Last week, WarCry had a chance to scoot down to EA Mythic's Fairfax, VA offices and see Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online and Warhammer Online. In the first of these three articles, we look at news from the lands of Camelot.
At the event, EA Mythic released news on what they're doing this year and their latest content initiative Camelot Campaigns.
Article by Dana Massey
In 2007, Dark Age of Camelot is shifting gears. Usually, they release a paid-expansion on time for Christmas, but this year, all the development resources are being redirected to a series of in-game additions they're calling Camelot Campaigns.
A Dragon's Revenge
The weakest aspect of DAoC has traditionally been story. The quests were never too epic and unlike many companies, Mythic has never been a proponent of live events. In their first campaign, "A Dragon's Revenge", that changes.
Each campaign is slated to last six months, across three patches and rolled out in new installments every two weeks. These are not traditional live events, but rather epic encounters and quests that players can enjoy either as they unfold or go back later and work their way through.
In the first campaign, the dragons of each realm become restless and the players must react to them and their minions as they actually go out and alter the world's landscape. For example, a dragon may one day show up over some part of Albion and burn the town. The players will then have a quest to repair it.
This campaign is primarily an exercise in PvE, although Producer Chris Rabideau told us they they're "hoping interest is enough that people don't think of it that way." It is compartmentalized into small and epic encounters alike. These can range from quests for a single player or group to epic encounters against the dragons or their minions. The idea is that while a significant portion of their player-base will enjoy them each week, these quests will stay on the servers for years to come. Theoretically, in a year from now, a new player can experience the fullness of "A Dragon's Revenge", only minutely modified from the original. Rabideau told us they only hoped to alter the portions that relied on real-time events. So, for example, a player in a year might improve that burned town instead of rebuilding it.
Aimed primarily at the level 50 type, EA Mythic explained this as an awareness of who their players are at this stage of the game. They remain committed to the attraction of new players, but realistically, the vast majority of their player-base has level 50 characters. These campaigns should provide periodic and fresh content for players as an added ripple beyond constant RvR.
Consciously, they have also worked to ensure that the rewards for these campaigns will not make them required grinding for the hardcore RvR players. Rabideau promises that the items will be interesting and useful, but not altogether better than anything out there already.
Realm vs. Realm Tidying and Catacombs For Free
Beyond campaigns, EA Mythic hopes to continue the epic task of improving their signature feature: Realm vs. Realm. This PvP game is their lifeblood and through 2007 they have stated goals to optimize performance and remove any frustrations from their game. During the presentation, they pointed to the fixed water combat introduced in 1.87 earlier this month as an example.
The user interface is also getting an overhaul, piece by piece during each patch. Rabideau was not willing to give an exact idea of when the entire thing would be completed, but he estimates that players will likely have a fully 2007 user interface by the end of the year.
Finally, it was also announced that they're moving the bar forward on what players can have for free. Everything up to and including the Catacombs expansion will soon be made available free of charge to new players. This continues their trend of free base content and their efforts to attract new players to their product.
EA Mythic had also identified account services as an area where their game wasn't always competitive with others. Account services are additional changes to their accounts that players can purchase for a small fee, something most games offer. In the next year, look for the following:
- Account Splitting: For fee, two people who play separate characters on a single account can split those characters off into two separate accounts, thus allowing them to retain their characters and play at the same time.
- Gender Respec: Sometimes players make a mistake on the road to level 50. Who wants to start over just to change from male to female or visa versa? No one. Soon players won't have to.
- Character Transfers: With this change, for a fee, players will be able to transfer a character from any single server to another. The only restrictions is that players cannot transfer to or from servers with alternate rule-sets.
- Additional Inventory Slots: Each character in DAoC can hold roughly 500 items on their person. For those who really love to collect, new slots on their character and bank will be made available.
These are just a sample of what EA Mythic has planned and they told us to keep an eye out for other ideas as they come along. For most, these services will likely never be used, but for some, they could be a huge boon.
Peeking Down The Road
Camelot Campaigns is envisioned as the future by the EA Mythic team and they told us flatly that they have no immediate plans to pursue another paid expansion. While that may change in the future, Rabideau pointed out that expansions carry certain expectations in terms of new classes, races and/or areas to explore. He believes that Dark Age of Camelot already has more than enough races, classes and areas to support its player-base and adding to them would likely be a mistake. For this reason, campaigns make much more sense.
There has also been a shuffle in the hierarchy over at EA Mythic. Walt Yarborough, the long time Producer of Dark Age of Camelot, has been promoted to Group Producer in charge of three titles and was replaced by Chris Rabideau.
They're five years old and still going strong on their flagship title, which Yarborough believes looks as good as any MMO on the market. With Labyrinth of the Minotaur live, stable and coming to Europe in February and Camelot Campaigns in full swing, it looks like a good time to be a fan of Dark Age of Camelot.
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