MMORPG: It’s been a long time coming that people found out how you’re going to handle Stealth in CU. What’ve you learned from time spent on DAoC and WAR, to help influence your decisions with Camelot Unchained?
Mark Jacobs: First, I wanted to build a stealth mechanic that is geared to the RvR focus of Camelot Unchained, one that gives stealthers the ability to play a major role in the game. Second, I wanted to design a system that rewarded solo play stealthers while discouraging roaming groups of them since in a game like CU, where we want players of all levels in RvR, their impact could be substantial. Third, I dislike the movement slowdown of some stealther implementations because that gets old fast. Finally, I wanted to see if I could design something that will be both fun for the stealthers and not incredibly frustrating for their victims. I also looked at the implementation of the mechanic in every MMORPG I’ve played and a few others that I didn’t.
MMORPG: What’s the most important part of getting stealth right in an MMO, by your measure?
Mark Jacobs: Balancing the needs of the many not to get constantly killed by the stealthing of the few?
MMORPG: How will you avoid the major pratfalls, as you see them, of stealth in MMOs?
Mark Jacobs: I’m not sure I will avoid them yet. I certainly think that the use of the Veil will limit some of the problems with how stealth has been implemented over the decades, but I also have to find a way to deal with the other problems. At the same time, I need to make stealthers a lot of fun to play, or else we’re spending way too much time and resources on a class that won’t have enough support and impact on the game.
MMORPG: Let’s talk about the Veil in CU, and how it relates to stealth, for those who haven’t been following the game’s lore. Can you give us an overview?
Mark Jacobs: Happy to do so! The Veil is a living, sentient being that exists between our world and that of the Emissaries. When it was pierced, power poured through from the other side, and it was both increased and changed by the anger of the Veil. This piercing created the Veilstorms that devastated the previous world but at the same time brought forth a new one.
MMORPG: How does it work with the first of two stealth-focused classes: the VeilWalker?
Mark Jacobs: Veilwalkers have the ability to enter the Veil and move through it as we do through our world. They can do this at full speed and have special abilities that are geared to attacking, surviving and working within it. As they progress in their knowledge of the Veil, they also learn how to summon its defenses to work for them, and they can then direct them at other Veilwalkers or even Veilstalkers.
MMORPG: It kind of reminds me of how Peter Jackson represented the world of Middle-earth when Frodo wears the Ring. Is this kind of the style you’re looking for?
Mark Jacobs: Think of a combination of that and what we did with Aliens Online back at Mythic Entertainment. Back then, I wanted to make the experience of the player different based on whether you were a Colonial Marine or an Alien, so I pitched the red filter to Rob Denton, and he made it work. As to Frodo, that was absolutely part of the inspiration for this idea.
MMORPG: Will there be different beings or other threats to VW’s when they’re stealthed?
Mark Jacobs: Absolutely. Being in the Veil is going to be dangerous for a Veilwalker in the beginning. Nobody will call this class “easy mode”, “cowardly” or anything like that. Our walkers will face attack any time they are inside, whether from the Veil itself, other walkers or Veilstalkers. Being a Veilwalker will be anything but easy, especially since some of the Veil’s defenses are not PvE in the traditional sense, but will still attack the Veilwalker. The only way to defeat them is to learn to control them, and that will take time, perseverance and pain.
MMORPG: What do you think will be this class’ key strengths on the battlefield, then?
Mark Jacobs: Within the Veil, these folks will be deadly. They will learn how to move faster inside it, which will make them useful, in some ways, as scouts, but due to the distortion of the Veil, they might not see what’s truly in the world in front of them. They will be very useful in sieges of forts, keeps, etc. as they can learn to move through certain obstacles and/or levitate above them. They can also be used to distract an enemy’s formation if they go undetected.
MMORPG: Let’s shift gears and talk a bit about the VeilStalker then. These guys hunt the VW’s…tell us how.
Mark Jacobs: The Veilstalkers are a support class except when it comes to Veilwalkers. They can lay down defenses against Veilwalkers, detect them when they are close, and reach within the Veil to attack them, but cannot actually enter it. They can also point the Veil’s defenses toward a Veilwalker to attack it. They are all magic users who have sworn their loyalty both to their realm and also to prevent the Veil from becoming enraged again. They are not mirrored across the realms, but they do all believe that keeping the Veil nice and calm is a good idea.
MMORPG: How will the two classes interact with the Veil, then? Will this interaction be noticeable from the other classes’ viewpoint, or will it be a sort of shadow war all their own?
Mark Jacobs: As far as it being noticeable, I expect it will be, especially as power passes into and out of the Veil. There will definitely be more than a bit of shadow war at work here, but both classes also have abilities outside of their interaction with the Veil. However, they are stronger when dealing with Veil-related abilities.
MMORPG: Is there anything else we you didn’t touch on in the blog, you want to share with folks here regarding Stealth in Camelot Unchained?
Mark Jacobs: As I’ve talked about since the day we announced Camelot Unchained, I have no interest in simply re-creating the past. I want to take risks with this game and the Veilwalker/Veilstalker idea is the embodiment of that desire. Trying to do this in a single-player game would be difficult enough, but aiming to implement it an RvR-focused MMORPG is really BSC - or as one person said, DSC as in Dragon S*** Crazy. I just hope there are enough stealthers and players who like to kill them who want to support this bit of madness.