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City State Entertainment has raised $15 million to fund massive medieval battle games with a new game engine.
Based in Fairfax, Virginia, the company was founded a decade ago by Mark Jacobs, who previously developed Mythic Entertainment and its flagship game, Dark Age of Camelot. He sold this company to Electronic Arts in 2006 and closed EA Mythic in 2014.
Now Jacobs is back with City State Entertainment, developing the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Camelot Unchained and the medieval battle royale Final Stand: Ragnarök. Jacobs founded the company in 2012 with co-founder George Davison.
Both use the Unchained Engine, which Jacobs says can be used to create massive battles with up to 1,800 (currently) players on the same limited battlefield. These soldiers can fight in real-time multiplayer battles, Jacobs said in an interview with GamesBeat. Coincidentally, this type of immersive online experience – which I’ve seen in demos – is key to Metaverse experiences.
For example, competitors such as Hadean and Improbable have launched large venture rounds with promises of creating Metaverse-like experiences with thousands of players in the same arenas, and facilitating huge battles or concert experiences in virtual worlds.
“We definitely want to get to the next level,” said Jacobs. “We solved the toughest problems like networking and rendering, and we got it up and running quickly.”
City State Entertainment’s performance with its game engine is impressive considering that real-time battle royales like Call of Duty: Warzone 2 are limited to around 150 players in a match or given server instance. Jacobs didn’t say who the minority investors are, except to note that the group has a new major investor.
“As this is the largest round of funding the studio has received to date, I am extremely grateful to ours
Investors and long term supporters of Camelot Unchained who share our vision for our games and our games
the state-of-the-art engine we’ve created,” said Jacobs. “We have already reaped several benefits from this round of funding as we continue to take our development and leadership team to a new level. With the uncertain and troubling economic times in the world, it’s very comforting to know that we can continue to work on our games while adding the people and talent we need to deliver our current games.”
Every demo Jacobs has shown has progressively gotten better, with more players in a given room.
Jacobs added: “I expect that in the coming weeks based on the number of people already in the
recruitment pipeline, we will accelerate our business activities. The city-state has stayed the course
Focusing on massively scalable games and the technology it takes to build them, and that’s not going to change
on my watch.”
Unlike many of the companies that receive funding, City State Entertainment isn’t developing a blockchain game, Jacobs said, as he doesn’t think it can add value to the MMO.
“This additional funding will allow us to further develop our engine, an engine that is already working
a variety of experiences not seen anywhere else in the industry, in massive online real-time
Interactions in procedural player-made worlds to hand-crafted multiplayer battles where heroes can
Attack armies of thousands of enemies simultaneously,” Davison, CTO and founder of City State Entertainment’s Seattle studio, said in a statement. “I look forward to expanding our team to refine and expand our state-of-the-art technology stack.”
Besides Dark Age of Camelot, Mythic also developed Warhammer Online. And Davison worked on titles like Destiny, The Lord of the Rings and Hob for over 22 years. Davison is the architect and lead engineer of the Unchained Engine.
The engine will be able to produce the densely packed fantasy battles with terrain like a verdant forest full of high-resolution imagery, Jacobs said. However, he acknowledged that this is not easy as you may still have to make trade-offs between gaming speed and high resolutions like 4K.
“I want people to know how strong the engine is,” Jacobs said.
Acobs said you don’t need the high-end graphics cards in a client PC to run the games. Multiple generations of Nvidia graphics cards will be able to run the titles, he said.
Camelot Unchained and Final Stand: Ragnarok are in development for PC, but could be ported to consoles at some point, Jacobs said.
The company has about 38 employees and is hiring more. Most of the staff are industry veterans, but they’re not from Mythic.
“We’ve been working on Camelot Unchained for ages, but now we can hire more people and speed it up,” said Jacobs.
Over time, City State Entertainment hopes to gather resources to create a platform it can license to other game publishers who can use the technology to build massive games with dense player bases in other genres, Jacobs said.
“We can [license the technology]but we can’t do that today,” he said.
Jacobs said he hopes to launch a version of Final Stand: Ragnarök in a few months so the company can prove its technology works.
As for the Metaverse, Jacobs believes the real-time technology that would allow for large numbers of players to be brought together in a small space is feasible. This is not easy as current servers have real-time simulation limitations. But Jacobs believes that’s not in the distant future. Ultimately, however, Jacobs isn’t selling the technology as a Metaverse game.
“At the end of the day, it’s an MMO,” he said. “We can deliver that. With the right funding, we absolutely could have a Metaverse. We will focus. And our focus was to build an engine that could power large-scale battles,” said Jacobs.
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