Camelot Unchained Class Q&A with Mark Jacobs

Mark Jacobs and the team working on Camelot Unchained have released their very first class design document. This information comes as part of their goal to have a transparent design and development process. With this first class document — The Viking Warrior Class (Drengr) — comes information on a major part of the class system called Paths.

We were able to ask Mark a few questions about the design document. As always, the questions we ask when we interview a dev (even a friend like Mark) are the ones we want answered most — even if it means throwing a few tough ones in there — and the questions we feel our readers care about. If you have additional questions for Mark please feel free to leave a comment. He reads what you have to say and might even comment himself.

Keen: In the Path system you have stated that going down a ‘path’ unlocks ‘achievements’ and that they are entirely (or majorly) cosmetic type stuff. To be 100% clear for our readers, is it right then to assume that choosing a Path is not a means to unlock new abilities like Thor’s Lighting Smash Attack, but instead would be something more like ‘because you use crushing attacks you now glow purple and red with lightning and blood’?

Mark Jacobs: That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work! You just explained it better than I did the first time, when we presented the document to our Internal Testers for their initial review.

Keen: The path system seems like a clever way of disguising levels. “Looking for a Drengr with x Thor milestones” sounds like a spiced up way of saying, “Looking for a level X warrior with DPS spec”. I know that I have oversimplified this for the sake of asking this question, but is this the overall intention of the path system — to create a means of giving players a way of stating what kind of character they have built?

Mark Jacobs: Once again, you are correct, but with one slight modification. Since we don’t really have a vertical leveling system, but rather a horizontal one, I would describe it more like “Looking for a DPS warrior who has unlocked Thor’s Lightning Smash Attack, Mjolnir’s Revenge, Goldilocks for the Win! (just kidding), etc. With the Path system, identifying yourself when you are LFG becomes just a wee bit easier.

Keen: Path Banes and Boons (PB&B) seem to completely contradict the idea that a path does not unlock talents or skills, etc — especially if non-optional. It’s one thing to use a hammer and get better with a hammer, but another to use a hammer with the intent to unlock PB&B’s. Can you clarify how these banes and boons can exist within this path system and not play a major (if not complete) role in the choice?

Mark Jacobs: That was one of the points I discussed with the IT folks on our Forums. Now, if those B&B unlocks could be achieved by non-Path players, it works out fine. In that case, the B&Bs would be tied to amount of time in-game, power, or some other condition(s) that would track across all Paths. But, as you say, if the B&Bs are tied solely to progression along the Path, that might be a problem. That’s one of the reasons my initial thought was to have these B&Bs open to all Drengr, and not tied only to Path progression. This is definitely one of those points that we are going to be in deep discussion internally as well as with our Backers over the next few months and beyond.

Keen: There seems to be a lot of progression elements for the player to focus on: Weapon choice, skill usage, skill crafting, runes, banes, boons, potential skill degradation, bonding, stats, and now paths. (Did I miss anything?) Are paths meant to be a way of organizing all of these things to give the ‘general populous’ their path of least resistance to a play style by providing a common denominator?

Mark Jacobs: That’s the beauty of the horizontal system we are trying to build here. We can’t rely on the traditional verticality of leveling systems to give the players more and more powerful stuff as they progress in the game. OTOH, if we have a lot of different ways that players can progress, we can always keep adding small things to the game without breaking Rule #1 for Camelot Unchained, which is that new players have to be able to be competitive in RvR from day one.

As far as them being a path of least resistance, I would agree, but not just for the general populace. If we can create really cool and interesting classes and Paths, then even some harder-core players might be immediately attracted to one or more of them. With the mostly open-ended nature of the class/Paths, they could start their adventures in our game focused on one Path, and then tweak their build as time goes by.

Keen: I can’t help but think of old school Ultima Online here. You have a skill cap of sorts with the potential to choose any combination of skills. You can max out a few or dabble in several to build whatever type of character you want. Back in the day, players used to give names to certain combinations of skill point allocations: Dexxers, Hally Mages, etc. Despite the fact that non-cookie cutter FOTM builds were great, people seemed to always go for these templates. Are you worried that players will identify too closely with a ‘build’ thus reducing the perceived ‘openness’ of Camelot Unchained’s character system?

Mark Jacobs: I hope not. The fact that we will not have cheap and easy respecs will certainly limit the FOTM builds, but as you point out, that’s not the only possible problem. I do think that some players will perceive certain builds as being “the” build for certain situations, but if we have enough Components in the game, and in turn enough varied and distinct abilities, that won’t be as much of a problem (we hope). Keep in mind that without PvE, and with large-scale battle and sieges being a huge part of this game, I think it will make choosing the “best build” a bit more difficult. OTOH, if our Backers and players are happy with a “best build” tradition, then that works too.

Keen: Do you hope that most players will use and embrace the path system or create their own sub-class?

Mark Jacobs: A mixture of both would make me very happy. If our Backers and future players think that the Path system and the classes we create are worthwhile, then that alone will mean that we have done a good job. If, after playing the game for a while, we have a mixture of heavily focused class/Path combos as well as player-made combos, and players are happy (as per above), then that would work for us too. As I’ve said since I created my first online game, no matter how smart we think we are, the players will always have their own opinions, and will also be, at times, smarter than us. We just have to try to create a great system, and then react based on what we see, hear, and experience as we and they play the game. That is one of the reasons we are releasing this document now, as well as why we plan on having much longer Alpha and Beta test periods, with a much larger group of Backers/players than most other MMORPGs have.

As always, thanks to Keen and Graev for this interview and support of this and other games I’ve been fortunate enough to work on over the decades.

Thank you Mark for taking the time to answer our questions!

Be sure to read the Viking Warrior Class Design Document for more information.

  • So, a question for Mark:
    Since the rewards for going down a path are more cosmetic in nature, wouldn’t it be almost a determent to the player to pick a path, because then the person you are facing will know what kind of skills you are going to be throwing at them?
    And in addition to that, another question – Once I unlock, for example, Thor’s robe for being a certain rank in the Thor path, would that cosmetic piece be available to me even if I am not walking the path of Thor anymore? If this is the case, then the other person can’t won’t know the exact abilities that are coming from me since I could pull out some awesome spear abilities while wearing the bad-ass looking robes of Thor.

    Great interview btw Keen.

  • Justin,

    It would be a detriment except that you aren’t forced to use the cosmetic items in combat. Since our system allows mages in heavy armor as well as warriors in robes, the choice still will be up to you.

    As to keeping what you earned, so far that’s the plan.

    Thanks!

    Mark

  • First off. I like your openness about the game development.
    2nd I remember you from the Warhammer online promo developer videos.
    (that I probably all watched)

    I googled some for Camelot unchained as I did not know much about it.
    Browsed over the kickstarter page.

    While I like the post apocalyptic and Gothic setting.
    The classes use the holy triangle system and that made me think.. aww same old, same old.
    It makes me think of all those other fantasy setting mmorpg games.
    Why did you chose to go with the holy triangle system? preference or a specific reason in design?

    In this day and age where the few recent Mmorpg games that went with the subscription model are struggling (wildstar, elder scrolls online and more) why did you chose to go with the sub model? instead of a B2P or F2P model?

    Why are there safezones for housing if the game is all about RvR pvp action? (you already have the ability to record your favorite structures in blueprints, so in case they get destroyed they can be rebuild elsewhere)

    If any of these questions have been answered elsewhere feel free to skip.

    Lastly a more personal question that I know is not about camelot unchained, but my curiosity got the better of me.
    I used to be a huge warhammer online fan. Especially during development and bought that big physical collectors edition that I still have. (great artwork btw)
    In the end that game left a bitter aftertaste after players found out so much was incomplete and quite frankly unfinished.
    Since I read on a wiki you where a lead designer. What are your thoughts on this? (I know some things are out of your control and i this is to personal feel free to skip)

    Finally I appreciate the Q and A on the Keen and Graev gaming blog.

  • After briefly scanning the design document posted, i fear this game will end up just like Warhammer Online. It will have a great world, great lore, some really great feature ideas… but the combat and moment to moment gameplay will be terrible.

    I feel like blizzard is the only company that understands that it’s the moment to moment gamplay and FEEL of the game that really draw in the player. it’s not the story, lore, world, graphics, method of character advancement, etc;… it’s all about the actual GAMEPLAY, and if the gameplay sucks (as it did in Warhammer Online, then no amount of cool lore, or story, or interesting system features will save it)

    What are the actual skills your classes will have? how will those skills interact with the world? with enemies? with other players? how will you balance those skills against the world, and other players? do you have a collision detection system that can handle lots of players in a single area and not feel clunky? how will you design your zones to accommodate the range of player skills and population density?… and on and on… these are all more important questions to answer than anything to do with lore or story or “theme” of a certain class or “path” or whatever you want to call it.

    I’m worried the combat is going to be an afterthought, the skills are going to be bland and uninteresting, there is going to be no interesting interaction with the world environment, and the pacing is going to be terrible. no matter how interesting and well thought-out the SYSTEMS are, if the game isn’t fun to play from moment to moment, if it doesn’t FEEL right, then nobody is going to care how much time and effort you put into the path system, or the lore, or story.

    maybe i’m wrong, but Mario didn’t succeed because the designers focused on lore, story, character advancement, etc:… it was successful because they focused on jumping, running, and interaction between the player and the world, enemies, etc:… the same still holds true for MMOs. no matter how complex the systems layered on top become, it’s still about running, jumping, using abilities, interacting with the world in interesting ways, etc:…

  • @Diltz

    I don’t think warhammer gameplay sucked, i really liked the gameplay, what drove me away from it was that the engine couldn’t handle huge battles, sieges and city attacks on warhammer were a chore because of all the video and connection lag you had.

    For unchained i guess at least THAT part they are getting out of the way with the new engine (Here’s me hoping).

    As for lore and story i agree with you, that’s not usually what keep me playing a game, but unique characters like warhammer had plays a huge role in it, because they all kinda of played different i had the urge to try a lot of them out for different gameplay mechanics and possibilities so i hope Unchained follows the same idea of creating unique classes gameplay-wise.

    This is the only MMO on the horizon that i’m looking forward to, i’m not over hyped i’m just hopeful that is going to be FUN to play. RvR combat is where it’s at, i don’t care about battlegrounds and arenas anymore i’m so DONE with that kind of structured pvp, give me something dynamic !

  • @Diltz: “Gameplay” is such a broad and abstract term…I am not sure what you are specifically referring to. While I agree that Warhammer eventually failed, I did have fun in it for a while. It was just some of the design decisions that caused Warhammer to tank. WOW, as great as it is, still hasn’t figured out how to satisfy people that enjoy open world PVP a la DAOC.

    Thinking about the horizontal leveling…I am pretty skeptical though. If progression is truly horizontal and mostly cosmetic in nature I am afraid that people will not identify with their characters…they will not be proud of them…they won’t sit around thinkign about how to improve them…there will be little connection with the character. That reminds me of Planetside 2…I played it…it was fun for a while…but after a while you got to a state where you think “who cares?” I think people like some vertical “progression” or better yet “vertical separation”…where you want to have your time invested equal more power…and I always thought that the DAOC progression from RR1 to RR12 was a great example of what vertical progression could look like. You can feel the power – you have something to look forward to but you can still be somewhat competitive…without vertical progression, you can’t look forward to the moment where YOU are the powerful one.

    On the other hand, I don’t really think it will be truly horizontal progression…somehow I can’t believe that would be the case. if you make a choice and pick something…a new skill…I am sure it will give you an advantage and then there is a vertical component to it. If you unlock abilities over time…there is a vertical component to it.

    I am pretty sure that a truly horizontal progression system (or a cosmetic one) would fail in the long term…while it might make it easy for people to enter the world…it would not give people enough reason to stay in the world (even if “gameplay” is fun…there needs to be more). As such, even if marketed as “horizontal” I can’t believe that CU would truly be horizontal….there has to be some vertical component which can be carefully hidden, disguised or whatever…it needs to be there to give the game staying power. Like I said, I think DAOC’s RR1 v. RR12 vertical separation is ideal…it certainly shouldn’t be less…

  • I enjoyed many aspects of Warhammer, and yet in the long run I believe it is a fair assessment that many gamers were disappointed with the execution.

    I hear many different reasons why gamers ended up leaving, for myself the primary reason was terrible lag, so bad that I would cast a spell and wait while motion froze and chattered while I waited to see if I was killed in the interim.

    So my question to Mr. Jacobs is in his expert opinion what were the specific problems that led to the downfall of Warhammer?

    Please note that I am not looking for politically evasive answers such as ‘There were various factors, some of which were out of our control, but we learned from the experience and now out new game will be better then ever!’, but actual specific problems regarding server capacity, design, balancing, revenue stream, talent drain, etc.

    The reason why specifics are important to address is that problems cannot be remedied until they are actually recognized as problems, and seeing a dev has a plan to ameliorate actual specific issues present in previous endeavors allows for the player community to have confidence in their upcoming product.

    Thanks for your informative feedback.

  • my main concern is that if they couldn’t execute on the main goal of Warhammer (large scale, fun combat between the factions) with the huge money they had for that project, then they definitely won’t be able to make that happen with Camelot Unchained. And make no mistake, if you want long lasting, meaningful RVR, then the COMBAT has to be fun. it doesn’t matter how good the rvr SYSTEM is, if people don’t have fun in the moment to moment combat and running around the world, then nobody will play it.

    If they didn’t have the time or money to properly execute on their claims with Warhammer, do you really think they can execute on a shoestring budget? Especially if they haven’t even started on the combat, which it doesn’t seem like they have. It’s going to be pushed toward the end after they’ve fleshed out the story and lore, and “Theme” of the characters… which means it won’t have time to be properly tested and iterated on, and 90% of how players spend their time (combat with monsters/enemy players while exploring the game world) is going to be clunky and unfinished at best.

    You need to START with where 90% of the player’s time is going to be spent, and make damn sure that it’s fun before you even think about adding layers of complexity, customization, and advancement on top of it. otherwise you might as well just make a facebook or tabletop game that has all these interesting systems, but the combat just requires you to click a button and wait a few seconds, or roll a 20 sided die to determine if you win or lose.

    I don’t say this to be a debbie downer, i say it in hopes that Mark reads it and realizes he needs to shift some resources toward combat, and where players spend the most time, or he’s going to end up with the same problems Warhammer Online had. Either he needs to change his focus, or he needs to get someone on his team that understands the importance of the FEEL of the game, and the character’s interactions with the world, NPCs, enemies, other players, etc:.. and will push that agenda simultaneously while he pushes the lore, story, world, systems, and theme of the game.

    i guess my main question to Mark would be, “how is combat coming along? can you show us a video of actual RvR action taking place?”

    Cause if RvR is the focus and the staying power of their game, then they should already have a platform to test it, it shouldn’t be something that waits till the end of the dev cycle. If they can show me a video of actual RVR combat taking place, preferably from the view of a player (not as a montage from a floating camera), then maybe this game has a chance to deliver on its claims.

  • Diltz, they achieved that with DAoC, which while not a small budget, was smaller than WAR. WAR had engine issues because (IMO) the team got distracted/force into making WAR more of a WoW-clone than was originally planned, and at the end they launched a half backed DAoC with a meh WoW-clone attached. At least so far, CU isn’t trying to WoW-clone at all, so with 100% focus on DAoC-like design, they certainly can make large-scale technically possible. Other MMOs have been doing it for years.

    That said, my main concern mirrors some of what was written above; if fluff is the progression model, I don’t know that a critical-mass of people are going to stick with it long-term. If I want quick-hit PvP, I’m playing LoL, and there is no way the gameplay in CU is going to match LoL. What CU needs to be is a bigger, more ‘epic’ vehicle for large-scale PvP. But to achieve that, things have to matter from a progression standpoint for the individual, for their guild, and for the ‘world’ as a whole. Not sure CU has plans for all of that, though admittedly I haven’t read every last scrap of info about it.

  • Warhammer had a lot of other voices and people in charge who contributed and help cause what happened with Warhammer.

    You can also say…if MJ has doen it before with DAOC on a tiny budget…don’t you think he can do it again with this possibly larger budget…back in DAOC he was the guy in charge and in Warhammer…there was soem influence of other people as well (there is a big story about this floating around).

  • Folks,

    Okay, I’m back. We had the Holiday party last night and well, I didn’t do much posting after we started so…

    I’ll start replying to your questions/comments shortly.

    Mark

  • Zyler says:

    First off. I like your openness about the game development. 2nd I remember you from the Warhammer online promo developer videos. (that I probably all watched)

    Thanks! The more open process is what we (CSE and I, not the “imperial” we) felt that we owed our Kickstarter Backers.

    While I like the post apocalyptic and Gothic setting. The classes use the holy triangle system and that made me think.. aww same old, same old. It makes me think of all those other fantasy setting mmorpg games. Why did you chose to go with the holy triangle system? preference or a specific reason in design?

    Mainly because I felt that for the kind of game we are trying to build and for the audience that we pitched the Kickstarter to, that the Holy Triangle/Trinity is what they wanted to see from us. Is the core design, in some ways, “same old, same old?” Yes, but only if you also believe that there is nothing interesting you can do with the HT. To me, the HT is simply like the engine of a car. The core engine may be similar in a lot of cars but it can also be quite different. And then when you add a different body type and especially “rich Corinthian leather (doing my worst Ricardo Montalban voice)” the car can end up quite differently.

    In this day and age where the few recent Mmorpg games that went with the subscription model are struggling (wildstar, elder scrolls online and more) why did you chose to go with the sub model? instead of a B2P or F2P model?

    For the same reason as above. We are not trying to be the “Next Big Thing” nor are we trying to make a game that is going to attract 1M players. As I said during the KS, we want to make a niche game for a niche audience. I know that there are more than enough players who are willing to play a great RvR game that uses a subscription model. That is self-evident by the still decent numbers of ESO (not necessarily relative to ZOS spend, expectations, etc. but still a good business) and other subscription games. If we were a large VC studio or even part of a publisher I might have considered BTP but there is no way we were going to do a FTP game.

    Why are there safezones for housing if the game is all about RvR pvp action? (you already have the ability to record your favorite structures in blueprints, so in case they get destroyed they can be rebuild elsewhere)

    The safezones are only the starting cities for each Realm. I don’t think having the starting areas as capture-able are a good thing in this type of game.

    Lastly a more personal question that I know is not about camelot unchained, but my curiosity got the better of me. I used to be a huge warhammer online fan. Especially during development and bought that big physical collectors edition that I still have. (great artwork btw) In the end that game left a bitter aftertaste after players found out so much was incomplete and quite frankly unfinished.
    Since I read on a wiki you where a lead designer. What are your thoughts on this? (I know some things are out of your control and i this is to personal feel free to skip)

    I’ll say what I’ve said publicly before, that WAR had some really great stuff in it and if it was up to me, the game wouldn’t have shipped when it did. I made my pitch that the game wasn’t ready but nobody in “senior leadership” at Mythic agreed with me. We only had 3 years to work on the game and if you compare that with SWToR, ESO and others, well, WAR got less than ½ the time of most major MMORPGs and our budget, well, it was a fraction of those and other MMOs. Does that excuse me, senior leadership or EA? Nope. But, as part of EA, well, you know the rest.

    Thanks for taking the time to post the questions.

  • Diltz says:

    After briefly scanning the design document posted, i fear this game will end up just like Warhammer Online. It will have a great world, great lore, some really great feature ideas… but the combat and moment to moment gameplay will be terrible.

    Well, I don’t think the moment-to-moment gameplay in WAR was bad. I think that there were a lot of serious issues with WAR but the earliest ones (and the ones that hurt us the most) were engine-related and there is no excuse for that. There were also some design decisions that we made, including one of mine (the no nerf policy in the beginning) that made things more difficult.

    What are the actual skills your classes will have? how will those skills interact with the world? with enemies? with other players? how will you balance those skills against the world, and other players?

    Keep in mind that there is no PvE leveling in this game, it is 100% leveling versus other players. So, enemies = other players = the world. 🙂

    do you have a collision detection system that can handle lots of players in a single area and not feel clunky?

    As of today, we have full CD with enemies working and we’ve stress-tested the system up to 2K players + bots. I would say that our performance at 500 players in a small space (about the size of Arathi Basin for example) has been great. We have started a round of client performance tweaking that will get us higher. FYI, we are using a server-based physics solution (Nvidia PhysX + our coding) that is pretty unique in the MMORPG world. Almost all games use PhysX on the client-side, we are using it on the server side. According to Nvidia, we are pretty unique as of this writing.

    how will you design your zones to accommodate the range of player skills and population density?

    As per above, zone design is an issue that is tied hugely into what your engine can support. It is pointless to design a zone with the idea it can handle 500 people at one time if your engine can support only 200. That was one of the things that hurt us badly with WAR and that is why this time, we are focusing on the engineering part first and the design stuff second.

    I’m worried the combat is going to be an afterthought, the skills are going to be bland and uninteresting, there is going to be no interesting interaction with the world environment, and the pacing is going to be terrible. no matter how interesting and well thought-out the SYSTEMS are, if the game isn’t fun to play from moment to moment, if it doesn’t FEEL right, then nobody is going to care how much time and effort you put into the path system, or the lore, or story.

    I can’t imagine why you think combat is an afterthought. If you want more info on how our combat system is anything but, you can check out our BSC Daze presentations on how our combat system will work. We are doing things that the vast majority of MMORPGs aren’t in combat. Yes, we are using the Trinity but not in a typical way at all.

    maybe i’m wrong, but Mario didn’t succeed because the designers focused on lore, story, character advancement, etc:… it was successful because they focused on jumping, running, and interaction between the player and the world, enemies, etc:… the same still holds true for MMOs. no matter how complex the systems layered on top become, it’s still about running, jumping, using abilities, interacting with the world in interesting ways, etc:…

    I couldn’t agree more and so does Andrew Meggs (co-founder, lead programmer). If you have looked at our tech videos either during the KS or beyond, you’ll find that we are in total agreement here. Tech and the ability for the game to play well has been our focus from day one. It’s why we haven’t hired one new artist and only 1 additional designer since the KS began. We are spending the vast majority of our time and resources on the engine because, as you say, it’s about “running, jumping, etc.”

    As per above, thanks for the questions.

  • Gankatron says:

    I enjoyed many aspects of Warhammer, and yet in the long run I believe it is a fair assessment that many gamers were disappointed with the execution.

    Yep. We “sold through” really and WAR, contrary to what some people say, was financially successful. Was it the hit it could have been? Nope. But we sold a heck of a lot of copies even given the issues.

    I hear many different reasons why gamers ended up leaving, for myself the primary reason was terrible lag, so bad that I would cast a spell and wait while motion froze and chattered while I waited to see if I was killed in the interim.

    That was part of the problem as were keep sieges. Our leveling progression, at launch, was also badly done so that Tiers 1 & 2 were fine but then it slowed down a lot. Unfortunately (and this is going to sound lame), we relied on a broken metrics system and not tester feedback. I had to play the game myself at those higher levels before I could convince the other guys that the players were right and our metrics were wrong. That was both unacceptable and inexcuseable.

    So my question to Mr. Jacobs is in his expert opinion what were the specific problems that led to the downfall of Warhammer?

    As per above, those were some of the main problems. The other two problems was frankly time and budget related as well as some less than honest motivations of certain people. There’s been some stuff about this posted on the Internet but no matter what, I was still the GM of the studio and I should have been smarter than to believe certain people. It was still my watch though so I have to take responsibility for that, period.

    Please note that I am not looking for politically evasive answers such as ‘There were various factors, some of which were out of our control, but we learned from the experience and now out new game will be better then ever!’, but actual specific problems regarding server capacity, design, balancing, revenue stream, talent drain, etc.

    Well, if you are looking for me to pinpoint all the problems both with the game and people, I’m not going to do it. I’ve kept my silence since EA and I parted ways and that’s not going to change. My mantra has and remains, that everybody in Senior Leadership, including me, at Mythic and at EA made mistakes with WAR.

    The reason why specifics are important to address is that problems cannot be remedied until they are actually recognized as problems, and seeing a dev has a plan to ameliorate actual specific issues present in previous endeavors allows for the player community to have confidence in their upcoming product.

    I’ve told anybody who will listen from the beginning of the KS onward that they should read what we write/post and decide for themselves whether or not to back us at any stage. If the only way I could get more Backers is to post a “This person killed WAR!” or “EA SUCKS!!!!! It was all their fault!!” then I won’t get additional Backers because I’m not going to do that.

    Now, as to technical issues, well, we are doing things quite differently. This time we’ve kept the team small, have an incredibly talented lead programmer in charge of tech and are focusing our efforts on building the engine first. We could have used Unity or any other engine, build the shiny stuff and gone “Look at what we have! Give us money!” but that approach would have killed us in the end when the engine couldn’t handle the kind of game we want to make. That’s our approach and if people have confidence in that, groovy. If not, they can wait till we get further along and then assess whether they want to back us or not. Either way, I’m patient.

    FYI, I’m putting 2M of my own money into making this game. If that doesn’t give you some confidence that we are trying to do things differently, very little else I say here will. That alone makes me pretty unique among developers, including some who have a lot more money than me and haven’t backed their own games and studio’s play. I’m willing to part a large share of what I have into this project. In other words, I’m putting my money where my mouth is just as I did with Dark Age of Camelot.

    Thanks for your informative feedback.

    You’re welcome!

  • Syncaine says:

    Diltz, they achieved that with DAoC, which while not a small budget, was smaller than WAR. WAR had engine issues because (IMO) the team got distracted/force into making WAR more of a WoW-clone than was originally planned, and at the end they launched a half backed DAoC with a meh WoW-clone attached. At least so far, CU isn’t trying to WoW-clone at all, so with 100% focus on DAoC-like design, they certainly can make large-scale technically possible. Other MMOs have been doing it for years.

    Correct, thanks for that.

    That said, my main concern mirrors some of what was written above; if fluff is the progression model, I don’t know that a critical-mass of people are going to stick with it long-term. If I want quick-hit PvP, I’m playing LoL, and there is no way the gameplay in CU is going to match LoL. What CU needs to be is a bigger, more ‘epic’ vehicle for large-scale PvP. But to achieve that, things have to matter from a progression standpoint for the individual, for their guild, and for the ‘world’ as a whole. Not sure CU has plans for all of that, though admittedly I haven’t read every last scrap of info about it.

    We have a lot of plans for that, some of which we have talked about:
    1) Large scale RvR is the core focus of our game and our programming team. As per the answers above, we are focusing the majority of our resources on building that tech first. Hopefully we will begin some Live Streaming sessions early next year to show what the engine we are building is capable of. FYI, this doesn’t mean that we will look like a CryEngine game, we won’t We’ve been very clear on that from the beginning. We won’t look like Minecraft either.  There’s a lot of room between the two.
    2) During the BSC Daze we had a presentation on how the world map will change over time based on the players’ actions. Islands will move closer to each other as players take and control more property.
    3) As far as epic sieges, they too are part of the plan as per (1).
    As you can imagine, we have lots of other plans too but those above are some of the things we have talked about to date. The BSC Daze presentations from this past summer really do have a ton of interesting info about the systems we are building and some of the chances we are taking.

    Thanks for the questions/comments!

  • Argorius says:

    Warhammer had a lot of other voices and people in charge who contributed and help cause what happened with Warhammer.

    That’s always true with any game but I was still the GM of the studio and if people want to blame me for it, that is their right. That’s one of the reasons many GMs (or people in a similar role at other companies) don’t want to be the face for the game or studio, it makes them the target of hate if something goes wrong. As many of you know, we got bomb threats, death threats, etc. back when we were working on Dark Age and afterward. Sadly, it goes with the territory. OTOH, I can’t and won’t throw team members (especially non-senior guys) under the bus so if WAR’s failure to be everything it could have been means that some people won’t back Camelot Unchained, that’s okay. I hope that as development proceeds and the game comes out that some of them may change their mind but if not, well, not.

    You can also say…if MJ has doen it before with DAOC on a tiny budget…don’t you think he can do it again with this possibly larger budget…back in DAOC he was the guy in charge and in Warhammer…there was soem influence of other people as well (there is a big story about this floating around).

    There are multiple stories floating around but again, that doesn’t matter. I want to be judged on everything we are doing now and as even me being here shows, it’s more like 1999 than 2006.
    CSE has been at least as open about our development process, progress, etc. as any other studio who is crowd-funding backed. Any of our Backers can attest to that. We have tons of updates, Live Streaming (we even LS our holiday party yesterday) and I can be found on the Forums anytime. Our IT folks have also seen the evolution of the engine from only handling a small number of players to our mass test where the engine handled 2K player + bots without crashing. We have been upfront about delays and well, we think we also had shown that we are taking a lot of chances with certain aspects of this game’s design. All of this is not intended to get new Backers (since a lot of it hasn’t been shown yet outside IT/PAT) but to give our Backers confidence that we are doing our jobs well. Plus, as I said during the KS+, I’m putting my own money into the game too. As you point out, much closer to how things were in 1999.

    Thanks for kind words, appreciated them.

  • Thanks Mark for stopping by and answering questions and keeping the community informed with where your head is at in this whole process.

  • I have a question Mark

    Are you guys thinking of any way to avoid the zerg?

    Maybe splitting it on various activities on the battlefield instead of funneling every single soul to hit on a gate?

    There’s still some fun to be had on a zerg, it’s cool to be part off and all but it wears off quickly, you don’t keep coming back if all there is are the zergs battle, you know what i mean?

    As much fun as i had jumping in the middle of a zerg with my swordmaster and punting everyone everywhere that got old quickly.

  • I was speaking to another of your designers, who happens to be a fellow blogger, and our topics mostly focused on a subject you haven’t discussed today.

    I like the idea of Horizontal leveling, I really do. Sure there will be “optimal” combinations of abilities, and that will lead to people flavor of the month’ing, irregardless of the cost to respec. That stuff doesn’t bother me as much as a larger conversation that hasn’t been had.

    No where could I find any discussion or official word on how you intend to address community imbalance. One of the major flaws that occurred with Guild Wars 2, which I’m sure you know launched with a 3-faction (even if they came from separate servers) pvp emphasis. The flaw specifically is that there was no way to address a few variables that you typically don’t have control over;

    -Timezone population imbalances: I have 500 chinese or koreans on my faction, and no one else has any. Typical because they want to play together in their own community. Yet, they get to gain domination of the world map because they literally have no other force to deal with them.

    -The “Bandwagon” disease. Players who ‘suck’ or get ‘frustrated easily’ or who typically want to play in large guild organizations, tend to consolidate onto the most popular destination/faction/realm/server etc.

    -The Large Guild impact; One large guild organizes before the game launches. Shortly thereafter, the guild blows itself apart with some sort of guild drama. Someone called someone so and so, someone tried to date someone via webcam and they are already dating another guild member or my favorite, the guild master is a dictator and kicks three people on a whim, who happen to be more popular than him and the guild literally implodes.

    The end effect is a large guild disappears overnight, its players scattering to other servers or quitting altogether. The faction/server/etc whatever suddenly finds itself with no significant organizing force and the server finds itself with only 2 viable (best case) factions.

    In each of these instances, an out-of-game sense of community directly impacts player entertainment in-game.

    More to the point, if your game is relying solely upon players for me to level up, how are you going to guarantee that I have targets to do so against? Further, how does a faction player enjoy the game when he is constantly being outnumbered 10 to 1, 5 to 1, or even 2 on 1 in almost every PvP engagement he finds himself in?

    Are there plans to address these imbalances and can you do an entire dev blog on what those might be. I’ve seen far too many RvR games based on DAoC that have failed to answer these questions. In each case all of my friends have grown frustrated and abandoned the game.

    Do you have a solution that everyone else has missed in these regards?

  • More great stuff 🙂 I played WAR from day 1 until the lights went out and have been patiently waiting for a new RvR game. My only issue with CU is that it feels like it is so far away. It’s hard for me to get excited about something that is so far out.

    I’m really happy to hear collision is in the game though. That was one of my favorite parts of WAR. I campaigned pretty hard against them removing it, thankfully they did not.

  • @Mark:

    Don’t worry, I never intended for you to name names, since I wouldn’t know them it would be irrelevant to me if you firmly put all of the blame of Warhammer’s shortcomings onto Alexandra P. Schnitzlegruber.

    I was interested in specific game mechanics and design/development lessons that you learned.

    @Craig ‘Scree’ Schupp:

    Great question, I am looking forward to Mark’s answer.

  • I have to say reading the answers of Mark Jacobs has been interesting.
    You appear to me as open to the community.
    Not trying to dodge hard questions.

    I have no more questions, but I’ll keep reading the communication to others in this topic.

  • To build on what Werit wrote, and perhaps this was already answered on an update or video; how is the collision handled in CU? Is it ‘hard’, in that you can’t pass through someone at all, or is it ‘soft’ like WAR, where you get slowed or sometimes can’t pass, but someone in a doorway doesn’t fully block that door until removed?

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