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P.A.T.

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Pre-Alpha Testing ( P.A.T.)

A short-lived time during the development of Camelot Unchained when anyone with an Alpha account could play CU before the true Alpha of the game was finished.  It was not very close to a real game at this point, but somewhere between a tech demo and a mini-game. It should also be noted that Pre-Alpha was never part of the original plan. Only Internal Test was supposed to see the game at this early stage of development, but with the 6 month delay of Alpha, Mark Jacobs offered to try and make it up to the Alpha backers in several ways, one of which was access to the Pre-Alpha Tests, as a kind of "mea culpa".


The Basics[edit | edit source]

The P.A.T.s were held at scheduled times, during which anyone who had an account with Alpha access could get in to play a simple control point game in a small Battle-Ground-like zone. This was the first time any Backers (outside of the Internal Test group) could semi-regularly test or play the same basic zone and game that the game's developers and Internal Testers had been working and testing on. The P.A.T.s happened on the Wyrmling server (the production server), and were not the cutting edge game that IT saw on Hatchery, but a more stable build.  While it was quite close, it wasn't the same as the Hatchery (IT) server, where the game developers could and would change or add things daily.[1]

Early Character Creation[edit | edit source]

During the P.A.T.s, players could pick from all three Realms, and 3 different races within each Realm, to play a total of 9 races. However, there were only 3 total Archetypes to pick from. Prior to the P.A.T.s, everyone had all the same abilities, but now got to pick between 3 different Archetypes: fighter, mage, and healer.  During this time the races and Archetypes were locked together, e.g. if a player wanted to play a Viking Mage, they had to play the Valkyrie race.  The races were all a little different from each other (speed, mass, etc.), and some of the Archetypes eventually had significant differences in the abilities available to them, albeit on a similar theme (for example, a fireball as opposed to a waterball).[1]

First look at Stats, Banes, and Boons[edit | edit source]

During the P.A.T.s, many early systems were added to the game, including character stat read-outs (during character creation), with 20 points of stats to allocate, and the first implementation of the Banes and Boons system.  The 20 points allocated to states were not implemented, so had no impact on the game. This also went for the Banes and Boons; even though over 400 of them were available, they ware also purely cosmetic at the time. Some of the base stats of your race did have an effect; mostly the character or race's max movement speed, mass, max stamina, and max HP.[1]

The Archetypes and Abilities of the P.A.T.[edit | edit source]

Each Realm had 3 fixed race/Archetype combinations to choose from. While the races clearly differed from Realm to Realm, the Archetypes had subtler differences in their abilities. All had significant, if non-obvious, mechanical differences in their abilities, despite appearing very similar. For example, the Arthurians mage magic was fire-based, and came with damage-over-time effects. The Vikings mage was water-based and got snares, and the Tuatha Dé Danann mage was earth-based, with knockbacks. 

Every race had a different speed, though the different Archetypes were close to the same speed (meaning fighters of any race were in the same league as the other fighters). From fastest to slowest, the archetypes were: fighters, healers, and mages.  Also, both healers and mages used health in order to cast any and all spells (their hit points were also their mana). Even if a spell would take them into negative health, it would still go off -- killing them.  Everyone got a self-healing ability, which at first was the only way for fighters and mages to heal. Although the healers could heal themselves to a point, the self-heal bandage was still useful to them.  Health regen, a stamina bar, and stamina regen were also added as time went on. While fighters' attacks didn't use any stamina at the start of the P.A.T. (early on everything just had cool-downs), by the end they get a stamina bar.  The mass of the character was mainly a factor for the healers; they got a self-push spell that took their mass into account. Fighters also had a knock back attack that was somewhat less powerful than the healers quick escape spell.

This was City State Entertainment's very early showcasing of Archetypes in a build. Most of the attacks and powers were picked for their game mechanic testing value, rather then game balance.  Most of the casting was on an unusually long cast timer (up to 15 sec), which was done deliberately to make spell interruption easy to test. Also, the Alpha testers got their first taste of the A.I.R. system (Action, Interaction, and Reaction) during the P.A.T.s. If a water-based spell collided with a fire-based one, steam would be created at the point of contact.[1]

The Control Point game of the P.A.T.s and the first look at the C.U.B.E. system of Camelot Unchained[edit | edit source]

The P.A.T. matches lasted 10 minutes, with a running tally kept of each Realm's score and a clear winner at the end. There were 2 ways to score points: killing other players, and holding onto Points of Control. At the center of the map, there was a Point of Control (PoC) that started as a yellow duck.  If one Realm could take control of it, the duck would change color to whichever Realm owned it. As time ticked by, the Realm with ownership of the PoC gained additional points.  A PoC was added in between each Realm's spawn point, for a total of four including the central point.

This was also the first time Backers (again, outside of IT) got a look at the very rudimentary system that would become the C.U.B.E./Building_System. Although it didn't greatly affect the mini-game, it did have some role. One could only build with the blocks at each Realm's spawn point, or at the PoC's (not including the center point).[1]

How and why the P.A.T.s came about[edit | edit source]

Back when City State Entertainment first announced the delay of Alpha, it came as a surprise to very few. CSE had said many times that they were short on the programmers they needed. Unusually for many game studios, CSE stuck to what they promised from the beginning: rather then backpedaling or trying to deceive their Backers in some way, they came right out with the truth, which was that they were behind schedule. (Mark Jacobs noted that he could have repeated that the listed dates were just estimates, and been done with it). At this time, Mark Jacobs spoke of a way to start getting Alpha Backers into the game ahead of the true Alpha release date. This turned into what is now known as the P.A.T.s, and was one of several mea culpas offered by Mark by way of apology.[1]

P.A.T. Checklists[edit | edit source]

Source Listing: Camelot Unchained Pre-Alpha Test Checklists

The checklists were a series of milestones published by City State Entertainment during the lead-up to the launch of their Alpha testing. As both a form of a countdown, and an effective means of keeping the Backers up-to-date on everything that was getting done (some of which was all but unnoticeable), CSE added a link on the main Camelot Unchained website home page: the Pre-Alpha Test checklists.  Anyone on their main site could check up on just how they were doing with their up to date checklist.  Basically, as soon as everything was checked off the final list, CSE would launch Alpha. There were 4 different checklists. A few items were not checked off, and instead moved to Alpha to make room for some other tasks that came up during the P.A.T.s. The most notable of these surprise add-ons (54 in total) was the C.U.B.E.. The C.U.B.E. system wasn't supposed to be in the game until after Alpha, but was one of Mark Jacobs' mea culpa rewards to make up for being late with Alpha. Once Alpha did come about, the Backers were pleasantly surprised by the fact that the main production server (Wyrmling) didn't need to be running to get into the C.U.B.E. system. Not only that, but in this early state they could build in their own zone, without worrying about running into anyone else's creations.

Going into Alpha, the P.A.T. Checklists were replaced by user stories to describe a range of technical details.

Detailed Lists[edit | edit source]

    Videos[edit | edit source]

    Pre-Alpha Presentation 1/5
    Pre-Alpha Presentation 2/5
    Pre-Alpha Presentation 3/5
    Pre-Alpha Presentation 4/5
    Pre-Alpha Presentation 5/5

    References[edit | edit source]