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We wish you a happy 2017!

Folks,

This will be the final official update from Camelot Unchained® and City State Entertainment for 2016. It has been an interesting year here, but we’ve ended the year quite strong, even with the bit of the roller-coaster that the middle of the year was for all of us. Fortunately, that’s not how the year ended, and we’re all looking forward to an exciting 2017! That said, lets start with our Top Tenish list for the last two weeks.

  1. WIP – More stabilization of networking: Marc dropped in the first part of his memory use improvements for our bot tests. Our previous issue of intermittent lag spikes seems to be gone, and he’s moving on to the next level of improvements. At 1800 bots, we’re seeing some great performance! We’ve also hit several other areas of improvement:
    1. Server to Client message queuing.
    2. Player login and respawning.
    3. Player saving.
    4. Lots of new logging and metrics.
    5. Lots of improvements to auto-scaling tech.
  2. Particle performance improvements:  George has expanded his scope for better performance, and is shooting for a 50x improvement, overall, from what we currently have, in order to support 1k player battles.
  3. Ability system bug fixes: Here’s what Matt put on his Trello card: “Assorted last-week-before-break Gameplay bugs.” We’ve been steadily fixing all sorts of interesting bugs, based on feedback from last week’s testing.
  4. WIP Updated Buildings system: Brad has made significant progress over the last two weeks, integrating work to support curved blocks. He’s now moved into the work to combine curved and non-curved surfaces in the same structure.
  5. Design tools – Armor stats: Matt has not only given Ben the ability to audit armor stats via a CSV, as he does with weapons, but also given him several quality-of-life tools to speed our ability to test changes.
  6. WIP – Physics Server: Colin has been hard at work pulling the physics server out to its own process. We landed the first part of Colin’s changes last week, and have been debugging it this week. The second part of this task should give us performance gains. Less rubber-banding with more things going on at once, like buildings breaking, and abilities going off!
  7. WIP Editor and Database improvements: While working on a robust tagging system for our assets, Bull is moving us to a saner approach for managing all our assets. We’re moving away from deleting things in the database, and moving towards garbage collection when we know something isn’t needed.
  8. WIP Tools/Sounds: Gabe and dB have been fairly quiet (ha!), working on setting up a system for dB and Ben to add sounds to abilities. While this is the first pass on the system, we’ve already had some functionality added to abilities during testing last weekend.
  9. WIP Art Place of Power: Dionne has wrapped up the block model phase of the Place of Power. After the break, we will be able to begin rudimentary playtesting of the space to see if our scale works. Michelle has also begun working on VFX concepting for the Place of Power, which will then be handed off to Mike to execute.
  10. WIP Art – Armor: We’ve been working on updating the Fall Court armor to fit the female TDD Human and the female and male Luchorpán. We should have two of those models wrapping up, and the third to finish, when we get back in the office after break.
  11. Website: We’ve updated our galleries on our website and have updated the French website to the current version. Thank you to Charles and all those who helped translate! We’ll be getting the German version updated at the start of the new year, then moving on to the Italian site.

Now, it’s time for our User Stories. As per our last update, we’ve modified our approach to the User Stories to make the updates more meaty, and less, well, confusing. While this was a shortened two-week sprint, it’s still a great way to end the year.  As a reminder for this week’s User Stories, we have continued to reduce the number of line items for better Backer clarity, which has become more important as the amount of work has increased with the growth of the team. We also have several engineers on big projects, so the number is smaller, and where we expected.

Here we go:
We had 18 Old cards with 45 completes, and 1 New card with 2 completes.

As a Backer, I’d like to see the sun, moons, and stars in the sky, with sky color changes based on time of day and position of those celestial bodies. – Second Pass
Editor can assign moon model settings, instead of having them hardcoded. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to play in new biomes that change according to Realm ownership. – Biome 04
Dark forest plant VFX. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to find unique environment props, or unique locations, that add flavor to the environment while I’m exploring the Biomes.
Whale Skeleton. – Complete
Human skeleton with sign. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to know about smaller changes that don’t have their own user story.
Update loading screen to use new CU logo. – Complete
Better support for modes other than stances. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see the world of Camelot Unchained continue to develop through its lore.
The Great Depths Raid Part 11 – Final Draft – Complete

As a French Backer, I’d like to visit the French version of the updated Camelot Unchained website.
Second pass site review before going live. – Complete
Update media galleries with new plugin and content. – Complete
Make site live! – Complete

As a German Backer, I’d like to visit the German version of the Camelot Unchained website.
Class Reveals translated:
Morrigan – Complete
Red Cap – Complete
Wisp – Complete
Second pass audit – races and Realms:
Arthurian – Complete
TDD – Complete
Vikings – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see improvements in server stability, speed, and robustness.
Memory pooling improvements to reduce lag spikes. – Complete
Reduce latency on server to client message queueing. – Complete
Improve player login and respawning to be less disruptive. – Complete
Server memory allocator takes advantage of more memory and cpu cores if available. – Complete
Add additional logging and metric to identify, track, and solve bugs and performance issues. – Complete
Improve scaling of proxies when adding and removing players. – Complete

As a Backer I’d like a patcher to not only update my game, but also give me the most important news and updates, get support, chat with the community and look awesome while doing it!
Add “Play Offline” to patch client and update sounds. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to see improvements in the editor to facilitate my work.
Tag Editor:
Add editable tags to editor. – Complete
Add tags to collections. – Complete
Add automatic filtering to all grid views. – Complete
Add dependency mapping. – Complete
Add tags to trash items that are safe to delete. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to interact with the first pass of a Place of Power in Camelot Unchained.
Create concept of bridges that raise and lower to facilitate future game design needs. – Complete
First pass VFX concept art. – Complete
Model with rough UV’s, Realm-themed statues. – Complete
First pass white box model complete for testing. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like the Camelot Unchained ability system to fully support the design scope of the game for B1.
Add CSV support for weapon stats with slash commands to update. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to build with curved surfaces in C.U.B.E. and Camelot Unchained.
Refactor for data structures. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like abilities to play sounds.
Sounds can be played based off ability activation:
Extract sound info from ClientSkillDef on Server. – Complete
Interpret Sound Info on Client and Pass to WWise Engine. – Complete
Audit work to improve usability. – Complete
Get some test sounds working on abilities. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to improve, and add to, the SFX for re-abilitation.
Fountaining bottle ability SFX – 4 variations. – Complete

As a Backer and Developer in B1, I’d like to see improvements in the visual quality of armor for CU.
Autumn Armor test:
Male Luchorpán version complete. – Complete

As a VFX Developer, I’d like additional tools and support for VFX needs in Beta 1.
Faster VFX build times:
Cache/clear built particle on command in editor. – Complete
Tell build server to build particle only when saved. – Complete
Clear cached particle on workspace closed or with button in editor. – Complete
Artist review and instruction. – Complete
Audit current VFX system for support of 1000-player battles and determine path forward for performance improvements. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to be able to further personalize my character through the use of the Banes and Boons system.
Add support for slash commands for testing. – Complete

New Cards:

As a Developer, I’d like to pull the physics server out to its own process for improved network performance.
Refactor. Take all the pure C++ native code for the server and put that in a static library.
Make it talk to the proxy servers. – Complete

That’s the two weeks User Stories! Now let’s go to our art team for some gorgeous stuff, and let’s start off with some in-game, and as always, unretouched screenshots from our game. First up, the Arthurian in light armor, walking through the pine forest.

Next, the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Last, and certainly not least, the Vikings.

How about some entry statues for Places of Power that are just cool? Lions go first (if not, they will eat you, I guess).

Next up, some statues for the TDD.

And of course, the Vikings.

Today’s dose of buildings come courtesy of Heartyfyre and Necromaniak. First up, Heartfyre.

Next, Necro!

Impressive offerings as always, from two of our best builders!

Here’s a bit of concept art from Michelle. I think it has a nice festive look to it.

With that, I want to wrap up today’s final official update for 2016. We may have a Big Bot test over the break, but we’re pretty tuckered out from a long year, so I don’t want to make any promises. OTOH, who knows? 🙂 Before we go, I want to have a quick recap of our Top Tenish list for the year. It’s pretty impressive stuff for a team that was the size of this studio for most of the year.

  1. Opening a studio branch in Seattle – This year, we made the decision to open up a full studio in Seattle. In the last six months, we have gone from one remote team member to six team members. We hope to grow the studio even more in the coming months.
  2. Upgraded engine tech that now supports bloom, environment map based ambient lighting, PBR, HDR, HBAO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc. 🙂 – While we have always said that our game was never going to look as good as a AAA game using the CryEngine, I believe we surprised our Backers with how quickly the game’s look went from the late 90s to something from this decade. And fortunately, there’s lots more visual improvements coming as well in 2017.
  3. Upgraded visuals from the art team for biomes, armor, weapons, etc. – Our long-suffering art team has been chomping at the bit to improve the look of our game. Well, as you folks have seen, they have been doing just that over the last six months.
  4. The ability system: “We can rebuild it. We have the technology. We can make it better than it was. Better, faster, more configurable.” – Fortunately, this did not cost us six million dollars (especially in today’s dollars), but it definitely hurt our bottom line. The good news is that because of that, we now have a system that will be the basis of this game, as well as other games from CSE.
  5. Big Bot testing blows through 1K requirement for Beta 1, passes 2.5K on its way to 3K – For the opening of Beta 1, we said we had to support 1K players on an island. Well, we blew through that, and at the same time, delivered on good framerates and exceptional client/server performance. I bet you can’t name another MMORPG that can handle 2.5K players in an area the size of our beachfront property. Well, we can.
  6. New animation system in development – Thanks to Andrew, we are well on our way to having a much more powerful and performant animation system. The first stage of that is in, and more is coming early next year.
  7. Multi-server tech – This is a really cool and quite powerful bit of tech that allows us to have totally separate physical Servers that can communicate seamlessly with each other. We’re showing it via “Island hopping” but it will also be used to allow players to fight between servers (invisible connections that players never notice) or even Servers (think of the original Westworld but with the Old West engaging with the Romans) if we should ever choose to have something as silly and fun and that.
  8. Stability, stability and more stability – Yeah, this has been a big one for us from day one. Our game is still more stable at this point than any other MMORPG that I have worked on before. And considering how stable Dark Age of Camelot was thanks to the great team that worked on that game, that’s pretty impressive. What’s even more impressive is that we are achieving that stability while refactoring the ability system and launching Big Bot tests.
  9. A Deal with Discord – We only announced this a few weeks ago, but it is already generating some nice buzz for the game both within the Backer Community as well as outside of it. We look forward to having a long and mutually beneficial relationship between our companies, and we will work together to give our user bases the best experience, tools, and power.
  10. Lots of tool improvements in our editor and for general testing purposes – Okay, this is not sexy, but considering that our tools coding team is pretty much one guy, we are very pleased with where we are today. And while this may not be sexy, without tools, where would we be?
  11. Going to Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Seattle – Okay, this is a personal one, but connecting with old friends, meeting new ones, and having some great meetings was a big deal. Because, as always, who knows what may happen in the future?
  12. Lots and lots of blocks – 4-5k building plots/buildings with hundreds of millions of blocks in a zone. That’s pretty insane for a true Alpha game, especially one that is not 100% focused on that. And next year, well, this is one area that will improve even more, a lot more.

I hope you agree that the list, while not perfect, shows a heck of a year, and one that lays the right foundation for the gameplay that will be next in 2017.

As always, and forever, I want to thank our Backers for their patience and support. I know that it has been pretty frustrating in a lot of ways, but here’s a screenshot that should strike fear in the heart of people who “just want to be alone,” as well as those who might doubt that this little team in Virginia and Seattle can deliver on this game.

And yes Virginia, that’s really 2K Bots.

From all of us, to all of you, have a happy and safe holiday season and new year! And as of now, CSE is closed till January 2nd, 2017!

-Mark