ZAM speaks to Mark Jacobs as CSE begins on the road to launch
The champagne corks were popped and the jubilation was palpable when Camelot Unchained reached its Kickstarter goal. Now that the team at City State Entertainment can fully drive the game’s development through to launch, I asked Mark Jacobs, Camelot Unchained’s Lead Designer and driving force, how things have been moving since the golden target was met.
Scott Hawkes: Congratulations to you and the rest of the team at hitting Camelot Unchained’s funding target. How have you all been celebrating?
Mark Jacobs: Thanks! It was a very challenging 30+ days but it all worked out well in the end. In terms of celebrating, well, it’s been rest, rest and more rest. We’ve been resting like it’s 1999.
Now that you’ve had a chance to catch a breath, what’s the first order of business for development?
We need to get our CSE forums up and running and get some “We’re hiring!” updates out. We also need to finish some of the final items for March on Oz (Android/Kindle port, free+ iOS versions) before the whole studio shifts to CU.
No complications as of yet, but it is way too early to declare victory for the path we have chosen. We are very comfortable with both models, but if we decide that the switch doesn’t make sense or is too risky, we won’t hesitate to make the necessary change. With a lot of the riskier elements of the game, we absolutely believe in one of Andrew’s favorite phrases “Fail early and fail cheaply” and I couldn’t agree more.
At first, it will be CU applications, but we may open up more functionality once we are sure that doing so won’t create additional headaches and possible points of exploitation.
Crafting is going to be a huge part of Camelot Unchained. Combat-focused classes can usually distinguish themselves from others in their class with their specializations/talents/etc. How do you plan on allowing crafters to distinguish themselves?
Crafters will be able to follow multiple paths but without the class separation that we use for the combat-focused characters. Unlike the latter, the time it takes to create items will really serve as a gating factor to prevent rapid leveling up. We are also looking at ways for crafters to truly distinguish their individual work on an item from another’s, even when they have followed identical path progressions.
The plans for The Depths as a stretch goal are very exciting. That kind of competitive dungeon delving is very rare in MMOs, particularly with the systems you have outlined. What kind of experience do you want to bring for players?
Fun, fear and fiends. Fun - because unless The Depths is a fun addition to the game, we shouldn’t bother to create it. Fear – because we want it to be a place that draws on the spirit of the works of Giger/Lovecraft as well as core RvR. Fiends – because we want to throw both NPCs and PCNPCs at players, which can best be described as fiendish.
What kind of system do you plan to implement to ensure the Tower Defense part of the dungeon will switch often enough?
That’s actually one of the many things we are going to be working on over the next couple of years. We know that The Depths much switch control frequently and that population imbalance must be taken into consideration to ensure all sides end up with access to it. Failure to do so would result in an even greater advantage to the strongest one, and we absolutely need to avoid doing that.
How difficult is it to create RvR content that has set objectives but retains variety for interesting repeated play sessions?
It’s quite a challenge. However, because it is the players who determine so much of the world’s layout, defenses and structure, it will be a bit easier to keep their interest. Additionally, because we are focusing on RvR, our team will have the time and resources needed to continue to add new content for our players.
In an RvR game guilds are very important. What features are there going to be for guilds?
We certainly want to make it easy for guilds to work together to achieve victory for their realm. As to what this will entail, it’s too early to talk about specific features within this aspect of the game.
“Niche” often seems to be a misconstrued word in the MMO space. EVE Online is undoubtedly niche, yet it’s hugely successful. What freedom does proclaiming Camelot Unchained as a niche game give to you as a developer?
First, it gives us the freedom not to try to cater, or worse, pander to a variety of differing interests in order to make this game as successful as possible. Second, it allows us to focus all our efforts on a smaller number of systems, assets, etc. in order to make them great rather than try to cover a larger body of work. Third, it allows us to take chances with the game and all of its components knowing that all of our players are focused on the same overarching goal, having a great RvR-focused MMORPG tailored for their particular niche. None of this guarantees that CU will be a great game but it does guarantee that we will be focusing only on RvR when we create it.
I’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to answer our questions. Be sure to keep your browser here at ZAM as we continue to cover Camelot Unchained through the exciting course of its development.