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!
One of the key foundations for Camelot Unchained was laid this past week, as the team introduced its brand-new animation system. Mark Jacobs writes in the weekly update that the system is only in its first iteration, but that it should be great to build upon going forward.
"Besides the obvious effects of this new tech, it also greatly improves the workflow of our animators," Jacobs writes. "As with any teardown and build up process, we’re going from the bottom up, with a much firmer foundation, to support more functionality than we had with the previous version. We’ve already got much more variety in fidgets and idles, smoother walks and runs, and attacks that can play while you’re moving."
You can check out the new animation system after the break!
There was a neat little post on Reddit yesterday in which a Camelot Unchained fan, DasLPSchaf, created a graphic showing some of the visual improvements to the title over the from 2015 until now. The graphic extends into 2019 with a shot from The Witcher as tongue-in-cheek, but there's no denying that CU is dishing out a lot more eye candy these days when we get a glimpse of the game in screenshots and videos.
You can see the graphic after the break.
"Today's update might be a little lighter on the tech side," Mark Jacobs tells Camelot Unchained backers in his latest update, "but we have lots of art to show you as well." Indeed, check out those trees. "Big trees. Like really big trees," in a dense forest with climbable foliage. There are also some WIP model shots from the studio's unfinished Place of Power (seen in the image above) and more work on the C.U.B.E. system that should have builder types excited.
"Over the last two years, we have talked about how C.U.B.E. and the building portion of Camelot Unchained was not going to simply be a Minecraft clone. One of the many ways we are fulfilling that promise is by allowing players to create and use round objects. This work-in-progress image shows our building morph technology being put through some tests. It is a cylinder morph around the Z (vertical) axis. Then another cylinder morph around the X axis was added, which combines all the changes of the original morph with itself. The result is that you get curvature around two axes. It’s definitely a WIP, but you can see how close we are getting to the point of bringing this to life inside the engine."
This weekend, testers will be on a "major new version of [the] patcher. Check out the new images and the video update below!
Live in today's Black Desert patch is what Kakao is calling the "family fame" system, which looks like a way to encourage alting and broadened accounts.
"All characters stats within your family name will be scored in the newly introduced fame system," say the patch notes. "The more characters you grow and develop the more benefits you may receive. Fame is separated into combat fame, life fame, and special fame. This information can be found in the ‘My Information’ window (P).Combat fame and life fame are calculated from all of your character’s combat and life levels."
Every night, you'll be mailed your rewards based on your family's daily activities. If it sounds familiar, it might be because it has a little bit in common with what Camelot Unchained is planning.
"Despite the East Coast winter plague, we’ve continued to make steady progress gluing together several of our core elements for Beta 1," Camelot Unchained's team reports in this week's update newsletter.
Yes, it's time for another "top tenish" list of what the devs are working on as they piece together this MMO for the long-awaited beta. One of the more fascinating notes is how Camelot Unchained's animations will function: "Andrew is working on getting independent animations playing on different body parts at the same time, allowing the system to figure out which animations to play based on what’s happening. This means we can have player swing a sword with one hand while using a shield to deflect in the other, without needing to significantly increase our animation scope."
If you want the super-long version of this week's progress, give the hour-long Twitch devstream a watch after the break.