It had been a while since I looked at the beta 1 doc so thought I'd re-read it today. I came across a lot of features that I hadn't heard of before so thought I'd share them here for others who probably aren't following the game all that closely. Please share your own gems that you think others might enjoy reading about, especially if you are a backer so that people like me can know more!http://camelotunchained.com/v3/beta-1/1) In game voice chat
I wasn't aware that this was going to be a feature but is something I thought was essential. I'm so happy they are putting it in! I've only played one MMO that included voice chat - lotro - and it made such a huge difference when grouping up. By making a voice chat system accessible to everyone with a few simple clicks, you dramatically improve the viability of grouping up with random people. Co-ordinating multiple people takes real effort and cannot be done with typing during combat.
The voice chat they are putting into CU looks like it'll be open to all types of groups - warbands (party), battlegroups (raids), orders (guilds) and campaigns (realm-wide mission type things). You can only be in one channel at a time, but you can choose which and also set appropriate permissions. This should make co-ordinating the efforts of a lot of people so much easier, so I am more and more hopeful that large scale pvp will have a solid structure and tactics without just being a zerg.
My only concern is how this will work with battlegroups. Lets say you are in a battlegroup (raid) that consists of 10 warbands (groups). In a perfect world, the battlegroup leader wants to broadcast to everyone but disable response from most people. Each warband will want to be in their own channel so they can chat to one another without affecting other warbands, but you still want to hear commands from the battlegroup leader. Additionally, each warband leader will want to choose whether to broadcast back to the battlegroup leader, or just to their own group. From the doc, it doesn't sound like this will be possible, but what they will be delivering is still a massive step up from most MMOs. 2) Permanent Warbands
I think this could bring a really interesting dynamic to the social side of the game. Essentially, when you form a group (warband), you will have the option to make it "permanent". What this means is you can give it a name and set a list of members. Currently they are targetting 8 players for a full warband, but you will be able to define more than 8 people in a permanent warband, you can just only have 8 active players in the warband at any given moment.
I can see this bringing some interesting conventions into the game. From a guild leaders point of view, it just makes organising things easier. Lets say you run a big guild. You might setup warbands "Vanguard 1" to "Vanguard 4", each containing a balanced mix of classes who will be at the forefront of your PvP push. Then you have "Caravan 1" and "Caravan 2", warbands with members who enjoy protecting / running caravans. They you have "Crafter Squad 1" etc.
From an individuals point of view, I know I usually end up playing with the same small group of people outside of guild events, so we'd be able to setup a permanent warband. "Snowbourn's Revenge" might be something I setup, named after the LotRO server I used to play on. That way everytime I log in, I can instantly see if that warband is active and who is in it and quickly join it if there is a space free. My friends and I (assuming we were any good) could then start to build a reputation on our server. 3) Unlimited Battlegroup Size
A battlegroup is CU's equivalent to a raid group, except it has no limit! This, along with voice chat, is a key to organising large scale pvp. The warbands within a battlegroup maintain their own names and structures which is also good, so my permanent warband "Snowbourn's Revenge" might rock up at a siege and then the warband as a whole get invited into the battlegroup. The UI will reflect our warband name, so the battlegroup leader can easily issue instructions like "Snowbourn's Revenge, flank right and take out those siege engines". 4) Orders (guilds)
They're still keeping a bit quiet on everything they've got planned, but they've confirmed that guilds will progress, that we'll have our own heraldry that we can design and that guilds can own their own plots which will be large. We can setup guild banks and guild shops and choose whether the public can shop there or not. In addition, there will be an ingame guild calendar (finally!) to help organise guild events. 5) Bulletin Boards
Each type of group (solo, warband, battlegroup, order, campaign) will have their own bulletin board. If you have permission, you can write stuff, include pictures and videos etc on your posts. When you view your own bulletin board it will consolidate all posts from all groups you are a part of. So, your guild leader might make a post like "We're building a castle! Please help our Order with the construction of this castle by donating whatever stone you have to the guild bank. Here is a screenshot of our castle design (from cube)". Between this and the guild calendar, and campaigns, it is looking like CU is doing away with the need for proper guild forums and other 3rd party tools. 6) Campaigns
It's unclear whether campaigns are going to make it into beta 1, but they've started describing them and I think it's worth a read. Campaigns are essentially a way to organise group objectives. They are like user-generated missions in a way. So, for example, a leader of a top guild might decide its time for the realm to expand and capture a new island. In order to make it a success, they'll need a lot of participants, tons of siege engines and a shit load of resources to quickly build defences once the territory is built. They know they can't do it all themselves, so instead they create a campaign - "Capture the Island of Trees!". They set as their objectives the collection of 300 siege engines, 1m in crafting mats and attach a saturday night event to the campaign when everyone will gather to actually fight over the island of trees and try to capture it.
Campaigns can be public, so anyone can join which then allows you access to text/voice chat for that campaign as well as bulletins from that campaign. There are rewards for participating in campaigns - progress rewards from the game as well as user rewards defined by the campaign creator. There are safeguards put in place to prevent people just setting up campaigns for mats and then stealing them all.
Anyways, thats all the interesting bits I picked out this time. I'll return to the doc in another month and see what else they've added to the beta 1 feature lists! Let me know what features stood out for you, especially features that have been little reported / discussed.