Camelot Unchained: The birth of an Idea

This post has been a long time coming. I pledged on day 1 of the kickstarter and about as much as I think I can afford in terms of my disposable income which will definitely make this month rather lean in terms of new games. The reason I was holding back, even though I am very enthusiastic about the project was that this is not a game yet. There is no real demo or preview of the engine. None of the mechanics and such are even determined yet, it is all just an idea at this stage.

Even when I did pledge it wasn’t because I had to in order for this game to get made, it was clear even then with close to 500k that my pledge wouldn’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things. I just had too because here is an idea I was very happy to support, an idea that seems very close to my own interest and wishes, and an idea that has been underdeveloped of late.

And here comes Camelot Unchained; finally a RvR focused mmorpg and that is the key to my interest in this kickstarter. Most mmo’s these days do not focus on the PvP in the slightest and when they do it feels like more an afterthought, open world pvp especially so. Being that I love PvP, that killing and such is within these veins of mine how could I not?

The big mmo’s have a wide range of content styles but I imagine it would be hard to give each and every part of the game an equal amount of attention in order to balance and build them up. It is also the fact that most publishers and companies make a lot of allowances towards the PvE side of things since that is where the biggest chunk of the player population is but such an approach just makes pvp in games kind of lack luster (along with other areas as well). How can they focus on PvP appropriately when they’re trying to appease the whole population?

I for one am very excited and I know a lot of people in my guild, as well as in a far number of others because this is what we’ve been waiting for.. A game, development, updates and content that is specifically focused on our interests. “RvR focused” isn’t just a catch phrase to us, it is a fix to the overarching problem we’ve had for a decade.

It is actually rather interesting too to look at from a developers and publishers perspective. It is clear that there is something fundamentally wrong with the big budget approach of trying to be everything to everyone and having development costs in in the 100s of millions is just not sustainable. If Camelot Unchained is successful it, and the others coming out in the near future proves that providing for a niche can actually work. We may just then get more mmo’s that are better focused towards a population, have far less cost associated with them and be more sustainable. I really want to see where this takes the genre.

I am also excited to back this idea as it seems to be refocusing the mmo away from the current single player storied direction into something more reminiscent of older mmo ideologies. The three pillars I think I could form the foundation of a virtual world have been iterated upon by Mark many times through his communications; Cooperation, collaboration, community. Classes, crafting and the world seem to have these foundations at their core which will hopefully make the world feel far more alive. It will be very interesting to see the interconnectedness that will happen between those who craft and those who kill. I have seen already the amount of community interactions that have come from very little in GW2 and am doubly excited to be involved here. I am terribly unsocial at times and this may just make me feel invested enough to be involved.

Another good thing for this kickstarter is that Mark Jacobs and many of his crew has been surprisingly open and candid on the kickstarter comments and across the web. Talk has ranged from just thinking people to the complex technical systems that are going on behind the scenes. Even though I do not understand half of the jargon that is getting talked about I see it as a good thing that the are treating gamers like adults and explaining everything properly. There is a wealth of information being delivered by Mark towards his supporters and detractors alike, acknowledgement of successes and failures alike, some humour here and there, and just lots of explanations. This reddit thread has a chunk of it and yet that’s the top of the iceberg now.

Awesome bit

@Luke A Smith – Isn’t there somewhere in between? 🙂 [question was: full loot or carebar?

He seems to be actively listening and contemplating the many suggestions and ideas that he comes across as well as valuing them all equally. To me at this stage it feels like rather then this being mere crowd source funding it has actively turned into an ongoing crowd source development.. Pitch in and get your voice heard. He has even said that regardless of your kickstarter level that if you are actively giving ideas, and having critical debates on the forums that you will be given access to other alphas and betas.. Nice.

If I had any doubts about funding this idea before they are long since gone now.

As the kickstarter has progressed I am getting even happier with my pledge as it is also becoming a game I want to back. Ideals are great and all, and fancy blog post outlining Marks incredulous ideas certainly get the imagination flowing but here we are now beginning to see ideas become a reality. The tech demo was amazing to witness even if it was only rather simple character models. The artwork and design for the races also looks just superb, not so sure on the giant mouth but the layers, colours, textures and design of the clothing looks excellent.

Camelot Unhained

Camelot Unchained does have a few concerns to work through. Mark has a long and rather troubled career track record. Many now attribute his name to many things that have gone wrong with his previous projects, he was undeniable the face of Warhammer for many years and as such much of the scorn and hatred is focused on him. Even some that don’t follow that train of thought are still skeptical regarding his credibility and would rather watch from the side while this situation evolves. I think this is changing a little, with the great blog posts and information spams educating and exciting a few, and the conversations across the web gaining a little respect. Still a bit of work to do though in terms of creating a more positive brand. In my opinion what more can one do but acknowledge their wrongs and try to learn from them. honestly right now, I respect him more since even with all the bad press his gotten I haven’t heard of him passing the blame or bad mouthing others.

The other comments I have seen a lot is in regards to hating on the subscription model for the project and I think they really need to address this, the sooner the better. It’s funny seeing this conversation spread now since … what about a year ago since the debate was still more in favour of subscription games, a year before that and ftp was scorned more then anything. I get what they want from aiming at a subscribing player base. For ftp to work appropriately you need a much larger playerbase in order to get the required number of white whales and overall revenue, that approach is not for the niche.

There are a wealth of free options for us all to play, ranging in quality but the one thing I have seen so far regarding ftp is that the developers have to make certain allowances that in the end hurt enjoyment and gameplay. Certs and buying weaponry in Planetside 2 is universally awful, GW2 has their gold grind, abundance of tokens, materials and junk in order to sell bag and bank space, and even great cash shops like Tera and TSW having a cash shop means all these wonderful cosmetics and fluff items being developed will always be relegated to the store rather then being earned through play.

Here, it will also result in a much more focused development approach for their subscribers meaning more content and updates based on my interests. Who would not be willing to pay a sub in their favourite game if it ended up only being used for doing and making more stuff that they like? (note to self.. how awesome would it be in btp or ftp games if you could sub and there was like a humble bundle type slider where you want the money tog o to)

Keen wrote a post a little while ago about needing a counter revolution for mmo’s. I agree with Keen here in many regards. I never even played those mmo’s of old but even I can see that the direction mmo’s are being developed now is just not the right approach, somewhere they went of course and do not seem to be coming back to what made the genre great. We need more games that will go against the zeitgeist, to develop mmo’s that try to be massive and multiplayer and it is this new trend that I feel Camelot Unchained is trying to accomplish.

As an Idea it sounds like my wildest gaming dreams becoming a reality, as a game it is starting to look and sound rather cool too. So check it out and maybe if your into pvp or would like us pvp players to stop whinging and creating drama on your forums of choice then give a little.