More tools coming to the sandbox

DarkFall is set to receive a patch later this week, and two recent spotlights have shown off two new items that will be included; Clan Teleportation Chambers and Deployable Strongboxes. Both threads are already very lengthy with everyone throwing opinions and predictions around, with feelings ranging from overjoyed to ‘slap in the face’ style responses. Or in other words, it’s just another day on ForumFall.

I don’t want to spend too much time going over the features themselves, as I think once they are added in and we know the full details of their functionality, limits, and costs, only then can we really evaluate what value they have added. What I do want to talk about however is the general difference between adding such features to a game like DarkFall versus adding such features to a game like World of Warcraft. For this post, let’s compare the upcoming strongboxes in DF to the repair bot in WoW.

Both additions certainly share some similarities, such as being player-crafted, deployable, and providing optional utility normally found in a city. The key difference for me however is that when the repair bot was announced, its purpose was very clear; repair broken gear in an instance rather than having to delay and run back to town. There was no ‘sneaky utility’ to the bot, there was no “I wonder how players will use this” debate. The bots function is very clear, its use is very standard, and it does its job in a fairly straightforward way. Taken one step further, many (but certainly not all) features added to a themepark-style game also fall into this category. A new battleground or instance is a rather straightforward addition; it’s another place to do stuff similar to what you are doing now, just with different rules or gimmicks and rewards.

This is in rather stark contrast to adding something like the deployable strongbox to DarkFall, where in just one day many have already theorized various uses for them. From the expected (resupplying at a siege stone), to the possible (personal storage while out farming/gathering), to the unlikely (making a wall of boxes to block an entrance) to potential exploits (using it to block mobs in so they can not reach you); in just one day the possible uses for the strongbox are being explored. And this exploration and strategic adjustment will only intensify once the item is added to the game and players begin to play around with them. Will the cost be low enough to use as personal storage while out farming? Will players adjust to include siege hammers or other tools to break boxes when they head out to PvP? How will the terrain you know today look to you when you start seeing it as “where to hide/find a box”? How different will a siege be in terms of offense/defense with this addition? What about when combining strongboxes with the teleportation chamber addition? One could go on and on, but it’s this level of player control that I love about a good sandbox MMO. Additional tools and features are added as time goes on, but exactly how those tools and features are ultimately used is as much up to the players as it is the developers, and for me that adds a great deal of excitement to each patch.

12 Responses to More tools coming to the sandbox

  1. Ben says:

    It sounds like most of the possible ideas for the DF strongboxes are anticipated (if not proposed) by the DF team itself in the announcement; but the players will ultimately be the ones to use them.

    Honestly, it doesn’t seem like WoW repair bots will at all be similar to the strongboxes, they’re completely two different things.

  2. sid67 says:

    The exploit usage to form walls or block mobs is an interesting one. I hate exploits, but something like this tends to go from being an exploit to ‘part of the game’ in about 2 days.

    I don’t know how much it will be used for harvesting. It seems to me that if someone can kick your ass/chase you off to take your Ore — they can kill your strongbox. Which really means — do you trust your hiding spot? And how much do you load up in the box before running to the bank?

    • Ragnarok says:

      I doubt it will be able to be used as an exploit. Blocking entrances with deployable items was the first thought that hit me when campfires came out, but AV thought of that before they released it. Believe it or not, they are learning, and are adjusting their design style as they go.

      Also, it seems that they are pushing more and more for minor siege gear (hammers or battlespikes) to be included in day to day PvP bags.

      • SynCaine says:

        Which is interesting, because siege hammers weight a decent amount, and so a full PvP set including a hammer means you can’t loot nearly as much stuff before hitting the 300 (400) weight limit, which I’m guessing is an intended choice left up to the players.

        • Ragnarok says:

          First mounts, then siege hammers… I wonder how much these strongboxes will weigh?

          It’s quickly getting to the point where you can’t pick up a fully loaded PvP bag if you are fully loaded.

        • SynCaine says:

          Which I’m not sure if that’s such a bad thing. Instead of dry-looting every corpse, maybe now all you can grab is the really high-value stuff, which increases the time spent looting (more searching and identifying, or random grabbing)

      • Fortuente says:

        Pardon me for not knowing a thing about Darkfall’s proposed strongboxes, but EVE has deployable (secure) canisters that may be similar.

        In EVE each canister can only be X meters from another can or object, preventing players from stacking or other type of activity. Also, the cans in EVE have an extremely high number of damage points, so you can kill them if you want but it will take a long, long time. That way if you get chased out of the asteroid belt you are mining you can go back later and empty your can.

        I would hope/assume DF would have similar rules in place for their strongboxes.

        • Hirvox says:

          A more interesting case of a new game mechanic resulting in unforeseen tactics was the addition of the Orca. The Orca is the only ship that has a ship hangar and can reside in high-security space. While it’s primary purpose is a mining support ship, it was quickly adopted by pirates wanting to strike targets in high-security space.

          Normally, a pirate ship entering a high-security star system will be attacked by the NPC ships. Pirate pods are left alone, because they cannot carry any weapons and thus are not a threat.

          With the addition of the Orca, a pirate can enter a highsec system in a pod and warp to an Orca piloted by a friendly non-pirate player. The pirate can then grab a fully fitted ship from the Orca’s hangar and carry out the attack. The NPCs will destroy the pirate’s ship as a punishment, but they will be too late to save the victim.

        • sid67 says:

          Also, the cans in EVE have an extremely high number of damage points, so you can kill them if you want but it will take a long, long time.

          I suspect that if you have siege equipment, it won’t take long to kill the ‘personal’ size box.

          DF is very much an easy-come, easy-go game.

          Unlike EVE, in which events where you actually lose stuff are fairly rare.

          Just think about how the local channel is used to warn people. Chances are good that our EVE miner makes it back to a station or to a safepoint long before they ever see another ship.

          In DF, if you are out mining, you won’t even realize you are under attack until you are getting plinked with arrows.

  3. Lazzar says:

    I wonder what destroying a personal strongbox (from an ally) would do to my alignment.

  4. coppertopper says:

    This is only barely behind woodland critters on the excitement level for Darkfall players. Grats to you all! Rectangular boxes – wooot!!!

  5. [...] not like Darkfall the last time I played it, but I have heard that they have made it much better (from darkfall’s biggest fanboy) and I am excited to try it again. I have always had this dream of [...]

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