Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Massively exclusive: Jacobs on Camelot Unchained's Kickstarter home stretch

Camelot Unchained's Kickstarter odyssey is almost complete, and as of press time there's a little over a day remaining. City State's fantasy RvR sandbox stands at just over $1.82 million out of its $2 million goal, so Mark Jacobs has penned a dev diary designed to push the game's funding over the top.

He outlines the many challenges inherent in managing both a Kickstarter campaign and an ambitious MMORPG project, and he hits the highlights of the former which include three faction RvR, Minecraft-style building options, and a custom engine that has easily handled hundreds of simultaneous players at well over 200 frames per second. Finally, Jacobs thanks CU's current backers, whom he says have given unprecedented support to the tune of a $160 average pledge.

 Dev diary

As I write this, the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter is getting close to the end, with about 38 hours left to go. Our total stands at $1.73 million. Every comparable game has had a strong final day, so while we haven't reached our target of $2 million yet, we're pretty hopeful.

No matter what happens, I'll be forever grateful to our backers. They have been simply awesome. Right now, our average pledge is around $160. This is completely unprecedented. I've looked at quite a few crowdfunded games, and not a single one has been in the same ballpark. Some have raised more total dollars, but they have all done so by attracting larger numbers of people at a lot less per head, more like $55 to $60. We knew Camelot Unchained was more of a niche game, and because of this, we expected / hoped our average would be higher. But as they say, "never in our wildest dreams..."

But this is just one aspect that happens to be quantifiable. How do you measure sheer enthusiasm? Or the level of emotional buy-in? Or positive attitude? I can't, but if I could, I do know our fans would be off the chart. As a result, they have inspired me and our entire team far beyond anything we could have expected or even imagined. For this too, I am eternally and deeply grateful,

I'm also incredibly proud of our team. Every single person here has give more than I could have dared to ask. We knew when we started that with only 12 of us, planning and executing a Kickstarter campaign would involve a lot of work. We were prepared for that... or so we thought. The sheer immensity of the task exceeded all our expectations. Thankfully, everyone rose to the challenge, working not only long hours but weekends as well to keep us on track. We had to deal with the usual spate of illnesses and injury, and today's fun and frolic with Amazon Payments servers being down for four hours certainly was a very unexpected challenge.

Assuming we stay the course and fund, we'll soon begin an even bigger adventure, actually developing the game. Making an MMOG, even a focused one, is a monumental task. I'm under no illusion that it will be easy. What it will be, however, is rewarding and fun. It has been a long time since I've had the opportunity to interact so closely with a game community. With their help, I believe Camelot Unchained can be something special. My job is to make sure it is. I renew my promise that my team and I will spare no effort to fulfill the faith our backers have shown in us.

Continue reading here:   Massively exclusive: Jacobs on Camelot Unchained's Kickstarter home stretch

Camelot Unchained unveils new video, Mark Jacobs visits Reddit for AMA


The Camelot Unchained information deluge continues with the release of a new video and a Reddit AMA by Mark Jacobs himself. The video is a half-hour-long affair in which Jacobs provides fans (and prospective Kickstarter pledgers) with an in-depth look at the lore of Camelot Unchained and the myriad features that the game is bringing to the table. Also, as it happens, you can check it out after the cut.

Meanwhile, on Reddit, Jacobs stopped by /r/IAmA to answer questions from the communit. Suffice it to say, questions range from the standard, "tell us about the progression system" to details on server structure, maximum player population, and much much more. Surprisingly, however, horse-sized ducks don't appear to be mentioned even once.

Continue reading here:   Camelot Unchained unveils new video, Mark Jacobs visits Reddit for AMA

Friday, April 26, 2013

Camelot Unchained Stealth class Revealed


 Mark continues with another Kickstarter update and comments on a different approach to the stealther class.

"What if we used the Veil as almost a different world for stealthers? What if being in it allows them to move normally through it, but also comes with some significant downsides?

After all, the Veil is alive and sentient, and it’s in a real pissed-off mood these days. How could we implement a system utilizing the Veil that both makes playing solo stealthers feasible and allows them to contribute to RvR, but can also act as a shadow world? For the consideration of our backers and comments from those waiting in the wings, I present my concept for VeilWalkers and VeilStalkers.

A VeilWalker is a being that can, as the name suggests, move through the Veil in much the same manner as we move through our world. They do pierce it, but not in the same manner as the apocalyptic event, and they do so almost undetected by it. The world around them shifts as if they were seeing it through gauze.

While within its “body”, they can move at normal and sometimes heightened speed.
Like our bodies, however, it also has its own defenses, so VeilWalkers must always be on guard. Think of the scene in the movie Fantastic Voyage when the anti-bodies attack both the sub and anyone outside it.

That’s only one of the ways the Veil fights back against invaders, and it can also throw other challenges at a VeilWalker plying his/her craft. For example, there are also the spirits of dead VeilWalkers who seek to consume their living counterparts' souls to ease their painful existence.

Speaking of pain, walking through the Veil hurts VeilWalkers and can change them over time. This pain is also greater the more stealthers are in proximity to you and the longer you stay close to each other. In addition, the Veil can send out illusions to confuse VeilWalkers, especially less experienced ones.

Now, what do you get for all this risk? Power, movement speed, a game within a game and a challenge like no other. VeilWalkers won’t make great scouts (our archers would be a better choice) and they aren’t great at sneaking up and going all stunlock or stabby/stabby, but they can move through unprotected walls, levitate over objects, learn to control aspects of the Veil’s defenses and use them to their advantage, and so much more.

There is no easy on button for entering the Veil so it can’t be used as an escape valve. Also, the more stealthers that are together in an area, the more that the Veil fights back, especially when they are all from the same realm. Forming and maintaining a “gank squad” in the Veil will not be an easy task, and frankly, it will be less rewarding for stealthers than soloing.

The BSC train still hasn’t stopped. To make it even more interesting for stealthers, I added the concept of a VeilStalker. This class cannot move within the Veil, but its powers are geared to hunting VeilWalkers from outside. They can detect them, lay down traps and prepare other defenses. They are best at dealing with VeilWalkers and protecting other players/areas from them. Walkers/stalkers are two sides of the same coin.

But wait, there’s more! Remember when I said that VeilWalkers' best abilities are useful within the Veil? Well, there are a couple exceptions. One is being attacked by a VeilStalker. When a stalker reaches into the Veil to attack a walker, you guessed it, the walker can fight back, and when he does, his powers can extend into the world. Think of it as a perpetual feedback loop. They can also attack outside the Veil but they are at their best within it."

Continue reading here:  Camelot Unchained Stealth class Revealed

Can Camelot Unchained kickstart MMOs?


 Robert over at Eurogamer had a chance to chat with Mark and published a wonderful article on CU recently.

I'm more excited about Camelot Unchained than any other MMO in development. Freeze the image that popped into your head when you read "MMO" - what did you think of?

Did you picture an astronomically expensive game taking ages to make and desperately ticking boxes to satisfy an audience as large as World of Warcraft's? Throw that image away, because Camelot Unchained is quite the opposite.

Camelot Unchained is ruthlessly designed for a niche, an MMO audience that enjoys a three-realm war (RVR) between players and only players - there is no PVE progression, no fighting monsters for experience or for equipment. Everything in the game is designed with this everlasting war in mind.

It's experimental, and made by a small team that wants people playing it and testing ideas as soon as possible - by January, if all goes to plan. Best of all, Camelot Unchained makes no bones about not being for everyone, because by only costing $5 million - rather than 10-times or 50-times that - it doesn't need even hundreds of thousands of subscribers to make it a success.

There's no publisher involved, which explains a thing or two, because Camelot Unchained is a Kickstarter hopeful, one of the first of its kind. Nearly two-thirds of the lofty $2 million goal has been raised with a week to go, so it's on course but it will be tight. If it reaches that $2 million goal then a further $3 million in private funding will be thrown in, the idea vindicated and investors convinced.

$2 million will come from the pocket of Mark Jacobs, the founder and leader of Camelot Unchained developer City State Entertainment, and the other reason this MMO has a chance. He founded Mythic Entertainment and made Dark Age of Camelot, the MMO that coined the term RVR, and the one that is the inspiration for Camelot Unchained. Jacobs' RVR ideals shone brightly again in Warhammer Online.

I spent two hours talking to Mark Jacobs recently because I needed convincing. I needed to know why I should put my faith in him again to create the MMO I've wanted since Dark Age of Camelot, and the days of running anxiously through contested territory, bumping into unnamed and mysterious elves and trolls - other players - and trying to take from them what was theirs. To understand why you should trust him is to understand him and his story, so here it is.

Continue reading here:   Can Camelot Unchained kickstart MMOs?

Camelot Unchained explains stealth



There are five days left for Camelot Unchained's Kickstarter program, and it's less than $600,000 away from its lofty $2,000,000 goal. The developers figured that this was a fine time to explain not only how stealth will work in CU but also how stealth failed in past games.

Mark Jacobs explained in the latest update blog that being killed by a stealther generates the most rage and angry email from players. But with Jacob's "bat-s**t crazy" idea regarding stealth, most of the frustration should be alleviated.

The idea revolves around the concept of the Veil, which in simple terms is another dimension that exists alongside our own. Players can become VeilWalkers, moving in and out of the Veil and traversing over and through objects undetected by most players. But VeilWalking comes with consequences of its own in the form of VeilStalkers, players who cannot enter the Veil but can pull Walkers out of it by using skills and placing traps.

Continue reading here:   Camelot Unchained explains stealth

Camelot Unchained Has One Week Remaining on Kickstarter



The MMO hasn’t found itself with too much help from Kickstarter, but that could be set to change with the impressive crowd-flexing of Camelot Unchained, which has raised $1.4m, with a week left on the clock.

I’ve been browsing over their updates and picked out a few things that they’ve revealed about the spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot’s game and world. Check them out below.

Inconveniently, I couldn’t embed the most interesting video, which is at the bottom of this post. It shows the tech demo for a thousand-player battle. Go take a look!

Continue reading here:   Camelot Unchained Has One Week Remaining on Kickstarter

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Game More Fun Than Minecraft?

Mark Jacobs has just released Update #22 for the CU kickstarter and it is massively awesome!

Crafting and building in this game will be on a scale never attempted in an MMO before!

View the video over here:  Crafting and Building Better Than Minecraft?




Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Auction Houses and Character Advancement-Horizontal Leveling


Mark's comments on auction houses and toon advancement.

"The addition of auction houses made it quite convenient for players to exchange goods. They have evolved over time from static locations with interactive auctioneers to, in some games, the ability for the player to buy and sell goods anywhere in the world. While this feature is quite popular (especially for pack rats like me), it has come at the cost of decreasing socialization between players and possibly, an increased sense of disconnection with the game as a world, rather than the world as a game. Again, a great feature for some games but in CU, we will have no auction house (though a commodities market *may* be an option due to the difference between gathered resources and crafted goods). Instead, crafters will control shops that they can run themselves or they can barter their goods in parts of towns that we have customized and optimized for that specific purpose." Foundational Principle #3


Character Advancement and Horizontal Leveling

Q: How much of the progression do you plan on making vertical?
MJ: Much more horizontal and slow leveling. I don't want people to max out in 30 days and be gods to newbies. Boring. Q&A - April 16th

Q: Will there be hard or soft caps for stats and horizontal or vertical progression?
MJ: We have a soft cap and horizontal progression. Q&A - April 16th

Q: Will there even be a numbered leveling system in the traditional sense? Or are we looking more at a RR-style progression?
MJ: It's a bit of a hybrid system actually. Q&A - April 16th

Q: Given the focus on crafting does that mean we'll be seeing DAOC like stat caps?
MJ: Right now my thinking is a soft-cap system for all stats and abilities but this is something we will continue to talk about over the next few months, let alone years. I think a soft-cap with slow progression is the best way to go but like I said, I'm not committed to this yet.

Q: I think there needs to be RvR rewards to keep a game interesting. What are your thoughts?
MJ: I couldn't agree more and I'll add that the rewards have to be more than just another ability. I hate the word "holistically" but we do need to look at the entire game and see how we can get creative without rewards, drops and pats on the head. That's part of what I've been spending a lot of time thinking about in terms of progressions and frankly, fun. www.freddyshouse.com

Q: Is it your intention to creating a game focused on the 'later' players, who purely played it for the RvR?
This game is really focused on both RvR-players and crafters at the same time. It's a weird sounding mix but I think it can work out very well. It's different but the more that I thought about where this game could go with that mix, the more excited I got. www.freddyshouse.com


Quotes

"Our progression systems will be based solely on the activities that you are participating in directly (“Die Die. Kill you all. Make you suffer!”) or (“Heal Heal. Heal you all. Make you whole!”) or simply by otherwise helping out in RvR, even if you aren’t very good at it. The reward/leveling systems are a lot more complicated than that and I’ll talk about them in a separate post entitled “Level me up Snotty” coming soon to this blog and man oh man, will that post stir up some interesting reactions. Know that I’m a fan of “You are what you do” gameplay as well as a class-based system for this kind of game so"…Foundational Principle #2

"However, I may also put in some features that some people might not consider fun (like true day/night cycle, slower and different leveling systems, extremely limited fast travel, no PvE leveling/gear grind) because I believe that will make this a better game for our niche." Foundational Principle #1.

More information over here:  CU Faqs.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Camelot Unchained dev: free-to-play headed towards disaster an “apocalypse” in 3-5 years time

Very eye opening warning coming from Mark Jacobs about the f2p model many mmo's use to create and sustain games.

Camelot Unchained creator and long-time MMO veteran Mark Jacobs has warned of an impending free-to-play “apocalypse” in three to five years time, thanks to a rush towards unsustainable free-to-play models. He predicted to VG247 that developers will close and publishers stand to lose a lot of money.

Mythic co-founder Jacobs is currently raising funds for his spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot, entitled Camelot Unchained over on Kickstarter. It rests at $1,073,218
of its $2,000,000 goal with 20 days spare.

The game will be subscription based and the client will be distributed via torrent, skirting around the need for a mass publisher. Jacobs told me as part of an interview you can read here soon, that the free-to-play market is headed toward an apocalypse.

“The whole free-to-play thing isn’t going away tomorrow,” Jacobs stressed, “but let’s just see what happens in three to five years – and I’m betting closer to three – where free-to-play will become just another model. Right now you’ve got everybody chasing it, going ‘Isn’t this great? Free to play, we’re going to make so much money".


Jacobs felt that many developers and publishers are chasing the free-to-play market in the hope that a small percentage of players will actually lay down money on micro-payment items. He doesn’t see it as an economically viable strategy.

“I don’t think that model is going to work out all that well for anybody,” he continued, “not in the long term. Short term – absolutely. Just like every model that seems interesting works out in the short term.

“You know, free-to-play is just another model, and just like every other model in the industry, it will hold its special little place for a while but then there will be consequences. Those consequences in a few years will be a bit of an apocalypse.

“You’re going to see a lot of developers shutting down, and you’re going to see a lot of publishers going, ‘Oh yeah maybe spending $20 million on a free-to-play game wasn’t the best idea ever.’ That’s part of the reason, but the other reason is equally as important, that if you go free-to-play, you really have to compete with every other free-to-play game out there.

Jacobs believes that keeping player-bases smaller and more focused, with players who actually want to pay to play is the key to long-term prosperity in the MMO scene.

Continue reading here: F2P heading towards disaster.

CU Update 16, New Races, Classes and "Darkness Falls" Lives again in "The Depths"

In update 16 Mark mentions their stretch goals for kickstarter. New races, classes and he drops a bombshell for stretch goal #2, in the tradition of Darkness Falls, a new rvr dungeon, The Depths!

"Finally, it’s stretch goal time! Our first goal is a fairly predictable one for any RPG Kickstarter, new races and classes. If we make our first goal, we will create three new races and classes with each realm getting one additional race and class. While the race is 100% TBD, our leading candidate for the additional class is an archer. Again, we don’t expect anyone is going to be surprised at that but hey, that’s what easy to reach stretch goals are all about on Kickstarter.
   Now, as to the second stretch goal, this might be a somewhat controversial one. Rather than spend a lot of time talking about it now, I will end this update and let you watch the videos.
   BTW, as to the “Here, every true son & daughter perishes” tease of last night well, it both as a tease, warning and if you take the first letter of each word you get: H E T S D P = D E P T H S. ?
   Enjoy the videos and if you like what you see, spread the word. Hell is not coming but The Depths await you in Camelot Unchained."

Continue reading here:  CU Update 16

Friday, April 12, 2013

Interview: Mark Jacobs Shares the Vision Behind Camelot Unchained

Folks over at Dualshockers had a nice interview with Mark recently.

If there’s one MMORPG that holds a very special place in my heart, that’s Dark Age of Camelot. As co-founder of Mythic Entertainment, Mark Jacobs was one of the main brains behind that epic game. And, now, he’s back with a vengeance at the helm of City State Entertainment, spearheading his new project Camelot Unchained on Kickstarter.

Judging by how fast the game reached its first million dollars in crowd funding with an exceptional average pledge per backer floating around 160 bucks (the highest for games on Kickstarter), and by the extremely active comment thread on the official Kickstarter page, it seems I’m definitely not the only one “holding out for a hero” to bring the spirit of Camelot back.

While Mark Jacobs himself said several times that Camelot Unchained isn’t just a spiritual successor to DAoC, it’s hard not to see many of the elements we knew and loved, alongside quite a lot of new ones that seem to be sorely missing in today’s MMORPG market.

I finally managed to have a chat with Mark about his vision for the game and what you can read below is the result of that conversation.

Editor’s Note: If you’re unfamiliar with the term “RvR” that is used often in the interview below, it’s the acronym of Realm vs. Realm — a definition initially coined for Dark Age of Camelot that indicates non-instanced and persistent factional warfare between player-driven factions in a MMORPG environment.

Giuseppe: Let’s start on the right track with a meaty topic: what are, in your opinion, the most relevant challenges of creating a niche-focused game like Camelot Unchained, and what are the main opportunities?

Mark: Great questions. Let’s break this down into the three pillars of gameplay – RvR, crafting and housing. For RvR, it is to make a game without PvE leveling, yet fun on a nightly basis. Without that, why would players go out into the new lands and fight night after night?

In terms of crafting, it is how to have a totally player-driven economy without relying on MMO tropes such as token drops, NPC drops, and the wide receiver who drops the winning touchdown pass in a key game. ;D

As for housing, it is how to integrate player housing (a subset of the whole building system) to be fun, but not so tedious that when the bad guys come and burn stuff down, you’ll feel you don’t want to play the game anymore.

Now, in terms of opportunities, with RvR, it is the opportunity to create RvR races, classes, spells, etc. without worrying about how they will play in PvE. This is a very freeing opportunity for me as a designer, and I hope for our artists and programmers as well.

For crafting, it means that our crafters have the chance to truly craft an economy all on their own, without worrying about drops, tokens, etc. For housing, it will be one of the few times – not the first of course -­ that that this kind of building system is implemented (it’s more than just housing) in a MMORPG.

Continue reading here: Dualshockers Mark Jacob Interview


CU engine demo with 1000 characters fighting at the same time.

One problem with massive pvp (person vs person), rvr (realm vs realm) fighting is  most game are only capable of rendering around 250 to 300 characters in the same space at one time and even those are some what laggy and hard to play.

Andrew showed another video, a tech demo of the graphics engine he is building with 1,000 people in the same area and it was very impressive.



Good afternoon from Andrew! Thanks to all of you for checking out the video last night. Here’s a small update, showing the same engine demo but with 1000 characters instead of 500. Epic indeed! A few things I wanted to emphasize:
    Under the hood, we’re not drawing the same character hundreds of times. We’re actually loading up hundreds of copies of each model, because our game engine has to support hundreds of unique models. No two characters in the world should be exactly the same. We’re going to have a huge amount of character customization in Camelot Unchained, as I’ll detail in an upcoming post.
    We’re still missing level-of-detail also known as LODing. Normally, game engines will have multiple versions of each model, some for up close and some for far away. When a character is 100 pixels high, there’s no reason to render him with 10,000 triangles. Triangles that are smaller than a pixel just don’t contribute anything to the scene, but they do slow things down. But right now we’re doing that, and fixing it is my project for, literally, today.
    That should get our frame rate up even higher, which then gives us room to max out effects and environments -- but those are things that we’ll fit in around the characters. The characters are the thing. 

    They’re the reason for going custom with this. The animation is really rough. That’s not the fault of the renderer. It’s also not the fault of our animators -- they just had a couple of hours to do a very quick take on this.
    For an example of what they can do, check out this trailer, which we did all in-house. Funding them to do that level of work on Camelot Unchained is a big part of why we need to do this Kickstarter. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Camelot Unchained Kickstarter Evening Update #1 for April 10, 2013


Mark just put up the evening update part 1 for April 10, 2013 in text and video.

Go here to view:  Camelot Unchained Kickstarter Evening Update #1 for April 10, 2013

Veteran designer returns to online games with Camelot Unchained (interview)

Mark Jacobs is returning to something he loves very dearly: massively multiplayer online role-playing games. The veteran game designer at City State Entertainment is getting ready to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the studio’s first MMORPG, Camelot Unchained (working title), in early March.

“Can I do that Al Pacino thing? ‘Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!’” Jacobs told GamesBeat with a laugh.

Jacobs has been away from the MMO space for a long time. He co-founded Mythic Entertainment in the mid ’90s, where he helped create the popular Dark Age of Camelot and later — after publisher Electronic Arts acquired Mythic in 2006 — Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. He served as general manager up until 2009, when he left after the merger of BioWare and Mythic (citing creative differences as a reason for his departure).



Two years later, he co-founded City State Entertainment in Fairfax, Va., a studio dedicated to making mobile and social games. Its first title, the iPad-only March on Oz, came out late last year. And while it’s not abandoning those original goals, the developer is obviously eager to work on something much bigger.

 It’s not a successor to Dark Age of Camelot

What we know so far is that Camelot Unchained is a realm-versus-realm (RvR) MMO where players can pledge their allegiance to one of three competing factions: Arthurian, Tuatha Dé Danann, or Viking. The realms are fighting each other to assert control over the game’s persistent world and will feature player housing, crafting, and a “true player-owned economy.”

“It is truly an MMO that’s about RvR and RvR only,” said Jacobs. “There’s no [player-versus-environment] in it, no theme-park-ness. It’s solely geared to one part of the market — and that’s the guy and gals who want to go out and beat the heck out of each other.”

Continue reading here:   Veteran designer returns to online games with Camelot Unchained (interview)

Ex-Mythic Head Explains Why Camelot Unchained Isn't the Spiritual Successor to DAoC

Warcry network had a chance a few days ago to catch up with Mark Jacobs and he explained why Camelot Unchained is not the successor to DAOC.


Mark Jacobs talks about Kickstarting his realm vs. realm project that still kind of sounds like DAoC.

Mythic Entertainment - cofounded by Mark Jacobs in 1996 - was among those companies leading the charge for online games in the genre's infancy. Dark Age of Camelot used the stories of King Arthur as a backdrop for massive realm versus realm combat in 2001. Now that the bubble of World of Warcraft-aping games has subsided, Jacobs wants to go back to his roots by Kickstarting a new game he jokingly gave a working title in reference to his old game - Camelot Unchained. He's asking for $2 million, while also putting up $2 million of his money, to bring MMOs back to the "old school" player vs. player sweet spot he loves so much.

"Camelot Unchained is a TriRealm, RvR-focused, MMORPG composed of a mixture of old-school MMORPG elements with some sandbox-like elements and no PvE-based leveling or loot drops," Jacobs told me in an email exchange. "It is based on the premise that MMORPGs can also be fun without gear grinding, PvE-raiding and hyper-fast leveling."

You may not be familiar with the term Realm Vs. Realm or RvR, perhaps because it is a registered trademark of Electronics Arts after they acquired Mythic Entertainment in 2006, and it's largely been unused since then. Jacobs skirts that issue by calling his concept for always-on PvP "TriRealm". No matter what you call it, RvR means locking the players in an endless structure of conflict based on location or racial divides. How will Camelot Unchained be different?

 "This game isn't a spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot or a sequel/prequel. on the other hand, we are using some of the same public domain legends/tales that I choose to use for Dark Age of Camelot, but this time, with a rather massive twist."

Continue reading here:   Why Camelot Unchained Isn't the Spiritual Successor to DAoC

RvR Unchained: Mark Jacobs returns to Camelot

As I find more news about Camelot Unchained, even in past articles, I will post them here so  we all can get caught up in understanding what Mark is creating.:)

Mark sat down with Massively back in February and had this to say.

It was no coincidence that Mark Jacobs was open to talking about his Warhammer Online experiences with us recently. If you deduced that it was the prelude to his MMO comeback attempt, you were right.

Jacobs' City State Entertainment announced today that it's working on a new MMO under the working title of Camelot Unchained. And yes, it will be RvR-focused with three realms duking it out: Arthurian, Tuatha Dé Danann, and Viking. Camelot Unchained will tie RvR conflict into player housing and a dynamic economy as well.

Because this tightly focused concept may prove to be too difficult to draw publisher support, the 13-person studio is turning to a future Kickstarter campaign for support. Obviously, we have no shortages of questions about this project, but we contained ourselves to the 10 most burning queries that we presented to Jacobs. Read about the future of Camelot after the jump!

 Massively: Could you give us an overview of this new MMO? Does it have a name yet?

Mark Jacobs: As of now, the working title is Camelot Unchained. The game is an RvR-focused (almost no PvE) MMO that looks more to the past than the present for gameplay inspiration. In my opinion (I'll skip the "humble" part as some people will laugh if I say that), most if not all modern MMOs don't challenge the player as much as they should. As developers, we (myself included) as we have made things more convenient, easy, and hand-holding. We've lost touch with the portion of the playerbase that wants more challenge in their games.

I am not talking about making it challenging by adding more boring grind but in other more interesting ways. By the way, when I say RvR-focused, I mean that every aspect of this game will be designed from the perspective of how it impacts RvR.

So why stick to RvR instead of striking out in a different direction?

I've been making PvP-centered games since my first MUD (Aradath) in the mid-'80s, and frankly, I like this style. In addition, considering the small size of our team, I think we can do a great job of making an RvR-focused game. I'll leave the job of trying to reinvigorate the themepark-style MMO or the PvE aspect to teams that have at least half a decade and blockbuster movie budgets.

Do you see this as the spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot?

No, not really. While legally I would be able to make a spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot, I would rather focus on making this game great rather than on it as a sequel. I want this one to stand on its own, even if it does draw on some of the same literature and traditions.

 I'd like it to be very clear that we are not making a sequel. I won't try to tell DAoC players that our new project will meet all their desires in this regard. I have always valued their trust, so while I want the people who played my past games to look at this one and get excited, I won't go around shouting that it's the "spiritual successor to the greatest RvR MMO evar!" I'd rather simply say that we are working on a great concept for a new RvR-focused MMO that draws on some familiar European myths and legends, then go from there.

Continue reading here:   RvR Unchained: Mark Jacobs returns to Camelot

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mark Jacobs Talks Camelot Unchained, Kickstarter at Forbes


Mark recently had a chance to talk to Daniel Tack over at Forbes.

Camelot Unchained, the upcoming RvR-centric MMORPG from Mark Jacobs and City State Entertainment, could be the spiritual successor to the classic Dark Age of Camelot.  We had a chance to talk to CSE co-founder Mark Jacobs and ask a few questions regarding the game and the decision to Kickstarter the project.

So, why Kickstarter for Camelot Unchained?

Kickstarter is so important to the industry.  Publishers are going under without new ones coming into play.  It’s scary when publishers have all the power.  Kickstarter and crowdfunding are going to be incredible tools for developers as long as we don’t screw it up.  It’s the perfect weapon against publisher control.  You see publishers doing things these days that they simply couldn’t get away with when the others were out there.  If Kickstarter works, developers have a viable way of getting games done.

I find it reprehensible that to get distribution deals you have to give up your IP.  I don’t hate publishers, but I’d like them to loosen up and partner up so that the industry can be healthy.  The industry is in bad shape, and bunker mentality isn’t going to help.  Kickstarter could be the thing that brings balance back.

We’re willing to take chances.  We’re willing to do things other developers can’t or won’t do because of corporate interests.  We’ll take chances.  We’ll throw tropes out the window.  We’re not afraid.  Camelot Unchained won’t be “The One Ring”.  But it will have a dedicated team and playerbase that love RvR.

Why a MMORPG?  There’s a lot of competition. The market is saturated.

I agree, this is possibly the most difficult time to develop a MMORPG.  It’s a challenge but I love MMOs.  I’ve been making online games for my entire career and I see a real opportunity here for a niche game.  And that’s what Camelot Unchained is.

What makes Camelot Unchained different?

To put it simply – Camelot Unchained has no PvE.  No PvE leveling.  No PvE loot drops.  This is a tri-realm RvR game.  As the guy who coined the term RvR, I think that by keeping that the absolute focus will create a very different experience, and one that a niche audience is looking for.  In other games RvR is tacked on.  It’s a small part of the game.  Here RvR and crafting are at the core.  Players are going to have to actually build a world from the ground up.  Structures, camps, cities.  And they’ll be trying to get resources from the competition.  It’s meaningful RvR interaction.

Continue reading here:   Mark Jacobs Talks Camelot Unchained, Kickstarter at Forbes

Also head over here to support this project. CU Kickstarter

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Camelot Unchained update introduces the art team, character concept art

The latest Kickstarter campaign update for City State Entertainment's Camelot Unchained shares a few pieces of concept art for some of the game world's inhabitants, as well as a video showing one of these characters in motion.

In the video posted above, lead artist Scott Trolan shows the art team hard at work designing the Tuatha De Danann, one of the in-game races. Viewers will also get a look at an early prototype of one of these characters rendered in full 3D, and get a sense of how they move and a bit of backstory on why their skulls are crowned with horns. Trolan notes that unveils for new models and concept art are "coming down the road" in future updates.



Camelot Unchained-Crafters Can Be Crafters

"Let’s look at crafters for example. Our crafters will never have to worry about whether the gear that they make, the arrows that they fletch nor the ring that they forged in the fires of Mount Doom…, whoops, wrong game, sorry, being eclipsed by something that is dropped by a hummingbird, even if it is the “WORLD’S LARGEST HUMMINGBIRD THAT SHOOTS LASER BEAMS FROM ITS EYES.”

The best way to accomplish this is to ensure that there are no drops of powerful items from NPCs. Secondly, to make sure that the first point is followed, let’s just say that there are no NPC drops at all and damn few NPCs. That’s right, as an RvR-focused game hummingbirds won’t be dropping rare and unique items; well, unless you consider bird poop rare and unique." (Foundational Principle #2)

Help this game get made:  CU

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Making a Game Out Of the Web

Andrew over at CSE just release an update about the UI in Camelot Unchained.

lol I think the word revolutionary falls way short.:)

"Today I want to talk about our plans for the UI, but it’s a much deeper thing than just making windows and buttons. It’s recognizing that once an MMO is launched, the world belongs to the players who live there as much as it does to the developers who built it. It’s admitting that, as a small studio, we won’t be able to exactly support every single player’s individual playstyle, and that there’s as much talent and creativity spread through the larger community as there is inside our little office. And it’s embracing the fact that in 2013, your ability to connect to something shouldn’t stop when you walk away from a desktop PC.

A few years ago I came around to an idea: This whole “web” thing is probably going to be around for a while. That sounds silly. It should sound silly, because it’s so obvious. But for whatever reason, most MMO developers haven’t gone all-in on it yet. There are “browser-based” MMOs, but most are just taking a traditional MMO and putting it in a web page, without making the most of what that enables. There are MMOs that do an increasingly good job of exposing their data through a web API (EVE and WoW are standouts in this regard), but even then it’s a backdoor view into the game rather than the game itself.

What if, instead of putting parts of our game ON the web, we made our game OUT OF the web?
That’s what brings us back to the UI of Camelot Unchained. Over the years I’ve worked with and/or built various UI toolkits. Scaleform takes advantage of all the Flash authoring tools out there, and it’s really big in AAA games — we used it on Skyrim. For Warhammer Online, we used a custom solution of Lua and XML — which was really familiar to players who were already making UI mods in Lua and XML for a certain other MMO. But there’s another option out there that isn’t getting as much use in games as it should. A toolkit that more of our players have experience developing for than anything else out there. A scripting engine that’s been optimized for years by a team of the brightest minds in the industry. A runtime that’s extensively tested every day on hundreds of millions of PCs and renders straight into DirectX textures ready for use in games.

I’m talking, of course, about the ever-present HTML and JavaScript. Each section of our in-game UI can behave as a little fragment of a webpage, with the same CSS and PNGs we all know and love. Whether we’re going to use Chromium or Mozilla or Awesomium or some other implementation isn’t the most important thing here; it’s all the additional possibilities that open up for us beyond just having a fast, cheap, flexible, and extremely moddable UI.

 Anytime, Anywhere, on Anything

First and foremost, because all of our UI will be implemented as web page(s) overlaid onto the game, our UI can also be put directly onto web pages. Have you ever wanted access to your guild chat from someplace other than a full-on game client? It’ll be right there at www.camelot-unchained.com/guildchat (link doesn’t work…yet). This won’t be some lesser, limited version of what you have in-game; it will be the exact version from the game. Access to characters? Statistics for your realm? The state of the war and frontiers? All there.

Obviously, anything that depends on your character’s physical presence at a certain spot in the game world won’t work in a meaningful way if you’re not connecting from the fully logged-in game client, and there’ll be things that we limit for security or spam-fighting. But as a general rule, your entire in-game social life and much of your economic life will be accessible from anywhere, in any modern web browser, without plugins, in exactly the same form as when you’re running our big shiny standalone 3D desktop client.

Accessibility Equals Moddability

As mentioned, HTML and JavaScript are spoken by nearly everyone who’s done any programming. There are some great tools in other languages, but the breadth of experience with them doesn’t come anywhere close to the number of people who know and understand how to put together a basic webpage. We want the only barrier to entry for hacking on our UI to be your own creativity, and that means we don’t want the first hurdle to involve learning a new language or toolkit.

There are also some really nice things that go along with HTML. Want to make your own plugin look like it fits in with the rest of our game, without being a graphic designer yourself? Just inherit our CSS. Want to change the look of the entire game, including other people’s plugins, because you are a graphic designer yourself? Just override our CSS. It’s the C part of CSS that makes the magic. This is also where the sandboxing of modern browser implementations becomes important — because their security’s already been battle-tested in the wild, we can be a little more liberal in what range of scripting we allow.

One of my personal goals, though it may not make it in at launch, is to make installing a new UI mod or plugin as simple as copy/pasting a URL into the game. We know we can’t make everything for everyone, but we want to make sure everyone can make something for each other.

Watch the video and continue reading here:   Making a Game Out Of the Web