Daily Archives: April 2, 2013

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.

Thinking On Tank Crew Skills

My time with World of Tanks can be divided into two eras.

There was beta, launch, and immediately after, during which I played a lot but then tapered off, with my last surge coming when I bought the Type 59.  And then there is Patch 8.0 and beyond.  Patch 8.0 was the great physics update which revitalized the game for me, fixing some of my key annoyances, and got me to come back and play.

Of course, a lot had changed between these two eras besides the physics.  Tank trees, tanks, countries, and skills had all be shaken up in that time.  I have taken on things by turns, and now I am looking at skills.

For those who do not play the game, you tank has a crew that actually translates your inputs into actions.  So you may aim and click the button to shoot the cannon on your tank, but the skills of your gunner play heavily into the accuracy of that shot.  And you increase the skills of your crew by playing.  They gain experience over time.

In the first era there was but one skill.  Each crew member had a function, like gunner, loader, or driver, and a skill level associated with that.  At 100% you were done training and that was that.

At some point when I had faded from the game, Wargaming.net added in secondary skills.  So now, after your crew hits 100% in their primary skill, they can learn additional skills to help them at their job.

I handled this the way I often handle these sorts of skill changes.  I picked some likely looking candidates and moved on to play.  After a while and a bit of reflection, I came up with a pattern, a standard set of skills I assign my crews.

First off, the secondary skills are actually divided into skills and perks.  Skills come into effect immediately and get more effective as you learn the skill.  Perks, which tend to be better, do nothing while you learn them, only providing benefit when you get them to 100%.  That can take a while, as the game wiki points out.

A Graph! How much exp per skill!

A Graph! How much exp per skill!

I never know how long I am going to play a given tank.  So my first decision was skills only, avoid perks.  And for quite a while I was in no danger of getting to 100% on skills or perks, so it seemed like a wise course.  I settled down to the following as a general template:

  • Commander – Mentor (+10% primary skills for crew)
  • Gunner – Snap Shot if vehicle has a turret, Armorer if not
  • Driver – Controlled Impact (because I love when people die ramming me)
  • Radio Operator – Situational Awareness
  • Loaders – Repair, Fire Fighting, or Camouflage

So my KV-3 crew follows that pattern. (Which you can verify if you know what the tiny icons mean.)

KV-3 Crew

KV-3 Crew

After a while, I started getting to crews that had a skill trained up to 100% and needed to start on a second skill.  But I had chosen all of what I perceived as the “good” skills the first time around.  And since the climb to 100% for the second skill is, as the chart above indicates, about double the effort, I didn’t want some useless perks idling there for all that time.

So I looked into retraining.

You can reset you skills and perks for a price.  For 200 gold, which seems like a lot (and which is probably the point), you can simply swap them out with no penalty.  For credits you can swap them, but lose 10% of your skill points.  I have chosen both options at this point, but the skill point loss isn’t so bad if you wait for a bit getting into your second skill.  I am happy so long as I don’t have to do that last 5% over again to get the first one to 100%.

With a reset, I could inject perks into the first position and then put the same skills I had been training before into the second slot.  Being mildly obsessed with crew skills, I went with Band of Brothers for the first slot across the whole crew.  This perk boost crew skills beyond 100%, but only if everybody in the crew has it.

So I have a couple of crews that look like my T-150 crew now:

T-150 crew with Band of Brothers

T-150 crew with Band of Brothers

So you can see that with Brothers in Arms across the whole crew, plus the commander training Mentor again, plus ventilation added to the tank, my gunner is running at 121% skill level.  And he has Snap Shot well under way, though it you look at that curve above, 74% is about the half way point to being done.  A long ways to go yet.

I was generally satisfied by this, with the view that better crew skills was the optimum choice.

However, when I finally got my Type 59 crew up to their first skill at 100%, I began to wonder if a 5% skill boost was worth tying up the whole first slot.  So I decided to experiment with them.  The Type 59 was the crew where I first picked skills and perks, and did so at random, not yet understanding the whole “skill  vs. perk” thing.  So they had some perks mixed in that I never bothered to retrain.  So I decided to stick with them.

Type 59 crew

Type 59 crew

For the commander, I chose Sixth Sense, which I am beginning to really depend upon.  I play the Type 59 either on the flanks, looking for a good shoot, or as a passive scout, parked in the middle of what would otherwise be a giant gap in our lines as the rest of the team tries press up either flank.  3 seconds after I have been spotted, a little light bulb shows up on screen, and I know it is time to trot.  Now, in that 3 second gap, the bad guys can, and often do, take a shot at me.  But not always, and it at least keeps arty from raining down on me.

The for a second skill, I chose Mentor, which is my standard.

My gunner has Deadeye, which is supposed to increase critical damage.  The boost is only 3%, so I am wondering if I ought to retrain and take Designated Target instead, which keeps targets in your scope visible for an extra two seconds than they otherwise would.  That can be the difference between getting off a good shot or not.

My driver camo, which certainly doesn’t hurt when playing passive scout, and Controlled Impact because, as I said, I like to punish those who ram.

My loader/radio operator has Situational Awareness and Repair because… why not?

And this seems to have worked out well enough and again undermines my initial faith in Brothers in Arms as a worthwhile use of a skill/perk slot.  Is that 5% worth it or not?  It apparently also boosts mentoring a bit, but as you can see above, by all of 1%.

I have two vehicles coming up where I am going to have to decide how to move forward.  The KV-3, whose crew I showed above, and the Jagpanther, which I suspect I will be driving a lot in April, since it is the Tank of the Month and gets a 30% boost to credits.

For the Jagpanther, I am going to go with something akin to the Type 59 crew.  Sixth Sense for the commander and Designated Target for the gunner being my gut priority.

And with the KV-3, which tends to be a giant shot magnet, I am tending towards Eagle Eye, Deadeye, Preventative Maintenance, Safe Stowage, and whatever repair and fire fighting skills I can squeeze in, just to enhance survivability.  Six Sense seems like a waste as pretty much everybody seems to see me when I move around.

What do you think?  How do you fill up the skill/perk slots on your crews?  What seems to really help and what is a waste of a slot?