Unveiled: Camelot Unchained Newsletter #20 - City State Entertainment
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Team Tidings

-by Max Porter

Welcome to a very special edition of Unveiled, which happens to be our twentieth. I think, of all the times I say it’s been a crazy month, this has been perhaps the craziest. We have crunched day in and day out, as well as into the night, on the march toward Beta 1, and so much work has gone into getting us to this point. Through it all, we have streamed and talked nearly non-stop to our Backers and fans, telling you or showing you almost everything. So, you might ask, what is there left to tell? What could the newsletter possibly contain that we haven’t shown extensively in our livestreams (which you can find on our YouTube or Twitch channels)?

Well, the thing is, even with all the information we’ve already put out, there’s still way, way more to talk about when it comes to progress on Camelot Unchained™! We hope that you see it truly starting to come together as a real game now, still very much under development, but no longer simply an engine build. If you want to look at our progress, you can check out the User Stories here, or look back through our news posts here

In this newsletter, I and Jenesee have chosen some of our favorite stuff from the livestreams and put it into text form for your reading pleasure. Additionally, I have gone around to various members of the team and talked with them for some juicy details on what we are doing and how we’ve gotten to this point. It’s allowed me the opportunity to really drill down into some topics that might have only been briefly shown or mentioned on the streams or elsewhere. And these are all written by me, or in some cases Jenesee: We wouldn’t have wanted to pull anyone else off of crunching for Beta 1, after all! I think you’ll enjoy this different take on our Unveiled goodness!

In the studio, there’s definitely a fun dynamic going on for the stream. Heck, if you didn't catch it, just today Mark did the Becoming™ Story Writing Challenge, where he got a topic from Backers to research and write a Becoming Story in just two hours, on stream! He really accomplished this feat, based on the story of andvaranaut, and it was impressive to watch, as he wrote on despite power outages, camera problems, and more!

As we crunch under the cameras each morning, and have interviews, special discussion streams, or Q&As later in the day, it can be a big relief to let off some steam by having fun with you folks on Twitch. Not to mention all the support and good wishes we’ve been getting from you all! It’s been a fun month. Challenging, sure, but fun too; with the help of our amazing Backers, we’ve kept things light and crunchy around here. We truly appreciate the support and understanding of you folks, who are quite honestly the best Backers in the world. It’s our pleasure to keep streaming, and to make City State Entertainment™ one of the most open game development studios out there. 
With all of this focus on moving forward and the progress we’ve been powering through, it can be easy to forget where we’ve come from. That’s one reason for this special crunch edition of the newsletter: a glance back at what’s been going on and how we got to this point can grant us a sense of perspective. More than that, however, I want to take this moment to thank our Backers, again, for making all of this possible. As Mark is fond of pointing out, we feel that we owe it to you all to be this open and willing to listen. It’s your money, and your belief in us, that make the creation of this game worthwhile, or even possible. As the former subject of a Stretch Goal myself (in The Writer Cometh), I have a particular appreciation for that belief and that desire for this game to be as awesome as possible. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and we will give you what we owe you--our best efforts, now and always. 

Well, I could easily go on much longer with this Team Tidings piece, as there’s practically twice as much to talk about as usual. However, I’ll end this bit here, and let you read on for articles, thanks, art, transcripts, and lore in the twentieth issue, this special Crunchy Edition of Unveiled

 Updates

Our current Stretch Goal, “Role-playing Pack #1 - Animations for Everyone!” is coming along great! Thank you so much, to all our Backers and supporters. This one is fun, and really does have something for just about everyone, with no slowdown for the studio’s work on the game. It’s a win-win! Much like this amazing and hilarious image that Sandra created for it!
We couldn’t possibly cover all the updates on development in just one section here, but let me hit a few highlights:

Talking to Rob is always interesting, and Rob’s been doing more stuff with buildings. Just the other day, I asked him what was going on, and he told me a bit about buildings and materials. He’s gotten the system to the point where building now pulls materials from the crates of stuff on plots. The system knows about different materials, and it’s material specific; you’ll need wood to build wood, stone to build stone, et cetera. Cool stuff, even cooler than when he added doors to the game in such a way that they could drown, or the wonderful door/undoor command. :) You can find lots more about the building system that is in for Beta 1 later in the Tech Central section, where I talked to Cory! 

A bigger and more far-reaching update is our lighting system, which you may have heard about in a couple of interesting news posts. It’s just been incredibly cool to see the system not only go in, but just as we promised, all the art assets in the game get updated to work with it. Piece by piece, bit by bit, these things are starting to come together to make some really pretty stuff. More on this later in the Art It Up section, where I talked to Tyler about environment art, but for now, here’s a cool thing that George and Andrew’s hard work did with our lighting system!
Speaking of hard work paying off, JB and the Mod Squad, especially Mehuge, did some amazing work with our Patcher, which now looks all cool and modern. And let’s be honest, way, way better. :) So much thanks to the Mod Squad! They are making a big difference with their hard work, and the new patcher is just the start of their extremely welcome contributions. It really does look nice, especially when filled out with the amazing art that Michelle and James worked on:
Though done with a non-existent UI (‘/’ commands are so in vogue again, we’re playing like its 1999!!), crafting is getting put into the game. Time for makin’ and breakin’ stuff! Plus, as Mark mentioned in a recent update, it’s already much more than basic in terms of what you can do with it. From the very beginning of our plan, crafting has been a really important part of our game, and so much work has gone into making it a deep and fascinating system. It’s really great to see the earliest version start to get added, as a vital part of the RvR goodness that we want Camelot Unchained to have. It’s a piece of our combat that really matters. More on how high and low quality crafted weapons fit into that puzzle in the Dose of Design, where we have a transcript of when Ben talked about this on stream! 

And in breaking news updates, Tim just told me he’s got resistance buffs and debuffs in, meaning you can increase or decrease those on a player. Things are really happening all the time, around here! As mentioned above, you can find tons more information in the News section of our website, by checking out our User Stories, or watching some of our numerous streams, saved on our YouTube or Twitch channels. 

CMSphere 

-by Jenesee Grey

This is where we talk directly to you, the Community!

Wow, this has been a seriously exciting month, full of lots of Q&A’s where your questions were *hopefully* answered, a lot of forum discussion, and plenty of encouragement, as hundreds watched our crunchy livestreams and antics. Thanks for all the support, and we hope you continue to join us as we stream toward the launch of Beta 1!

IT chat joined in the fun with “emote” morning, where all conversations on XMPP chat were thorough actions and RP thought bubbles. Perhaps they were celebrating the opening of our newest Stretch Goal, Animations for Everyone?

I hope you had a great time hearing from our awesome French and German translators in tea with Jenesee. Our lovely Italian translators were not able to join, but are eager to add to the translation team. If you are interested, PM Jenesee on the forums and offer to help! We had a lot of new people join  the Wiki Guardian team this week, and you all watched a rundown of how they work together in a fun video by Foggye that was played during the morning stream. He has been wonderful about organizing the efforts of our awesome Wiki team. 

During Tea with Jenesee, we had Community Questions answered, traveled down memory lane in Instagram, saw some engaging Vine videos, and even had a few morning surprises, like when Andrew was coding during office cam time. 

Speaking of Q&A questions, many of you had some great ones for MJ and Ben during the Piercing the Veil sections, and Ben even popped into the stream to answer some live! I hope you caught his presentation on classes and that Q&A as well. We wrapped up the weeks with MJ and you all shared your thoughts and questions during those presentations as well. So much info all the way through crunch time, even I can’t keep up! If you missed any of the Piercing the Veil goodness, you can find the entire Q&A on the forums on our website, under News and Announcements. And there were some awesome weekly wrap-ups with MJ, with Q&A as well!



Storytime with Max was a fan favorite as we were lulled by visions of the Lore of Camelot Unchained, and then left hanging with unanswered questions! Max, you tease! Don’t worry, the conclusion of many of the stories can be found on the website, here. Perhaps you saw Mark, Cory, Dave, and Ben take a quick break, playing a certain Depths-themed board game with Max, as well ;)? (psst, it was a three-part series; part 1, part 2, part 3)

I really enjoyed watching Jon and Michelle create their beautiful art, which ranged from the patcher concept art to armor, and it was all amazing, even including just the stones in the world. Jon certainly takes his Bernard of Clairvaux seriously: "Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters." Speaking of trees, Tyler showed you his environmental work on the biomes of Camelot Unchained, and shared lots of good updates on what the team is working on now.

All in all, everyone is very busy and productive, and we have wonderful opportunities to talk with you all daily on the streams; come join us

Community Question!

If you would also like to ask a Community question, please visit our forum under the Unveiled Newsletter category and post in the thread.

This is one of my favorite questions and answer from the Beta 1 class livestream with Ben! 

Nerdtrunk asks: With the different components will there be a certain one that's like a flavor of the month type deal or is it more for diversification so we can specialize and synergize and be viable in The Meta.

Ben: So, flavor of the month is an interesting phenomenon, as far as game balance goes, right? Because we're basing our game balance around the Rock Paper Scissors kind of idea, if something gets super popular, as in flavor of the month popular, like the meta has shifted, the idea is with Rock Paper Scissors is that there will be something else that counters that. So, that class that’s super popular might be reliant on a certain ability that is a certain set of components combined together into an ability. So if those components don’t have a natural counter, or are accounting for some discrepancy in the way that characters have chosen to build their classes and specialize themselves… 

So, like if something, for example, was really good against heavy armor but heavy armor was kind of out of fashion then it's not actually very good, and if heavy armor got into fashion where it’s like a lot more people are wearing heavy armor than they used to, those components might suddenly be really good. So you will see these sorts of things shift, and the hope is that by having things that are now natural counters to each other, any time something becomes flavor of the month, there’s already things that other people could take that will be counters to that and so the sort of meta, as far as balance goes, will shift over time. 

We don’t necessarily want to promote, “well we’ll just buff this and make it really strong right now and then we’ll nerf it again or we’ll buff something else accordingly, and make people shift their focus around”. We want that to happen as a natural evolution of the way that the rock-paper-scissors balance works. So that there are always counters, and there are always ideas that you can come up with, and ways that you can deal with stuff that seems to be flavor of the month and seems to be really powerful. 

Hot Topics


Lots of new threads popping up from fledgling C.U.B.E. builders showcasing their creations, and quite a few threads on the Q&A answers from the livestreams.

Join the discussion on the forums on our website to bring your thoughts and ideas to the discussion table!

Look What You Did

 Thanks to those of you who entered our fan fiction contest last month! We had great fun reading through your pieces on the dramatic struggle of a combatant in Camelot Unchained. Thank you all! This month’s winner is Xurtan, with this tense vignette:

"From within his perch atop the tree, well hidden, he observes his foes. The air is rife with the smell of smoke, and over the hills Xurtan knows their keeps and cities burn. His fists clench in anger. He will have justice this day, even if it costs him his life. The thought may once have sent a younger version of himself careening into the shadows, desperation fueling his movements. But here, now, the only things he feels is a grim determination. 

Picking up his staff, he takes a deep breath. Words of magic drop from moving lips, and the very air itself seems to spark. The smell of ozone is high, and he can only hope a veil storm isn't conjured through his actions. His eyes narrow and he focuses on the group of Vikings until it's hard to breathe; until his hair is flowing in an unseen breeze, and he knows if he does not cast his spell now he will be consumed by it. 

Collapsing to his knees, tendrils of void leach from his form. They impale through each of the enemy Vikings with horrific explosions of gore and screams of pain, and his lips etch into a savage smile even as he feels his energy drain. He pants, holding on through sheer will. It isn't until the last Viking lays slain that he releases the spell and he falls forward, the world going gray around the edges. 

Somehow, he has succeeded.

But at what cost?"


Awesome stuff, Xurtan!

For our next contest, let’s draw from a deep place, artistically. No, deeper than that; let’s head to the Depths™! This ever-shifting place of mystery, legend, and horror is the subject of our recent lore, as well as a potential board game; draw or photograph something eerie, something ominous, that looks like it could be part of the Depths! Post your entry in the thread you’ll see pop up in the Fan Art section of our forums, accessible through our website. We’ll get nice and scared by your disturbing artistic skill, pick our favorite, and display it in the next newsletter!

Thank You

First of all, big thanks to everyone who has contributed to “Munchies for Crunchies”! It’s been truly awesome and cool of you, and the team does so love their munchies, very very much. :)
The Mod Squad more than deserves a HUGE thank you from all of us here at City State Entertainment, as these cool folks continue to add awesome things. Most recently, we salute the Mod Squad (and particularly Mehuge) for their hard work on the patcher, alongside JB. Thank you!
Tons of thanks to Ludovic for sending us tons of delicious Quax, these chocolatey duck snacks! We’ve devoured almost all of them at this point.
Also from Ludovic, this awesome Lady Grey tea and a diffuser, for Tea with Jenesee! Super cute, thank you!
Many thanks as well to NalrothGM for vanilla tea, as well as good times in chat!
And big thanks as well to Capass7x1 for these delicious girl scout cookies! We gobbled them up!
Massive thanks to Jorvald and all of Clan Sverker for this coffee, breakfast tea, French Press, and coffee grinder! Wow, we won’t lack for crunchtime caffeine. Again, thank you all so much! Especially since Mark found a new use for the boxes...

Dose of Design

-by Jenesee Grey

Streams with Ben


In lieu of a Dose of Design article from Ben (he’s much too busy doing the design to write about it right now!) this month, we have a transcript of an extensive answer that Ben gave to a question during his stream about classes! 

Question: Are there stats in armor and weapons? What is the elemental difference between a very good weapon and a “just average” weapon?

Ben: Weapons and armor have stats. 

Basically, the way the Crafting system works is based on a template system. So, there are the base stats for an item, and then based on your Crafting process, based on your Crafting materials, you will take that base template and then get bonuses or penalties to it. After that, you will have an item you can actually hold and use, and the stats of your useage of your ability is based on that item, but also based on the components that you are using with that item. So your abilities matter, your ability proficiencies matter, your item matters…all of that factors into how well these things will do. 

As far as the elemental difference between an average weapon and a great weapon, I’m not sure exactly what you mean, but there are differences in the quality of the weapon, the quality of the materials, and there are differences in the materials themselves. So, if you are making a sword out of one material and then making a sword out of a different material, those will have differences. There are going to be a lot of tradeoffs to make, so you are not necessarily going to go from a really bad sword to a really good sword. You might go from a sword that deals very high damage, to a sword that is slower, to a sword that is faster; these will have some different outcomes. 

Of course, there are always the factors of durability, longevity, and repair before you have to replace it entirely, so there is a lot of good and bad back and forth as far as what makes a sword better or what makes a sword worse. We are trying to keep our verticality overall in the game limited, so that you will not necessarily start out the game saying “all my components are terrible, my gear is all terrible, I am just bad, I get destroyed every time I go into PvP”. 

That would be bad for us, because we don’t have a newbie zone, we don’t have a PvE progression where you go through before you start getting into conflict with other players. You have to be confident that when you go into conflict with players, even right from the very beginning, you are going to do ok. You might not be doing great: you know characters have been in the game gaining their progression, maximizing their gear, playing for years longer than you have, are still going to have some pretty significant advantages, but it is not going to be to the degree of many other games that you see that have these very long, very vertical, PvE progressions. 

So there will be some advantages to better swords, but they are not going to be tremendously huge, at least not in terms of damage output and things like that. They will have advantages more in the range of things like durability. “Actually, I only have to replace my sword at way longer intervals than you do.” Whereas when you are new players you are saying, “This sword isn't very good, I keep wearing out my sword and keep getting new ones, but they are also fairly cheap because I am a new character and don’t have very much money.” So it’s a convenience thing more than it is anything else. 
 

Bonus Piercing the Veil Questions from both Ben and MJ:


And now, to round out Dose of Design, we were fortunate to have some Q&A this month with MJ and Ben for Piercing the Veil, and other videos. Here are a few of the most often asked questions for Beta 1! If you missed anything, you can watch our videos on Twitch or YouTube.

Vellic
Q: What can we expect for the beta 1 map? Will it be similar to the existing map or totally different? Of similar, smaller, or larger size? What type of objectives and other things will it have on it?

MJ:The maps for the opening of Beta 1 will be different sizes, with safe islands for building plots and then a main island that is for RvR. The safe islands will allow our Backers to really play around with the building system in an MMORPG setting, without worrying about their places being torn down overnight. This will encourage more building and more stress on our systems, which is a good thing at this point.

Pirhana
Q: For Beta 1 launch will there be any PVE creatures in the world or just players?  If there are creatures will mechanic for material drops be in place for them?

MJ: Not at the start of beta 1. We are starting off with a very basic system of collecting materials to test the basic workings of crafting. Once we’ve solidified the basics we will be expanding every aspect of the system.

Terebens 
Q: Group size for Beta 1?

MJ: Maximum group size for beta 1 will start off around 8, and will be adjusted over the course of testing to find the right number and mix of supporting features.

Jeliel
Q: Is a detailed UI (party?) with body parts health/status/trauma/wounds still considered out of the question?

Ben: We will be starting with HUD elements showing detailed status for group members, because a lot of the information we eventually want to convey better through visual effects, animations, etc. won’t be ready at the start of beta 1, but this is something that will evolve over time. The goal though is to give players the information they need to make informed decisions while not obstructing visibility or overly abstracting gameplay via HUD elements. This is something that is going to take some iteration so we’re far from a final answer at this point. 

Meddyck
Q: Will archer camouflage in Beta 1 require camo armor? Does camo armor use just one item slot or would you need to have camo armor of the appropriate type for the terrain in every slot?

Ben: Camouflage probably won’t be ready right at the start of beta 1 because it depends on some larger features of the overall visibility system, but the general idea is that your equipment will help or hurt the effectiveness of your concealment when using camouflage. You can always try and hide, it just might not work very well if you’re wearing something that doesn’t blend in, and the more things you’re wearing that don’t blend in, the more obvious you are.

Meddyck
Q: Will the Beta 1 classes share modifiers across primary and secondary components like we have seen with the archetypes in Alpha? I.e. if I am a Black Knight who sometimes uses a sword and shield and sometimes uses a spear, will abilities I have built for sword share modifiers with spear and put my spear abilities on cooldowns when I use them?

Ben: Cooldowns are based on components, so if you use a weapon style with one weapon, and you have an ability that uses it with a different weapon, both abilities will show the cooldown of the component they have in common.

Developer Quote

  
  “We may not be legion, but if we all play our parts, what we (CSE + Backers) create might be legendary. I say that with humility, because you Backers (who will become players) have made this possible through the Kickstarter and by the words, pride, and stories you'll be building and living in our game. That's what we hope will be legendary. -- Mark Jacobs

Artitup 

-by Max Porter

Max talks to Tyler


So, you may have noticed the world in Camelot Unchained getting prettier and prettier, like this: 
Ever wonder about the work that has gone into making this happen, and the cool improvements going forward? For this month’s special Crunchy Edition of the newsletter, I asked Tyler about what goes into environment art. I wanted to know how we got to this point, and where we’re going. Tyler explained to me that there are two main things that have gone into making our environment art awesome: Tech, and Realm identity. One allows us to improve on the other, united for great awesome! 

What we’ve been doing and continue to do is push our terrain system. We’re looking for what else we can do with it, expanding our capabilities with our tech. For example, we use the same tool for mountains as we do for tiny details, which Tyler calls “imperfections,” in the environment. He can swing the camera far out, then bring it really close, and make adjustments at every level, which automatically blend together. 

On the art side here, Tyler emphasized that what we’ve done, in fairly simple terms, is push on with the idea of small, medium, and large sizes of our environment assets. The breakdown moves on from there, but this starting definition lets us determine where in the biome setup in the editor these things should not only be placed, but also when they come into view. A lot of careful consideration goes into not only making sure we have fun terrain that inspires gameplay, but that we can also support massive battles. The tools in the terrain editor let us do this. And, if we are wrong, or if maybe players don't like the way the terrain is built, or there's a problem area, it can come down to fifteen minutes in the editor to make small or sweeping changes, which can be pushed immediately to the server! Plus, this tool is still in its infancy. Tyler reiterated that there's lots of room for improvement not only in the tool, but also in related performance on the game client, both of which we have planned.

Here's a setup in the editor of a neutral grassland biome that Tyler has been working on:
And an accompanying screenshot of what that actually looks like in the client:
And here’s another shot of that:
Once any terrain settings, or biome, as the team refers to them, is complete, it can then be mixed and matched with other biomes to create the world much faster than has been traditionally done in most MMOs. The next step is to apply Realm influences to the existing biome, in order to make terrain ownership have a visual and psychological impact on players from opposing Realms. From bushes to trees, to cliffs and grass, we hope to give everything the same treatment. Some changes may be subtle, others very obvious! 

A pretty good example of this can be found in our pine forest. Originally, our super-dense pine forest was created partly to stress test the system. We wanted to push video cards to the limit to see what we could get away with. Now, however, we have audited that biome's settings, and made that forest more gameplay-focused, more appropriate for tactics and having, well, fun. You’ll notice, going forward, that the Tuatha Dé Danann pine forest is thicker and darker, more verdant than the others, with an element of mystery to it. The pine forest of the Viking Realm has a cooler palette, and is more open and spartan in appearance. Meanwhile, the Arthurian influence on this pine forest will be more “saturated” and, warmer in color, more like a classic English countryside. Of course, this example only covers one biome. The team is excited to push these concepts further as we hit other types of environments, such as beaches, deserts, grasslands, etc. 

Here's a shot of the updated Neutral pine forest. Stay tuned for the Realm influenced variations!
and here's another....

And since he really wanted to emphasize this, Tyler added the following about lighting and rendering: 

“The biggest visual change to come to CU is the improved lighting and rendering systems that have smacked the art team into overdrive! Not only have we changed how we light the world, but also how we render the materials on the assets in the world. And we're not done! While we work on additional improvements and tweaks, the art team is busy updating every material in the world (A huge undertaking!) to use PBR, or physically-based rendering. PBR is the next step in rendering tech, and is typically seen in big name games from some of the larger studios.”

Tyler also tells me that simply put, PBR allows us to better approximate real world materials. Leather can now look and "feel" like leather. Metal now reflects the world and the amount of reflection can be audited to account for dirt, dents, etc. From the artist’s perspective, there's a much greater range of control on our materials that did not exist before. Speaking plainly, this is both exciting and daunting, as the art team is currently wrapping their heads around new concepts, and tackling a complete audit of all the pre-existing art in the game. Much coffee has been had! Tyler also emphasized that we’ll be adding more stylization as well, more fantasy stuff appropriate to the world of Camelot Unchained.

In our discussion of these powerful new tools, Tyler continued: 
 
“That's not all! Along with the PBR materials, we now support a much more realistic lighting system, with room to grow. Previously, we had one directional light coming from the sun or moon, and an ambient light that affected everything in the world evenly. The result was typically fairly flat lighting. Assets and players in the game were either in the light or not in the light. Any visual attenuation of depth came from objects being farther from the camera, where they would receive some of the distance fogging. 

“Now, what we are doing is taking a picture of the world, centered on your character, that represents a 360' view of everything around you. That resulting image then takes the color and luminosity values in the image and turns that into a light source. This has two big results: one obvious, the other less so, but still very impactful. The big change you may notice is light more accurately suffuses the scene. This sort of fills in the middle ground between ‘was in the light, or not in the light.’ The result is better definition of the shapes of objects and a greater sense of depth to the scene. The second, less noticeable change, comes both from color and intensity. If your character is in an area with green grass at his feet and blue sky overhead, he and the environment he is in will now receive a small amount of green lighting from below, plus blue from above. If your character is standing in the mouth of a cave, one side of him will be dimly lit, and the other will be brightly lit, from the daylight outside. 

“The result is a huge win for us!  And we're not done! LOL, we say that a lot, but it is one of the great aspects of building our own engine. We can add new bells and whistles while remaining focused on engine performance. This is something you simply don't get out of the box with other game engines. Next step is HDR lighting, or High Dynamic Range. We'll touch on that next time, when we get it in.”

In all, the terrain tool and updated lighting and rendering is still in its infancy: we’re still learning about all the cool things we can do with it, and there are so many cool additions becoming feasible. As we improve our environment art, many interesting possibilities shake out, happy accidents that we can use later on to make everything look better. We’re getting more and more of a handle on all of these systems, and our environment and character art continues to improve by leaps and bounds as we head into Beta 1 and beyond.

Thanks, Tyler!

And now, if you missed it in the news post, some classic comic hilarity from Sandra, of the Art Team during crunch! 

Tech Central

 -By Max Porter and Cory Demerau


Max talks to Cory


We talk a lot about our building system, whether it be in terms of C.U.B.E. or crafting, and often emphasize how important of a system it is for the game. But where is it at right now in the actual game, and where are we going with it, for Beta 1 at least? Well, I asked Cory for more details, and got lots of them!

To begin with, Cory got plot ownership set up this month, and made it persistent. This means that after you log off, you’ll still own the plots you’re supposed to own when you return. For the moment, you can only lose ownership of a plot if you give it up, or if it’s conquered by an enemy Realm! The way this works will change later on, but for now, it’s most important to get plot ownership into the game and working in a Beta 1 state. 

Cory went on to explain that plots are controlled by Realms, which grew out of the Control Point system that we had in Alpha. However, as a development on that older system, these are only takeable at the center of the plot, rather than from an edge. 

The next important feature that Cory worked on was building time. What, you didn’t think that the instant C.U.B.E. method of dropping in a giant wall was going to work on the RvR battlefield, did you? No, while things will stay that way in CUBE, buildings in Camelot Unchained are no longer instant, and Cory had more than a few interesting notes on version 0.1 of our building system. The way it works right now, building a section of something on a plot owned by your Realm gets added to a queue, which can be managed by the plot owner. Additionally, you can view this queue if you are a member of the same Realm, while in building mode. 

Not only that, but different materials build at different speeds! So, some light wood will build faster than heavy bricks. In order to make this work, building a section gets aggregated to a blueprint, which then has a number of “build units” that determine the building speed. Importantly, Cory had to make sure that this system would play nice with our stability system, so that things wouldn’t tumble down in the middle of being built! Fortunately for our aspiring castle-builders, there is a way to speed up the process: more people on the plot will add build units, helping to make your structures go up faster. 

If you’re in more of a burning/killing/destroying mindset, you’ll want to know that the building queue can be disrupted by the opposing Realm in two different ways: one, by damaging blocks on the plot, and two, by getting onto the plot and attempting to capture it. As a visual cue that this is happening, you’ll see the flags at the corners of the plot start burning! 

Most recently, Cory has worked on respawning, and its interaction with plots. Again building off the simple control point system we’ve had in Alpha, Cory has made it so players now respawn at plots owned by their Realm. On top of that, he’s ensured that you can only respawn at plots closest to you, or at plots you own. This connects to some work that the Mod Squad is doing, particularly Mehuge, on a new respawn UI! This will lead on to more work toward getting information to the player, with a User Interface that can display or manage relevant information, such as plot ownership and the building queue on a plot. Cool stuff, and more to come! 

State Of The Build

 -by Max Porter and Brian Green

Max talks to Brian


Well, as many of you know, Brian Green is the guy who usually puts together the delicious Patch Notes for your consumption. It’s not necessarily clear where that comes from, though; I mean, does he take notes constantly, trying to keep track of everything that goes in? That’d be crazy! 

When I asked him about it, of course, the answer was no, there’s a much simpler and more efficient method. The thing is, there’s a list of “commits” automatically generated every time one of the engineers adds some code to the build. The list items can show the differences or additions to the code, and are titled and given a note by the programmer who commits them. This leads to a huge list, with hundreds of little notes! 

In order to put together the patch notes, Brian goes through this enormous list and pulls out some choice morsels of interest for you folks to peruse. Of course, he has the advantage of understanding the code bits, but he’s showed me how to view the notes put in by the programmers on the cool stuff they’ve been adding. I’ve done my best to follow in Brian’s footsteps based on those notes, although of course you can check out our User Stories for lots more info! 

And now, without further ado, a brief selection from many, many patch notes: 
  • Multiple passes on PBR (Physically-Based Rendering) and illumination, with our new lighting system.
  • Multiple body parts added and improved, so abilities can damage you in fun new ways.
  • Persistent plot ownership; plot cell/damage now stored differently. 
  • Items can be dropped! Items can be picked up! Using abilities can consume items and ammo from your inventory!
  • Improved efficiency of buildings as part of getting stability working faster. 
  • Changes to the server and character creation process to get race and class as separate choices, and to add gender as an option for all characters. 
  • Improved the editor and added a system for importing component data from a spreadsheet. This helps Ben get new class abilities into the game!
  • Several significant performance improvements to help older machines handle the game better. 
  • Improvements to the way characters slide on steep slopes.
  • Added gameplay functionality to more stats, including Strength and Dexterity, to affect encumbrance from the new items system.
  • Buildings are now built over time instead of instantaneously. Building speeds up with more allies nearby, but stops when attacked by enemies.
  • Glow map support! Now Tyler’s mushrooms can shimmer properly!
  • Different kinds of block types actually have different kinds of materials!
  • First pass of doors! The commands /door and /undoor add and remove doors to C.U.B.E. structures for your defensive needs. 
  • Lots of lighting tweaks! The way the world looks is really starting to come together. 
  • All crunch and no patch notes make Brian something something!

Backer Spotlight

-Jenesee asks Vellic

This month’s spotlight is on Vellic, a super fan of CU who runs and maintains a super cool fan website, realmsunchained.com.

Q: What drew you to Camelot Unchained?

A:To be honest, I never played DAOC. I played Warhammer and enjoyed many aspects of it, particularly the keep battles, but it wasn’t one of my favorite MMOs. When CU was in Kickstarter, a member of my multi-gaming community ‘Legend Gaming’ brought it to my attention. At first I was reluctant to back the game because I have been burned on MMOs and early backing many times. It was the crafter-driven economy, horizontal progression system, and emphasis on player choices that drew me in. In general I love open world PvP, but I dislike games that focus on gear grinding and making gear so powerful that it overrides everything else. Camelot Unchained really seemed to be focusing on providing the horizontal, open world, player-focused experience that I wanted.

Q: What are you most looking forward to playing?
 
A: I’m definitely looking at playing a Black Guard. Personally, I wanted to play as a Hamadryad, but my guild voted to go Arthurian and I couldn’t be more pleased with the concepts of the Black Guard.

Q: You have been focusing on the heavy fighters and balance in some recent articles. Do you have a planned class to play?
 
A: I think that the Heavy Fighters are more crucial to the game’s balance than any other archetype except perhaps for Healers. I also have a tendency to end up playing a tank in every MMO that I play. This time, I’m really trying to focus on something else. I really like the concepts for the Archers and plan on enjoying sitting well back, shooting my pointy little arrows 
 
Q: Why did you decide to create Realms Unchained? 

A:I actually didn’t create the Realms Unchained website myself. A guild member originally came up with the idea to fill a niche. There didn’t seem to be any other really active ‘public’ community area where non-backers and backers could discuss the game. I used to run a fansite for another MMO that was cancelled a few years ago, so I offered to help. That member vanished shortly after RU went live and I took up the site so that it wouldn’t shut down.
 
Q: With the podcast and the website, you must be one busy person!

A: I am! I also run a CU guild as well as a library in the real world. So far, I would say that the podcast has been more successful and exciting than the website; not to mention being easier to do. However, I enjoy interacting with people online and my work provides me with lots of desk time where I can work on articles and other admin work like Q&A transcripts.
 
Q: Considering the NDA, what do you think about the information available to share?

A: I think CSE has been great about being open with information. There really isn’t a ton that we don’t know at least something about. That gives me great confidence in the company. The technology information on building destruction, seasonal/realm terrain, and new lighting systems really has me excited!

Q: What are you excited about in Beta 1?

A: Finally getting to try out archers and seeing it start shaping into something more akin to a real game.
 
Q: Anything else we should know about you? 

A: I’m something of an amateur writer. I don’t have anything published that isn’t a research article, but I like to write poetry, short stories, and flirt with writing longer pieces of fiction. 

Lore Corner

-by Max Porter

We hope you enjoy this piece, the second part of The Great Depths Raid story. This lore of The Depths™ was penned by Max Porter under the vision and guidance of Mark Jacobs for Camelot Unchained. You can find the first part of the tale in the Lore section of our website, here

 

The Great Depths Raid


Part 2: Enter The Depths

The gathered Delvers broke camp quickly the next morning, which dawned grey and cold, unlike the previous pleasant weather. Hidduk nodded his furry head in the direction they had to go; further up the valley and above the ridge, to the cave where he had found an entrance. A gateway into the Depths could prove hard or even impossible to find, but Hidduk had spent the time and the effort to seek this portal into darkness, and that was partly why these Delvers followed him. It had been a dangerous search, with many setbacks, ever since the last known entrance had disappeared; but the Cait Sith was not fool enough to expect it to be easy. He suspected that several of his companions that had joined the raid did not understand this, yet. 

So Hidduk mused to himself as he silently led the way up the steep track. Jorvald followed close behind, pushing upward with his stone-infused legs. He didn’t mind the climb, as it was natural for him. Indeed, he was looking forward to the cave that Hidduk had mentioned over the fire last night. It would be good to get out of this fall air and into a place that felt a little more like home, whatever terrors might lie in the Depths.
 
One by one, the others followed. The slight Luchorpán Donnie bounded lightly up the trail, repeating his promises to himself from the day before. The odd-looking Human Xedric followed cautiously behind while chatting with the gliding Sacriphisto, and the tall, powerful Jötnar brought up the rear of the Delvers, looming over them all with her wide grin. 

Once they had climbed for nearly an hour, Hidduk waved at them all to stop. The track had narrowed, and he clung to the rocky side of the mountain with his claws. “Hold, for a moment. I will check for dangers ahead and behind.” 

The rest of the Delvers paused, watching him, or glancing down at the valley that now lay far below. They were not nervous--not for anything that lay outside the mysterious place of legendary horror that they were heading for. 

Hidduk would have preferred not to have anyone looking when he did this, but at the moment it couldn’t be helped on the narrow trail. As before, he went into his meditations and sought safety of opening, gently tearing the Veil. He searched for signs of activity, or sources of pain in the Veil, but found only one. It was coming from the cave that he knew lay above. 

Pulling away and closing the opening he had created, Hidduk nodded to his companions once more. “We are almost there, and it seems that we are alone, for now. Be ready, Delvers. We will soon come to the door.” 

When they reached the cave, they found it dusty and disused. There was no sign of who might have hollowed it out, or carved the only path that reached this lonely place. Something about the air was foul, and it was filled with the dust kicked up by their entrance. Along the far wall of the cave, there was a smooth space like a wide stone step or a low altar, flanked by a pair of grinning statues. Even in the gloom, Sacriphisto could see that there was something off about the appearance of the statues. It looked like the sculptor had drawn from images of individuals that had been maimed by terrible torture, then healed. He hid it well, but even as a Bean Sidhe, the healer was unnerved. It was like a perversion of his art made into solid form. 

Between the statues there was a tremendous door, rising from floor to ceiling of the cave. Dust and shadow made it difficult to see, but the door was heavily carved with shapes and images that could not quite be discerned at first, until the Delvers moved closer. Then it became much easier, as the eyes of the things carved on the door began to light up, one by one, in time with the footsteps of the Delvers that brought them closer. 

Like the statues, the carvings on the door appeared ordinary at first, simply scenes of daily life covering a broad variation of races and creatures. However, every character depicted on the door wore a smile that was too wide, even as they walked into situations that were about to turn deadly--pits of spikes, hangman’s nooses, or a freakish slaughterhouse full of knives. Even as they stepped into death, the face-stretching grin never left the face of any creature, even animals that could not normally make such an expression. 

The cavern lit up with the strange glow of the eyes of these many creatures carved into the mighty stone and metal door. It was an eerie sight, the mad joy on the faces of the creatures that were shown there. Their eyes focused their light on certain parts of the chamber, making Jorvald’s axe shine with their weird light. There was something hypnotic about the images. The glowing eyes seemed to shift under the viewer’s gaze, and made it hard to look away without feeling dizzy. 

Hidduk watched the faces of the Delvers that had followed him here. He was looking for any alarming signs, for his life might well lie in the hands of these folk. The Jötnar woman stood staring over the heads of the others, her jaw set firmly as though she were wondering if she could smash down this eerie door. Hidduk saw no danger there. Little Donnie was smiling wryly, a gleam in his eye as though the more frightening the obstacle, the greater the reward that must lie beyond. Hidduk would have to do his best to keep that one from running off on his own. Xedric and Sacriphisto were enigmatic, impossible to read; while Jorvald, for his part, had turned from the door in defiance, and was examining the stonework of the statues. 

“Odd work, this,” The Dvergr muttered through his beard. “This was not done with the tools I know. Oh well, I’m no craftsman, anyhow...hmm. Wish I had some nice mushroom beer to toast us good luck…” 

Hidduk decided that Jorvald would probably be alright, for the most part. The Cait Sith scratched his furry face and cleared his throat. No one reacted. He tried again. Still, everyone was absorbed in the weird, almost beautiful, yet subtly disturbing images before them. Finally, Hidduk resorted to smashing his blade against a nearby stone. Everyone jumped. 

“What--!” Cried Xedric, spinning and calling power to his fingertips. Crimson flames licked up his wrists and arms, flooding the cave with heat. Hidduk took a step back from his fellow Realm-mate. After a moment, Xedric dismissed the flames, leaving the smell of charcoal behind in the dry air. “Ah, I am sorry, friend. I was examining this strange door, and thinking of my...of what lies beyond it. Never fear, I shall save my power for my enemies, not allies.” 

Hidduk nodded in response, but his ear twitched. This Flame Warden would be one to watch. “Very well. Let us then test our mettle. I have come this way before, and have solved the riddle of this dark place, for now.”

Sacriphisto stepped forward, eying the Cait Sith quizzically. “What do you mean?”

With a silent, swift flick of his wrist, Hidduk pulled out a small knife, plain but sharp-looking on its curved edge. “Like so many sources of power in this world, entering the Depths by this door requires a sacrifice.” Suiting action to his words, he sliced open the pad on his palm and allowed his blood to pool between his fingers, then pour onto the flat stone in front of the door, lit by the glowing eyes. 

Hidduk passed the knife to Donnie, who took it with barely any hesitation. The little man chose the side of his wrist instead of his delicate hands, letting the blood flow. One by one, they each cut into their hand or arm, allowing blood to trickle from the wound. Where the crimson droplets fell, dust rose from the stone, twisting and writhing like living smoke. 

A rumbling came from the door as the smoke rose before it, and a metallic smell flooded the cave. The lights flickered; the carvings on the door blinked, sending a cascade of rippling glitter through the dust that had risen. Then, the doors flew open, pulled inward with great force. A sucking wind roared, pulling the Delvers to the darkness beyond the doors. Tumbling and crashing, shouts lost in the howl of the wind, they were thrown helplessly through, and the doors slammed shut behind them like powerful jaws. 

The faces of the carvings on the door seemed to laugh, though no one was there to see them in the empty cavern. Their brightly glowing eyes winked out, one by one. 


Large and small Delvers were equally helpless in the torrent of wind that pummeled them through the dark. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the tornado stopped. They fell down some stairs, banging painfully on the edges. It was a narrow tunnel, plunging steeply downward. 

The nimble Donnie was first on his feet. “Ow. Well, here we are. We have entered the Depths! Time to find some treasure!” 

The others were far less lively, muttering and rubbing bruises as they dragged themselves to their feet. Though there was an odd, pale glow that came from the steps themselves, Xedric sparked a fire, and lit a torch that he produced from his pack. So, they had light, and were able to examine where they had ended up so painfully. 

Outside, it had been a cold, wet day, that looked toward the coming winter; in here, it was strangely warm and uncomfortable, despite the wind that still tickled their heels from time to time, constantly reversing direction. Behind them there was darkness, where they had come from; ahead, the staircase plunged down, past where their eyes could reach. 

The stairs themselves were bone-white, luminescent even in the light of Xedric’s torch. Perhaps it was the flickering flames, but the stairs seemed to bend and shift in a disturbing ripple motion. The walls were a crimson color, like the blood the Delvers had just spilled to enter. Hidduk pointed one claw from his dark cloak at the small scratches that lined the uneven walls. “Those were made by others who came before.” 

His voice echoed down the hollow tunnel that plunged into the darkness like an open throat. No one answered, but it might have been because they were quickly binding their wounds and preparing to move on. 

“I’ll take the lead, for the moment,” said Jorvald at last. “Never let it be said that a Dvergr who drinks first was loath to walk first!” 

The Jötnar snorted. “Any of the Viking Realm would say the same, but I shall take the position of true danger, as I did on the trail coming here!” She stepped to the rear of the group and pushed her heavy helmet over her head. The gleaming hammer that she raised was massive. 

Sacriphisto shook his head, wondering if these two would bicker the entire time. Ever since last night, when one of the Vikings had challenged the other to an eating or drinking contest (he couldn’t remember which), the two fighters had been at odds to see who could best the other in a physical contest. To the Bean Sidhe, the question of the Depths’ nature was far more pressing… 

Jorvald grunted, then set off down the eerie stairs, his hand hovering close to his axe. He was followed closely by the others, their dusty boots muddying the pristine white of the steps. 

Occasionally, Hidduk reached out and marked the wall with a knifepoint, adding to the silent tally of Delvers that had come this way. It felt almost like a duty to him, a record of the lives risked in the Depths. 

The stairs went down and down, gradually flaring out in organic shapes. They looked just like vertebrae that went on forever. 

It wasn’t until they came to some muddy bootprints that Jorvald realized that it was going on forever. He let out a curse and held up his stone-encrusted hand for a halt. “These bootprints! Hel’s bells, we’ve been here before!”

Hidduk craned his neck around the wide Dvergr and took a look for himself. “Yes, I see...Those are our footprints, indeed. I’d recognize your heavy tread anywhere.” 

Xedric let out an annoyed snort, sending a spiral of flame from one nostril. “Hm! So these stairs are looping back on one another, somehow. Strong magics.” 

The Bean Sidhe hovered at his elbow. “That, or something subtle, something we aren’t noticing…” 

“Ah, you sound like my granddad,” Donnie snorted, slipping between them. “If you’re going to chat and puzzle over this all year, we’ll look as old as he is before you’re done. I have a feeling there are far worse things waiting for us, further in. I say, let’s go and find ‘em, Donnie’s way!” And with that he jumped, far and high, right off the steep stairs and into empty space. 

Gasps went up from the group as the small figure went sailing down into the blackness, his red hair streaming behind him. As he disappeared, there came a thunderous swallowing noise, and the walls of the stairwell rippled. A wind came up like a satisfied sigh, stinking of hot metal. 

The other companions looked at one another. Xedric snapped his fingers, sending a shower of white sparks down the stairs after the Luchorpán, but the light revealed no sign of him. 

Sacriphisto muttered, “So, this place… is swallowing us. It truly is alive.” 

“Hel preserve us…” Jorvald muttered as he hefted his axe and stepped down a few stairs. He glanced over his shoulder at the rest. 

The Jötnar at the rear grinned back at him. “Well, shorties, are you going to let the little one with the long fingers outdo us all? Clearly, we must venture deeper into this strange place if we are to find what we’re looking for. Hup!” She pushed her way to the front of the line and bent deeply at the knees. 

“Just a moment, let us go in an orderly--” Cautious Hidduk tried to stop her, but there was simply no way he could. Straightening with a rush, the Jötnar woman flew into the air, a mighty leap into the unknown. 

The darkness closed around them as the rest of the Delvers followed. As if in a strange dream, they found the walls closing in as they accelerated, slick with some sort of fluid, slowing and controlling their fall. The walls shifted as they continued on, and the pale, luminescent material of the stairs disappeared. Instead, the floor became endless mechanical pipes threaded like glistening metal intestines, but covered in smooth glass. 

They were swallowed, squeezed down by the thrumming pipe that moved its transparent surface like flesh. Wherever it touched their bodies, it rippled as if in ecstatic pleasure. Xedric’s torch went out, and the only light came from grinning faces that appeared behind the roiling glass walls, watching. They flashed by as the Delvers fell, deeper and deeper, down and down into the Depths. 

This wasn’t so bad, not so bad a start at all...for the Depths, Hidduk thought as he plunged downward. Certainly a less violent beginning than the last raid he had been part of. However, a fear gripped him. This tunnel they slid down would be impossible to climb back up. Once they each had what they came for, whether glory or treasure, secrets or something else...how were they going to leave? 

As if sensing that Hidduk had begun to realize his plight, the glowing faces that were flashing by appeared to laugh, watching him wriggle and squirm. 

And so they all fell toward the Great Gullet, one of the most dangerous locations they could have started, in this place of legendary horror. Though the Delvers did not know it, far down below there were Abominations already feeling their approach, quivering in bizarre anticipation. They began growing faces to match the Delvers that were approaching, familiar skin stretched over misshapen bodies. There, in the darkness, mouths devoured one another in endless cycles of eternal hunger, their excitement growing… 

Thus ends Part 2.

Bonus Images!

We couldn't possibly let you got without showing you this gorgeous castle, done in C.U.B.E. by Stihl Reign!

Regarding the castle, Stihl Reign says: "This is Palm Fist. As the name implies the design honors the mantra behind the chinese martial arts greeting — I come in peace, prepared for war." 
P.S. Tyler saw this from across the room and said, "Oh hey Max, what game is that on your screen?"...then he came closer..."OH $&!% that's our game!" 
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