mark jacobs

Perfect Ten: Questions to ask before backing an MMO Kickstarter

I am not a big fan of Kickstarter in general, but I like to think that I’m not a big fan for actual reasons rather than spurious ones. Every time I see someone referring to Star Citizen as a scam, I get annoyed; the game is very clearly not a scam. It’s already delivered too much of an actual game to be a scam. A scam is something that’s never going to happen at all; most Kickstarter games are, at the very least, going to provide a good-faith effort to try making a game.

Not that this necessarily works out very well, as evidenced by Pathfinder Online. Intentions and ability to deliver aren’t the same thing at all. So rather than calling out every Kickstarted game a scam simply because it involves still asking for money after the initial funding period (which, again, is not a scam so much as an indication of ballooning needs for money), why not teach ourselves to be better armed before backing a Kickstarter?

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Massively OP’s guide to the best upcoming indie MMORPGs, part one

When you write for an MMORPG website that covers literally hundreds of games and could probably add in hundreds more that are extinct, are in operation only overseas, or are so incredibly niche that their creators’ moms don’t even know about them, you start devoting a large portion of your brain to trying to keep details about all of these games straight. This not only results in forgetting two of your kids’ names (after all, space is limited), but it’s nearly an impossible task. There’s just too much out there.

And lately I’ve noticed that the staff and readers alike have started to become incredibly confused regarding all of the indie MMOs that are oozing through the development process in their 72 planned testing stages (the other week I could swear that I saw a game declare itself to be going into “state semi-regionals”). There are too many games, some of which look far too similar, and it’s stressing us out.

Enhance your calm, citizen. Here’s the first part of our quick and dirty guide to many of the indie MMORPGs in development and some of the key points about each. Hint: It’s not asking whether they are a sandbox with open world PvP because of course they are. As a side note, I won’t be covering most of the survival sandbox and mere multiplayer titles, as that would be too great for the scope of this guide. And if you’re interested in these games, then you’ll definitely want to track our Make My MMO and Betawatch columns. Then stay tuned next week for the second half of this list!

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Camelot Unchained makes progress on the ‘long road’ to beta

It’s been a “longer road” to the first beta test than Camelot Unchained’s team originally anticipated, but the good news is that progress is definitely being made. Need proof? Then go no further than this week’s newsletter, which spells out in painstaking detail all of the projects being done.

The ability system overhaul is still ongoing, with the team identifying and stamping out bugs that skitter through it. The game should be running 10% to 20% faster now, thanks to improvements to terrain generation.

“We’ve made continued in-roads in other areas such as more than two islands, which we hope to get into testing next week,” Mark Jacobs reported. “We’ve also completed a first pass at groups which we are currently testing in-studio.”

The team also showed off some of its new Viking weapon art and some of the creations that the community has made with the game’s CUBE building toolset.


Make My MMO: New biome for Camelot Unchained; new campaigns for Hero’s Song, Dual Universe (Sept. 10, 2016)

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, our own MJ – MJ Guthrie, that is – returned from DragonCon with reports from several crowdfunded MMORPG studios. First up is Camelot Unchained and its own MJ – Mark Jacobs, that is – who’ve got a new update out, complete with new screenshots of the autumn forest biome (seen above) and a tease about the ongoing hiring. Jacobs says the team has been busy working on resource modification, ability conditionals, skill timing, archery abilities, periodic effects, building damage, the Stonehealer class, and the first pass on multi-island/multi-server integration.

We’ve also welcomed Hero’s Song back to our watch list. The John Smedley-led OARPG canceled its Kickstarter earlier this year but has returned to crowdfund just ahead of its early access launch with a new Indiegogo campaign.

Dual Universe also launched its first Kickstarter, seeking over half a million dollars to fund the epic sci-fi sandbox. Meanwhile, Ever, Jane postponed its open beta’s first update, Fragmented went on sale for five bucks in the Humble Bundle store, Edengrad updated backers on its combat plans, and HEX released its fifth card pack, Herofall. Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding this week and the roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!

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DragonCon 2016: Mark Jacobs on Camelot Unchained’s abilities and RvR realm rewards

If you’ve been following anything about Camelot Unchained, then you get the idea that Mark Jacobs has set out to make something different than what is currently in the MMO market. That difference shows in the upcoming game’s leveling system, which is accomplished via realm rewards in RvR. The ability system is unique, focusing on crafting new and different skills instead of just letting players acquire more powerful versions of the same ones. At DragonCon 2016, Jacobs was joined by more of the City State Entertainment crew to dive a bit more in-depth on these two systems as well as touch on some other features. Couldn’t be at that panel in person? We got the scoop for you.

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DragonCon 2016: Mark Jacobs on trolls, subscriptions, and Camelot Unchained

There’s so much to see and do at DragonCon that you can’t possibly fit it all in. With actors, authors, game developers, cosplayers, and fans in panels, costume contests, balls, readings and more at every turn, you have to prioritize your time. Up in the top bracket of my “must do” list was sitting down (in a quiet place) with Mark Jacobs and talking all things Camelot Unchained. Unlike a game update, the conversation flowed across a number of topics, including Jacob’s view on trolls, hiring more devs, payment models, and how his life almost didn’t go the game developer route. Oh, and we also talked about Camelot Unchained!

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Make My MMO: Camelot Unchained’s state-of-the-game address (July 30, 2016)

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Camelot Unchained closed out a quiet July with a newsletter and state-of-the-game address. CSE boss Mark Jacobs told players that progress since the game’s setbacks this past spring has been strong; this summer will see the addition of many new abilities to the retooled system, in-house animation is revving up, and new waves of testing are on the way. Beta 1? Not yet, but Jacobs says he’s hoping to announce Beta 1’s planned date after early backers have had time to test some of the on-deck pushes.

“This attitude of not rushing a ‘Not ready for Prime Time Beta’ has meant/means/will continue to drive a slower march to release than we would all like, but after certain games’ issues at launch, do you really want us to do it differently?” he asks. “I hope not, because this is the right way to do things, and one of the advantages of being a crowd-funded game – we won’t be rushed into releasing a game to meet somebody else’s needs, other than the long-term needs of our Backers for a stable, fun, and 100% ‘Ready for Prime Time’ game. And as Alpha, Beta 1, and IT Backers will be seeing over the next few weeks, our time and your/my money has been well-spent.”

Meanwhile, Das Tal is wrapping up its final summer alpha weekend, Star Citizen kicked off a refreshed season of community videos, Grim Dawn teased new content, and Shroud of the Avatar pushed out Release 32, which officially marked the last wipe of the game and unofficially marked the closest thing it’s going to see to a launch.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding this week and the roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!

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Make My MMO: Camelot Unchained opens satellite studio, Edengrad funds (June 18, 2016)

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, City State Entertainment stunned pretty much everyone by announcing that it will open a satellite studio on the other side of the country in Seattle, which will support a much-expanded team of programmers working on Camelot Unchained. Funding for the second studio is provided by the game’s unnamed uber-investor and matched by none other than Mark Jacobs himself.


  • The Kickstarter for post-apoc survival MMORPG Edengrad successfully funded at  £41,535 (just under $60,000 US), and Polish developer Huckleberry Games is planning early access this September;
  • Shroud of the Avatar released another excerpt of the audio book for its novelization coming later this summer;
  • Fragmented pushed out another patch, this one fixing bugs and localizing for German players;
  • ECO announced its next big patch, which is focused on the economy and is due out at the end of June;
  • the folks behind the Elite: Dangerous novelization Kickstarter explained the results of its legal battle and delay;
  • and HEX announced plans for a ladder system and tournament cleanup.

We’re also bummed to report that Vigor Roads’ Kickstarter ended this morning unsuccessfully with only $9,735 pledged toward its $25,000 goal. Developer NeuronHaze said it partly blamed itself for overconfidence and failing to prepare a game build for backers to see in time. That build is promised for late summer or autumn, the studio says, and early access is still planned for 2017.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding this week and the roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!

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Camelot Unchained is opening a second studio in Seattle

Camelot Unchained is opening a new studio in Seattle.

On Twitch this afternoon, CSE studio founder Mark Jacobs told viewers that the second studio will expand the team an additional four programmers with more to come and is being funded by additional investment from himself and the game’s chief investor. The deal has apparently been several months in the making. While the studio office itself is not up and running, the new staff is working as of this month.

Jacobs could not give a hard date for beta one but did say the outlook on the refactoring of the code that caused the delay is positive.

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Camelot Unchained says farewell to community manager, preps big stream

Camelot Unchained is losing its community manager, Jenesee Grey.

During yesterday’s farewell stream with CSE boss Mark Jacobs, Grey explained that her insane commute (500 miles) was responsible for her amicable departure.

The studio has another big stream planned for this afternoon at 3 p.m. EDT.

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Camelot Unchained shows environmental art, teases major announcement

Camelot Unchained fans know that there’s always a lot to unpack from each week’s lengthy newsletters. And while there’s a lot to chew on from this Friday’s report, perhaps the most interesting tidbit from it hasn’t happened yet.

Mark Jacobs said that the fans should get pumped for a major announcement coming next week: “I have no doubt that the news we are going to deliver next Friday will bring a big smile to ALL of our backers (well, at least those who want to see us succeed). It’s a really good update, months in the making.” And before you ask, no, it’s not the beta date.

Jacobs reported that the team is mostly channeling its efforts into overhauling the ability system, a project that hasn’t left a lot of extra time and resources for other tasks. In addition to several pieces of weapon concept art, the Camelot Unchained team posted four in-game screenshots of Tuatha Dé Danann landscapes. Check them out below!


Camelot Unchained’s new ability system is ‘a big leap forward’

Camelot Unchained’s weekend post may be on the briefer side after the mega newsletter earlier this week, but it bears good news from CSE’s Mark Jacobs:

“After a lot of hard work by the team, the first version of the new ability system is online this weekend for an IT test! It may not look like much now, but what our IT folks will be seeing this weekend is a big leap forward for our game’s tech. We are going to do a full livestream session when all the pieces are in place, but as of now we can easily create and use abilities via the new system. As part of our refactor, the ‘re-abilitation’ team has taken a system that had tens of thousands of lines, put it on a diet, refactored it and replaced it with a streamlined system that is around two thousand lines.”

You’ll recall that the game’s beta one phase was actually delayed specifically because the previous ability system was unable to properly handle the complicated skill and class design the team was throwing at it, which meant the team had to refactor the underlying ability code. And so here we are.

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Camelot Unchained’s testers have placed over a billion building blocks

The latest Camelot Unchained update is all about the C.U.B.E. — that is, the Camelot Unchained Building Environment. The player building tool has just hit a huge milestone. “Since we began tracking the game, our Backers (not us, just our Backers) have laid down over one billion blocks!” says CSE studio boss Mark Jacobs. “That’s a pretty impressive number of blocks, considering the size of our Unchained Community.” Round structures are on the way too; Jacobs says to stay turned through summer for even more tweaks to the tool.

He also name-drops the Oculus Rift: “We are not planning on working on a Rift version of Camelot Unchained at the present time,” he says. “However, we are certainly interested in seeing how it works with C.U.B.E.”

There’s a bit of news about new terrain art, new islands, new weapons, some 3-D models, new interns, and a student group that toured the studio and managed to emerge mostly uncorrupted. Check it all out on the official blog.

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