Aging Well – A Dark Age of Camelot Interview with Producer Stuart Zissu

A familiar brand to many PvP fans, Dark Age of Camelot has met acclaim from gamers and media as the fundamental PvP (or RvR more accurately) MMORPG experie
A familiar brand to many PvP fans, Dark Age of Camelot has met acclaim from gamers and media as the fundamental PvP (or RvR more accurately) MMORPG experience. After almost nine years on the market it has become inevitable that the game would become dated. It is true that the technology is old, but is its life nearing its end? Not according to the game’s Producer, Stuart Zissu.

I sat down with Zissu at gamescom in the German-Club-themed business area for the EA teams to discuss the current state of the game, where it was going, and even where it has been. Zissu was very pleasant and candid with me and, it wasn’t hard to tell that his appreciation of the game was quite genuine.

dark age of camelot screenshot
February of this year, Mythic Entertainment adopted the European market of DAoC players, who were formerly playing under the umbrella of GOA. According to Zissu, the process has gone “phenomenally well.” To support this move, Mythic is working diligently to open a multilingual server. The new server requires an update to the game client as previously the servers assumed everyone playing on them was playing the same language. Once the project is complete all players will be able to play on the same server in their own language, interacting globally with players of all languages. The reasoning behind the move is somewhat obvious. With a game like DAoC, or any other game that relies on Realm vs. Realm combat, player population is paramount to the game’s ability to entertain.

The next item on the docket for Mythic is the addition of Live Events to the game. Zissu explains the project as “immediate and intimate interaction of the players,” meaning the developers and GMs will be in game during these events, organizing and running them. As an example of one of these events, the devs logged into the game from Wednesday through Friday and posed as merchants. They auctioned unique and impressive items to the players through a classic bidding war scenario. More events are in the works, and Zissu assured me the team is committed to making these events fun and bringing the community together.

I asked Zissu how a company like Mythic approaches further development of Dark Age of Camelot which, let’s face it, is of an age of its own.

“We’re going back and reworking some of the UI,” he responded. “We just had our patch 1.105 come out where the training windows were redone to make them a lot more sleek and easy to use. We also improved the buff display. Previously, you could only see 21 buffs even if you had more. So we’re going back and trying to make it as user friendly as we can, not just for the returning and new players, but also for the core market of those who have been playing forever. They’re still very important to us.”

dark age of camelot screenshot
Customer retention is one thing, but DAoC has a lot to live up to. As one of the front runners of enjoyable RvR combat the game has a big challenge retaining that name, especially given the amount of new MMO games coming out, many of which are PvP focused. I asked Zissu how the team stands up to their reputation. His response was immediate.

“The players. We have three sides, which hasn’t been done again since we launched PvP. If one side gets too powerful the other two will team up and bring them back down to size. When we look at the numbers of player on each side they’re pretty well balanced, despite what some may believe. It’s a lot of fun to watch as you’ll see the ebon flow of the war going on, and it’s part of what makes Dark Age of Camelot so much fun.”

The MMO market is a different beast from other games, and it was apparent Zissu knows this. While other genres focus on launch they rarely have very little to consider after the game has been released. That is not the case for MMOGs, and meeting with Zissu at gamescom reinforced that fact. Mythic was also able to reinforce the message that even though DAoC is aging, it’s not yet time to call the coroner.

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