Reaction to DF Trial reactions

Initial reactions from DarkFall trial users have begun popping up. Some are positive, others are a little more negative, and still some are neutral. I find all of them interesting to read from my point of view however. There are a lot of little (and some perhaps not so little) intricacies that stick out to new players that older players simply no longer think about, and so reading these first impressions is a good way to try and get back into that mentality.

Of course the main topic for anyone new is the UI, in part because it’s so different from the standard WoW-like UI, and because it COULD be a little (or a lot) better in some areas. What’s somewhat frustrating at times is when something is called ‘broken’ when in fact it’s working perfectly fine, but due to design/balance reasons it is the way it is. Looting is the prime example of this, but many others exist as well. When the ‘why’ is so different, it’s understandable that sometimes something so different can indeed feel broken.

This can make separating the areas that DO need work (chat functionality being one major area) more difficult to filter out from the noise. It’s also tough to really worry about the UI when after a month, no DarkFall players mention it. You get use to it, it does what you need it to do, and it does not get in your way (usually) or hamper your enjoyment of the game. That’s not much help to someone new of course, and is likely the motivator for Aventurine to rework at least parts of it.

Moving past the tech issues, DarkFall is also somewhat difficult to get into for someone who has mostly (or only) known themepark MMO design. Last night I was playing with two long-time online friends, both new to DarkFall, and we went into a dungeon to do some farming. One of them more or less asked what the point of the dungeon was, like if there was a boss mob or some reason to going there beyond killing mobs. It’s a perfectly valid question, yet seems like a strange thing to ask in DarkFall.

Now the reason it seems like a strange question is because the motivational factors in DarkFall are much different than those of a themepark. The themepark will give you a very direct reason to go into a dungeon, be it a quest or a rare drop from a boss. No one goes into a WoW instance to farm the trash mobs for gold, yet that’s basically what every dungeon in DarkFall is like. Except that it’s in DarkFall, so the rules and mentality are totally different.

You don’t consider going into a dungeon in WoW to avoid PK traffic, or because the mobs respawn faster, or because if PvP does happen, you will have an easier time escaping or finding a good spot to hold the fight. And you don’t farm level 10 mobs as a level 30 in WoW because those level 10s have nice enchanting drops and still give you good skill gains. But you do in DarkFall. And until you fully switch over to that mentality, a lot of things that players do in DarkFall just seem strange.

As I questioned before, I don’t know if seven days is long enough for the average player to really switch over and to get wrapped up in what’s really happening in DarkFall. And then for many others, no length of time would help. If you like guided content, no amount of patching or expansions is going to turn DarkFall into the game for you, which is why, like always, DarkFall is indeed not for everyone.

(If I missed your post about the DF trial, please mention it in the comments)

Edit: Victor Stillwaters trial experience.

(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.)

19 Responses to Reaction to DF Trial reactions

  1. sid67 says:

    If we are talking about improving the UI, my top four suggestions would be:

    Allow a horizontal hotbar. This is personal preference, but some people like horizontal bars.

    Detach the bubbles that show which item (and spell) is equipped. A subtle thing, but I’d like to place that somewhere else (under my status).

    When using the hotbar to equip items, hitting it again shouldn’t unequip it. I found that when my weapon was sheathed, it’s was easy to accidentally unequip it.

    Add more in-game tooltips and guidance about basic functions.

    I quite purposefully didn’t comment on the loot system. Because, while it was annoying, I also recognized I wouldn’t want it to be “easy” for someone else to loot my body.

    I think a lot of the challenges for the UI are related to the right-mouse button being bound to the mode toggle by default. That pretty much means the very intuitive action of right-clicking to open contextual menus doesn’t exist at all in Darkfall.

    • Carson63000 says:

      Can I add number 5? Make the bank in the starter villages IN YOUR FACE and maybe even give you a breadcrumb quest to send you there. I dunno if my village of Leenglow was atypical, but the bank is nowhere near where you start off, nowhere near any of the initial questgivers and crafting stations. I actually had a rough time finding it, and that was after reading noob guides on the net (which of course all the “the first thing you MUST DO is put all your spare stuff in the bank.”

      Hell, they could even go Atlantica-style and give noobs a “quest” to put an item in the bank. “Well done! Here’s 5 gold! Put that in the bank too!” :-)

      • SynCaine says:

        Some towns are definitely worse than others in regards to where the bank is. There is one in human lands that is tucked inside an inner walled structure, with the rest of the town being a nice little maze of buildings. Once you know its location it’s obvious, but before that, you can spend a lot of time running around.

        A good fix might be to simply put the bank on the mini-map like an NPC. That would help out in the world with wilderness banks too.

        • sid67 says:

          I must have spent 15 minutes looking for an ‘oven’ to bake my fish.

          I’ve wasted a lot (and I mean a lot) of my new player protection running around looking for crap in towns.

          Oh, btw, thanks for linking that yourmom map site a while back. It came in handy when I was trying to find some Kobolds.

  2. Bhagpuss says:

    What you say about what people don’t do in themepark games was quite instructive, I thought. Leaving aside the hiding-from-PK aspect, which isn’t usually relevant, I would have thought people did do those things fairly routinely. I know I spend a lot of time in dungeons killing creature for money, and killing things outdoors for the same reason too. Sometimes it’s coin they drop, sometimes stuff you can sell to vendors and other times things to sell to players, but going into a dungeon to farm mobs for profit is a core MMO activity, I’d have thought.

    Similarly going back as a higher level to lower level areas to farm materials for crafting is something I do almost literally every day and have done for as long as I can remember, in many MMOs. I’m usually competing with other people doing the same or chatting to people doing the same in other areas via the craft channels, so I can’t imagine it’s just me.

    Apart from the ever-present danger of someone staving your character’s head in with a lump of metal, which I agree would come as a terrible shock to many MMO players, myself included, I’m not really sure why Darkfall would be so very strange to someone who’s played MMOs before, if it wasn’t for the technical difficulties presented by the U.I. The quasi-FPS combat is relatively unusual, it’s true, but apart from that it sounds very close to what MMOs were usually like before WoW came out. Certainly the mob “A.I.” that you describe and which I’ve seen in Darkfall videos looks extremely familiar from how mobs behaved in EQ and, especially, DAOC.

    • sid67 says:

      One thing that was obvious to me is that while this is a ‘sandbox’ there is definitely a very strong focus on skilling up. So much so that I would name it as the #1 non-PvP goal in Darkfall.

      From that perspective, I can certainly see why players who reach the skill cap feel like there is nothing left for them to accomplish.

      An MMO, after all, is never just about the PvP but about character progression. If it were just about PvP, why not play a first person shooter?

      • SynCaine says:

        That’s about right. Everything outside of PvP really is ultimately about character growth, either directly (skill/stat gain) or indirectly (gold to buy regs to skill up). That to me is what an MMO is about though, the progress of your character along with his/your story in some virtual world. PvP in DF is either a break from that, or a chance to test yourself (and your character) against others.

    • Carson63000 says:

      Bhagpuss, you’re not overlooking the fact that “very close to what MMOs were usually like before WoW came out” actually means “completely bizarre and alien to 95% of the genre’s player base”, are you?

  3. SynCaine says:

    “it sounds very close to what MMOs were usually like before WoW came out.”

    That more or less sums up the ‘problem’ though. The population of players who played an MMO before WoW is small, and even some of those who have still go into every game expecting it to play similar to WoW in structure. DarkFall not having that structure is not a design flaw, but many will view it as such.

    • Bhagpuss says:

      Late back to the thread…

      Yes, it’s true. I saw an awful lot of that in Fallen Earth, where people in the new player help channel would seem quite mystified by what seemed to me to be the simplest, basic aspects of MMO gameplay. Namely, being dumped into a strange environment with no agenda other than to explore it.

      “I just finished the tutorial – what do I do now?” was a constant refrain, usually answered by a chorus of “whatever you want!”. I was, though, very heartened by the reaction of the great majority of these puzzled players. Most of them buckled down, asked sensible questions, worked out a plan of action and began enjoying themselves. Only a small minority exploded in a burst of swearing and /ragequit.

      There are a lot of FE players with pre-WoW MMO experience – plenty seem to go way back into MUDs. For them, FE is a pretty simple game. I personally found it one of the “easiest” MMOs I’d played for a long time – I certainly found it easier than WoW. But then, I find being left to my own devices a lot easier than following a plot, generally. After all, if you set your own pace and goals it’s pretty hard not to achieve them, unless you masochistically set them too high.

  4. Ivoldir says:

    The one thing I’d like AV to fix about the UI is the Chat System. I’ve been playing since November and still hate the Chat System and I believe a lot of players also hate it. Really wish they did something about it.

    Would also help new players as it usually takes an hour before they reply to your PM and say something like “Oh sorry I didn’t see your PM, still getting used to chat”.

  5. Visperas says:

    The UI system is going to improve in the next expansion so, even if it’s true that it has some issues, they are most probably be fixed very soon. To everybody complaining about it, just wait a little bit.

  6. Aberron says:

    Gaargh, stop talking about the free trial!

    At 2.0 kb/sec Bittorrent tells me I have to wait 42 weeks for it. On the plus side maybe your chat system will be fixed by then. Sure, I could call my ISP helpdesk and sort it out but I’d sooner eat my own eyes.

    Randomly, I’ve had fevered dreams of playing text MUDs for two nights straight so I’m going to give one of those a burn while I wait. An old obsession resurfacing I guess.

    Check them out, it’s amusing to recall just how hardcore we all were back in 1992. We’ve fallen a really long way since then, face-planted into Northrend and rezzed ourselves with no death penalty, wondering what went wrong.

  7. Visperas says:

    I’m thinking that if this next Darkfall 2010 expansion is as good as they’ve said it will be, Av should’ve hold on the trials until Darkfall 2010 is applied. Most people will use the trial before the game is patched.

  8. Kyff says:

    I have no problems adjusting to a new UI. Though the controls may be different from WoW (never played)they do resemble all time golden great Morrowind. There shouldn’t be any problem with that.

    What I found most irritating however, is the absence of a player manual. 99,9% of noob questions usually can be answered with RTFM. But in DF there is none and the ingame “help” function is simply a link to seemingly age old PR material. Aventurine shouldn’t rely on their player base being detectives finding information outside of the game.

  9. sid67 says:

    Well… They just made the prospect of converting from a Trial to a sub much more attractive.

    Darkfall Client plus 3 months of Darkfall:
    $59.99 For North American Servers

  10. Inktomi says:

    I wrote this one up, actually mentioned you and you still missed it. So many blogs, so little time.

    http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/Inktomi/032010/5818_Delving-into-Darkfall-My-First-Impression

    I’m going to write two more follow up articles and then just play the damn game. Oops I gave up my plan.

    • SynCaine says:

      I saw the article actually, I just don’t have a MMORPG account to comment with. The odd thing about pingback links (and emails) is that if you just link to the top page, they don’t generate. Sometimes they get picked up in the stats page, but not always.

      I’ll edit the post though to include your piece.

  11. victorstillwater says:

    Hi there Syncaine.

    Just finished my trial and have my impressions up as well. Maybe you can take a look, and see if I missed anything? :)

    http://iamstillwater.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/the-nature-of-the-beast-darkfall-impressions/

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