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Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles News Interview
Turner 'Bulldog' Hopkinson :: 12:00 AM @ November 23rd, 2002 :: In-House: Intervi
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When was Shrouded Isles decided upon and given the go ahead?
As soon as it became apparent that Dark Age of Camelot was going to be successful, we started planning for an expansion - probably two months after release (October 2001). By January 2002 we had a team dedicated to creating the new art and zones, and full-scale development started soon after. Of course we have also been dedicated to updating the original game, and had to juggle the expansion development team with the live development team. So far, it seems to have been a pretty successful plan.
What can you tell us about the new islands themselves?
Each of the new islands brings something new to its respective Realm. In all three cases, the island was once considered "part of" the Realm it belongs to, or at least did in legendary times. In the game's present time, the island has been taken over by a hostile force, and it is up to the players to liberate it. For example, the Midgard island of Aegir is home to the Troll Fathers, a legendary race of creatures whom both the present-day Trolls and Kobolds claim are their ancestors. No one has actually been to Aegir or seen a Troll Father, but legends and stories have been passed down through the years telling of their wisdom, power, and great deeds. In the Shrouded Isles present, a Troll Father, battered and weary, makes his way to Midgard, a messenger from Aegir. He says the island is under siege by the Morvalt, a bestial throwback humanoid race (roughly based on the creature Grendel). Midgard comes to their rescue, and establishes an outpost on Aegir - and it's up to the player to take it from there. Midgard has Aegir; Albion has Avalon, which has been taken over by the lizard-man Drakoran; and Hibernia has the forest paradise HyBrasil, which is being devastated by the evilly mutated Fomorians.
SI will come with three new races and six new classes, what can you tell us about them?
Each of the new races originally hails from the island that is being introduced for that particular Realm. In Albion, the Inconnu come from the underworld kingdom of Arawn, lord of the dead, who has allied with the Britons to liberate Avalon from the Drakoran (who are allied with his arch-enemy Morgana). Midgard has the Valkyn, who are a domesticated tribe of Morvalt - they have allied with the Norse and turned against their Morvalt cousins. Hibernia has the Sylvan, who are the original primordial forest people who taught the Firbolg and Celtic humans their love for nature. The new classes are a mix of melee, magic-casting, and hybrid which introduce new concepts and spells which haven't been explored in the original classes. For example, in the expansion, Necromancy and a sort of ambivalence towards traditional Briton morality is being introduced. It's up to the players to figure out how they want to deal with it in each situation.
Why did you decided to include these new races and classes?
We tried to find races that matched the backstory and basic setting of the new islands, and also fit the Realm itself.
How will Shrouded Isles improve siege craft and make it more appealing and accessible?
Not at all. Siegecraft is not part of Shrouded Isles - all of our RvR changes and updates in the near future are provided free via download. In that vein, we're making siegecraft easier to use (via a re-worked interface window), and making it more appealing by balancing costs and effectiveness. This is an ongoing process, and we'll continue to provide RvR updates like this to the original game as long as they are needed.
Housing has also been mentioned as an area to be improved, what can you tell us about this?
Ah housing. This is something that has been on our schedule for a long time, and hopefully we'll get it implemented soon. Our plan involves letting players or guilds lease plots of land and build houses on them. These plots of land are almost all in and around existing towns, so the feel of the world won't be changed. Our current plan calls for several different size options, some of which come with an NPC vendor and trade skill tools. We'll release more details on housing as we further work on the system after the expansion is released.
You're been speaking recently about the improved monster AI, what else can you tell us?
Shrouded Isles has lots of new monster intelligence that will force players to think about what they are doing instead of simply slaying monster after monster. For example, we now have monsters that "ambush" you. We have monsters that protect other, lower level, monsters - so if you attack the low level guy, his high level buddy, who may not be immediately visible - will come after you. Basically , we've come up with a lot of different scenarios which will make SI players think a little before they randomly attack a monster.
Speaking of monsters, how many new ones have been added or tweaked?
Many. We've added at least 40 new monster models and skins, if not more, and hundreds of new monsters.
Has the Realm vs. Realm combat style been altered or enhanced in any way?
As with my siege warfare question above, this is something we do on an ongoing basis, and will continue to. Our current goal is to make frontier keep ownership easier and more rewarding.
What made you decide to design the all new NetImmerse engine for Shrouded Isles?
We have a great relationship with NDL (makers of NetImmerse), and since the original game uses an older version of NI, it was an easy decision to upgrade to the newer one for SI. We're very happy with its performance, although it is a bit of a headache making all these nifty new effects look good on such a wide range of graphical hardware.
For us frame-rate lovers, what numerical improvements are we looking at?
There are too many ingredients in everyone's computer to make a definitive statement, but you should see at least a 20% improvement over the original game, assuming you meet the hardware specs.
Do you plan on releasing a downloadable server so that anyone can run their own server?
No.
Are you planning on setting up any additional servers around the world?
Yes. We are planning on a cooperative server, which will allow players from all realms to play together with no RvR (for players who prefer it). With that will come one or two new servers.
Is the game still on schedule?
Yes. It will be in stores around December 3, 2002.
Anything else you'd like to inform the masses about?
Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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