In the Early Days
Posted By: Lori Hyrup
2009-03-11 14:49:12

Developer: Lori Hyrup

Here is a collection of early memories (as I recall them), first time experiences, origin of concepts, and tidbits of trivia from Dark Age of Camelot:

Development Team

When we first started working on Dark Age of Camelot, Mythic Entertainment consisted of 12 people.

 

Development Time

From concept to completion, Dark Age of Camelot took 18 months to develop.  We almost had to drop Hibernia because we were not going to have enough time to finish it.  That would have messed up our entire three-realm scheme!

 

Darkness Falls

The name of the dungeon, Darkness Falls, was homage to our older text MuD of the same name, a game in which players played �evil� races including Vampires, Zombies, Skeletons, Demons, Imps, and Necromancers.

 

Three Realms

The idea of the three realms existed prior to DAoC.   The three-team concept originated in our old persistent-character FPS Rolemaster: Magestorm in which players choose one of three sides on which to compete.  The team colors for those three sides were red (Chaos), blue (Order), and green (Balance).  In our text MuD Darkness Falls: Crusade, the sequel to Darkness Falls, the three teams appeared for the first time as three Realms: Good, Evil, and Chaos.

 

Relic Capture and Frontiers

Darkness Falls: Crusade was the proof of concept for Relic capturing.  In that game, there were three Realms, each with relics they protected.   One of the big differences is that there were no Frontiers.  The Relics were kept in the middle of the capital cities.  As a result, the invading force would come in to the city and slay all of the citizens who happened to get in the way, including the unsuspecting new players.  It was not fun for them.  So, when we improved upon the concept in DAoC, we implemented the frontiers as a buffer area.

 

Theme of the Game

Dark Age of Camelot was almost Darkness Falls 2 before we decided to go with the Camelot theme.

 

Version 0.1 Patch Notes

- Fixed the collision bug that allowed the player to slip into corners of trishapes.  The corner issue is fixed, but now the figure can go right through certain walls. 

- Horizon graphic surrounds arena

- Multitextured sky

- Figure holds weapons (axe and shield for now)

- New arena with better trees, textures, houses and shadows

 

Music and Mythic Humor

In the earliest alpha versions of the game, before we had music of our own, the music we used for loading was the theme to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  The music that played in the character creation window was the monk chant, also from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

 

Death Realm

In the early versions of testing, when you died, you went to a phased death realm where you were able to see other player ghosts.

 

Zoning

Players were initially required to load between zone boundaries.  It was a huge accomplishment when we were able to get rid of zoning and have a contiguous region for each Realm.

 

Wee Wolf

The idea of the Wee Wolf was spawned (pun intended) by my husband, Darrin Hyrup and implemented by me.  Its internal bestiary description was, "A rare 'faerie' wolf whose bark is much smaller than his bite."  Should I hide now?

 

Division of Labor

In the earliest days of content implementation, it took us a while to learn the division of labor.  Originally, each zone was given wholesale to a single developer.  So, one single person was responsible for building the terrain, texturing the zone, placing the trees and other world objects, making the monsters, implementing Ai (there wasn�t a lot in the early days), creating the treasure tables, building the items that went in to the treasure tables, and more.  We learned that this was not the most efficient way of doing things, since not every developer could implement everything (or had the talent for doing everything), and eventually, the developers specialized based on interests and talents.

 

First Development Task

Prior to the Division of Labor, my first real development task in Dark Age of Camelot was to build Salisbury Plains.  I spent many hours measuring and aligning Stonehenge and that specific area is to the exact scale of the real thing.  I did not yet have development tools, so I had to:

         Build the terrain for each zone in Photoshop using a grayscale map

         Paint the zone texture and then run a batch script to cut up the texture in to 64 small pieces for loading

         Go in to the game to get the x, y, z coordinates of each tree and object I wanted to place and then place them in to a spreadsheet that the game would read

         Create each monster and its AI (limited as it was) and place it via command line

 

First Memorable Bug

The first class I ever play tested was the minstrel.  While playing the minstrel, I ran out to my newly polished Salisbury Plains, complete with brown lizard basilisks (not the chicken-like model they have now).  While observing and interacting with the basilisks, I found that every time I played my instruments (either drum or lute), the basilisk would mimic my exact animation, complete with the musical swirly spell effects.  Not only would it mimic what I did, but it was also rigged with the wrong animation set.  It had the animations of a human.  So, every time I played my drums, the basilisk would stand up on its two hind legs and start jumping around just like a humanoid playing a drum.  It was such an odd and hilarious sight that I laughed for 20 minutes straight, which caught the attention of everyone else in the office.

 

Original Beta

In the original beta of Dark Age of Camelot, in addition to the development work I did, I manually read through every single beta application and hand-picked every single beta tester.  I have every one of those applications still archived.

 

Mounds in Salisbury

The original Salisbury Plains had barrows, zoneless dungeons that went beneath the mounds using our then new and fancy hole-punching technology (punching holes in to the terrain).  When we introduced seamless zones, we accidentally broke the hole-punching technology and then abandoned it.

 

Ron, Abagu, and Prydwen

Squire Graid in Salisbury Plains has a horse named Abagu and used to have a dog named Ron.  The horse was named after one of the horses of King Arthur and the dog was named after Arthur�s spear.  Prydwen Keep is named after Arthur�s shield.

 

East and West Svealand

These two zones were made with a zoomed in and scaled down topographical map of Sweden.

 

Wolfaur

The Wolfaur were originally wolf-centaurs, but their real model was never animated (and then later misplaced).  The names had already been created, so the monsters went in as they were.  The wolfaur quixot are actually a little crazy and have an odd way of looking at reality.  They were inspired by Don Quixote.

 

The Valkyn Name

In the original concept, the Valkyn were the offspring of the mythological Valkyries (not the class we have now).  Their original image was inspired by Hawk from Buck Rogers, with feathers on their head instead of hair.  The image and concept was changed over time, but the name stuck.

 

Siabra

This is a spelling variation of Siabair, which is derived from Siabraid, meaning arouses to fury, enchants, distorts, bewitches.

 

Gjalpinulva

Gjalpinulva is the female offspring of Fenris wolf.  Her name is a combination of Gjalp, a mythological frost giantess and Ulva (wolf).

 

Glimmers

Sheeroe Hills is one of the many lands of faerie, and glimmers are being of spiritual/fae energy that have the ability to manifest themselves in to a form of their choosing.  The bigger the glimmer, the more powerful they are.  Cuuldurach chose the form of a dragon because its large and symbolized his power.