Swinging axes, autumn in the spring, and new office space: This is just another week in the life of the Camelot Unchained team (they can call it the “Duck Squad” and thank us later).
This week’s Camelot Unchained newsletter exalts in the work that’s been done on the game’s combat animations as well as the plans being laid out for an autumnal biome (so pretty). And good news from the business side, as City State has signed a lease on some office space for its Seattle team.
“We’re making progress on what has been an interesting, and longer-than-expected journey,” the team said, going on to encourage fans to watch this week’s wrap-up livestream. We’ve got it for you, good buddy, right after the jump.
Live it up while you still can, zone loading screens, because Camelot Unchained has its mind to wipe you off the map.
In this week’s newsletter, the team reports that it’s working to eliminate zone loading screens to provide more of a seamless experience. As with most projects, it’s a multi-step process that is a little more complicated than you might assume. Animation development continues apace, with improved walk and run cycles moving along in testing. The team also has created generic realm cloaks for easy visual identification during skirmishes.
City State said that it’s registered the trademark for Camelot Unchained and is still looking around for office space for the Seattle team. Get even more of your weekly ration of Camelot Unchained news with the team’s wrap-up video after the break.
I know most of you come to these Camelot Unchained posts hoping to hear about beta one. I can’t wait to write that post, believe me, and I’m pretty sure CSE can’t either. In the meantime, we’re digging into another weekly update from the team, whose highlight is the fact that the weekend tester build has been updated with a proper particle rendering system, the better to make your spells sparkle.
“This is the system we have been talking about for months. Included in today’s code-drop are almost a dozen new features, as well as some added functionality for existing parts of the particle/lighting system. The next step is for Mike and the art team to update/change existing VFX as test cases of the system. Like the animation system, this is a WIP, and will serve as the basis for our next major improvement, which will happen during Beta 1. In the meantime, the new system will allow our world to feel more alive, magical, and interesting. And more performant, as well!”
CSE has also uploaded some new images — some psychedelic ones showing off the lighting systems on water, some gorgeous blossom-draped foliage, and a first pass on bits of the beta UI. Don’t miss Mark Jacobs’ end-of-the-week summary vid below either.
Terrible pun title in honor of April Fools’ Day! This week’s Camelot Unchained update touches on art, interface, and ability cooldowns, but the most interesting bits are surely the faces and the animation work.
“An image can only say so much about how actually playing the game will feel, but we want to emphasize the time and effort going into making the animations not only look good, but–just as important–feel good,” CSE’s Tyler Rockwell says. “In the past, our ‘jump’ only popped your character into the air and played a looping animation for the time you hovered. While Andrew re-hooks up ‘jump’ with the new animation system, Scott has worked out a jump with a prep and recover phase to smooth the in and out of the jump. This example also includes a pose specific to carrying a two-handed weapon, vs. having a shared pose for all weapons. Likewise, he’s begun working on a jump animation that will play when the player hits a certain velocity, to create a ‘running leap.’ The latter idea is still conceptual, but is part of our goal of making things ‘feel’ good.”
Check out the new art below, along with Mark Jacobs’ video update.
While it’s always important to get players on to test servers for that human element, what if you need a huge army of characters on demand that never give up? That’s when you take Camelot Unchained’s approach by unleashing an army of bots on its test server to stress it out as much as possible.
“Right now, we have bots firing off 20,000 skills per hour, and logging in and out 16 times per minute, to help us not only track down issues like this, but also to stress test the ability system,” the team said in this week’s newsletter.
And when there’s a Camelot Unchained newsletter, there’s always a list of Camelot Unchained tasks that the team has tackled over the past week. Some of the items of note include work on archery mechanics, figuring out where your character respawns when it dies, and the first pass of the “banes and boons” system.
While it’s certainly tempting to focus on Camelot Unchained’s progress in creating weeds (or as the devs put it, “the unsung heroes of the grass plains”), the star of this week’s newsletter is most definitely the game’s improved animated stances.
“We’ve been talking quite a bit about the progress we’re making on the new animation system, which has allowed us to see some of these assets for the very first time,” Mark Jacobs wrote. “The other exciting thing is that characters now use the appropriate animation within their stance, per the weapon(s) they have equipped.”
For a look at some of these stances, some environmental scenes, and, yes, the thrill-a-minute weeds, check out the new screenshots from the following gallery.
I was pretty well taken by multiplayer survival sandbox Rend as soon as I saw it at this year’s PAX East 2017, as I wrote yesterday. The concept immediately spoke to me as taking a lot of the cool ideas from other survival games while making the game as a whole into something very different. But I also entirely understand that sometimes you can look at the game and wonder what makes it so different. After all, it’s hardly the first time that we’ve had a game using a lot of the building blocks. So why am I over the moon about Rend but not its obvious inspirations and close cousins?
The answer is that in some cases, I am over the moon about its close cousins. But it’s also important to understand the distinction and the fact that Rend is not, say, Crowfall or Conan Exiles or any other game. So what makes Rend different? Not necessarily better, but how does it stack up to the obvious points of comparison?
If there’s one thing to be learned from reading Camelot Unchained’s weekly updates, it’s that MMORPGs take a whole lot of work in so many different areas to pull off right — moreso when you’re making your own game engine from scratch and trying a few new things that haven’t been done elsewhere in the genre.
This past Friday’s newsletter had a lot to crow about: “We checked off two important items on our Primary Beta 1 list, we’ve run several impromptu tests this week, we currently have two tests going over the weekend, we dropped in so many changes and bug fixes we had to provide a 20-page testing doc, we have a solid Top Tenish list, and we have a good number of User Stories completed.”
Among other things, the team talked about how it’s improved network stability and started testing a special physics server. For the more visual-oriented among us, a few pieces of art showed off weapons (including an axe with a heart buried in it) and two warriors duking it out on the battlefield.
There’s no doubt that it has to be difficult for the Camelot Unchained team to continue to ask for patience week after week when all the players simply want to hear the words “beta!” While the game is not quite there yet, Mark Jacobs reports that the team is seeing a “light at the end of the tunnel” in regard to its efforts.
This week’s update letter once again rolls through 10 or so projects that the team is working on, including manual aiming, weapon animations, additional polearm designs, and the banes and boons system. There has also been work on armor models to make them look more weathered and used instead of impossibly shiny.
“I know it has been a longer road than we expected, but the good news is that not only have we stuck to our principles (openness, integrity, not treating our customers as an ongoing cash shop), but now we can show the kind of progress that so many of you have so patiently waited for,” Jacobs said. “Whether it is the engine, the game, or even the office in Seattle (I hope to sign a lease when I’m out there this week), we continue the march to Beta 1.”
Beta 1 is mentioned 14 times in Camelot Unchained’s latest update. I’m not saying it means something, but I’m sure feeling like we’re making some headway to it!
City State’s Mark Jacobs says his team has finished up the item update, putting its new programmer to work on crafting, demoed the new social UI, completed a first pass on the manual aiming system, promoted the experimental patcher, and tinkered with VFX rendering, plus there’s new artwork from the WIP place of power.
“As you can see, more and more, our engine is beginning to resemble a game,” he writes. “As part of this evolution, we are checking off item from Primary Beta 1 list: ‘First pass working armor, shields, and weapons in game.'”
This weekend’s test is open to all alpha and beta 1 players, but Jacobs warns that the animation system is a placeholder and physicians are busted.
There are several notable quotes in this week’s progress report from the Camelot Unchained team. Mark Jacobs said that encumberance penalties are being worked into the inventory system and explained why doubling the programmer team hasn’t resulted in double development speed.
“The fact remains that for a programming team whose size just reached the double-digits, making a game like the one we are making would already be difficult. Making an engine at the same time is, in the eyes of many of our industry colleagues, a ride on the crazy train. Well, we are on that train, picking up speed, and we can see the next station in the distance,” he wrote.
Perhaps owing at least in part to the charisma of its chief executive, Camelot Unchained is one of those rare in-production MMORPGs that seems to attract people who would normally flee from it in horror.
What I mean by that is the same people I see freaking out over any new MMO that proposes open PvP of one form or another are following Camelot intently. There’s even a lot of resistance to games that are basically tame battleground PvP, like Crowfall — but Camelot seems immune.
Camelot Unchained isn’t against my type — I’m a huge fan of three-way RvR and can’t wait to see how a modern Dark Age of Camelot sandpark looks in practice — but I’m super intrigued that it’s something a lot of non-PvP players (and even some of our non-PvP writers!) are watching. Can you think of other examples? Do you ever play or follow MMORPGs against your type — and which ones?
Camelot Unchained’s latest development blog sees the team hard at work on animations, the patcher merge, the terrain editor, bots (the good kind), hair research (!), armor, the dark forest biome, and the place of power, but the true hero is the dude working on character hands. Video game character hands nearly always suck. You know I’m right.
“Jon created an updated hand for our characters, both male and female. We’re currently updating the existing nude hands, as well as armor glove parts to make use of them. We all agree the new ones look much better than the old ones. We’ll still need to make some small tweaks to existing animations as we go.”
We’ve included CSE’s latest stream and art mockups below!