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EXCLUSIVE: Camelot Unchained BSC Q&A with Mark Jacobs

If you haven’t been following Camelot Unchained then you’re really missing out. Mark Jacobs and his team have really been working hard to get solid information out to the fans about what type of game we can expect.  Our relationship with MJ began years ago.  We really respect his development style, and he has shown us a significant amount of respect over the years by paying attention to our humble site and community.  His team contacted us and offered us an opportunity to once again fire off any questions we wanted about the information released during their ‘Bat Sh** Crazy’ week-long information extravaganza. We jumped at the opportunity!

We took our time with this one and really went over the information they sent to prepare some questions we felt our readers would care about. We would like to thank Mark and his team for their time and willingness to answer openly. I want you all to visit the official Camelot Unchained website. Below you will find links to information you MUST READ.  Much of our interview requires some knowledge of the information released.  Our questions are broken down by section for ease of reading.

STATS

Q. Can players truly “gimp” themselves at character creation or during any meaningful decision making process? Whether a yes or no we would love to hear your thoughts on why.

Yes, they can. We’ve been very clear on this point from the beginning, and I see no reason to change it. We will give the player plenty of warning/advice during the character creation process, but if having the world’s weakest fighter is how you want to play the game, well, you should be allowed to make such a choice, up to a certain point.

For example, our classes/abilities will have certain minimal specs, so to be a fighter-type, you will need to have at least some strength. Do you have to be “strong like ox?” No. It will help you, but if you want to play your character this way, we are going to allow you to do so.

Now, this cannot be done within a vacuum, so the player must know that the character is likely to be gimped before making that decision. But once this is known, we want to give the choice to the player. As I said during our Kickstarter and beyond, choices matter – even bad ones.

Q. Will there be any way to respec primary or secondary stats?

We may allow a brief respec period after character creation (it will be longer if we can’t generate the volumes of support material I want for this game at launch), and there will always be respecs given if we have f-ed up something so badly that a class has become significantly out of balance/nerfed. Other than that, they will not be easily obtainable, as per what we said during our Kickstarter.

Q. Botting and/or macroing has been a big issue in previous MMORPGs where stats are based on usage. Can you elaborate on any plans you have to combat macros, botting, etc.?

As to bots: Die, die! Kill them all! Make them suffer! I’ve seen the botting problems in some current MMORPGs as well as older ones, up close and personal, and I hate them. I don’t feel as violently opposed to macroing (depending on one’s definition of it), but we’ll just have to see what happens. I do hope macros will be less of a problem in our game, and I think that bots will play less of a role due to certain design decisions that will make buffbotting less advantageous, but as always, time will tell. I’ve been very clear about how we will be aggressive in both our design and CS policies to deter botting.

Read on for our full Camelot Unchained interview with Mark Jacobs! 

MAGIC

Q. The attunement stat sounds like a mana pool. Can you clarify whether or not the traditional “mana” system is present in Camelot Unchained?

It isn’t the same as a mana pool, but this is still in the early stages of design. Hopefully, it won’t end up as simple as a mana pool, but like the other BSC parts of the system, it has to work and be fun or it shouldn’t go in.

Q. Can players transfer scribed spells they’ve put together to other players?

That is something I am considering. If you’re thinking of this like a consumable (such as a scroll), the answer should be yes. If you mean you’ll be able to transfer the spell in the way where it be used again and again by the other player, it is probably a no. We do hope that we can add the concept of being taught the core formula for a spell by a more powerful mage.

Q. Spell casting sounds incredibly powerful with all of the spell combinations and the “Action, Interaction, and Reaction” (AIR) system. Do you foresee magic being something so dynamic and critical to the battlefield that all players will want some form of magic in their build?

It is incredibly powerful. If we can pull it off the way I want to, it could have a major impact on gameplay in a way most magic systems don’t. As with everything else, choices matter, so players who choose to play mages will definitely have some major pluses. But they will also have disadvantages. My goal with all four main class archetypes is for each one to be so cool that people ask the same question about the tanks, archers, etc.

What excites me most about the system, besides the crafting and casting, is the way it could change how sieges work. I would love to see a day where you have an ice shield over a castle with players outside the wall chipping way at it with weapons, spells, etc. while those within are throwing spells to reinforce it.

Q. Going off of the last question, let’s say I’m a Strength based character using heavy armor and a two-handed weapon. Will there be any utility spells available to me like wind to deflect fireballs or should I expect to go without magic?

I would expect that you will be relying on things other than magic, but I’m not willing to say there is no chance you will go without it entirely. One of the key aspects of the early design decisions for this game was that every class can not do everything. We have also promised our Backers that our classes will have strong and clean definitions (such as not allowing every class to heal), but within this framework, it shouldn’t be totally black and white such that the choices we said we would give players were merely illusionary.

Q. Since players have to gather reagents, components, etc., to cast spells, are you planning to have magic seem slightly overpowered given its time-intensive and expensive nature?

Yes. Magic will seem quite powerful (and it will be) but, as per above, it will come with disadvantages as well. I don’t want Camelot Unchained just to be dominated by mages, and frankly, I don’t think it will be.

COMBAT

Q. The Component Combat System sounds intentionally complex and dynamic. Do you anticipate veteran players ever being able to anticipate or ‘see it coming’ with regards to combat? For example, if I see a “warrior” in other games I might know he can knock me down and cause me to bleed. In Camelot Unchained it sounds like everyone can do… well, just about anything. How will we know what an enemy is going to do so that we can prepare to counter–or will we ever?

I’ve got to disagree with this; I really don’t think everybody can do everything. Your class will dictate, to some degree, the components you get to work with, so a veteran player will know the ones that other classes may have at their disposal. During the KS, I said we intend to have positionals and reactives, and nothing in the design so far contradicts that.

CRAFTING

Q. You’ve mentioned many times to me and the Camelot Unchained community that you intend for players to be able to go the “pure crafter” route; however you’ve stated that players will not be able to craft 24/7. Does this mean that crafters will need to be combatants, or that other activities such as gathering and refining will need to take place between crafting because of ‘downtime’?

Yes, crafters will have lots to do besides just sitting in their stores crafting. They won’t have to be combatants, but will be able to gather/refine (or buy those materials from other players), and this will involve some time. Also, keep in mind that downtime doesn’t mean your character will be forced to sit in a room and do nothing else but wait for a timer to tick down.

Q. Will the realm mines have a per-person limit or a total limit for all players combined?

Undetermined as of yet. Hopefully neither, but that isn’t realistic, unfortunately.

Q. Do non realm-owned mines have a limit on what can be taken out?

They shouldn’t. If you get access to another side’s mines, you should be able to mine the heck out of them.

Q. Can you explain what the mining interface or activity will be like? Should players expect to click the ground in random areas and explore like old school MMOs, or will there be specific nodes like more modern games?

Mining will have to take place in mines, not nodes in the modern MMORPG sense. However, there will also be known mines in the world (think of the first mining scene from The Hobbit, for example) that players can control and use.

RvR MAP

Q. We chatted about this idea for Camelot Unchained a long time ago: Do you plan to implement areas of the map (particular puzzle pieces) that are accessible only during certain hours of the day or only for a certain amount of time to create hot-spots of action?

Maybe. :)

Q. If I claim territory on a “puzzle piece” of the world that is later taken over by an enemy realm do I lose anything I built on that claimed land?

Yes. Losing your house, castle, etc. is part of the risk in our game. Now, if you take back the territory and the structure is still intact, you get it back, of course. RvR has to mean something more than just “We get to float our flag over this tower!” and well, having your house looted and burned (and doing the same to enemies) is part of that. OTOH, there are safe cities and bank vaults, so it isn’t like you will lose everything you own – not unless you were foolish enough to put all your possessions out there for the rapacious hordes to loot and pillage.

Q. You mention having flights and boats between “pieces” of the world. Do you intend for these to be forms of “fast travel” or slower and immersive methods?

Slow and immersive. I’ve been very clear about limited fast travel and almost none that’s instant, so it would be foolish to make boats that sail at warp speeds. :)

PROGRESSION SYSTEM

Q. You’ve mentioned that stats do not increase overarching bonuses like +damage but instead act as a “gating mechanic” to abilities and weapons. When you say that Camelot Unchained has “unlimited advancement” can you give an example of something the most dedicated players will access to that a typical player may not? In other words, what is the carrot on the stick for that player who wants to log in every day for 5+ hours and continually progress his character even a year after launch?

There isn’t a single, giant carrot, but rather lots of smaller ones for the players to acquire over time. At a minimum, having a soft cap will allow stats to continue to rise, albeit slowly, and we also plan to focus meaningful effort on giving our more experienced players more than just a pat on the back for their continued play – and dare I say it (say it, say it!), their subscriptions.

Q. You state that the Daily Report (DR) will only show aggregate rewards and not individual rewards. Let’s say Player A helps take 2 keeps and Player B helps take 1 keep. Do this mean both players earn the same rewards because they earn what the King of the Realm gave to everyone, and that players should just go out and have fun rather than min/max their actions because they are all working toward the good of everyone?

No, we will record all the players’ actions, and based on their activities during the period, each will earn a percentage of what the King awards to everyone in the Realm. It is really important to note that you can be rewarded for individual actions, and that a very active player will receive more than one who just hangs out in town for five hours. Certain special things you accomplish during the day might also earn separate rewards, like bounties for example.

Q. Will there be any individual rewards of any kind related to taking keeps, etc., or just rewards given to the entire realm?

Yes, but they will not be as important as in other games. This system is going to need a lot of work to balance, but I hope the goal is clear – to make participating in nightly actions more important than simply one specific series. While players can try to zerg their way to glory, there are lots of other (and better) ways to earn their King’s favors.

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Comments

  1. Very nice! I’m starting to look forward to the game now :)

  2. Ralathar44 says:

    Guild Wars 2 was a good game and it seemed risky and revolutionary at the time. Camelot Unchained makes Guild Wars 2 seem safe and tame by comparison. I’m glad to have backed the game because even if for some reason it doesn’t succeed it will have done enough to leave quite an impression on the industry, changing it forever.

    After all, some of the best ideas came from games not considered successful. *cough* Warhammer Online public quests copied throughout modern MMORPG’s.

    That being said. I think it will be a solid title at least.

  3. Balthazar says:

    I liked reading their thoughts on the progression system. Some interesting concepts in there that could turn out well. I have not been following this one very closely. Frankly, I have not followed much closely since WAR. I don’t have as much time/patience to do so and have had a harder time getting excited about new games in recent years. Although, I might start checking in on this one more often.

    Thanks for all the info Keen!

  4. Nice write up! Will be interesting to see how this whole game system works out.

  5. Rawblin says:

    @Ralathar44, I completely disagree about “Public Quests” being something WHO started. In previous MMOs, they existed. You just didn’t have a silly popup, map outline, and magical appearing loot chest at the end.

    You just went places in the world, and low and behold, there was something to do. So you and any other adventurers in the area teamed up and did what you could. It quite literally has just been dumbed down to… well… stupidity levels now. But don’t get me wrong, the IDEA behind it is indeed great. I just hate the handholding derpfest devs force on us these days because they don’t think we can handle walking and breathing at the same time.

    As for Camelot Unchained. Sure, I do think it sounds good. I also think it sounds like it is REALLY far off. And I hate to say it, but extended development periods have really never ended well for past games. Funds dry up, publishers get pushy, ideas change, core concepts evolve…. The game someone first envisioned is rarely what finally comes out. And the longer it “cooks” in development, the more it can change.

    And sure, this is me looking at the glass half empty (because lets be honest, someone took some of my Dew!). I just can’t bring myself to look at it any other way. So maybe I’ll be wrong, maybe it will be as amazing as originally envisioned (or better!). But my cynici– er, experience prevents me from believing it. :(

  6. solarbear says:

    Actually thought Prime Battle for Dominus seemed to have all these concepts down pat. Shame that game faile dto come to fruition.

  7. Argorius says:

    Good time and I am obviously looking forward to this. Reading this interview – there are 2 concerns that pop up (which are obvious premature but yet noted)…puzzle pieces that are supposed to create hotspots sounds gimmicky…it reminds me of WAR where there were too many artificial restrictions (you gotta claim the fort with 6.5 people during full moon on Mondays and Fridays) and turned RVR into an arcade game.

    Second, the talk about “individual rewards and realm rewards from the king” makes me wonder if one of DAOC’s most awesome features (and in my opinion crucial) will not be present in full force…namely the absolute brilliant allocation of risk v. reward where player kills scored a generous amount of RPs and where the rewards were well worth the effort…the counter argument is usually…this is not an RVR game and not a PVP game with individuals…so individual rewards are not as important…well, good luck with that :)

  8. @Argorius: I agree with you about artificial arcade-like restrictions. Anything that impedes a natural feeling of taking or holding territory should be reconsidered. I’m not going to say that I’m 100% against the potential implementation, though. I think in the end if something can be really, really fun then I’ll at least be willing to try.

    Individual rewards are dangerous, and not having them is dangerous. The key is to not reward “swapping” or kill the risk vs reward nature.

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