Rumor has it a siege might happen?

January 30, 2010

Busy Friday night…

08:00:44 PM Black Watch was challenged by BIood Thirst for control over Vellenyth. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

08:48:53 PM brutaLity was challenged by FruitaLity for control over Aradoth. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

08:51:00 PM Dark Hand Of Valor was challenged by King Mannus for control over Apautan. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

08:51:23 PM Dread Horsemen was challenged by Genital Asphyxiation for control over Jeradan. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

08:52:10 PM Vigilante was challenged by Turtle Soup for control over Mamengruk. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

08:58:51 PM Lords of Death was challenged by Dominion for control over Eslingar. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

08:59:28 PM Sick Bastards was challenged by Turtle Soop for control over Eronetil. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

09:09:51 PM Lords of the Dead was challenged by WINNERWINNERCHICKENDINNER for control over Spear Waters. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

09:25:44 PM United Legions was challenged by Head Hunters for control over Long March. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

09:31:12 PM Desperate Housewives was challenged by No daddy not again for control over Surtstone. The challenge will active in 22.0 hours.

Dear DarkFall server hardware:

Good luck!


Every alliance on NA1.

DarkFall review prep work

January 29, 2010

I’m planning to do a review of DarkFall soon (since our 1yr anniversary is coming up and I want to get it something special), but I’m trying to decide the best way to write it. I know for the thousands in attendance, and the MILLIONS reading around the world, we have a mix of people here who do play DarkFall (newbs and vets alike), people who are curious (no homo) about DarkFall, and the last few remaining haters (Hi haters).

I don’t want to do a straight up “this has been added since launch” post, because that would not only require me to comb over previous patch notes, but would also be somewhat dry. I also don’t want to do a ‘pure’ review of everything because I’ve already talked at length about some of the basics (how sounds is important, how the shadows are awesome, what the death penalty is, etc) and I don’t think that would help anyone.

My general plan right now is to touch on some of the more common misconceptions about DF (its all PvP, it’s a gank-fest, everyone in-game is a kewl d00d), highlight what I think are some of it’s standout features among the MMO genre, and maybe go over why DarkFall would be an enjoyable experience for the average MMO fan and not just the perceived “hardcore PvPers only” crowd.

But before I do any of that, I figured I would ask you, dear read, what you might like to see in that DarkFall review?

Why you DON’T want to hit the cap

January 28, 2010

The topic of character progression, and more specifically how long it should take to reach ‘the end’, came up when a noted member of the community (ValRoth, the guy who did the newbie videos linked on the right) made a comment that his motivation to log on has dramatically decreased since he ‘completed’ his character. He has enough gear/gold now to no longer need to farm mobs, his skills are all at 100, and since he plays less, he gets involved in random PvP less as well. According to him he now only really logs on for scheduled PvP, and with the slower pace of sieges, that’s not often. The less you play, the less involved you become, and down we go.

Yet in that very same thread, others are asking for an increased pace to that goal, so they then can focus on the ‘good stuff’ rather than ‘grinding’. And that line of thinking very much reminds me of some players asking for PvP in MMO X, when really they don’t know what they are asking for and don’t want what PvP brings. I can only hope that should Aventurine even notice such requests, they themselves know well enough to ignore them. Having watched countless MMOs change over the years, I know that’s not always the case with every developer.

As it stands today character growth is, IMO, set at a good pace in DarkFall. New players will see significant increases in their first few weeks/months and get a great sense of accomplishment/growth, more seasoned players will still have plenty of goals to achieve and secondary (mastery and others) skills to work on, and the upper-echelon should still have some things to finish off or side projects to complete (100 intensity, 100 enchanting, etc). In addition, once you reach a certain comfort level with your character (and that level varies from player to player), it’s only natural to shift your focus from character development to ‘other’ stuff (be it PvP, economy, exploring, whatever), yet even as you do that other stuff you are still growing, albeit at a much slower rate. So long as you are not capped, your actions are never ‘pointless’ because at least you got some character progression in.

This is, in part, why EVE’s retention rate and subscriber longevity is so high, because in that game you will NEVER reach ‘the end’, and there is ALWAYS something to improve. When the goal is to keep people playing, that’s a beautiful model, even once you get past the tears of “but I’ll never catch up!”

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

Out for some solo PvP

January 27, 2010

I’ve been bound to VAMP’s city of Dagamyr (near the center of the map) for a few weeks now, mainly due to its ideal local PvE. Between Shadow Knights that drop Full Plate, Blood Knights that drop a ton of gold, and Grey Orcs for melee/archery grinding, it’s just a great spot for me. Unfortunately most of Inquisition is bound in Talpec up on Yssam, which makes getting together for group PvP rather tough. The recent placement of Megummi’s villa has been a huge plus, but last night he was not around and so I went out solo to see what trouble I could find.

Solo PvP for me is a bit tricky, as I’m not a total noob but don’t have the type of character or player skills to take down anyone I come across. At the same time I don’t intend to just roam the starter towns looking for naked gatherers, so I was unsure just how successful such a trip would be. This is further complicated by the fact that in order for me to be effective, I have to go out in decent gear (rather than just junk armor and regs to spam spells), and my bank can only take so many hits before it starts looking a bit barren.

But out I went, and I ended up having a really great time. I went west out of Dag and into Maharim (wolf) lands, knowing the area well from my time living there on the EU server. At first I only ran across a few under-geared players running to who know where, and they made easy prey for a mounted player. My general philosophy about killing/looting players goes like this: If you have a name I don’t like (baby eater, lulz dood, Legolazz), I will kill and dry loot you regardless of how new you might appear. If you react/play like a new player but fight back, and don’t have a stupid name, I’ll only loot things of actual value to me (regs, arrows, food), leave the rest of your stuff on your corpse and message you letting you know to go back and get it. If you seem like an equal-skilled character, I loot what I want (sometimes I vendor sell stuff, sometimes I’m too lazy to pick it all up).

After a few easy and uneventful kills, the sounds of combat came from a known grinding location (hivekin queen), and so I dismounted and crept up to do some scouting. Just as I neared the top of a hill, I saw a single player swimming away from the hivekin queen island and towards my general location. Loading up my greatsword power attack, I waited until he was just coming out of the water to charge down at him, and before he could react my power attack landed (it’s a forward thrust that is tough to land on a moving target), with more swings coming as he turned to run.

He spawned his mount just ahead of him, but at this point I had landed a good 3-4 back shots and his HP was around 30%. As he got on his mount, I pulled out my bow and started shooting. Initially my goal was to shoot him off his mount, but as he gained some distance more of my shots hit his mount than him (I’m not exactly pro at archery), and I then decided to just bring his mount down and finish him on foot. With his mount at 25%, he turned and charged me, getting a mounted hit in before his mount went down.

With both of us on the ground again, he pulled out his staff and began casting conversion spells to try and recover (mana to stam, stam to health), and while I was able to land a few archery shots, I sadly missed too many to finish him here, and instead he was able to start jump-casting fireballs to kite me. A few times the fireballs would send me towards him if I timed my jump correctly, and this actually allowed me to get in a few melee hits as he ran. I made another mistake here in attempting to chase him with a melee weapon, rather than just continuing to use archery. I’m far more comfortable in melee, and my thought process was that if I continued to miss archery shots, my early advantage would fade as he recovered.

With my own health around 50%, he must have been running low on mana, because he stopped fire kiting and instead went in for some melee. He was wearing full bone armor and I was in a mix of scale/plate, and he quickly realized I had the advantage here. After getting him once again to around 20%, he ran and transferred some more, which prompted me to do the same. I also noticed my stamina was getting critically low at this point (around 20%), and so I spawned my mount to try and finish him that way.

Initially it went well, as I was able to land a few hits and he was trying to bow/melee the mount down. The problem from my perspective was that while my stamina continued to go down, he would occasionally cast transfers, and I felt that shortly I would hit zero stamina and I would be a sitting duck. After a bad string of mounted-attack misses, I made the decision to get off my mount near him and cast some transfers, as my stamina was around 5% or so. As expected, he got on my mount and started attacking me, but I was able to get a few archery shots at him on the mount before outright killing it (yup, I killed my own mount).

But bringing down the mount used up the last of my stamina, and my hp was also at 25%. I tried to scramble and buy some time to recover, but he got into melee range and shortly brought me down. After a good 10-15 minutes, I finally took a breath.

I messaged him “good fight”, and we talked a bit. As it turns out, he was basically out of stamina a few times that fight, and had I pressed him at any of the key moments, I would have taken him down. In particular, when I got off my mount he was one hit away from zero stamina, and rather than trying to recover at that point, I really should have continued to press. In retrospect the worst that would have happened is my mount being killed from under me, and I could have tried to recover then. I also realized that I did not have a food buff (a huge bonus to stamina and hp regen) going for more than 50% of that fight, which would have easily turned the tide for me.

Yet even though I lost the fight, I felt great. I know I made some mistakes, but I also realized I was a much better player now than a few months back, and that as long as I keep my cool and remember all the little things that are key to DarkFall combat (food, keeping your stamina high, knowing when to press/recover), I can hold my own against decent players. This guy was no powerhouse, but he was no noob either.

I re-geared for another trip, and this one was a bit more fruitful while also being very entertaining. I ended up taking down two fully geared players in separate one on ones, killed my share of gatherers for a nice horde of materials, and managed to escape a 3v1 ambush that I ran into with just a sliver of mount health remaining.

I also had a funny conversation after killing a new player out at a mob spawn. I did my usual message about his gear, and he went on to ask a bunch of questions on how to improve and avoid future gankings. The funny part was how surprised he seemed at the options available to him, and how little of DarkFall he had explored to that point. He was trying to play DarkFall like a themepark, focusing on questing and not really planning ahead, assuming he would just ‘level up’ as he went. I pointed him towards NEW, and he seemed genuinely grateful about that and all the advice. Funny what ganking someone can bring.

Bonus: Here is a great little humor video from the DarkFall video contest. It’s a really great use of animations, lighting, editing, and coordination. Enjoy!

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

Bank Heists in DarkFall

January 26, 2010

A player by the name of Darwoth recently compiled and posted 20 of his DarkFall clan vault heists (part one here, part two here), including how he did it, the conversations related to the events, and the contents of the clan vaults. As expected, it has caused quite a stir on the forums. (Warning, if you have virgin eyes, some of the language may offend you, fgt*)

Personally I find what Darwoth does very interesting, as it really exposes just how overly-trusting or careless people are, and just how simple the most effective scams can be. While some try to deflect and blame the game for some of this (in particular the now fixed and bannable I/L font abuse), ultimately all of these could have easily been prevented by a simple vent check, and when you are in charge of a bank used by a large group of players, it’s the least you should do. No amount of font changes, clan vault tabs, or whatever else would have stopped Darwoth when he was promoted to the highest rank in a clan only minutes after talking to someone. In those examples, it’s hard to feel sorry for the victim. Shame on the leaders for letting it happen, and shame on the members for placing their trust in such poor leadership. If anything, Darwoth simply expedited the process of such a weak setup collapsing.

The other aspect of all of this is the old “how many people ragequit because of one person”, and how much money Aventurine would have saved if they had just banned Darwoth (which also assumes he would not buy another account, but let’s pretend). My feelings on this are that it’s a foolish argument. If someone ragequits because of a bank heist, I’m guessing they would also ragequit the day their player city gets taken, or the day a powerhouse PvP clan decides to wardec them and make life tough. In short, if you ragequit over losing pixels, you would not have lasted long in DarkFall anyway.

And for a game like DarkFall to continue to thrive and grow, the weak MUST be culled. If every clan/alliance you take a city from ragequits the next day, that has negative impacts on everyone. People are less likely to declare a siege, a sense of ‘doom and gloom’ permeates the community, and wars only last for one round. Hyperion from EU is the perfect example of this. The day things got rough for that alliance, it folded and left a huge void in the world, with many in the community predicting DarkFall’s demise due to the heavy player loss. As we can now see, the downfall of Hyperion simply removed many of the players that were not cut out for DarkFall, and today the alliances that exist on NA1 are (mostly) made up of players who can take a hit, get up, and fight back; and THAT is exactly the type of community you need to make a game like DarkFall work.

* The ‘fgt’ part is an inside joke relating back to this post on KTR.

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

More on Friday’s fighting.

January 25, 2010

In addition to the great video I linked in the post just below this one, here is another video from Covert Operations that not only shows off more of the action, but also give a brief intro about the war. VAMP was trying to ninja Aradoth when Fatality was disbanding and reforming as Desperate Housewives. Ninja move failed, VAMP holdings went vulnerable, world war happened.

The best part of the CO video is when I’m trying to rest up and regear just after dying outside in the ‘safety’ of Dagamyr, only to have what is shown on the video happen. Bonus points for the guy coming back to kill me a second time when I’m trying to get my gear off my corpse. There was no third time; someone already looted me at that point. So much fail…

It really was a great night though, that little sequence of embarrassment aside. I missed the initial bombing of Aradoth that you see at the beginning, but I was there for all of the fights at Dagamyr, and it really was almost non-stop action for hours, as the Super Friends alliance made attempt after attempt to capture the city. Over a dozen cannons were dropped just at Dag, but the city stone only got down to about 60%. VAMP did end up losing a hamlet on Niflheim (undefended) and the city of Mehatil on Yssam, which was overrun towards the end of the night by the Turtle alliance.

Unlike a few sieges on Niflheim, the fighting at Dag never crippled my FPS below 20, and while I still had a couple of memory crashes, none proved fatal. The performance could certainly be better, and even a single crash is not great, but the DF engine has come a long way since release, or even what it was a few months ago. Hopefully Aventurine can work out the last few bugs and do some optimization in 2010, as I know not everyone was able to run the siege smoothly. The current ‘key’ to performance seems to be whether or not you use on-board sound. If you do, your performance takes a major hit. Luckily I’m running an X-Fi card so I avoid the worst of it.

How this war continues is anyone’s guess. The NA server was having some issues the rest of the weekend, so no immediate follow-up occurred, but now that the SF alliance has a holding on Yssam more fights should break out. It will be interesting to see whether VAMP/NEM tries to retake Mehatil (a city with a foundry for making warhulks), or whether they give up on Yssam and re-focus on mainland Agon.

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

DarkFall: When superpowers collide preview

January 25, 2010

The entire NA1 server went to war on Friday, here is just one video of some of the fighting. More about all of this in a bit, but I think to a man everyone agrees that night was the most fun anyone has had in DF, period. Enjoy.

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)


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