city state entertainment

The Mark Jacobs-fronted studio making Camelot Unchained.

Camelot Unchained adds a post office messaging system

It’s a productive era for the Camelot Unchained, as the team has reduced testing in order to “buckle down and focus” on development projects.

One of these is a new messaging system for the game that the team is calling the Post Office: “This allows us to send information from one entity to another in cases where we either don’t know where our intended receiver lives or if we have multiple receivers (and we don’t know where they live). We utilize this kind of system in gameplay, so we can tell players (or really anything that cares) what’s currently happening in the heat of battle.”

The team continues to have its hands full with other projects, such as improving the stability of the client, beefing up the character info screen, adding more sounds to siege engines, and refining weapon animations.

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Camelot Unchained builds boats for beta

A diverse smattering of projects kept the Camelot Unchained team busy this past week, per the game’s newsletter report. It sounds as though players will have to earn their sea legs at some point, as more designs for Viking and Arthurian ships are being made.

Other points of interest include drafting up character creation backgrounds, whipping together a developer UI for fast-and-dirty testing, the ability to spawn NPCs in the game, and animating characters with great swords.

And just in case you were worried about getting ganked fresh out of the character creation screen, Camelot Unchained is preparing a save haven for your starter experience: “For Beta 1, we’ll want to have starting zones and safe zones. Colin’s work will allow us to spawn new players in designated starting zones and spawn returning players in those zones if the zone they logged out from is no longer up. Additionally, this work will gate access to a zone by faction. You wouldn’t want filthy Vikings running around on your TDD safe island, would you?”

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Massively Overthinking: Three-way RvR and ‘fair’ PvP in modern MMOs

MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.

“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”

I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?

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Camelot Unchained fleshes out character creation backgrounds, animations, and UI

This week’s Camelot Unchained update is a top 10 list with 17 items, which is the sort of thing our own Perfect Ten writers would do, so we’ve got to get onboard with that. City State says its minions have been busy working on client lockups, web tools, the dev UI, progression tracking, archery, bow models, siege abilities, a big ol’ boat, and the usual assortment of VFX, art, and animations, plus character creation:

“AJ has been working on updating the character creation process. Not only are the new animated backgrounds hooked up, but the individual screens and general flow have gotten some TLC. Some examples include: changing attribute points updates your character stat values, and we’ve added a help button, where we can add relevant info to inform your choices.”

The highlight, however, is the WIP background for the Viking character creation screen – love those runestones. We’ve got the new images and Q&A video down below.

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The Daily Grind: Do MMORPGs still need traditional guilds?

In the game’s design docs and our interviews, Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs is positively adamant that multiguilding (that is, being able to join more than one guild at a time on the same character) is harmful and will not be possible in the game. Specifically, the doc argues that multi-guilding is “one of the things that has hurt the viability and attractiveness of guilds in modern MMORPGs” and that “multi-guilds have contributed to the decline of meaningful guilds in MMORPGs.”

My subsequent questions, you probably noticed, fought back against the idea that multiguilding is a problem. That’s because I’ve been a guild leader for a very long time, from hardcore to casual, and I’ve seen how strict and inflexible lines between guilds can actually cause massive rifts in communities and friendships, outstripping their potential for stickiness or society-building, and I’ve seen how blurring the lines, making the unit of play smaller teams or even larger factions or player cities, brings people together in ways structured, hierarchical guilds do not. Making people choose between my guild and somebody else’s was a friendship mistake, one I’d rather not be forced to make again.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 138: Mystery MMOs and the mobile revolution

On this week’s show, the amazing duo of Bree and Justin look at another beefy Camelot Unchained interview, talk about several new mystery games in development, and boggle over the mobile MMO revolution that has arrived.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Camelot Unchained strives for a well-rounded experience as it focuses on siege gameplay

In making the transition from limited-focus tests to larger siege gameplay to the long-awaited beta, the team behind Camelot Unchained is “sprinting” as it rounds out the MMO experience with numerous small improvements.

“The intrinsic sense of fun in games instead tends to come from a massive number of small subtle details, which cumulatively add up to an enjoyable experience,” wrote designer Ben Pielstick. “In our case with Camelot Unchained, the details we’re working on at present have to do with things like smoothness of animations for drawing arrows from quivers, the speed at which characters swing their swords, and the time it takes characters to change directions due to WASD movement input.”

You can read up on more of these smaller projects in this week’s newsletter, which includes mentions of shortbow animations, the progression system, the siege user interface, and more faces for characters.

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Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs on guilds, groups, and the social systems that make an MMORPG go ’round

Over the weekend, the studio behind crowdfunded RvR MMORPG Camelot Unchained released a hefty chunk of its ongoing beta one document, revealing extensive insight into the way the game’s social systems will be laid out. Parts of those social systems will look familiar to MMO players, such as groups (Warbands), guilds (Orders), and raids (Battlegroups). But there are more layers to contend with, including perma-groups or mini-guilds (Permanent Warbands), as well as project-oriented raids (Campaigns), all designed in the service of an ambitious RvR-centered MMO that makes space for soloers and small guilds by not over- or under-privileging the largest teams in the genre. That’s the goal, anyway!

CU boss and MMORPG veteran developer Mark Jacobs, whom many of you know personally thanks to his ubiquity in our comments section, gamely answered about a thousand of my questions over the weekend, which we’ve compiled into an absurdly long interview about how to properly smush together all these groups into a social system sandwich that makes everybody happy. There’s even a Star Trek quote and a bonus question about Warhammer Online’s development and CU’s budget at the end!

I strongly urge you to check out the original doc first, as the interview assumes knowledge of the basic terminology and structure of the game. Fair warning: While Camelot Unchained’s document is almost 6000 words, this interview itself is close to 4000. You put Jacobs in a virtual room with me and my questions go on forever, and damn if he doesn’t answer them exhaustively. It’s a whopper, but it’s worth reading for a glimpse into what could be the future of MMO community planning.

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Camelot Unchained explains its guild and group philosophy for beta one

Mark Jacobs and City State Games have a big surprise for Camelot Unchained followers in this week’s dev blog: a major update to the beta one document focused on guilds, groups, and all the social organizations in between. And bigger. Really, this game is going to have a lot of different types of groups, with every niche from soloers to small crews (Warbands) to big guild-like crews (Orders) and even some formations that are more like raids, but nothing so big that little guilds or lone wolves need to panic. The document is lengthy (nothing new there, right?), but no matter what kind of group you’re in (or aren’t in), it’s worth a deep-dive to understand how the game’s community will be structured in a PvE-less RvR MMO because while it shares a lot on common with games like Dark Age of Camelot, it’s also got a few tricks I’ve never seen done before (like permanent groups that aren’t quite guilds and specialty mega-groups that are more about project management than fighting).

The dev blog also has some work-in-progress renders of character faces, super-detailed, down to the freckle — we’ll include some of those down below.

Want more social systems info? Mark Jacobs sat for what I can legitimately call a massive interview with us on this topic and a few others, so stay tuned for Monday, when we’ll be publishing the goods!

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Camelot Unchained ‘sprints’ toward beta one sieges, teases group and guild infodump

This week’s Camelot Unchained is good news, assuming you want to play the game, and you probably do, else you’d not be reading this.

“We are now embarking on a ‘sprint’ with one of the key features for Beta 1: sieges,” CSE’s Tyler Rockwell explains. “Now, we are not going into crunch, but instead, we are focusing as much of the team’s time as possible on delivering the tech and gameplay we need for carrying out a proper siege in Camelot Unchained. So whether that means better archery animations, or NPCs firing off Scorpions, or blocks of buildings collapsing properly when dealt a giant gaping hole, the team will be focused on that for the next 4-6 weeks.”

Consequently, the regular weekend tests will be replaced with “impromptu and weekday testing” to get it all out faster. The update also touches on weekly progress on class progression, client stability, emotes, animations, nodes, and realm portals, and there’s a bonus pic of an engine test running 1000 unique NPC bots with solid FPS. Finally, the team teased a big infodump on groups and guilds coming next week, so stay tuned for more on that!

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The Daily Grind: Are you ever attracted to MMOs that you know you’ll hate?

As an MMO enthusiast, I have this tendency to cheer games on and be interested in all sorts of titles — even the ones that I know deep down to my bones are not for me. For example, I am not a great fan of PvP-centric MMOs. I don’t resent their existence, but that gameplay is too stressful and fraught with drama for my taste.

Yet I can’t help but be attracted to some of these games because I like the art, the passion, or some of the non-PvP mechanics involved. Crowfall looks gorgeous and I’m all about its eternal kingdoms housing system. Camelot Unchained has such a great team and talent behind it that I feel wistful they aren’t making a PvE game. And I’ve even gone on record as saying that Albion Online’s art style and cross-platform accessibility is pretty cool. What is wrong with me?

Are you ever attracted to MMOs that you know you’ll hate? What do you do with that?

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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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Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMOs of 2017’s PAX West

PAX West 2017 has come and gone, and though MJ is still feverishly working on her last few articles, we wanted to pause a moment to reflect on everything we’ve seen and read and recapped so far. So for today’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to tackle three topics from an MMO player’s perspective: the biggest surprise of the show, the most disappointing bit, and the games that grabbed them and won’t let go.

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