Camelot Unchained continues its ‘interesting and longer-than-expected journey’

Swinging axes, autumn in the spring, and new office space: This is just another week in the life of the Camelot Unchained team (they can call it the “Duck Squad” and thank us later).

This week’s Camelot Unchained newsletter exalts in the work that’s been done on the game’s combat animations as well as the plans being laid out for an autumnal biome (so pretty). And good news from the business side, as City State has signed a lease on some office space for its Seattle team.

“We’re making progress on what has been an interesting, and longer-than-expected journey,” the team said, going on to encourage fans to watch this week’s wrap-up livestream. We’ve got it for you, good buddy, right after the jump.

 

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39 Comments on "Camelot Unchained continues its ‘interesting and longer-than-expected journey’"

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Doctor Sweers

While there may not be an easy answer to this question, I often wonder if companies such as CIG and CSE would go about publicly developing their games if they could do it over again…?

On one hand, you have those that want the game done right away. I get that side of the argument. Someone says we’re going to have alpha or beta testing by a certain date, you’d like to see it happen. On the other side of the argument, you have those that want the game done right and are patient (to a point) with missed deadlines set by the developers. I usually find myself in the second group of gamers. Not everything goes as planned. Sometimes, good enough just isn’t what you want to push to the public so you go back to the drawing board and start again.

I personally enjoy being able to peer into the insides of the gaming industry. Having access to this for $60 – $100 is pretty solid. I understand that without raising public funds, many game developers would never have the opportunity to create the worlds that we all love to visit. IF CIG and CSE could raise the cash to create their games via private investors, would they still have such an open dialect with the public gamer during game development?

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Mark Jacobs

Yes and no is my answer.

I would definitely do some things definitely, but I wouldn’t change our “open development” approach with our Backers. I’d probably have fewer updates (monthly vs. weekly) and some other stuff but I really wouldn’t change the way we interact with our Backers. And I most certainly wouldn’t change the way I do things like this here, there, and everywhere. I’ve been operating this way for decades. :)

I think it would make for an awesome talk at a conference or research paper.

Great question, thanks for that.

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Doctor Sweers

Thank you for the reply! Love what you guys are doing over at CSE. Looking forward to being a meat shield on the front lines.

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Veldan

I haven’t actually read a CU update in ages now, just can’t be bothered. I don’t regret backing it though.

Reading every bit of news for years on end just gives you a sort of… news fatigue, and can make you feel less positive about the game too. If you absolutely can’t wait for the game to launch, the best thing you can do is actually to take a step back, and not think of CU much. That will make the launch seem to come much sooner.

When you’re on the forums every day gathering each little bit of information, every month of development will seem like 10 years. Some people do this, and then complain that the devs are taking long. They don’t realize that much of that “long” feeling is something they do to themselves.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Yep. After having backed both CE and Crowfall, I have to say I don’t give a damn about visiting the forums or reading email updates for either of them. When they’re out I’ll play them, but I’ve avoided both update news and even alpha access completely. I’m done with all of that; if I check a game out ‘early’ it’s when the game is close enough to release that I can be reasonably sure I’m seeing what I’m going to be getting at launch. Not before then.

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John Gerry

As a backer I’d rather they take the time needed rather than push this thing out before it’s ready. There’s no shelf life as far as my interest goes. If the game is good I’ll play it and continue to give money to the game after launch. The same wouldn’t be true if they got it to us next month but it was a mess and me being a backer or no means zilch there. It’s a positive thing that the team’s up front about it and takes responsibility but honestly they could go a good bit longer and I would be anything but upset. Please keep up the good work guys. I’ll be there for the final product.

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Mark Jacobs

Thanks so much, it is appreciated!

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Slaasher

Longer than expected? Just how long has it been in development exactly?
Full MMO’s can take 5 – 7 years. I wasn’t aware that this game is anywhere near that.

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Mark Jacobs

We started actual development of this in the Fall of 2013. And you’re right about the time most MMORPGs take to be developed. OTOH, we’re still the ones who are late, and whether we have reasons (not excuses), we are still over our estimated date. That’s why I am both happy and sad to have to be very upfront about things. Happy, because in *my* world, it’s the right way for people in my position to respond. Sad, well, because we are late.

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Johnnyt305

Why do you make it so expensive to join up? Why $250 for alpha? Id back the thing if you didnt make it a rip-off to get to playing it sooner rather than later. I bought your Warhmmer Online (CE at that) and got all my friends to that were heavily into WOW at the time to join me, then it failed… I think your pricing alone and subscriptions are going to do you in again. Way too many MMORPGs being developed right now, Lots of good ones at that. I wish you luck, but your pricing pushed me away and I am in the alpha of about 5 other mmorpgs, yours is one of the few I dont own. Think about that.

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Mark Jacobs

Umm, I’m not sure you are reading our tiers correctly. The two tiers that are in the $250 range are:

Builder’s Booty ($250) – That is a tier that comes with a number of physical items, two extra months of sub time, and other perks.

At $275 is Warrior Forever – Any “Forever” tier comes with 3 years of subscription that is renewable at $1 per year after that.

Both of these tiers come with Alpha Access in addition to the things above.

When I priced the tiers I took the expected cost of goods for the physical tier, the extra time, and added a small amount for the Alpha test. The Forever tier is a essentially a lifetime tier for $250. Neither of these tiers is a rip-off, nor involved a high price for Alpha access. Alpha was a small charge in the physical tier and thrown in for the Forever tiers as an upgrade to the Warrior tier.

Do you still think we are charging $250 for Alpha now? :)

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Johnnyt305

Ok, so if I only want to get into alpha and dont care about physical stuff, what is the cheapest Id pay? I don’t understand companies locking away alpha tests behind the $100+ tiers nowadays when we are actually helping you develop the game. Monthly subs are dead in gaming by the way. I could care less about that too. If its optional to get bonuses fine, but I never would do it nowadays.

For $250 I can buy Elder scrolls online Gold edition + new expansion & Black Desert Online & Legends of Aria & Chronicles of Elyria & Albion Online, & a few more games all together man. So trying to justify the price with me doesn’t work. I own over 2,600 games on Steam alone. I alpha and beta test almost every MMORPG as well. But the ones locked away like yours, it really turns me away. It makes me feel you are hiding your work instead of being proud of it.

Sure you can say, well your game is way better, and I hope it is, as we need great MMORPGs to come out and revive the genre, but please tell me what is the cheapest way to get into alpha? I only see $250 unless I read that wrong.

I played your last MMORPG, got burned, so thats why I question everything nowadays, so many failed MMORPGs that I paid for and so many promises. So I will be a little rough on the devs nowadays before I pay lol, I respect your work and wish this game the best, and hope to one day play, but seriously wanted to try it ASAP and only see $250.. that to me again is crazy.

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Mark Jacobs

When I was putting together the tiers I wanted to make sure that every tier had value apart from the Alpha/Beta testing invites because I had seen other games where the invite was really what the developer was charging for. In the case of our Alpha tiers, while you don’t care for the physical stuff, there are real costs associated with it for us in the design and then production of the items. These costs reduce our margin on the tier so, that tier should be compared to other games’ physical tiers to keep the comparison fair.

Now, in terms of your point regarding Alpha access itself, I didn’t want to create it as a separate item simply because it would lead to these kind of questions/exchanges. Saying that Beta 1 costs X and Alpha cost X*2 or anything that that would end up being really divisive and in the end, would have pissed off more people than extra money it might have brought us. That’s why if you take the $275 Forever tier and add up what’s there, the price of going from a Beta 1 invite to Alpha isn’t much at all especially since the Forever component alone is $190 (which is still low for what is a $1 per year renewable sub after 3 years).

In terms of wanting to get into the game now, I would advise you to wait. Alpha has been a really old school Alpha and, as we are saying ourselves, it has taken much longer than we expected. Based on what you’ve said, I think you’ll be disappointed by what you see today in our Alpha. While I know that is going to be changing a lot over the next few months, my suggestion to you is to wait till we start streaming Beta 1 and then you can decide whether you want to donate to the game. We’ve got some interesting things that will happen during the rest of Alpha, but many people were expecting it to be more like today’s versions of Alpha (even though I said the opposite every time) and have been disappointed. OTOH, for those people who like to see a game’s evolution and don’t mind being asked weekly for their help, Alpha is a good use of their time. And with that in mind, maybe you can see another reason I didn’t try to make extra money by saying “Alpha Addon = $$$”. :)

Again, my advice is to wait till we are just about in Beta 1, buy a cheaper Builder tier and then decide whether you want to up your pledge after that. This way you’ll have the advantage of buying a tier before we change the prices/tiers/etc. If you wait a little longer, you’ll thank me, whether you decide to donate or not. And maybe that will ease a little bit of your concern/worry about getting burned and restore a little faith in me/us because we are doing the things the right way. It’s so much easier to do that when you are not owned by a parent company and have partners/team that are really, really good people besides being talented. :)

Thanks for taking the time to respond/question, no matter what you decide to do it is appreciated.

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Johnnyt305

I am glad you take the time to reply to fans/customers, and much of what you say here sounds great.

But, what I am saying is alpha is actually more work for the testers than beta, so why do we have to pay more to test a game in worse shape? If we want to help you and test it, why not allow more in that would be willing to help? Devs actually paid for this kind of help in the past, now they overcharge for it as a gimmick they learned from other devs.

I think you guys assume “oh these that pay $250 are so dedicated we really want them for Alpha.” But in reality, high spenders usually are lazy and want to buy their way through everything. They are also usually the ones that come back years later saying how they paid so much and hate the final product and throw the games under the bus because they overpaid and expected way too much and so on.

So that’s my point, you followed a trend of way too much money to get into alpha and it does not work. Every game doing that has forums full of high-tier backers that are now regretting that money spent and will never give up their mission to badmouth the game they once backed and hyped up(over-hyped) because of their way too big investment.

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Slaasher

Thanks you for your reply. I expected the answer was close to that.
My issue is with the title of the article. With any project delays happen. But I don’t think anyone expected this game to launched as of yet so…. “longer than expected journey?” ,,,, not yet.

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Armsbend

I’ve lost interest until a beta. Even then I’ll probably need to be re-sold. gl, Mark, you are taking way too long on this. Everyone who was telling you making an engine is insane? Listen to good advice next time.

Estranged
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Estranged

The alternative would be a frozen framerate mess, which is so common with engines today when more than a handful of people are close together in an instance.

Also, I don’t see any begging telethons going on when CSE gives us these frequent updates.

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Bryan Correll

Also, I don’t see any begging telethons going on when CSE gives us these frequent updates.

Maybe there SHOULD be telethons. Then we could find out if there are any talented musicians/dancers/sword swallowers/jugglers/etc as CSE. No mimes though. Because………mimes.

Estranged
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Estranged

Bryan – I think clowns or jesters would raise some cash.

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Mark Jacobs

Hehe, well, we had no other option at the time. We knew going into this that we couldn’t use Unity or Unreal to make the game of kind we wanted to which is why we made the choice we did. What we didn’t know was how long it was going to take to get the people we needed. Andrew and I believed, wrongly, that it wasn’t going to be impossible to recruit senior engineers to VA. We finally gave up and things have changed so much since then as our progress shows.

And losing interest till Beta is fine. I wouldn’t blame you or anybody else, which is one of the reasons we still give refunds to people as well.

But you know what? Once the game goes LIVE we’ll have an engine that can power any kind of game that we want to make. And that will be worth the headache and extra time.

As to taking too long, in some ways, yes but I’ll never rush or allow a game to be rushed out again. Been there, done that.

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Space Captain Zor

What we didn’t know was how long it was going to take to get the people we needed.

and everyone in charge at CIG just said “been there, done that” lol

When I think of the current breed of greater fools in game development, especially in this genre, two names immediately come to mind. Mark Jacobs and Chris Roberts. May the two of you build a better future for us all. Smedly gets an honorable mention. :P

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Sally Bowls

For the hubris of your schedule, Nemesis has decreed your punishment to be discussing project management with muggles. Which is more painful but at least less messy than Seppuku. This too shall pass.

BTW, except for the one refactoring, my impression is that I am hearing more about hiring issues than design issues or productivity issues?

GL HF

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Mark Jacobs

No, not really. In terms of issues, we have few in regards to either productivity or design. Our #1 issue was an inability to get enough talented programmers. That issue has now gone away thanks to three things:

1) Our willingness to not only have a remote member or two, but to have a full team and put them in an office.

2) The effort made by some of our current team in Seattle to recruit other top folks.

3) My and the other investor’s willingness to put more money into the game to support (1) and (2). No green, no team in the Emerald City. :)

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rafael12104

Well, from my perspective given the updates we have had, the bot testing, and the attention to detail, I am not concerned one bit about time.

Mark, take the time you need to do it right. I, of course, speak for myself as there may be others who want it naaaooooh. But as a gamer who went from Zork, to Muds, to Doom, to Underworld, to etc. etc. etc. I appreciate your approach. To many games are released in early access and remain there because they haven’t done the work you are doing now.

So Kudos, and thanks.

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Mark Jacobs

Thanks, I really appreciate the sentiment/support. Believe it or not, it helps, it really does.

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Panzerbjorne

Just signed a lease on office space…file this under things I don’t need to know. Let me know when the game is ready ffs.

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Paragon Lost

Grew up and stop acting so flippant and entitled.

Reader
Mark Jacobs

Well, we are spending money on it, so we thought it was important enough to tell our Backers about it. That means we can add more people now, if the right ones come along. Plus, we’ve lost some candidates who didn’t want to work from home, now we won’t have that problem anymore.

Sometimes things that don’t seem to mean that much actually turn out to be quite important. At least I’m hoping that’s the case.

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thickenergy

What sort of crazy person doesn’t want a work-from-home gig?!

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thickenergy

My question was pretty much just a rhetorical exclamation, but I do appreciate the responses.

I’ve done both, for various kinds of work, and the work-from-home scenario just suits me better every time. I do understand that’s not the case for everyone though.

Estranged
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Estranged

thicken – also, it is difficult for family and friends to realize that you aren’t accessible during work hours from home. They will bother you about anything and everything. Causes drama. That is my experience. I had to start locking the door to my office.

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saxxon

I do it, and it is not exactly what you might think.

It is also next to impossible to call in sick.

Also, really fun when you are behind you home office by 11 timezones…

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Lorgarn

Probably someone who has done it before and come to realize that it isn’t always all that glorious as it might seem to be from the outside. Working from home, depending on your situation of course, can actually work against you and your health. If you both live alone and work at home, it’s awfully easy to get kind of sheltered and withdrawn from the outside world. We are social beings and getting out from our homes can be very important, even for introverts. I speak of experience as I’ve been working from home for a few years now and sometimes I wish I would’ve chosen another route.

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saxxon

I have also noticed it adds another challenge. People take for granted face to face communication, tone of voice, human mannerisms and facial expressions that we use to judge other peoples’ moods, emotions and the general state they happen to be in at any given time.

Things that make you go, hmm.

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odin valhalla

I have been a fan of the game for a while, bought a founders package and still support them.

The project is getting VERY long in the tooth and there are more than a few of us who are ready for something with more substance. The updates are starting to meld together in a long running, redundant narrative. Reading someone is making progress is great, seeing it is a whole other matter.

Congrats on the positives CU.

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Kickstarter Donor
squidgod2000

The project is getting VERY long in the tooth and there are more than a few of us who are ready for something with more substance. The updates are starting to meld together in a long running, redundant narrative.

Still not at bad as SotA.

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Mark Jacobs

First, as always, I do appreciate the support Odin, I truly do. Second, we are of course, very late. We know it, we admit it, etc. However, every month, and sometimes every week in a month, we do show progress. In the last 60 days, just in terms of some of the bigger things:

1) A brand new animation system

2) An improved VFX system with a ton of new functionality

3) We’ve begun testing various possible aiming modes for the game and asking for player feedback on it. We’re going to be demoing more of them in the coming weeks.

In terms of being redundant, from week-to-week they might seem that way but that’s because we are actually telling our Backers exactly what we are working on every week. And since most complicated systems/mechanics take more than a week, our Backers see that we are working on them. This can, at times, certainly feel redundant but the other way to do things is not tell our Backers what we are working on week-to-week but only month to month. That would eliminate some of the feeling of redundancy but then Backers would be left with more questions, especially about a game that is late, as we are.

The bottom line for us is this, we’ll keep giving our Backers all the information that they can possibly want until/unless a majority of them told us that we were giving them too much and they wanted less information. So far, we haven’t had a request for that from too many people.

I do understand what you are saying, and it definitely can feel that way at times but things like animation and VFX/SFX systems have, in the balance, way more substance than most things since without them, well, the rest wouldn’t matter a lot. And now that Cross (Mike Crossmire, my long-time friend and artist from Mythic) has the VFX system that he has been waiting for, I know that great things are coming from his efforts.

Please be patient a little longer, more gameplay elements are being added weekly and even more will be hitting the builds in the coming months. As we continue to staff out Seattle as well as put those folks in there own office, I expect the pace to improve a bit more as well.

And BTW, I don’t think we are “very long in the tooth”, behind schedule, yeah, a lot, but for most MMORPGs, we’re still not at 2x the original development schedule. :)

Again, and as always, I/we do appreciate the support of all our Backers.

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odin valhalla

Hopefully you read the post as more of someone who is dying to play your game then someone whining for a release. Im not saying that, nor are they on the forums.

You still have our faith and I dont regret making my investment in you, your game and your vision. Thank you for the acknowledgement and being active in discussions. You can have my continued patience, I will advocate for the game until you give me a reason not to.

Anyway, I said my piece. Im happy about the progress and would remind anyone reading, what other MMO do you get direct access to the head honcho? I, you and anyone can say what they want, Mark is present and that goes a long long way.

Good luck man !

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Mark Jacobs

No worries, it’s all good OV. It’s hard to wait, especially in this case when so much time has been spent on the tech. But the world is going to start to not only look better, sound better, and really start to feel like a game in very short order.

And as to me being here, thanks, I appreciate the kind words. I’m fortunate that while I consider this part of my job, I actually have always enjoyed doing things like this. And I’ve got a track record (that is REALLY, REALLY long in the tooth) that backs that up as you know. :)

Have a great rest of your weekend OV!

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