Dark Age of Camelot
|Dark Age of Camelot|
Original cover art
Broadsword Online Games
|Publisher(s)||Vivendi Games (US)
Electronic Arts (2006-present)
Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC) is a 3D medieval fantasy MMORPG, released on October 10, 2001 in North America and in Europe shortly after through its partner GOA. The game combines Arthurian lore, Norse mythology and Irish Celtic legends with a dash of high fantasy. It is set in the period after King Arthur's death and his kingdom has split into three parts which are in a constant state of war with each other. DAoC includes both Player versus Environment (PvE) and Realm versus Realm (RvR) combat.
It was announced on February 5, 2014, that development of the game would be transferred from Mythic Entertainment to a newly made studio (Broadsword Online Games) who will take over all future development of the game. Mythic was subsequently shut down shortly thereafter on May 29, 2014.
The decision to develop Dark Age of Camelot was made in late 1999, with it originally being conceived of as a graphical MUD. Mythic Entertainment president Mark Jacobs proposed the idea of using Arthurian legend since it was on the public domain and thus the company would be free of any licensing issues. Total development costs excluding equipment leases was about $2.5 million and took 18 months with a team of 25 full-time developers. 3DS Max and Character Studio were used to create all models and animations within the game.
Toward the end of development, Mythic found themselves in a tough situation as they had never borrowed money before and had no credit rating to lease the Dell servers needed to run the game. After being denied the lease by Dell, Mythic had to purchase each and every server using their development funds. Securing a publisher was also a difficult task; as every publisher that Mythic initially approached rejected the game except for one, Vivendi Games. In 2014, Jacobs still expressed gratitude to Vivendi for taking a chance on the studio.
During the game's prime, Mythic operated 120 dual-processor Pentium servers running Linux. Out of those, groups of six servers where devoted to running one world, or as the player saw it, one server. The servers were designed to handle 20,000 players simultaneously logged in at any given time, however, Mythic limited them to about 4,000 each in order to keep the world from feeling too cluttered. Mythic's cofounder Rob Denton stated, "If you have too many people, the worlds get too crowded. The last thing you want is to be bumping into thousands of people." Much of the game's code was also stored on the servers, with the user client more focused on graphics and texture loading based on a data stream limited to 10 kbit/s per player.
Character control is, for the most part, by means of either the mouse or keyboard. 'Quickbars' of 10 slots each can be customized with spells, weapon attack 'styles', or macros, and can be either clicked on or selected with the number keys to activate. Players choose from three realms: Albion, Hibernia, and Midgard, each based on different mythologies. Each realm has different races. Although each realm's classes differ in specific abilities, DAoC's classes are broken down into the four common RPG archetypes: warrior 'tanks', spell casters, rogues that use stealth, and healing priests. Hybrid classes, which combine skills from any two of the archetypes, also exist in all 3 realms. DAoC's classes are balanced at the RvR level instead of in direct comparison to the other realms' equivalent classes. DAoC classes are very rigid with specific roles, play styles, and specialization point allocations.
Guilds offer social, economic and PvE/PvP advantages that contrast with or exceed soloing and 'pick-up groups'. Each guild comes with its own chat channel, in-game ranking system, territory claiming ability, guild banking system, guild housing, emblem, and reward system in the form of guild bounty points and merit points. Each guild leader (or leaders, as the game provides for multiple leaders) can define their own set of rules and goals. The guild leader(s) can customize the privileges, (such as inviting new members, speaking in alliance chat, and claiming captured Towers for the guild) of each Rank within the guild. Furthermore, alliances can be formed between player guilds, which offer up a conjoined chat channel for all guilds within one alliance to communicate.
Realm versus Realm is the main focus of Dark Age of Camelot. The storyline revolves around what happens after the death of King Arthur and his united kingdom falling apart. Albion, Hibernia, and Midgard are in a three way war against each other and constantly war for control of powerful relics, keeps and towers, as well as control of the entrance to Darkness Falls.
- Normal (Ywain) These servers are the primary set for game play. PvP is limited to designated areas and allows the player more control on what they want to do. This is now the ruleset which makes up the Ywain cluster, the results of a merger with all remaining traditional ruleset servers into one.
- Classic (Closed)  - on which PvE regions, abilities, and items from the Trials of Atlantis expansion have been disabled. The character enhancement spell system has also been altered so the character receiving these spells must be grouped with and remain relatively close to the caster. Due to recent clustering with classic players and normal ruleset players, this server type has been since removed.
- Player vs. player (Closing April 2013)  - A single server (Mordred) has been set up to allow free-for-all PvP combat in almost all areas. Realm affiliations have been removed so unlike regular servers, its possible for a player to visit areas in all 3 realms. Players on this server can attack each other regardless of class, race, or realm origin. Newly created characters are safe up through level 10, at which their PvP safe flag is turned off. Players who wish to get into the action immediately may turn this flag off before reaching level 10, though this change cannot be reversed.
- Cooperative  - A single server (Gaheris) similar to the Normal servers, except the designated RvR zones have been modified. Instead of RvR, the three realms cooperate and attack NPC controlled keeps, which are located in the RvR zones, and other PvE areas. A high percentage of the PvE action takes place in Darkness Falls dungeon. High level enemies defend the locations where PvP gameplay would normally take place. All classes and races are opened up to the player and teleportation is possible between realms.
- Roleplaying (Closed) - A server in which players are encouraged to take on and act out the identity of their character. The point is to create another form of interaction between players, expanding upon the lore presented within the game. This was among the original server types when the game was first released. This server type has since ceased to exist as server clustering took place. Players can still flag themselves as role-players on the normal servers (Ywain), however.
- Test  - There is a test server available (Pendragon), allowing players to test different abilities that may become possible in upcoming changes in game mechanics prior to Mythic fully implementing them.
- Origins (No longer in development) - In June 2008, Mythic announced their Origins server project. This server was intended to return DAoC to the game experience that it was in 2001/2002 due to popular demand. It was going to have several key features such as the "Old Frontiers" brought back and the game would be playable and similar to its pre-expansion state, with the exception of improvements made over the years such as the market system, housing, mounts, class balance and UI changes. On January 23, 2009 Mythic made mention of this server in their weekly grab bag stating that, while no information was currently able to be shared, more information would come in the weeks ahead. This was the first news about this server, from Mythic, in more than 6 months. On January 20, 2009 it was announced that Electronic Arts has laid off 10% of its work force and this may account for the lack of news. On March 6, 2009, Mythic's Mark Jacobs announced on the Warhammer Online VN Boards that plans for the Origins server for DAoC were put on hold indefinitely.
In order to combat the problems of dwindling population, Mythic began to initiate server clusters. This involved grouping various servers together, allowing players to interact with those from other servers. A server emulator project, Dawn of Light, lets the Dark Age of Camelot client the ability to connect to publicly registered, unofficial game servers. These servers can run different rule sets and have custom behaviors. However, these servers are not supported by Mythic and using them violates the Dark Age of Camelot EULA.
Mythic has produced seven expansions (which originally had to be bought separately, but are now free downloads) for DAoC. The expansions were not released on European servers (run by GOA), until typically months after the Mythic release.
- Note: A patch is mentioned in this list due to its impact on one of the expansions. Also, all expansions are now included free as part of the main client download.
- Shrouded Isles (SI) (November 12, 2002, then February 21, 2003 in Europe)) - Added 6 new classes (Necromancer, Reaver; Savage, Bonedancer; Valewalker, Animist), 3 races (Inconnu, Valkyn, Sylvan) and a brand new land for each realm near the size of the old world (in addition to the old world), which also includes epic dungeons. This expansion pack is now a free download.
- Foundations (Housing, June 18, 2003) - Free expansion which added player housing and consignment merchants (the ability for players to set up a shop and sell in-game items, whether crafted or loot from monsters). Players are able to purchase three different sizes of houses and decorate them as they please. Houses also provided players with an easy way to store and transfer items between characters on the same account and realm.
- Trials of Atlantis (ToA, October 28, 2003, then February 27, 2004 in Europe) - Added 3 new races (Half-Ogre, Frostalf, Shar) and high level content and zones (which are the same for each realm), also includes new terrain graphics for all areas of the game (including trees). A notable general feature introduced with this expansion was the ability to actually dive and explore underwater as opposed to simply swimming across the surface. This expansion pack is now a free download, as of October 31, 2005. The expansion featured items known as artifacts, and extra abilities known as "Master Levels". Artifacts, obtained through hidden encounters, only become useful when the player finds the three scrolls hoarded by Atlantean monsters. Furthermore, artifacts must gain experience in order to reach their full potential.
- New Frontiers (NF, June 22, 2004, then November 11, 2004 in Europe) - Remake of the game's realm vs. realm warfare (free, required expansion). This included making the entire frontiers one zone (instead of each realm's frontier being separated), redesigning keeps and adding towers, and adding numerous types of siege apparatus.
- Catacombs (Cata, December 7, 2004, then April 1, 2005 in Europe) - Added 5 new classes (Heretic; Vampiir, Bainshee; Warlock, Valkyrie), instanced dungeons (where players entering certain areas get their own private dungeon to hunt in), and new zones and quests with an emphasis on faster and easier leveling. Also includes new player model graphics and new graphics for all the games' dungeons (except Darkness Falls). As of February 6, 2007, players may now download and venture into the depths of the Catacombs for free. This expansion can be downloaded via the website for no extra charge.
- Darkness Rising (DR, October 11, 2005, then February 2006 in Europe) - Introduced Champion weapons (much like epic armor), player mounts (horses), Champion Levels and subclassing (small abilities from another class), new dungeons and instanced zones for the new Champion Quests and new graphics for the game world's models (such as barns, haystacks and forts, this includes the Darkness Falls dungeon and the capital cities) which are following the design ideas presented in Mythic's new graphics for the starting cities. Darkness Rising was also the first paid expansion to Dark Age of Camelot able to be downloaded. A trailer has been created by GOA to showcase this expansion. Mythic also introduced a new island, called Agramon, which acts as a central island that connected the frontiers of the three realms. Unlike the rest of the Frontiers zones, there are no keeps and any player from any realm can open the gates that border the island.
- Labyrinth of the Minotaur (LotM, November 5, 2006, then February 14, 2007 in Europe) - Features include a new race (The Minotaur, however there were 3 types, one for each realm), a new hybrid class (The Mauler), a new RvR dungeon, Mythrians, and additional Champion Levels (6-10). Introducing the largest RVR dungeon in Camelot history (Labyrinth) with access by all three realms located on Agramon Island. Labyrinth introduced mythrians a new item slot, when equipped these myths will give small bonuses to your character. One of the most important benefits of the mythirians was that they allowed players to increase the stat caps of the item's respective attribute. Until this expansion, Mythic had never given each of the three realms the same class.
- New New Frontiers (NNF, September 5, 2015) - While officially a patch and not an expansion, there were significant changes to the layout of keeps and towers as well as a revamp of the Siegecraft line (including the addition siege towers and tents) in patch 1.90. The playerbase is referring to this patch as the "New, New Frontiers."
Each realm has a unique but parallel storyline, which is expanded with retail expansions. The European distributors occasionally add their own writings and quests about the realms and their inhabitants.
In the original Realm zones, smaller cities in the realm need protection against monsters common to many other RPGs. Albion is menaced by undead raised by Morgana, Hibernia is torn apart by the Unseelie Court and Siabra, and Midgard by the treacherous Blodfelag.
- Shrouded Isles - Each realm is called to assist a smaller allied realm against a large enemy. In Albion, the Drakoran have besieged the final strongholds of Lady Lile's Avalonians. Hibernia has come to the aid of Hybrasil, where the Sylvans face extinction at the hands of the Fomorians. Midgards ancestral home at Aegir has seen the Last of the Troll Fathers hunted down by the Morvalt. This expansion is now free.
- Trials of Atlantis - The ruins of Atlantis have been discovered, as well as a portal to another Plane where the ancient Atlanteans underwent their trials. How did Atlantis come to its end and what powers were left behind? The Trials remain in a form twisted by the passage of time and the departure of the denizens of Atlantis. Ancient artifacts wait to be discovered and have their power and secrets revealed by learned scholars. Familiar figures from Greek and Egyptian mythology make their appearance in a new land waiting to be discovered. This expansion is now free.
- Catacombs - A nemesis has taken control of the power within the Darkspire, gaining control of most of the denizens of an underground realm's race. Arawn, previously referenced as an ally of the Avalonians and patron of the Inconnu, has had his realm overrun by revolting dead and enslaved Inconnu. The Shar are only able to hold their ground at the gates of their Otherworld citadel. The Kobolds have been forced to open the secrets of the undercity to outsiders in a desperate bid for survival. This expansion is now free.
- Darkness Rising - The King of the realm has returned to fight back a growing rebellion. Further investigations will reveal a conspiracy with a dark power behind the rebellion. To become a Champion of the Realm the player must defeat the demonic evil behind the unrest and return peace to the land. This expansion is now free.
- Labyrinth of the Minotaur - The ancient race of Minotaur has returned to the lands of Albion, Midgard, and Hibernia to reclaim powerful but corrupt relics hidden long ago by their ancestors. Lust for these relics once brought about the downfall of the powerful Minotaur kingdom and their evil influence now threatens the kingdoms of Man. This expansion is now free.
When DAOC first launched in October 2001, Mythic sold 51,000 copies of the game within the first 4 days, outperforming their initial expectation of 30,000. The subscriber base quickly rose up to almost 250,000 subscribers by July 2002 and then started to fall off to about 210,000 subscribers by January 2003. The Shrouded Isles expansion was released and populations climbed back up slightly, then in November 2003 populations once again rose to 250,000 with the release of the "Trials of Atlantis" expansion and remained at that level until October 2004 when market competition (Everquest II, World of Warcraft) caused these numbers to gradually decrease over time. As of January 2008, the estimated number of subscribers was 50,000.
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