Tag Archives: Camelot Unchained

Camelot Unchained Kickstarter Unleashed!

Mark Jacobs and his team were wise enough to pass on an April 1st start date for his Camelot Unchained Kickstarter.

(Though I think the whole thing started before the timer on the Camelot Unchained home page finished counting down.  Probably a good idea to make sure it was going strong before sending people over.)

But the day of fools has passed, and now it is back to marketing as usual.

As Lord British and his Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter winds down its last few days, having crossed the $1.3 million mark, getting it to the interactive musical instruments stretch goal (did anybody believe that those stretch goals wouldn’t make it into the game?), Mark Jacobs and Camelot Unchained begin their campaign.

CamelotUnchained_450px

And Mark wants two million dollars.

He’ll see Lord British’s million and raise him a million.

SupportCU_450

That seems like an aggressive goal.  As I said before, I think Lord British has better general name recognition and is a bigger draw because of that.  So the City State Entertainment team is going to have to work hard to make that goal.

All of the now standard Kickstarter bits and pieces are in place.  There are tiers from $5 to $10,000 with splashy graphics to illustrate what you get with each tier and charts to compare tier.  It is a lot of graphics.  The page seems to go on forever.  But you pretty much need the picture to see what you are getting because the text about the tiers in the side bar is cramped and goes on forever as well.  And I have already spotted a couple of discrepancies between charts and pictures.  There is a game in that alone I think.

There are mission statements and what makes the game unique and, of course, the requisite “why Kickstarter” apologia.

As a “niche” and RvR-focused MMORPG, CU is a very risky venture for most traditional game publishers. Even if we did find one willing to take the risk, it would come with so many strings attached we couldn’t make the game we want to, or would face constant battling to ensure our vision remains intact. That’s why we’re attempting to fund some, but not all, of this project’s costs through Kickstarter.

While we at CSE believe in Camelot Unchained, we could be wrong about it having even enough appeal for backers to fund this Kickstarter. We will create this game only if there is a demand for it, so if we can’t get the partial funding we seek, we will not go ahead. OTOH, if we do successfully fund, Mark Jacobs will add $2M dollars to the development budget himself. This is covered in more detail below.

I suppose it is refreshing to see the founder, who in this case doesn’t live in a castle and hasn’t paid his way into space, publicly matching the funds raised.  I am not sure how meaningful that is, but it is there.

And there is a succinct statement about where the money is going.

Every dollar we raise from this Kickstarter campaign will go towards development. Our staffing plan includes hiring three additional engineers, two artists, one designer and one part-time writer immediately. The MMO engine will be developed in-house with one purpose, to make a great RvR MMORPG; the engineers will work with Andrew on it, and our existing programmers on the server tech. While this game won’t require the amount of content as Dark Age of Camelot, we still need to hire a few more artists in-house and a writer so, dragons be praised, Mark can go back to his day job and stop writing all these documents.

I think that is a pretty reasonable statement.

There is a chart that lists out what you can buy with those Founder Points you get for this and that.  That seems to be a mildly new twist.  I am still not sure how many points I would get for any given tier, or how I actually spend them, but at least I can see that there is a use for them.

There are, however, no explicit stretch goals yet, though there are several statement about other platforms depending on making such goals.  But I get the feeling it will be a stretch to get to the main goal.  And it is easier to communicate a specific goal rather than a series of hurdles past what people thought was the finish line.

And there is a nice new graphic of the team.

City State Entertainment

City State Entertainment

I like that a lot.  And now I am even more likely to think of The City State of the Invincible Overlord every time I see that company name.

I also like that the name of the product is just two words, Camelot Unchained, and didn’t end up as Mark Jacob’s Camelot Unchained: Conflict of Three Lands Who Have Been At It Before or some such.

And the estimated delivery date for the final product?  December 2015.

Now, the big question is, will Mark Jacobs and the City State Entertainment team make it to $2,000,000 by Thursday May 2, 11:56am EDT?  We’re at the fast out of the gate stage where the true believers kick in, so the numbers are rising fast.  The $300K mark is close as of this time.  But when will that first plateau arrive?

And will we get an interview from Mark Jacobs where he insults people in order to draw attention to the whole thing when pledges do slow down?

The Kickstarter page is here for your viewing pleasure.

EverQuest: More Popular at Launch than WoW is Today…

But only if you use the Bizarro metrics.

For example, on Planet Tobold, it ISN’T how many who play your game that matters, but how many people DIDN’T play you game.

Taken to logical extremes, there are more than 7 billion people today who do NOT play World of Warcraft today.

However, back in 1999, when the first player logged into EverQuest, there were only 6 billion people not playing it!

A clear victory for SOE, putting it a whole billion “non-players” ahead of Blizzard!

But wait.  Back in 1987 when Air Warrior was finally rolling, it only had 5 billion people not playing it!

Who is the most successful online game now, bitches?

Meanwhile, SpaceWar, running way back in 1961 had a mere 3 billion people not playing it!

A clear victory in the unpopularity race!

And yes, I am stretching Tobold-logic to humorous extremes on purpose.  But even trying to work the negative player numbers in a serious manner… potential player populations, target populations, subscription rates, and what not… seems like building a castle in a swamp.

Of course, so does trying to measure how many people remember a game.  I suspect there are games out there that more people remember than actually played them.  But how do you even begin to measure that and, more importantly, how does that equated to success?

Being remembered certainly doesn’t pay the bills.

Nor does historical significance which, by definition, is an assessment of something that happened far enough in the past that  it has ceased to be contemporary and actual becomes history.  Real history, in the serious academic studies sense, only starts when those who were there to witness it… and thus have invested opinions about it… pass on and things that had to be held secret to protect governments and individuals alike are released to the public.

Which is to say that neither I nor Tobold can really make anything besides guesses now about how the future may view this era when it comes to MMOs and the like.

But when you’ve soured on a genre to the point that your agenda seems to be deny that any MMO with numbers south of 250K can possibly be a success merely because WoW exists and heap scorn on anybody who wants something different, I guess you have to take whatever crazy ammunition you can find.

I am certainly not saying WoW isn’t a success.  It is certainly what keeps Activision-Blizzard funded for the three quarters each year when they don’t ship a new Call of Duty game.   But success is not an absolute bar, now set so high by WoW that nobody can ever succeed again.  Mark Jacobs’ Camelot Unchained plans are not an automatic failure merely because he is targeting a small audience.  It is an experiment.  It has risks.  It has to live in the current MMO ecosystem.

But that alone doesn’t mean it won’t work.

Of course, even Mr. Jacobs isn’t above pulling out a silly metric himself now and again.

An Indictment of Something…

…and remains one of the top 10 highest Metacritic-rated MMOs.

Mark Jacobs, in reference to Warhammer Online

Mark Jacobs is talking to the press again because he and his new(-ish) company, City State Entertainment, have a new MMO under way; one with some familiar sounding features.

The Emerald City Logo

The Emerald City Logo

Of course, this means he needs to answer the ever present questions around how this new MMO will relate to his two previous ventures, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online.

He is candid, as usual, about how these two past games are influencing his current venture.  And he is up front about the problems with Warhammer Online.  From the interview:

Nobody was more disappointed in WAR than I was. At launch, it had lots of wonderful things in it, but it also had way too many bugs, balance, and leveling issues, and of course, crashes in Tier 4. It was my worst nightmare come true, and as I’ve stated before…

And yet there is that quote at the top.  That really caught my eye.

There is that list of reviews on Metacritic.  Look at them.  There are 18 reviews that gave the game a score of 90 or more, including two that gave it 100.  And since the game has stagnated since, never shipping an expansion, that is what you see when you look at Metacritic for reviews.

It rates higher than any MMO I have played for more than a couple of months, save World of Warcraft… which really brings up the question of how MMOs should be reviewed.  Clearly the ” spent a few hours in beta and read the press release” method leads to erratic results, though sometimes that seems to get it right if the issues are obvious enough… or if the publisher doesn’t have enough advertising clout.

As for the new MMO title and its Kickstarter financing plans, I am currently in the “tell me when it actually ships” column.

Turning the City State Entertainment team from March on Oz, a pretty but pedestrian iOS Plants vs. Zombies knock-off, to a full fledged MMO seems like a pretty big leap to me.  Doubly so when Mark himself describes the group as:

…a small, independent team of very dedicated and hard-working guys and gals, many of whom had never worked in the games industry before.

We shall see.