Dark Age of Camelot Las Vegas Roundtable Event Report
Mythic Entertainment hosted their largest event to date on September 23rd and 24th
Twice annually, Mythic Entertainment holds a Dark Age of Camelot Roundtable. This year’s west coast event in Las Vegas, Nevada was their largest yet, with over 350 players on hand. Held in the Rio, the event offers fans the chance to meet with the development team, learn about upcoming changes to the game and – perhaps most importantly – meet each other.
Not to be confused with their frequent Roadtrip events, the Roundtables are much larger endeavors. Typically, the west coast event takes place in Las Vegas in the fall, while the east coast fans gather in Washington in the spring. On Friday, the festivities got under way with dinner, raffles and games.
Several groups participated in Mythic’s take on Family Feud, a Dark Age of Camelot quiz show where participants try to guess the top five most frequently given responses in a game-related poll. The winners received a top of the line video card from Nvidia, the highlight of the various prizes given out that weekend.
On Saturday morning, Dave Arneson provided this year’s keynote address. The co-creator of the original Dungeons and Dragons, Mr. Arneson currently teaches video game design in Florida and recently retired from a computer company he had run since the late seventies. Although seemingly unfamiliar with Dark Age of Camelot, Mr. Arneson delivered a talk on the place of story in games, his own personal involvement in the creation of Dungeons and Dragons and his issues with the evolution of the RPG as a video game genre.
For those who do not know the name of Dave Arneson, he touts himself as the father of role-playing and was the co-creator of the original Dungeons and Dragons. His contributions to D&D include the twenty-sided dice. His talk centered on his belief that both pen-and-per and many MMORPGs have lost their way.
“Role-playing is about playing a role,” he said. “Not rolling dice and killing stuff.”
He went on to explain how quite often players know too much, killing the sense of mystery. In one anecdote, he explained how he would often tweak fundamental D&D rules in his games, such as monster hit points, just so people stay on their toes. Luckily, he can back it up, “I say I’m changing a rule and it’s an official rule change,” he quipped. “Really, anyone should be able to do it.”
In an interview later on in the day, speaking exclusively in a video game context, clarified that he believes combat to be a large part of any game. He laments only that it often is the only part. For a game to be a success, he believes there needs to be a careful balance and rewards for those who do follow the story. Although, he emphatically points out that a game cannot freeze out those who simply wish to fight and ignore the story.
Dark Age of Camelot Executive Producer Jeff Hickman followed Mr. Arneson with a speech on the game’s future and Darkness Rising, their upcoming expansion pack. It tied quite neatly into Dave’s speech, as Jeff began by pointing out that they had consciously tried to get away from what was typically present in an MMORPG expansion: new classes, areas and monsters. Instead, Darkness Rising focuses in on a story and exploration of it. There are new areas, but no new classes. Highlights of this expansion include mounts, champion levels, sub classing, upgraded Darkness Falls graphics, champion weapons and an epic quest to uncover it all. This speech, as well as an interview with Walt Yarborough, will be the focus of a Darkness Rising preview next week.
Beyond Darkness Rising, Jeff also looked to the future of DAoC. Beyond the obvious plan of fixing bugs, Jeff outlined ideas floating around the office, none of which he can promise will ever happen. They included several new server types:
Three “breakout sessions”, where fans get a chance to grill developers on specific aspects of the game, dominated the remainder of the day. These sessions, often heated, seemed quite important for Mythic. A neat aspect of the weekend is that with only 350 people in attendance, almost everyone got some one on one face time. What is more, every Mythic employee carried with them a notepad where they wrote out suggestions and ideas sent their way. Watching the breakout sessions, it was clear that they never stopped scribbling in their notepads.
Further games included the “70 Plat Pyramid”, a take on the old game show where one constant must make the other say a specific word without using it; a costume contest, with a men’s, women’s and child’s category and assorted raffles and prize distribution.
Vegas would not be complete without a wedding. A young Minnesota couple, Travis and Christina Asplund tied the knot the day before the event kicked off. Together for four years, they play side by side on Merlin in the Midgard realm. Travis, aka “Venomkitty”, asked Christina, aka “Saanna”, to marry him a week before the trip, then shocked her by making it official in the Rio chapel on Thursday. In the works for a year, Travis saw the Las Vegas Roundtable as the perfect time.
Mythic knows how to put on a good show. This, their largest and by all accounts best event remained small enough it to have a personal feel. If you are a hardcore fan of DAoC, it is highly recommended that you catch a future roundtable. This one at least seemed well worth it.
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