Albion Online Dev Talk – Merlyn Roadmap –

The next major content update for Albion Online, Merlyn, is coming soon. In this Dev Talk, Robin Henkys, Game Director of Albion Online, describes some of the features coming with this update.

No time to watch the video? Read on for a written description of his talk:

The Key Idea: Strengthening the Royal Cities

The primary goal of the Merlyn update is to increase the importance of the various cities on the Royal Continent. Each of the continent's cities has its own visual identity and biome, but economically they play a secondary role to Caerleon. With the Merlyn update, we're looking to change this.


The first step toward strengthening these cities will be to introduce two types of economic bonuses: refining bonuses and crafting bonuses.

Refining Bonuses

Each Royal city will be particularly good at refining a particular resource – and to encourage cross-continent transport, it will always be a resource that is not common to the region. If you refine this particular resource in this particular city, you will get a lot more refined resources out of your raw materials.

From a narrative perspective this is due to the city having mastered the effective use of a scarce resource. After all, even in the real world, we only ever become efficient at using resources when they become scarce and expensive. 

Crafting Bonuses

In addition, each city will be particularly good at crafting particular sets of items. We're aiming for a good balance between items that make sense in the local biomes (such as bows in Lymhurst) and items that are less typical for the area to make each city valuable.

Note that while Caerleon itself will not receive any of these bonuses, home territories in the Outlands will remain strong. Crafting in these territories will always be at least as effective as crafting your items in the city with the highest bonus, so players who are already doing their crafting in black zones can continue to do so.

Resource Distribution Changes

To make the various Royal cities more attractive for gatherers as well, the Merlyn update will see a rebalancing of resource distribution. Enchanted lower-tier resources will be far more common near each biome city, while the amount of lower-tier resources in the Outlands and around Caerleon will decrease.

With these economic changes, we're confident we will see the economic standing of the outlying Royal cities increase significantly.

Improved Marketplace UI

To support this increased economic activity, we're also finally bringing the updated UI to the Marketplace. This will significantly improve the ability of players to track trade volumes and average prices, and will greatly streamline the trading process throughout the world of Albion. 

Faction Warfare

But what about players who want to participate in PvP, and currently have Caerleon as their only home option? For these players, we'll be introducing a new feature with the Merlyn update: faction warfare!

The outlying cities have discovered powerful new magical resources within their territorial borders, and have used them to buy their freedom from the king. These "free cities" immediately began fighting among themselves, vying for control of these resources, with each city trying to establish itself as Albion's greatest.

To gain the upper hand in this conflict, the cities' leaders have begun hiring mercenaries to fight for them. When players sign up with a faction, they gain the ability to kill and loot members of opposing factions wherever they encounter them.

They will also be handsomely rewarded for any PvE and faction PvP activities they engage in while signed up. Each faction has access to a unique set of rewards, which include new baby animals (which can be grown into powerful faction mounts), as well as new crafting patterns which can be used to create a wide variety of different capes, opening the cape slot as a new tactical option for Albion players.

In addition, faction warfare will introduce two new activities to the world of Albion: outpost capturing and trade caravans.

In outpost capturing, faction-flagged players can attempt to claim outposts belonging to opposing factions by killing the faction champion guarding the outpost.

And with trade caravans, players can transport valuable faction goods to smuggling posts in order to exchange them for larger amounts of different faction goods, all while running the risk of getting attacked by an opposing faction's members.

All in all, these faction warfare features should really breathe life into PvP on the Royal Continent, and we're very excited to bring them to life.

That's all for today – we'll be sharing more details on these and other features of the Merlyn update in upcoming Dev Talks, so stay tuned!

Albion Online Dev Talk – Season 3 Balance Changes on gamesread

Albion Online's third GvG Season starts on June 23. To prepare for this occasion, we will release a patch that includes combat balancing changes, updates to siphoned energy and red-zone GvGs, and various quality-of-life improvements. In this Dev Talk, Michael Schwahn, Combat Designer for Albion Online, discusses what's coming with this patch.

No time to watch the video? Here's a written summary of his talk:

1. Combat Balancing Changes

5v5 GvG Meta

One major focus of this balancing patch are the current heavy CC builds, particularly the double tank dive meta.

  • These builds are currently too dominant and hard to counter, which is not what we intended
  • Warrants some larger changes to some of the items in this build
  • Main offenders that enable the current meta:
    • Judicator Helmet
    • Cultist Sandals
    • Rampant Staff
  • The Rampant Staff, in particular, needs more counterplay options

Improving Underused Items

We also want to improve and buff underused items, particularly all three Holy Artifact items. We will also buff some underused helmet, armor and shoe items. Some of the items to be improved include:

  • Artifact Holy Staffs
  • Scholar Cowl and similar armor pieces
  • Ranged damage dealers like bows and Frost Staffs

Bringing Solo Builds More in Line

We also want to tone down some solo builds, such as the Great Nature Staff – and particularly its kiting ability. These staffs already have such a strong survivability that their attack should be somewhat reduced: for example, their DoT range will be decreased, which will require staying closer to enemy targets to keep the DoT effective.

Reworked IP Scaling

We're also reworking the item power scaling for offhands, and they will be entirely tied to item power after this patch, meaning:

  • Offhands get the full bonus of the Destiny Board specializations
  • Offhands also get the full item quality bonus from their quality level

This is not just on top of current item strength: the scaling curve has also been adjusted, so items may end up either a bit stronger or a bit weaker than their current state.

Food Progression Curve

With this patch, the progression of food will be a bit flattened at the highest levels, meaning high-end food will not be quite as powerful as it is currently. This is to somewhat reduce the snowball effect, as high-end food is very expensive, and can be used to undermine the IP cap on certain zones.

2. Reducing Snowballing in the Outlands

For Season 3, we're making several changes that will reduce the snowball effect between smaller and larger guilds in the Outlands:

First, we're changing the amount of siphoned energy each territory produces. This will bring Mercia and Anglia a bit more in line with each other – there will still be a difference in the energy these regions produce, but it will not be as extreme as it is currently. The goal of this change is to reduce some of the current snowballing in these territories, and to add a bit more strategy and balance to which territories a guild chooses to defend. 

Second, in order to give smaller guilds more of an even footing, we're introducing a soft gear cap for red-zone GvGs. These soft caps will only be active during the GvG fight itself; open-world red zones overall will stay untouched. 

3. Other Adjustments and Improvements

Better loot in yellow-zone Hellgates: as these Hellgates are now full-loot, we're scaling the rewards they offer up accordingly. They will still not be as lucrative as those found in red and black zones, but should offer rewards that are appropriate to their challenge.

Freely attack guild and alliance members in Hellgates: this will allow for less restricted play in Hellgates, as players will not have to worry about avoiding their fellow guild/alliance members when they appear in an enemy group.

As always, you can view the most up-to-date stats and numbers in the NDA Balance Playtests thread on our forum.

That's all for now – stay tuned for more updates over the coming weeks!

gamesread | A Tiger is Waiting for You!

A new referral season starts today! Refer your friends and get three new rewards: the Recruiter's Chest, the Recruiter's Tiger Cape, and the Recruiter's Tiger

gamesread | A Tiger is Waiting for You!

How to Earn Seasonal Referral Rewards

The new referral season lasts until July 17. There are three ways to collect referrals and earn a Tiger mount:

  • The easiest way is by sending Trial Keys to your friends. Each key redeemed on an account without a key on it will count toward your referral season progress.
  • Additionally, any Starter Pack that you buy and that gets redeemed on an account without a key will also count toward your progress.
  • And last but not least: if a friend registers through your referral link, then buys and redeems a Starter Pack on their account, you’ll also progress.

To get an overview of your current progress this season, and to see the FAQ for the referral system, click here.

gamesread | A Tiger is Waiting for You!

Albion Online Dev Talk – Faction Warfare, Part 1 –

Merlyn, the fourth major post-release content update for Albion Online, will bring numerous improvements and changes to the world of Albion. Foremost among these is Faction Warfare, an all-new system that allows players to join one of five factions based in the five Royal Cities: Martlock, Fort Sterling, Thetford, Bridgewatch, and Lymhurst. In this Dev Talk, Robin Henkys, Game Director of Albion Online, gives an overview of this new feature.

No time to watch the video? Here's a written summary of his talk:

1. What is Faction Warfare?

Faction Warfare is a system which allows players to participate in the conflict between rival cities on the Royal continent. It is part of our plan to strengthen the role of the Royal Cities and offers guilds, as well as solo and guildless players, the opportunity for Open World PVP on the Royal Continent without fearing the repercussions of the reputation system. Furthermore, it also introduces new resources, items and mounts that can be used by players of all levels.

2. How does it work?

Joining a Faction

  • Players can sign up with the Faction General in one of the five Faction cities on the Royal Continent.
  • While flagged up, players cannot enter the capital cities of the other factions, nor can they enter Caerleon.
  • On the plus side, they are now able to attack members of opposing factions freely. There’s a complex set of rules governing who is able to attack and support who, but to break it down simply: factioned players can support their own faction and attack opposing factions. Blue players can’t engage faction-flagged players (and vice versa), while red players can engage anyone, including all faction-flagged players.
  • While you’re flagged for a faction, your cape will change its emblem and colors to that faction's style, and you will be able to attack guild or alliance members who have joined different factions.
  • You will also join the faction’s chat channel, which will enable you to coordinate with other players in the faction, form groups, etc.
  • Finally, flagging for a faction also enables you to engage in faction trade missions, which we’ll cover in another video.
  • Of course, you can also decide to leave a faction, which works similarly to changing your PvP status from hostile to friendly.

Faction Points and Standing

Being able to attack other players is not the only benefit of faction flagging – while flagged, you can also earn faction points and standing with the faction you’re working for.

There are three ways to earn faction points: 

  1. PvE
  2. Gathering / Fishing
  3. Capturing Outposts
  • When engaging in PvE or Gathering/Fishing, the amount of faction points earned will be based on the amount of Fame gained. The idea is that players can choose to enable the Faction Warfare flag, risking open-world PvP in order to gain additional rewards in the form of faction points.
  • Outposts capture allows players to capture specific locations in the world for their city, earning them faction points for every location captured.
  • Faction points earned can be spent on rewards at the faction store, and they will also increase your standing with that faction. Standing slightly boosts the faction points earned, and also unlocks the ability to acquire better rewards.

3. Faction Warfare Rewards

Three different, all-new rewards can be bought from the faction store:

  • City Heart Fragments: These shards, pieces of a powerful magical resource growing at the heart of each city, can be used in resource refining to reduce the amount of raw resources needed. They are also used as a crafting ingredient in some of the other faction items.
  • Faction Capes: The first of a completely new line of cape slot items to enhance your builds.
  • Faction Mounts: A new set of baby animals that can be raised as unique mounts by farmers.

In addition to these tangible rewards, there is also a new kill fame ranking by faction, allowing players within the same faction to compete with each other.

That's all for now – stay tuned for our next Dev Talk, where we'll take an in-depth look at Faction Rewards, Faction Trade Missions and Outpost Capturing.

gamesread – Merlyn Arrives on July 31

Our fourth major content update, Merlyn, arrives on July 31, bringing a huge number of new features, changes, and improvements to the world of Albion.

gamesread - Merlyn Arrives on July 31

Faction Warfare is Coming!

Open-world warfare comes to the Royal Continent with an all-new Faction Warfare system. Sign up with one of five factions, then set out into the wilds of Albion to claim outposts, transport valuable goods, and earn exclusive rewards.

  • Outposts and Trading – Take down enemy factions' outposts by defeating unique faction bosses with their own strengths, skills, and personalities. Participate in high-risk, high-reward trade runs through enemy territory.
  • Special Faction Rewards – New faction resources open up alternative crafting recipes, while faction capes and mounts offer exciting new gameplay opportunities.

The Last Of Us, Cyberpunk 2077 and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider on gamesread

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this: E3 is one of the best and worst times of the year. On the plus side, you get to peer into the future of gaming. On the downside, that future is usually a ways off. Both in terms of time and accuracy. I mean sure you get all of these tantalizing tidbits of games you’d never thought you’d see again and games you’ve been waiting your entire life for, but that doesn’t mean the games will actually turn out the way you want. There’s even a decent chance they won’t be released at all. It’s only naturally that after all of this time I’ve become more than a little jaded about E3. I find myself actively resisting the hype that begins to swirl around the games shown off at the conference. I do the best I can to love nothing. To want nothing–no matter how shiny or genre-defining. But despite this, there are still a few games that get my blood pumping no matter how hard I try to resist. Games that look so good and so enticing that I just can’t help but to give into the hype. The following are those games.

The Last Of Us: Part 2

So full disclosure: The first Last Of Us is my favorite game of all time. And that means a lot coming from me because I cannot play scary games. At all. Not even kind of scary games or even scary levels in super cutesy games about kids with magic hats.

The Last Of Us, Cyberpunk 2077 and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider on gamesread


And there were plenty of parts in the Last Of Us which made me want to crap myself. But I persevered because I was so drawn in by Joel and Ellie’s story. Needless to say, I was eager for a glimpse of the game’s sequel at this year’s conference and man was I not disappointed. The game looks fantastic. And everything, to the way characters move, talk and fight, looks like it’s happening in a real place. I could say it looks like you’re playing a movie but I won’t because I’m not a hack. So I will say that the game’s combat made me wince. A lot. I could be getting old or the graphics could be getting too good but man. I would be lying if I said I didn’t flinch away from every blow as if it was coming directly for my face.

Gameplay wise it seems very similar to the first game, so zero complaints from me. Ammo and supplies are scarce and a loose beer bottle may be the only thing between you and death. But now it looks as if every action carries so much more gravity and weight. That lends the game an added level of visceral feedback which, honestly, may be too much at times. But I am a sucker for contextual animation. I loved all of the little details that helped to sell the whole experience. Like the way Ellie ducks when a bullet flies past her shoulder or the bewildered way she looks around after the human shield she’d just taken slumps to the ground after being shot by an arrow.

The Last Of Us was easily my favorite part of E3 this year but I still wanted to put it here first. Because it’s E3 and you have to be skeptical of everything you see. And there were a number of moments during this trailer where I wasn’t sure if I was watching actual gameplay or an extended cutscence. And it wouldn’t be the first time a game bent the truth during the conference. It’s a lesson we’ve learned countless times from other show-stealers like Watch Dogs, Killzone and many others. But can’t help it. Still hyped.

Cyberpunk 2077

When the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer started I honestly thought it was going to be for Watch Dogs 3. And while I don’t hate the series (honestly, I kind of hate it) I felt that leaving the reveal of a new Watch Dogs game for the end of your press conference seemed like a really underwhelming move. Not Ridge Racer levels–but close. But when I saw CD Projekt Red’s name flash across the screen, I squealed. And why shouldn’t I? These guys have been killing it for years now. The Witcher 3 is still the most impressive game I have ever played. Considering it in terms of lore, story, scope, and execution I think its easily a masterpiece. And honestly, I expect Cyberpunk 2077 to be even better. And thankfully there are more details trickling out about the game which makes it sound like CD Projekt Red’s most ambitious title to date.

Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

For my money right now, the Tomb Raider franchise is the best when it comes to over the top action adventure. And I say that with all due respect to the Uncharted franchise. I mean, I adore Uncharted but I feel like that series has run its course while Tomb Raider pushes the genre further with each entry. The gameplay is fantastic, the set pieces and graphics are top-notch and while Lara may not have the charm or snark of Nathan Drake, I feel like she’s arguably a more compelling protagonist. I think a big reason for this is due to how well they’ve used the games in the (rebooted) series to build on her legend and character. Shadow Of The Tomb Raider seems like it will continue on this trend and I can’t wait to play it or any of the games on this list.

Which is the problem.


The Last Of Us, Cyberpunk 2077 and Shadow Of The Tomb Raider

Best Of E3 Part 2: Questions And Concerns –

In my last post, I took a look at the games that impressed me at this year’s E3 the most. The ones that despite my better judgment made me feel hype. Now I wanted to do something different. I wanted to discuss 2 games that look great but that just, for one reason or another…I am not too sure about. I do plan on playing both of the following games and there’s a good chance I’ll fall in love with them. But I just have a few questions and concerns which are preventing me from feeling the hype.


I had to include this title for a number of reasons. First: I am going to buy it. I am going to buy it and play it sooo much. But I’m not excited for it, like, at all. It could be because I would 100% rather have a new Dragon Age game. It could also be that Bioware’s last release, Mass Effect: Andromeda was the only Bioware game I’ve ever played that I didn’t like. Bioware is my favorite developer and more often times than not, it feels like their games are made specifically for me. The only game of theirs I’ve played where that hadn’t felt like the case was Andromeda. I’m willing to chalk that down to a fluke but the way that game was treated as if in a rush to get to Anthem has me feeling suspect about it.

Anthem looks unlike any game Bioware has done before. Which is to say…it looks a lot like Destiny. I get the temptation to try and capitalize on Destiny’s success but I kind of feel like that ship has sailed and as far as fads go they should be coming out with a PUBG clone–like everyone else. I know that Bioware can craft amazing worlds and stories but the snippets of dialogue I heard during the demo seemed straight out of Bungie’s handbook of nonsensical scifi-fantasy prattle. Nothing as bad as “That Wizard came from the Moon,” but pretty close. Of course if all of these details are explained thoroughly throughout the course of the game’s campaign it will feel less hokey and forced. And if anyone could do that it’s Bioware, right? I hope so.

But if I’m being completely honest the main reason I’m not excited for Anthem is that if everyone hates it I’ll feel bad because that’s how much of a Bioware fanboy I am.


Flying looks dope though.

Death Stranding

I consider Hideo Kojima one of the true auteurs of the video game world, someone who is consistently producing high art in the medium. Because you know you’ve seen a good foreign film when as soon as it ends you go: Wait. What? So the main reason I’m not hyped for Death Stranding is that I have no idea what it is. I realize I’m not supposed to know that yet (if ever) but it still bothers me. Because just when I start to get excited by the graphics and the setting, I see something like this:

Best Of E3 Part 2: Questions And Concerns -

I mean, what even is this?


Best Of E3 Part 2: Questions And Concerns -

Kojima? What is this???

Just like Anthem I plan on playing Death Stranding because I love the Metal Gear Solid series. I adore everything about it. The gameplay, the corny jokes, the unnecessarily long cutscenes–everything.

Best Of E3 Part 2: Questions And Concerns -

Please tell me more about the Patriots and take your time…I have snacks.

It’s a series jam-packed with fun and memorable moments and while the story may not always be coherent, it is always entertaining. And that fist fight at the end of MGS4? Easily one of my favorite gaming moments of all time. And I hope there are more unforgettable moments in Death Stranding. Like the sniper battle with The End. Or the one with Quiet–or Crying Wolf. I guess what I’m saying is that I want more more sniper battles and, wait–is that a baby? Is, is he using the baby for camouflage? Or some type of baby-powered radar system? Okay. Okay, I guess that makes sense.


Wait, what?

Best Of E3 Part 2: Questions And Concerns

gamesread – Top 5 Games Under $5 To Grab During The Summer Steam Sale

Every Steam sale is the best of times and the worst of times. The best of times for us and the worst of times for our wallets, and all the games we should be playing. What’s that? I have a brand new copy of Persona 5 I still haven’t touched? That’s cool and all but what can I buy now.

I don’t know about you but the first thing I do during a Steam sale (right after apologizing to my bank account) is to click on the under $5 list on Steam. Because if you’re spending less than $5 for a game..are you spending any money at all? I mean, are you really? Not just that but there is a special sense of satisfaction I get out of paying less than $5 for a game that could potentially entertainment me for hundreds of hours. Or 1. I mean it’s not like I’ve even played half of the Steam games I own. So in honor of thrifty consumerism, here are 5 games under $5 that you should pick up during this year’s Steam Summer Sale. There are technically more than 5 games here but 5 for $5 sounds better than like, 8 for $5. That sounds dumb.

Just a quick heads up though: I talk about mods a lot below because they can add tons of enjoyment to just about any game. I realize it can be a bit intimidating to get into modding though, so if you’re interested you should check out this beginner’s guide from PC Gamer. And you can find tons of mods at Nexus Mods and install most of them with their easy to use mod manager. I cannot stress how awesome some of these mods are and they can provide everything from improved graphics, combat or even completely original quest lines. Okay, onto the list.


1. Mount & Blade: Warband

Alright, I’ll be honest. That trailer does not look great. And that’s because this game is a little rough around the edges. Okay, it’s a lot of rough around the edges. But I’ve played this one for 105 hours and I could have easily tripled that number. But I fear it. I’m too terrified of being sucked in because once Mount and Blade gets its hooks in you, it doesn’t let go. But why, I hear you ask, why would anyone want to play a game that looks so butt? Well, allow me to answer your question with a series of questions. Do you want to:

  • Steal a ship and become a heartless pirate pillaging and murdering every village in sight?
  • Sneak into a fort disguised as an old beggar so you can kill a bunch of guards with a bo staff and bust your crew out of jail?
  • Lead a cavalry charge against a helpless group of peasants?
  • Storm up the walls of a castle, hacking and slashing wildly at friend and foe alike as you desperately try to secure a foothold?
  • Stand in the middle of a gory battlefield, littered with the mangled corpses of the dead and dying, all while you desperately block the blows of a blood-drunk berserker, only to have his axe tear through your shield in a shower of splinters, and you know the next strike will make even quicker work of your skull so you lunge forward and with a desperate swing you cleave a thin red line through his throat and then as you pant for breath you hear a roar that closes in from all around you-you whirl searching for the next foe before you realize, almost as if in a dream, that the roar is coming from your brothers and sisters in arms–you’ve won the day and their throats cry out in victory!

Ahem. Sorry, I was trying to do a bit there but I got carried away. Mount and Blade will do that to you. But yeah, you should buy it. It’s only $4.99. And yes, imagination helps with the graphics but so do mods! There are a ton of different mods to choose from for this game but the Floris Mod Pack is a terrific place to start.


2. Fallout New Vegas

Now this game. Oh man. This game right here…also hasn’t aged well. I bought Fallout New Vegas at this same price back in 2013. I had played Fallout 3 before and I hated it but I gaven Fallout New Vegas a chance anyway. Because at $3.29 the price was very right. I was still wary because of it due to my experiences with Fallout 3 though. But I was a noob. Here is a direct quote from past Mike, spoken while fighting a super mutant in a sewer: “This game is stupid, I’m aiming right at this guy and my bullets miss. That’s dumb–I hate this!!” Yes, embarrassing. At least I was young enough to still be decent at shooters (I miss you Past Mike) but man I was awful at RPGs. Did you know it took me over a month to beat Xenogears? A month!  Anyway, I bought Fallout New Vegas and I played. And played. And then I bought the first story DLC. And then the second. And then all of them. And I plaaaayeeedd. And then after I beat the game I spent at least an entire day searching for and downloading mods. And I plaaaaayeeeeeeddddddd.

Mods will help you get even more out of this fantastic game. And there are tons of different ones to choose from. You can spruce up the graphics, change character models, add fully voiced companions, new quest lines, new locations, new secret underground bases, new weather effects, new lighting effects and just–basically, remake the entire game. Oh, and someone actually did make a completely new game as a mod. It’s called Fallout New California and it’s due out later this year–for free. I played the opening sequence of Fallout New California years ago and it was super impressive back then. I encourage everyone to download all of the mods–that’s what I did and I didn’t even break my game. And I am not smart. But I do want to stress that what is already here is worthwhile. Extremely so. There’s a reason why I still disliked Fallout 3 after giving it another try years later. And it’s the same reason why I was disappointed by Fallout 4. Because it wasn’t New Vegas.

3. The Witcher Series

This one will be short and sweet. Currently, Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt is $19.99. That is stupid. That price is so stupid it causes me pain. I realize it’s more than $5 but still. You should buy it. Buy it. But if you like to start your stories from the beginning you should also consider picking up the other games in the series. The first Witcher title is on sale for $1.49. Now full disclosure, I played this one for 48 hours and did not finish it. The setting, stories, and characters are all good–just not as polished as later installments. And the combat is this weird, rhythm-based click-heavy affair that was not my favorite. But it’s not a bad game. And it’s only $1.49. That’s almost not even money. Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings is actually the first game in the series I ever played. And it is fantastic. It was the game that made me realize this series was really, really special. And right now it’s $2.99, so basically free. If you love the Witcher series and want to see it from the beginning then it’s well worth the cost.

4. Just Cause 3

I’m not actually a fan of the Just Cause series. I picked up the second game when it was on sale a few years ago and I played it for an hour before I got tired of it. But there’s no denying it’s series that a lot of people love for its vibrant open world and over the top action. I just, I dunno, never really got into it. But Just Cause 3 is on sale for $4.49 so I’m definitely going to buy it. And I bet I will do a lot of cool stuff in the hour(s) I end up playing it, like sky-surf out of a fighter plane en route to elbow dropping a Jeep Cherokee to death. Or something–I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate description of the gameplay.

Yeah, I was pretty close.

It’s a great looking game with a unique style all its own and at $4.49 I probably won’t regret only playing it for an hour. Probably.

5. Supergiant Games (Bastion and Transistor)

This last one is a bit of a dark horse pick. I know whenever I think about my favorite video game developers I don’t think about Supergiant Games–but I definitely should. They are indie darlings who create incredibly unique and rich gaming experiences that delight both the mind and the soul. And no they did not pay me to say that, though I wish they had because that would be awesome.

Right now Bastion, which is their first and probably best game, is on sale for $3.74. It’s an awesome game which I played the absolute crap out of back when I got it for Xbox 360. There’s a lot to do here–way more than I was expecting. There are challenges to take on, different weapons to master and a surprisingly deep story to enjoy.

And then, of course, there’s Transistor. This game I played for 7 hours and stopped right as I reached the last level. Why? I have no idea. I just make bad life choices most days. Or all days. The thing the makes Transistor shine is it’s incredibly unique combat system which mixes RTS and fast-paced combat. And if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I actually liked it but it always kept me on my toes. But the most impressive thing about Transistor (and Supergiant games in general) is its music. Just listen to this song sung by the game’s main character: Red.

That is good stuff. Just like everything Supergiant does. Their 3rd game Pyre is on sale too. But right now it’ll set you back a steep $7.99. Which is almost 8 dollars and everyone knows that is reaaaaal close to actually spending money. Dangerously close. Just like all of their games Pyre is incredibly unique. It is a sports, party-based hybrid. I think. I dunno, I’m only an hour in. But I’m sure it’s worth the money. Just good luck finding that kind of cash between your couch cushions.

Steam’s Summer Sale is running from now until July 5th. So you have a few more days to prepare your wallet for sacrifice if you haven’t already. But don’t wait too long, Gabe didn’t get to where he is now by being a patient man…


gamesread - Top 5 Games Under $5 To Grab During The Summer Steam Sale

Top 5 Games Under $5 To Grab During The Summer Steam Sale

gamesread – The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018


Welcome to week one of June! As we said in the May newsletter, we’ve been super busy here at CSE, especially as we get closer and closer to the start of Beta 1 on July 4th. While we’ve gotten over all the major hurdles of GDPR work last week, we have had to do more work this week, and will need to work on it next week as well. The upside: all of our CSECitizens’ data is safer and more secure than ever. The downside is that we took a major hit to our productivity in terms of making the game. As of today, we are now at over 400 man hours, and more to come this week. While we’re still on track for the start of Beta 1, we’re now just barely on that track. Therefore, the team here will be making sure every hour counts in order to come into Beta 1 strong!

To reiterate from last week: If you missed our livestream with Mark and our lawyer Jim covering how GDPR affects CSE and our Backers, you can find that HERE. If you haven’t updated and accepted/declined our new policy, please log into your account HERE. ( ). You will be presented with the information immediately upon your first login if you have not accepted these terms. After that, you can still review or change your acceptance of the policy HERE ( ).

As MJ always says, we have to do things the right way, even if other folks don’t. And that will never change.

If you have any questions, you can email us at:

[email protected]

Additionally, if you missed this week’s wrap-up and Q&A livestream with Ash and George from our satellite office near Seattle, you can catch that HERE!

Let’s move into our highlights for the week, which at fifteen items is really strong for a four-day week!

Top Tenish:

  1. WIP – GDPR / Forums: This week, continuing the never-ending drain on resources that is otherwise known as the GDPR, we took further steps to protect personal information on our servers. We’re currently in the process of upgrading the forums software to make them compliant with privacy settings and store as little personal information as possible. There is ongoing work on the store to re-enable upgrading and combining of pledges and redemption of gift codes. We’re also updating our support tools to work with the recent privacy and security changes. The bad news is that we have passed 400 man-hours on this, but as of this morning, we are still on-track (albeit barely) for Beta 1 on July 4th.

  2. WIP – Tech – Building Mode: Matt is currently focused on getting blueprints working again so that our resident builders can create new buildings for the home islands. While working on this, he’s getting in some quality-of-life fixes by removing some old band-aids in the code. This will get us easier code to work with, and a better user experience.

  3. Tech – Plot Control: This week, Christina focused on landing several changes that were in progress last week. This includes the use of plot deeds and more options in plot permissions, such as sharing building capability on your own plot with others within your faction.

  4. Tech – Cross-Server Scenario Matchmaking: Colin landed his changes this week, allowing Backers to queue for a scenario from different zones. The next phase will be to get this into the hands of Backers and address feedback. Colin is also updating the code supporting players transitioning between zones when traversing the world.

  5. WIP – Design – Progression: Ben spent most of the week deep in the progression system, working with Christina. He’s setting up ability components to gain experience and level up. Christina will be working to automate this process during our next sprint.

  6. WIP – Tech – Audio: This week, Dave followed upon last week’s audio format changes. This includes editor changes to improve quality-of-life support for dB, as well as support for the new information we’re passing about the world/combat state. This will allow us to effectively LOD sound, and address a number of long-standing audio bugs.

  7. Tech UI: AJ wrapped up his trade window work, which is going into review shortly. Overall, this version is far better than dropping an item on the ground so someone can pick it up! He’s currently working on improvements to API queries to improve performance of things like the results screen at the end of a scenario.

  8. WIP – Skills Debugging: In preparation for Beta 1, Rob continues to audit the various skills to make sure the VFX, SFX, and overall functionality is in a good place. Multiple times this week, he’s been spotted asking “Does anyone need something fixed? Is anything not working as expected with skills?” Suffice to say: Mike, Ben, and dB love Rob!

  9. WIP – Art – NPC Greeters: Joe finished weighting all the NPC clothing for one greeter male or female for each Realm, and is currently importing these so they can be equippable items. Sandra is already using these items for the characters’ animations. Once in, we can use these characters to convey useful information when wandering about the zones.

  10. WIP – Art – Animation: Scott is currently working through the Empath’s new animations, having finished a pass on the updated idle and special ability, which now both use a dagger. Sandra has knocked out the NPC greeter idles, and should have the interaction animations wrapped up shortly, before moving back to the Physician’s class-specific needs.

  11. WIP – Art – Icons: After a quick detour to get married and a honeymoon, James is back finishing up the trait icons today, and starting on the new icons for equipment we’ve added to support the changes in class animations. Congratulations, James!

  12. WIP – Art – Home Island Environment Art: Dionne finished up some additional grass assets this week, and began work on a TDD boat, which will populate our docks. Tyler created several new terrain materials this week, and began working on the home island layout with Michelle.

  13. WIP – Art – Concept: Speaking of Michelle, this week she focused on layout ideas for the home island, particularly strengthening specific views and assisting with ideas to make the island feel inhabited. She is also working on Realm-specific signage concepts for the tavern and banks.

  14. Art VFX: Mike is wrapping up the VFX update to the Mjölnir’s special ability today. Scott recently rebuilt this animation with its own unique class idle. The new version, with Mike’s VFX, is looking really solid!

  15. Art – SFX – Abilities and Scenario Results: With Rob’s help, dB is working on hooking up sounds to parts of abilities that previously did not work, particularly the Stonehealer. He’s also working on hooking up the Victory and Defeat music at the end of a scenario.

Lots of good progress this week! As we come into the home stretch here, you will notice more and more items finishing up features ahead of feature lock, plus lots of bug and polish work.

Let’s move on to some of the art from this week, starting off with a still image of some of the blocking Scott is working on for the Empath’s special ability. For the start of Beta 1, each class has a primary weapon. The Empath now sports a snazzy dagger! Instead of just waving his hands about to transfer health from himself to his ally, he now actually wounds himself first. Once Scott gets farther along, we will upload an animation.
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018

Scott livestreamed this work earlier in the week, which you can find HERE.

Now that James is back in office, he got back to work on new icons for traits.
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018

Below, we have some of Michelle’s concepts for Realm-specific tavern and bank signage.
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018

Using pictures from Andrew’s trip to Ireland, I (Tyler) created several new materials, two of which are gravelly ground, to re-create this rocky shoreline pictured below. Final color and tweaking will happen once everything is assembled in the terrain system in the game.
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018

If you missed my environment art stream from yesterday, you can catch that HERE. Right before the storm took out the power in the office, Michelle and I turned on the mic to talk about how we were approaching some of the layout work. Scroll to the end to catch that part for our “colorful” dialogue!

Next up, we have a wireframe of the work-in-progress TDD boat from Dionne, with the concept art from Michelle for comparison. Next week, we’ll have some materials on it!
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018

That wraps up art for this week. I (Tyler) personally am very excited to continue working on the islands, so maybe this weekend I’ll get some time to further flesh out the assets needed for that shoreline!

Special thanks to Paladin Brewer and the members of Sword of the Dragon for this great gift of Camelot mead, along with a book and note! We’ll make sure and enjoy this thematic beverage at the end of the day!
gamesread - The Need for Mead – Friday June 1st 2018

Thank you very much for joining us this week, whether it be on stream, reading the monthly newsletter, or reading this update. We truly appreciate the enthusiasm, patience, and good will from our Backers. All of us at CSE know this is a special project, one which continues to drive our efforts to make a great game. We’re looking forward to the journey with you, all the way from Beta 1 to launch and beyond!


P.S. Again, if you haven’t accepted/declined our new Privacy Policy, please log into your account HERE. ( ).

gamesread – Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018

Hi Folks,

Busy, busy, busy. Going to keep things brief this week so that we can focus on getting beta out the door! While we remain on track for our July 4th Beta 1 date, it’s very close. We need to do some rigorous testing, and make sure we’re ready.

This week, I had the pleasure of hosting our End of Week Wrap-Up and Q&A from the Seattle area studio with George. Unfortunately, we had to keep it short as we all have a lot to get done, and every minute counts. The pressure is on, but in the best of ways. The energy in the studio is incredible, we are all excited about how close we are. Although we are working harder than ever, everyone is laughing and joking, no death march here! We’ll be working through the weekend, and really hammering on the last pieces of the beta 1 list and beta bugs.

Let’s recap our Top Tenish!

Top Tenish:

  1. Beta in T Minus 12: Twelve Days. Its a number that is frightening, exciting, and super important to everyone here. We are just under two weeks out from our planned date for Beta 1 launch. Because of the unfortunate cost of implementing GDPR we lost time from some of our most valuable developers, and that hurt a lot. It is down to the razor’s edge, we have a lot of work and testing ahead of us.

    • And Mark wanted us to tell you that as of right now there are 19 mission critical bugs we feel need to be fixed for Beta 1. We still believe we can make this date, and a number of us are coming in this weekend/staying late to make this happen.

  2. Testing: As we quickly approach Beta, everyone in the studio has been helping to test the builds this week. Features and fixes are coming in hot so we have to make sure we don’t miss anything!

  3. Tech – Buildings: Almost every engineer in the studio has pitched in on buildings at this point. We’ve had small bug fixes and testing by Rob, improvements to plots by Matt, Caleb, and Christina, and even rendering updates by George. This has been an all hands on Deck feature! Updates include changes to how blueprints are formed and loaded, building persistence, how these are loaded in game, and the ability to spawn a building via an ECT!

  4. Tech – Plots: One part of updating buildings has been rethinking our building plots. In Beta 1 you will be able to explore and claim an arbitrary plot of land with an item from your inventory. This took work from Matt, Wylie, Caleb, even Christina and Andrew!

  5. Art – Islands: Tyler and Dionne have been busy adding set dressing and terrain tweaks to the template home island. This requires a lot of by hand work on the terrain and lots of propping of new and existing assets. They are now starting the process of cloning the island and making changes to props and terrain for realm variation. Ben has also been busy adding resource nodes to our terrain mods so you will be able to harvest resources for crafting and building.

  6. Art – NPCs: Joe and Scott teamed up this week to almost finish the outfits for our greeter NPCs you will see scattered around the home islands. We’re currently testing and polishing the tech and will soon add these guys in.

  7. Tech – Crafting: Christina and Mark have been busy adding additional touches to the Beta 1, Day 1 crafting system. This involves configuring raw materials and alloys, and hooking them into the system. Expect a lot of changes/additions to the system once we are in Beta 1!

  8. UI – Warbands: JB, along with Anthony and AJ, have been putting the last pieces of the warbands systems back together and updating the UI. Specifically, features like promoting another player to leader, and granting permissions.

  9. Art – Animations: The last pieces of the planned character animations for the start of Beta 1 are coming together with Scott and Sandra’s last character class ability specific animations in review. We plan to use our remaining time wisely, improving current animations and getting in some new class specific fidgets to give the classes more character.

  10. Tech – Server Transitioning and Stability: We have made a number of significant improvements to how we handle server transitions, load balancing, zones, and overall start-up performance. Tim, Colin, and Marc have been working to get our overall architecture and net code in a great place for beta!

  11. Tech – Patcher Patching: Dave has fixed a number of issues with the patcher to get us ready for a busy beta 1 so that we can support a lot of people all downloading/patching the client at the same time.

  12. Tech – UI: AJ has been sheperding in some wonderful work by our Mod Squad to our UI which helps fix some of the bugs that Backers have reported. This is great because it helps us make the experience better for all our supporters.

  13. Tech – Tools: Sadly, our support tools don’t get enough love, but it’s been a busy week for Bull who has been implementing a series of tools changes that will greatly ease our asset pipeline. While this won’t mean much for beta 1 day 1, it means everything for the first 30 days.

  14. Progression: The last pieces of B1D1 progression were hooked up and tested this week. This includes progression systems, the way skills grow and how players are rewarded for practice.

  15. Art – Concept: Michelle has handed off several different pieces of concept art at a rapid pace to support the art team. She’s now working on finishing up some new art for the patcher splash screens

Now let’s talk art. The team has been working hard to not only deliver on their original goals, but also to get more done, time allowing.

We’re foregoing animation renders right now as they take up several hours in the day to put together; time better spent actually animating! You’ll have to join us in game to check out this WIP Physician special ability from Sandra. A big ability requires a big jug, and a frog! In this clip our Physician takes out a large jug containing his various concoctions, adds a frog to it, then gives it a gleeful lob into the air. The resultant explosion, which Mike is working on right now, is a visual cacophony of color giving allies a bunch of positive effects!
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018

Next up, we have renders of the new statue Jon made to adorn the Arthurian home island dock. First, just geometry, then with materials added.
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018

Jon has a Viking themed statue in the works too! Next up, we have some images of the new market stalls Dionne has been working on.
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018

She also found some time to assemble a new stone and metal resource node tent, from which players can gather resources. These will be used during Beta in lieu of additional tech. Here’s a test shot from inside the metal one.
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018

While Tyler continues to work on the home island template, Michelle continues to work in the background on new props to add later, time allowing. Today she did a quick pass on some unique TDD lamps. Believe it or not she whipped these ideas out in only a couple hours!
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018

We end art this week with some more out of game renders of our class shots which will be used in the character creation screens. As mentioned previously, these are in lieu of some tech updates that will later allow us to render the 3D characters in the patcher. First is the Viking Mjolnir, then the Viking Stonehealer, and last the Tuatha Luchorpan Forest Stalker. Pretty sweet. These also use our improved UV layouts which increase the overall character texture resolutions. We’ll be looking to add these updates later during Beta.
gamesread - Hoping and Hopping to it – Friday June 22 2018

It’s all coming together! We’ve got more work ahead of us, and look forward to seeing you guys online to help us test. That’s all for this week folks. Thanks again for your support and patience. I look forward to seeing each and everyone of you in the game!