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See: City State Entertainment

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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Camelot Unchained designs beta siege battles

It’s not hard to imagine the Camelot Unchained fan as a curious and excitable prairie dog popping up whenever the word “beta” is mentioned. The wait has been long, the promises many, and the development of this RvR MMO seemingly never fast enough for both the fans and the devs.

But could the Beta 1 test actually be nearer than we think? There are certainly a lot of mentions of the test itself in this week’s newsletter, including a revised Beta 1 document on the official site. The team also discussed how it’s drafting up designs for siege battles to take place during the test and provide an important stepping stone to the future: “These battles are being designed primarily to be fun, and importantly, to test our work in Beta 1 and beyond.”

It saddens us to report that Camelot Unchained has killed Superman. Well, the “Superman” bug, that is. Apparently there was a glitch that kept player characters stuck in a falling/flying pose while moving around, but now that’s a funny memory rather than an awesome reality.

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Camelot Unchained on the perks of RvR PvP and overdelivering on tech promises

Were you worried that Camelot Unchained would slack off on its newsletters whilst in the pre-beta crunch? You needn’t have — this month’s missive clocks in at over 10,000 words. Among them, Mark Jacobs revisits the game’s Thirty Day doc, writing, “I’m confident in saying that I believe this information dump is one of the largest ever done for a game that was still in a true Alpha.

Moreover, the extra year of tech development for the game is genuinely paying off in a way that should please people tired of ambitionless MMOs and knockoffs. As Jacobs puts it,

“When we launched the Kickstarter, we said that we believed we could deliver on something not seen in any MMORPG to date: large-scale battles (1K or more), where players could maintain a playable FPS without having the best rig from Alienware. While we achieved this last year using the old ability system, the new system is a lot more flexible and complex. Over the last three weeks, we have overdelivered on a stated goal and delivered a powerful message to the Backers that attended: ‘The future is now!'”

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Camelot Unchained’s player progression will be a ‘long-term investment’

Is that… is that Camelot Unchained’s Beta 1 peeking over the horizon? From the tone of this week’s newsletter, it certainly sounds as if the long-fabled test is growing nearer every day. In fact, there’s even a section on the website that exhaustively deals with the philosophy and plans behind the beta.

The team had a whole mess of projects to report on this week, including the beginnings of a character information screen, model diversity in the mass bots battles, and dummy NPCs that run around the place.

Possibly one of the most interesting sections of the newsletter dealt with the team’s plans for player progression, which sounds somewhat different than your typical PvE MMO: “We want player’s actions to factor into the global scope of events taking place across the entire world. Player progression is intended to be a long-term investment, and to allow players to focus on what they like best: playing the game how they want to play. For Beta, we’ll be laying out the key progression elements, but will tweak the time it takes to progress during Beta 1.”

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Camelot Unchained teases beta with a new ‘guiding principles’ doc

If it feels like we’ve been waiting for Camelot Unchained’s beta forever, well, it hasn’t – it’s only been half of forever. And the wait is almost over, if the first part of City State’s brand-new beta 1 doc is any guide.

“It’s been a longer road to Beta 1 than we expected it would be last year,” CSE’s Mark Jacobs begins. “For that, you have our most sincere and humble apologies.” After admitting he’s “committed more money to the studio than” planned, he says the result has been worth it, such that “by the time you read this, [CSE] will have moved achingly close to the first of the SNS trials, will be back up to 2.1K ARCs/Bots, the new ability, animation, and VFX systems will be performing as expected, and the programmers’ focus will have turned more heavily than ever to gameplay and not tech.”

The doc itself outlines the beta’s “guiding principles” for a “minimum viable vision” — namely, that it should be solid, intermittent, accessible, and more about fun than the tech-oriented alpha. While this is just the first part of the larger doc we’re told is incoming, it does tick off a number of specific features on immediate order, including improved UI, help files and links for newbies, updated patcher and player count, daily issues, class/race combos, attribute clarity, unique player names, and starting gear.

Plus? A peek at the login screen, which is slick!

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Camelot Unchained lays the groundwork for NPCs

Bot battles is the phrase on everyone’s lips over at Camelot Unchained as of late. The team said in this week’s newsletter that it has begun to test the new build of the game with loads of bots and players at the same time, creating epic fights for all to experience.

Playtesting aside, the team has plenty of pots on its project stove, such as player-to-player trading, a giant lighthouse, and healer effects. And even though Camelot Unchained is a primarily PvP (or RvR) game, there is work being done on including NPCs to flesh out the game world.

“Colin started the planning process for building our NPCs, both to support our needs for Beta 1 and also farther down the line,” the letter writes. “At the basic level, NPCs can act as signposts, offering information to players as they approach. Therefore, we need to be able to manage the text strings for each NPC and allow them to trigger actions when a player approaches.”

The team also displayed some of the work being done on mace attacks, which you may view after the break.

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Camelot Unchained will invite beta 1 backers to big bot battle testing next week

In the future, alpha testers (and everyone else) will all be fully replaced by robots, no doubt. But right now, Camelot Unchained is putting bots to work alongside their human compatriots in the form of big bot battles. This week, City State says, it ran two tests with the bots in prep for beta 1.

“We brought in 250 Bots and went up to over 1200 Bots, which ran around LIVE with our Alpha and IT Backers. The majority of these headless clients were ‘melee’ and the rest were ‘archery’ Bots. In some tests, we were able to handle about 2K Bots total (most of the Bots were fighters, the rest were archers), which is twice the number we set out as a goal during the Kickstarter. While we have hit 2K before, these were the first LIVE tests with our Backers using the new animation system and the heavily modified VFX system.”

Even better? Beta 1 backers will be invited to these tests next week.

The studio has likewise been working on client stability, siege engine tech, item damage, and enviroment and item art and effects. Check out the new images and recap vid below!

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Camelot Unchained state-of-the-build letter says it’s ‘driving towards Beta 1 at full speed’

Those who follow Camelot Unchained closely know that the team ends every week with a super-sized update letter on the project’s progress. But if that’s not enough communication, each month brings a newsletter big enough to fill a small novella. So find a comfy reading spot and settle in for the 36th newsletter about this fantasy MMO.

To give followers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the game, the team illuminated how the game designers communicate with other developers: “Even at a glance, it should be easy to guess why a game designer would sometimes need to talk to a programmer or an artist. However, it is hard to convey the extent to which these conversations sometimes have to go, or the difficulty of communicating what might seem like simple ideas between people that have completely different frames of reference.”

The Camelot Unchained crew also crowed about its recent success in cramming 2,100 active bots onto a small playfield, demonstrated modeling techniques for art, and delivered a state of the build. As the team has said in past weekly updates, the recent focus has been primarily on client stability, more active bots, player inventory, a first pass at siege engines, and a fun side project that brought fireworks into the game.

“We’re driving towards Beta 1 at full speed,” CSE’s Brittany Aubert noted.

Source: Newsletter

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