Camelot Unchained says it has no plans to license its engine, is still paying refunds

    
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Earlier this month, Camelot Unchained studio City State Entertainment came under fire when its leader objected to a YouTube video that speculated the company was on the verge of collapse. CSE’s Mark Jacobs said that video mischaracterized the company’s finances since the YouTuber didn’t have all the facts. But as we pointed out, the reason the community didn’t have all the facts was that City State hasn’t provided sufficient transparency, extending even to us, as the studio had reneged on an entire transparency-oriented interview with us because we refused to withdraw one of the questions at its request.

During the discussions that followed, we suggested that CSE answer our questions in full on its stream on its own turf to prove it had nothing to hide. Jacobs did stream yesterday evening, alone in the CSE offices, and he did answer some questions we’d posed, but not all of them.

Most positively, he does say that five new people have been added to the team in the last few months, including a senior UI engineer, who Jacobs says was very much needed and will help get multiple projects beyond the base game UI, like voice chat UI. He hopes that will help speed up development, along with the tech upgrades he discusses. The company is leery of hiring people to move to Virginia just to have to make them work from home anyway, so apparently the hires aren’t locked into either studio location yet. He’d love to have a 20% larger development team.

In response to a question on the next beta phase for the Kickstarted MMORPG, he declines to give a date for the next leg and the fully playable gameloop that he’d originally hoped to get done by the end of summer. “Dates only serve to put a stick in it somewhere that eventually you end up picking up,” he argues, suggesting that the company isn’t working hard to earn backer money anymore and investors are paying for the game, so the gist here is that they don’t feel obligated to give dates they suspect are wrong. (Camelot Unchained was originally Kickstarted in 2013 and has been in “beta one” since 2018.) [After publication, Jacobs disputed our characterization, saying that he meant that giving dates would be the right thing to do if the team were making a bigger push to raise money from the public, but it’s not.]

Final Stand Ragnarok, Jacobs says, will see its 0.5 version deployed in the next few weeks. He says it “runs like a champ” and the studio will continue to work on it as it’s why the investors are allowing the studio to keep hiring.

“The investors are continuing to fund us,” he says by way of reassuring players about the safety and financing of the games. “Everyone is kinda happy where we’re at. They’d be happier if we launched!” He also says the devs have no intention of licensing CSE’s custom engine anytime soon. “That would be a friggin’ disaster,” he says. “We have zero marketing materials anywhere for it.” Jacobs later says the quality of the engine will ultimately prove that the team knows what it’s doing. “It’s easy to understand why [critics] think we’re just an engine company instead of making games,” he says, but he’s adamant that’s not true. [Jacobs reiterated to us after publication that he is not seeking to license the engine and that if he were, he’d be going about it all the wrong way with teams hard at work on two games instead of on that.]

And as for refunds? “I am continuing to pay refunds,” Jacobs says, repeating that he’s paying them when he’s the office. He does not, however, address any of the open questions on refunds we and other media and players have asked. We ourselves have asked for clarity on how many refunds have been completed and how many are outstanding and why CSE has not invested time or money into speeding this along since some backers have been waiting more than a year and a half. (This has been an extremely sore point with the MMO community for a long time now, and it’s baffled most of our community as well.)

Jacobs also does not directly address the sustainability of development, when the CU NDA will drop, the latest plan for monetization, the projected plan for the playerbase size, and the apparently futile backer claims to the state attorney general earlier this year.

In response to a backer question on New World, he declines to comment on the game itself, only saying that he “want[s] other games to succeed in this space,” referring to the “a rising tide lifts all boats” aphorism. And he says that online gaming has been a “joke” to publishers – but they’re wrong. “MMOs are going to be around forever,” he declares. “[They] will become the most dominant game because of connectivity. […] I continue to believe in them.”

Finally, he weighs in on the Blizzard accusations and lawsuit at the request of a watcher, saying they’re “significant” and “troubling.” “I’m hoping there is more to the story, but I have no expectations that there are,” he says, saying that companies “get the reputation [they] deserve” and that he sympathizes with the victims.

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dinarian_

If MJ ever promises ya’ll another interview he wont fnish, ask him to let you see the ‘Refund Megathread’ on the official forums so you can see for yourself exactly how well refunders have been responded to.

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Key_Avocado_2520

Did he think that livestream would help his case at all? If anything, it’s made things worse.

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Jo Watt

Yea. I kinda gave up on this after years of watching him and sometimes another person sit in chairs with a plant in the background talking about what they have “done” and what they are “doing”.

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dinarian_

I like how he no longer has a stream schedule and just does them any time he wants with barely any notice. Heaven forbid someone with a job want to ask about their overdue refunds since we can’t ask support or anywhere else. MJ makes sure his live stream date/times are unreliable enough that making it to one is next to impossible.

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Oleg Chebeneev

The epic saga of Meme Unchained continues

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Ardra Diva

i think i’ve become hardened in my consumerism. if you’re telling me a PvP-centric game is failing, troubled, or otherwise in a non-optimal position, I grimly nod, smile, and say it’s all going according to plan. One sunny happy day with sunrises, rainbows, and bunnies, PvE will arise again. In Might. The Game Will Come.

And there will be such a cry of freedom, as has never been heard. (Judah ben-Hur voice)

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Bannex

Wow this is all incredibly awkward for massively…

On another note, MJ is Clearly stringing refunds along until the game is ready for launch hoping the malcontents change there tune.

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Bruno Brito

Wow this is all incredibly awkward for massively…

How so?

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Harbinger_Kyleran

Agreed, I’m not seeing MOP taking any losses from this.

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Bannex

Losses? What would they have to lose? It’s a news site…

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Bannex

Massively played a huge role in the hype train for CU. MJ was a regular dev on the comment section here, he was vehemently defended by mop until he’s not.

If you’ve been following massively’s coverage on this game then you’d recognize the huge swing in how the game has been covered. Im not saying massively is particularly at fault. Just pointing out that somebody “unfriended” somebody here.

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Bruno Brito

I mean, i don’t see how that’s really awkward. I get your point, but back then, Mark still had the pretense of at least being held accountable and the issues of CU were still understandable.

I see it as a bad relationship. There comes a point where the line is crossed, and everyone but yourself need to face reality and see the person for who they truly are. The fact that Mark is just pulling MOP’s leg while refusing to do the interview with half-words and fluff content must be their threshhold.

The problem is behavior. Mark is behaving like a scummy developer now. People went to crowdfunding to avoid this kind of lack of accountability, and well…here we are.

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Narficus

Wow, you need to be caught up to speed in a big way.

To add to what Bruno Brito pointed out with Mark Jacobs being the instigator in those relations souring, mostly through the same evasion that has earned Shroud of the Avatar articles regularly featuring a box of shame to caveat that the developer can no longer be trusted at face value.

It’s reciprocity; if Mark Jacobs is going to be evasive, occlusive to his own PR by becoming an absolute dumpster fire by his own efforts in comments sections instead of doing the thing that needs to be done, then it’s simply going to result in Streisand Effect.

And the more people dig the more interesting it gets.

Diversions additional to the spectacular “Money Pit #2: Ragnarok: Not Even Trademarked” aside (and trademark filings that DO exist suggest there has been a #3 and #4, or so), I’ve found where Mark Jacobs pulled a Tim “Edge” Langdell by trademark squatting “Realm vs. Realm” in 2016. There was also specifically “DAOC” that had a registry fail for the same reasons: being already in use for many years. This was trademark trolling to an extreme, done a couple of years after Mythic/Broadsword had it lapse in 2010. If MJ had somehow registered it, it would have been a constant problem to Mythic/Broadsword unless they contested it, and thankfully the attempt didn’t really go on for… oh, wait, no, it went on extended from 2012 to 2016. So when the DAOC trademark trolling fell through, he went for Realm vs Realm.

The notable thing about a trademark is that unlike copyright you need to defend it or lose it, and there’s no better pretense for being litigious to settle out of court than “defending your trademark” if it’s staking on someone else’s copyright. This was a tactic Stardock’s Brad Wardell did to the Star Control II creators a couple years back. (Thankfully, that resulted in a settlement over mead and honey, humor apropos to both developers.)

That? Wouldn’t have seen it if I didn’t have a reason to look.

I’d sooner expect these kinds of practices to be a cherry on the SotA sundae (their trademark fumbles were a whole new level of WTF), not from Mark Jacobs. More and more serious questions now face Mark Jacobs, each time he creates another dumpster fire.

It’s getting to the point where MJ’s going to have to have product but apparently he can’t even clone Arthurian Darkness Falls hard enough. All of everyone’s good graces have been called, to the point even those who have accepted their backing as a loss in some way calling out his crap. If you want it, yes, he duped us all into believing he wasn’t the jerk of the Mythic duo.

I think that point passed years ago, and MJ is now running on promotional debt hoping that he can point towards current articles to show his studio’s work is still relevant to give hope of any future investment return. Problem: can’t exactly keep new investors coming in when there’s no new buzz.

But when those articles turn challenging and investors can Google like the USPTO evaluators? THAT has to be a bit “awkward”.

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dinarian_

For those wondering. I am on day 505 of waiting for a refund from MJ who insists that he is allegedly still paying them. I am still waiting.

Hey MJ have you finished yet with refunds from February of 2020 yet?

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Schlag Sweetleaf
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Bruno Brito

Perfection.

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dinarian_

If only MJ had any cash left to tease us with.

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Narficus

Money apparently used for an attempt to trademark squat on a now-common genre term.

MJ got ROASTED by the USPTO examiner. (I hope the link preserves, if not then go to the Documents tab of the first link and look for Jun. 16, 2016 Offc Action Outgoing. SIX attachments, and number six is the don’s kiss of death.)

I thought you could use a chuckle at MJ being officially called out for his shenanigans.

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dinarian_

I laughed thanks for that link.

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Buddy Barlow

Which blows my mind because he says he’s in the studio doing refunds which is a lie, it’s 10000% a lie because you’d think by now you would be one of the first ones he would refund when he could so he can get you off his back and be done with this.

It’s really hilarious the mental gymnastics he does, i chuckled out loud when he said on stream how he was taking care of a few refunds, LOL yea sure.

MJ, in all your smarts… dude the first person you should refund is dina, but i guess he just enjoys the attention or he has to comb through 100’s and 100’s of refunds. So what excuse is it MJ?

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Narficus

Ctrl+F is going to take more crowdfunding to achieve!

Unless they didn’t put anything into an appropriate filing system, which may explain why people are saying CU has no loop yet (as that would be quite a miraculous feat if the engine’s backend is trash).

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dinarian_

MJ can’t refund me yet. He says he is doing refunds in order and he is still working on refunds from February of 2020 as far as anyone can tell, and I didn’t request my refund until March so he has a lot of people that he has to refund still before he gets to me. They have all been waiting longer than me who has only waited 508 days so far.

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Schlag Sweetleaf
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Utakata

…oh right, you slow downed the frame rate on this to an excruciating CU pace. So it wasn’t an issue with my PC, rather the pigtails just got that. >.<

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Also, there’s Dumb and Dumber..:)

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Paragon Lost

I was against they them offering refunds. That said, since they offered to give them, they need to give them. My wife and I don’t want a refund, we understood what we were getting into.

Until they finish paying back the refunds I don’t care to listen to “anything” else they have to say, including the hiring of more people. Matter fact I actually find myself irked that he’s spending money on more people when he hasn’t refunded these outstanding debts. His word means absolutely nothing to me until he corrects this error.