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A Gentle Breeze

Tim Eisen Posted:
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Just when I thought the MMORPG summer news lull would never end I looked to the East at dawn and saw City State Entertainment’s (CSE) ever so epic “longest MMO newsletter in the business” come riding in on a white stallion named Max! It was on par as usual-packed with tons of info that gave this reader a well-rounded look at how much blood, sweat and poor dietary decision making goes into the development of these ginormous games.

This one was special in that it featured the first official “state of the game” from Mark Jacobs (owner of CSE) then transitioned right into a combat overview piece by Ben Pielstick (the designer of said combat) describing combat from arrow to sword to healing. Let’s start by taking a look at a few things that stood out in MJ’s lengthy piece.

“In the coming weeks, we will open the game to more testing” It feels like it’s been a while, probably because it has. Let’s be honest, that was awkward. By “that” I mean the testing break and ability redaction. Things seemed to be going along nicely, slow but progressively. Then we hit the ability rebuild and it was like going back 6 months then taking a year to move forward again. Not literally, but that’s how it felt. I’m sure it has to do with anticipation and whatever it is that makes going on a trip feel like it takes forever but coming home feel half as long. I’ve been anticipating the return of the ability system and I’m glad we are almost back to where we were.

Mark noted how CSE will not use a cash shop even with the addition of the satellite office. Lately I’ve flip flopped several times on cash shops. Some days I see them as a necessary evil to have more aesthetics and decor. Other days I see them as one of the banes of modern gaming. In the end I think they are, if nothing else, like the one ring. Developers try hard but none of them can bear the temptation of that power! Until studios start bringing in hobbits to manage cash shops I’m going to remain a skeptic and I’m glad CSE hasn’t changed their stance.

“To this end, over the next few weeks we’re hoping to have Camelot Unchained and C.U.B.E. pushes that will include even more abilities, animation sets, and other improvements to the game. After we see how that goes, I’ll be able to announce the date for the opening of Beta 1.”

That is a mic drop worth news bit if I’ve ever seen one! It’s certainly not solid ground via hope and weeks but it’s the closest to any kind of beta timeline that we have seen in quite a while. I don’t think Mark would drop such news lightly or without some inside confidence on the progress of development. We will be watching with baited breath I’m sure…“Uh, it’s actually bated as in abated.” Yeah I know, but we are PVP MMORPGers, we wait with baited breath, this is known. Mark had a lot more to say but frankly I wanted to get into some Ben content before I ran out of words!

In this “Dose of Design” Ben provided us with what amounted to his visionary overview of how the circle combat will work in Camelot Unchained. He dropped a big news bit of his own by mentioning they will be moving onto classes soon! I’ve been waiting longer than I ever imagined (about since the Helbound was announced) to hear them say that! For those that don’t know an undefined “soon” in MMORPG slang can mean 1000 things. Neither MJ or Ben defined their soons so I will assume it’s a thing that is coming up on the to-do list but is still quite a ways off. Again, bated breath. “Now you used the other version.” I know, this time it was just to provide you, the appreciated reader, with an interactive reading experience that will hopefully transition into a memorable and fun read making you want to come back…or not.

I love that combat will call back to MUDs and old-school MMORPGs! I love that they are also implementing new ideas which means it should feel old-school familiar but fresh. I felt a cold chill when Ben said equipment will be a major factor and I’m worried body part targeting, while an idea I’m excited about, will make healing a nightmare. I don’t think I’ve seen anything close to it since the late Star Wars Galaxies utilized a three health pool system.

Combat in that game was awkward but those three pools added some depth, especially if you knew how to build a class to target specific pools. Camelot Unchained’s concept is greatly expanded. My concern is that expansion leading to healers having a nervous breakdown rather than a more rewarding experience.

Believe me, I’m long past clicking icons and hitting heal. I’m just not sure we are ready for such a jump. My alleviation comes from Ben making it clear the concept may evolve via testing. I hope it refines into something special. Maybe not quite as complex as described but not scaled back too dramatically. Remember, CSE is also attempting a very visual UI. That combined with limb healing will either be madness or genius. It’s on a mechanic like this that tester feedback is dire.

Between MJ’s candid address and Ben’s combat vision I felt some of that old Camelot Unchained anticipation coming back. Not enough to speed my ship along, but enough to get it moving again after the ability rebuild left it dead in the water. Let’s hope soon means soon and that veil force winds are on the horizon.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry