Your blog post makes you sound like an egotistical asshole and takes a “my way is the only way” approach.
I mean, if the shoe fits and all that.
Your blog post makes you sound like an egotistical asshole and takes a “my way is the only way” approach.
I mean, if the shoe fits and all that.
Warning, the following is a long post centered around Darkfall, but in many ways applies to MMOs in general, and skims many concepts in order to prevent this from being an even longer novel. Apologies if I lose you along the way, feel free to ask in the comments section for clarification on anything.
One of the core aspects of an MMO all players go through while playing is progression. It’s the thing many of us love most about these games, whether we outright know it or know it by association (the leveling part, finishing gear sets, getting into bigger or more specialized ships, having enough wealth to control sections of an economy, becoming a go-to crafter, etc). The genre has a long and very clear history to support this; games with quick progression curves struggle with prolonged retention, or at the very least become a ‘jump in, spend a day, leave’ option now that we have F2P. Some games make that style work, other games are more about a consistent world than each player’s individual adventure.
The original Darkfall had a very long character progression path, one that was flawed by the need and acceptance of macroing (much like the early days of UO), but even still that long progression was there. It also featured a lengthy gear grind, one that was extended multiple times by the developers (AV) boosting stats on gear, but leaving all of the old gear unchanged and therefor inferior.
Despite DF1’s many core flaws, its unsustainable economy of uncontrolled faucets and weak sinks was hidden or marginalized by AV resets and the long character grind. In particular, gold was needed for a long time due to the fact that in order to skill up magic (something anyone who wanted to be PvP-viable had to do), you had to spent a ton of it on regents to macro. That massive sink, while unsustainable long-term, was sufficient for long enough. DF1 wasn’t abandoned in favor of Darkfall: Unholy Wars because of its unchecked economy, but that’s only because that timebomb never had a chance to explode.
Fast forward to DF:UW today. AV reduced the character grind, eliminated the need to macro, but kept the basic sinks and faucets of the game from DF1 (and if anything, increased said faucets even further, in part because the community continues to call for ‘worthwhile’ rewards). The result is that today, almost a year since release, anyone who has bothered has a ‘full bank’ of gear, to the point where getting more ‘stuff’ is no longer a driver. Watch any recent DF:UW PvP video and you will see this flaw in action; everyone is in top-end gear, even for the most casual of PvP encounters. To put this another way, if EVE had the DF:UW economy, everyone today (if we assume EVE had been released in 2012) would have multiple all-officer-fit Titans, and everything below that would be considered a ‘junk fleet’.
It’s no real secret to anyone paying attention that the population in DF:UW has not-that-slowly dropped, likely now below acceptable levels. It’s recent and seemingly successful launch in Asia might be what’s keeping the lights on right now, but unless Asians expect something radically different from DF:UW than what the US/EU expects (and they might, Asian’s can be pretty odd about their MMO flavors), it won’t take long for DF Asia to get in the same spot DF EU/NA is today.
That spot, just to summarize it briefly, is that since most everyone has enough stuff, going out and doing things (farming mobs, dungeons, capping villages, fighting over sea towers for the rewards, sieging cities so that a clan has better local farming) for the sake of getting stuff is no longer a motivator. With that motivator gone, DF:UW falls apart completely. You stop logging in to do activities that could result in PvP finding you, you are not online when clan-mates need help, and rather than the game being a day-to-day item, it drifts into becoming a “special occasions only” type of deal. To make this worse, unless you simply enjoy PvP for the sake of PvP, you have little to no reason to continue playing. A newly added dungeon is only entertaining once, as once you’ve seen it, you don’t need to return to farm it. Same goes for any new content really; you see it once and that’s it. All of the existing content? Unused. AV being as small as they are, they simply have zero chance producing content at a rate needed to sustain that broken model, even if they accepted the hyper-inflation rate and just ran with it.
So DF:UW is broken, and the core issue is its economy; simple too many faucets without enough sinks, resulting in players reach an ‘end’ in terms of progression. Important to note: character progression via prowess is also fairly short, at least in terms of getting one class to be fully PvP viable. In a vacuum this was an excellent change by AV; in the current state it has the unintended effect of highlighting the core flaw sooner.
Recognizing that their game was flawed, AV created an invite-only MVP sub-forum to get the players to help. The idea behind the forum was to reduce the amount of noise that generally happens on forums (and especially Forumfall, but more on that later) by selecting people who they identified as helpful and knowledgeable. In some ways this was an attempt at something like EVE’s CSM, which has been hugely successful. AV’s selection process unfortunately was… let’s just say not perfect, and while they did identify many of the good apples, a few rotten ones also snuck in. That said, outside of a couple examples, the sub-forum was at least successful in driving productive conversations about the game’s issues and what could be done to solve them.
The core issue, the economy, came up shortly and was discussed. I stated much of the above to the forum, and proposed EVE’s greatest sink (item destruction upon death) be added to DF:UW in order to help balance things and get the game into a healthier state. The simple fact was that the economy was so broken, so out of balance, that little tweaks or adjustments would not accomplish what was truly needed. Internally, I believe many understood the concepts and were on board with some form of solution, including AV themselves.
In a foreshadowing of future events, the most rotten of the apples went full retard on this topic, making one nonsensical statement after another (more on this soon). After a few attempts, I simply gave up trying to educate him. The situation was more of one child raising a temper tantrum over something they didn’t understand but perceived as ‘bad’, and as an adult, sometimes all you can do is pat the child on the head, tell them what they want to hear so they quiet down, and continue the conversation with the rest of the adults.
The first MVP forum update was a combined effort with AV, where the past weeks discussions were detailed, including the economy balancing proposal. Not surprisingly, Forumfall had (and is still having) an epic hissy fit. A relentless avalanche of idiocy commenced, with things being type that, had someone told me about them rather than seeing them myself, I’d have called you a liar. I don’t even know where to start on this so I’ll just throw out a few of the real gems (paraphrasing a bit here):
“We don’t need the economy balanced, AV needs to instead make PvE objectives worthwhile”
“Removing items off a grave would stop DF:UW from being a full-loot MMO and turn it into WoW”
“Rather than remove gear, AV should add more tiers of gear so people have a reason to fight over resources” (this, literally, was stated right after the above. So in summary: Item destruction = WoW, adding gear tiers = hardcore MMO. Forumfall everyone!)
“A better sink would be to have gear decay in your bank over time”
“Rather than destroying items at random, all items should take a durability hit, with low-dura items being destroyed” (If you don’t see the issue here, understand that many PvP bags are all low-dura items)
“Destroying items is carebear, AV should instead add a barrel where we can drop gear in to get point, and then we can spend those points on fluff items like different colored mounts or sex changes” (No joke, one of the more ‘hardcore’ players suggested this, in more or less exactly that way. He then suggested a magic unicorn that dropped a unique crafting pattern be added, so the sheep crafters would seek it out and the wolves could set a trap for them. I can’t make this stuff up)
And the most common and perhaps most idiotic: “Removing items from a grave would reduce the incentive to PvP”
On top of the above, plenty of suggestions were throw out that could be best summarized as “I want AV to add stuff that would take years to create, but I want it added tomorrow so the game is fixed”. A core focus in the MVP forum was to consider the amount of effort required for a suggestion, and if that effort level was high, that might not be possible. It’s not all that surprising so many on the general forum fell right into this mistake.
And on and on the idiocy cascaded. Now to be clear, I’m not at all surprised. Forums are what they are, and for every sane suggestion you should expect ten bits of nonsense or… well the equivalent of a fart noise in text.
My primary concern is that AV will cave in to the noise. They have a somewhat unhealthy track record of doing that. On top of this, it’s important to understand that the DF community is the immature little brother of something like the EVE community. When EVE players riot, odds are decent it’s for a good cause. The best and brightest of EVE are some of the smartest people in the genre, period. When the DF children get upset, it’s likely because you didn’t get them yet another candy bar at the checkout isle. If you cave in every time, you end up with a spoiled little fatty.
So we’ll see what happens going forward. It would be a shame if, once again, Darkfall’s great potential to be a solid niche MMO is wasted due to equal parts developer mistakes and misguided community noise. Right now most that are still interested are on the sidelines waiting to see what AV has planned. I can’t say I’m overly optimistic, but I haven’t fully given up just yet.
The recent lack of Darkfall posts is due, surprise, to an overall lack of playing DF lately. It’s moved from a game I played daily to something I put a few hours into a week, which in turn moves me out of keeping up with the day-to-day clan stuff and being part of the daily adventures that happen.
As I’ve long stated, either you are invested in an MMO and fully ‘get’ it, or you are at best floating along with it. I’m seriously floating with DF right now, and that sucks.
Part of the blame is personal. I know if I made an effort to log into the game more, I’d get more out of it. I’d once again become embedded in the day-to-day stuff and that’s very important in a sandbox. Momentum and all that. But I need Aventurine to do their part, and I just don’t think they are fully holding up their end of the bargain, at least enough for me.
I’ve been personally making the (unfair) comparison between DF and EVE lately, as EVE is once again tempting me to stop just training and start actually playing. Jester tracks EVE player activity as it relate to expansions, and one of the observations that is backed up by solid data is that between expansions activity dips.
What if you never do expansions?
That’s currently where DF:UW is, and I think the in-game activity and overall excitement reflects it. Semi-consistent patches are good and important, but there really is something about an expansion coming out, and its more than just getting more ‘stuff’ all in one day. It’s about generating excitement and getting people over the hump and back in full-time.
DF:UW right now, IMO, needs that jolt. It’s a much better MMO than it’s population reflects, but it’s also an MMO that makes it very easy to drift away, while at the same time not doing much of anything to get new blood in or old blood to return.
Things are not looking so hot over in Rift-land, including the upcoming closing of Rift China. The mighty MMO 3.0 seems to be falling, and falling fast. I can’t do a real comprehensive “why” analysis because I’ve not played the game since the 1.2 (‘accessibility’) patch, but even from an outside perspective it’s an interesting story. Is Rift a bad themepark? Is it mismanaged? Or is it a reflection of the changing genre?
I have a hard time believing Rift is bad, even today. The game was solid in beta, got a bit worse for release, and 1.2 happened, but even after that there was a lot of room between Rift and ‘bad’. TAGN has had a few posts about it and from those it sounds like the game is still basically the same, just with more stuff now, so I’m going to assume ‘bad’ is not the reason.
Is it mismanaged? Maybe, and I only say that because lots of other blah MMOs are still up and running, so why can’t Rift seem to keep it together? In a world where EQ2 and LotRO are still alive, let alone the countless nameless straight-to-F2P trash heaps, Rift should be able to keep the servers up.
A reflection of the changing genre? Man I hope so.
The genre’s roots are in part based on taking a single-player game experience (Ultima) and removing the single-player limiters and just letting players live in that world (Ultima Online). EQ1 started the ‘shared single player experience’, but it was so rough and extended that it worked (and compared to themeparks today, it was a ‘sandbox’, as ridiculous as that actually is). WoW cleaned things up a bit, but still had enough ‘world’ to keep going for a few years. At some point the interns at Blizzard took over and we got WotLK, phasing, and the full-forced introduction of the sRPG on a server.
As game development operates under a delay, even after WoW started to falter we still say WoW-clone after WoW-clone, with many cloning the now failing version. WoW made this harder to see for some due to its monstrous size and pop-culture snowball effect. For a bit, even as the churn was extreme, the number of players coming in was able to keep up with the flood of players going out. It was a uniquely WoW situation, like many are/were.
Rift, especially post-release and with 1.2, was cloning the failed version of WoW. More focus on the sRPG aspects, and a heavy limiting of ‘world’ aspects. Again, I don’t think it’s purely a ‘bad game’ issue, but it’s not doing itself any favors either. What I think is a bigger factor is players, even themepark fans, are growing tired of the online sRPG.
Let me clarify that actually; I think the average MMO fan is finally, FINALLY figuring the themepark formula out, and while they still enjoy the quick burst of Online sRPG content, they are not sticking around for long after the best parts are consumed. At the same time, those best parts (heavy story-based solo content) are non-repeatable and too time-consuming for devs to produce more of at a reasonable pace.
The end result; a lot of dev time/money spent to produce something expected to last, and all of it consumed in a month or three, with the devs left holding a rather large bill and no further revenue coming in. The death march is sometimes delayed by F2P-switch trickery, but as we are seeing, that fad is nothing more than a simple delay of the inevitable, and much like the Online sRPG itself, its being figured out faster and faster with each title.
There are a few important things to understand here. One is that the MMO market is indeed a niche, and not only that, but each title should be a niche within that niche. There are groups of players looking for certain games, and they will play them for long-enough to justify a reasonable investment. Just don’t expect WoW, or even EQ1 numbers, and you will be fine so long as you deliver what the niche is looking for.
Along with that, if your model relies on keeping people around for months and months, your content, and far more importantly, your content delivery plan should reflect that. Unless you have a magic voice-over production factory that costs you nothing, it’s not too smart to base your game around that extremely costly gimmick, now is it?
So while the news is bad for Rift, I think the underlying story is positive for the genre.
In totally unrelated news (ha), I’ve joined up with Sinister in Darkfall after the post-Proxy plan did not really work out. Our alliance (Death), has recently won a war against NOX, and an excellent video recap of the war can be found here. Worth watching IMO.
Dungeons in Ultima Online were much different than instances in WoW. In UO, you went into a dungeon to farm for however long you wanted (or until PvP showed up), while in WoW an instance is ‘run’ from point A to point B. It’s a fairly significant difference, though one that many might miss if WoW is their main or only point of reference.
I bring this up because the dungeons in Darkfall: Unholy Wars are very much in the UO style; you don’t ‘run’ them, you go in to farm and you are ‘done’ when you either need to log, your bags are full of loot, or PvP finds you.
Over the last few days, I’ve spent a fairly significant amount of time in two of the game’s three dungeons, including finally seeing the largest dungeon currently in the game, Broadherne. I’ve mentioned the first dungeon (Iriendir) added to the game before, but to quickly recap it’s a small-ish oval loop in a cave full of trolls, including a giant troll boss that spawns every 30 minutes. The loot there is great, and you get PvP fairly often, in large part because searching the dungeon for people is quick and easy.
Broadherne is a completely different animal. It’s huge, dark, and contains plenty of traps. The zone-in area is the most ‘basic’ part of the dungeon, but even here you can be placed in one of two spots, which could lead to some interesting scenarios in PvP. The exit halls out of the two starting rooms are very narrow (one character can block each), as are most of the tunnels in this dungeon.
Once past this initial area, the first room you enter actually contains the exit portal on one end, and two passages on each side. These passages will randomly open and close, which can result in your party being split up if not every makes it in before the walls come down. The room also contains pools of blood, which will drain your stamina if you stand in them (a theme that continues throughout the dungeon).
The next section of the dungeon features a few lower-end mob spawns, along with more winding tunnels and ramps up/down different levels. The ambient sound in the dungeon really kicks in here, and since so much of DF awareness is hearing other players coming or fighting, the sound here keeps you on your toes and really adds to the danger/panic mood that the place is going for.
Once past that set of rooms and tunnels, you enter the maze part of the dungeon. Here walls and gates open and close at random, and the entire place is extremely dark, with certain tunnels being pitch black and basically requiring the use of the light spell. Getting lost here is very easy, and whenever PvP happens here, it’s always chaotic. The fact that you have mob spawns on both sides of the maze also means you are constantly hearing footsteps, and it’s very difficult to separate mobs just walking around with other players looking for you.
The final part of the maze is a hallway with three sets of moving walls. If you don’t time it correctly, the walls will push you into a pool of blood and a spiked wall, causing both physical damage and stam drain. More than once I’ve seen a friend or enemy die in this area during PvP, forgetting about the walls and running right into the trap. Even when you are aware of them, the fact that other players can push or pull you around means a well-timed ability could be a game-changer.
Once you find your way past the maze, you enter a fairly large room with a very balanced mob spawn. It is in this room that I’ve done the most farming, as it covers all three of the mobs you need to kill to complete the related feats, and the spawn rate is perfect for 2-4 players.
The next room is a huge, open space covered in narrow catwalks that climb upwards towards the exit. The floor here is mostly blood, and getting across requires a few well-timed jumps. It’s nothing frustratingly hard when you are not being pressured, but PvP in this room has a very unique feel to it, as you are constantly trying to knock your enemy into the stam-draining blood pools while at the same time still going after them. Getting out of this room with someone chasing you is tough, while the entrance and exit areas provide excellent platforms to fire down on anyone who fell down.
The final area of the dungeon is another large room with a big mob spawn, although this one is mostly higher-end (villain) mobs. On both sides of this room you have narrow hallways that take you around to the boss room. The hallways again feature moving walls that will knock you around, but this time rather than knocking you into a trap, they knock you into the boss room below. If you manage to avoid being knocked down, the end of each hallways contains a slew of treasure and resource chests that can be looted.
The boss room has a large pool of blood in the middle, and columns all around it. The room has a heavy spawn of villains, and the boss is a floating demon with a very nasty ranged and point-blank AoE attacks. Despite multiple attempts with different players, I’ve yet to see the boss die. He is a tough bastard, and the spawn rate in his room, combined with the fact that you can’t run away to recover easily (the only way out of the room is through a one-way door back to the previous room), makes this a very difficult encounter.
PvP happening often also delays/derails attempts, but that’s half the fun.
Alright, long overdue personal progress update on DF:UW time.
Currently my character is at 95k prowess, with 10k of that being spent on Armorsmith mastery. The rest is in stats (100str, 95dex, 95wis), general skills (100 in transfers, heal self, etc), and combat/warrior skills (100 greatsword mastery, 100 archery mastery, most battlebrand and berzark skills at 50-75).
The next big chunk of prowess is coming from finishing Fire Giants (35 of 150) and Terrors (180 of 400), as well as the gathering feats from our city’s grove and farm. My plan for more prowess is to pick up the dex booster, and buy the Skirmisher role skills. I’d like to switch to skirmisher for large-scale naval combat and just as a change of pace for sieges.
Proxy as a clan has been great. We are very active daily in terms of PvE and PvP, and with our allies Blood find ourselves in the middle of most sieges and Sea Fortresses. Thanks to the clan’s emphasis on getting better as a player, both from duels and after-combat reviews, I feel I’ve improved significantly. I’m still far from a top-tier player, but feel like I make a solid contribution in group combat, and 1v1 I can hold my own against many players.
The current war between the Death alliance and NOX has been the source of the large sieges for the last month or more, including perhaps the best battle in DF:UW happening a few days ago. The fight was over the city of Aradoth (again), and for multiple hours both sides would push in and out of the city and its surrounding area. One side would land some critical AoEs and push the enemy back, killing a few players in the process, only to have the other side regroup or receive reinforcements and make a counter-push.
Proxy was in the middle for most of the night on the side of the Death alliance, and we did a good job of keeping our 12-15 players together amongst the masses. When one of our own would go down, we would converge on that location and prevent the enemy from getting off a gank using our knockbacks. Another tactic that currently works very well is to intentionally knock a downed player further back behind the lines, making it easier to rez them and allow them to recover. Our primalists also did an excellent job of landing heals and revives as needed.
As for the game itself, AV is currently busy launching the game in Korea and Japan, leaving the US/EU without a patch since mid-August, much to the delight of Forumfall. As for the content added, I’ve still yet to visit the two newest dungeons, but have attended all but one of the Sea Fortresses. The revamped village capture and stealing system has made the villages around Izkand a source of activity for myself and Proxy, and we continue to be active on the seas in Scrapers and combat ships.
Playing Skyrim on the side again (new mods ftw), first time since Darkfall has been release, and yikes is the combat in Skyrim slow and disconnected compared to DF:UW. I also can’t hit a damn thing with a bow because I’m so use to archery in DF; I keep forgetting you shoot missiles in Skyrim.
(Yes, sorry excuse for a Monday blog post. Sorry. A detailed update on what I’m doing in DF is coming tomorrow)
Let’s get back to talking about a sandbox, shall we?
I recently left OTG to join up with Proxy. It was a tough decision as I liked playing with OTG and the clan is doing very well in DF:UW. I made the move because a few of the people I played most with in OTG had recently gone to Proxy, and they all seemed to enjoy the experience. The major difference is Proxy is smaller, but the leadership is more experienced in the specifics of DF and particularly the in-combat organization that is required. Much like EVE FC’ing, it’s a rare but very important skill.
Proxy is allied to Blood, a clan I played with in DF1. Blood is currently in a very heated battle with Lost Minions over their capital city; a city that has been unsuccessfully sieged 6 times now, each time resulting in a huge battle and plenty of Forumfall drama. While not direct allies, OTG is more on the LM side of the war, putting me somewhat against them when the entire server goes to war.
Until very recently, Proxy was living out of Blood’s capital city of Erinthel, but a few days ago we sieged and successfully captured the city of Izkand on Cairn. I was not able to attend the siege myself due to work, but there is an excellent video from the Proxy perspective here. The mass gravestones in the water are a pretty strong visual I must say. Also, as readers may remember, Cairn is a location OTG spent some time on in the first month or so of the game, and not only that, but we were allied to Imperium, the clan we captured Izkand from, and the major power on Cairn still. The more things change…
Finally, just yesterday we were involved in a siege for a hamlet on Cairn. Former Imperium allies Ruin owned the hamlet, and intended to give it to VAMP. Not wanting VAMP to have the hamlet, Imperium got help from NOX, who jumped into the siege as a second attacking force. How the mechanics work is simple; whoever from the attacking side does the most damage to the hamlet bind stone, without having their siege stones destroyed, wins the hamlet. As a result, the siege had two attacking forced, without a true defender.
In a funny twist, Ruin was fighting with VAMP/Proxy to help them win the siege and take their hamlet, rather than have NOX win it. Unfortunately for our side, after some very good back and forth action on both land and sea, we were routed and NOX won. In just a few days, Cairn has gone from an island completely controlled by one alliance to a hotly contested PvP area. From our perspective, being surrounded by PvP is exactly why we sieged Izkand.
As for the city itself, it was completely empty, but thanks to a lot of dedicated sea scraping for building mods (one unsuccessful trip can be seen here, starting at 2:40. The ships with two large yellow sails are the Sea Scrapers, the loot chest can be seen in the middle of the deck), we now have some key buildings, the walls, and zap towers up. Fun stuff all around, and we are just getting started.
MMOs (should) add lots of content over time. What is added and what it accomplishes varies. Sometimes you get more of the same (not a bad thing if ‘the same’ is still good), sometimes you get a revamp/upgrade, and sometimes you get something that not only adds content, but changes player behavior. Changing behavior is hard, risky, and underappreciated, but ultimately has the biggest impact. This post is about that kind of change.
When AV first added the Trawler, a ship that collects fish/lobsters/seaweed (mats for high-end food), it was a nice-enough addition. When AV added the Sea Scrapper, a ship that collects things off the sea floor (stone, broken items, ship cannons/mods, building mods, maps), the biggest buzz was that it pulled put a crazy amount of stuff and that it was ‘breaking’ the economy. (In reality it fixed the economy by reducing the cost of building mods, making city building/repair doable, reducing ship costs so more players can use/lose them, while not crushing the price of gear or other crafting, and creating a major gold sink from all of the broken items that need to be salvaged.)
Both ships gather materials and place them in a holding container on board so long as someone is sailing the ship and the sea ‘node’ is not empty. Additionally, the fish gathered by the Trawler earns you prowess, and if everyone on the ship is in a group, that prowess is split. Other than the captain, everyone on the ship can also use fishing rods off the deck, further gaining fish and prowess.
This weekend I took a group of new (5k or less prowess) players out on a Trawler, and while our trip ultimately ended in a fun PvP disaster, they gained a ton of prowess while also getting to experience one of the more unique and interesting aspects of DF. Again, the fact that you can do what would normally be a ‘high end’ activity with completely new players is a major, major strength of the game, but I’ve covered that aspect before.
Along with the above two ships, AV also changed how resource nodes in general work by adding danger levels to the world. Safe zones are level 0, player holdings are level 1, the areas just around that are level 2, a bit further you hit level 3, then 4, and the most dangers areas (red dragon, kraken, etc) are level 5. The higher the danger level, the higher the chance for a rare resource drop (essences, treasure maps, etc) from a node while harvesting.
On its own, the danger level added incentives to leave the safe zones to harvest (a notable issue until that point, as harvesting in the safe zone could be done afk without risk), and created ‘hotspots’ for killing harvesters in the level 5 areas. Those looking for harvesters might also run into others looking for them, and PvP happens. On its own it’s a great change that influences player behavior without FORCING people out of the safe zones or destroying a players ability to gather/craft in the safe zone to get started (essences are only used in mastery-level crafting).
Now combine the new gathering ships and danger zones, and you get something really great. The level 5 sea areas are MAJOR pirate magnets, but if harvested successfully bring in a crazy profit. The result is not only a white-hot PvP spot, but a spot of interest to both PvP’ers AND crafters/PvE’ers (the ice dragon and kraken spots are the level 5 areas). It’s a great risk/reward system all around. You can bring a fleet of ships and lots of players to enhance your chances of success, or you can venture out solo on a Scrapper and hopefully not run into anyone. If you do, you are likely dead and down a ship, but if you gather for a bit and get away with it, you just made some serious bank. Likewise, a fleet can contain both harvesting ships and PvP ships, so you potentially could not only bring home what you gathered, but someone else’s ship/loot as well. Or you run into a bigger/better fleet and win/lose a blowout fight in the ocean, which represents one of those rare but ultra-memorable sandbox ‘peaks’.
The last and hopefully biggest piece of this ocean puzzle will be the addition of Sea Fortresses ‘soon’. In DF1 these were large structures out in the ocean that would go live every 3 days (if I remember correctly), and whoever got the final cannon shot to reduce it to zero HP would gain a huge amount of wealth. This resulted in a timed, pre-planned spot to bring a navy and engage in sea combat. The fortress also had powerful cannons that could be used against ships, resulting in some tense ground fighting along with the action in the water. In addition to the general excitement of these coming back, I wonder what if any changes AV will make to how they function in DF:UW. I also suspect they will be level 5 danger zones, created yet another hot spot for PvP/gathering.
Side-note about the gathering ships; I love that they are a high risk, high reward, ‘better in a group but not forced grouping’ version of gathering. We so often talk about how to make gathering better or more interesting, and this is EXACTLY how I want it done. No stupid mini-game, no instanced garbage, no ‘end-game’ switch. Just a new tool (the ship), a small twist (resources in the box as you sail vs your character hitting a node), and emergent gameplay (pirating). More of this please, all around.
Over the last few patches AV has been adding more boats to Darkfall, including two utility boats, one that scoops up fish for mastery-level cooking, and another that scoops up ‘sea junk’ like ship cannons and building mods. Both ships add a PvE/harvesting element to the seas, and in turn bring out pirates looking to plunder them.
That last sentence is often seen on paper for games (including DF1) and never materializes. At least not organically; at best a game will add a ‘pirate’ class and stage pirate action under a specific scenario, but really the content is no different from any other pre-build; it’s just pirate themed now.
Currently in DF:UW pirating is a very real thing, and it’s a blast. Part of that comes from the fact that it happens out in the world rather than in an instance, which leads to things like a quick coastal spawn raid where you and ten others pull your boat up to the shore, jump off, and (hopefully) quickly kill anyone farming a spawn before sailing off into the distance with all the loot.
Or you spot one of the slower harvesting ships, successfully board and capture it, and as you finish up, a 3rd party comes along with their ships and you go from victorious pirate to desperately trying to escape.
Or as you are out looking for ships, players back at your coastal city report an enemy ship is attacking, and as the ship you are on returns home, you surprise the attackers and end up with a new ship for the clan to play with.
Point being, the fact that all of this happens out in the world means that while you might head out with the intention of fighting another ship, what ultimately ends up happening is far more varied than that, and not always by your choosing.
Another factor that makes all of this so fun is the combat mechanics of DF. If this was a tab-target game, ship to ship (and water fights) would not play out all that differently than ‘normal’ combat. In DF, what works on land might not in the water, and how a captain moves the ship is critical, as is the crew supporting it. In a way, ship combat in DF is a fun ‘mini-game’ without the usual shallow, short-term thinking that goes into most mini-game MMO implementations.
Lately the seas have been full of ships, combat is plentiful, and Sea Fortresses are coming ‘soon’. Good times.