When it comes to notable years in the MMORPG genre’s history, 2008 stands out as one of the most significant. World of Warcraft’s debut onto the scene in 2004 caused an upheaval in ways far too numerous to go into detail here. Suffice to say that its overwhelming popularity drew the attention of game designers who looked at the staggering numbers of players and found themselves envious of the potential to grab a slice of that money pie.
Many projects went into high gear following WoW’s launch, with plenty of them trying to copy the formula and structure that Blizzard established in the hopes of making it at least partially as big as that game. So-called WoW clones began to pepper the market and there was a sense that gamers were ready to move on from World of Warcraft to the next generation of MMOs. In many players’ minds, this would be either 2008’s Age of Conan or Warhammer Online, two big-budget MMOs with strong IPs that carried a lot of the weight of expectation.
Little did anyone realize that 2008 represented a bubble that was about to burst on the industry and the WoW clones that followed — including Warhammer Online. Today, we’re going to take a look at “bears, bears, bears,” the high hopes of Mythic Entertainment, and how WAR became a casaulty on its own battlefield.
The Camelot Unchained team is making enormous strides in preparing the game for its first beta test in July, with one major obstacle overcome this pass week. The team reported that it is hard at work tracking down a physics server crash bug, improving the way buildings are passed over the server, reviving warbands, tweaking the sound engine, testing out new racial traits, and updating character creation renders.
“Andrew wrapped up the giant building refactor,” the team crowed. “He achieved a 99.2% reduction in the number of bytes required to send an entire building over the network, and reduced the CPU load on proxies from over 75 msecs per connected client to a negligible level. Calculating changes between two states of a building now happens in only a few clock cycles, with comparable savings in network bandwidth for larger changes, like knocking off an entire tower.”
City State Entertainment continued its tradition of showing off various bits of art assets in the making. Fans can check out animation frames from the Mjölnir and Forest Stalker, trait icons, the Physician’s belt, a hip quiver, and three of the character renders for the UI.
It’s another week of progress and beta preparation for the team at Camelot Unchained. City State Entertainment is running an “unstable build” with lots of new features and ideas that it wants to test out. Some of these testable items include working traits, tweaks to the user interface, more animations, and zone art assets.
“We’ve been very busy this week, working on some great things like improved performance in the building system, new class-specific animations, and even updates to the scenario system to allow you to queue from different servers,” the team reported.
Of course, if you’d like the longer version, we can oblige with the full end-of-week wrap-up video with the devs after the break.
July 4th is getting closer, which means the Camelot Unchained team is in high gear polishing up the build for the beta that’s finally set to launch come Independence Day. Last week’s dev update was relatively short for the longwinded CSE; there were no player tests this weekend, but the studio discusses its asset decluttering rules, building code, a big UI update, class animations, chat UI, character creation, the trading system, and the trait system. Maybe the most interesting bit (for regular players) is actually the screenshots at the very end of the update on the Dragon Fang scenario.
“The hill we are currently climbing in the assembly of this map, is the creation and placement of these large, SPIKY, rock walls, growing outward from the Place of Power which resides in the center of the map,” explains CSE’s Tyler Rockwell. “All these rocks also need to be very performant so we can have hundreds of players fighting it out in this zone. Next week we’ll try and finish up placing the majority of these assets to show off more of the map in the update!”
When the planets align and the junction of a month’s end coincides with a week’s conclusion, you know you’re in for a whole bunch of words from Camelot Unchained.
The weekly newsletter said that the title’s expanded team has allowed for more projects to be tackled. Some of these include streamlining the process of bringing up new servers, mapping out gathering skill progression, a new authentication system, updated forums, and more.
CSE also pumped out its monthly newsletter, reporting that March was full of playtests, hard work, and progress. This was in line with the studio’s desire to be as transparent as possible with the game’s supporters.
In one of the quieter weeks for Camelot Unchained as of late, the dev team nevertheless made progress toward this July’s beta test.
Among the projects that were worked on this past week include testing the building interface, improving NPC behaviors, structuring resource nodes, upgrading the visual quality of character meshes, adding terrain assets, and more. It also sounds as though the team successfully scrubbed out a bug that has been trapping both players and NPCs underground.
The team also shared a half-dozen art mock-ups, object models, and user interface designs, which you can check out below. Always a very pretty-looking game, Camelot Unchained is!
Building blocks and baby steps: This is the approach that Camelot Unchained is taking in developing some of its key systems for the upcoming beta test. The idea is that players will be treated to a simpler version of systems such as crafting and building that will be developed and grown for the eventual launch.
And if the word “crafting” makes you wince, then take heart. There has been a lot of thought that has gone into making an interesting and involved experience. “We don’t want to make crafting a grindy, boring mess,” promise the developers.
City State Entertainment hasn’t neglected the eye candy that will keep players entertained during combat: “One of the most fun discussions has included lots of pantomiming to help us improve the look of our combat animations. We’ve created one new ability per class that is meant to be more powerful and a bit flashier in order to help us test our VFX systems. Each of these new abilities are getting unique animations, which has driven much discussion on improving all our animations, and particularly how we use those animations to visually define each of the classes.”
One hundred and twenty-six days. That’s the current countdown timer reading as Camelot Unchained looks ahead to its July 4th beta launch, and it couldn’t have both the community and the studio more excited.
In the February wrap-up newsletter, City State Entertainment stirs up enthusiasm for the beta while also talking about the improvements made to the combat system, giving an overview of the state of the current build, and dishing out a couple of images of player-created castles. The team said that it has a lot of work in these remaining 126 days to get the combat balanced, stress test the servers, finish up the user interface, and more.
“Next, it will be our turn to make good on our promises and justify your faith in the game,” said the team. “We hope you hop into Beta 1 with us for an early taste of the RvR madness to come!”
Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.
“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.
Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?
Have you ever thought about what it is like for developers and community managers who handle online games that are being shut down? It’s certain just as painful (if not more) for them as it is for us, and it is not as easy as turning off a switch and walking away.
PC Gamer has a fascinating piece on the process of sunsetting titles from a studio’s standpoint, including looks at games such as Club Penguin and PlanetSide 1.
Former Club Penguin CM Bobbi Rieger shared the overload of details that the team had to sort out when the news broke: “My immediate reaction was, ‘Oh crap.’ Of course my thoughts went to the community and how we could make this as positive as possible. At the end of the day, it’s going to be hard. It’s gonna suck. I was just like, ‘OK, what’s the action plan?'”
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin overdose on candy hearts as they look at Valentine’s Day in MMOs — as well as the Lunar New Year. From expansion alpha testing to a new MMO launch to unifying a game globally, it’s a pretty upbeat and positive week of podcast chatter.
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.
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You can go ahead and order extra sparklers because you’re going to need ’em this July 4th. That’s the auspicious day that Camelot Unchained’s beta one will finally launch after three years of delay, City State Entertainment has now announced. The studio has further confirmed that the “feature lock” date for the crowdfunded RvR MMORPG will be June 12th – at that point, everything for the beta will be set, save bug-fixing. And yes, everything that has been promised for the beta will make it for that launch (that doesn’t mean everything going into launch will be in beta – expect more builds going forward over the expected year of this beta).
CSE’s Mark Jacobs spoke with us just a few weeks ago to announce that the company had taken on a large external investment to speed up development of the game; he’s done the same this time ’round to answer our questions about beta and what to expect between right now and the 4th of July when those beta gates open. Read on!
Really, that headline is all you truly need to know. After years of development and several delays, City State Entertainment is finally ready to announce the long-awaited start date for Camelot Unchained’s beta on Monday, February 12th.
“As we’ve mentioned in previous updates, we want a date we are confident in that also delivers a great experience for our backers, who simply deserve as much for their enthusiasm and patience,” the team posted. “Earlier today, we came to an agreement on that date after several weeks of hard work, but Mark wanted us to take the weekend to think about it just so we can be as confident as possible with that date.”
In preparing for Beta 1, the team has been auditing the game to make sure that it’s ready to go. Testers have been doing their part to break the game client or stability. This partially took place in the form of 100v100v100 battles that involved both players and bots. According to the team, one player managed to single-handedly bring the game down by dropping armor and 400 siege scorpions all at once.