mark jacobs

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.

Meanwhile,

  • 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!

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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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Camelot Unchained: CUBE updates and weapon concepts

Still on the edge of your seat waiting for the Camelot Unchained beta? Well sit back and get a comfy pillow for your butt because it’s not today, but it has been a good week for the team’s progress nevertheless. A new dev update from CSE boss Mark Jacobs says the team capped off the week with its first test of a multiplayer CUBE build, the building module embedded in the game.

“We’ve made lots of improvements and additions to both the C.U.B.E. and game builds, but one of the biggest was another reduction of the memory footprint. With this build, we took about 500MB out of the client,” Jacobs writes. “Now, this 500MB is also dependent on just how many blocks are used in C.U.B.E., but some of these savings apply to the main game as well, even when there are no blocks there. This will result in even more players with older cards being able to access the game, and another overall improvement in performance. We are also moving forward on other fronts quite nicely, and we’ll have more to talk about regarding some of them in June.”

If you prefer visual eyecandy in your updates, good news: The team has also featured some concept art for the realms’ swords and axes and an environmental shot to boot.

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CSE’s Mark Jacobs explains Camelot Unchained’s beta delay

On its livestream this afternoon, Camelot Unchained boss Mark Jacobs told backers and watchers that technical issues have delayed the start of beta, which was anticipated literally any day now and has been delayed once already (as was the alpha before it). Jacobs explained that CSE discovered its ability system was unable to properly handle the complicated skill and class design the team was throwing at it, necessitating a refactoring of the underlying ability code. “We are going to be able to preserve a lot of the underlying code but have to change some aspects of it and the pipeline that an ability has to go through from button push to active in the game,” he told us.

While it’s frustrating news, Jacobs believes the retooling will ensure faster deployment of new skills in the future and will positively influence the crafting system as well. He told us that while CSE could have opened beta now and fixed the problem later, the team prefers to launch a beta with the permanent ability system in place rather than try to sneak one past the backers.

We spoke to Jacobs and Head of Code Andrew Meggs ahead of the stream to ask a few more questions; read on for their explanation.

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Camelot Unchained makes ‘slow and steady progress’ toward beta

The pieces are falling into place for Camelot Unchained’s first beta, although it’s not quite here yet. Mark Jacobs jumped onto the stage on Friday to share some of the “slow and steady progress” being made toward the next big phase of testing.

“All the components for our Beta 1 classes are currently in the game,” Jacobs shared. “They are not all working yet, but they are in the game. Right now, that’s one of the biggest, and most expected, ‘degrees of difficulty’ in terms of moving into Beta 1.”

Among the projects that the team has been working on include adding deployable objects, the group system, visual improvements to the world, environmental sounds, and the Pict race.

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Perfect Ten: MMORPGs with huge class rosters

After talking with Mark Jacobs the other week about the difficulty of balancing Camelot Unchained’s 30 classes, it got my mind thinking of MMOs that don’t merely stop with a half-dozen or so classes in their roster. It seems like having a wide array of class choices used to be in vogue early on in the industry but has since been abandoned for a smaller field of archetypes that are easier to manage.

Me? I love choices, particularly with classes. My interest in a game gets a shot in the arm if I have a lot of prospects for alts — the more, the better. So I started drawing up a list of MMOs with large class rosters and decided to make it into a full-blown column.

For the purpose of today’s list, I’m not counting skill-based MMOs (which could be considered as hosting infinite classes). Also, for games that allow a measure of mix-and-matching between classes, I’m counting only the actual classes or powersets available, not the total number of permutations that could be created by their merging. So which MMO has enough classes to satisfy your appetite?

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Camelot Unchained demos ballistae, introduces backer-inspired lore

The crunch toward beta 1 continues for the Camelot Unchained staff this weekend. Last night CSE boss Mark Jacobs told followers that the team is working on lighting and rendering system bugs, the new character creation system, stats and damage states, item mass, performance, ballistae (video below), and crafted items.

Jacobs also emerged triumphant in the impromptu storytelling session he held at the request of backers Thursday night; the story revolved around Wagner’s Ring Cycle, or more specifically, Andvaranaut, the ring itself, and the ensuing new Becoming tale is included in the newsletter.

“Next week we’ll talk about how well the pieces have assembled, and what comes next,” he writes. “In the meantime, I’ll say that as of now, Ben says we have over 500 ability combinations in the build. They aren’t finished yet (of course), but they are getting there.”

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