Here's a press release by Mythic with some interesting numbers: Over the last two weeks, presales of Mythic Entertainment’s Dark Age of Camelot, a massive multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG), have reached well beyond initial estimates of 100,000. Retailers are now indicating that it has registered the largest number of presales ever for an MMORPG. Dark Age of Camelot is scheduled for release by Vivendi Universal on October 9. The European release is scheduled for January 2002.
Mythic used NDL’s NetImmerse 3D game engine to meet the unique challenges of developing a detailed fantasy game for more than 30,000 simultaneous players. Based on Arthurian legends, Dark Age of Camelot features an interwoven storyline involving three warring realms out to steal their enemies’ relics. Players can engage in team-based player-vs-player combat, stage raids on enemy territory, or fight monsters with artificial intelligence.
Navigating the expansive environments of Hibernia, Midgard and Albion won’t be easy for game players. Each realm has a totally different look. Norse houses, weapons and landscapes will look foreign to the Britons and Hibernians. Each realm also has its own unique races, with a large number of individual skins and heads for players to choose from when creating their character.
Players will be able to join guilds that specialize in different types of craftsmanship, such as weapon enhancement, armor polishing, and siege machine and catapult building. According to producer Matt Firor, having players skilled in relevant specialized crafts will add an interesting dynamic to gameplay. “All weapons will blunt with use,” he says. “Having a warrior in your party skilled in weapon sharpening will ensure that all your weapons are finely honed.”
Small Company, Huge Game
From landscapes to races to guilds, Dark Age of Camelot is an enormously intricate game. Even Mark Jacobs, president of Mythic Entertainment, had to admit that Dark Age was a massive undertaking for a smaller, independent developer. But he says it’s the size and scope of Dark Age that brings a new dimension to the genre a dimension Mythic would have been hard-pressed to achieve without the NetImmerse engine.
Matt Firor agrees. “The integrated art pipeline in NetImmerse helped us create the rolling terrain and huge zones that are an integral part of Dark Age,” he says. “NetImmerse also has a terrific lighting model that allows for great effects when players use torches and lanterns.”
Art was brought into the game through NDL’s MAXImmerse plug-in, which allowed Mythic’s artists to view and interact with geometry within 3ds max software. Artists received immediate feedback on game performance, substantially reducing the create, design and debugging loop.
“Using NetImmerse and having a partnership with NDL is like having my own graphic engine team in-house,” says Jacobs. “If we had tried to create our own rendering engine from scratch, we would have been looking at an increase of at least two years in our development cycle to match the outstanding capabilities of the NetImmerse engine.”
While Dark Age players use swords, spears and even lightning bolts to smite their enemies, Mythic faces a different kind of fight. “It’s a constant battle to be taken seriously by the media and players as an independent developer going head-to-head with corporate giants,” says Jacobs. “Having the NetImmerse engine and a solid working relationship with NDL bolsters our credibility.”
An ongoing relationship is especially important given that development for Dark Age of Camelot will not stop with its release. “What you see at release is just the beginning of the product’s evolution,” says Jacobs. “The entire company will continue to work on content, improvements and new features in upcoming months."
Dark Age of Camelot is the third major title that Mythic has developed using NetImmerse. “One of the greatest values of the NetImmerse engine is its ability to be used in a wide variety of products,” says Jacobs. “We have used it to create Spellbinder, a first-person action game, and Independence Day, a space-combat simulation game. It’s this flexibility, as well as the engine’s stability, that we prize so highly."