Camelot Unchained’s website updated earlier this afternoon with Mark Jacobs‘ latest state-of-the-project post. Jacobs reminds backers and interested onlookers that CU’s current version is still an engine build rather than a “true game build,” though he praises it for its stability and says that it’s still quite fun to play around with even in this pre-beta state.
The update also contains a nod to yesterday’s animation video, a male Fir Bog character render, and a summation of how far the project as a whole has come over the past couple of years. “Today, I’m watching our backers play in an early version of that game, on a home-built engine that is currently doing some things that no MMORPG that I am aware of can do, including using PhysX on the server-side,” Jacobs enthuses.
Is it Friday already? It feels like it because Mark Jacobs has checked in with a Camelot Unchained afternoon update. Today, he reports on progress with the RvR fantasy title’s networking and client code optimization, as well as improvements and additions to the UI courtesy of the “Mod Squad.”
Jacobs also mentions a new build which is being prepped for next month’s DragonCon in Atlanta, as well as an update on the game’s procedurally-generated terrain system complete with an unaltered screenshot. Finally, there’s a six-minute video in today’s blurb that focuses on CU’s melee combat animations. You can view it after the break.
Camelot Unchained senior engineer Brian “Psychochild” Green has published a blog post examining his experiences on CityState’s crowdfunded RvR title. While he doesn’t offer any juicy details about CU or its systems, the piece is worth reading if you’re curious about the industry’s ongoing flirtation with open development.
Green says that crowdfunding forces developers to develop strong community ties as well as strong code, and he says that mistakes are often easier to spot than in traditional development where there aren’t thousands of players poking and prodding at an alpha state game. Green also touches on a reader question about possible burnout due to the massive amount of information typically available on crowdfunded games well prior to their release. “I know that when I relaunched Meridian 59 years ago, some of the most passionate testers showed a lot less enthusiasm for the game after it launched,” Green said. “But, there were still plenty of people who were overjoyed to play the game when we actually did launch.”
Did you miss Camelot Unchained’s evening update last night? I did, but fortunately this isn’t radio and we can all go read it together. Mark Jacobs talks about a number of topics from the team’s newest hire (character artist Jon Young) to the game’s animation system and its homegrown engine. Thus far CU has made use of placeholder animations because there was no sense in creating the actual animations prior to their delivery system being in place.
The full post is worth reading if you’re a CU die-hard or you’re just curious about MMO design and project management. You can view it via the link below.
Earlier this week, Justin asked what gives you hope for the future of the MMOs. As you might expect, the responses were many and varied, with some people naming a far off game or two while a few said that current titles are all they need from MMOs. Still others said — and I quote — abandon hope all ye who enter here because the genre has strayed so far from its original identity that it now serves an entirely different playerbase.
If you’d asked me this question a year or so ago, I’d have fallen firmly into that last camp. The genre has inarguably changed, and arguably for the worse, especially if you are a fan of sandboxes, grouping, virtual world gameplay in general and non-combat gameplay in particular. But as I said in my own comment, better days are ahead, thanks in my opinion to a handful of independent MMOs.
The team behind Camelot Unchained wants the game to have a solid, modifiable interface. That’s a commendable goal, but it’s also something that’s hard to do without a modding community. So as explained in a recent development update, the staff is forming exactly that with the Mod Squad, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gap between developers and backers to make the game as open, moddable, and flexible as possible. Also to fighting crime on prime-time television, maybe.
There are also plans in place to start opening the game’s servers on a more regular basis to alpha testers with Friday Night Fights. Twice a month, the servers open up, and alpha, IT, and beta 1 backers will be able to log in and try out the game in all its glory. It’s not a full test, but it’s a gander at what the game is doing; you can read all of the details in the official update.
The Camelot Unchained test phases had to be delayed, and that means that the latest newsletter for the game is in an odd place, as the opening itself states. On the one hand, the team has accomplished a lot since the last community newsletter; on the other hand, obviously that wasn’t quite enough. But there’s still plenty of talk about what the developers have been doing and what progress is being made, along with a lengthy dissertation of the game’s combat design philosophy.
Camelot Unchained‘s combat model is being called “counter-revolutionary” in the newsletter itself, as it’s an intentional throwback to the earlier days of MMO combat that then extrapolates in a different direction. Expect less twitch reflex and more emphasis on making strategic decisions, something that becomes very relevant when aiming for specific body parts and armor types. Read all of the details (and a great deal more) in the newsletter itself.
; thanks to the Flying Dutchman for the tip!
Today’s Camelot Unchained update is a long one, and that’s because Mark Jacobs has a lot to cover. He talks about everything from backer benefits to the game’s terrain code and, oh yeah, there’s a little bit about the new stealth stretch goal.
Jacobs goes to great lengths to describe how Camelot Unchained’s version of stealth won’t be easy mode, or an I-win button, or any of the other things that you may have groaned about when you read the word stealth. “It is a word loaded with more baggage than the Kardashian household on a family vacation,” Jacobs says.
Today’s Massively Overthinking question was sent via e-pigeon from Kickstarter donor Apollymi. No e-pigeons were hurt in the writing of this article.
“Have you heard of any MMOs that will not be PvP-oriented — by that I mean, have completely consensual PvP — that may be coming out in the near future?”
Let’s draw out Apollymi’s question a bit and talk about the PvE/PvP divide in our genre. What PvE/consensual-PvP/classic PvE games do we love, which future ones do we have our eyes on, and why is the industry so focused lately on PvP MMOs? The MOP writers are discussing all that and more in today’s entry.
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Project Gorgon returned to Kickstarter. Veteran developer Eric Heimburg clearly believes in his fantasy sandpark, and why not? Gorgon combines the best of old and new school gaming, with a heavy focus on discovery, exploration, and immersion.
In other news, Star Citizen boss Chris Roberts briefly stirred the hornet’s nest when he called B.S. — literally — on those who say that the sci-fi space sim has an acute case of feature creep. Apart from that, though, it was an uneventful week! You can catch up on that story and the rest of the week’s crowdfunding news after the cut.
Camelot Unchained’s traditional Friday update has been published, and CityState’s Mark Jacobs has a lot to talk about on the heels of the recent beta delay announcement. He says that less than 50 of the game’s 22,000 backers opted for a refund after the news, though a handful of those were higher end pledges. The good news is that those limited rewards will be made available again to founders.
Further good news takes the form of Beta 1 backers being granted access to extended alpha as of today.
This afternoon’s update also recaps CityState’s recent livestreams, and Jacobs says that work is proceeding “quite nicely on all tech fronts, from our stance editor to our animations, particle effects, etc.” Finally, Jacobs praises his dev team for its work thus far in building an engine from scratch and staying under budget. “Maybe it’s time that I began to emphasize the great progress a small, underfunded (by typical MMORPG standards) and young (well, not me) team has made on delivering not only an engine, but a game, albeit in the early stages; and a standard for treating our backers that is, IMO, the best in the industry,” he writes.
Former Daybreak CEO John Smedley may have been a polarizing figure to MMO gamers, but several high profile devs have spoken up in the wake of Smedley’s resignation announcement. Former PlanetSide 2 creative director Matt Higby says that he and many other devs owe Smedley a great deal, and he also says that if you’re a gamer, Smedley is exactly the sort of “maverick, passionate, risk-taking leader you want running a company” as opposed to many industry CEOs who prefer “insipid reliably-profitable clones.”
Trion boss Scott Hartsman says that Smedley “always led with his heart, and there are easily a thousand people’s careers, [Hartsman’s] included, that he’s touched or helped grow in meaningful ways.”
Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs has admitted to backers today that the first round of CU’s beta, originally planned for August, will be delayed.
Jacobs has explained that the senior programmer hired in June was essentially poached two days after his arrival. While CSE has since hired yet another new programmer, he won’t begin until September, making the August beta impossible. Jacobs told Massively OP that the beta could be delayed into next year, but he won’t set any date until the refreshed programming team is back on course.
He has, however, assured backers that the game’s “spending is below projections,” so the budget is good shape. CSE will continue to issue a refund to any crowdfunder who requests it.
We spoke to Jacobs prior to the official announcement to ask a few questions about the delay and its impact on the development of the game. Read on for the full Q&A and the Twitch stream.