Camelot Unchained wows DragonCon attendees with thousands of battling bots

Camelot Unchained wasn’t in attendance at PAX West last week, but it had a good reason: The team was at DragonCon instead for a presentation of its large-scale battles. So how did it turn out?

“One of our biggest hurdles going into this project was always going to be 500-player battles,” the CSE reports. “From the beginning, some said it couldn’t be done, and perhaps still do so now. The presentation of not 500, but over 2,000 ARCs (Autonomous Remote Clients is now the official name) running around and using abilities with VFX was met with applause, and understandably, disbelief.”

Meanwhile, work on the RvR MMO continues apace. The devs completed their first pass of the game’s progression loop, laying the foundation for emotes, and sketching out some clothing ideas for female characters. Camelot Unchained’s artists have also been kicking around character creation screen concepts, some of which you can see after the jump.

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48 Comments on "Camelot Unchained wows DragonCon attendees with thousands of battling bots"

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shadanwolf
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shadanwolf

CU is the only MMOG I’m following. Till beta I’m playing single player games.

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Mark Jacobs

Thanks Justin and MOP, as always!

The folks at Dragon Con were quite surprised since we didn’t announce this test in the program and didn’t even tell our Backers we were going to do it while we were there. As you might imagine, I’m glad that it went well. For a moment it looked like the notoriously bad bandwidth at the Westin was going to let us down but when we connected to the game the second time, the connection to the server stayed up long enough for us to run through the test.

We didn’t want to make a big deal of it (no press release) because at the end of the day, we still need to deliver on more gameplay to really show it off. OTOH, it was quite pleasing to hear some of the disbelief from people when we first made the claim and then even after we showed them a LIVE test, and not just a video. Seeing might usually be believing, but not always and I understand peoples’ skepticism.

I had a few great conversations with other devs after the test and they too were quite surprised. The consensus was that they understood how we could handle that many players/objects on the screen but they were amazed at the networking end. Supporting 2,500 on a server is old-school, but 2,500 in your viewing frustrum, while abilities and fireworks shooting off, well, that they were quite surprised at.

And as people in this discussion have said, it was epic in scope and while you were in there as a player as well (in earlier tests). Next up, more and more gameplay.

Thanks all!

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yoh_sl

I heard you caught a cold? Or were at least out of office for some reason (due to Dragon Con no doubt).
Thou’s con always spread colds like the plague.

How are you doing?
PS: Glad the event went well for you. Positive press is always a good thing.
More people need to know what your cooking.

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Mark Jacobs

Yeah, it was a nasty bug and it took down me, Andrew, Andrew’s wife and a bunch of his friends that went there. I’m feeling much better now and both of us are back in the office today.

As to more people knowing what we’re cooking, I agree and that will be happening sooner, rather than later. :)

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Ket Viliano

Get well soon.

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Mark Jacobs

Thanks! I’m fine, back in the office and all that jazz. Last week sucked, but ConCrud took out a few of us. What’s worse is that it took out Dr. Jerry Pournelle who came back from Dragon Con sick and he died in his sleep (https://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/). I just heard the news today.

I got to meet and hang out with Jerry back during my run at GEnie. He was an interesting and talented guy and his Chaos Manor column was an hugely influential one in the early days of the personal computer. And besides that, he also wrote a lot of sci-fi and other books. What sucks for me is that I wanted to go to one and his panels and say hi and see if he remembered me from the GEnie party/weekend. I didn’t go to the panel because I was pressed for time but man, I really wish I had.

Godspeed Jerry.

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Ket Viliano

Dang, RIP.
GEnie is some serious old school, just a bit before my time.

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Mark Jacobs

Yeah, GEnie really was the “olden days” of online gaming and Jerry pre-dated that back in the 70s with Byte magazine.

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drgreenhoe

Thanks for not going the route of chainmail bikinis. I understand this is casual wear and the players will most likely have several sets of cloths / armor.

As to the ARC’s, Grats! While I do not foresee many 2k player battles, I can easily see like 600 players with over 100 siege instruments and 200 flying projectiles in one scene. :) There will be some glorious battles.

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Mark Jacobs

You’re welcome. I made the same decision for Dark Age of Camelot and I thought it was fitting here as well.

And as to the battles, yep, they will be glorious indeed. As I’ve been telling folks, getting up to 2K+ ARCs doesn’t mean that we expect to have a lot of 2K+ battles. What it means is that if we can handle a 2K+ battle, we’ll have bandwidth/rendering time to spare for the “smaller” battles of 500. :)

And once we level up the building destruction code (Andrew will be helping out on that in the coming weeks), that it really gets even more fun.

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yoh_sl

I do hope you give some thought to large ball room gowns at least.
I like big regal dresses, and excessively long hair.¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Mark Jacobs

Michelle and Sandra are making sure that we won’t forget stuff like that. :)

Solaris
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Solaris

Have you seen all of their concept artwork for armour? You dont have anything to worry about.

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goatleaker

How can you have any meaningful control or effect on combat if you’re part of a thousand player zerg? It’s going to be a complete clusterfuck.

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Rhime

Asks the player who never played DAoC!:)

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goatleaker

I played DAoC for two years after release. There were never nearly that many players in a battle at once.

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Rhime

Fair nuff…then you probably remember the 300+ player battles being awesome fun with combined strategies, mayhem and the occasional “clusterfuck”.
No reason to bash it yet as the PvP in DAoC was the best part of the game and with MJ on it, it should be a better version of all that fun!

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goatleaker

Sieges were pretty good, but I remember open terrain RvR mostly being dominated by the larger force and whoever got their AoE CC off first.

TophatKiyaki
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TophatKiyaki

The point is that the engine is capable of handling those numbers at all. I highly doubt they expect there to be many, if any battles that reach such an obscene scale.

Several hundred though is entirely reasonable, and if the engine can handle 2000 decently, it should be able to handle 400-600 with ease.

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Mark Jacobs

QFT, +1, etc. Perfectly said and that is indeed our intent and has been from day 1.

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Ryan

Remember the game world will be big. There will be objectives all around the world. You wont want the entire realm in one spot. Although I’m sure it will happen sometimes :)

Solaris
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Solaris

The interesting part of this specific test, was the huge concentrated battle in the middle of a meadow, with several smaller cluster battles all around it. In the hills, along the coastline, etc. All within visible distance of the main fight but their own separate melees . It took me about 10 minutes of running to find the battle. The way I found it was the glow from spell casters lighting up the horizon. It was a pretty cool thing to see.

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Robert Mann

Well, if there’s collision, that leaves room for things like tactics to actually come into play beyond the norm of MMOs. Which would be pretty cool, for once. To actually see sides as an army rather than an overlapping zerg in a tiny spot, with actual tactics for engaging the other side, and units to break up the battle for better effective command.

Of course, that would mean single players who don’t want coms at all would be left to fill auxiliary or other roles with less impact, but that’s true anyway in general.

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Ket Viliano

You missed Darkfall, it has been done before. I hope City State can do it well.

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Robert Mann

Darkfall had potential on that front, but I think a lot of the setup destroyed tactics as I am thinking of them. It turned things from being a zerg into being a bunch of small little fights with little organization to them, all in all.

Which is cool in it’s own way, but not what I’m really hoping for personally.

Yes, there were big battles. They were cool in their way. Just… never got the feeling of actual battle lines and strategy beyond trying to get big attacks on the other side. Nothing against having fun there, but not what I’m hoping for.

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Ket Viliano

Yea, my prime point was “it’s been done before”. Not that it was done well, DFO had it’s flaws, lol :P

Massive battles have most certainly not been done to perfection, not at all. Heck, desync was common and the occasional server crash did happen, I hope for better with City State.

The strategies in DFO were dependent on which fortress, or small town, you were fighting over, and on whether you were attacking or defending. Mass volley fire was a basic thing, a technique, not a strategy. Pushing the other guys around by creating killzones was a thing, I think it always will be. Battle lines in Darkfall were often a matter of hiding behind a ridge, or using other terrain to break line of sight and therefore cut off vulnerability to mass volley fire. Charges were always fun, but not always successful, you had to suppress enemy fire first.

As for actual battle strategy and mechanics in CU, we shall see. I really hope it turns out well, that it works and runs, and that the mass battle has a good feel, and interesting strategy.

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Robert Mann

Aye, several games have had massive battle setups. My main point was about strategy that doesn’t devolve into light of sight and mass volley fire at all times. Which is sadly lacking in MMOs, at least to my opinion.

I think part of that challenge is that nobody likes to play second hat, which means that ranged are as strong as melee close up usually. Excepting maybe damage mitigation. I’m not sure it can be done without some changes to that.

Anyway, don’t want to tear down Darkfall or the fun you have had, nor trying to imply that really big battles haven’t been around… just noting that my entire points was more about strategies and such mostly being the same stuff (bombard, kite to break zergs, etc.) :) That’s where I want things to change!

Solaris
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Solaris

I was in the test with hundreds of players and a couple thousand bots. It was not a cluster fuck. It was pretty damn epic. Never seen anything like it in an MMO.

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Ket Viliano

Not to be too repetitive, but you missed Darkfall. We had 1200 v 1500 battles, Coalition of the Chillin vs. House of Wessex. It was wild, those were some mad battles. The game had free aim, not tab target, so massed volley fire of AoE spells was a thing, right along with mass blinds and knockups, best CC in a game ever.

I do hope Camelot Unchained can do even better.

Solaris
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Solaris

Oh, I didn’t miss Darkfall. I was in on day 1. I ran with The Fremen Knights. I loved DF at its peak.

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Ket Viliano

Oh, I remember you guys! We were Capsule! ORU City, and later Darkmoor.

Peace, and I do hope to cross swords with you in CU!

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goatleaker

How is it not a cluster fuck? How can you pick a target and stay on it? Is there some kind of target lock?

Solaris
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Solaris

I was playing an Arthurian archer. I ended up fighting some type of Tuatha melee class. We sparred back and forth for about 15 minutes in the middle of all the bot spawns (which were fighting each other, as well as other players). He kept trying to evade by running through the battlefield. Even in all the chaos I was able to track and follow him (that could be a different story when there are no NPCs and the behavior is not as static.) There isn’t a target lock as far as I know. I had to aim every shot. Next time I pop into test I will specifically check for one.

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Ket Viliano

Mass, timed, AoE volley fire will be a thing in any free aim mass battle game. It helps if you can hide behind terrain, have resists, or reflects.

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Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

Smaller squad tactics are going to be key in those kinds of battles.

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Ryan

Yes. CU is a tab target game. They also plan on integrating discord into the game for voice I believe. Coordination will win the day for sure. Having healers and more players then the other side will also be key :)

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Armsbend

Does the applehead have anything to do with Rene Magritte?

Siphaed
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Siphaed

From the newsletter:

As mentioned above, Michelle has been busy on two fronts this week. First up, the female basic clothing concepts, channeling a bit of Magritte.

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Armsbend

thanks :)

lordkrall
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lordkrall

” “From the beginning, some said it couldn’t be done, and perhaps still do so now. The presentation of not 500, but over 2,000 ARCs (Autonomous Remote Clients is now the official name) running around and using abilities with VFX was met with applause, and understandably, disbelief.””

It is of course worth keeping in mind that having a bunch computers do something vs a bunch of real people is very different. So while it might seem awesome, people should probably wait with praising it too much until we actually see how well it works with real clients.

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Ket Viliano

I am still rather amazed at the lack of knowledge that so very many people have about what has already been done in various games. WoW-itis made the mmorpg popular beyond reason, but as a result it made the genre into a stereotype.

presbytier
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presbytier

Not really that different at all. Human input vs AI input would stress the system exactly the same, so from a technical stand point the effects on the game engine and server infrastructure are identical

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silverlock

Not necessarily, they probably aren’t using 2,000 pc’s for the bots. So lets say you are running 100 clients from each pc but each pc runs out of threads after just 10 clients then the commands from the other 90 would be queued. So in this example while the servers would still be dealing with 2,000 clients they would only be dealing with 200 simultaneous commands. Of course even if this was the case in all likelihood the 2,000 bots could still hit the server harder then 2,000 players would be likely to.

tldr: It’s a great accomplishment but for better or worse it’s not the exact same thing as having 2,000 players hit it.

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Duey Bear

It’s also possible to spawn dozens of Player immitating bots with one client on one PC with some dev tools. So a few PCs (5-10) could have produced this simulation.

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Sally Bowls

It’s 2017: a credit card and Amazon Web Services could use zero PCs to create two thousand virtual ones.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

But that’s not the case at all. They’re running 1,000+ different clients from 1,000+ simulated OS’s. They’re trying to make sure that it is almost exactly like having real players there.

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Ket Viliano

Real players will try to break the system, such as by mass dropping of items, wall, ground, or other collision object glitching, etc. Anything that could break the engine and grant an advantage.

The Client is in the hands of the Enemy.

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Mark Jacobs

We are using AWS instances to hit the servers just as hard as players do in terms of their bandwidth and actions per minute. ARCs can also pound the chat system and use any ability that real players can because they are using real player accounts.

And yes, they are the same as players in terms of stress testing the engine’s performance under load. And we aren’t processing just 200 commands a second, that wouldn’t be a fair test. Each client sends out its own commands to the server, just like a player does.

We are burning a lot cash per hour (bandwidth, AWS instances) making sure that these tests are useful and valid. The burn hurts, but it is worth it in the end. This way we can be sure that the new ability system can handle the amount of input that it will get when the game goes LIVE.

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