mark jacobs

The Daily Grind: Do MMORPGs still need traditional guilds?

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.

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Make My MMO: The Thargoids should win Elite Dangerous (September 30, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Elite has finally begun to sound “dangerous” indeed. After just a few days of owning players, the alien race that “returned” to the game’s universe in its long-awaited 2.4 update has finally begun suffering casualties at the hands of players. In fact, it appears the first player to down one of the Thargoids’ ships was none other than the player who caused the massive drama over last spring’s Salomé event. This is because time is a flat circle and karma is literally dead. It’s not entirely clear that the Thargoids are really the bad guys here, but when has that ever stopped us before?

On Massively OP, we chatted with Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs, who explained just how the game’s social systems will differ from what MMORPG players are used to.

Star Citizen also continued inching along the path toward alpha 3.0, reducing its bug count last week by two.

Meanwhile, Legends of Aria began its final alpha, Shroud of the Avatar patched up to R46, Albion Online released Joseph, Valiance Online posted its latest roadmap, OrbusVR discussed its artificing skill, City of Titans posted the finale to one of its lore series, and Pantheon gave players a look at how its art is coming along via stream (thanks, Reht!), plus Brad McQuaid explored his vision for the Holodeck future of the MMO.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Camelot Unchained strives for a well-rounded experience as it focuses on siege gameplay

In making the transition from limited-focus tests to larger siege gameplay to the long-awaited beta, the team behind Camelot Unchained is “sprinting” as it rounds out the MMO experience with numerous small improvements.

“The intrinsic sense of fun in games instead tends to come from a massive number of small subtle details, which cumulatively add up to an enjoyable experience,” wrote designer Ben Pielstick. “In our case with Camelot Unchained, the details we’re working on at present have to do with things like smoothness of animations for drawing arrows from quivers, the speed at which characters swing their swords, and the time it takes characters to change directions due to WASD movement input.”

You can read up on more of these smaller projects in this week’s newsletter, which includes mentions of shortbow animations, the progression system, the siege user interface, and more faces for characters.

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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 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 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: Explosions, music, and death to getting one-shotted

Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs helms this week’s studio update, with a peek into the team’s progress on shadows, archery and combat animations, siege engines, CUBE structures, inventory functionality and art, ability VFX, realm portals, mines, and terrain assets. Testers, make sure you practice explosives safety during the holiday:

“Happy Birthday, America: Gabe fixed an issue preventing our impact explosions from remaining in the scene. Doing so gave us the great idea of making our bow and siege abilities a bit more patriotic for the holiday weekend.”

Meanwhile, the studio’s latest newsletter features news on a fresh programmer hire, the game’s unique music system, and a positively massive segment on game speed by CSE’s Ben Pielstick. Specifically, he discusses the pacing of combat and the desire to avoid one-shot kills, no matter how logical, in order to keep new players and endgamers literally on the same playing field.

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Camelot Unchained implements torches (bring your own pitchforks)

City State’s Mark Jacobs is back at the helm of the Camelot Unchained weekly update this round, with news of his team’s efforts on terrain, performance improvements, seamless zone transitions, the API server, the salvaging system, siege weapons, ambient sound and music tracks, knockback animations, and the pleasantly named wounds and trauma code.

“We’re revisiting the rough first pass of the wounds and trauma code to make use of new code written while we wrapped up encumbrance. At the same time, this pass will also fix several long-standing bugs in the system, like dummies not respawning, and issues with bleeding to death. No one likes issues with bleeding to death, amiright?”

There’s also the usual assortment of images, including a super-detailed look at the work-in-progress unitframes and… torches. A whole bunch of torches. What could go wrong, right? Pitchforks next week?

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The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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Camelot Unchained completes ‘first 30 days of beta 1’ doc

With the Seattle base a go, Camelot Unchained is pushing forward. City State’s Tyler Rockwell says the team has been hard at work on terrain optimization, zone transitions, portals, particle performance, crafting recipes, environment assets, and UI tweaks. Crafters, this one should leap out at you in particular:

“Crafting: Mark completed his first pass on his ‘First 30 days of Beta 1’ document and handed it off to some members of the team for commenting. This is the document that he spoke about two weeks ago. Once it goes through the rounds here, it will be passed on to our Backers, so they know what to expect for the opening of Beta 1 and a little bit beyond.”

Meanwhile, Mark Jacobs returns to helm a Q&A for the weekly round up — and don’t forget to check out the latest art uploads!

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Camelot Unchained focuses on particles, trees, and the beta interface

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.

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The many faces of Camelot Unchained

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.

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