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.
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.
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.
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.