Camelot Unchained: Concerns based on MJ’s history

As previously mentioned, the Camelot Unchained kickstarter is up and running, but as of now I’ve not contributed due to a few concerns that I want to cover today.

First and foremost, the total removal of PvE raises some doubts. I get that City State wants to focus on PvP, and with a limited budget cutting PvE saves a lot of time/effort, but in all my MMO experience, some of (if not all) of the best PvP has been PvE-driven.

Evicting someone from a wormhole in EVE is in part PvE-driven (better sleeper farming).

A holding’s worth in Darkfall is in part based on the local mobs to farm, and the heaviest fighting is often over the most valuable properties.

In UO, PvP often happened in PvE locations (dungeons or good world spawns), and housing location was decided either by economic factors (player vendor traffic) or PvE factors (close to a good dungeon).

Hell, even in DAoC, how much RvR conflict was driven by access to Darkness Falls, a PvE dungeon? Some of the best PvP was clearing DF itself, and that happened because of PvE (safer farming).

What will be the conflict drivers in CU? Will they get people out and into situations on a daily basis? Will they matter long-term?

A related concern; do I want to play an MMO that is 100% PvP? Even though I prefer my MMO with a healthy dose of PvP, I still PvE heavily in them. PvE makes for nice ‘downtime’, and allows for me to still login and play without always putting myself into high-risk situations. It’s also content you can rely on, unlike PvP where sometimes the end-result of PvP is no fights happening.

Finally, I don’t know how much I trust Mark Jacob to deliver a solid MMO. Yes, he was responsible for DAoC, but he was also responsible for the ToA expansion to DAoC (an expansion that killed the game for me, and many others), along with WAR. And while MJ has tried to distance himself from WAR and its design decisions, it would be crazy to assume he holds zero responsibility.

ToA was just bad. It added a must-do forced-group PvE raiding grind to a well-established PvP game. I say must-do because the abilities and items you got from ToA were silly powerful, and made you near god-like in PvP if you fought others without ToA powers. How much of that basic concept (adding raiding to DAoC) was MJ? Was it his idea? If not, did he step in and realize it was a bad idea? If he did, was this another example of MJ being overruled, or just putting his trust in the wrong place?

We know a lot of the history behind WAR, but again how much did MJ influence the design here? The lack of a 3rd faction is obvious, but what about the decision to group the races to begin with? Why was WAR not a six-way fight? The lore/IP easily supports it, the PvE structure could have remained the same, and end-game population balance issues would have been very different.

Did MJ really think low and mid-tier RvR zones would hold up long-term? Sure, they sorta-worked while the initial population wave progressed through the game, but as soon as that was over, all of those areas below the cap became ghost towns and wasted effort.

A major issue in DAoC was rampant crowd-control. A major issue in WAR? Rampant CC. Other than blind faith, what’s to suggest that CU won’t have CC problems?

Remember the original structure for the end-game RvR? Funneling everyone into a single city siege? How much of that was MJ? How strongly did MJ believe in that design? And if he did see the design issues early on, why again did a product with his name on it ship designed like that? When such a moment happens with CU, and it will, what will MJ do?

CU is on my radar. In many ways it’s a game I want to get behind and support. It’s trying something different in some of the directions I want the genre to go in. And overall I like MJ from what I’ve heard/read about him. I do believe he got screwed by EA with WAR (because, let’s face it, everyone gets screwed by EA, be they devs or players). At the same time, the above are all concerns I have.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Camelot Unchained, Dark Age of Camelot, MMO design, PvP, Rant, RvR. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Camelot Unchained: Concerns based on MJ’s history

  1. kalex716 says:

    I have to imagine that if player made gear is going to be the principal driver of itemization, then resource gathering has to be the driver of conflict as a result. I don’t know how active you’ll have to be in actually acquiring resource, as they could put in passive drips of resources for your faction based on territories controlled, thus removing the need for individuals to even concern themselves with getting things at all… It’s hard to know for sure.

    One thing is for certain, PVE tacked on is much easier to do than PVP in my opinion, so I think their focus for now is in the right place.

  2. sid6.7 says:

    I totally agree with you. PvE can keep people logged in and may create PvP hotspots if the draw is strong enough. An open-world without any PvE seems destined for failure.

    The one redeeming possibility here for Mark is the “crafting” system that Mark keeps mentioning. If this crafting system were designed in such a way that the harvesting encouraged open-world PvP, then I can see some potential.

    For example, you remember the mini-game in Silithus where you had to pick up Silithyst and deposit it? It sucked and no one played it but I suppose if that was the only way to gather and there were only a handful of known nodes — such a system could create some interesting PvP.

  3. spinks says:

    The other thing I’d wonder based on past history is how they’d plan to manage imbalance of realm numbers.

    • SynCaine says:

      That I’m less concerned with. We already know which realm will have the most players (human/pretty realm), which realm will be the ‘elite’ realm (dwarf/viking), and which realm will be the RP/odd realm (elves). So long as the design is such that 3-way fighting happens often, pop levels don’t matter that much.

      It also allows people to somewhat decide who they want to play for. The OP realm, the elite, or the underdog. That has value IMO.

  4. Adam says:

    Meh, no mention of the combat system means he doesn’t even care.

    Tabtarget trash.

  5. Rohan says:

    I am not certain I agree with your examples about PvE being necessary for PvP. In your examples, PvE is just the method by which resources are extracted.

    However, I think the method is irrelevant, and the important part is the resources. For example, if instead of controlling access to a dungeon, there was a simply a chest which spawned once a day and gave the gear to the controller of the area. I think that would end up in more or less the same PvP situation. The PvE is incidental, and the more important part is the control over a resource.

    • sid6.7 says:

      PvE creates the circumstances required for spontaneous PvP hotspots. That’s why it’s important. Daily quests (ironic since Syncaine hates the idea) are a great example of a PvE feature creating this type of PvP hotspots.

      Moreover, it serves as something for players to do when PvP is not immediately available. Imagine a game where you log in, run out into the world, see no one on — and then log off in boredom. If everyone does this, everyone will be logged off.

      • sid6.7 says:

        BTW – I don’t disagree your chest example can create a hotspot. But what do you do when the chest is gone?

        • SynCaine says:

          The chest fails because, unless there is a 30min or so opening timer (wheee, that’s fun), its not a hotspot, its a hot check spot.

          Darkness Falls worked because in order to get to the good spawns, you needed time. The longer you PvE, the higher the odds of an enemy logging on and coming to fight you. Make the window too small, and you fail.

        • Rammstein says:

          @Syn: It’s not clear from Rohan’s example how he intends “the controller of the area” to be defined. If control is defined by a mechanic which lasts all 24 hours, then it’s a potential hotspot permanently. If control is defined like it was in the STV arena in WoW, then it’s a hotspot for a few minutes. If you’re trying to make the chest comparable to that dungeon example, then you make it ~hour long control process. If you’re trying to make it comparable to a town in DFUW, then you make it a 24 hour process. If you’re…etc. This variable can be tuned however you like it, but it’s still not the same as including PVE, because that introduces a whole different set of variables as well.

        • Rammstein says:

          p.s. Also unspecified in Rohan’s example of the specificity of the chest appearance/contents. Does it drop 200 gold at noon every day, or a highly random piece of loot at a completely random time of day about once per day?

        • sid6.7 says:

          Good point, Syn. Every implementation of something like this that I have ever seen have failed. Mostly because it’s boring.

        • Rammstein says:

          Moon mining in EVE is basically an example of the “chest mechanic” with the long control period, but I’m not sure whether Moon Mining in EVE is a failure or not. It hasn’t been perfect, but on the other hand, it seems like CCP is talking about balancing/supplementing it, not completely replacing it–and they certainly haven’t been in any hurry to fix it, save the rebalancing they did that only created a new imbalance. Comparing it to perfection isn’t realistic either, what we’re actually comparing moon-mining to is the whine/exploit/bot-infested PVE situation in nullsec(and is moon-mining in itself bad, or is the static and imbalanced version that CCP has created bad?). For those that can look at these and instantly know what they prefer–great, you know which game to pick for yourself. For the rest of us, perhaps we need more games to be made containing either or both of these models, to get a little more perspective on which are viable. I know I do.

        • Rohan says:

          Originally, I was going to go with Starcraft and having your drones mine resources while you control the area. But then I went with gear as the resource, and mining gear didn’t make sense, so hence the treasure chest. It really wasn’t a fully fleshed out example.

          What I was questioning was the need for a PvE game where you fight NPCs. What if instead you had a play a game of bejeweled or tetris, and that determined what resource you got. Or if resource harvesting was automatic.

          I’m just trying to differentiate between the presence of the resource and the method used to extract the resource.

    • Rammstein says:

      I would break down the important variables as follows:

      1. Method
      A. Capital Investment
      B. Required Labor
      C. Complexity/Ingenuity involved
      2. Resources
      A. Additional processing/trade required?
      B. Time period for extraction, constant/random fluctuation?

      PVE primarily falling into 1B, here. To me one benefit to an MMO in including some 1B content is community building. Imagine 2 players. 1 wants to play 90% PVP, and 10% PVE. The second wants to play 85% PVE, and 15% PVP. Firstly, the second player won’t even play the game if it doesn’t involve some 1B content, in many cases. Secondly, without PVE content, these people are only going to want to do the same thing while logged in at the same time about 15% of the time. With PVE content, this could go up to 25%, and now it’s a more equal relationship as well. MMOs which persist for very long periods of time, i.e., successful MMOs, need to build community, and I think providing a variety of content types like this helps to do that.

      Without a sense of community, no amount of PVP hotspot promotion will let an MMO equal a game which is literally nothing but PVP hotspots, like LoL or CS. Focusing on that as a primary means of evaluation is missing the point of what an MMO is–it’s an important but secondary point.

  6. carson63000 says:

    “what’s to suggest that CU won’t have CC problems?”

    I guarantee you that it will. A large and vocal segment of the DaoC vets that are the biggest drivers of this game think the grotesquely excessive CC in DaoC was one of it’s _best_ features,

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea I’ve seen some of that. The roaming 8s example of some elite group CC bombing larger numbers and winning with ‘skill’.

      • spinks says:

        To be fair, that was quite fun :) I used to solo whole groups on my sorceress at one point.

        • SynCaine says:

          Fun for the person bombing. Less fun for everyone watching their screen unable to do anything. Also basically the opposite of what I’d call skill-based PvP. In that regard, DAoC is massively overrated.

      • bonedead says:

        Well there are mez dampening buffs and like 3 get out of cc skills you have access to. It’s all about when you last blew your wad. Of course that kind of shit leads to people only roaming when they have all of their buttons up, but that sounds like a lot of other games at the moment anyway.

    • kamuka says:

      CC in DAoC is only a problem for bad players, who run bunched up and are too stupid to demezz. Decent players do not get blanket mezzed/bombed/whatever. The long CC in DAoC is necessary due to both the rupt system and the way zones are set up. Without it casters would be useless (in open field battles) and kiting could not be stopped ever. It is also nice that good players can win against the numbers game.

      Eve has WAY worse CC than DAoC, because it can’t be broken and has no immunity timer.

      You guys just lack any clue about modern DAoC. Distant memories of a way different game in which even the best groups played terribly by todays standards don’t make an expert.

      • Isey says:

        Are you still playing kamuka? I tried to get access to my 10 year old account (ha!) out of sheer curiosity =)

        • kamuka says:

          Ye. In fact I just reactivated an old account and dinged the chanter that had been rr9 since before ToA release rr10. You should be able to activate the old account, but you might need to give them a call.

  7. Pingback: Keep Camelot Chained « I HAS PC

  8. Dirtysouth says:

    So you are finally agreeing with tobolds a wolf can’t survive without sheep theory. At least troll him on Friday to keep up appearances

    • Sev says:

      I think he’s just arguing that it’s hard to keep people playing an MMO without some sort of interaction with the world, instead of just the other players. MMOs have generally thrived off of having a persistent virtual world to inhabit, and for that to feel real and important you have to have ways to interact with it that are meaningful. PvE content or one sort or another has always been one of the best ways to do this, as it provides a highly variable level of intensity when playing, giving you the option of being part of the world on your own terms and letting you stay involved when there’s nothing actively going on with other players. Of course that doesn’t have to mean raiding or questing, there’s plenty of options. Farming of one sort or another, crafting, and an in-game economy can all be good ways to take part in the game world without actively involving other players.

    • Rammstein says:

      “So you are finally agreeing with tobolds a wolf can’t survive without sheep theory.”

      In Tobold’s formulation of this theory, wolves need sheep to grief, or they’ll find another game with sheep to grief to move to. In his formulation of the metaphor, wolves are griefer players, and sheep are normal, “good”, players.

      In the examples in the post above, the sheep are NPCs, and the wolves are players who are fighting over the right to feed on the NPCs.

      Massive mixed metaphor there…but you’re referencing something that was on Tobold’s blog what, 5 years ago? I’m not surprised you have completely forgotten the details.

  9. Steamponse says:

    Conflict will be driven by resource control. Gear is crafted and decays over time. Gear needs resources to craft. Resources are strategic elements in the open world.

    PVE mobs are just resource nodes that do damage to you and have a higher art budget.

    • Tallifer says:

      Forsooth. I understand that there shill be places to mine for resources, which shall mean mines and mills to defend or raid.

  10. silvertemplar says:

    Maybe we shouldn’t even be looking at games like EVE as a comparison. How did Planetside 1 do it? How is Planetside 2 doing it? There’s zero PvE there too, and yes PS2 is still very flawed in the long run, but people are enjoying the game regardless (including myself).

    Games like Battlefield, World of Tanks that are more “instanced” , again , there’s no PvE there. What draws players to drive around tanks on a static map all day long?

    Even Guildwars 2’s rather “casual” stab at WvWvW was, and probably still is very popular. Let’s say Arenanet only focused on WvWvW , imagine where they could have taken this? There isn’t any PvE in there either.

    So i’m 100% certain , this type of game CAN be done, i’m just not certain what exactly makes such a game “fun” and immersive over the long term. EVE has the whole PvE/Economy/Mining/Exploration thing going which certainly extends the game’s life. If it was just a nullsec PvP pissup, would it really have grown at all?

    Either way, i played Warhammer online and was involved with all the discussions MJ had back during those times, and i agree with the sentiment over MJs ideas and their implementation thereof. I also don’t quite believe MJ did not have a pivotal role in the main design of RvR in WAR. WAR was one of those games that i had a love – hate relationship with, it was furiously frustrating seeing the poor design decisions and Mythic not responding to any of the community concerns . It took them more than year to put in basics like the ability to see on the map WHERE things are happening and ability to GET THERE. You’d think this is obvious, what they think, players just randomly stumble around in zones finding battles?

    Also the whole incentive to siege a castle was very flimsy. It became a loot drop disaster leading to “musical castle sieges” . This was entirely a PvE element that ruined the sieges if you ask me. Fighting an NPC “boss” at the end of a siege , as far as i am concerned, was a cheap way out of creating a more tactical , player driven siege model.

    • SynCaine says:

      If CU is PS2/GW/WoT, I’m out. LoL does instanced fantasy PvP better than any of those games by a mile and a half, and there is no way MJ and City State can possibly produce something to compete with that.

      I also don’t think they are aiming for that, but if they are, or if they end up with that being the end result, it will be a disaster.

  11. Steamponse says:

    Basically your saying a non-instanced pvp game must have pve progression and rewards to make pvp actually happen. I think there is something wrong with gamers themselves if that is true,

    • kalex716 says:

      I think a more abstract way of thinking about it, is it needs a balanced ecosystem.

      It needs a healthy number of systems that drive, enablers, consumers, facilitators, and degraders that keep things all feeding off each other to make things interesting.

      How they go about doing the above, is a key part of making a successful player driven pvp style game IMO.

  12. coppertopper says:

    If CU is avoiding levelling in general, so everyone is fighting together from the get-go, it would be difficult to really get a feel for a class and could lead to burn-out. So I think a BG style setup for the initial gameplay, like WAR, would be better in the long run then grinding through PvE content or being zeroes over and over in a full on RvR setting.

  13. bonedead says:

    Maybe he is just finally making DAoC Origins

  14. bhagpuss says:

    From Massively comes this:

    “And don’t think the world will be empty just because there will be no traditional PvE; Jacobs assured that there will be NPCs, noting “You can skin them, get materials off them, salvage their weapons, armor, etc. but you cannot level your RvR skills by doing that.”

    I read that as there will be mobs like any other MMO and you’ll still have to kill them, only the reason you’ll be doing it will be (slightly) different.

    What happened to the Darkfall post-NDA write-up, by the way? Or are you holding it for launch?

  15. Steamponse says:

    There are more than just random Mobs it seems.

  16. someGuy says:

    So on the one hand you bitch that you can’t live without PvE in your PvP. On the other hand you bitch that your NGE had you PvE’ing.

    Credibility earned: NIL, thanks for playing

  17. theroflbear says:

    i still pve in daoc… today. My best times were Pveing in frontiers, Old fronties, Yggdra forest.

    If they remove PvE, I will not be buying this game.

    If he changes stealth to this underworld crap, I will not be buying this game.

    This guy is an idiot and he should never have been trusted with making a followup to one of, if not the, best mmo of all time.

  18. slagbosom says:

    DAoC was my first encounter of pay to win with their 300% buffs / buff bots and the companies refusal to do anything about them – in the end everyone had two accounts for no benefit but to be on par. I hate the direction that this game took – it was so nicely done and I had so much fun in the innocence and simplicity of its beginnings. But as with every MMORPG I’ve played that started out seamless and enjoyable, it became over-saturated with items and player power, fostering a greedy, mindless elitist culture and detracting from the essence of the game – where you could go and have a good time and just play, instead of logging two accounts into a second job where you have to chase the next big carrot on the stick in order to be just as powerful as everyone else. I tend to view and appreciate games as works of art rather than viable business models and profiteering schemes, but that is what they have to be even at the cost quality i guess, or they wouldn’t be.

Comments are closed.