I briefly mentioned some areas of unavoidable macroing in DarkFall on Friday, and it’s something I want to go into more detail today. While I’m not one of the “must grind everything to 100 before you can compete” people, no one can deny that certain skills/spells are just not designed to be worked up from ‘normal’ use, and I’m wondering how others feel about them.
For instance, take Impetus from the fire magic school. It’s a simple Agility buff spell that costs one mandrake (2g) to cast, has about a 6-8 second cooldown, and the spell at level 1 lasts a good 3-4 minutes. I’ve now cast the spell over 2000 times or so and it’s just about to hit 50. The skill gain drops significantly after 50, so let’s just assume it takes 10,000 casts to get it to 100 (I think it would take closer to 30-40k casts, but let’s just be safe and say 10,000).
Now over the course of a normal PvP trip you might buff up 4-5 times on a good night, and it’s very unlikely you will need to cast Impetus twice in one fight. Even if you go out to PvP 5 nights a week and each night is a good night, it will take you 5×5=25 casts per week. 10,000 / 25 = 400 weeks of PvP at that pace to get Impetus to 100, or just under eight years of PvP’ing 5 nights a week and buffing yourself with Impetus before each of your five fights a night.
But lets also assume you are doing some PvE between your PvP trips, and you keep Impetus on at all times while PvE’ing for an hour each night, five nights a week. I’m going to use a baseline of 5 minutes per Impetus cast, as sometimes you won’t be able to cast right as it fades etc. 60 / 5 = 12 casts per hour. 12 * 5 = 60 casts per week, and when added to your PvP casts that comes to 85 casts. 10,000 / 85 = 117.65 weeks, or just over two years.
Now maybe it’s just me, but two years of continual use seems like a rather lengthy time just to get a buff spell to 100, and that was using very, very conservative numbers. If it really ends up taking 40k casts to hit 100, we are talking close to a decade of use. And the real issue is that almost all of the non-damage spells follow a similar model. Want to get Launch to 50 so you can actually make it over city walls? Either wait a few years or grab a bunch of regs and start casting launch just for the sake of skilling it up. Want your heal or transfer spells at a decent level? They won’t get their through ‘normal’ use, so again grab some regs and start casting.
Now clearly Aventurine is aware of the numbers needed here, but I do wonder what the design intention is. Do they really expect people to wait years before getting certain spells up, or is casting them just to skill up intended? Certainly one aspect of PvP is raiding a city/hamlet and killing people who are macroing for large amounts of regs, but is this really intended or a side-product of some oversight?
Now I’m not saying Aventurine needs to reduce the length it takes to get these spells to 100 by such an amount that the above ‘normal’ use gets you to 100 in a few months, as all that would cause is for most people to hit 100 in one night of repeat casting, and time and time again we have seen people ‘cap out’ in skills and just as they have reached their magical “I can compete” mark, they stop playing because there is “nothing to do”. Character development IS content, and if you skip it, you skip a ton of the intended content.
So the more I think about it, the more I tend to side with people who argue that afk macroing should be allowed, just with some changes. For instance, macroing within the safety of NPC zap towers should NOT be allowed, since you are more or less 100% safe there. If you macro in a player city or out in the wild, you run the risk of getting killed and looted before you get the intended results, and this would increase the value of ‘safe’ cities to macro in.
I also think actively playing should give much faster gains, to encourage people to go out and, well, actually play. Hitting mobs with damage spells is already 6x faster than hitting players, and that is a significant savings when you consider the cost of getting spells or schools to 100. Money along with time being a requirement for high magic is fine by me. This then also places an increased importance on banning players for bugging out mobs for easy skill gains, but mobs like the Hive Queen (99% resistance to magic, immobile) become even bigger PvP ‘hot spots’ due to the ease and pace of skill gains there. In a PvP sandbox game like DarkFall, I don’t think this is a problem at all, and actually adds content.
Finally certain skills would also have to be changed, such as swimming and running no longer giving stat gains. Afk swimming while naked is a zero risk activity, and would not fit into what DarkFall is all about (risk/reward). To balance this out stat gain overall, and especially from PvE, would need to be increase. It already needs a boost so new players can get to 50 or so in each stat faster, but that’s another topic altogether.
(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.)