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?'”
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!
Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Camelot Unchained: Yes, it’ll have a sub, but it won’t be $15. Mark Jacobs re-confirmed that it’ll be less than the industry standard down in our comments a few weeks ago. It’s been rattling around in my head since then as subscriptions just keep popping up in the news. Star Citizen has an optional sub in alpha. Age of Conan just lowered its subscription rate. And the biggest subscription MMO in the world seems to have no problems moving a bajillion expansions, driving token prices to fluctuate. Did we hit rock bottom? Are we just watching the price reset in a new era?
I’m currently paying $13 a month for an old-school game because nobody else has content that even comes close. I wouldn’t hesitate to pay more for an MMO I couldn’t wait to play. In fact, I was prepared to pay more than $15 for CU. Would you? What would you pay for an MMO subscription in 2018? And what would you expect from an MMORPG charging a subscription?
If by chance you’ve ever run a blog about literally anything, you surely know about scrapers – those jerks who use scripts to steal your stuff in full and put it on their site to make easy money. The really clever ones use scripts to also change some of the words around so that it’s not as easy to get caught. Most of these scripts aren’t very good and just use word swaps, so they sound like somebody who barely speaks English grabbed a thesaurus and waved it around in the air.
Enter Owne Tech, a scraper site you’ve probably never heard of. Yesterday, when Camelot Unchained’s huge news hit the internet, this site apparently scraped VentureBeat’s piece on it and… well, the garbled version is actually hilarious.
“The previous writer of Mythic Leisure’s The Darkish Age of Camelot is again with a brand new recreation, and he has raised $7.five million for the net fable recreation dubbed Camelot Unchained,” the piece declares. “Jacobs was once the lead clothier and founder at Mythic. […] He left EA in 2009, and began the brand new corporate, Town State Leisure, in 2011. Via 2013, he had found out what he sought after to do. His Town State Leisure raised $four.five million in a Kickstarter crowdfunding marketing campaign, and his staff went to paintings on Camelot Unchained.”
If you know one thing about indie MMORPG Camelot Unchained, it’s that CEO Mark Jacobs appears to dwell perpetually in internet comment sections amiably sparring with gamers and attracting loyal advocates.
But if you know two things, you also know that the game is late. Really late. The RvR-centric, PvM-free, anti-lockbox, sub-only MMO was supposed to enter beta three years ago, according to its successful 2013 Kickstarter, but studio City State Entertainment suffered admitted setbacks along the way – both hiring difficulties in the company’s Fairfax, Virginia, location and technical hurdles. Much of that has since been rectified; in 2016, the company launched a second studio in Seattle while continuing to hire engineers and spending the better part of a year completely refactoring its character ability code and polishing up its home-grown engine. But here we are in 2018, still mumbling beta when? at Jacobs and his dogged crew.
Well, we’re finally getting an answer to that question and more, along with a significant blast of hope for the future of the game, as CSE has just received a massive cash infusion to speed up development. I spoke to Jacobs at length – he’s infamous for being effusive – about what’s going on with the game and the studio in 2018. Read on for the executive summary!
Camelot Unchained has been teasing a slew of big announcements coming over the next few weeks, and finally one of them is here. No, it’s not beta one (though it’s coming!), but it is the news that City State is once again hiring. It’s already picked up a brand-new community manager and senior animator, both of whom begin this month, plus it’s still hiring for more positions in both offices.
“As time goes on, the announcements’ importance in terms of our Backers current concerns/worries/”BETA WHEN?” will grow, and more questions will be answered, news will be shared, and the question of the Beta 1 start date will be addressed,” CSE says. Maybe hold off on those “beta when” tattoos for now.
This week’s update also includes bits and bobs about progress on the UI, ability buttons, floating combat text, disconnection bugs, animations, and art. The whole Q&A with CSE’s Mark Jacobs is tucked down below.
It’s no massive January announcement, but Camelot Unchained’s end-of-year reports supply enough reading to un-bah many humbugs during the holiday break.
First up is the monthly newsletter, CSE talks about the importance of prototypes and fast iterations before committing to and fleshing out features. “During the prototype stage of development, the most important goal is to figure out what should go into the game, and how it should be put together. This means we must figure out the right aesthetics, performance, and general ‘fun’ factor each feature should have, which isn’t always easy,” said Ben Pielstick.
The weekly newsletter gave a toast to the community and 2017, while also showing off some floating combat text and concept armor variations.
And for the sub-only crowd, here’s an encouraging quote from Mark Jacobs: “We’ll never go [free-to-play] with Camelot Unchained as long as I’m in charge. I believe promises should be kept, and I made this promise to our KS Backers and thus, I’ll keep it.”
When we moved over here to Massively Overpowered, some of us transplanted our long-running columns to the new space. I perhaps felt most devastated that I was going to lose all of the Game Archaeologist articles that I had painstakingly researched over the years. So my mission with this space became two-fold: to rescue and update my older columns while continuing to add more articles to this series on classic MMOs and proto-MMOs.
I’ve been pleased with the results so far because TGA is a series that I really don’t want to see vanish. As MMORPG fans, we should consider it important to remember and learn about these older titles and to expand our knowledge past the more popular and well-known games of yesteryear.
Now that we have quite a catalogue of Game Archaeologist columns, I thought it would be helpful to end the year by gifting this handy guide to you that organizes and compiles our continuing look at the history of the genre. Enjoy!
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree get crazy into minimaps, probably more than you’ve ever heard a podcast talk about the subject. Trust us, it’s a good thing. As the year races to a close, there’s a lot to talk about with new patches, land for sale, the cost of making games, and more!
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:
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained’s weekly progress report is on the shorter side (for CSE) given that the game’s monthly newsletter just went out, but there are some interesting tidbits within, including the fact that the studio is considering uprooting the game’s hosting services and migrating elsewhere. The team’s also been working on battlegrounds and warbands, status effects, animations, female clothing, tech stuff, and boats.
In great news for anybody still lamenting World of Darkness, victory seems assured for vampire MMORPG Shadow’s Kiss, whose Kickstarter should conclude on Tuesday with more than double its ask.
Meanwhile, Elite Dangerous patched its patch, Shroud of the Avatar is hosting a Movember team, Valiance Online teased female toons, Project Gorgon is planning its next update early tomorrow morning, we spoke to Mark Jacobs about developer wages, Ship of Heroes prepped its combat alpha, and Star Citizen drove eyebrows to the sky by announcing the pre-sale of land claims in space.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Settle in, folks, because it’s Camelot Unchained monthly newsletter day — and that means plenty of good reading for those excited about this RvR title.
One of the big topics this month was the preparation for something that the team is calling Saturday Night Sieges. These beta activities, according to Mark Jacobs, “are intended to distill down some of the most fun aspects of our game into the form of scenarios, and allow our players to interact with each other in the same way as they will in the LIVE game.”
Jacobs said that these Sieges will grow as the team ropes more players in to test elements that will be present in the live game, such as siege engines, building destruction, and a full arsenal of weapons. The best part? When Saturday Night Sieges meets the teams goals, the game will officially be in Beta 1 testing.
Last week, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wrote a (fantastic) Soapbox editorial arguing that Star Wars Battlefront II (and its concomitant monetization dust-up) is merely a symptom of the “long tail” trend of the games business. As he put it, it’s not a bad thing that game companies seek to make money; they need money to make games, and games make us happy. We’re happy to pay fair prices for good games! But EA, he argues, is merely undertaking a “blatant cash grab” over and above the rising costs of making games, and the worst part is that the game developers themselves aren’t reaping the benefits of the publishers’ increased revenue.
“The programmers and art staff don’t wind up seeing much, if anything, from these increased profit margins, still being subjected to an awful volume of crunch time and demanding workloads with ever-growing headcounts,” Eliot asserted. “And the people making these games aren’t seeing any benefit from all of these increases; salaries aren’t going up except for the people at the top end.”
But that might be true for only a segment of corporate developers. In conversation with Massively OP, Camelot Unchained boss-man Mark Jacobs suggests that over the last five years, developer salaries – specifically programmers – have increased significantly.
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.