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World of Darkness Goes Dark April 14, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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8 comments

CCP Games today announced that they have cancelled the World of Darkness massively multiplayer online (MMO) game project in development in their Atlanta, GA studio.

As a result of the change, 56 employees of the Atlanta studio have lost their jobs.  Some team members have been offered roles on other projects inside the company, and CCP has provided severance packages and job placement assistance for those affected.

The remaining team in Atlanta will focus on games in the EVE Universe, which will mark the first time since 2006 that the entirety of CCP will be working on a single universe.

-CCP Press Release

Well, that about wraps that up I guess.  This is the third and final cut, the World of Darkness team having faced layoffs back in 2011 and then again last year.

World of Darkness

World of Darkness

CCP bought White Wolf, the creators of World of Darkness, back in 2006, and had been working on an MMO version of the IP seriously starting in 2009.  Since then though, little has surfaced about the project aside from bad new.

I suppose this answers the question from earlier this year about what software was “derecognized” as an asset by CCP as part of their 2013 financial report.

CCP is solely focused on EVE Online and spin-offs such as DUST 514 and EVE Valkyrie.  We won’t get to see what CCP could do in the realm of fantasy now.

In the gaming world Zombies continue to rule, while vampire fortunes seem to be in a downward spiral.  I blame Stephenie Meyer.

Addendum: But CCP is still thinking about what to do with World of Darkness.

CCP – Losing Money and Getting Closer to Sony March 19, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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9 comments

A couple of interesting/odd things around CCP this week.

CCPlogo

The first is that CCP released their 2013 financial report (you can view it here), in which indicate that they lost $21 million for the year.  It says so right there at the bottom line.

However, if your reaction is, “OMG, Tobold was right! CCP is doomed!” you should calm down.

As Jester covered in detail, the loss came from a capital asset… in this case, software which they no longer feel will generate revenue… being “derecognized.”

Bascially, they wrote some software that they felt had value  because of potential revenue it might generate and called it an asset at some point, adding to the total value of the company.  Now they have decided that the software in question does not have value, again revenue potential comes into play, so they have to take it off the books.  To the shareholders, the company effectively “lost” that much in its overall valuation, but no actual cash money disappeared or changed hands.  The operational aspects of the company were profitable and, as expected, completely dominated by EVE Online, which generated most of the $74 million in revenue from games. (Which is a $9 million boost over 2012.)

So the real question has become, “What software got ‘derecognized?'”

Contenders seem to be World of Darkness related development, “walking in stations” code from the Incarna era,  or maybe some aspect of DUST 514, though the latter, as a whole, did actually generate some revenue in 2013, if not as much as CCP hoped.

The whole thing is muddied up by the fact that CCP dropped the financials out there without any accompanying press release or explanation.  This is no doubt why certain gaming sites, who would likely jump on such a headline as sure-fire click bait, haven’t put up stories about it yet.  “CCP Loses 21 Million Dollars in 2013″ is a winner on that front, right?  But nobody has told them what to think, so they have yet to act. (I, meanwhile, will act without thinking at all!)

Well played CCP.  More as that develops.

Meanwhile, David Reid tweeted last night CCPs virtual reality game, EVE Valkyrie, which has been shown with the Occulus Rift headset up to this point (and which is reportedly getting closer to an actual consumer model), would also be coming to the PlayStation 4 using Sony’s VR headset, currently flying under the code name Project Morpheus… because The Matrix (and not some NASA lander project).

Nifty stuff.  CCP was already close to Sony through DUST 514, which remains (much to the dismay of many EVE Online players) a PlayStation 3 exclusive title.  Now CCP is getting closer still, being in a position to help boost Sony’s new peripheral with software that is already generating “oohs” and “ahhs” from those who have had a chance to play with it.

Over at The Nosy Gamer, there is also speculation that this further tightening relationship between Sony and CCP might also aim to help Sony crack the China market with the PS4 by porting DUST 514 over so they would have a free to play, made in China FPS game to bring to the table.  Or something.

But, going back to the CCP financial statement, one other theory being bandied about is that the “derecognized” software isn’t anything in particular, at least not a whole project being terminated, but rather a collection of odds and ends bundled up to be removed from the books in order to clean things up for a potential financial move in the coming year.  If CCP was going to be involved in a merger or get a major new investor, it would certainly be prudent to have their valuations rock solid.

And, of course, here is Sony, back in the picture again, potentially in a big way, with new technologies and a chance for “firsties” on the VR front in the console wars.

Completely circumstantial… and barely that… but it is enough to make you go, “Hrmmm…”

DUST 514 Has Launched May 14, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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5 comments

Or so says the press release.

Dust514Trans

My ambivalence towards the game continues however.

I like the connection with EVE Online, the idea of continuing the struggle on the surface of planets, the possibilities of the combined in-game markets, and, most of all, the idea of bombing DUST players from orbit while in my spaceship just for the sheer hell of it.

That last bit represents the height of my interest.

But shooters… and console shooters… just really are not my thing.

So, while I have a PlayStation 3, I still have not bothered downloading it.

It has been in open beta for months, and was available to EVE players even before that.

I am not on the Derek Smart “just going to fail” train, but I wouldn’t bet heavily on success either.  Player numbers are starting to become available.  But I couldn’t tell you if they are good or bad yet.  How much is enough with a free to play game?

Meanwhile, I just haven’t seen or heard anything that makes me want to play yet.

DUST got a boost with the Uprising update.  That all sounds good.  But there isn’t the anything I just have to have, anything that is a big draw.

Maybe, like EVE, it would benefit from more public drama.

Or, maybe, like EVE, it will start slow and build over time.

Where will it be in a year?

DUST 514 Open Beta is… Open! January 22, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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2 comments

I guess today is the day to write about games getting to open beta.

Today the fine people at CCP announced that their EVE Online integrated console shooter, DUST 514, is now in open beta.

Dust514Trans

Previously DUST 514 beta access was open to anybody with an active EVE Online account and a PlayStation 3.  Now it is open to anybody.  I am not sure if that really broadens the audience by much.

Are there a lot of people who don’t play EVE Online interested in playing DUST 514?  There is certainly doubt about that in some quarters.

CCP has an announcement, a sign up page, and FAQ posted for those who are interested.

But it seems that if you want the real deal about what is going on, you should go look at the mighty, meaty, Monster DUST 514 beta review post that Winterblink has finally unleashed on the world.

I am still not sure when I will ever get around to playing it.  The NHL hockey season finally got under way, which means that the TV where our PlayStation 3 is hooked up is spoken for most evenings.

But it is out there.

Which will mean more people in local in EVE in some systems.

And maybe, some day, I’ll drop a rock or something on them.

Quote of the Day – Flavors of Orbital Bombardment January 9, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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9 comments

…I hope one of those flavors is Random EVE Asshole Messing With DUST Players.

Winterblink on DUST 514 finally merging with EVE Online

Dust514Trans

CCP is finally going to bite the bullet and put EVE Online and DUST 514 players on the same grid.

Sort of.

It will be limited at first.

But even in that limited scope, Winterblink captures my own immediate hopes and dreams on the subject quite well.

I am not really interested in DUST 514 itself.  It is a shooter.  I am good for maybe one of those at a time, and at this time it is World of Tanks.  Plus, being on the PS3 makes it difficult, and I own a PS3.  It is just hooked up to a TV that people in our house primarily use for watching… well… TV.

But I wouldn’t mind dropping some crap on DUST 514 players from orbit, just for fun.  All I suspect is needed is something to drop and a bit of feedback indicating you’re making somebody miserable and that will become popular sport.  That is all it takes in EVE most days.  It is sort of like that early Simpsons episode where they are all hooked up to give each other electric shocks and they simply cannot stop zapping each other.

We can see targets from here!

In fact, I think CCP could fake up an interface in EVE that charged you ISK to drop rocks on surface dwellers and people would flock to it so long as they thought they were actually hitting DUST 514 players.  It might be a way to drain ISK out of the economy, if they could just convince us somebody was actually getting an electrical shock… or a rock dropped on them.

Anyway, I am waiting for the inevitable guide on how to make DUST 514 players miserable from orbit.

Maybe I can get my daughter to play DUST 514.  She has shown an affinity for Team Fortress 2 lately.  And then I can drop stuff on her.  If I could get her to complain from the other room, it might be worth it.

Addendum: CCP has a FAQ up about Dust/EVE interactions at planets.  It turns out you cannot just start chucking rocks at ground pounders.

PlanetSide 2 Goes Live November 20, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, PlanetSide 2, Sony Online Entertainment.
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2 comments

The counter on the main page for the game ran down at last this morning.

Just a second to go!

The site is finally live.  People can play PlanetSide 2.

The big reveal…

It seems to be pretty popular.

No surprise on the source there.  SOE head John Smedley has been in the forefront, pushing this game.  His twitter account is practically the official source for PS2 news.

Of course, PS2 has been very popular already up to this point.  The open beta has been very open and lots of people have been playing.  The game has a clear following already, on day one, with the EVE Online demographic.  It is one of the non-EVE games covered over at The Mittani, which also has coverage of League of Legends, MechWarrior Online, and World of Tanks.

It makes you wonder where CCP’s own DUST 514 will fit in things?  In competing for the same audience, the “only on PlayStation 3″ aspect of DUST 514 continues to look like an awkward move at best for a company whose following is all on personal computers.

I mean, SOE reports to the PlayStation people at SCEA and they didn’t go to the PlayStation 3 with PlanetSide 2.  Not yet at least, though Smed did say we would see PlanetSide 2 on the Mac.

Meanwhile, PlanetSide 2 seems to fit right into the current SOE philosophy.  It is free to play.  It has a premium subscription option.  It is part of the SOE All Access pass.  And, as Smed said at Fan Faire, the players are providing the bulk of the content.

Pity that the philosophy also includes selling all their European customers to some German outfit.  That puts a damper on the game for some.

Of course, that last bit is pretty easy if you build a shooter game well.  We will see how the player created content/sandbox theme plays out with EverQuest Next as he mentioned in his keynote this year.

And then there is the question of the original PlanetSide.  Smed has said they won’t be closing it.  But in a family of free to play games, where does the sole remaining subscription title belong?

Somebody Thinks MMOs Still Have Value – CCP Raises 20 Million in New Funding, Talks IPO Again August 10, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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9 comments

With Star Wars: The Old Republic pretty much failing to meet expectations all around, there has been a lot of talk about the death of many things: Monthly subscription MMOs, big budget MMOs, and well… MMOs in general.

Aside from a burst of asylum level crazy talk about SWTOR somehow claiming as many as 10 million monthly users once it goes free… which I am going to guess is what they will need to make it profitable in that mode… to whatever, the news seems to be grim.

Then there is CCP, which seems to be bucking the trend… as usual.

It still has a the subscription model going.  And while it has eyed the cash shop idea longingly at times, it really hasn’t gone very far in that direction, barring some useless cosmetic items.

And they continue to buck the trend by getting $20 million in new funding in these dark days, according to Tech Crunch.

Of course, this should not really be news.  CCP was talking about more funding and an IPO back in February when they announced that they had not only defied some dire predictions about going bankrupt, but actually made a handy profit for 2011.  This despite the whole Incarna thing.

What will a publicly traded CCP mean?  Is that even a good thing?

I couldn’t tell you.  Then again, I live in Silicon Valley where IPO generally means “screw the company, I’m cashing out!” so I sometimes have a dim view of the whole process despite having “cashed out” at least once myself.

But somebody out there thinks there is value to be found in MMOs.

DUST 514 Beta Open to All EVE Online Subscribers August 9, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, PlayStation 3.
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3 comments

CCP announced that EVE Online players will now have access to the beta of their upcoming console shooter DUST 514.

From CCP:

You’re in! In preparation for this weekend’s beta event, we’re giving DUST 514™ All Access passes to every EVE subscriber. Be part of the massive EVE player invasion set to hit the DUST 514 servers starting August 9th, 2012. Follow the guidelines:

INSTRUCTIONS
1.    Login to your EVE Account Management Voucher Center.
2.    Claim your DUST 514 Beta CCP Code.
3.    Copy the CCP Code displayed in the Voucher Center.
4.    Go to http://dust514.com/redeem and enter the CCP Code to begin.
5.    Follow the instructions at dust514.com to obtain your PlayStation®Network Voucher.

Then, just follow the instructions on the PSN Voucher code page to redeem the voucher and start playing in the DUST 514 closed beta.

The DUST 514 beta server is open this weekend from Thursday, 9 August at 11:30 UTC through Monday, 13 August at 11:00 UTC.

That is cool.

Of course, there is the question “How many EVE Online players have a PlayStation 3?”

We happen to have one at our house, so I am good in that regard.

And then there is the game itself.

I like that it is hooked into EVE Online proper, that the game is expanding the CCP “One Universe” philosophy.  What is done in one game can impact the other and such.  That should make for some most excellent unintended consequences.

On the other hand, it is a shooter… a console shooter…. a console shooter with what is purported to be such an annoying control set that mouse and keyboard players like myself have gone insane, or at least have gone out an bought the keyboard and mouse control set for the PS3 just to play the game.

Anyway, I might give it a look this weekend.  Maybe.

Then again, a friend gave me a code for the beta a couple weeks back and I watched the Olympics instead.  So we’ll see.

But the whole thing is under wraps still, so I suspect I won’t be blogging about it.

The DUST 514 closed beta program is a private test of a work in progress. It is not a final product, nor is it indicative of final performance, frame rate, effects, or feature set. Please remember that if you choose to participate, everything associated with this test is confidential and may not be discussed outside of the DUST 514 closed beta forums. Your participation in the DUST 514 closed beta program is always subject to the EULA and Confidentiality Agreement.

Ah well.  You can only talk about things that CCP has already made public.

Derek Smart on Dust 514 March 2, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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8 comments

Derek Smart apparently needs to get something stirred up before GDC to help promote his own new game, so he tossed this out in and interview over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun:

Dust 514, that’s just going to fail. There’s no ifs, maybes or buts about it. The proper way I think that would have been done would have been to do an Eve sequel and bolt Dust 514 into it. That’s the problem when you start in one direction, your user base clamours for something they’re expecting and you can’t shoehorn it into what you have right now and you really can’t go back to the drawing board.

This was in reference to a question about Galactic Command Online, a game that has been talked about longer than EVE Online has been around.

It has been almost 2 years since his last really public confrontation with David Allen, and 18 months since it got wrapped up.

Anyway, if you haven’t had a recent dose of reality viewed through the lens of Derek Smart, be sure to check out the interview.  Just to tempt you, I will also throw in this quote:

I run Alganon over at my other company, Quest Online. That was subscription, I came in and made it F2P and the rest is history.

The rest, indeed, is history.  And history is really the only guide we have when predicting the future.

(Hat Tip to @EONMagazine)