Camelot Unchained Kickstarter thoughts

Apparently the Camelot Unchained design goals are a counter-revolution. By focusing on design principals which harken back to MMOs of yore, they seek to provide that which has become lost in an age where (apparently) every MMO is replicating World of Warcraft, and wow is selling out to the greater dumber audience.

Sorry, not buying into this hype. Not again. For a start somebody better tell Eve that it is a wow clone, and ignore the plethora of smaller online games which have existed for ages…Puzzle Pirates comes to mind.

As I wrote in a comment in Keen & Graev’s blog – I get that CU is going back to earlier design goals of MMOs and the designers cite WoW as an example of what is bad in mmo game development trends…such things as pandering to casuals is specifically raised. Now the devs of CU have every right to believe this, and have formidable game development experience to back this thought, but holy hell what an arrogant perspective. That aside what struck me about the blurb on CU is the design is not really a step forward evolution at all either. It stinks of back in my day thinking. OK. Got it. At least its been said up front.

The idea of looking backward is not new, CU is going back to hard difficulty pvp based worlds. That is a good thing for the audience that loves it, but it is not an innovation at all. Killing lots of folks in an online game ain’t new.

The community of wow is the same community of people in every other game. Do you think the online chess community doesn’t contain dickheads? Gevlon disparaged WoW until he left and now disparages Eve’s population of morons and slackers. The nights where Wow was patched the server pop in Star Wars jumped up, and the same shitty people played against the same brilliant people. Community in CU will contain the same range of people as every other game, unless the build also includes the budget for a previously impossible amount of moderation and gm involvement – which seems doubtful given the reduced subscription cost.

When I read the CU kickstarter all I saw was a dev company using the strong thematic dislike for mainstream (theme park?) MMOs as a platform to fund the game style they like. Good on them. It has the same hyperbole, and will have the same spread of players as wow – but they’ll have bought into the idea that they are special snowflakes playing a different game. A revolutionary game built for them. Good for these players too, but until I read a feature-set which is actually an evolution I’ll call bullshit on most the CU hype.

Taking a massive cheap shot at WoW in an opening bid for funding is a strategic marketing gambit. They had better hope they don’t get 3-4 million players because that will create exactly the same in-congruent feedback which makes the wow community so polar.

In the rush to cash in on the WoW phenomenon, publishers/designers tried to simply “out-WoW WoW”, leading to most MMORPGs becoming more risk-averse, more “casual player”-focused, and overall, less challenging. This produced, among other things, a loss of the pride and sense of accomplishment that came from succeeding in the older, more difficult titles. We’re not talking about spawn-camping for 24 hours straight, but rather the sense of pride from succeeding in a challenging game rather than one which hands you everything on a silver platter. In CU, you will have to earn your skills by deeds, and they will increase slowly over time. Magical items will not be found everywhere like road-kill on highways, so gamers won’t feel the pressure to “keep up with the Gandalfs.”

The current design “foundation principals” are listed on the CU website. My fav is #13 called Chaos Goes Boing which I couldn’t understand on the first read, but embraces the chaos that can occur in an MMO. The foundation principals make for good reading too, although they do somewhat meander. Again, more power to them, in communicating in advance about what and why the CU devs are giving a very open view to their potential customers.

They are a small dev shop looking to create something that they love, and seeking a very effective and valid way to measure the interest and gain capital to make it happen. This is exactly why Kickstarter is a great service. Consider though Kickstarter itself is more revolutionary change for online games than another RvR MMO is.

To be clear – I hope the CU game is created and I think there will be a small and dedicated market for the gameplay. I’ve taken a few shots at CU here, but overall it is more a dig at their approach to the comms/PR than the actual desire to create something. Warhammer Online had some of the same banter, and could not stay afloat, CU by comparison looks at this initial stage stronger.

New game, known dev house, quasi-related IP reuse, reliable known theme and features, niche/different audience, boosted funding from a community; thus a respectable goal. Alas not worth my pre-investment.

Camelot Unchained by City State Entertainment — Kickstarter.

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