Archive for the ‘Darkfall’ Category

h1

An open letter to MMORPG.com: Back up your writers

August 3, 2009

It’s not too often that I like to critique another site’s policies or methods, especially a group that is technically a “competitor.”  Yet, after reading a post today on the MMORPG.com forums regarding one of their recent Darkfall articles, I feel that I need to speak out.

While not everyone may agree with it, MMORPG.com’s Jeffery Hargrove is a member of The Exodus Syndicate, the currently leading guild on Darkfall’s North American server.  His piece focused squarely on The Exodus Syndicate’s rise to power on day 1 of the Darkfall launch and how they did it.  While I don’t exactly agree with the relevance of the piece (it kind of felt like a “look at how l33t we are” account) I’m not someone who’s going to call for it to be ripped down.

But, people being people, they are calling for it to be ripped down off of the site for one small, tiny, insignificant problem — he mentioned bloodwalling.  To get everyone on the same page, bloodwalling is going afk next to a wall, which allows other members of your clan to beat on you to increase their offensive skills while you increase your defensive skills, all while you’re not at your keyboard.  It’s against the game’s Terms of Service, but the damn practice is so commonplace that it’s hard to NOT bloodwall, as it puts you at a high disadvantage in combat if your skills are too low.  But, seeing that skilling up anything in Darkfall is an extremely painful endeavor, no person playing the game “for real” can come close to someone bloodwalling… hence why everyone and their mother does the bloodwall.  They do it to stay competitive and not die every five seconds in combat.

The whole mention of the bloodwall is as follows:

Our bloodwall was the final contribution of players too tired to stay awake. Those who had fallen off earlier awakened to a few hours of un-interrupted skill ups.

Now, because people have complained so hard about the fact that he says The Exodus Syndicate has a bloodwall, MMORPG’s editor Jon Wood (Stradden) has taken a second look at the article.  He’s contacted the illustrious Tasos Flambouras from Aventurine and has asked if bloodwalling is against the developer’s wishes and if it is then they will take the article off the site.  In Wood’s own words:

If the aforementioned issues turn out to actually be against the rules we will, of course, remove the article from publication, take appropriate internal action and issue an apology and a correction.

I can tell you straight up that bloodwalling is against Aventurine’s wishes.  I can also tell you that, seriously, every clan does it.  I’m not committing an act of hyperbole here when I say that.  It’s just how this game goes, and I don’t see Aventurine walking in and booting people who do it.  I even admitted to doing it openly in my article, and my account hasn’t been terminated yet.

My point here, out of all of this, is MMORPG.com should not take down this article simply because it mentions a practice that the developer doesn’t want people to know about.  If he was explaining in detail how to cheat at Darkfall, then I would take issue with it.  But, in this article, he simply mentions the practice and that his guild has engaged in it.  That’s it.  He’s retelling what happened and that’s the basic practice of journalism.

You may not like the fact that Exodus Syndicate has been doing a bloodwall, but that has nothing to do with the veracity of this article.  The article is solid.  It happened.

If they rip down this article simply because it contains a word that Aventurine doesn’t like being said, then MMORPG.com is saying that they don’t want to back up the reporting of their writers.  It’s saying that when push comes to shove, they’re going to back down to a developer’s wish simply because an article might cause controversy.  Sometimes the point of a journalist IS to cause controversy, but only when that controversy is grounded in truth.

Bloodwalling HAPPENS.  I have SCREENSHOTS.  You can’t IGNORE IT or DENY IT.

Case in point — if Shawn Schuster pulled down my Darkfall article from Massively.com simply because Aventurine doesn’t want us talking about bloodwalling, I would have been furious.  Shawn saw my article before it went to press and he had the chance to stop it from going up.  He knew the content, but he put his seal of approval on it anyway.  If he would have taken it down, I would have lost faith in him.

It would have said to me, “Why should I go out and do my reporting when someone else can come in, suggest that they don’t like the content because it doesn’t suit them, and then have my article taken down?”  It’s abhorrent.  It’s lying.  It’s pandering to an outside source and denying facts.  It’s dangerous.

You do not rip my article, or any other journalist’s article down simply because the developer doesn’t like it.  You issue the developer’s rebuttal and leave it at that, so both sides get a say.  You really don’t take “internal action” against a writer when his reporting is grounded in truth.  Exodus Syndicate did this, he’s admitting to it.  He’s not slandering Aventurine or making up events.

If you agree with me, then go to MMORPG.com’s forum thread on this and tell them to back up Jeff.  Do it because I can tell you that his reporting is solid and that article doesn’t deserve to be ripped down just because it makes Aventurine look like idiots.

Advertisements
h1

I bought Darkfall

July 14, 2009

Like I said yesterday… I’m sorry.

I’m on the North American server. I like to think that it makes a world of difference.

Will be posting up impressions when I have them.

So far all I can say is that I got called “a dumb cunt” in the first two minutes of gameplay. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

h1

Keen says what I said a month ago, Syncaine takes offense, I simply theorize and find a way to “aid” Darkfall

April 18, 2009

I hate to be the person who goes, “I told you so,” in arguments, but I believe that I need to do it in this situation.

I motherf$&%ing told you so a month ago.  But all y’all thought I was a giant jerk who couldn’t see the light of Darkfall‘s sandbox.  People were so busy bashing me for being a “Darkfall hater” that they were too blind to see that I really did play the game, enjoyed parts of it, but critiqued portions of the fundamental game that didn’t hold up to the main objective.

What was that line that I printed when Darkfall was launched?  Where was it?  Oh, was it this one?

While combat is pretty nifty and lag free, the monster AI is pretty awesome, and the exploration factor is phenominal, this game has huge incentive problems.

Once again, I don’t want to be the jerk of the blog, but I’m just kinda pissed that I got trounced on for saying the same thing Keen did just because I said it a month earlier, and because I represent the “big, bad, corporate MMO site.”  Keen has now said, and I quote:

For a game that is built around being a faster pace action oriented game, everything leads players to play at a slower pace.  I can travel from one side of the map to the other, but why would I?  There is no destination, purpose, or incentive.

Sound familiar?  (Btw, before you comment, please get Keen’s entire perspective by reading his post.  I think I got a good cut here, but I don’t want to take his thoughts out of context.)  Ok, on a less acidic note, I’m agreeing with Keen’s perspective on the game.  I don’t hate Darkfall and I’ve always said it has potential, but Aventurine needs to step it up.  Sadly, their track record doesn’t provide much indication that they will.

On the other side of the Internetz, Syncaine, the author of Hardcore Casual, freaked out a bit more than I thought he would on the subject.  Usually I find myself loving Syncaine’s posts, but I finally found one that I didn’t really agree with.

In short, he blames Keen’s problems on the fact that he’s in a giant alliance.  He thinks Keen should take the bull by the horns and go out and do things, rather than “relying on the game’s rules.”  It’s a heated post, in my opinion, and I don’t think Syncaine wished for it to come out like that, but who am I to say what Syncaine’s real opinion is.

When push comes to shove, however, I think Keen and Syncaine are both right in their own ways.  The difference is that I think Keen is getting to the heart of the matter while Syn is beating around the bush.  Players need reasons to beat the hell out of one another.

Syn brings up ad-hoc skirmishes — one of my favorite things about the sandbox design.  If you do it right, you actually lure players into exhibiting types of behavior.  They don’t realize it, but the best sandboxes are those structured to provide “toys” to attract people.  Dungeons, declared territory, points of interest — these are the things that should lure players there and then spark conflict.  How that conflict ends and proceeds is up to the player, hence the concept of sandbox.  The developer provides the tools, however subtle, and the player finishes the story.

The sandbox is not “make up shit so you have fun.”  Players should not actively have to consider “what can I do that’s fun?”  They should be able to see their own goals and forge on ahead.  For example, “There’s a mine with rare loot in it over the next hill.  I should get some of that.”  There’s the goal.  The developer never wrote the goal down for the player, or told the player that that is the goal.  The player found a point of interest (the mine) and has chosen to get a reward from it (the rare ore.)  How the player conducts themselves is now in the player’s hands.  Other people may interfere or may cooperate or may simply not engage, and that’s the nature of the sandbox.

Keen has gotten to the heart of that by saying, “there should be incentive, like rare ore in a neutral town.”  Because Darkfall provides everything everywhere, there’s no drive to go out and put your stuff at risk.  No rare items to fight over, unlike Darkfall’s sister game, EVE Online.  EVE provides areas with really awesome resources.  What happens in those areas?  Everybody wants them.  Conflict sparks, the sandbox is filled, and players have a good time without having to go out and actively seek “a good time.”  Players who don’t have the resources want it so they can use it, and players with the resource fortify their resource with weapons made from other resources.  It’s a giant wonderful circle of spending.

Syncaine wants people to go out and be more active.  That’s what Keen and I want; we want people to get out and be active.  Activity sparks opportunity.  But if you already have everything, as Keen’s alliance may have, then what do you need to be active for?  You have it all.  You have your resources, your building your weapons, your defending what you have because you don’t want to lose it.  Too many people are in that state in Darkfall, which now leads to sit, stare, and bitch.

If you have a city, have people mining, foresting, and herbing, have a crafter and have guards… what more do you need?  You have the ability to make what you need with all of that.  EVE made sure that wasn’t possible.  Whoops, Aventurine.

So, lastly, I’ll leave you with my idea.  One that would most likely spark some conflict, because Keen brought this up on Syncaine’s post.  Keen said that he has 12+ people in his clan on all the time, and it’s no fun going out and having 12 vs. 1 battles.  I agree.  The situation is not fun and the rewards are probably not worth it.   You go out, kill the guy, and you probably have better stuff than he does.  You take it, it goes into your bank, it does nothing.

But what if you could de-craft an item.  Disassemble it into component parts.  Now, that chainmail that no one’s going to use could be disassembled into a few things of metal.  Metal that you could put towards your bigger objectives, like a siege engine.  What would a little change like that cause?

My bet would be that there would be a rise in conflict.  I, basically, just turned all players into mobile crafting nodes.  Groups would go out looking for blood because they could add to their war coffer in a productive way.  This means larger groups would clash in ad-hoc combat.  I would go so far to bet that even commerce would go up, as a crafter could sell his items to a guild and the guild could disassemble them for their own needs.  Crafter gets his rank ups, guild gets some resources.

Would you get 5 metal from a piece of armor that used 5 metal to make?  Of course not, you need dimishing returns, but you all get my drift on this.  It’s not rocket science to provide incentive.

h1

How I really feel about Darkfall

February 20, 2009

Many of you probably saw my “hands-on with Darkfall” preview/review on Massively.com, which attempted to sum up my journey with the game, including both the positive and negative aspects of the upcoming PvP-centric MMO.

While I tried to get everything I could into that article, I really felt that my main opinion of the game was too harsh for mainstream media.  And it’s not because I don’t like PvP (I enjoy it very much) or because I’m a carebear (I made 3 characters, one ended up being an outlaw just so I could try the outlaw system) but because the game just ends up getting dull.

People talk about how “once you get into PvP with this game, it never gets dull.”  Well, um, yes it does.  It gets dull really quickly.  When you have to run 10 minutes to find someone, kill them, enjoy the kill, and then run another 10 minutes to find another person, there’s a problem with that.

When fights boil down to who can run in the most awkward patterns and click the mouse button the fastest… yes, there’s a problem with that.

The problem is that there is nothing to do in this game BESIDES PvP.  Sure, PvP can be fun, and I know that.  I killed a few people, got revenge on a few murderers, and I really did enjoy the taste I got of the PvP.  But a game cannot solely be about PvP, otherwise it will quickly become predictable.

Cities are one of Darkfall’s attempts to make PvP unpredictable, and it was a good idea at the time.  Being able to go out and capture a city, build it up, and then defend it is a neat idea.  But here’s the part where it all falls apart — why should I build the city?

Owning a city, as I said, gives no tangible benefits past a new spawn point and being able to PK anyone in your city and not get caught by guards (because you own the guards).  These aren’t like EVE’s starbases, which can be upgraded to produce new products, or used to mine moons for really rare components.  They can’t be used to levy taxes or control townspeople like Lineage II.  They don’t open access to dungeons like Atlantica Online.

Darkfall’s cities are boring, mundane, pieces of stone that make you a gigantic target.  Going to the trouble of building one is just too much trouble for so little gain.

Oh, and when I talk about quests and the poor questing system of Darkfall, I’m not trying to be a damn carebear and relegate myself to controlled storylines.  I’m trying to find reward in going out and exploring the world.  I’m trying to give people that incentive to go out and risk things, because that provides LOADS more opportunity for PvP.  They create places where you know players will be, and where you know you can attack to gain new loot and gear.  PvPers, don’t call me a carebear when I’m looking out for your style of gameplay.

Right now, running around in the wilderness is exactly that — running around the wilderness.  It’s boring unless you get into PvP, and PvP can’t stay exciting and fresh forever when you get sent so far away or have the trouble of finding someone to thrash.  Battles will quickly end, opponents will quickly find themselves humiliated and leave because they don’t want to spend hours of their time attempting to work back to where they once were, and then you’ll be standing alone, the king of nothing and opponent to no one.

These aren’t unfixable problems.  Patch in a few things, take a look at spawn times and estimated run times, and you can even things out.  But until that happens… Darkfall can surmised in a few sentences.

Kill friend.  Grab stuff.  Repeat until you get bored and go play Team Fortress 2.

Don’t bitch and say I’m wrong.  Once you play the game for too long, you’ll know it.