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AGC: Game Update

Dana Massey Posted:
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From AGC – Dark Age of Camelot Update

Mythic will give all its subscribers a free optional upgrade to the Trials of Atlantis engine on Monday as a Halloween present. Although it is only good for those who were still running Shrouded Isles, the move is both a show of goodwill and an opportunity to free up the art pipeline at Mythic. Since they will need to support one less version of the game, the move makes the life of their artists a touch easier.

Apart from this revelation, Mythic Entertainment used the Austin Game Conference to show some muscle. They sponsored a large attendee’s lounge, complete with free beer to all attendees. Mythic personalities sat on a number of the panels and most of the company’s heavy hitters took part.

On the first day of the show, MMORPG.com had the chance to sit down with Internet Relations Manager Sanya Thomas and Dark Age of Camelot Producer Walt Yarborough to discuss the company and their flagship game.

Darkness Rising was the second smoothest rollout of an expansion yet, according to Yarborough. Although there were some minor glitches, they found no serious problems and a largely non-hectic post-launch period made their trip to Austin much less stressful.

Ironically, the only crash problems associated with the expansion were actually the fault of content associated with their unrelated celebration of their 10th anniversary and not the simultaneous introduction of Darkness Rising.

As part of their 10th anniversary celebrations, Mythic introduced titles to all players who have had an active account for over four years. Such players can now choose to display “Elder” above the head of their character. This offering rolls, which means that all players get the title as they tick past their fourth year.

However, when pressed, they did admit that all was not quite perfect.

“We’re melting video cards with cities again,” said Yarborough. On launch, the much hyped improved city art caused frame-rate problems for many users. Since then, the team has devoted much of their efforts towards optimization, with Yarborough informing me that the last fixes had gone live Thursday morning.

Aware that as the game ages and the art is improved that the game can sometimes surpass the computers of loyal subscribers; they told me of an upcoming promotion with NewEgg that will enable subscribers to receive discounts on upgrades.

Although Darkness Rising was released by digital download, a new Epic Edition, which bundles all the expansions, recently hit store shelves. They seemed quite happy with how it had sold, but were withholding judgment on what impact it will have until the bundles free month runs out.

With an expansion fresh out the door and the fires largely put out, Mythic now looks forward. They are not yet ready to discuss any concrete plans. At the moment they are in a stage of gathering feedback from the player base, which will ultimately shape future policy.

Yarborough mentioned cross-clustered guilds and alliances as a top priority. He and Thomas also touched on a couple forms of balance, most notably a closer look at class balance on the new classic servers.

The duo also revealed that the Dark Age of Camelot team benefited exclusively from the Imperator postponement. The entire team shuffled over to the game for a brief time; although, a portion of the displaced developers have now moved over to Warhammer.

Generally, all seems pretty quiet in Fairfax. “Competence is boring,” deadpanned the ever-quotable Sanya Thomas. More accurately, we simply caught them catching their breath between cycles.

With this in mind, I had to liven things up. So, I asked for their personal opinions. Namely, what single thing area do they each want to see the game improved in?

Surprisingly, they had a united front. Both immediately brought up the issue of user interaction and specifically the user interface in the game. Thomas specifically brought up her desire for a graphical guild management system.

“Have you been in an old woman’s house and seen how every square inch is covered in ceramic figurines,” asked the Internet Relations Manager rhetorically. “One won’t crash the mantelpiece, but ninety will. And so it is with slash commands.”

When the game released, a graphical interface for guilds simply never made it in. According to the personal opinions of two people at Mythic, that time is nigh – although it must be pointed out that this is just their personal opinion and not company policy.

Thank you to Walt and Sanya for their time. Have any comments on this article? Post them here.


Dana Massey