Perfect World Entrainment is nearing a closed beta for Western audiences of its free-to-play action MMORPG, Swordsman. The game is already live in China and has been for over a year, but it's making a slow transition to the West after appropriate localization updates. Swordsman is set in the Ming dynasty and draws its inspiration from the novels of Louis Cha, a (late) popular novelist in the East. The localization team is working with the core game's writers and the Estate of Louis Cha to aid in the interpretation of the writings. According to Gabe Heiland, Product Manager at Perfect World, the game is being designed for hardcore PvP gamers who enjoy real-time combat.

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We had the chance to speak with the Swordsman devs about the game's localization for Western audiences, dynamic MMO combat, F2P mechanics, and the secret usefulness of umbrellas in MMORPGs.

We've been following Star Citizen fairly extensively since its 2012 campaign. As journalists, part of the job is "discovering" games before they make it big; I always task writers with dedicating some portion of our time at PAX to discovering indie games, the hope being that one goes mainstream after we've made it in the door early. I vividly remember Star Citizen hitting the $800,000 mark on Kickstarter and feeling like I'd missed the boat for journalistic success -- it was at the height of its campaign and everyone else had already started talking about it. Even still, we linked up with CIG CEO & Chairman Chris Roberts to discuss technology in-depth (lots of hardware conversation in that link), which had been entirely unexplored up until that point. It's still one of my favorite articles I've worked on, and much of that content remains relevant through today. Funny how much I've learned since then, too.

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Months later, we caught up with Roberts at PAX East 2013 shortly before a discussion panel (filmed). Fast forward to July, and we found ourselves at the Cloud Imperium Games office in Santa Monica. At this point, Roberts' next major goal was $21 million; that'd allow him the freedom of ditching private investors in favor of crowd-sourcing the entire game, he told us, and it was no longer a pipe dream to do so. Everyone in the room knew the funding target was on the horizon, it was just a matter of when. I don't think any of us could have told you that Star Citizen would be sitting at $42 million -- more than double our July meeting -- less than a year later.

WildStar has been on our radar since PAX East 2013 partially because of its Warplots PVP combat and player housing. Carbine Studios has already implemented the core functionalities and most of the rich customization for their large-scale battle mode in the game’s beta. That said, series newcomers may want a comprehensive understanding of this expansive and explosive gameplay mode before joining their first War Party. I went to a Warplots demo at last week’s PAX East for a debriefing with Carbine’s PVP Lead Designer, Jen Gordy.

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At Star Citizen’s dogfighting module (DFM) unveil on Thursday night, Chairman & CEO of Cloud Imperium Games Chris Roberts showcased a pre-alpha build of the spaceflight combat mechanics and gameplay. The fan event exhibited a number of crashing and other show-inhibiting technical hurdles, but ultimately the game’s early build was well-received by the crowd and fans seemed to be understanding. The nature CIG’s transparent approach to game development brings with it some risk of visibility into a turbulent game-making process; the lead-up to a game's launch involves countless alpha builds of similar stability, it's just that we don't normally (as gamers) see the behind-the-scenes development.

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We caught-up with Chris Roberts after the event for a brief run-n-gun interview to discuss his thoughts on the unveil. Since then, we spent Saturday morning with the Star Citizen visionary to answer community questions (from reddit) and talk FPS mechanics. Due to the sheer amount of content we walked away with -- as always is the case with Chris -- we'll be publishing two articles + two videos this week. The first is here; the next will be released on Saturday. This content will focus purely on FPS mechanics and gameplay within Star Citizen -- the article releasing on Saturday will be a pure Q&A format.

Let's get started. (A big thanks to /u/rolfski for FPS questions & thoughts).

Cloud Imperium Games’ PAX East pre-show saw the unveiling of a (somewhat) functional multiplayer dogfighting module (DFM), as helmed by the game’s visionary and renowned industry veteran Chris Roberts. We were able to get an exclusive video interview in a very quick run-n-gun format after the event to collect Roberts’ thoughts on the somewhat shaky unveil, embedded below; we’ll also be covering the immediate roadmap for the dogfighting module, plans for multi-crew combat, and plans for initial FPS gameplay mechanics (boarding).

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The fan event today collected journalists and monetary backers of Star Citizen, which we’ve written about extensively in three previous interviews:

I’m always incredibly skeptical when presented with any form of MMO, especially of the F2P variety; so many dwell within a realm of repetition and disguised bypass-this-grind-with-a-microtransaction mechanics that it’s tough to get excited about them anymore. This is a classic instance of abuse by the industry – abuse so pervasive that it turns players off before they’ve even laid hands on the game. Some games shine through the pile of opportunists – like ArcheAge, which has deeply interesting economy and warfare mechanics – but they’re big productions and tough to pull-off.

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World of Speed is a bit different in that it’s a closed-world MMO racing game driven primarily by player skill. At least, that’s what they tell me. I got a hands-on with the game at GDC 2014 and had a chance to speak with Sean Fitzpatrick of Slightly Mad Studios, a company you might recognize for its work on the high-fidelity “Project Cars” game. Slightly Mad’s track-record with Project Cars – to include widespread use by nVidia as a graphics demonstration – carries over to World of Speed as the teams share experience internally.

Korean studio XL Games offered Korean and Japanese gamers a chance to enjoy the freedom of creating a player-specific experience while enjoying core MMORPG gameplay when they released ArcheAge last year. Bay Area-based studio Trion Worlds (End of Nations, Rift, Defiance) has been working with XL Games ever since to bring the sandbox MMORPG to Western audiences. 

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We caught up with Producer Victoria Voss at last week’s Game Developers Conference to learn more about and the game’s extensive crafting skills, XP system, and unique treatment of crime and punishment.

ArcheAge is a fantasy MMORPG that creates massive PVP battles and features 15 crafting skills; in this preview, we’ll look at the game’s merits in the MMO marketplace.

After the typically groggy-Monday start, San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference enjoyed its most bustling day on Tuesday, March 18th. We met with Paradox, Obsidian, and Sony Online Entertainment for the day, with SOE stealing the show on the topic of their impending EverQuest Next and EverQuest Next: Landmark titles.

eq1-concept-artThe original EverQuest from 99 had impressive concept art. It is also home to my favorite game soundtrack of all time.

I previously posted a quick EQNL specifications and requirements article, but aside from that, our coverage of Landmark has been pretty thin. This post should very quickly get you up to speed on the basics and provide some interesting developer commentary for existing fans. In taking with Dave Georgeson, Director of Development for the EQ Franchise at SOE, we covered several fan-requested topics within EverQuest Next: Landmark (EQNL) and the far-future EverQuest Next (EQN) launch.

A couple key discussion points addressed in the video interview below include client-server I/O optimization, modding support, water and accompanying static vs. dynamic physics, griefing countermeasures, the future of EQNL, NPCs, and a bit more.

You should also check back on Thursday for another EQNL article from us.

EverQuest was my first real MMO, so I see hope for the industry whenever a new EQ is in development. EQ2 wasn't particularly thrilling and WoW was just getting going around its launch, so we've been waiting many years for the franchise's successor. After several scrapped initial attempts, SOE eventually decided to drive the game toward player-created content and player-fueled micro-transactions. This is similar to what Valve has done with TF2 and DOTA2, and given its success there, has some merit.

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SOE's impending EverQuest Next: Landmark utility just had its minimum & recommended system requirements detailed, along with potential to support VR tech like Oculus Rift. Here's what we know:

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