Alas, Camelot

Mid-week, I watched as Camelot Unchained’s kickstarter neared its goal of $2 million. Seeing as how the man Jacobs had already brought in $3 million contingent, I had a feeling that somehow the kickstarter would not fail. Was Camelot Unchained a sure thing? Heck no, and by appearances it got through by the skin of its teeth.

I am pretty relieved that it got through the finish line, but this was not best game to lay across as the poster boy to anti-publisher’d MMOs. It’s niche, and unlike say the next Jim Jarmusch film, significant effort has to go in to the game to get back enjoyment. (Okay, so significant effort sometimes has to be put in to understanding a Jarmusch film too, but at least you only lose an hour or two.) I do not think Camelot Unchained is going to be a very casual-friendly popcorn MMO, which in my conjecturish opinion many Dark Age of Camelot players have grown to love.

One article at onrpg.com had fellow blogger Spinks up in arms. I tend to agree that the article was filled with too much hyperbole while ignoring plenty of non-AAA MMOs that have thrived (e.g., all of onrpg.com’s site). The developers of Storybricks replied that onrpg.com had the right idea (perhaps wrong words?). Camelot Unchained’s kickstart will make it a smidge easier for any MMO developer to get funding. However, it is really hard to back an indulgent cause while not being interested in the luxury product.

I am glad that it was a success, but whether it was or not, now it is back to silence. It’s going to be 2 years until Camelot Unchained is going to make those kinds of waves again, and it might be 4-5 before there is any noticeable ripple effect in the world of MMO development. Congrats to the City State team. I’ll be looking forward to their future developments.

–Ravious

10 thoughts on “Alas, Camelot

  1. Belghast (@belghast)

    I find Unchained extremely interesting, but after watching all the material I just didn’t support it because it is a game I have no interest in playing. The concept of all pvp all the time, just doesn’t seem interesting to me. Granted I am super “carebear” about my games, and tend to do mostly PVE content. When I do get the urge to PVP, I can only do so for short periods of time before needing to retreat back into PVE.

    The thing is based on the performance of past PVP centric games, I would say that most people feel this way. The “PVP Only” crowd has been hands down one of the most vocal minorities since I first experienced them back in Everquest. While I am happy that they are finally getting a game, I just question as to whether or not they will be enough to make it successful in the long run.

    When I get nostalgic about Dark Age of Camelot, it was never the PVP combat I remember. It was all the engaging PVE content that I really loved. When Gaheris the co-op server opened up, me and my friends all completely re-rolled there so we could explore all three realms without any limits. To some extent watching this kickstarter has been almost like Jacobs writing a treatise on why he felt Warhammer failed… because it was not pvp centric enough. Whereas all the players I knew really enjoyed the content until the forced pvp started.

    Anyways I wish them luck.

  2. spinks

    I respect Psychochild and the Storygames guys a lot, but they’re thinking in terms of how it might affect their future pitches to investors. (Which is definitely a positive ofc, but it’s not as compelling an argument to anyone else.)

    My main reason for not giving money to CU (aside from the fact I don’t want to play it, and I don’t feel like paying for hardcore PvP fans to get their collective rocks off) is that if potential investors get the message that small indie MMOs can work but only if they appeal to the PvP hardcore then it’s actually no better for me personally than if sandbox MMOs just die. And tbh the best argument anyone who fancies PvE sandbox games can give is to save their powder (money) for EQ Next, Tale in the Desert and other games that support THAT paradigm better.

    1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

      It’s Storybricks. Slander us all you want, but at least get the name right! ;)

      Yes, their success makes it easier for us to head to investors. (Although, to be honest, our current unannounced *cough* work is helping more.) But, as Rodolfo said the industry needs more diversity. It starts with a PvP game, but it grows from there. It’s like worrying that paying for Meridian 59 back in the day would send the message that people want ancient graphics. There’s a lot of niches to explore beyond PvP, and CU failing will absolutely NOT help MMOs become more diverse.

      So, even if you’re not interested in CU’s “all PvP all the time” philosophy, the industry will benefit from having another type of game out there. And, further, a game that is willing to focus on providing a very specific experience will hopefully inspire others to provide a very specific experience. Imagine an MMO that decides to do all raids, for example. Or one that focuses more on role-playing that killing enemies and stealing their stuff. I think the likelihood of these types of games happening is significantly higher now that CU is funded.

      On top of this, we have Mark Jacobs who has proven he can release a competitive game on a limited budget. (I’ll cut my beard in mourning if CU fails to ship at all. I’ll wager a year’s subscription that CU will ship before Pathfinder Online, even.) As I said, even chipping in $5 sends a huge message that MMOs don’t have to just be failed WoW clones. I’m excited by the possibilities that CU represents. It’s frustrating that others don’t have the enlightened self-interest to see how much this will benefit them even if they don’t like heavy PvP games.

      1. Ross Smith

        “There’s a lot of niches to explore beyond PvP, and CU failing will absolutely NOT help MMOs become more diverse.”

        I strongly disagree. There are already far too many pvp-centric sandboxes out there, and most of the upcoming MMOs are in the same tired old genre. I think CU failing would be a good thing, because it might encourage people to think, “Hey, y’know, this is just a crazy way-out notion, but maybe something other than endless mindless pvp might actually sell?”

        1. Mekhios

          @ross
          Really? Dark fall and EVE are about the only proper PvP sandbox MMO’s. The rest are PvE theme parks with PVP tacked on as arenas.

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