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Dragons & Crows

Tim Eisen Posted:
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As summer progresses game news tends to thin right up until the fall hype trains start chugging toward Christmas or as gamers call it November. I’ve been gathering scraps to make leather for weeks but not this time. This week I’m worried I can’t fit all the news into my little corner of internet real estate! It wasn’t just one, both of my PVP pets lobbed news bombs like Americans defending their country from those red coated alien invaders that were trying to steal it! Thank God for the skills of that charismatic bad boy pilot and the genius of a computer mathematician that specialized in chaos theory. (At least I think that’s how it went…) That reminds me, Happy Independence Day America! 241 years ago, you said **** taxes, gave your boss a Stone Cold Stunner and started an experiment in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Bold move good sirs. Much respect and appreciation.

Speaking of founders and even backers, I’ve long sung the praises of the epic Camelot Unchained Newsletter but this newsletter took it’s epicness to a level never before seen! It may very well have transcended from newsletter to small novel, at least half of which was dedicated to this Dose of Design itself! With a subject as contentious as the speed of gameplay one must go to great lengths to clarify the complex decision making.

The oft neglected but always debated subject is a lot like styling your hair. To short and it looks awkward, too long and it’s out of control then one day you get it perfect only to wake up the next day realizing you’ve now passed the optimal length and need a trim! In a game based on PVP getting combat speed to feel right is one of the top three most important items just behind lag free combat and stable servers. It’s one that requires substantial testing to find the correct flow. Once you finally find it you step back and add in another extraneous mechanic that changes the flow and suddenly you’ve got a needle in a beehive all over again (hint we are the bees). It’s hard to comprehend the number of moving parts that go into the motion of combat. Making that motion into PVP poetry is an art but Ben appears up for the challenge.

“Overall, the ability system in Camelot Unchained may feel a little bit slow to players who have grown used to the more action-oriented style of combat popularized by many recent MMORPGs, but not slow in comparison to the “old school” games to which Camelot Unchained is closer in spirit.”

Preach it brother! This Dose of Design, that I’ve conveniently linked right here, was one of the most in depth behind the logic combat pacing pieces I’ve ever laid eyes on. I can’t recommend it strongly enough. If you don’t have an appreciation for those kinds of design details read it and you will. If you do, read it and your appreciation will level up a few points. After it humbled me I re-read it and it energized me but then I had to read it again for this column and it left me respectfully nodding like Jeremiah Johnson.

Meanwhile in the Crowfall Universe we have more ginormous news! Crowfall development has been lighting up the summer like the 4th of July. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls PVPers and PVErs of all ages, for the thousands that have backed Crowfall and the thousands vigilantly spectating from their fences, after years of anticipation Crowfall is about to begin testing its first campaign! J. Todd was notably excited about this step.

“We decided that we wanted to experiment with Crowfall, that our genre had become stale because developers weren’t taking any design risks. This version starts to fulfill that promise.  We fully expect to see some crazy results (like Balance suddenly flipping teams in the middle of a siege). We went to the trouble to architect a system that would give us a platform to try out crazy ideas. Let’s try a few and see what happens!

I use this line a lot but I mean it every time, I’ve been waiting years for this! Yes, it will be buggy, chaotic, unstable and messy like every game that has ever gotten to this point. Sorting the ugly is part of this process. The real of the real is that this campaign will be the load bearing wall of the Crowfall house. Once built it will support the rest of the PVP structure. ACE may have taken a bit longer than they (and we) would have liked but they got here. The near future looks bright for we of the PVP.

What a week! Camelot Unchained news was fascinating and Crowfall news was exciting and my column reflected those realities. Unfortunately, on the internet you aren’t allowed to be positive so I’m sure I’ll see the usual stuff in the comments below but remember, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to comment about how it ruined their day, it might as well have never fallen. I think that’s my way of saying thanks for the comments, I always appreciate them.


Tim Eisen

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