WTF is Daybreak doing?

I really have no idea what Daybreak is doing. Let me rephrase that; I think Daybreak has no idea what Daybreak is doing. At every turn they are showing how NOT to behave as a video game company.

Announce you’re working on Everquest’s sequel, launch a tangent EverQuest project that fails to live up to its promises and even become a game, then pretend EverQuest Next doesn’t exist.

Announce you’re building the spiritual successor to SWG, launch it as a zombie survival game, couple weeks later turn that game into a King of the Hill/Battle Royale wanna-be (abandoning the survival side), then a year later announce you’re splitting it into two games…

H1Z1: Just Survive is a persistent, open-world zombie survival game.

H1Z1: King of the Kill is a high-intensity last-man-standing shooter.

So you launch a game that has two modes. You abandon one mode, chase the other for a year, then try and resell both separately later. Huh. On top of that you drive urgency to sell more of the existing copy before it’s too late and you have to buy both separately.

And if there wasn’t already an epic mountain of reasons why you should distrust “early-access” gaming, both of these titles are being launched as “early-access.”

Get out of here.

Darkfall New Dawn Officially Licensed

Darkfall New Dawn

You may recall that I mentioned there was a Darkfall revival project underway, but at the time they hadn’t yet achieved a license agreement with Aventurine. Apparently things are moving far better than most people would have anticipated, and the team at Ub3rgames will soon have a fully licensed playable version of Darkfall New Dawn available to the public for testing breaking.

Here’s where I ultimately struggle with these Darkfall revivals: They are still Darkfall. Can Ub3rgames do enough to fix such a flawed game? I think they stand the best chance of any given their direction and what I’ve seen in terms of community. But can the game change enough?

Let’s look again at what they are focusing on.

  • The lack of positive player interactions. Or making the game more than a deathmatch arena.
  • The power gap and player progression. Or making sure new players get a chance in this harsh world while making the game fun for PvE inclined players.
  • The lack of daily activities. Or providing more repeatable and engaging content for players to come online every day and have a meaningful play session.
  • An assembling of secondary technical or incomplete systems related flaws.

Issues have been classified as “primary flaws” and “secondary flaws” on their website. I sorta chuckle looking at the secondary flaws, as they were easily some of the biggest issues I took with the game…

  • Alignment System – This was so broken it wasn’t even playable. This is pretty much the cause of a big part of the negative player interactions.
  • Localized Resources and Banking – To me, this isn’t secondary. This is crucial to the entire game’s economy.
  • Player Holding Value – There has to be a purpose.

My view on sandbox games has changed quite a bit this past year. I’ve even made the statement, and I agree with myself still 100%, that the best and arguably only way to build a successful MMORPG sandbox is to go the isometric UO route. The scope required to pull it off simply hasn’t been successfully executed otherwise.

I’m eagerly waiting to get my hands on the game to see how they pull it off.

Albion Online Private Islands

A couple of you requested that I post a video showing off the private islands in Albion Online. Well here you go!

I think I goofed this part in the video so read on. You can purchase a private island once you have enough silver or gold. You can buy a private island fairly cheap once you have the silver, but it also requires that at the time of purchase you be a premium member. To become a premium member, or get premium status, you pay either gold, silver, or real money. Don’t bother paying silver — it’s ridiculous. Pay gold or $15/month.

Once you have premium status, you can buy the island. As of writing this post, you are NOT required to maintain premium status to keep your island. You just need it at the time of purchase.

Once you have your island you can continue paying gold or silver to upgrade. Upgrading adds more lots for building on the island.

Albion Online Private Island Farming

Depending on what you want to gear your economy or interests toward, you can put anything from crafting buildings to farms to houses on those lots. I’ve gone for an economy build of sorts with farm land, a stables, and a saddler. I want to raise livestock then sell them as mounts — or something.

So what’s the benefit of a private island you ask? Couple of things.

  • Guaranteed space of my own. In the real — open — world, space is somewhat limited. Although the world IS huge, it’s like UO. It’s still finite.
  • Guaranteed safety. I do not have to worry about being ganked. Again, think stepping outside your house in UO when there are gankers about.

What’s the downside? Mainly resources. The real, open world out there has the resources you need. Your private island has T1 resources. It’s more of a place to play farmville safely. I’m a fan.

I’ll develop this character’s island a bit more and showcase it for you in video. I’ll even show a bit of the process I go through to collect resources.

Any questions about Albion Online, housing, islands, crafting, etc? I’m happy to answer. Despite the game not launching (or coming close) until later this year, I am starting to pick it back up and play more. Sorta one of those moth of a flame things for me… it’s beta, but it’s fun.

Want to jump in and play during closed beta? Visit the official site to purchase a founders pack.

Pixelmage Games Cancels Hero’s Song Kickstarter

Hero's Song Kickstarter Cancelled

As of this very moment, 39 minutes ago the Kickstarter for Hero’s Song was cancelled. Hero’s Song is Smed’s new game from his new company called Pixelmage Games.

Hero’s Song – A Good Idea?

I was already planning to write something on the game today. A few of you have asked me for my comments/thoughts/etc., and I guess now is the perfect time to weigh in. In general, Hero’s Song looks fun. The “2D” isometric RPG is, in my opinion, the best was to present a sandbox. The most memorable sandbox (or psuedo-sandbox) games, for me, have always been that quasi-2D isometric view: Ultima Online, Harvest Moon, Terraria, etc. Combine that with RPGs and you have games like Baldur’s Gate, Diablo, Divinity, etc. Good things come in 2D isometrics.

The ideas behind Hero’s Song servers being hosted independently sounded appealing. Is it a MMORPG? No, not by a long shot. Does it have to be? Probably better for them that it’s not. The idea of having the world change so much based on diety choices and story also sounds good. Hero’s Song sounds good to me overall.

I think a lot is still left unsaid. The type of things I want to see in Hero’s Song are farming, owning land, deep character development, and permanence. I’m not sure if those things would have, or could have, ever made it into Hero’s Song given they seem to be drifting dangerously close to a forgettable rogue-like action RPG instead of a deeper sandbox experience.

Bottom line, there is potential. I’m their target market. This is the type of game that I like to buy and play. I want to see Hero’s Song made, and I want to play it. I like the blunt “no f2P” mantra, too.

Kickstarter Mistakes

I’m no fan of Kickstarter for games. I think Kickstarter had its moment in the spotlight and their flame is since flickered out. Running a successful Kickstarer campaign takes hype and planning, and a lot of luck. A failed Kickstarter will hurt your game way more than it could have possibly helped if it succeeded. Hero’s Song Kickstarter has failed, and was destined to fail.

Coming right out of the gate with an $800,000 goal was ridiculous, and a strategic error. They should have had a goal around $200k, especially if they would have funded the game anyway. A success builds hype, and from there they could have launched campaign #2 or other forms of crowd-sourcing — though I’ll say again I am no fan of such methods.

If Hero’s Song survives, and it still may, they better take a serious look at how to market their game properly. Slapping the names and pictures of streamers on your website, immediately launching into a huge Kickstarter for a pixel art game, and failing to communicate the proper details to excite the right people are all amateur mistakes for a supposed veteran team. Here’s hoping they learn from it, and make the game I want to play.

Albion Online Won’t Be Free to Play

Albion Online Not F2P

I have followed Albion Online for a very long time. Having played in the earliest stages of Alpha, and now in the Closed Beta, I can say that I have always been excited about the prospects of a game that comes close to creating a modernized version of Ultima Online with just enough EVE to make things interesting. The one thing keeping Albion Online back in the mind was their F2P model; however, all of that is about to change now that Albion Online is official not going F2P at launch.

Stefan Wiezorek, Founder/CEO of Albion Online, posted a rather shocking road map that included the following details:

  1. The closed beta will be extended until at least 1st August 2016
  2. The game will not be free to play at launch

Here’s their reasoning behind the massive change of direction:

Making the game ready for a free to play model would take up significant development time which we would much rather use to make a better game. Free to play would also create a lot of risks for the game – spamming, botting, world too small, etc – which we do not want to take if it can be avoided.

Some people may be worried about the Founders Packs that grant access to the game immediately (you can literally play now) and whether or not they should purchase them or wait. Stefan says that the Founders Packs will be retired and new “starter packs” will be added, but at a lesser value as not to diminish the value offered by the current packs. Sounds fair.

All of the details can be seen by pressing the expand button below. I’m going to discuss a few of them.

Significantly increasing the world is awesome. Albion Online already features a large world, but given the style of game where large zerg guilds can take over territory, and where end-game zones become very PvP oriented, it’ll be nice to have more room to spread out.

Albion Online Crafting Changes

Following in Ultima Online’s footsteps with a reputation and crime system makes me extremely happy. I love the idea of consequences for acting like a criminal. I’ve written before on Virtual Worlds and Social Consequence; this is right up that alley.

Lots of QOL improvements, even to the economy, will be great. I think the change to add a training mode will definitely make people less inclined to flood the market with too many of the same goods. Since the economy is already entirely player driven, this will mean a better return for those serious about crafting rather than simply skilling up. Adding a PC HUD will be awesome too since right now it shares the same HUD as what they were shooting for on mobile devices.

The Future of Albion Online & F2P

Albion Online Won't Be F2P

Let’s make sure we read this carefully. They said Albion Online won’t be F2P “AT LAUNCH.” That definitely means they can, and probably will, make the game F2P down the road. Some people are already putting on their tin foil hats saying this is an opportunity to hook the suckers willing to pay, etc. I don’t believe that to be the case. I think they are feeling the same burn everyone is feeling right now in the F2P industry, and if they are set on making the game they said they want to make then it only makes sense to go with a different business model. Albion Online’s roadmap and F2P are diametrically opposed.

I am now 100% more excited about playing Albion Online when it launches. I’m a little disappointed about having to wait so much longer. August 2016 at the earlier? Ouch. Albion Online requires so much time and commitment, which I love, but do not want to invest heavily in when I know that it’ll all be wiped clean. My stance for now will be to dabble in it on occasion while waiting for major patches. When they patch, I’ll try them out. I still have a few things I need to do like finish my farm. I enjoy that regardless of a wipe.

If you’re looking to try out Albion Online, give it a shot.