Camelot Unchained is chasing ‘a game to be proud of, not a minimum viable product’

Is beta one here yet? Nooooope. But Camelot Unchained continues barreling down the track toward it, as outlined in its latest weekly update. City State’s Tyler Rockwell explains that the devs are… watching you. “Rob even co-opted a wall-mounted TV in the office, so he can work while he watches performance changes as players interact with buildings,” he writes. You’re famous!

The team’s also been working on siege engines, player damage improvements, bots (expect a name change on those too, so no more “I like big bots” jokes), ability effects, and gear performance. On the art side, there’s been progress on polearm animations, the interface, helmets, torches, docks, and nodes.

This weekend’s alpha should be focusing on VFX, archery, crafting, and buildings. “We want to focus as much time as possible on the most important goal of the studio right now: getting into Beta 1 with a game that we can be proud of, and not a Minimum Viable Product,” Rockwell reassures players. The weekly wrap-up plus a few other new images and videos are below.

Source: Official site

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54 Comments on "Camelot Unchained is chasing ‘a game to be proud of, not a minimum viable product’"

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Koshelkin

I do hope the lifetime option will be available for at least some time after the beta has started. I really want to go for it when I’m pleased with the beta. I consider myself to reasonable to get it before seeing beta even though my fingers are itching every time I read the newsletters.

Estranged
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Estranged

Things happen. The staffing issue is just crazy. It isn’t like this company can burn through money like some other projects.

This bunch is legit. They work hard. Mark treats his people and the backers with respect. No begging, no telethons.

Showing my age.

– poster formerly known as Estranged

Estranged
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Estranged

updating the client, gonna take a look today

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Mark Jacobs

Hehe, welcome back Estranged, even under an alias. :)

Estranged
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Estranged

Ha! I need to change back, fooling around after the transition.

Hope you guys are well.

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Mark Jacobs

Yep, doing great. Family is well, especially Lady J. Work proceeds well (as you can see) with the weekend’s testing so that, almost be definition, makes it a good weekend.

How about your and yours?

Estranged
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Estranged

Everyone is well and I’m better than I deserve!

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Sally Bowls

“We want to focus as much time as possible on the most important goal of the studio right now: getting into Beta 1 with a game that we can be proud of, and not a Minimum Viable Product,”

uh oh. This is disappointing to me. I want “a game that we can be proud of” as soon as possible. IMO, that can sometimes occur by getting a MVP+ good game launched and version 2.0 being “a game that we can be proud of.” E.g. a good version 1.0 in ’18 and OMG 2.0 in ’19 might get you to OMG faster than letting the team feature creep and polish- to-perfection in route to launching with an originally scheduled for ’19 OMG. Ship dates also concentrate the mind. (Johnson’s quote was “”When a man knows he is to be hanged…it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”)

But all this existential game development philosophy does not matter here. This is about a beta. What matters is how efficiently your beta gets you to launch. You can declare Beta with few features and many bugs and still get to OMG. You can declare Beta with many features and few bugs and still get to OMG. You don’t even have to have a beta. Some Betas strategies are more efficient than others.

I understand these are seasoned professionals who know more about game dev and their situation than I ever will. I am so much more sensitized to this with so many of the scheduling and design travesties I read about in crowdfunding. My concerns about CU are unwarranted but IMO understandable.

lordkrall
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lordkrall

“I understand these are seasoned professionals who know more about game dev ”

One would have thought that, and yet those very same devs had a beta release set for over 2 years ago and a release about 1,5 years ago. And yet here we are. With no beta even in sight.

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Mark Jacobs

And the same seasoned professional, who is still offering refunds. Just saying’ :)

And BTW, Beta may not be in sight for you, it sure is for me and as soon as the two key systems that we’re waiting to be Beta 1 ready (as I’ve been saying for months) are indeed ready, we’ll announce the Beta 1 date.

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goatleaker

Mark Jacobs,

1) You said it yourself, “as I’ve been saying for months.” People have been listening to your excuses for months…YEARS…as to why there is no Beta 1 yet and the game is hugely behind the original schedule. And you’re surprised that many people are frustrated?

2) The development delays you always throw out are the risks associated, one would think, with being a small, start-up company in the MMO industry. You aren’t working with a AAA developer any more. Of course, you could not predict the EXACT setbacks you would run into. But as a business leader, you should have expected significant delays to such a complicated venture. The original beta and release dates you came out with were wildly unrealistic for this company, developing an MMO from the engine up. So, you set ridiculous expectations, and now you’re upset that many of the people who gave you money are frustrated when the game isn’t even in a beta state years later.

3) “When it’s ready:” The doom of modern, crowdfunded MMO development.

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Mark Jacobs

Goatleaker,

Umm, when did I say I was surprised that people were frustrated? Please don’t put words in my mouth, I do enough of that myself. Now did I say I was upset, in any way, with Lordkrall or anybody else?
Frankly, if you’ve seen my posts here, you’ve seen me say things like I understand people’s frustration which is one of the reasons we keep paying refunds. I also thanked Lordkrall for his posts and our exchanges here so I don’t see why you feel the need to criticise my responses to him which have been nothing but professional and polite.

I really don’t mind criticism and if you can find any posts on MOP/MMORPG where I say I’m angry at a Backer for expressing frustration at our delays I’ll happily give you a free account by way of apology.

I have no right to be angry at people who are frustrated with the delays. As my actions, both public and private (refunds) have shown, I don’t engage in the behavior you suggest.

Mark

P.S. I spent most of my career not being a AAA developer. Andrew and I did understand the risks, we just thought things would be easier. And since I had gone through the same process with Mythic before, I didn’t think it would be harder the second time.

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goatleaker

Sorry, I don’t mean to be a dick. CU is the last of the crowdfunded games I’ve given money to that I have any hope left in, so all my eggs are in one basket. I’m just frustrated and anxious to see something well-developed and playable so I can get my hopes up.

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Mark Jacobs

Apology gratefully accepted, truly. Now, in terms of being frustrated, I get that, man oh man, do I get that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone over my/our thought processes on a number of fronts. Again, we haven’t been perfect, far from it, but the progress in the last six months has been pretty special when you consider we are building our own engine. As you have seen this week’s update, we have a bunch of actual/real/truly madly deeply gameplay. Is it ready for prime time? Nope, but the key is getting the core systems/mechanics in place and go from there. So, as I walk around Wyrmling and see a great framerate with our new VFX system, and buildings are being broken down on Fledging while people can use a player-built UI for crafting and occasional bot madness of Hatchery, I can say it’s been a great weekend and we continue to get ever closer to Beta 1. And a key things to keep in mind is that we aren’t rushing to put out a Beta 1 that will crash and burn in the first few days. That is such a big deal for us, more important than polish or even depth of gameplay for the opening. It must be stable or we messed up.

Again, your apology is absolutely accepted and BTW, feel free to call me out if you ever see me acting like a jackass here, there or everywhere. As per above, nobody is perfect but I try really hard to ensure that I treat folks such as yourself the way I want to be treated if I get frustrated with a purchase. Again, I’m not perfect, but I want to set an example that our Backers and myself can be proud of.

Cheers!

lordkrall
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lordkrall

Which is of course quite irrelevant. My point was more that someone that claims to be a seasoned professional surely would have been fully aware that issues like these might turn up, and not set an unrealistic timeline? I mean, fine if one miss a deadline by half a year or something, but over 2 years? (And who knows how many more until it actually happens?)

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Mark Jacobs

How could I predict that we couldn’t convince one senior programmer to move to Virginia in over 3 years back in 2013 thanks to both mobile/VR developer making places like Seattle a huge magnet for developers? Our timing sucked for trying to get people to move. That’s been the whole problem, right from the start.

I mean, I’m good, but nobody expected VR to happen the way it did when we launched our KS, and if you look at all the startups/money that went into that area from 2013-onwards, you’ll get a good idea of why it was so hard for us. And then factor in the huge sucking sound of Google, Facebook and now Amazon hiring programmers at salaries much higher than the game industry norms and at a rapid rate. At one point, we had 3 headhunters working with us at the same time and the only way we could get the senior programmers was to let them stay in Seattle and eventually set up an office there.

Now, if you think I should have anticipated that, there’s nothing I can say but other than one major system rewrite (the ability system), we haven’t changed engines, refactored everything, etc. It was solely because we didn’t have enough people. And back in 2013, I didn’t think it would be the problem it turned out to be because we were able to grow Mythic even before Dark Age of Camelot’s success.

Again, this is not to say we didn’t make any mistakes, every team does but since we didn’t have unlimited/huge coffers, there was nothing we could do about the hiring issue until we said we were going to open a 2nd studio. And as every studio head knows, having a remote studio is not a panacea, it comes with its own problems. Fortunately, we’ve hired the right people and if you compare our pace now to last summer, it’s a big difference.

It really is as simple as that and as our team page has shown throughout the last 4 years, it wasn’t until now that we had the number of engineers that I said, during the Kickstarter, was needed to deliver the game.

Theryl
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Theryl

Fairfax isn’t *that* bad (I grew up there, so I know the area). But I expect the DMV is less exciting than Seattle or California and it has its own issues. Not to mention that you’re competing with the federal sector for IT talent.

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Bryan Correll

the DMV is less exciting than Seattle or California

Seattle and California have exciting Departments of Motor Vehicles? I find that hard to believe.

Theryl
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Theryl

:D It’s local slang for District, Maryland, Virginia, aka the greater DC metro area.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

I don’t know California but our DMV is so entertaining it brings people to tears.

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Bryan Correll

NC DMV makes the one in Zootopia look like a party. At least those sloths all seemed to enjoy their work.

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Mark Jacobs

Yeppers. It really was a perfect storm for us, in the worst way possible. OTOH, that’s behind us and we are focusing on turning our engine into a game and as our Backers have been seeing lately, it’s happening.

lordkrall
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lordkrall

Well, for one, it would surely have been a good idea to have people already in on the idea before, if it was such a big issue to get people. And it is not like it is news that it is hard to find competent game developers and/or engineers.

Let me just ask this: Was there ever any realistic chance at having the beta up in early 2015 and release in late 2015?

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

If CU were unique in this delay, I would say you would have a point there LK. However, it is not unique at all in this case. I can name 6 different crowdfunded MMORPG’s from 2012 which all were aiming for some form of release in 2015, be it full release, beta or alpha. All six of them suffered from similar unanticipated delays, or collapsed entirely in one case. When looking at a historical event, one of the first questions which should be asked is, “is this event unique?” In the case of game delays, at least to me it clearly is not. And the reality is, Kickstarter has brought people in during a stage of game development where most titles are still hidden away behind closed doors, so we don’t know how many non-crowdfunded games suffered similar delays, or were cancelled outright.

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Mark Jacobs

Yep, there sure was an expectation we could make those dates. Andrew and I are absolutely guilty of wrongly expecting that we would be able to get enough engineers to move to Virginia once we announced the MMORPG. We had enough programmers to start work but we had expected to be able to get a few from Zenimax after ESO launched. Unfortunately for us, ESO was also delayed and Robert Altman with advice (I suspect, I don’t know this) from brilliant guys like Todd Howard, much to his credit, kept pouring money into the game (unlike other companies we all know) to make sure it had more time to launch. And then, they kept working on it and refining it.

Unfortunately, that meant that we were wrong about being able to get a few experienced MMO programmers from them (ZOS is around Baltimore, not a huge move distance wise) early on.

As I said below, I/we are good but we’re not perfect. If Andrew and I thought that it was going to be a problem, we would have had a different release schedule, truly.

I understand people’s disappointment but here’s the thing, and this is why the refund comment isn’t irrelevant. Whoever backed this game, whether in 2013 or even this year, is disappointed that we’re late can get their money back. I, OTOH, can’t, so while our delay may be disappointing to some, I’m the one who is paying for it. I haven’t taken a salary/stipend in four years, and at the same time, I’ve kicked in more money to deliver this game at an improved pace. So, there were no shenanigans, no bait and switch, none of the behaviors that other folks have done. In our case, we were wrong about our ability to hire engineers and then, when we realized we were wrong, we changed plans. And unlike almost every other KS-backed game, we haven’t launched beg-a-thons, item sales, etc. to bring in additional money. And if you’re thinking “MJ, you can afford that” well, not as easily as you think especially since I know how wealthy some other folks are. :)

We’re doing what we’ve always done, our best. And we’ve done it the right way and treated our Backers the right way and that will never change.

I’m outta here for the rest of the day, going to spend some time with the Lady J.

Thanks for your comments and participation in this discussion, I enjoyed it.

Reader
Mark Jacobs

Totally understandable SB, totally.

And keep in mind that when I say “game to be proud of” the key is that we are not adding features, scope creep, etc. It means that we’re doing things like adding more art to the game, more sound, etc. while the programmers are doing other things. It also means not launching an unstable Beta so everything that is in there has to be working properly.

The worst thing we can do, especially after the delay, is launch an unstable Beta 1. If that happens because we rushed into Beta, then I wouldn’t blame a single Backer for asking for a refund.

So, please don’t equate what I said with “Mark is going to announce another delay due to feature creep” because that is not happening. What is happening is that we want to be sure that the game that we display for Beta 1 is one that we can be proud of and not one that we wish we hadn’t opened Beta 1 with because of financial/marketing reasons.

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Jack Pipsam

If they have the funds for it, they might as well take their time to make the best possible game they could, nothing beats a combination of passion and polish. Everytime I see the game it seems to have progressed again by another nice step.

Although it’s kind of funny to me that when I helped kickstarter this I was in high-school and by the time it’s out if all goes to plan I will be done with uni and actually in a full-time job.

But with now two offices behind it, I am sure that when beta one comes, the game will be in a position far ahead of when I had expected beta one to be in, in my mind I had visions of like solid textures everywhere and jankness up the wall like the Alpha footage I remember seeing from the forums in those tests. But it seems it will be an actual game, incredible.

They should be proud of it already, it looks in great shape. I just hope that my net can handle it without deathly pings. Who knows, maybe by then my area will be finally connected to the NBN or I might be living somewhere else with a better connection. PVP focus and all.

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Mark Jacobs

Yeah, the HS to job thing really does put things in perspective. And you’re absolutely right about the difference between the game going into Beta last year versus now. I don’t want to focus on that during updates/Forums because it really doesn’t look/feel good to me to emphasize that because we really wanted to be in Beta 1 last year. OTOH, there is no doubt that if players look at the screen shots from last May and look at them now, there is a big difference. And whether it is just the bright shiny stuff or not, the engine’s performance has improved as well during this time. Yeah, the delay sucked, big time but our Backers are going to get a much better game than they would have last year. Small comfort for some but in the long run, it will help us now and going forward.

Thanks for your support and patience JP, as always.

lordkrall
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lordkrall

I wonder if this game will ever see the light of day.

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Mark Jacobs

It will, of that I have no doubt.

lordkrall
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lordkrall

Before 2020?

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Mark Jacobs

That’s the plan. That’s why I’m spending more of my money to make this happen by continuing to hire engineers and open the Seattle studio. If this game fails, I’m more than a little screwed. OTOH, I think it’s worth it to make this world/game come to life. I’ve never been afraid to take a risk in business and this, well, it’s a big one. Fortunately, we have always have a great group of people and now we have a bigger, greater group of people. Makes me smile. :)

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Slaasher

I believe it only been 3.5 years in development. Well within the range of acceptability.

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Paragon Lost

Exactly, I have no complaints or issues at this point and time. Mark and company have always done a superb job at communicating what they’re doing and where they’re going.

lordkrall
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lordkrall

It was supposed to launch beta two years ago though ;)

Estranged
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Estranged

lordkrall – you have made your point, thanks.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

The nature of the industry changed over the past several years. Barebones games we’d see released a decade ago now flop horribly if released today, denying them the chance to grow and expand. The shutdown of games like Warhammer, Vanguard, along with the persistent life support for Age of Conan were a warning that such massive projects needed to be far larger upon release – that fans no longer were willing to wait for them to grow.

Now I cannot say if this is CU’s case, but it is what happened with my own game’s development in part (we also had an engine change, which added further delays). I will also note that of the games which Kickstarted the same year as CU, nearly all were slated to come out about 2 years ago, but now all are slated for either later this year or next year, so whatever the factors are, they appears to be systemic.

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Mark Jacobs

In our case it really has been mostly not having enough of the right programmers to make things happen. We went down one bad path with our former ability system but other than that, it was simply not having enough talented team members. Fortunately, that has changed which is why our output has picked up so much in the last 6 months.

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Sally Bowls

“not having enough of the right programmers ” is recoverable; too many of the wrong programmers is not.

As our proto-billionaire-for-president, Ross Perot, said: “Eagles don’t flock, you have to find them one at a time.” Although it seems like setting your snare on the West Coast has worked better.

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Mark Jacobs

Yep. We had to change our plans but it was the right call to make.

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Slaasher

I would be highly suspect of any game that launched a beta just over 1 year into development. I now what they said but common sense and the experience we have in waiting for games should prevail.

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BalsBigBrother

I have more faith in this one launching than some who’s citizens may be reaching for star too many :-)

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Oleg Chebeneev

Yeah, except SC already has playable alpha that looks bloody amazing with 3.0 coming this summer that will have tons of content. And CU has developers sitting on sofa every week and talking about how cool their game will be.

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Mark Jacobs

OC! I missed you attacking us while white knighting SC. Welcome back!

And, BTW you should have read our update before the gratuitous comment. We have 3 tests going on this weekend, all weekend (unless something crashes) that almost half our Backers have full access to. So, this week we have both developers sitting on couches and weekly tests of new and improved aspects of the game, including building destruction, crafting, new VFX system round 2 and more.

But hey, don’t let facts confuse a good troll or gratuitous comment right?

:)

edangerous
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edangerous

This comment brought a smile to my face :)

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Mark Jacobs

Hehe, thanks. As per below, I do like OC and can appreciate a good troll or snarkiness. Unfortunately, just like Lloyd Bridges:

Timing is everything. :)

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

At least your trolls know which game they’re trolling. Had to deal with one last week who kept confusing ours with three completely different games.

Estranged
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Estranged

ND – lol, good times.

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Mark Jacobs

LOL. I like OC even with his comments. Makes me smile, especially when he makes one like the one above on a week our Backers have access to three separate servers, all with different things to check out.

And thanks for your white knighting us a bit, developer to developer, appreciated. I don’t like attacking other devs or their games, and lord knows I could have a lot to say about things, but that’s never been my way of doing things.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Every team has their own set of challenges to deal with, our own row to hoe. It is easy to play armchair quarterback when you’re neck is not on the 50-yard line.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Looks, let’s be honest, can be deceiving. If I compare the SC and CU alpha’s head to head, I find far more systems ready in CU. Experience tells me that graphics are often times updated right up through Beta, so looking amazing in Alpha means far less than playable systems ready to go.

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BalsBigBrother

sigh So what you are saying is it hasn’t launched yet either. Where they are in the development process doesn’t really matter to me personally. I won’t touch them till they launch and that counts for CU as well as SC.

If you have faith in SC that is fine with me and if you play games still in development again fine I hope you have fun. I don’t /shrugs

lordkrall
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lordkrall

Well, that doesn’t say much ;)

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goatleaker

Deleted.

wpDiscuz