing down passengers depending on the creator's intent.

After a dizzying five-minute ride through one of Trove's biomes that ended with a thousand-foot plunge into the heart of a volcano, I was sold on the potential for this new in-game toy. But as neat as magriders are, they're not the only card in the devs' deck as the game nears beta later in September.

The team recently introduced Trove's fourth class, the Dracolyte. This is a fireball-wielding mage who fills the need for the pyros out there. The Dracolyte also has a little familiar dragon hovering over its shoulder that can charge up a fiery attack and then unleash it at will. The class to follow the Dracolyte couldn't be more different, however: The Neon Ninja looks to be a cyborg sword-wielder who stepped straight out of Tron.

There's so much more to talk about with Trove's development, including the addition of clubs. Clubs are like mini-guilds, only you can join up to five of them, and each one gets its own world to modify and keep. The team is also working on a transmog system to allow players to collect and permanently store skins. From crazy candy biomes to lightning-quick rides, this underdog title might end up surprising us all.

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The Daily Grind: Do you have an ArcheAge guild yet?

Fantasy, Guilds, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

ArcheAge has a launch date. And a founder's launch date. And an open beta date. I'm ready to go, but for the fact that I'm going it alone. I don't have an AA guild, and I've been purposefully steering clear of my alpha and beta access over the last few months so as not to spoil more of the game and instead savor the experience when it counts.

So I've missed the usual pre-launch guild recruitment opportunities, basically.

What about you, ArcheAge fans? Do you have a guild yet, or are you just going to play it by ear?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Landmark

landmark
After the better part of a year of being both an excellent building simulator and the sparse skeleton of an actual MMO, Landmark is finally starting to fill out in all sorts of pleasing ways. At this year's PAX Prime, Dave Georgeson was gushing about the joy that's been unleashed with the recent PvP combat patch. Not only are players reveling in the slaughter of their fellow humans, but a new market for death match arenas has sprung up virtually overnight.

"Players are having stupid amounts of fun with the PvP, even if they aren't typically into PvP," Georgeson noted. He said that contrary to popular belief, PvP is tougher to put into an MMO because it deals with a very unpredictable foe (a thinking human). But it's also better for the team to implement that first and home in on what makes the combat click to make PvE combat sparkle when that's added later on. More PvP customization options are on deck for the future as well.

Also part of the crazy fun are the new platforming elements: teleporters, moving platforms, and "flingers." Georgeson predicted that once the playerbase gets a handle on what these elements can do and how they can be chained together, the game will grow several orders of magnitude wilder.

From here, Landmark's progress will only speed up. The team is going to focus on bug fixes and polishing the new systems while listening to what the players think about the new toys. One thing that the devs have to do is separate ideas that are possible (such as allowing players to order voxel structures to obey the laws of physics) from those that are not (such as allowing players to create enemy creature models). The team does have a release date for the game in mind, although it is not sharing.

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PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is a go for launch!

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Launches, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing

archeage
The packed ballroom at Trion's PAX Prime party erupted into giddy cheers last night when the team announced that ArcheAge's launch is merely a couple of weeks away. This gorgeous fantasy sandbox blew up the alpha test population and is poised to be a huge coup for Trion as the studio adds another title to its growing portfolio.

While the official launch date is September 16th, there will be an open beta from September 4th through the 8th, followed by a headstart launch on the 12th for founders.

The team expressed confidence in the alpha testing and the back-and-forth communication with developer XLGAMES. If XLGAMES is the proud mom and dad of ArcheAge, I was told, then Trion is the proud auntie and uncle. A lot of work has gone into straightening out regional differences for the western audience as well. For example, in Korea it's quite common to play an MMO with the intent of selling your character for actual money, which places a different value and emphasis on what you accumulate and do. Since such sales aren't often legal here, adjustments had to be made for the localized version. There was also a special cape item that Korean players could use to identify botters, which was used responsibly in that country but has apparently been wielded as a griefing tool in the west.

ArcheAge won't be budging on its commitment to an open PvP world; it's simply how the game is constructed. Players who want to avoid getting ganked will need to keep an eye on war zones that move throughout the world and accept the inherent risk that comes with attempting trade in those regions.

The team hopes that there will be enough space on the servers for all subscribers to grab an open world housing plot if desired. Coming some time after launch will be castles, which are larger structures that guilds can build, maintain, and defend together. Trion said that server transfers won't be in for release but are being worked on for the future.

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PAX Prime 2014: The Repopulation's Josh Halls on beta, fishing, and houses

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, The Repopulation

Above & Beyond Technologies Lead Developer Josh Halls has been on a very long journey with The Repopulation, a journey that began back in 2009 and isn't even close to being over yet. I met with Halls at PAX Prime to talk about where this sci-fi sandbox has been and where it's going as it angles for beta testing.

The Repopulation released its Alpha 3 build this past April and will be sticking with that for the duration of alpha testing. Halls told me that there's a pretty dedicated group of testers in the game, with around 1,500 having picked up the title so far and around 20 to 40 playing at any given moment. Those numbers are primed to increase when the game transitions into beta and Steam Early Access later this year.

While it's not terribly sexy, bug tracking and fixing is vital to the development process and foremost on the team's mind. Player feedback during the alpha has helped to refine the game in other ways, such as to make gathering less of a click-fest and more of a community effort. Right now a group of players can work together to enhance a region in order to gather better materials.

Other big to-do items include putting in a fishing minigame and opening the doors (so to speak) for open-world housing. Fishing will pave the way for other possible minigames, and open-world housing is the next step from the game's existing instanced homes.

Halls said that the dozen or so members of the team are hard at work to prepare The Repopulation for the larger gaming public and that the studio is currently operating in the black.

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PAX Prime 2014: Paying a premium for Pathfinder Online

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, PvP, Sandbox, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

pathfinder online
Would you pay to get into an alpha test? Well, would you continue to pay a monthly subscription to keep on playing a title that's not yet launched? If you've answered "yes" to these questions plus the special one that I ask at the end of this article, then you're one of the folks that Pathfinder Online hopes to recruit for early enrollment come September 15th.

I sat down with Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey and Game Designer Stephen Chaney at PAX Prime yesterday to talk about this next big step for the game. Pathfinder Online is still far from feature complete, but the team considers it done enough that it can monetize the game in the form of a monthly sub. The 20,000 or so folks who will be admitted into early enrollment play (a number that includes the 7,000 Kickstarter backers) are expected to pay $15 a month as the team continues to develop the title. In exchange, characters and progress will not be wiped, and players will get to see the game take shape around them.

Goblinworks' philosophy is to have a robust game design first and then wrap the rest of the game around it afterward. Dancy said that the monetization is necessary to keep the lights on and the development rolling. The budget for a finished Pathfinder Online is $5 million (89% of which is salaries), but only $1.4 million has been raised so far.

Being only passingly familiar with Pathfinder Online, I asked why the MMO with its territory control seems so different from the small party, adventure-oriented tabletop game. The reason for this is that the pen-and-paper game doesn't completely translate to software boundaries, plus it draws from an adventure pack that Paizo tested a while back that went on to become one of its best-selling products. In both versions of Pathfinder, the long game is to rule the land and establish a legacy, not merely fill up a bag with XP and loot.

So is it worth it to you to pay a full subscription price for a half-finished game? That's up to you.

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PAX Prime 2014: RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches October 8th; Trove's closed beta begins September 25th

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, RIFT, Sandbox, Defiance

Trion made a bunch of ArcheAge fans happy earlier this evening, so now it's time to do the same for followers of RIFT, Defiance, and Trove.

RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion officially launches on October 8th, while Defiance will get "a massive end-of-September" update called Aftermath that includes new missions and events.

Last but not least, Trove will enter closed beta on September 25th. Massively's Justin Olivetti learned today on the show floor that this phase of beta will not be wiped prior to launch. Players who have purchased currency will receive half again as much back.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is launching on September 16th

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox

Yes, I know she turns into a bad angel
And lo, a new MMO came upon them, and the glory of non-linear gameplay surrounded them, and they were sore afraid.

Actually, they weren't afraid. They were exuberant. They sang "funk yeah!" -- their voices an angelic choir -- because frickin' finally, four years after discovering ArcheAge and three years after initially playing it, they received a western launch date.

That date, as we learned tonight at PAX Prime, is Tuesday, September 16th. Other dates to bear in mind are September 12th (the Founder head-start) and September 4th through September 8th (the open beta).

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

Camelot Unchained alpha postponed half a year [Updated]

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Livestream, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained

On Twitter and during a Twitch broadcast yesterday, Camelot Unchained developers announced that the alpha test for the crowdfunded RvR MMO has been broken into three phases and delayed, which will result in a similar delay for beta and launch. Originally planned to begin this month, the third phase of alpha has been postponed until February of next year; devs cited insufficient programmers as the main culprit, though that's a problem they say they've rectified now. Backers will have limited access to alphas 1 and 2, though dates for these have not yet been set.

In a post announcing the new Camelot Unchained website today, Mark Jacobs apologized for the alpha's delay, writing, "I want to thank all of our Backers for their understanding and support regarding the delay of the commencement of Alpha Testing. It is gratefully appreciated by myself and the team."

[Thanks to Andy for the tip.]

[Update: We've included the revised explanatory video below. Mark Jacobs also forwarded us his letter to backers, which hasn't yet been uploaded to the new-new site. We've embedded it below as well.]

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Elite's latest newsletter talks upcoming mission additions and more

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Itching for the latest Elite: Dangerous news? Newsletter #38's got it in the form of blurbs about ship weathering, the Ocellus starport, and Frontier's plans to expand the space sim sandbox's mission framework.

"We plan to build this out as we move through the beta to release and beyond, with escort missions, assassination missions, tail-and-report missions, group missions, policing duties, in addition to guns-blazing mercenary assignments," the firm says.

[Thanks Cotic!]

Latest Pathfinder Online devblog emphasizes player-driven economy

Fantasy, Economy, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Pathfinder Online

Although players in Pathfinder Online's Alpha 7 run will earn 5,000 XP per hour (in order to help them test more things), the latest devblog warns that things will get decidedly harder once gameplay starts after Early Enrollment. At that point players will face a "cold start," beginning the game with only simple peasant clothes, a club, and 1,000 XP to spend on initial feats. Everything else, from feats to gear to cash, will grow from that.

The devblog also details the player-driven economy; by design, nearly everything characters use will be player-crafted. Mobs will drop only starter equipment, coin, salvage, or -- the rarest and most valuable -- recipes. Players can only upgrade gear past the starter level through crafting, and gear can be crafted with certain key words that add bonuses when combined with specific slotted feats. For full details, and a look at what Pathfinder devs are doing at PAX Prime, check out the official site.

Landmark's combat patch goes live

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

Combat has finally come to Landmark, but there's much more to this update than just armor, weapons, and death. There are plenty of new Kerran-themed props, new materials (10 new color of Stucco variations and 16 new Burled Wood tints), movement props, and bug fixes. On top of that, there's a new way to pay claim upkeep; those who desperately want to keep their claims but don't want to bother with copper now have the opportunity to pay with Station Cash at a cost of 10 SC per day per claim.

And here's probably some of the best news from the mouths of the devs themselves:
"We've made a number of optimizations that should improve framerates for many players. This does not include the Multithreaded Rendering, which we are still working on."
If you plan to dive in and check out combat, SOE has posted instructions for setting up the PvP games on the forums to help answer any questions. Full details on the update can be found in the patch notes. For now, all claims will be flagged for PvP until the observer mode can be added.

Finally, the Workshop livestream is moving! Starting August 28th, the show focusing on the collaborative development of racial buildings will be broadcast on the EverQuest Next Twitch Channel Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

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