You’ve probably heard that former Mythic studio head Mark Jacobs is back in the saddle again. He is laying the groundwork for an MMORPG called “Camelot Unchained” (CU) that will be funded via Kickstarter.
Jacobs has been a significant player in the gaming industry, as his studio launched DAoC (Dark Age of Camelot) and WAR (Warhammer Online), the former being the RVR experience many players point to as the one they loved the most, and the latter not so much. For the record, I played WAR but not DAoC.
In this article, I’m take a look at CU Foundation Principles 2 through 4 and provide “Harvey Balls” ratings for particular points:
I believe this design decision will significantly enhance the gaming experience
I believe this design decision will enhance the gaming experience
I’m neutral on this design decision
I believe this design decision will be detrimental to the gaming experience
I believe this design decision will be significantly detrimental to the gaming experience
Foundational Principle #2 – RvR isn’t the end game, it’s the only game!
CU is a TriRealm™, RvR-focused game. It is not an RvR-centric game like Dark Age of Camelot and it is certainly not a “just bolt on the RvR; that will work!” game like so many others. It is as pure an RvR game that I have ever worked on, plain and simple. Everything in this game is geared to the TriRealm concept, whether it is the crafting system, housing, skill progression, etc. You will explore, fight, capture, level, etc. all within a competitive RvR world that was crafted with this FP in mind.
Halle-freaking-lujah! I’ve been waiting for years for a fantasy MMORPG to take this approach.
Developers have repeatedly made the mistake of trying to do too much. Trying to provide leveling PVE content and endgame/raid PVE content and battleground/arena/structured PVP content and World PVP content in the same game doesn’t make sense, because
- It’s too much content to create and manage, and
- It creates too many different contexts where classes perform unevenly, and
- Changes made to balance classes in one context often impacted other contexts, e.g. “don’t nerf my PVE because of stupid PVP” or vice versa
Developers have often tried to do too much without pleasing any particular customer segment, and as a result most games have been unable to sustainably grow their active player base.
Focusing strictly on RvR is K.I.S.S., and it’s smart because it lets your customers self-select whether they want to play the game, and it enables the developer to focus on building and balancing the game around a single context.
As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe that having 3 factions is the way to go for World PVP. Games with 2-faction single-server World PVP are too susceptible to population imbalances, as we’ve seen from SWTOR. ArenaNet delivered an additional layer of innovation for 3-faction World PVP with their World versus World in Guild Wars 2 by having factions (servers) matched up based on performance on a ladder.
Foundational Principle #3 – You should always hold the hands of your little children while crossing busy intersections but…
our players are not children and this is not an intersection crossing.
Basically Jacobs is talking about not dumbing down the game.
Let me break down select points made under FP3.
Case #1 – Follow the blinking line to your quest-giver like one follows the road of yellow bricks
By always knowing where you are going and eliminating the chance of getting lost, we also lost some of the frustration but also the fun and feeling of discovery, of exploring and gaining familiarity with a new world and the satisfaction that entailed.
In CU, there will be no blinking lines to follow, maps will be very simplistic and non-interactive (except in certain locations) and players will need to learn the world’s terrain to have the best chance to succeed.
This sounds good in theory, and I’ve always thought that the concept of leveling zones was cheesy and artificial, especially in games where due to power creep you could return to earlier zones and 1-shot the mobs.
Case #3 – Respecs and/or borking your build
When first conceived, respecs were hailed as a great innovation for both players and developers alike. While their overuse occasionally resulted in “flavor of the month” problems, they served as both a safety net for players who wanted to rebuild their character(s) for a variety of reasons.
In CU, while we want our players to have as much flexibility as they can within our class-based system, we will leave it up to them to decide if a certain combination of skills/abilities is a good idea and then, for the most part, hold them to that decision. While players of CU will have limited access to respecs, they will be difficult to acquire except when made necessary by a major change to the character class, in which case the players will, of course, get a free class respec.
Ease of respecing is foundational to providing a fun customer experience. Players love to experiment with different builds, playstyles, and roles. And remember, regardless how easy or hard it is to respec, the community will eventually sort out FOTM builds based on the current game and class mechanics.
I played World of Warcraft (WoW) back in Vanilla and if you respec’d frequently enough, the cost of a respec was 50g. That was a non-trivial amount of in-game currency, and it sucked having to tediously farm gold to be able to spec for a given context (raids or battlegrounds) or simply to try different specs out for the same context (e.g. PVP only). Granted, CU is RVR only, but even for a single context, ease of respecing is still important. E.g. one of the features I loved about WAR was that the cost of respecing was trivial, which led to lots of fun experimentation with a given class in RVR.
Foundational Principle #4 – Choice Matters!
Let me break down select points made under FP4.
Example #2 – Race/gender selections
The races/genders will be very different from each other in terms of their starting stats/abilities but also in numerous other ways. For example, certain races/genders are better attuned to the sources of magical power in the world. I know some people will complain that this is not fair but that is how it is going to be in CU, where these choices matter.
The issue here is not of fairness. It’s being pressured to roll specific race/gender combinations to compete, in which case there really isn’t a choice anymore; the choice has been made for you by the developer. What if a male Halfling is the best Rogue, or a female Elf is the best Mage, and you want to play those classes but dislike those gender/race combinations?
With RPGs such as pen-and-paper D&D, having racial bonuses was for the most part OK (e.g. Elves got a +1 “to hit” bonus, or 5%, when wielding a bow or long sword), because the game was more about decisions by the players not math-based outcomes.
The issue with today’s MMORPGs is that they tend to be heavily based on math-based outcomes. Having even a moderate bonus to abilities or stats tends to make a difference (e.g. downing a boss before the rage timer, etc). I have yet to play an online game where racial bonuses or differences created a net-positive experience, especially for PVP.
Final example: I want to play a mage who likes to play with fire, a lot.
After deciding that a female Tuatha De Danann gives you a nice little bonus and after some serious min-maxing, you now have a character you cleverly call Fiastrtr. She cannot wield a heavy sword (at least not well) but now it is time to kick it up a notch. You choose to take “The Vow” and in exchange for not letting cold iron/steel touch your skin, you increase your attunement with magic. You also choose “You move like a pregnant yak!” (Not the real name but I could not resist a movie quote) further reducing your usefulness in melee but once again increasing your magical attunement.
Creating these kind of tradeoff decisions – what Extra Credits termed “incomparables” – is good game design, because it allows the player to make conscious choices about how their character performs without having decisions forced on them. This kind of class customization is what is made me very interested in The Elder Scrolls Online as I wrote in January.
I’ll take a look at the later Foundation Principles in later article(s), but I’m curious to hear what you think about these FPs referenced above.
Awesome write up, Taugrim.
On the matter of “Respecs and/or borking your build” there’s still a lot of unknowns here but Mark Jacobs has indicated that the whole leveling and skill system will be dramatically different than the standard MMO system.
Namely, skills will level based on actual use and that there may be a very slow skill decay system as well (only while logged in) so that a character build would actually drift over time based on the player’s active play style. Basically, re-specs may be a moot issue.
PS. we hear a lot from Mark Jacobs and CSE in /r/CamelotUnchained/ over on reddit
I saw that you posted this article over on Reddit, and as you probably know, Mark Jacobs did share some thoughts re: skill development, B&B, and race/gender:
The key thing he says is that race/gender and race/class matter but “not to the point of being gimped after character creation”
Oh man. Making gender matter is REALLY asking for trouble. Like, to a completely unnecessary degree. Not worth risking pissing a good amount of people off for a feature that adds next to nothing to the game.
Good thing they really aren’t scared to piss people off…
Cmon, are you really offended in male orcs have +2 strength and female orcs have +2 wisdom?
I think people are forgetting that having differences don’t always equate to something being outright inferior or superior.
If you make a choice between speed or power, or strength or agility, intelligence or brutishness; it’s the same type choices you make when choosing from different classes. Having race and gender difference will simply be more CHOICE, not less.
Otherwise, we may as well play stick figures with completely identical gear, stats and abilities. How is that for fun and exciting? It is fair, after all.
There have also been some minor references to skill respecs given via resets due to skill overhauls and something similar to respect stones like we had in DAoC. Items you could earn in order to change up your build. While it is fun to experiment with builds I can say with years of DAoC under my belt that I enjoyed the character investment we had in developing our characters with limited respecs. When it came to testing varying builds we had a 24/7 PTR that was quite handy in that respect. Cookie Cutter builds are always going to be around, but as Kuldebar pointed out we have the potential for skill degradation and as you pointed out the acquisition of skills via usage.
FP#4 I agree with how painful this is going to be with many and how it is going to pigeonhole the min/max crowd into certain class/race/gender roles. The point for now is that we just don’t know how much of a variable they will be and I’ve discussed this with Mark. Mainly it’s going to come down to us backers as to how much of a difference we’re really going to see. One thing to consider also is that our personal actions are going to alter our characters as well, so someone who makes a min/max monster at first will have advantage, but as our character develops (one made from a non-min/max perspective, but rather a design concept) we can potentially equal their character via weapon/armor/skill usage and even into variable mitigation instances. This does require more work on our part, but it does allow the opportunity to make your character unique. I fully expect various stats to have soft/hard caps just like we had in DAoC and WAR.
Besides reddit I’d like to also point out that Mark is also quite frequent on the MMORPG.Com CU forum, CU Facebook page, and @CityStateGames on twitter. Once the KS succeeds we should see the Official Forums for backers being setup and we can start really having a more solid area for input. Looking forward to more analysis as information becomes more readily available to us from you. It’s always good to see someone else who has a good mind for the numbers as well as the community when it comes to such a niche project as CU is planning to be. If all goes right we may have just the PvP game many of us have always wanted. I enjoy PvP, RvR, WvW, etc in many different games, but none have captured the magic of early DAoC whether it be Emain or New Frontiers RvR.
As you said the key re: FP#4 is “we just don’t know how much of a variable they will be”.
The folks who’ve posted on Reddit overall seem to buyin to the idea of race/gender and race/class choices making a difference moreso than I do. I just replied to the previous comment with some stuff that Mark Jacobs posted yesterday.
After having played games where race/gender/class does matter (e.g. KO, WoW) and where it does not (e.g. SWTOR, GW2), I’m firmly in the camp of believing that they shouldn’t matter.
We’ll see how it pans out.
I wasn’t aware of this, but it’s not surprising.
Mark Jacobs has the reputation from previous games over being very active in engaging the community.
For CU, given the nature of the funding (Kickstarter), it’s even more important.
I kinda like FP4. I miss having everything I do in a game matter.
You’re not alone on this.
I was a bit surprised to read some of the feedback from the CU community about this.
One of the trade offs for the race/gender issue is that of role identification and targeting. Using DAoC as the example, trolls were huge and easy to target whereas a luriken was tiny, harder to identify and target. Trying to impersonate a different class can buy your team a little time although it probably wouldn’t be enough justification for the min/max crowd.
I generally agree with you though, forcing race roles will be mandatory in most cases. Being an elf warrior or a troll mage would just be stupid and gimp you and your team.
When you say the larger targets were “easy to target” do you mean literally they have a bigger to-be-hit hitbox, like we saw in TERA?
Certainly smaller characters in any game seem to blend in with other bigger players and terrain better than larger characters.
And per your comment it’s been noticeable in GW2 that smaller characters in WvW have a (slight) advantage in that it’s harder to visually differentiate them and see their cast animations.
if it’s like DAOC, then the hitboxes should be approx. the same size, but the smaller characters will actually be harder to click on to target. Some races in DAOC could actually make themselves untargetable (at least by clicking) by “hiding” in the model of a larger race.
One further point about respecs – there are no other contexts. You may want to respec to a tougher siege build, or a mobile 1v1 build, but its all about rvr.
Yea this is an interesting consequence of having re-specs not be easy.
When I mentioned “contexts” above, I mean PVE endgame vs RVR vs battleground PVP. But as you point out there is a “sub-context” for a given context.
Given the respec dynamics, I wonder if people will be more encouraged to group up.
I’ve always enjoyed grouping and soloing in World PVP. It’s easy in WAR and GW2 to change subcontexts as respecing costs are trivial.
FP2. All I can say is about freaking time. I hate how developers try to do everything now and often just end up watering everything down. Plus I am a pure PVP player and there is nothing more that I hate than having PVP suffer so they appease the PVE crowd.
FP3. I absolutely hate the idea of not having respecs. I don’t have the time to max out multiple characters and test a lot of builds unless I can max out a character in a day. I love designing builds and testing out different combinations in games. I actually love the way GW2 handles this since you get get multiple sets of gear relatively easily and traits are dirt cheap to respec…even though they are going down the wrong path with all this ascended garbage. This gives you the chance to try out a lot of different builds without wasting your time leveling tons of characters.
FP4. I really like the idea of tradeoffs when it comes to designing a character. Complexity in character design allows you to customize your character to exactly what you want and I love spending time time designing builds. The only bad thing about this is the lack of respecs from FP3. Some things look absolutely great on paper when you are picking these tradeoffs but actually fail in real usage.
Yep. It should help definitely help with the community, especially in terms of perception management.
Class and game forums are fascinating to read, because players will hypothesize why changes are being made, and sometimes these perceptions are off the mark – but here’s the thing – whether the perception is really accurate or not, players are convinced they’re right, and they feel frustrated.
E.g. players will claim that the developers aren’t nerfing X class because the developers play it. I find those kind of statements to be largely unfounded, but people are going to believe what they believe.
Yes, that’s an implication of the FP3 – it’s not as friendly for casuals or people (like me) who have limited playing time due to RL commitments.
I do too. I was also encouraged by Mark Jacobs’s comments about the “Banes & Boons” system, which I posted above:
“You move like a baboon… with two clubbed feet!” I love that movie! Thanks Mark Jacobs!
Remo Williams? That is one of my favorite movies from the 80s.
The movie seems to tee up possible sequels, but they never happened.
Great read. My thoughts align with yours exactly. I hope that Mark Jacobs know what he is doing with the gender/racial stat differentiation.
Will you be doing another blog on the latest FP?
Mark Jacobs posted a response re: the gender/race/class thing:
I’m 100% in support of the “Banes and Boons” system (i.e. these are incomparables – true tradeoff decisions) part of FP4 but the other part about gender/race thing I won’t be comfortable with until we see the numbers/stats.
Hey Taugrim. Love your GW2 videos! I run a variation inspired by your run & gun warrior build. :D I’m glad you’re interested in Camelot Unchained as well, I’ve been following this game for a while and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for an MMO! I just wanted to take a minute and comment on a couple things.
About respecs, I must say I agree with you. There’s nothing worse than realizing you clicked the wrong box 13 levels ago, and now it’s either reroll, or be dissatisfied with your character. Neither options is really acceptable to me. If it’s HARD to get respecs, that’s well and good, if you ONLY get respecs when the class is changed, eh… no thanks. There will still be cookie cutters, even if it’s hard to respec, if not MORE cookie cutters, because everyone’s afraid to mess up their character!
About race selection. I’m kinda sticking with Mark on this one. :D I think racial bonuses make the world feel more like a world. In DAOC for example, I played the Hibernians. Almost every stealther in my realm rolled a Lurikeen (basically a halfling). I kind of liked this. It makes SENSE that halflings are better thieves than say… furbolgs. It’s consistent, and it’s realistic (yes inb4 realism in game where you throw fireballs lol etc.). Beyond that, the statistical bonus given to certain races wasn’t really all that relevant at end-game, where the vast majority of your stats come from stats and levels anyways. It was still enough for a great majority of rangers and other stealthers to roll Lurikeen, and I’m ok with that, I like that, it makes the world feel more real, I guess.
The other thing about the racial bonuses, I’m not so sure we will be locked into certain race/class combinations. In one of the FPs, Mark talks about a system whereby you are able to choose certain bonuses and penalties to different areas of your character. I can’t remember what tabletop it was, but I loved the system in that game. Basically you chose an amount of bonuses, and were required to choose an equal value of penalties, but each selection came with a little backstory blurb about your character, describing why you character had that attribute. I think it’s an excellent way to make characters more personalized, and it’s such an easy system to put into an MMO, where feeling original is always a problem. :D If the banes/boons system is done correctly, you will still be able to roll whatever race/class combination you want. The racial modifiers affecting population also makes your character that much more unique when you use the race most min/maxers wouldn’t, and find a way to make it successful anyway.
Please more CU coverage!! Can’t wait for this game!
We’ll have to see how much of a difference racial stats play in the endgame.
Seems like plenty of folks following CU are fine with race/gender making a difference, so I’m in the minority.
I like the concept of “Banes and Boons” and the extent to which it works depends on how true the tradeoff decisions are. As Jason Winter said on Twitter, if the tradeoffs aren’t significant, people will simply choose the B&B that have the highest net-positive effect:
Racial Stats – Definitely. I think if the racial modifiers are just a small bonus at character creation that doesn’t scale with level, it won’t be too big of a deal. In games like Mortal Online, your stat CAP is based on your race, but with the race system, you basically end up looking like a weird naked humanoid with a mangled face no matter what, so… :P
Banes & Boons – Yeah, I definitely think it would be easy to borq it, and will have to be handled very carefully, but that’s the upside of having your backers in the game super early, putting that stuff to the test, and balancing it out as much as possible before release. The best part about Banes & Boons in the Pen & Paper iteration was the effects it had on roleplaying. It wasn’t just a straight +this -that modifier to whatever, it always had a little blurb that affected your roleplaying as well. Things like starting your character with inherited wealth, and why, or being born as nobility, and getting a bonus on rolls for interactions with NPCs, for those that recognize him. It will be interesting to see what kind of stuff the CSE team will come up with to transplant this system into an MMO. I think it’s awesome to make your character feel unique and your own. Imagine a character that fought in a great military campaign, and is an experienced soldier, giving him a considerable bonus to strength and constitution, but lost an arm in the fighting, so cannot equip shields, 2 handers, or an offhand weapon. That would be weird, but cool, and certainly not something everyone would choose, and would probably require a specific build. I’d love to see stuff like that.
Ive played DAoC since release, actually it was my 1st MMO game. I learned pvp from DAoC and i havent had the same experience since in other MMOs on the pvp aspect.
I agree that you need 3 factions to have a solid pop balance in an open pvp environment. So many games scrwed that up thats why most didnt last in that part.
Now for this new project, im a Mark Jacobs hater – period. This person is the bane of what has a solid and good progress,good IP,steady and healthy growth, i dont buy the shit that he feels sorry about the way things went with WAR.
He messed up DAoC with his Trial of Atlantis shit, making players grind like crazy to compete in RvR. making players level their weapons through RvR. This wasnt the purpose of the game, that stupid grind. In WAR as Paul Barnett (the other fail person) called it the “Led Zeppelin” of MMOs since WoW was the “Beatles”, they screwd that up with his crapy crafting system – Mark Jacobs design- and 2 faction pvp, 2!!!
Now that he messed up badly making that legendary company, Mythic fall so low as to making games for mobile phones according to Gamebreaker news, he has the audacity to come back with a kickstarter with a “DAoC 2”, and in short ask for players forgivness.
Screw you Mark Jacobs! Sorry for the bash i know im out of topic but no i dont buy his Foundational Principle crap, because he is reflecting DAoC through them, not making something new but preying on the nostalgia some players have, me included, from the golden age of DAoC.
Nah, that’s not it at all. He never even said the words DAOC 2, and even Camelot Unchained is a placeholder title. Honestly WAR failed because it was released too early. I love that game, I still play it today. The problem is people coming from WoW had expectations for polish that were not met, and the game in it’s release state honestly resembled a game in beta, and people promptly unsubbed for something more finished. This is the curse of deadlines. :P Had WAR kept more subscribers and ended up being a money-maker, I’m sure today we’d have a thriving game with all 6 cities, and maybe even a third faction.
You should try actually reading what’s he’s written about the game and about these topics himself. I think you’ll find you’re being a little harsh. Check it out.
Yeah, he might SAY it’s not DAoC 2, but come on man. It’s freaking DAoC 2.
There are some things that are similar to DAoC, and some things that are pretty different. I played DAoC for years (also WoW, City of Heroes/Villains, WAR, SWTOR, GW2, and a handful of others), and am very interested to see how it will develop.
If you are interested in some hard facts on the Camelot Unchained project collected in one place, here are a couple of useful links with a lot of direct quotes,etc.:
Also – Mark Jacobs totally agrees with you on what happened with TOA – and I agree with you, and pretty much everyone else with any experience with it, lol. What happened with ToA was not at all what Mythic had intended with it – and Mark Jacobs has stood up and taken responsibility repeatedly – long before he was talking about this Kickstarter project – almost from the time of its release. Ditto for WAR. To my knowledge, this is very unusual behavior for a game developer (I could be wrong…hit me with examples, lol.)
Looking at ToA purely as content, it was actually quite cool. Looking at what it did to RvR – OMG BLOODY DISASTER!! Having been part of the community at that time, however, I remember that Mythic began moving to mitigate the problems with it almost immediately after release – a process that continued and eventually even progressed as far as the implementation of “classic servers” (I had characters on Gareth and had a hoot there). What I remember from ToA is not entirely frustration once I realized what it was doing to RvR progression; what is honestly most memorable this many years down the line is the respect Mark Jacobs and Mythic showed for the community by drastically modifying the mechanics of something they had obviously spent a huge amount of time and effort creating.
What I take from the sum of all my experiences is this:
1. Camelot Unchained is not going to be DAoC 2. If I am expecting that, I will be disappointed. If I want to go play my luri ranger or my dwarf healer, I should go rev up the account and log on and play them.
2. Camelot Unchained is being developed by a team with a lot of demonstrated talent, and with a remarkably good track record of treating the player community respectfully, and as a valuable source of feedback – long before this Kickstarter. The respect Mythic had for the player community was one of the best things about my experience with DAoC, back in the day.
3. Camelot Unchained is being spearheaded by a person with unique and passionate ideas about RvR, gameplay in general, **who has proven repeatedly that he is not afraid to acknowledge mistakes,** (!) and has set himself up to have actual creative control over this project by going at it independently – no pressure to sell 10 million boxes or to try to be the next big WoW thing when he is creating a self-proclaimed niche game.
4. Mark Jacobs feels that one of the biggest reasons that a lot of people have been less satisfied with the games they have tried in recent years is that making gameplay more linear and automated (for want of a better word) has taken away the need for people to actually build a community with one another when they are playing these games. Sure, there are good guild communities, but why should you bother to chat with anyone outside your guild when all you have to do to get put in a PUG is to click a button? How many people playing games today will stop and help you out if you need it? Is the percentage higher or lower than ten years ago? How many times have you met an enemy in any kind of PvP who has seen you fighting someone else and has stood back honorably and then saluted you when you won the fight, instead of making sure they whacked you over the head to get a few points? Is the percentage higher or lower than ten years ago? I want my community back! If people have to cooperate with one another to accomplish things, they have to build a community. I’ve realized over the years that that’s what started out being so fun for me with MMOs. (See Foundational Principal #3.) :)
Since I apparently live in that niche that CU is aiming for, the game so far looks like it could really maximize the fun of my gameplay as nothing has yet managed to do since the old days on DAoC – not as DAoC 2, but as something pared down to a lot of the things that were the most fun for me to do in a game. Sure, I am still pissed about ToA and deeply disappointed in WAR’s failure to live up to its potential. But, heck, a lot of things bug me. I may as well jump in with something that seems like it is going to be different and fun.
And maybe if I support this project, there will be more people out there who go out on a limb and create games that are not trying to be “the next WoW.” Who knows what they can come up with, with the freedom to be really creative?
We could sure use a few more of them, lol.
Mythic tried to go too big with WAR – too much content, too many scenarios (battlegrounds), too many classes, etc.
That said, Tier 1 in WAR is still one of my all-time favorite gaming experiences. Simply mad fun.
I think that even you have an issue with a notable developer in the industry, we’re still better off the more different ideas and concepts are put forth – it will spur more innovation.
WAR provided lots of innovation, e.g.:
– leveling via PVP (scenarios), RVR, PVE, or whatever mix of them you wanted
– event-based questing (Public Quests)
– multiple, huge zones to fight for
– very interesting 2ndary class mechanics (e.g. Righteous Fury)
WAR tried to do too many things, and at least with CU, Jacobs is going with the opposite approach.
Well, mobile gaming has been hot for a few years, so that’s understandable. Gotta make money.
Let’s see how CU turns out before writing it off.
I don’t agree with some of the FPs, but I’m glad CSE/Jacobs are creating a new game. More options for gamers, more innovation.
Bro, Mark Jacobs invented DAoC, the game you admit to loving. Are you really blaming him for “[lack of] solid and good progress, [lack of] good IP, [lack of] steady and healthy growth” from the beginning of the game? How in the world are you such a fan of the game and so hate its creator? Minus the Trials of Atlantis bomb, isn’t it a strange coincidence that most of the ridiculous problems you’re upset about happened when EA came into the picture?
As far as the mistake that he really has to answer for…sometimes we sell out to the Devil when it seems like a good opportunity. EA owns DAoC rights, so he wont be saying anything about “DAoC 2.” The fact is that he built DAoC with a budget of 2.4 million, only aiming at 25k to 50k subscribers, and ended up with 100k. With such a small budget (even for ten years ago), Dell hesitated to sell him servers. He blew them all away though, growing so fast they had to run down to a micro computer store to try to build additional servers. It had a good strong run, then WoW came out. Since RPG players prefer a PvE game…and with WoW’s budget (heard to be 50-millionish, even maybe as absurd as 100 million)…there was just no way to hold on to all their subscribers. In steps EA. We all thought that nostalgic trademark “E-A- Sports (It’s in the game)” would save the day, even make it possible for a sequel to revitalize this great invention of Realm vs Realm combat.
Reality is, strictly RvR games are a niche and if he tried to make DAoC 2 back then, it would of been the biggest MMO failure because big budget + small subscriber base = fail. Remember Conan? Also that other PvP game where you could PvP while in flight? Ya that one. He only took the chance with Warhammer because he thought the name itself would carry a lot of followers *snickers* With a population base of fans and EA’s big pockets, it sounded like it’d be great. Bamm! Hand shake with the Devil. Premature game release, lol. 1 million copies sold but only 300k actual players. Not bad, but then WoW decides to start putting out expansions, with their second expansion, WOTK, releasing at the same time as Warhammer. The poop of fate squeezes out and lands on EA/Mythics Warhammer Online.
Shit happens, so as EA abandons Warhammer Online, Mark just decides to sit back and relax, play video games himself, and put out some minor titles. Guild Wars 2 comes out with *excitement* over the WvWvW epic battle system. Mark Jacobs plays GW2–and all that people talk about in GW2 is how it’s so like DAoC and how they loved RvR. The bug bites Mark Jacobs. Maybe people do want an all RvR game with the nostalgia of DAoC (and even Warhammer). Maybe if I go back to the core where I started with DAoC, maybe something magical will happen. So he aims for a small budget 5 million, and aims for only 35-50k subscribers just to keep the game going.
Regardless of how you may feel about Mark Jacobs, he’s the only one who can give us DAoC fans the golden age again. If we really want a strictly all-RvR game, nostalgic of DAoC, back his kickstarter. If you don’t, then don’t back it and most likely it wont get made. He knows its a niche, he just wants to know if you have the same itch as he does to play epic RvR! I’m gonna back it. Maybe it will get made, maybe it wont. If it doesn’t, ya that will suck, because frankly I don’t think anyone else has the balls to do an all-RvR game. I think recently it was attempted and it failed before even beta came out.
Skill decay in any form is just a bad idea.
Well, I disagree, but it is all in the details. Yes, it could be awful if implemented poorly but when isn’t that the case in games?
A truly dynamic leveling system that operates in a window of proficiency for a given class would be a great way to inject some true self determination into the game for a player’s character.
This wouldn’t be some juvenile system that penalized you for not logging into the game, it would only have impact for the time you play your character and only in a very slow gradient of decline.
I don’t see the controversy really, it adds another dimension the game and rewards your play style by giving it bonuses to proficiency while taking away, slowly over game time, bonus proficiencies in neglected skills. The player would truly be in control and could drift into new specs over time, reasonably faster to gain, much slower to lose proficiency levels.
If you have a skill leveling system in place based on use, disuse should have a role as well, the design all but demands it.
Chickenlittleism has people thinking that if they don’t use a two-handed hammer for 2 in-game days it will go to novice levels, that simply wouldn’t be the case; if such a system was placed in the game, when Mark Jacobs commented on the notion he indicated it would be manageable by the player and not a rage quit instigator.
The main downside I see for skill decay is it discourages playing alts. I’m not a heavy alt guy (only had a max of two characters hit level cap in any online game I’ve played), but supporting alts is really healthy for a game – it makes the game more sticky.
I like the idea of skills getting stronger as you use them, maybe on a diminishing returns scale so that getting your 1st degree Black Belt takes 3 years but getting your 5th degree BB takes 10 years, but making it such that the 5th degree BB doesn’t have a monster advantage over the 1st degree BB.
Except it wouldn’t hurt alt playing because skill decay only comes into effect when logged into a character. :p
That would be the only acceptable way for this to work, no one would advocate for a system that would punish a player for not logging in.
And there would be bonus caps, it wouldn’t be limitless increases (or decreases).
Think of a sliding scale, with plus or minus in a certain set range.
Perhaps 10% or 15% on the plus side and the negative side would bottom out at the base proficiency level.
So, Class, Race, Gender would all combine to make a default base proficiency.
From that base proficiency, skill use would increase and give bonuses, while neglected skills would return or stay at base proficiency (novice) levels.
I Understand your point but skill decay of any type will always lead to people worrying about what skills to use in game or overall so it won’t decay instead of just worrying about playing the game. I don’t want to log in and say I better use my dagger this time so as not to loose skill in it. It adds an unneeded complexity and does not add anything to the game overall. I have never seen any type of skill decay system work that was a benefit to the game. I’d be happy to say I’m wrong if you can point me to an example.
It has been done before but has always been done poorly. As I said, some systems of skill decay would count against you when not even logged into the game, or it would have a ridiculous decay rate. or set you so far back that it would be like leveling a character again to get it to the highest proficiency level.
The goal is to make the player character response to how the player chooses to play his character and what he chooses to focus upon.
If my scout class character chooses to routinely use daggers and a bow, I can raise both those weapon proficiencies to their bonus levels simply by playing the way I choose. Yes, my mace and buckler proficiencies will remain at the base level for my class if I never use them or use them once in a blue moon.
The benefits of such a system is that:
A.) it’s logical and realistic like fireballs
B.) it’s reflective of the player’s play style
C.) it prevents a player from automatically becoming skilled in every single possible area available to them. (Does not PREVENT, just ensures it’s not automatically achieved because you played the game 300 hours) If you are highly proficient and bonused-up, it will be because you, the player, chose to be.
The skill decay will be glacially slow and only bottom out at the default base for your class, not to zero. It will only account for in-game time and won’t be an item that has so little tolerance it requires micro-managing.
If you never use a hand axe on your scout, you’re probably not going to care you only have a novice rating for that weapon.
Think of it as a window where the parameters can be plus or minus inside the window frame.
Why have skill decay at all?
If skills can progress according to players use and reward a character by proficiency bonuses, it’s only logical from a design standpoint to have the inverse be true as well.
In this way a character would truly be responsive to a players play style, as time went by a player would adapt and do other things, older, lesser used proficiencies would slowly degrade if allowed to do so.
Hmmm. I was with you until C.
You don’t *have* to have skill decay to prevent people from skilled in every area. You can also implement diminishing returns on skill levels.
So the choice then becomes, for example, would I rather have skill level 8 with daggers and with bows, or skill level 10 just for daggers.
This is great from a realism standpoint, but think of the implications for friends and guildees who are away from the game for a while. Skill decay at some point disincents the player from coming back.
It’s not unlike the power creep problem with games such as WoW, where power creep essentially acts as a decay for gear – i.e. if you’re not playing, you’re falling behind as new tiers of gear are introduced.
“So the choice then becomes, for example, would I rather have skill level 8 with daggers and with bows, or skill level 10 just for daggers.”
It would hardly be a grind or even a conscious effort to level skills you you actually use. If once every 40 days of in-game time you decide to use a mace, I guess you might have an issue, but if you use that weapon routinely as well as others, they would skill up.
We are talking about neglect of skills here, no one should get stressed out that a skill they never choose to use might return to a default proficiency level, if you don’t want that to happen use the weapon skill more often.
If you have to try so hard to keep a skill at master level, you obviously don’t use that skill when you play.
Skill maintenance of proficiency levels is dictated by your play style, nothing else.
This is a great point. I don’t think skills should decay, because “skill maintenance” would be it’s own kind of grind.
I’ve been a big fan of your blog since the Warhammer days, through SWTOR and into GW2.
I know its been a while since you wrote this but I was just wondering if you’ve had a chance to look at what’s been going on with Camelot Uchained since you last had a look at it.
Things have been progressing apace with the Kickstarter campaign starting off with a bang and updates from Mark Jacobs and his team coming thick and fast.
Come check out the Kickstarter page here:
Been meaning to post more about CU. Hopefully get to it this weekend.
Great article. Would love to see an updated article from you and your thoughts on CU since the release of all of the information that has been put out since this one.
Followed you in SWTOR AND GW2 as well, and would love to see your take on the rest of the founding principals as well as some of the updates that have been showing up through kickstarter
Nice article Taugrim but I think you have the “Harvey Balls” wrong in all your breakdowns, unless I’m just confusing myself.
Based off your legend you seem to putting a certain Ball rating on each section of your article and the Ball itself, based off the Legend you setup says one thing, then your text / response after the Ball seems to say something completely different, almost opposite at times.
Maybe it is just me, but it was a good read regardless.
But if you haven’t been frequenting the Camelot Unchained website or the Kickstarter I would strongly suggest it, lots of good stuff on their now.
This is a good video for the naysayers.
Also MJ said that VERY SOON, he wants to get some backers / Internal Testing people in to basically do a Camelot Unchained Smackhammer thing to test the engine, so basically if will be this:
But with player’s controlling the Camelot Unchained models from the previous video
You may possibly remember me from back in early SWToR times, It’s me “Lowja,The master strike nut” :-P
Oh good grief, thanks for pointing that out.
Thanks for posting the video.
He addressed one of the things I’m most curious about – how the game will handle high load / number of players in a battle.
I apologize in advance if anything I type here is repeated. In DAOC it almost didn’t make a shit lick of difference in PVP what race you were. I say almost because in circumstances of min maxing ya some would definitely have a massive advantage with certain classes. Though on the other there was very themed skilled PVPers who could make anything work well for them because they templated themselves with the right gear and weapons with their crafters. I remember one of the best Nightshades (assassin class) was a Elf. The elf with its high dexterity and piety made for a awesome mage but as a assassin would suffer from low hp and low strength (increase dmg stat). He wanted to be a elf assassin so he made it work. Actually it worked out awesomely since he crafted robe armor and went incognito as a stealthily caster since Hibernia assassins also had direct dmg specials. Nothing is funnier then a hungry melee dps going after a “squishy caster” just to get garroted with posion as his caster whips out two venom dipped daggers! I’m also sure when you make your toon there will also be a builder that will allow you to spend points into attributes. Anyways though we need to get out there and fucken support this so Mark Jacobs can make this game. So put in the link and start backing! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/13861848/camelot-unchained