sci-fantasy

Funcom restructures Montreal branch, keeps games operational

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Funcom is taking hedge trimmers to its Montreal offices today. Senior Game Designer Tanya Short posted the following this afternoon on her Twitter account: “When your branch shuts down, I guess it’s less like being fired and more like honorable discharge. Thanks for going down with the ship! Bye!”

Massively contacted Funcom for an official statement. Director of Communications Erling Ellingsenconfirmed layoffs but assured us that Funcom’s games will continue on: “We are currently in a restructuring process and the Montreal office is part of that process along with our other branches. This process unfortunately involves a reduction in staff, but the studio is not closing down. It will continue on, but in a different form and function than today. Anarchy Online, as well as The Secret World and Age of Conan, will definitely continue to operate and be an important part of the company’s focus going forward.” He said that the studio would provide more details when it had finished with the process.

Funcom previously stated that it was restructuring the company to make it more profitable. The Montreal office was established in 2009 and employed 110 people.

WildStar tester talks about his experiences

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Don’t worry, this isn’t some hideous NDA breach — it’s this week’s WildStar Wednesday! Way back in the long-lost time that was known as 2012, WildStar fans were asked to submit questions for Friends & Family testers. This week we’ve been treated to part one of the responses to those questions, courtesy of one intrepid tester.

The anonymous tester says that his favorite part of the game so far has been “delving into the mystery that is Nexus,” while his least enjoyable experience has been on the Settler path. He’s finding the double jump feature challenging due to its general finickiness. According to this tester, while mobs’ telegraphs will tell you where you need to not be standing, knowing the best response to telegraphs comes with fighting the creatures and getting to understand them.

When asked about any one thing he would like to see improved, Tester Man called out the map interface. “In a world where space travel is possible, control on what and when you see things on a map should be a given.”

Earthrise accepting test applications, prepares alpha phase

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Earthrise might have gone down hard in February of this year, but a last-minute play by German studioSilentFuture kept it from becoming a permanent addition to the MMO graveyard. Ever since learning that this post-apocalyptic sandbox would be resurrected in a new form, we’ve kept an eye out for a sign thatEarthrise would be, er, rising once more.

That day is today. Just in case you were wondering.

SilentFuture is taking test applications for what it’s now calling Earthrise: First Impact. The site notes that just applying does not guarantee entry into the alpha or beta tests. The studio announced that the alpha will begin soon, although there is a technical issue preventing players from downloading the client.

WildStar hints at future holiday content

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The final WildStar Wednesday of the year is an interesting beast, to say the least. It’s a humorous advertisement for something called Protostar’s Gala Winterfest Extravaganza, which looks suspiciously like a thinly veiled preview for a future holiday when the game launches.

The Gala Winterfest Extravaganza is “a pleasantly vague and non-threatening holiday event” put on by the Protostar Corporation. It involves an artificial winter makeover of the landscape and plenty of shopping. Seriously, shopping is mentioned like 16 times.

Carbine’s developers also posted a new holiday card for its fans in addition to the following promise: “We can’t wait to introduce you to the Dominion, reveal the other classes, and get you guys into beta next year! Have a Happy New Year from everyone at Carbine!”

The Secret World Issue #5 is live

With the end of the world hitting the planet on Friday, The Secret World’s fifth monthly update could obviously only be enjoyed if it hit servers before then, right? So good news — Issue #5 is live right now! So you can right hop in and help one of Solomon Island’s denizens avoid meeting her end with bad hair and find out what really happened to Tyler Freeborn.

Along with the usual assortment of new missions and investigations, this update adds a third auxiliary weapon (the quantum bracers), allows players to assign inventory items to hotkeys, opens a new nightclub in London, and makes all investigation missions repeatable. Want to see what’s in store come Friday when the End of Days special event starts? Get a glimpse of the Harbingers themselves in the Issue #5 preview video after the cut.

New Black Gold trailer features fly-through footage, combat, and more

Every six months or so, Snail Games reminds us that it’s working on a curious steampunk MMORPG called Black Gold Online (not to be confused with Black Desert from Pearl Abyss). MMO Culture reports on a new trailer featuring the game’s Chinese client which features plenty of fly-through footage, combat action, and a brief glimpse at the character creation interface.

The game has been announced for territories including China, Russia, and North America, but thus far no beta phase has materialized.

Source: MMO Culture

Funcom rehires staff, confirms TSW group investigation missions

New Game Director Joel Bylos dropped several juicy tidbits about the future of The Secret World on theFlash Point podcast. One of the biggest of these is that Funcom is growing once more following recent layoffs. “We have already brought back three people,” he said, “It gives us hope and it’s great to see those faces back at the office.”

He said that a second auxiliary weapon — which players assume to be the chainsaw — is coming with next month’s Issue 4, and the Halloween event scheduled in a couple weeks will have players digging through Irish lore books. If you like the game’s investigation missions, you’ll be pleased to hear that The Secret World will be introducing group versions of these types of quests.

But will the team be able to keep up with the monthly updates? Bylos is firmly confident that it can be done, as the structure for issue development is in place.

Bylos admits that it’s “absolutely vital” for the studio to advertise the game better and communicate clearly what the game is to potential players. He also said that the team is working on helping players overcome the game’s higher difficulty, particularly with starter decks that are coming soon and easier story boss fights.

Funcom is ready to take The Secret World F2P if need be

Funcom’s new CEO is tackling tough questions about the future of The Secret World, saying that the studio is prepared to take the title free-to-play — if need be. In an interview with GamesIndustry, Ole Schreiner said that TSW was developed to be subscription-based with the options to change the model down the road.

“We tried leaving our options open during development so that we could launch with a different model should we have decided during development that’s what we wanted, but eventually we did settle on the subscription model and that’s what informed much of the game’s design,” Schreiner said. “That said we definitely have the tools to turn The Secret World into a free-to-play game — or even hybrid — should we decide to do that somewhere down the line.”

Schreiner admitted that it’s become difficult for subscription titles to thrive in a F2P-dominated field. He added that The Secret World is now a “profitable operation” following the studio’s restructuring: “Despite the obvious challenges, I definitely think we’re heading into a promising future for Funcom.”

The Secret World’s first raid debuts at Gamescom

Remember that badass CG trailer for The Secret World that featured four of the game’s factional NPCs joining forces to duke it out with a big nasty in the remains of New York City? Well, that might be our first clue about TSW’s next update.

Funcom’s new content initiative continues at next week’s Gamescom event as the firm will be releasing details of The Secret World’s first raid encounter. According to a report at IncGamers, the raid will “involve a giant monster crawling out of the subway system [and] attacking a partially destroyed New York.”

We don’t know for sure if the old trailer is related to the new raid, but there are a lot of similarities (including an errant subway car and what looks like the blasted remains of the Big Apple).

Source: IncGamers
More coverage: Official site

The Secret World To Lure In Gamers With New Content and Free Weekend

The world of MMORPG making is one that has left many a grave by the wayside from new and established developers who have tried and failed to make their all encompassing world succeed. Funcom’s effort, ‘The Secret World’ released at the start of July through Publisher Electronic Arts is not their first foray into the MMO world, having already cut their teeth on previous games ‘Age of Conan’ and ‘Anarchy Online’. However, ‘The Secret World’ has been developed since 2007 so the developers are keen to make sure that their newest offering lures in the players fast.

 

To meet that goal, Funcom has recently announced that to celebrate the game’s one month anniversary since launch, from the August the 3rd to the 6th will be a free weekend of play for users of ‘The Secret World’. This was announced on the game’s official website that “any player who has any type of The Secret World account” will be eligible for the offer. Also any new users who want in on the action can do so, providing you register for the game after Friday 27th July.

 

However, if you expect the game to remain the same during this weekend of partying, do not despair. 30 in-game missions have been added for the celebration period where users will have to help those who need assistance in the game world. With the reward of 1200 bonus points and a free t-shirt for your character, plus 15 fireworks per character so the party can last long into the in-game nights, Funcom are aiming for a party that its customers will remember. For those who would rather aim for glory rather than party, fear not! A leader board will be implemented by the Funcom team so the top 100 mission completers of the whole game will be raised high for all to see.

 

Aside from these weekend perks that Funcom have announced, there will also be regular new content added to the game. Ragnar Tørnquist, Senior Producer of ‘The Secret World’ announced that the first ‘Raid’ is in development and that “The Big Apple will never be the same.” A dungeon finder tool is currently being created so gamers will be able to put teams together easier. Two new adventure zones are also being developed with further news to come to light in August.

 

‘The Secret World’ has garnered a favorable critical reception from the gaming press so far, with a score of 71 out of 100 from Metacritic based on critical reviews. The response from users has been higher, with a score of 8.4 out of 10 on the same website from gamers. GamesTM, The Escapist and PC Powerplay have all offered glowing reviews of the title, although the game’s score still stands lower than either ‘Age of Conan’ (80) or ‘The Longest Journey’ (91). However, considering ‘The Secret World’ had a surprisingly smooth launch (compared to the debacle surrounding Age of Conan) and over 750,000 beta testers, perhaps all Funcom has to do is keep the momentum going for things to turn out just right.

 

Kyle McColl