Afternoon Update – Friday, March 20th, 2015
It was a short week here at CSE, but we’ve got lots to talk about today! Before we get into anything else, we want to thank all of our Backers who were so patient during our absence earlier this week. We know that you are accustomed to seeing us more active on our Forums, in emails, etc., and well, this week we weren’t very active. The team needed the time off, but I’m happy to say that we are back to work on Camelot Unchained™. Today’s update will cover the Backers get-together in Oregon, as well as some of the things that we are working on over the next few weeks, some items for early April, our first Alpha contest, and our next Alpha test.
First, the get-together in Portland with some of our Backers was a lot of fun. Lots of pictures were taken, questions exchanged, and good food was had by all. We ended up spending about 3+ hours yakking and smacking over brunch at a fun and funky location in Portland before Lady J, Michael, and I headed to the coast. We even ended up with a surprise visitor: a daughter of one of the owners of the restaurant who is a future game developer. She was only 13, but had the presence and patter of a much more established gamer, and we expect to see great things from her some day! Now that we are in Alpha, it may be time to start planning on our first official get-together, eh?
All in all, it was a lot of fun, and we’ll be posting some pictures on our Forums. We came away with another duck to add to our collection (a U of O duck, appropriately), and two sweet posters we have already put up in our Community area here. As I mentioned, after the get-together my family and I headed over to the coast, in order to spend a few fun days at Cannon Beach and environs. It was great fun and we really, really liked that area. Looks like we’ll be visiting again in the near future.
Second, in terms of our immediate project plans, we are focusing on making the build feel a bit more like a game over the coming weeks. As we’ve said before (and I’ll say again below), this is an old school Alpha, and we really are in the Engine/Tech Alpha phase right now. OTOH, we know that it is time to start adding some “sparkles” to the world, and we are going to do just that. And no, we are not planning on spending any time adding VR to the game yet, as some folks have brought up for discussion. While we believe that VR is coming, I thought Mike Capps had a great take on it in a recent article on gamesindustry.biz today (http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2015-03-19-i-couldnt-even-guarantee-you-a-10-percent-chance-of-a-hit-anymore-mike-capps). Now, I happen to agree with him (maybe that’s why I think it’s great, who knows), so we are not going to be devoting any time to VR in the short term, not even as a Stretch Goal. While I’ve never been accused of being a Luddite (though during the days of Lum the Mad, a Lummite might have been appropriate), and Andrew, well, even less so, the fact of the matter is that we need to focus on what we know our Backers want for 2015 and 2016. Devoting resources to VR would be just a waste of time. After all, there are all sorts of other things that you backed us to focus on, such as continuing the push to even larger-scale battles. J
Over the next few weeks, we are going to improve C.U.B.E., improve the world’s terrain, add new sparkles and twinkles, add the first pass at an inventory system (so you can take off your pants in-game…we know how important that is to some of you! J ), incorporate Wwise, and sound and music. If you thought that sounded like a lot, there’s still more coming, so it should be a good few weeks. Also, starting in mid-April, if not before, we’ve added a part-time senior coder to our team. That’s a good add too. FYI, we will be also making the transition from Perforce to Git, so we may lose a little productivity early next month, but it’s a change that we needed to make. We’re getting it done sooner, rather than later.
Third, I’d like to take this time to once again gently remind our Backers that our Alpha was always going to be an “old school” Alpha test. Call it Alpha 1, Tech Alpha, Engine Test, Alphabet Soup, etc. We promised you folks that our Alpha was going to focus on client/server performance first, and everything else second. The reason I’m saying this is that we’ve been seeing some folks disappointed that our first week of Alpha didn’t come with an almost-finished game, as is currently the norm for most MMORPGs. I/we/all of us have been clear, even before the hiring issues we have had with programmers, that our Alpha was never intended to be an almost-finished game. For those of you who had the pleasure to be in another Alpha of mine, back in the Dark Age of Camelot™ days, you should be quite familiar with the concept. For those of you (like most of you) who haven’t, let me take this opportunity to lay out what our realistic, core player-centric goals for initial Alpha release were, as of late last year:
- A stable client/server system, which could handle hundreds of people in a small space.
- Basic character creation in and functional.
- A fun gamelet where our Backers could run around and kill stuff and not just come in and sit around and do nothing.
- Initial concept of control points.
- Inventory system with objects other than just a torch.
- First pass ability crafting system.
- PhysX working over a much larger world space than the P.A.T.
- Lots of different shapes, effects, etc., feeding into the 1st iteration of the A.I.R. system.
Now, that’s not the whole list (you saw all of our P.A.T. lists, so you know just how deep they were), but those are some of the main things that we wanted to have in for this stage of Alpha. As our Alpha/IT folks have seen, we met and/or exceeded all of those goals. And when you look at how the engine has performed to date, well, we couldn’t be more pleased. Before we really tried to break the build (which we eventually did), the game ran flawlessly, characters were deleted and saved properly, we didn’t hit our server limits till we brought in tons and tons of bots, etc. Plus, we added C.U.B.E. to our initial Alpha testing, and that wasn’t in our original plans for Alpha.
Keep in mind that we could have called this an Alpha 1, just as we did with the Betas back in the Dark Age days (yeah, we coined the “Beta 1, Beta 2” terms and were mocked for it, as many of you may remember), but we decided to go this route instead, as it felt more right. However, I must admit that at this moment, I wish we had done that. So, we are now going to refer to this current stage as “Engine/Tech Alpha,” or just “Tech Alpha,” so things might be a little clearer for people to understand. Let me again ask all of you, especially our new Backers, to remember that this is only the first part of our Alpha testing. Over the next few months you are going to see the world really start to look like our game world. You’ll be seeing the first classes take shape, and the game slowly start to come into focus. What you are seeing right now is really, more than anything else, a highly functional engine test. And, since we are building almost everything from scratch (other than Wwise and PhysX), and not using somebody else’s engine, you really, really want us to be doing this testing/development now, and not later. Can you imagine just how upset you would be if a year from now we said “Gee, we need more money because we never suspected that our engine couldn’t handle 500 people in a small area! Now we need moar money, moar time, etc!” While we are adding more pretty stuff in the upcoming weeks, it’s because most of that stuff will really help us in the short-term, when it comes to larger-scale testing. J
Now, gentle reminder aside, it’s time for another “Break the Build Engine/Tech Alpha Test!” This test will take place tomorrow, Saturday, March 21st, 2015 at 2PM Eastern Time/11AM Pacific Time/6PM UTC on Wyrmling. We really want our Alpha/IT folks to come in and try to break the build, so please, please try to log on as close to the opening time that you can. Depending on how the test goes, we may leave the servers up longer, but if we don’t get a ton of people, well, there’s no point in leaving the servers up on Saturday, so please try to join us for this test. Also, if you are able to capture some really good in-game footage from the test, please send it on to us and it might make it in the next video (the current video is almost done being edited). Once again, here’s the info:
Engine/Tech Alpha Test – Break the Build!- Alpha/IT Access Required
Saturday, March 21st, 2015 at 2PM Eastern Time/11AM Pacific Time/6PM UTC.
Next on today’s hit parade; when we talked about how different our Alpha was, one of the things we had in mind was to make it fun. That’s why we have the gamelet we have now, and that’s why I’m pleased to announce our first official Alpha Contest! This contest, like many will be, is based on the use of our C.U.B.E. system. There will be a discussion on our Forums about it, but here is the current info:
“We have some exciting news for Alpha Builders! Do you want to show off your skill, creativity, and passion for C.U.B.E.? We are looking for a keep to feature in our Alpha server, Wyrmling. See your creation in Camelot Unchained! Attain all the glory as everyone desires, schemes for, and fights to capture your keep. OOOoooooo. As though this is not enough, dear Backers, we also have prizes!
Build a replacement keep in C.U.B.E. for the keeps we will use during this 1st stage of Tech Alpha.
Size:-cubes are 1/2 meter. The space allotted is between 60x60x70 cubes and 80x80x70 cubes.
Structural Soundness-overhangs can only be a max of 4 cubes beyond the base structure.
Don’t build a roof over the entire structure (nor even most of it) – When you log into a test and take a look, think of the keep in the middle of the current map as a good example of the kind of keep we are looking for from you. If you make an awesome keep and it has a roof over all of it, well, that entry will be disqualified. Again, think of the keep from the middle of the Tech Alpha map.
Doorways and Windows: Any open doorways or windows will be inaccessible. Just for pretty! Your keep will be turned into mesh geo, so we can insert it into the game. Note that this is a special case, not the way we are going to do this in the future, once all the C.U.B.E. tech is in place. It is just for the contest–so don’t worry, you can have doors in the game. Sorry, window-sized Luchorpán!
Submit your keep design on our Forums in the discussion called Alpha Contest #1 – You KEEP making us crazy!
Prizes – There will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes awarded. They will be a mixture of Founders Points, Builder package upgrades, t-shirts, or maybe something clever, etc.”
The contest will end March 30th, 2015 at 10AM Eastern Time/7AM Pacific Time/2PM UTC.
This is only the first of many contests that we will be conducting during our Alpha test. Just as we said about C.U.B.E. being a standalone module, who says you have to test things like it is 1999? Not us, fer sur. J
The last topic for today’s update is the long-delayed name of this game. As our Kickstarter Backers know, Camelot Unchained was initially going to be a placeholder name. It was never intended to be more than that. However, life intervened, as it usually does, and it threw a monkey wrench into things.
We are now at the point where we really need to decide if we should just stick with the current name of the game and make it the permanent name. Originally I had hoped to do a live update about this, but given the time, I didn’t want our European Backers to miss out, so I’m going to write up a quick update/story about it, and post that under our Announcements section on our Forums. Next week, we’ll do the live update, take questions, and then later in the week conduct a poll with all of our Backers to get their read on things. Look for that discussion section to go up on the forums later today.
Wow, for a really short week, this turned out to be a very long update. So, without wasting even more of your time, I’ll end the update with another wonderful C.U.B.E. screenshot, as well as with the usual: thank you from all of us for your support of Camelot Unchained!
P.S. Imagine what our Backers will do when they get more tools, blocks, prefabs, round objects, etc. to play with over the next few months. Can’t wait! J