Camelot Unchained Newsletter

http://us5.campaign-archive2.com/?u=2b70fd18d895dd960141bac55&id=e7b75bf31f&e=e280d6c646

Beta Update!

On Friday, October 2nd, at 3PM EDT/12PM PDT/7PM UTC, we will do a livestream update on when Beta 1 will officially begin. The livestream will focus on the features that will have to be completed before Beta 1 starts, as well as the currently projected date for its opening. This session will be followed by a Q&A with CSE and our Backers, as well as other interested parties. So join us for what will be a very important and informative update for all of our Backers! Our Twitch channel can be found here!

Team Tidings

-by Max Porter

Wow, what an amazing September it’s been! With the weather cooling off and shifting toward one of the nicest and most pretty times of year in these parts, we too are shifting our focus toward the nicer and more pretty parts of makingCamelot Unchained™. So much has happened here at City State Entertainment™ over the past month!

We had the Dragon Con presentation, which was great fun for all concerned, and showed off some of our cool stuff! You can bet there’ll be more on that later in the newsletter. We had two new senior programmers join the team, Marc and George, and it’s been fantastic to see them fitting in so well! They’ve made so many improvements to the build already, with lots more still to come, from them and the whole team.

On top of that, we’ve been having lots of fun with things like Friday Night Fights, tons of tests the rest of the time, and many excellent additions as we continue our march toward Beta and beyond. With our class reveals coming out and our lovely Backers voting on which trio to reveal next (go here to check out the trios!), it’s an especially exciting time.

In the office, well, those desks in the programmer pit that were lying empty for so long have finally been filled (yay!), while improved weather has led to more meetings being held on the balcony. The gaming table is currently co-opted for Cory to build a rig on it, even as a new table laden with some testing rigs has been laid out in the corner. On the opposite side of the room, one of the bare walls has been designated an exercise space, used mostly by James, Jon, and Scott to stretch out their backs after long hours hard at work on amazing art.

Truly, this newsletter has got way too much goodness to even touch on it all here, so I will just let you get right to it. Read on for your favorite articles, news, lore, thoughts, and tons more, and please enjoy this, the fourteenth issue of Unveiled.

General Updates

So many things to update you all on! First off, we brought on Marc Hernandez and George Davison, the two senior programmers we hired as fulfillment of our “Programmers, where art thou programmers?” Stretch Goal. Marc is a senior network/server engineer, who worked at Kixeye, LucasArts, Carbine, Insomniac, and Oddworld Inhabitants. Among the games he has worked on are two Oddworld titles, Resistance, Wildstar, and Star Wars: First Assault. George is a senior graphics engineer with an equally impressive resume. He has worked at Runic Games, Bungie, Warner Bros, Paradigm, and others. His list of titles includes such major titles as Hob, Destiny, and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Huge welcome to these guys, who’ve already added some significant pieces to the build! Check out the video we did with the pair of them, here.

Just in case you missed it, we had Mark, Andrew, Brian, Michelle, Dave, and Tyler on a panel at Dragon Con! You can watch the video here with some pretty cool hints, announcements, and Q&A within. They really had a blast, right along with the audience!

On top of all that, we’ve also begun the “Fall Season of Class Presentations” here at CSE. If you’re a Backer, you should have gotten a survey in your email (contact support@camelotunchained.com if you are a Backer and you have not received that survey), asking you what trio of classes we should reveal next! We are all extremely excited to be making these presentations, and we can’t wait to discuss them with you all. Take a look at the silhouettes you’re voting on, here!

CMSphere

-by Jenesee Grey

This is where we talk directly to you, the Community!

Happy September, Community! The studio is bustling as we enjoy the lovely weather at the end of summer. Beards are growing, pumpkin spice is flowing, and we are knuckling down. It’s been quite an exciting month! The team had our first ever group appearance and panel at a convention, and it went very well. Thank you so much to the Alpha and IT players who came online to be a part of our (also first ever!) live gameplay, for the panel crowd. It was truly exciting to show off the new terrain system and have so many players do battle! Many people have been asking me for some actual footage of the game, so here you go! If you have not seen the new gameplay or videos featured during that Dragon Con event, you can do so here. (Starts 11:33)

We are beginning to plan a lot of Community events, so please take a look in the forums on our website and let us know if you have ideas for meetups as we plan our con schedule for the coming year.

I’ve been spending time talking with our German, French, and Italian Backers, and it is really wonderful to see how news of Camelot Unchained is beginning to spread around the world. You are so generous with your time, helping to share and build the worldwide CU Community! Let us know if you have a fan site you want to feature, and download the fan kit from the front page of the English website.

Speaking of sharing, we were glad to hear that one of our friendly guilds, The Syndicate, had a very fun and successful gaming convention this year in Las Vegas, where they generously had a raffle for the Boys and Girls club, as well as the American Cancer Society. We were pleased to help them raise $11,300 toward these worthy causes by donating some tiers for the raffle. If you attended their event, which had more than 200 guild members, we hope you had a great time!

They even sent us some swag to celebrate!

Community Question!

Q: Are there going to be seasonal or unique events/creatures/occurrences in the game world? I always dream of an MMO that features the functionality of something like a Neverwinter Nights server where DMs can spawn monsters or placeables, and control creatures to breathe life into the world.

A: Creideamh, while it is too early for me to answer definitively on this, I can certainly speculate and dream with you. My opinion is that seasonal/special events will occur, and I’ll give you four reasons why:

  • The Depths™
  • The Veilstorms
  • The Procedurally Generated Terrain Editor
  • MJ
  • RP Server

Ok, I lied, that was five reasons. We all know that The Depths is a very special place, with its own feelings and reactions, both predictable and unpredictable, and that surely counts as a lovely setup for some chaos, as well as for some special events. As conditions change in The Depths, especially if one Realm controls it for too long, things could really change within. It is also the perfect stage for some unpredictably predictable events!

Another way this could occur is through Veilstorms, which could be used to kick off special events. For example, the Veilstorms could mirror systems like theSanta Ana Winds in California, on a seasonal basis. Additionally, Veilstorms can gather in places where an overabundance of magic has been used, say a long-running, pitched battle. What reaction will occur when it hits right in the middle of the open fields around you? As Mark would say, time will tell.

By now, we hope you have seen our presentation on the Procedurally Generated Terrain Editor, and how amazing changes can be made to the game world in real time (if you haven’t, head here to check it out). This tool makes it very easy for us to make changes to the world itself, if we should so choose. A few clicks in the Editor, and poof! *the world has changed* If we hold live events, this tool would be a very important weapon in our arsenal.

One big factor would have to be MJ. As we know from his past games, he isn’t opposed to seasonal events. Now, Mark has said that we don’t want to simply do what other games have done. He has also said that if we do events, they should tie into our game’s world. So you should keep this in mind, as well.

Finally, since the Kickstarter began, we have talked about having a special RP server, which would have DMs/GMs running events, enforcing the rules, etc. An RP server is something that Mark has said will be left to the players themselves, to tell us if they want to support it. As is usual with us, we want to hear from our Backers on this issue, and there is a long-running discussion on our forums about it!

Hot Topics

These are the Hot Topics of the week! Classes are the word of the day, and the forum is having its own friendly voting and arguing for favorite trios.

Join us on the forums on ourwebsite to bring your thoughts and ideas to the discussion table!

Look What You Did

Wow, thank you so much to all who entered our Frost Giant art contest. We really, really enjoyed every single entry, they were all so incredibly cool. We picked a winner and a runner-up!

In first place, we have this totally awesome illustration that captures a dramatic moment from the Jötnar story, done by Hellminster:

As a runner-up, we’ve got this truly characterful entry by Roque:
For our next contest, it will be time to get into the Halloween spirit! Carve up a pumpkin to look like something from CU, whether one of the class reveals, ducks, dragons, favorite race, or what-have-you! Take a photo and post it in the thread you’ll see in the Fan Art section of the forums on our website. We can’t wait to see what you all come up with this year!

Thank You

To start off the thank-yous, we’ve got a bit of an apology. We never properly thanked Ludovic in a newsletter for the clay and armature wire he sent us! Or as he called it, a “Do-it-yourself 3D printer”. So, thank you, Ludovic!
Next up, a familiar name in the hallowed halls of the Thank You section: Failboat. Once again, he’s kept the gamedev engines powering onward, with these incredibly delicious gifts! Thank you, Failboat!

Dose of Design

-by Ben Pielstick

Iterative Design

Since the last time we talked about combat in a newsletter, a lot of additional questions have been asked about combat in CU. A few of these have been addressed in replies to forum threads you can check by going through our websitehere if you are or want to become a Backer. In addition, I thought I’d take the time to write a follow-up here, in order to address the reasoning behind our approach to some of the more unique design elements. That is to say, here’s a little of the method behind the madness.

It is a nearly universal truth in game design that when you try pitching an idea you’re going to get responses with two main lines of concern. One is that the design is too similar to other games. This causes worry either because the respondent isn’t fond of other games cited, or because the similarity to what has been done before isn’t seen as innovative enough, leading to a perception of simply copying rather than coming up with something new and fun. The other main line of concern is that the design is not similar enough to other games. This can be a concern because if an idea is too unfamiliar, too hard to understand (too BSC?), then analogies to other games start to fall apart, and it can become difficult for the respondent to imagine how the idea could work without a basis for comparison.

In the case of our previous article, some concerns were brought up out of the overall highly-positive response. These were largely of the latter type of concern, which is that maybe some of the direction we’re taking is going too far, and that maybe some of the BSC ideas we’ve proposed really are too BSC and need to be toned down. Rather than telling you we’ve got this all figured out, and that we have full confidence in everything we’ve proposed, I’m going to tell you the opposite: Our conceptual designs that haven’t been tested yet are far from written in stone. This is an important distinction for us, and hopefully further explanation can provide a little more insight into the way we’re piecing Camelot Unchainedtogether.

While we are often lighthearted in the way we present things as BSC, we have a very serious reason behind it: We want to emphasize that these ideas knowingly push the limits of what should be considered reasonable and safe design concepts. Rather than coming up with a finalized design at the beginning of the project, handing it off for implementation, and then shipping the game at the end of the development cycle, our approach has been different. We come up with tentative design ideas to try out while we build an engine. This gives us a chance to try things out a little at a time along the way. We can see what works and what doesn’t, and then make some changes, replace the parts that don’t work until we find parts that do, and eventually arrive at a final result by the time the engine is ready.

If our first attempt had to be our final design, we obviously would have to curtail our ideas a lot more heavily, in an attempt to play things safe from the start. Fortunately, that’s not the case! Instead, we have the opportunity to imagine new possibilities, ones that might work better than what’s been done before, and take some risks trying them out. The hope is that this will allow new ideas (which might seem a bit crazy at first) to evolve into solid, fun, unique features that we wouldn’t have a chance to develop otherwise.

Of course, crazy ideas also might not work out at all in the end, so keep in mind they definitely aren’t set in stone. At the very least, we always have the option to fall back on what we’re all familiar with from titles we’ve worked on in the past, if we can’t find a new and better way to do something. All of this is to say that at a minimum we’ll end up with what we already know how to do, and could implement pretty easily if we decide we need to, while the best case is actually something new and better, to be determined through ongoing testing and feedback. Largely for this purpose, our active Alpha and Beta testing process has been started much earlier than is often the case in the development of other games, and we will be continuing regular tests until launch. We want to keep trying things out and discovering where changes are needed, both in terms of performance and gameplay.

There are a lot of new exciting features coming up on our User Stories, including stances, weapon types, armor, archery, melee combo attacks, and body part damage, which will all need extensive testing that will no doubt lead to a number of rounds of improvements. We’re very excited to see where the process of trying out each new feature takes us as we continue moving toward delivering a fully-featured combat experience in Camelot Unchained. Whether you’re already testing with us, or even if you aren’t a part of our testing group, there will still be a lot to see and read about in the coming months. A lot of the things you’ve already heard about will no doubt change and improve, as more of our focus shifts from building the basics of our engine toward delivering the overall mechanics involved in playing the game.

Developer Quote

“I work with a lot of smart people. 🙂 Could not have done it without them, nor without Andrew and Mark’s decision to tackle the tough stuff first” – Tyler Rockwell, Producer

Artitup

-by Scott Trolan

September’s been a wild month. In preparation to present Camelot Unchained at Dragon Con, the team really pulled together to accomplish a wide array of tasks. Tyler spearheaded a massive, jaw-dropping push on getting terrain and world art assets into the game, tweaking everything he could. Michelle refined existing artwork and oversaw printing for promotional posters to be awarded as giveaways for crowd participation. We anticipated the likelihood that our audience might not be familiar with our game, so MJ and I worked together to create explanations and highlight videos to showcase at the event. If you haven’t seen the footage of the Q&A Panel or the BONUS highlight videos, check it all out here:
Jon has been working on a second pass of our male and female Human models. The changes not only look amazing, but are actually lower in poly count. Jon rocks.
Sandra has been focused on defining Realm armor to work within our character creation requirements. Even under concept restrictions and reuse, Sandra has pulled off an amazing amount of uniqueness and style for all three Realms.
James K. has been working with Ben, prototyping UI elements to best display the newly-introduced Wounds game mechanic. And when he found time, he worked on redesigning our main website.

And lastly, I’ll mention that James K. and Michelle worked together to create the new Class Reveals page on our website, for the purpose of unveiling the new classes of Camelot Unchained as you, our Backers, vote on which ones to further develop. If you like any of the trios, we’ve made wallpapers of ‘em all.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!

Tech Central

 -by Bull Durham

Every Designer’s Favorite Tool, a.k.a. If it ain’t broke…

A long time ago, in a Texas town far, far away, I was a designer on a Science Fantasy MMO made by BioWare. We had a plethora of challenges to overcome in order to push that game out of the studio. During this time, I was responsible (along with several other people) for making bad guys do stuff in mass quantities. Unfortunately, the tools only allowed you to do one thing at one time, and there was NO search functionality. Do you want to change all instances of the “Horrible Game Designer” monster to “Scumbag” across the game? OK, better block out two days of clicking on every monster in the game, finding the bad names, checking it out of the database, pasting the new name, clicking save, and checking it back in. If you’re lucky, the display names of the monster align with the ID of the monster in the database. Yes, the ID was a string. If you are a programmer, you should probably be cringing right now.

Anywho, since I am a very lazy person, I really hated doing this. However, I am also a gamer, so I spent the first four hours of this ridiculous task seeing how many I could get done per hour. After lunch I did a little bit of napkin-math and calculated that it would take me approximately 42 million days (give or take) to do this. So I didn’t do it. I opened up the END ALL AND BE ALL of design tools, Microsoft Excel.

A side note to any would-be game designers out there. If you don’t use spreadsheets to design your game, you are almost certainly doing it wrong. Seriously, if you go to a game design interview, you might want to bring some spreadsheets on a thumb drive with you (but only if they don’t suck).

Anyway, if you are familiar with Excel, you probably know that it has scripting using the Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language. This is kind of like Visual Basic, except you can’t do a lot with it, and you have to type a lot of words in order to convey the simplest of concepts. Kind of like if Dickens wrote a programming language. Still, it is scripting, and you can parse XML (Extensible Markup Language) with it. Which just happened to be the same format that the data for our game was stored in. After some tinkering with it, I found that I could read the data off of my computer, parse the XML, and have it appear in a spreadsheet. This meant that I no longer had to click on every monster in the editor looking for the name, I could just sort by the name in the spreadsheet and find them. Excelsior!

So this was good enough to get it done. I spent the rest of the day writing a parsing spreadsheet and then knocked out the remainder of the task the next morning. Unfortunately, since I got it done faster, I showed some other people so they could also work faster. Then I was bringing in more functionality to the spreadsheet in order to do other cool things, like find and delete misplaced monsters. Since monsters take up server time, deleting ones that exist but can’t be seen because they are sitting at origin effectively made the game run faster, and released our monster budget so we could add more monsters to the game.

Then I did the unthinkable. I decided that since I can read data, why not write it back out using the same method? Being the novice programmer I was, I didn’t know enough about XML to be confident that I could do it. Being a former jet mechanic, I knew that it would not be a good idea to test out an idea without confidence, so I asked a programmer how to do it. One thing led to another, there was a minor freak out, and I was told more or less that if I did something like circumvent the tools that I could be in a lot of trouble. I kept doing it anyway. Eventually, I guess they decided they could keep a closer eye on me if they made me an engineer, and I accepted. Sadly, I never got to finish my Awesome Excel tool, because they gave me something more important to do.

Now fast forward to right now. Ben is working on getting a lot of abilities ready for our game. Mark and Ben want to be able to iterate on them rapidly, and they know Excel. They love Excel. They use Excel to do ALL the things. So Mark asked if I could use Excel to import data for abilities. I said:

“Yes, yes I can.”

So right now I’m in the middle of a task to write a mass edit tool that uses Excel spreadsheets to interface with our in-house tool set, effectively coming full circle with how I got involved with programming in the first place. What we are going to do is allow Ben and Mark to edit a spreadsheet with all of the ability data, open our tool, and import the data. Our tool will read it, figure out the intent, and change the game accordingly. How? Well, Microsoft has a library that we can use in the tools to help us read the spreadsheet Ben makes. It will go through line by line, find the appropriate entry in the database, look for changes, and then make those changes.

After it is done editing the data – if it has encountered no problems – it will then save the whole caboodle to the database and you will all see it. What do we gain by doing this? Well, coupled with real-time data, we could possibly see that all Arthurians are cheating, exploiting, jerk faces (are there any other kinds of Arthurians?) because Ben made slight a miscalculation with fire, and we need to fix all of them Right Now™. Ben could shave a little pepper off of the power of all of the fiery things in the same spreadsheet he uses to balance the abilities, and export it immediately to the game. Within minutes, Vikings are again smashing Arthurian faces the way Mark and Ben intended*.

I’m really quite excited about this, since it ties back in with how I got started with engineering in the first place. Ben and Mark are excited because they get to work the way they want to, and not have to go through the tedious part of taking what they (and most other game designers in the industry) make in Excel and move it to the tools. We’re saving the time they would otherwise spend doing the boring stuff, and giving them the freedom to use their time to make the game better. In the end, you’ll get a better game for it.

* Mark and Ben don’t prefer one Realm over another. No really, they don’t. Cross my cold black heart.

State Of The Build

 -by Brian Green

Game development is a challenging field. Most game programmers could make a lot more money in another field, but the challenges unique to game development often keep programmers interested. Marc Hernandez, one of our new engineers, said that game development is a soft real-time field, but nobody in the offline world dies if you make a mistake. 🙂

One of the most interesting challenges to me is finding interesting gameplay. One of the goals of Camelot Unchained is to try out unique, or “BSC”, systems. For example, the design specifies that the game will have a combat system that uses different body parts instead of using the “one giant bar of hit points” model that other games use. While there have been other games that have used this type of system, nobody has used it for a TriRealm™ game. How do we design and implement the system to be fun?

Our big advantage is that we have a lot of very experienced people on the team, particularly people who have done player vs. player (PvP) combat in the past. None of us have necessarily made a combat system that used body parts before, but our experience lets us envision how it would fit within this type of game. As we design and implement the gameplay, we make a ton of little decisions that affect the outcome.

It can be hard to judge how a system will come out, though. Think about a game like a map of terrain, and the height represents the amount of fun. You might find a hill where things are pretty fun, called a “local maximum”. Then you might reason that there’s an even taller hill just beyond the horizon that nobody has seen. But, as you move toward that point, you’re going to have to go through a valley between the hills where the game is less fun. It can be hard to anticipate how well things are going until you start climbing that other hill.

This isn’t to say that our expectations are always 100% correct. The exciting thing about MMO development is that players will do crazy things you don’t expect. Along the way, we have our Backers that offer suggestions about the system. Many of us at CSE read the forums on a regular basis, and watch for feedback along with bug reports. In the end, we will create an even better system, one that brings more fun and a unique experience to the game.

And, now, a selection of patch notes from this past month:

  • We have added a bunch of new sounds to the game: ambient sounds for the night/day cycle, rain ambiance for stormy weather, and basic footsteps.
  • Added impostors to the world, so that objects at a distance can render a simplified version to greatly improve client performance.
  • Added rules to the plots in the game that we use to test building. Players can now take ownership of a building plot for their Realm… until they are killed, and ownership can be taken by another Realm!
  • First pass of the body part and injuries system!
  • Right now, there’s only one body part, the torso. More will come in the near future!
  • Torso health is now separate from the blood pool used to power your spells.
  • When a body part takes enough damage, a trauma and a wound are applied. A trauma is a short-term effect that can be removed with sufficient overhealing, but a wound is a debuff that stays until cured by a healer.
  • If a character takes enough wounds to the torso, he or she will die.

Backer Spotlight

-Jenesee asks TimothyTierless

This month’s spotlight is on (teenage mutant ninja turtle) Tierless, the excellent bi-weekly columnist over on MMORPG.com, and long-time blogger and major fan of Camelot Unchained! Jenesee asked a few questions about his process, and as usual, Tierless responded in spades, and left us in stitches!

Q: Why did you decide to play Camelot Unchained?

A: Short answer, Mark Jacobs. Medium answer (the long one is too long for this) is I watched Mark (whom at that time I only knew as “one of the WAR devs”) come to MMORPG.com, post his ideas, take criticism and engage with his trolling detractors. I was impressed with his character and even more so his candor. Mark’s foundational principles made me a fan of Camelot Unchained. It sounded like everything so many of the old school MMORPGers had been begging for for nearly 10 years! It might have ended up “too good to be true” but I didn’t care. I decided CU would be the last time I invested in the development of an MMO and I was going to do everything I could to help it succeed. If it was another marketing swerve into a let down like so many other MMOs had been I was walking away from the genre for good, in fact right about the time Mark came out with the CU concept I was almost gone. Just when I thought I was out–he pulled me back in!

Q: What is the story behind your column at MMORPG.com?

A: I got lucky! Little known fact, they pay me in Cheeze-Its! Ok, back when CU was picking up momentum I decided it would be fun to start a blog to talk about the concepts and sort of document the experience. KS games were fairly new and I knew it was going to be a long ride. I was sort of fascinated with the entire concept and thought it might be fun to look back and see how things panned out. It also gave me a place to “slip into character” and rant about all things MMO without people writing “TLDR” after my posts! I did that for a few years for love and for fun then one day Mark posted on the CU forums that MMORPG was looking to hire a writer for a bi-weekly CU column. At first I thought “nah I’m not a writer, I’m just having fun” but then many of my CU brethren encouraged me. I can’t say enough about the encouragement from the community! We have some incredible people supporting this game. I thought about it, weighed the boons and banes and decide to give it a shot. Fortunately the powers that be must not have read my blogs because they hired me. As grateful as I am to the CU community I am just as grateful to Bill Murphy and everyone at MMORPG for giving a fan a chance.

Q: As a bi-weekly columnist, do you feel you have enough new information to write a compelling article this often?

A: Enough!? I often have too much! It’s hard to get what can sometimes be several updates and the MASSIVE newsletter cut down to 1000 words or less! If CSE has surpassed any one expectation so far, it is in the amount of information you guys keep putting out. Don’t think I’m complaining! It’s a great problem to have, both as a writer and especially as a Backer.

Q: How do you walk that line between objective critic and fan?

A: The first step is admitting that CU does have a special place in my little black heart. As hard as I try I will have a natural bias even if it is subconscious. Once you admit it you can try to prevent it. I take my journalistic integrity seriously and have adjusted how I interact within the CUniverse in an attempt to write from a more unbiased perspective. When I read updates, how much time I spend talking about them on the forums and how close to the IT stuff I get have all been adjusted to help me interpret CU information from a less biased perspective.

I also have the benefit of CU being early enough in development that a lot of it is still a rough concept which doesn’t demand as much criticism as a more developed idea. Once things get further along I will certainly be more critical of them. I don’t think it’s fair to assault an early concept unless it’s so blatantly terribad that it NEEDS a preemptive strike. Most ideas will either work, fail, or just be meh. I’m willing to let most concepts grow and either stand or fall on their own. The hard part is knowing when to say “ok, I’ve given this a thorough shot, it’s simply not working”.

Q: What is the process like for writing these articles?

A: Figuring out how to write as “Timothy” was a process in itself. “Tierless” was easy to RP, turn the dial to 10, drink some beers sit down and go! No rules, all fun and games, almost never too serious. Now I’m representing the CUniverse and MMORPG.com! Who am I writing for? What is my voice? Why didn’t Raph’s sunglasses ever fall off his head in the new TMNT movie? Will I let down the CU community? These were all serious questions I asked myself before I started writing the column. It’s still not where I want it to be but I feel like the columns have been improving (other than the stealth column I bombed-damn pressure).

I quickly realized I needed to modify how I took in CU information in order to cover it in a less bias and less “inside” way. Since its bi-weekly I save the updates until a few days before the column and I don’t go to the forums to talk about them before I’ve written about them. There are simply too many good/intelligent people posting about the topics and it moves my original view/opinions of them. I read through all of the CNews (see what I did there) and jot notes with a real pen on real paper (I’m oldschool). That is my absolute live reaction and I think it’s important to note how I interpreted the information as I first processed it. Then I basically start roughing out ideas in my head. I tend to go through a few ideas and some angles/thoughts on those ideas as I go about my day. When I finally sit down to write it sort of just comes out (most of the time-damned stealth column ganked me)

Q: You have an interesting style of crazy humor and serious reveals on your thoughts. Where did you develop this?

A: I’d love to say I have a background in design and marketing and it’s a communication process I developed to help subtly convey a concept while making the words memorable not unlike the CSE user stories (or Yoda talk for you Star Wars Fans-wait, that means EVERYONE, doesn’t it?) but I’d be lying. I don’t know if anyone has seen me on the Opposition Podcast (I’m sorry if you did) but the truth is it’s basically how I am. Not much gray, either all in or all out with a lot of over the top BS mixed in. I just turn it up for the column (or podcast) to hopefully give the reader a fun experience that they can be entertained by but also relate to. I certainly have fun doing it and hope some of that energy comes through. I also watched way too much pro-wrestling as a kid, that might be part of it…ok I STILL watch way too much pro wrestling! I can’t help it! Daddy needs his male soap opera! NXT rules! WOOOoooo!!!!!

Q: What are your thoughts on current development?

A: These are the good times. Everything until this point was gritty preparation. It was laying the foundation. Now that that is done the pretty stuff can begin! Animations, classes, building, burning buildings! I feel like this is the beginning of the most fun phase. After this comes the push to launch which I assume is as exciting as it is terrifying with a lot of tough decisions to be made and testing to be done. At this point, we get to see and even experience the incredible ideas we’ve read about for years. It’s experimental MMO art and we get to participate in it. It’s a great time to be a backer.

Q: Where can people go to find your work?

A: Don’t bother, I wouldn’t, but I hear cool and famous people think it’s swell (I lie I have 0 evidence to back that up) so you should too! You can find my columnhere, my general MMORPG blog here, and my twitter here. If you want to see my softer side I also dabble in engraved paintings as well as pics of pretty clouds located here.

Enough about me! I want to thank CSE and the CU community for supporting the column. Every click helps show sites like MMORPG.com that CU is worth covering. Thanks for your support and contributions, I appreciate it!

Lore Corner

-by Max Porter

TRIGGER WARNING: In a world full of dark stories, the Becoming of the Valkyrie has always been one of the darkest. This tale touches on a number of adult themes that may be disturbing, such as rape, murder, torture, and mass killings. This Becoming tale was originally written by Mark Jacobs, and has now been expanded and developed by Loremaster Max Porter. Here is the first part of the tale.

 The Becoming ™ – Valkyrie Part 1

“Gather round, my children, and hear the Fornaldarsaga of the Valkyrie, the story of our race’s birth,” said the aged Valkyrie as she fluttered her wings. After many long years of flying, they had begun to show signs of decay, but they were still strong, and kicked up a swirl of snow in the courtyard.

The group of youngsters quickly surrounded her. “You have come of age, and are now old enough to know this dark tale. For though our story is horrible and gruesome, it must never be forgotten. Do not be embarrassed to shed tears. Tears are not a sign of weakness. Empathy is our great virtue, and we learn it from our origins. As you listen, recall our code, and the oath you have all taken.” Shaken by the elder Valkyrie’s serious tone, the boys and girls sat in silence, their wild-haired heads bobbing attentively in time with her story.

It is true that the Piercing of the Veil brought many terrors into this world. Yet we cannot ignore the awful truth: The world has twisted souls who do not need the influence of a Veilstorm to commit acts of the most terrible kind.

In one of the mighty fjords of our Realm, the was a small island that held an even tinier village. Hardy folk lived fished and roamed the fjord, mostly young people and a few persevering elders. Unimaginable alterations swept through the land after the Piercing; yet this tiny village somehow managed to weather the storms on this remote island. Life became very hard when the rocking waves and fierce winds destroyed their boats, cutting them off from the mainland. Hunger seeped through the village like a poison, as fishing was difficult and no one could get to the mainland without a boat.

A young lady named Brynhildr was one who never gave up hope. She roamed the small island, clutching the necklace her mother gave her for luck, looking for precious driftwood to help the boat-makers with their task, though they never asked her.

Brynhildr had always been a willful child. She was much more interested in the aggressive games that the village boys played than in the dolls that her little sisters liked. From the time she was very small, the girl excelled at their gambols and their battle training, surpassing all the boys her age. As they all grew, the boys eventually surpassed her in size and strength, but she changed her fighting style accordingly. With her martial skill, she became a match for anyone.

She became known as a protector early on. When one of the warlike games played by the older boys rew too rough, leaving the younger ones on the verge of tears, it was Brynhildr who stepped in. Ducking and weaving, she brought down the older, stronger boys with a few well-placed blows. “Don’t do that again,” she told them firmly. “Fight someone who can fight back.”
From then on, the smaller boy she’d saved followed her movements, trying to learn from her.

Her parents were very proud of Brynhildr’s accomplishments, for in her chest beat the heart of a true warrior. The girl promised to keep her mother’s necklace safe forever. But that promise would prove as difficult to keep as catching the autumn wind.

The wind blew over the island, making the long grasses wave their fading green finery in supplication of the sky. The wind carried a salty cold that made the island’s inhabitants shiver. The few children who were doing their chores glanced up and hoped it wasn’t another storm. Something about the cold wind made them want to go somewhere, want to go exploring, anywhere on the little island that they hadn’t seen before, as if to escape the rattling wind and its icy fingers. It was the wind of the coming fall, bringing a new or different scent of the sea, of things roiled in the black deeps. The wind whistled through the cracks in the walls and the wicker baskets that they carried across town.

The wind brought a dot on the horizon that grew and grew, grabbing the attention of the villagers with a glimpse of salvation. The cry rang round the village like the tolling of a bell: A sail, a sail! A ship from the mainland!

The villagers rejoiced, dropping their desperate boatmaking and their daily tasks. They rushed down to the shore, waving their arms excitedly. Rescued at last! Men and women laughed and smiled a welcome, overjoyed at their good fortune. They couldn’t have been more horribly wrong.

As the sail rode the ominous wind closer to the island, some of the older villagers grew concerned, for it had the look of a warship. But they had nothing worth taking in their little village, and the weapons on deck stayed in their scabbards. Fear faded as the men and scattered women of the crew smiled and waved to the villagers on shore as if they were long-lost relatives.

Brynhildr stood among the crowd near the shore. She smiled and nodded with the other girls as they laughed in relief and commented on which warrior was the most comely. Something in her heart felt sick with fear, though Brynhildr could not say why. She fingered the amulet around her neck, then hid it under her shirt.

One of the boys, a younger brother to the one that Brynhildr had saved, ran down to greet the first man that splashed ashore. Beaming up at the tall, roughly dressed warrior, the boy grinned happily. Even though the lad barely reached the warrior’s knee, he burst out, “Let me carry some of your gear ashore, sir!”

The stranger grinned in return and tousled the boy’s auburn hair. Without changing expression, the man drew his sword and swung it in a tight arc, cleanly separating the boy’s head from his shoulders. It happened in an instant. The boy’s helpful smile spun as his head bounced away, and his lifeless body collapsed onto the sand, gushing blood.

There was a moment of stunned silence among the onlookers. Then, as the rest of the warriors howled and leaped ashore, they broke and ran screaming. None of them could run very far; the island was small and had nowhere to hide. They were gathered together like stray cattle, with no chance to organize a defence against the overwhelming power of the raiders. The days of brutality had only just begun, dark days that most only speak of in the faintest of whispers.

The invaders ran amok, murdering villagers in ways that should have sickened even the most hardened warrior. And yet they were just getting started. Some of the villagers were bound and used for target practice. Several young men were castrated and used by the invaders in the most horrific ways. This was not done to fulfill bodily desire. The strangers wished for power and pain, causing their victims to suffer in the cruelest way they could conceive.

The village elders were treated as pack animals. The invaders competed with each other to devise ever-crueler ways to humiliate and demoralize them. Contests were held to see who could come up with the most novel way to break an old man through sheer exertion. When the last of this group died, the tormentors turned their attention to the dozens of imprisoned villagers.

Commencing a drunken feast, they separated the survivors into two groups. One group was immediately forced to serve their new masters. They were made to posture like dogs and beg for what little food they were given. This first evening was filled with laughter, folk weeping in between playing the mad game.

The more awful their abuse, the more the invaders laughed and celebrated their own imagined bravery and strength. They forced the villagers to thank them for the “honor” bestowed on the “lucky” survivors. The warriors drank themselves into a stupor at their vile feast, yet never relaxed their grip on their weapons. There was no question of resistance; the surviving villagers were weak and shivering with humiliation and fear.

The new dawn did not deliver true daylight to the village. The sun rose faint and red, sickly and ominous. The second group of captives had been dressed in their finest garments and told to wait until their “kindly new masters” summoned them to that night’s feast. The minutes turned to hours, and their apprehension mounted as they recalled the sounds of the night before; The terrified screams and desperate sobs of their friends, mingled with the derisive laughter of the warriors.

They prayed to the sky, to the old gods, to any powers that would save them and their lost loved ones. But when the summons to the feast finally came, there was still no response from the heavens.

Shuddering, the villagers were dragged to the central square. Each captive in turn was made to stand on a table. They were then measured and assessed in every degrading way possible. Each warrior, according to rank, was allowed to choose one villager. The rest were told to stand ready, in case any of the chosen didn’t “want to see the new morning.”

A “priest” was called forth, a grinning and dancing fat man who draped white cloth over his armor. In a mockery of ceremony, each of the captives was wed to the warrior who had chosen him or her. Then, their hands bound, the newlyweds were dragged into private rooms for their ‘wedding night.’ The horrors that went on there were greater than anything that had come before. The subhuman torturers laughed and laughed long into the night, stopping only when the villagers were fortunate enough to stop screaming forever.

As time passed and the days blurred together, the terrors eventually became predictable. Some sufferers grew numb, and walked aimlessly about, mere shells of human beings. This emotionless state irritated the invaders, for they hungered for the struggle, for blood and terror. So the warriors began to devise new and unthinkable ways to torture their captives, trying to make them respond. Some of the aimless ones were beaten with spears, while survivors were forced to beg for more abuse each night.

Through everything, Brynhildr tried to retain her sanity. When she hadn’t seen her parents for days, she knew they were gone. She was luckier; passed over for some of the worst horrors, and only kept in a pen like an animal, along with the boy she had once defended. He survived the castration and ensuing abuse, and endured quietly, teeth clenched, while others wept.

The dramatic conclusion coming soon in Part 2! 

Bonus Image!

We can’t let you go without taking a look at this marvelous construction by Gnôl Neanias (formerly Vixxen), all lit up in the twilight:
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