My guess is most of you did not catch MJ from Massively live streaming a little over an hour of her DF:UW experience a few days ago. It’s not exactly appointment viewing given the length, but it’s actually rather interesting from a “my god, that’s how people approach this game” perspective.
In terms of attitude I think MJ is in a good place. She knows she is playing something a bit out of her league, but rather than just slogging through it she is making the most of her time and actually going out and finding the fun. I think way too many gamers today just stand still and expect the fun to find them, and that’s just not how something like DF:UW works, so good on her for that.
But yikes is she bad. And I don’t just mean “lulz that aim” bad, but just from a basic gaming standpoint bad. When fighting ogres she continually uses exploding arrow at point blank range, hurting herself. Now yes, in most MMOs you can’t hurt yourself with your own AOE, so it’s forgivable to initially make the mistake. But not noticing you are taking damage after the 10th time? Or even picking up on the fact that the ‘hit sound’ when you land a shot is exactly that and tells you whether you connected or not (during the video she assumes she missed a few times, even though the ‘hit’ sound played). It makes me wonder if she is the exception, or a representative of the average gamer?
Learning how to play the game aside (and she will hopefully learn a lot once she joins a clan), it was also interesting to see how she viewed different situations. At one point a party member spawns a mount for her to ride, but she misses that in chat (forgivable given DF:UW chat system), and spends a few minutes wondering if she should take the mount or not, as perhaps a potential thief might dance back and forth deciding whether to steal something. It’s a funny situation, given how common mounts are and that you can, of course, always get off and give the mount to someone else.
The same goes for looting items and such. She loots a few pieces of gear off the ogres, yet does not equip them. Even the bows she receives from her party members she does not correctly equip until (accidentally) later. Small things, but again an interesting look into how others play the game. From a dev’s perspective, do you try to help someone like MJ have an easier time with the game, or do you go to the other extreme and address top 5% player concerns about class balance and UI micro-tweaking? In many ways it’s an impossible decision.
Between the actions in the video and MJs commentary on them, I think the biggest thing the video shows is just how different DF:UW is compared to what many view as a ‘normal’ MMO (WoW basically). And I don’t mean different on the large scale, like full loot PvP and such, but the thousands of little things that add up. As someone who has been around such games for many years, a lot of the differences in DF:UW are normal to me, and hence I have troubling seeing how anyone could look at some of the details and come to the wrong conclusion. MJ’s video did a really good job of bringing such things to the forefront for me.
Looking forward to see the progress she makes once she has some clan support. Should be interesting, and a great example of why joining a clan in DF:UW is a basic requirement for anyone new to the game.
Last night OTG had a siege against The Empire for their hamlet of Alden Enak (AE), located just south of our city of Kvit.
The nice thing about this siege was that the numbers, gear, and player skill were about as even as you are likely to find in Darkfall, resulting in multiple battles in a few locations rather than one steamrolling.
The unfortunate part was that on our end, we had a lot of crashing, which we believe is tied to using Mumble instead of TS3 or Vent. In each battle a good 20-30% of our force would randomly crash, which not only reduced our overall fighting numbers, but caused havoc for communication and organization. It did not appear that The Empire clan members were crashing nearly as often, which is good once we correct the Mumble issue, but bad for trying to win that particular siege.
For me personally, a few crashes aside, performance was excellent. I kept my game maxed out at 1900×1200 and never had my FPS dip below 60 or my ping go over 70, even though at the peak of combat we had over 100 total players fighting it out.
On to the fighting itself!
Right as I got home and was preparing to log on, Empire was raiding Kvit and blew up our bank. After they cleared out, we formed up a group of about 20, got on a boat, and sailed around for a sneak attack on their hamlet. The idea was to kill who they had before the siege went live, and hopefully hold the hamlet itself so they could not use it as a rally point.
The boat ride itself was uneventful, and we snuck up on the hamlet without incident. They had around 20 players as well, some right at the bank and others spread around the hamlet grounds. Our initial charge took down a few, but they quickly rallied to some high ground and counter-pushed. One warrior in particular, sporting Dread Plate (second-best warrior armor), was incredible disruptive and took a few of us down. After a few back and forth pushes, we lost too many and had to retreat back to our city.
After both sides gained some more members, a scout reported Empire was heading into our city. We decided to retreat up the lift we have in Kvit (the city itself is inside a mountain with three large cave entrances. A lift runs to the top of the mountain through a hole in the ceiling. There is also a path up the side of the mountain that leads to the top area). Once at the top, we waited for the enemy to follow us up, and planned to AoE the lift as it came up.
The plan initially worked, but once we started AoE’ing those on the lift, they jumped off, and we made the tactical mistake of getting on the lift ourselves and taking it back down into the city. The enemy was able to AoE us as the lift reached the bottom, and our general disorganization lead to a rather quick defeat (I crashed right as the lift hit the ground, so missed the fighting, and once back inside had to sneak my way out of the city). Though we did take down a few, overall we got wiped and they were able to loot most of our graves and ride back out of our city.
The final major battle occurred again at our city. Empire again made a push, but this time we were more organized and held them at the southern cave entrance. The choke point where a city gate can be built (we have not built the walls yet) was AoE’ed heavily by both sides, and the first push from the Empire was turned back as they lost half a dozen fighters, with the rest falling back outside to regroup.
However the second pushed got them through the choke point, and while we held for a while further inside, ultimately we again were overwhelmed and defeated.
It was only after this battle that the siege officially went live with our siege stones becoming vulnerable. At this point however moral was pretty low, people were low on gear bags, and we never reformed to defend the stones. Empire took them down quickly, and the siege ended with them retaining their hamlet.
Crashing aside, it was a very fun night, and while initially OTG was a bit down, identifying the Mumble-based crashing and getting on TS3/Vent will mean next time we don’t have to deal with the technical issues getting in the way.
Some quick thoughts on the Rift F2P thing, since a few people have asked.
First, it’s not surprising. Scott Hartsman leaving Trion was basically the “Rift is going F2P” announcement.
Second, not surprising given what Rift is. It’s an above-average themepark MMO. Being a 3.0 themepark still does not fix the core problem (being a themepark), and so F2P happens.
Third, F2P won’t save Rift, like it hasn’t saved any other MMO going F2P. Trion will likely release some nice-sounding numbers in 2-3 months, telling us that players/sales/whatever are up 500% and F2P is a massive success. Then they won’t tell us anything for a few months and eventually layoffs will happen. It’s the Turbine story with DDO/LotRO all over again. Again, F2P does not fix the core problems of your game (being a themepark), and ultimately just adds issues to it (the shop and how to get people to buy).
WoW will likely be the last themepark to go F2P, and that will happen soon (2014 remember). The issue isn’t that F2P is great for players and devs (it’s not), the issue is that themeparks are all more of less the same, so when one is just above-average, unless it really clicks with you (and continues to click for months), you might as well go with the F2P one over the $15 one (not how I would do it, but I think that’s how many look at it). Or hell, drop $50 and mess around with GW2 for a few weeks and return whenever content gets added.
The sub model works for something like EVE because if you enjoy what EVE does, you either play EVE or nothing. There is no EVE clone (because making EVE is hard, cloning WoW is easy), and EVE is not designed to be fun for a few weeks. It’s a hobby. Same for Darkfall. The target audience is much smaller than EVE, but the fact remains that if you like what DF does, it’s that or (maybe) Mortal Online, and MO is a mess. Why does Camelot Unchained have a chance as a subscription game? Because if it does what it aims to do even reasonably well, the options will be CU or nothing.
I also think long-term F2P is either going to evolve or eat itself alive. Selling fluff junk is not sustainable, players will eventually catch on to the lottery schemes, and the NA/EU market is not nearly as tolerant of P2W as Asia is. As themeparks race to the bottom, the quality will continue to dip, the shop scams will get worst, and eventually most are going to wake up and realize that playing a graphically better version of Farmville is not worth the time, aggravation, or cost.
Themeparks need to evolve or they will go the way of Farmville.
Edit: Also see this TAGN post about F2P, as I agree with it 100%.
A popular topic on ForumFall of late has been the value of player cities and hamlets, with some believe they are not worth owning, or that the cost to build them up is too great and needs to be reduced. OTG has been living out of our city (Kvit) for about a week now, and it’s highlighted some ‘hidden values’ to me.
There are the obvious benefits of owning a city, such as being able to bind at the stone, receiving the system messages when anyone comes in/out, and the minor regen buff the city provides to its owners. Cities also have resource nodes (mines, farms, etc) that can be built, but OTG has yet to build ours so I can’t really comment on that.
The above are nice, but certainly not worth the large amount of resources needed to build up a city. But because DF:UW is a sandbox, the hard-coded benefits are only a small part of the value.
Since moving in, we have put up the keep and some houses to increase the maximum number of binds allowed, and currently we are at 71. This has allowed many (but still not all) of our members to bind from the same spot, making grouping and responding to attacks much easier.
For a more casual clan that has a wide range of PvP-skilled players, having numbers close by means we don’t get rolled whenever someone comes along. It also means we can farm high-value spots like Ogre Bullies or Arctic Bears with confidence, and have the numbers to chase someone off the spawn should we need to. It also allows for quicker grouping, so those with less time don’t spend most of it riding to get to a group. And since we are all concentrated, groups are always up and something is always happening.
Another benefit is learning the local area. By knowing where all of the local spawns are, as well as the major geographic features, we are better able to quickly respond to a call for help, and when fighting know the terrain and how best to use it. For instance, we know where the land gets relatively flat and clear of obstacles, so we know when to keep chasing someone on a mount and when it’s best to jump off and try to bow them down. We know the location of iron nodes for quick gathering, and where the best hiding spots are for escaping a chase.
Owning and building up a city also motivates us to take group mining trips, where a bunch of us will head and out clean out iron nodes for the clan. We do this geared up for PvP, and often find it (or it finds us). Seeing the city gain buildings and (soon) added functionality gives everyone a goal to work towards, and creates game and clan ‘buy in’.
Finally, because other players know OTG lives out of Kvit, we in essence have created a bit of a PvP hotspot. This is greatly beneficial for a number of reasons. First, DF:UW is a PvP MMO, and having PvP come to us saves us the trouble of having to finding it (though we do plenty of that as well). Near-constant PvP also means our members are getting experience and becoming better players, rather than sitting in a secluded corner getting fat and lazy off nothing but PvE (something that happened in DF1 to many clans). And thanks to the factors above, OTG has been holding its own in most fights, meaning not only do we have PvP delivered to our front door, but nice loot as well.
Owning and actively living out of Kvit has been a major boon for OTG, and we are excited to continue building up the city and carving out a place for ourselves in Agon.
Oh look, the D3 scam subs are officially off the books, and Blizzard doesn’t have another game or bundle coming out to bundle players into a WoW sub. And I was so sure MoP would totally save WoW too…
Of course now the real question becomes; when will EVE surpass WoW in subscribers? 8.6m to 500k might seem like a big gap, but when you are admitting to dropping 1m in a few months, while EVE’s growth is accelerating, it’s really only a matter of time.
Unfortunately I don’t think we are going to get a real answer, because at some point (‘soon’) WoW is going to follow the dying MMO model and go F2P for that last one-time cash grab. I don’t think that will happen in 2013, but 2014? Yea, put me down for 2014 being the year WoW goes full F2P.
How’s catering the casuals working out for ya?
Last week OTG had a planned event to take down the red dragon on Cairn. We had a nice turnout (I believe we had 40ish), and after about 30 minutes we took the beast down. The fight itself is fairly similar to the red dragon in DF1, although this one seems to bounce people around more and hit a little harder. He downed a bunch of people, sent others flying off cliffs, and we learned that the Primalist bubble ability does not block his fireballs. Good times all around, and decent loot (30k gold and a bunch of rare mats, I think). His death animation, where he falls out of the sky, is pretty sweet, as is the giant tombstone he leaves behind.
Right after the event we got out three boats and set sail for Niff (top right island), passing by Ruby (bottom right). At some point I got knocked off a boat and had to swim the rest of the way (woops), but while sailing the group encountered three players on another ship (the one with the cannon!) and took it over. We seem to have the pirate thing down.
Our time on Niff was brief but extremely entertaining. The main ‘issue’ was the overabundance of PvP. Anytime a group went out to PvE, PvP would find them, and even though many times we ended up on the winning side, it still delayed gaining prowess and completing feats. Furthermore, the area was so hot that our less developed characters had a tough time getting anything done, and they really wanted (and needed) to work on prowess to become ‘viable’.
We did have some great fights on Niff though, from a 20v15ish battle that went back and forth for close to an hour, to some great small-scale (3v3 and such) fights over mob camps. We certainly have plans to return and do some roaming when more of us are ready.
The rapid move to Niff caused an issue for some of our more casual member, who either got left on Cairn or just had a tough time getting anything done on Niff. With that brought to light, we have decided to concentrate the clan in the city of Kvit, which comically enough we claimed by accident on the second day of the game being live. We are currently building up Kvit, and already have expanded the number of bind spots available, though we still need more (zerg yo). More on the city and its impact on the clan in a different post, but I’ll just say it’s been great.
With most of our membership relocated to either the city itself or the nearby safezone NPC city, we regularity have multiple groups of 3-5 working different mob spawns or simply patrolling the area for PvP. One spawn in particular, Ogre Bullies just to the south of our city, sees a ton of traffic, and we have become increasingly good at fending it off without losing a lot of farming efficiency.
Personally I’ve been involved in a number of battles over an ice elemental spawn, and just in that short amount of time I think my PvP skills have greatly improved (up from terrible to pretty bad). Prowess-wise I’m at 24k, and I feel like I’m basically there in terms of character power. Gear-wise I’ve started using banded and r30 weapons more regularly. I also finally stopped being lazy and rebound a bunch of functionality to my mouse, because I might as well use those 11 buttons if I have em (g700 ftw).
When DF1 launched I had a blast in part because the game felt so new and fresh compared to everything else in 2009. This time around, that “new game smell” is less a factor, yet I’m having more fun than I’ve had in years because most of the warts that DF1 had have been removed, and I’m playing the kind of MMO I love the way I want to play it (mix of PvE and PvP, heavy on clan-based interaction) without the game punishing me for doing so. I’m progressing at a pace I’m very happy with, I don’t feel like others are miles ahead, and I don’t see the inevitable “game over” screen or 180 gameplay turn on the horizon.