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Robert Lashley: Camelot Unchained - Alpha Video Thoughts

By Robert Lashley on April 02, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Camelot Unchained - Alpha Video Thoughts

Last week during my column I mentioned in regards to Camelot Unchained that, “we will have something more substantial to show you along with tell you,” soon. As it turns out that statement was made manifest through, (a) prior knowledge of an event that was to take place, (b) witchcraft, (c) luck. If you guessed c you are correct because I didn’t receive notice of the video being streamed until after I wrote the column and try as I might I still cannot transmute lead into gold.

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A number of developers throw the term Alpha around very liberally. I’ll have to agree to disagree with them on what an Alpha truly is. Camelot Unchained, however, a little over two years after successfully funding has reached their alpha state. They still have over another year before they will actually be ready to release a finished version of the game. Maybe they’ll have a new name by then?

If you are wondering why it has taken Camelot Unchained so much longer to finally bring their game to alpha than their Kickstarted contemporaries Pathfinder Online and Shroud of the Avatar there is a simple answer. City State Entertainment decided they would build their game engine from scratch, other than taking advantage of Nvidia’s PhysX technology, as opposed to PO, and SotA, that use a version of Unity. CU will have large scale battles and it was imperative to CSE that they got the underlying network tech correct before they started building the game. It’s not wise to build a house on a cracked foundation.

If you have seen the video and are curious why it looks like it does keep in mind that less than 1% of the entire development budget to this point has been spent on environmental art. CSE is actively hiring a digital artist to work on the beautification of the world.

During character creation we were showed that there are 10 attributes that you can spend 20 points between; strength, agility, dexterity, endurance, and vitality are your standard fare but there is also attunement, will, faith, resonance, and eyesight. From these 10 primary attributes there are 10 derived attributes: encumbrance, vision, max move speed, max carry, max HP, health regeneration, max stamina, stamina regeneration, max panix, detection.

The video also introduced us to Banes and Boons. Players must select at least 5 but up to 20 banes and boons. These are selected on a one to one ratio, for each boon you have to select an offsetting bane. It appears that the only thing that currently links them is the amount that you have to choose. It doesn’t appear that if you pick specific boons that their are specific banes linked to them, but that would be interesting to see. An example of one boon shown in the video was tricky fingers which increases your character’s dexterity. An example bane was bleeder which increased the severity of bleed effects by 5.

The ability builder was also shown to the general public for the first time. Abilities are built by combining runes. The ability built in the video started off with Swiftness as the base and then added Direct. The created ability was Directing Rune of Wheedling Swiftness. You could see that there were still open slots to build upon this combination even further but they elected not to. They assigned it an icon and placed it on their ability bar. I suspect as you play you will earn additional runes that allow you to further customize your abilities representing the horizontal progression the game has promised as opposed to the vertical progression so common in the genre.

After character and ability creation they showed off a group of roughly 40 people players participating in large scale battles. While the combat did not seem laggy it is impossible to make a judgement call on a developer made video. The character models were interesting even while they were lacking advanced textures but that was explained and expected. CSE’s mascot the rubber duck even managed to make a cameo appearance.

The last function showed off in the video was the Camelot Unchained Building Environment C.U.B.E.. Think Landmark, or Minecraft. These are the tools the developers are using to build the world. It isn’t 100% clear from the video but it does appear that testers can play with them too but I doubt they are building the final game world.

UPDATE: Since the column was published we have heard from City State Entertainment and received some clarification on C.U.B.E.. As also mentioned by one of the posters in the comments below with the exception of the starting safe zone and a small amount of structures at launch to get things started, players will build everything. 

There is more than one way to develop a game these days. Some developers have opted to go with a completely transparent method while others have decided to work on their projects in the confines of their own office. The team at CSE has taken an approach somewhere in between those two. What they have created so far looks very promising and as a backer I’m satisfied with the progress they’ve made.

Robert Lashley / Rob is a Staff Writer and jack of all trades for MMORPG.com. When he isn’t blinding people with the glare from his head in front of a camera you can chase him down on Twitter, PSN, XBL, and Nintendo @rant_on_rob.