So, who died to a goblin last night?
From my somewhat brief trip around human lands and starter cities last night, I saw a good number of new (halo’ed) players, and the more global chat channels were a bit busier with both new player questions and others trying to show off their impressive four-letter vocabulary. Looks like some of the trial players have brought a bit of barrens chat with them. I also fully expect tonight to be far busier as more people complete the download and get in-game.
The most interesting part so far has been the ‘controversy’ of charging one dollar/euro for the trial, and the tinfoil hat army is out in full force warning all good citizens of the impending doom. Not really surprising I guess, this being the internet, but some of the stuff people are saying brings me back to the good ol’ days of DF launch and the random misguided hate some have for the game.
Stuff like “DF is dying, so AV is trying to squeeze out the last few $ before the server shuts down” is priceless, given that the game still costs $50 a full year later, and has a planned retail release for EU later on this year (it’s already had a retail release in Greece, home of Aventurine), with plans for NA to follow after that. Plus I doubt a studio with just one game would move into a bigger office to fit all the new hires if things were not going well, but hey, the tinfoil hat blocks logic as well as the alien control signal.
Also laughable is the whole “I don’t just give my credit card out at random” argument. One must wonder how those making that argument would have continued to play DarkFall after a free trial, or how everyone currently playing has yet to notice Aventurine selling our CC info to China. Now that they mention it, I should probably block Aventurine from my PayPal account. Sure it might stop them from depositing money into it each Community Publisher cycle, but that’s a small price to pay to protect my identity from such an evil company!
And finally, my current favorite: “They want me to pay to see if I want to pay them to play a game!?” First, it’s a dollar; if you can’t spend that to try a game out, one must wonder just how interested you are to begin with. Secondly, I’ll gladly take the loss of such a sure-fire potential customer over the countless issues that come with a truly free trial, especially in a game like DarkFall that actually puts the trial players into the full world with very minimal (if any, not 100% sure on this) restrictions. I can’t even remember the last time I saw any kind of gold seller advertising in-game, while trial account characters literally rain down from the sky in cute patterns in other games. Plus how much of DarkFall would you be showing off if you put all trial players on a trial island secluded from the rest of the world? That works just fine in a zone-based themepark, but not in a living virtual world like Agon.
My real concern with the trial is not the petty $1 cost, but just how much of DarkFall will a trial player really see in seven days? I mean technically they can see all of it; they can ride anywhere, fight anything, equip any item, join a siege, live out of a player city, go PvP’ing, all of that, but what will the ‘average’ player coming in see? As I’ve said many times, DarkFall plays very differently from most MMOs, even down to its basics. Simple things like being able to rotate or zoom in/out with the camera are not possible in DarkFall, not because the UI is broken, but for gameplay reasons. Yet it’s those kinds of things that someone playing for the very first time will notice immediately, and it’s understandable that without more knowledge, you can look at something like not being able to zoom out and call it either a bug or bad design. Same for the whole looting/sheathing thing. Most people call that bad design in their first week/month of playing, and then after a few PvP battles realize just how important that mechanic really is.
My concern with the trial is that in 7 days, without some serious time invested (or a friends help), most players won’t get beyond that initial “this must be broken” phase. I fully expect many to come away from the trial with an Ed Zitron-like reaction based on their limited time with the game. Just as you stop fighting with the UI and get comfortable and really into the game, the trial ends.
On the other hand a lot of other things, like how unique (to MMOs) the combat is, how the graphics look/perform, how the mob AI works, the basics of gathering/crafting/economy, and the overall ‘feel’ of DarkFall should be apparent in those seven days, and hopefully for some that will be enough to convince them to jump in and make a full purchase. As Aventurine themselves stated long ago, DarkFall is not for everyone, but I think a few people might be surprised that it work for them.
(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.)