Unveiled: Camelot Unchained Newsletter #3 - City State Entertainment
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Team Tidings

-by Max Porter

Welcome to our third newsletter! We got an overwhelmingly positive response to this format last time, so we’re glad to settle into a good groove here. 

Another good groove we’re getting into is the launch of our first P.A.T.! It was so incredibly exciting to see our Alpha folks running around and using abilities on each other for the first time. Balls of earth, fire, and water flew through the air, while melee specialists hunted down the casters using speed buffs. Day shifted to night, and the skies were filled with glowing trails from the spells being cast across the map. And everyone’s favorite resident flying teleporting annoying Luchorpán, Donnie.T, spent half the tests jumping on a giant duck’s back in his own personal “King of the Duck” game ;). We got to really stress test the servers, and with no major slowdowns or crashes (just occasional intentional reboots), we’ve had tons of success. Massive thanks to everyone who has jumped in and helped out, we’ve had a blast trading blasts with you! 

The construction in the office has really picked up, and we do our development these days to an occasional heavy metal background soundtrack of drills and saws. Very exciting to see our space taking shape. Plus, once the painting gets done, we can organize and clean the place up a bit! Then we can feel less like we’re camping out in an abandoned building. Well, at least when our brains unfog from the paint fumes. Hey, maybe that’s why the next Stretch Goal is what it is?
Not to be too cute, but fall has befallen us, and in the cold weather we turn to the warmth of our Backer community, just as much as ever. Enjoy the spooky holiday, cup your hands around your mug of metheglin, and enjoy reading this, the third issue of Unveiled

Dragon Accident Report

Reports are flooding in about an ominous figure flying in from the horizon. Sharp-eyed citizens say that it is some sort of winged beast of impressive size. It could be the mysterious creature that has been causing all of this trouble lately. Unconfirmed rumors claim that the creature is following the directions of a long-haired rider, who appears to be brandishing a box turtle. It is unknown whether the small animal constitutes some sort of weapon, or possibly the symbol of his rule. The oddity of this possibility has led some to believe that Tyler was only at lunch in the last accident, and not eaten after all! More developments as they occur. 


We passed the E.A.R.S. stretch goal and launched a new one! Backers, thank you all so, so much for joining us on this exciting journey. You really make amazing things possible. Our new stretch goal is The Sound Engineer Cometh. While sounds and effects have always been part of the game plan for Camelot Unchained™, there are sounds and effects and there are AWESOME SOUNDS AND EFFECTS. This Stretch Goal will allow us to contract with a sound engineer, license a great sound engine, and spend the time and money to deliver the kick ass, immersive sounds and effects that we all want and you deserve. You can look at our current as well as past Stretch Goals here!
We also revealed the second P.A.T. checklist! Come and watch us check things off in the development process as we prepare for P.A.T. #2! You can view the list here!


-by Jenesee Grey

Welcome to the section where we talk directly to you, the Community! Here is where I take your thoughts on the forum and attempt to give you more information on some of those unanswered questions!

Q. In addition to fireball effects that have already been touted, what other cool spell effects might we see planned (estimated, no promises and such) for pre-alpha testing? -Drooge

Good question! You have seen the fire dart, earth dart, and water dart effects in some of our screenshots on the website. I highly recommend that you look below at the screenshot of our night battles, where you can see a kaleidoscope of color and shooting particle effects, all done by Mike Crossmire. It is a beautiful and deadly vision of color, as casting, healing, and combat all show off for you visually. One of my favorite effects is the healing fountain, which throws sparkling green tendrils into the air in a circle of aoe healing. In our Tech Central section, you can see a huge wall of water, towering in front of the Viking fighter archetype of the Frost Giant. There are a firewall and earthwall in the current build as well. When you see a St’rm raise her hand and a massive inferno appears in front of you, remember the phrase “don’t stand in the fire”!

Q. I have a question about how abilities will work. I know you guys talked about it plenty, but I am curious, will the abilities be a predetermined template as in- all viking warriors have the ability Slash!. Without putting any customization into it is a simple auto attack filler type of ability, but with some customization the ability could evolve into a bleed, a leg attack, and disarm, or a charge up burst ability. Or is it where you literally make an ability, with a tool given to the players where the damage is predetermined depending on certain variables. Such as the utility you give the ability, the cast time or cd of the ability, the bonus damage effects, poison/bleed. If this has already been answered could someone let me know? I don't think it has been answered this specifically before (probably because you guys don't know yet!) but if your leaning in a particular direction I would love to hear about it. -FluidDgames

FluidDgames, we are pretty excited about our combat system and the myriad ways you can customize your attacks. We don’t have an auto attack planned, or anything as simple as that! Attacks are broken down into four basic types of ability components; Primary (weapon), Secondary (way to use it like “slash”), and optional Modifiers (such as body target, range, etc.). You can even have Modal Components (like stances), which we haven't talked as much about. This is a pretty complex system! It will be best to give your abilities a lot of thought before you even engage in combat, and consider things like how you like to attack. You will be able to create very specific abilities to match your play style. Customize away!

Q. Are there plans in place to promote small man action (4-5 man) instead of a mindless zerg, going keep to keep, dominating everything by shear numbers?  If so, can you elaborate? -Nickraider

When you play Camelot Unchained, if the only successful way to enjoy yourself is to join a large zerg, or wait and hope that more players log on so you can enjoy our content, we will have failed miserably as a development team. There are obviously various times of day on a server where the populations could encourage zerg-based play, but we hope that won’t happen often. This is why we are designing Camelot Unchained to have enough “carrots and sticks” so that zerg-based play won’t be the most efficient way for players to succeed in our game. The key for us is to have goal-based gameplay, with enough options that are spread around the map, which will reward the Realm that competes smarter using smaller, coordinated groups. Smaller groups will also have CC options which will enable them to have a chance against a larger group, should they encounter one as they to look for resources, scout the land, or escort crafters/caravans safely to a destination, to name just a few examples. Solo play also won't require you to just spend all your time seeking another player to fight. The point is, no matter how you want to play, Camelot Unchained should enable players to find meaningful things to do in an RvR setting without having to resort to “zerging for profit.”

Q. With the world broken into many islands, will individual islands be large enough to naturally and reasonably support an interesting variety of sweeping terrain features such as rivers, mountains, deserts, wild dense forests? -Ortu

Very much so. Islands have varying sizes, and keep in mind they don't always stay disconnected. They come together into larger land masses that will feel more like continents, or break back down into islands again as stabilizers are built and destroyed. There will be a variety of experiences in terms of traversing distance by land and sea. Terrain is an important feature, and really shows off the different climates that the Realms prefer. You could almost say that the Realms create their own environments...hmm ;)

Hot Topics

If you have been on our forum lately, you might be reading a lot about the Banes and Boons list and how they could, would, and might apply! The PATs forum is now up for those who are participating in our Pre-Alpha testing, so hop on over and join us as we share battle stories.

Don't miss out on these and other great discussions in our new forum!

Community Meetup

Last week I returned from a great visit to New York Comic Con, where I had the opportunity to meet a small portion of the Community, meet some potential Partners, and just have some fun with fellow gamers. A special thanks to Tokee, who turned out for dinner and some face time. Look for the next meetup possibly at Pax East!

Look What You Did

Many thanks to La Pie for the big laugh your clever photo gave us! That looks like a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it for that face! Enjoy reading that book. 

For our next contest, we’re hoping you’re ready to put your writing hats (or horns, or antennae, or what-have-you) on! Let’s do a spooky short fanfic story for Halloween! It should have a Camelot Unchained theme. To make it a real challenge (and for space in Unveiled), it should be no more than 500 words (we’ll accept 501 words, but don’t push it). Post your story in the thread that you’ll see in the forums sometime in the next month. Winner gets published in the next issue of Unveiled as our spooky fanfic favorite! You can find the fan-fiction section of the forums here!

Thank You

Anhrez got both creative and artistic with this gift for our programmer Bull. This is a Viking duck made custom for him. We are told the duck is hiding the VIking goatee but one can never know...
We’d also like to thank DurkaDurka of Boozed Enterprises for sending us his old GTX 285 card for testing purposes, so we can fix more problems for more folks! 

Dose of Design 

-by Mark Jacobs

After we announced the Banes and Boons system, it was said that this system would put the RPG back in a MMORPG. OTOH, after we showed our Backers over 400 B&Bs, there were some concerns about them being unbalanced, overkill, or just not interesting enough. Even though those voices were in the minority, it’s worth talking about why those fears, while understandable, can be put aside for now.

First, we were not trying to overwhelm our Backers, but simply trying to get the discussion started about what kind of B&Bs they would like to see, as well as the amount of B&Bs that they would be comfortable with for the character creation process.

Secondly, we needed a jumping-off point internally to figure out what is or isn’t feasible and/or desirable for this game. This jumping-off point is very useful for us, not only to brainstorm as designers, but also to brainstorm with the programmers. Very little happens at CSE in a vacuum, and having a list like this one is perfect for the kind of discussions we need(ed) to have with the team.

Thirdly, even if we had 500 B&Bs, they would still need to be broken down into different categories, such as by race, class, and Realm. Otherwise, they would be overwhelming and distract from, rather than enhance, the “choices matter” mantra. OTOH, having a reasonable number of choices and points you can spend on B&Bs will increase the feeling that choices do matter.

One of the other concerns is how B&Bs fit with the game’s old-school vibe. Well, if you look at B&Bs as one of the foundations for racial differences (Luchorpáns with short legs = Bane of running slower), some of the B&Bs can be seen as initial bonuses/penalties for a race. Then, when you add some of the optional items either for a race, class, or Realm as further enhancement of your character, that will make you fit better both in terms of the old school vibe as well as add an additional level of customization.

The last thing I want to touch on is the long-term effect of the B&Bs on character development. If the B&Bs are both cool and helpful, will highly competitive players be forced to select them? I don’t think so. First of all, for every point of Boon you take, you must take a point of Bane. We must ensure that the B&Bs aren’t full of harmless Banes, and ensure that every Boon you take is justified with a meaningful Bane. Also, Camelot Unchained is a soft-cap progression game. A B&B might give you a head start on raising a skill, a higher stat, etc., but it will not raise your stat cap one bit. So while someone may start a little bit ahead of you in some way, this would be no different than for a player who comes into the game a month after launch.

All in all, I think the Bane and Boon system will allow our players to really customize their characters, and will help avoid the cookie-cutter approach that is used in so many MMORPGs. As always with our BSC ideas, if we find that the approach was the wrong one, we will change it. We may be a little BSC, but not that BSC.

Developer Quote

“A game is balanced when everyone agrees that everything is OP.”- Ben Pielstick


-by Scott Trolan


Salutations from Artland. Coming off the high of participating in Pre-Alpha Testing with Alpha Backers, the team is hard at work iterating and improving on what was seen in those tests. User feedback was fantastic. The team is truly appreciative for all of the positive responses to the way things looked in the first P.A.T. We hope to generate that much excitement again when we roll out P.A.T.2!

 Last month, concepts were developed for an Arthurian Race: the Stormriders. The concepts have since been actualized into 3d modeling and rigging, and are currently being animated to prototype Longsword Melee Combat. Sandra and Michelle are taking lessons learned from designing the Stormrider’s armor and applying it to developing armor for the Vikings and Tuatha Dé Danann. Things are tuning up nicely, and we hope to show you more soon!

State Of The Build

 -by Brian Green

This month, the main programming focus was improving performance, in addition to new game features. In particular, we improved the stability and performance of AMD cards so that the shaders work properly in the game. We’re now hard at work investigating problems with DirectX 10 cards. A lot of new reporting capabilities were added to the server to root out lingering problems now that could have caused huge headaches later.

We also had the first P.A.T.! It was great to see a whole new round of Backers get in to play with our hard work. While people were playing, we were watching the reports generated by our testing code and making tweaks where needed, in order to keep things running smoothly. In all, the P.A.T. was a great success for us!

In no particular order, here’s a sample of the patch notes we put out over the last month:
  • We added the control game “Capture the Ducks”. This is a little game that gives our testers objectives to take, in order to encourage a wider variety of testing conditions for us. Plus, it’s kinda fun!
  • 4xMSAA has been enabled by default in the client.
  • Several improvements to the character creation UI to improve feedback to the player.
  • Improved the player count reported in the patcher. It no longer includes corpses!
  • Improvements to the Kills API to improve performance.
  • Projectiles were improved to look and feel better.
  • We added keybindings for turning your character, and made those keys strafe your character when you’re in mouselook mode. Yeah, keyboard turning sucks… until you want to eat while running the keep you’re sieging.
  • The game supports more resolutions, including fullscreen resolutions, via the command line.
  • There is a nice new UI that will scale with different resolutions.
  • The hotbar now shows the keybinds for each ability!  No more counting!
  • Escape key now closes the options menu if it is open.
  • We added more detailed tooltips for testing purposes.
  • New fonts and colors for nameplates. Nameplates also are based character height now.
  • There is now Realm chat, so you can plot with your allies to coordinate an attack to take a duck.
  • We increased movement speed across the board, based on user feedback from the P.A.T.
  • Tim is coding killer robots and there’s nothing we can do about it! Send help before it’s too late.
  • World editor now supports adding groups, particles, point lights, and spot lights as independent placeable objects.

Tech Central

 -by Cory Demerau

The Testing Process

I'd like to talk for a bit about how we prepare for a public game test here at CSE, seeing as we started the Pre-Alpha Testing this month. It's a bit more complex than simply turning on a server and letting the testers know it's there!

The first step is to create as stable a testing environment as possible. What our testers see on the public server ("Wyrmling") often is not the newest version of the game. Instead, the Wyrmling version gets features added slowly, after they've proven to be stable on our internal server ("Hatchery"), or if the only reasonable way to test that feature is with a larger player base. The Wyrmling build is often locked down a couple of days before a public test, to ensure that the game is as stable and functional as possible. We don't need our testers looking for a crash that everyone gets all the time (hopefully we and our IT folks and can find and fix those ourselves), we need them to look for the obscure crashes that only occur once in a blue moon.

Next, we determine what exactly we want to test. Often, we simply want to test the overall stability of the game and to see if our testers catch any bugs we may have missed, but sometimes we have a more specific goal that requires us to give the testers special instructions. For example, after working to solve several crashes upon starting the game, we asked our testers to repeatedly log in and out of the game and report any crashes instead of simply playing as normal.

After that, we figure out the scale of the test. Do we need twenty people to play, or two hundred? How much stress do we need to put on each server? These questions inform how many servers we start with, and the maximum number of players per server. Depending on the type of test, we may also include bots to artificially stress the server's networking.

Finally, we spin up the appropriate number of servers, configure them based on the scale and purpose of the test, and let our testers in! While the test is happening, we do more than simply play alongside our testers. We monitor any issues brought up in chat or on the forums, attempt to replicate bugs, and try to resolve crashes on the fly. We also pay attention to the server's overall health and look at its text output to detect any issues there (Is the CPU working too hard? Is network traffic getting overloaded?). Once the test is complete, we review the data gained, figure out what went well, improve what went poorly, and prepare for the next phase of testing.

So there you have it! An inside look at the planning that goes into a public test of Camelot Unchained. Happy hunting! 


Backer Spotlight

-by Endoria

Backer Spotlight: Endoria, Volunteer German Translator 

Endoria is a member of a small but amazingly dedicated group of German translators who help out our awesome German community. Huge thanks to both the larger and smaller groups of volunteers. We love you all!

Hello fellow backers. My name is Manuel, I am 28 years old. I am very sorry for any broken hearts or shattered dreams of my male fanbase on the forums. I am not a girl! I am really sorry for my awesome female nickname "Endoria". It was the nick of my rr12 female infiltrator in DAoC and it stuck with me since then.

Q: How did you get involved with translation?
A: I got in touch with translating during my studies. Sounds important? Not really, I spent my days on writing lore, item/stat systems for a friends UO freeshard and a quite extensive Company of Heroes mod. I volunteered to help with translating CU updates to German, because I felt I could add something to it and I am very happy how CSE_Jenesee is handling the process right now. I am also very happy that so many people are willing to sacrifice some time on helping with this. Thank you!

Q: How did you learn English?
A: Like the majority of Germans, I learned English in school, although I have to admit that I wasn't very good at that time. Since I spent years on the computer, I had a lot of time to improve my English. I studied Business Administration and during a 6 weeks trip to Toronto I had a lot of time to actually speak the language and in the process I aced my English exams. After my return to Germany I started watching TV shows and reading books in English. Right now I prefer English over German when it comes to games and movies (if it is the original language).

Q: What are the biggest challenges when translating English to German?
A: The biggest problem is catching the mood of the lore updates. Mark has a very creative way of writing and using words in ways, that are quite impossible to properly translate to German. When that happens, you have to be creative and catch the mood of the text and think of a German phrase and describe what Mark wants to say, without changing the meaning (not too much at least). Also German has 3 articles (der/die/das) instead of the one article "the", they represent the different genders. This can lead to a funny things. In Mark's lore text the Veil is a female lover, but "the Veil" is a male entity when translated to German. I call it "The Transgender-Veil-Paradoxon".

Q: How did you hear about CU?
A: A friend of mine, who used to play DAoC told me there would be game called "Camelot Unchained", made by Mark Jacobs. (Shout-out to Grisman! thx buddy) Of course I had to be part of this daring project. How could I miss the chance to be part of an oldschool MMORPG with focus on PvP? I think the game will be a success!
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