Stop blaming the game for your own failure

In a shock to no one but perhaps himself, Keen is on his way out of DarkFall. The same game that last month was god’s gift is now a “bad game” and “destroying itself”, despite the fact that since launch it has only improved both from a code/content perspective and also from general player activity (the cold war is over, sieges happen daily, boats/warhulks are starting to come into play, alliances form and fall).

A player leaving a game like DarkFall disillusioned is not surprising. On the contrary, I fully expected the churn rate to be far higher at this point given the nature of impact PvP and the majorities’ perception/reaction to it. The mentality of “it’s not me, it’s the game” is somewhat sickening however. The same source that continues to ask for something different goes out asking for more of the same, while at the same time wondering why 95% of the MMO market is an EQ clone.

A perfect example of ‘doing it wrong’ is Haven’s history. (Keen pre-launch created guild) Starting off as an independent and casual guild, they soon discover that more forward-thinking guilds have captured all of the world’s real estate shortly after release. Now rather than doing something about it themselves, Haven joins the largest alliance on the server (Hyperion) and is soon handed both a hamlet and a city. The ‘cold war’ sets in, with both Hyperion and the Goons doing a lot of forum talking and not a whole lot of in-game fighting. It’s at this point that, according to Keen, DF is broken because everyone just sits inside their city walls doing nothing but boring PvE and grinding, and there is no small scale PvP to be found (to the contrary of this and other blogs). The solution here, again according to Keen, is to change the game rules and create rare spawn points and other artificial incentives. The cold war breaks, Haven loses their city, leaves Hyperion, and claims to go ‘nomad’ and return to what made the game fun for them all along. Shortly after we get the ‘I quit’ post and comments linked above, complaining that character skill is beyond broken and that somehow DarkFall did not deliver on its promises.

Now while it would be foolish to argue DarkFall is currently perfect, its issues are not those that Keen found. Exploiting in-game mechanics to enhance a character beyond normal means is an issue currently (and becomes less of a factor daily as everyone catches up), but it’s far from game-breaking. The game is not based on 6v6 conflict, let alone 1v1, and continually focusing on an individual characters skill total is misguided. Yes that enhanced character is likely going to take you down 1v1, or perhaps even 1v3 assuming he is skilled, but not 1v5 if the 5 are competent players, and the odds of actually having that fight remain 1v5 are slim. In a 10v15 scenario, that one enhanced characters impact is minimized, and again the deciding factor will be player skill, rather than the sum of the characters skill points. Yet when you continually obsess over your stat sheet, and each encounter with that enhanced character sticks out, you stop playing the game to play it and jump on the skills treadmill trying in vain to catch up. DarkFall is an open PvP game, and won’t hold your hand to make every fight ‘fair’. Expecting to go out and find that ‘fair’ fight will only lead to disappointment; either in being underprepared and overwhelmed, or in the enemy avoiding you until they have a more favorable (read: unfair to you) situation. There are games that cater to preset, ‘fair’ engagements that are readily available, DarkFall is not one of them, nor was it ever sold as such.

The issue of cities and guild activity is another player created problem, rather than a broken game mechanic. It’s obvious that something will have less meaning when it’s just given, rather than something you worked for. Inquisition takes pride in our hamlet, and we work to keep the surrounding area as safe as possible. Our small alliance’s focus is based around that same principle of establishing our little area of control. Had we been given our hamlet to watch over by a large alliance, I doubt we would feel as attached to it as we do. Yet somehow, according to Keen, it’s the games fault Haven feels indifferent about its city or alliance affiliation, and the game rules should be changed to fix this. Balance changing rare resources should be added, creating artificial player incentives (which would only increase the advantage of the major power blocks, and push the smaller factions further down, but it sounds good, right?). In essence, he is asking for a themepark-style design to be added to the sandbox; rules to govern player activity and herd them in the right direction. That’s fine in a themepark MMO, but goes sharply against the ideas behind a sandbox. The issue is not the rules, but rather how the players use them. In this case, rather than being a focal point of guild unity and pride, the city and alliance were a source of boredom. That’s called user error.

In the end, a player’s choice to leave a game is his/hers to make. And while a guild leader/officer leaving so soon is sure to disrupt that guild, it’s also to be somewhat expected of guilds formed pre-release and with little history (It happened a few times to CoW in WAR). What I take issue in is the perception that the game did not live up to the expectations of the players. The players actually playing and embracing the game for what it is would strongly disagree (and since the game world is near max capacity, clearly more agree than disagree) Asking for radical changes to be made to tailor the game to YOUR expectations is what upsets the current players and gets you a “WoW that way” response. We play DarkFall, in part, because we enjoy creating our own rules/content rather than having it delivered. For those looking for a themepark, plenty of options already exist.

Of course, the likelihood of Tasos actually reading such a post on a blog or forum and pushing DF in that direction are slim to none, but if you look at MMO dev history, more than a few changes have been made that displaced the current population in favor of chasing those who left or never came. It’s that history, and those burned by it, that elicits the common response misguided or disenchanted players received in the past, receive now, and will continue to receive in the future.

Edit: Just to hammer the point home, we have this from Keen:

“It should be about constant action and dynamic gameplay in a hardcore, real-time, environment. Ships everywhere in the seas, warhulks razing the countryside, keeps falling, armies amassing, and all of that good stuff. Right now Darkfall is like watching paint dry.”

That sounds a lot more like Lake Wintergrasp than DarkFall, but at least you made your point a whole lot easier for everyone to see. It really is overused, but in this case it just fits: Go back to WoW.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Darkfall Online, MMO design, PvP, Rant. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Stop blaming the game for your own failure

  1. Hiryu02 says:

    I have to say, while I’m not a DF player, I agree with your stance that in MMO’s like this, you get what you put into it. I feel that this is true of all MMOs to a greater or lesser degree. WoW, WAR, DF, it applies to all.

    As an example, today, I was reading a post on this forum that I frequent, in which a WAR player was complaining that he had leveled one of each career to 25 and that he was quitting because he could never get scenario pops.

    He took no responsibility for the quality of his experience and would not consider rolling on a more populated server. In his eyes the entire gamehad failed because he couldn’t get enough sc pops on whatever backwoods server he rolled ALL his characters on.

    Sometimes, it’s really just the player’s fault.

  2. Kyre says:

    It’s good to see that you’ve taken Keen’s advice, and taken your desperate trolling for attention to your own blog. *Golf-claps*

  3. Bart says:

    Congratulations. You’ve now won the internet. Happy?

    Haven’t you ever played a game that you were excited about at first, only to be disappointed or disheartened by it further down the road?

    Yeah, I thought you had too. We all have. Misjudging what the game has to offer, coupled with what you actually want, leads to disappointment. Its the same story replayed over and over for ALL of us. That is all that has happened here.

    Blowing it up into some soap opera style flame fest and writing a diatribe about it on your blog is an obvious and shallow attempt at traffic. Why would you care what someone else does with their game time? Take the higher ground and mind your own business. You’re not going to change anybodies mind and you’re not impressing anyone.

    I’ve never understood why people pass judgment on others so freely, as if anyone else cared.

  4. RJO says:

    I’m sorry but Keen has become insufferable lately … it would be fine if this happened with one game but Keen has spent the last year (since people have started paying attention to him) burning himself out through unrealistic expectations and I think a serious gamer identify crisis.

    I appreciate this post a lot Syn… I think you said some things a lot of people have been thinking (I know in my circle they have)

  5. syncaine says:

    @Bart: What part of the last paragraph (before the edit) did you not understand?

  6. Dan Dog says:

    I’m a little surprised at the comments giving Syncaine grief for calling Keen out. Although Keen’s just a child (if not quite legally, you still know what I mean), and may deserve the kid gloves to a degree–seems like Syncaine is right on the money here.

  7. Maedhros says:

    I think you are being too hard on Keen here, as I believe he has quite valid points.

    Believe it or not, but someone can love the game but still want to see more out of it.

    You say the game is what you make of it, but sometimes the game is just not doing a good job for people other than your group.

  8. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Ah yes, somebody isn’t enjoying your pet game, so there must be something wrong with them. I’ve heard that one before.

    And are you seriously worried that Keen’s leaving might influence the future of Darkfall? Do you not credit Adventurine with having a spine at all?

    Oddly enough, Keen appears to have gone back to WAR.

  9. Wickidd says:

    I like the fact that Keen is blatantly honest with his thoughts on whatever he happens to be playing. I know many people that voted for George W. Bush, then changed their opinions of him during his tenure. It happens.

    I have been playing Darkfall, as intended, with no macroing or exploiting. I must say that I share Keen’s opinion of the game’s current state. I will stick with it in hopes that Aventurine will make more positive changes; as they have already made some progress imo.

    Speaking of opinions… I am really starting to think that Syncaine is just a pot stirring drama queen. I may find this blog to be entertaining, if I were still in the 6th grade, but alas, I must take this piece of crap off of my blog roll.

  10. Jogy says:

    “Stop blaming the game for your own failure”

    Hmmm, isn’t that what some ex-Wow players are doing too?

  11. Melf_Himself says:

    So pretty much if you were to tell me that any game is poorly designed, I could see lol learn2findfunnomatterhowwellhiddenitis, n00b!

    Ohhh but wait this is Darkfall and you’re a massive fanboi, I forgot.

  12. mbp says:

    Point of Information: I followed the link and I didn’t see Keen’s “I Quit Post”. I got the bit about his guild leaving town and adopting a nomadic lifestyle but the post linked to says he will “keep on trucking for a bit longer in the game”. Is there a later post saying “I quit”? I can’t find it.

    Apologies if I am being dense but I do enjoy these robust exchanges Syncaine and I hate feeling I am missing out on some good bits.

    For my own two cents worth it strikes me that Darkfall conforms pretty well to the type of game described in Bartle’s famous “Hearts Clubs, Diamonds and Spades” paper. Bartle’s hypothesis suggests that for a game like this to survive the number of “Killers” needs to be balanced by other types of players (Achievers / Socialisers and Explorers). If Darkfall cannot hang on to players outside the really hardcore pvpers then the game may not survive. EVE online is probably the best example of a hard core PVP game that nevertheless has a huge contingent of non hard core non pvpers supporting the game world.

    I guess what this means Syncaine is even though you may well be right about players own failures leading to their lack of enjoyment in the game Darkfall still needs those less committed and less clued in players. If the game doesn’t make some concessions towards them it is unlikely to prosper.

  13. Anonymous says:

    ahh syncaine. You get worse with every post.

    So, lets see.

    “I like wow.. oh, now I dont and anyone playing it is a tourist ruining everyone else game”

    “Warhammer hasnt released yet but man I totally love it… aaand now I’ve had chance to play it live for a while I no longer like it and people hanging on to PvP in that game are a joke”

    “Darkfall is the best thing since sliced bread. I like to zerg solo players with 6 of my friends and think thats real PvP lolololol. Oh noes, someone is quitting with an opinion different to mine. That is just not allowed. Go back to WoW tourist”

    Man alive, I cant wait to see how you explain your quitting Darkfall in a few months. If the time line of this blog holds true it wont be long. Of course when you quit it will be the players playing it, or the games changed.. or a myriad of differing reasons that start and end with it being someone else fault.

    Seriously dude… you dont like wow? Quit moaning about it and get on with your game.

    You dont like people quitting Darkfall for personal opinions on the game? Quit moaning about it and get on with your game.

    Do you have so little content to actually write about nowadays that every post is insulting anyone who disagrees with your opinion?

  14. Pingback: West Karana » Daily Blogroll 4/29 — Free as in Beer Edition

  15. syncaine says:

    TLDR for the paragraph at the end eh?

    There is a big different between stating you wish character growth was faster than a month in, and claiming everyone in game is sitting in a city bored and 50% of the population consists of god-like characters. The first is an opinion, the second is lying to try and validate your idea.

  16. Snafzg says:

    @Syncaine – Just one question to satisfy my curiosity…

    About where do your stats rank compared to those who fully exploited macroing prior to AV finally taking a harsher stance against it? A simple percentage will do.

  17. syncaine says:

    My rigor is 30, lava guys are at 100 with high ignore pain. Weapon skill is at 55, some have 100 with 60 or so mastery.

    I don’t know about stats, mine are 30ish, with 50+ quickness

  18. Bonedead says:

    One of the easiest things is to leave yourself on autorun, then do it while sprinting, then you can do it with sprinting and occasionally casting mana to stamina (if you can use a program like auto-it, which I believe is still allowed), and then there’s swimming into the edge of the world. Quickness through the roof! After all that is maxed, crouch walk!

  19. willee says:

    Syncaine goes a little overboard at times, but i generally agree with his view on Keen. They guy was head over heels in love with Darkfall 2 weeks ago, and now it’s a total failure of a game. Everyone is entitled to like whatever they want to like, but my problem is when Keen now states that half of the playerbase are cheaters, everyone is bored with the game etc. These are just blantantly false statements and i’m not sure why he would make them? Hey, it’s fine to say the game maybe isn’t turning out to be what you wanted or thought it was but to start making false statements like that just seems weird and a little childish after hyping the game just a very short time ago.

    I know people throw out the “go back to WoW” phrase and it’s always taken as an insult. In this case i really believe that a game like WoW is much more Keen’s style of game than Darkfall. I even commented as such after one of Keen’s blogs and he essentially agreed with me. And there is nothing wrong with that either, people like what they like. Keen wants a little more constant action and a lot less work to get there. People who fall at that end of the spectrum just aren’t going to enjoy Darkfall that much. I happen to be on the other end of the spectrum and enjoy Darkfall immensely so far.

  20. Snafzg says:

    Personally, I can’t handle cheaters and exploiters and to write them off as merely part and parcel of a sandbox game diminishes all sandbox games imho. A sandbox game should allow for anything and everything. The developers must put on some limitations and enforce fair play rules for everyone.

    Fair play doesn’t mean everyone is reduced to the lowest common denominator. It simply means that no-one should be able to exploit parts of the game system unfairly to gain an advantage.

    I guess it’s like playing online poker. You’re always going to have jerks try and exploit itusing tracking and cheating software but that ruins the experience for everyone else. Unless they turn around and use the same tools, they are at a disadvantage.

    Simply put, it’s just not cool. :P

  21. Snafzg says:

    The second sentence above should read: “A sandbox game shouldn’t allow…”

  22. Centuri says:

    I think that Keen represents the second generation of MMO players and he will happily hop into and out of games always looking for what is shiney and new. It’s a shame that he ends up taking his little community with him wherever he goes and can’t reach a balance to play two to three games simultaneously.

    Syncaine is clearly one of the old guard who feels that you should play a game for six months or more before you decide to quit. =D

    I am sure that Keen will hop back into WAR and play some new class up to cap and then quit until DarknessFalls2.0 launches.

  23. João Carlos says:

    Ok, for all guys that come here and never played Darkfall, but aparently know everything about the game they never played. I play Darkfall.

    Syncaine is right about his critics to Keen.

    “It should be about constant action and dynamic gameplay in a hardcore, real-time, environment. Ships everywhere in the seas, warhulks razing the countryside, keeps falling, armies amassing, and all of that good stuff. Right now Darkfall is like watching paint dry.”

    Warhulks and the big ships are expensive for built. Everyone that played EVE know that not everyone and not every guild can built a Titan. The big ships need A LOT of wood and cloth and a dock for be built. Warhulks are worse, they too need rere drops.

    Both the warhulks and big ships will change how the war is played in game. But the game is sandbox, for the guilds build that big things they need gather materials, a lot of materials. No one will see big armadas of ships and warhulks soon.

    With relation to the guys with the maxed skills, drop it. No one really need be maxed skill. The PvP is not for be played alone, 1v1. I ever go to PvP with my friends from guild, last night we were 7 alfar, and WE GANKED EVERYONE WE FOUND ALONE AT THE WILDERNESS. It is a cruel world, so grow up: PvP is not fair. At Darkfall PvP is for groups, not soloers, and the better group (not exactly the greater group) will win. That need personal skill and character skills aren’t the most important factor.

    [Some detail: I died yesterday when we fought a more organized defense, but I am not crying and calling for mon]

    With relation to Bartle’s test, I am ASE, the killer element is the lower at me. Darkfall is a game that have everything for Achievers, it is not a game only for Killers, so you that never played it are just showing your bias and pre-conceptions. Achievers, if you don’tt know it, want to go up the Everest, they don’t want the easy way.

    For start, real achievers will not macro for get maxed skills. They will get the maxed skills hunting mobs or trying PvP. So, someone with 100 skill at mining deserves more respect than everyone with skill 100 at swiming. And the skill system is a game that achievers will play for fun. And have fun playing it.

    Syncaine say at the post above that “Playing for the fun of the content, rather than the epix it provides, is more a DarkFall mentality […]”. Not exactly. It is an achiever mentality. And Darkfall have it. Darkafall have it too at the PvP, you achieve something when you use your wits for kill other player, not the game mechanics. The right strategy, the right timing, the knowledge of the terrain, the tricks you know, that factors pay off teh effort and the skill and gear aren’t the only things that give victory. When two groups battle, the bigger group will not ever win, the better organised group will win.

    When you kill a mob, it is an achievement. The mobs aren’t stupid and while there are some bugs and the IA is not perfect, and there are ways to exploit some mobs, they give a lot more work to kill than any other MMO I played.

    Other game for achievers to play is crafting. Just look at “A Tale on the Desert”, it is full of achievers. Crafting at Darkfall is not easy, so let me say it: it is not for everyone. Need gather materials, need refine materials, need use the refined materials for craft. And for everyone that never tryed it a cue: the crafting process don’t stop when you crafted the item, that is a mistake that I read from everyone that not tryed crafting for real. Enchanting is the final stage after you crafted the item, and it is enchanting that give to a normal item magical bonus, making it better than anything in game. Int bonus, defense bonus, wis bonus, cold protection bonus, everything you want. If you know the right recipe…

    And enchanting is the harder process, because you need DISCOVER the recipes, and you need get the 3 correct components and the correct CATALYST. It is slow to learn the correct recipes and yu will waste a lot of rare materials trying it. Because the materials used are rare drops from mobs or obtained from skinning the tombs.

    Crafting is not a game that killers normally enter, every MMO I tryed it I ever saw Achievers going for crafting. Because the socializers, that you all say that Darkfall is not a game for, they like to play “diplomacy”. It is something I learned playing EVE, a PvP game.

    And I don’t need explain something about explorers, I need? There are something at the explorers that make them hate games with instancing…

    The problem with Keen is that he wants a PvP game that be a theme park. IMHO, it is impossible, because PvP is essencially sandbox. If you wants a PvP with real objectives, with objectives that make sense, where you feel you conquered something, you will not get inside an instance or trying a pre-programated 1v1 or 5v5 PvP, where your options are limited.

  24. Damage Inc says:

    A few things.

    @Syncain: I logged into DF last night and low and behold, Keen was in game and playing along with a good number of other Haven members. So Syncain, when did he quit? Maybe before jumping on your pedastal you should actually learn the facts about what your about to spew. You have no idea about Haven’s history yet you talk as if you were a member of the guild.

    @Mr. Carlos: Did you ever play UO or Asheron’s Call Darktide? Darkfall pales in comparison to both those games and guess what, they had a ton more PvE than DF but they weren’t theme parks.

    I find it funny that in both these games that were designed not with PvP in mind they are the two best PvP games created, even after games like SB and DFO have come out.

    PvE was used in both games as a focal point around which people PvP’d. The control of dungeons and spawns played a MAJOR role in bringing people together to fight. DFO doesn’t have that and it’s one of the reasons why PvP fails in this game.

  25. syncaine says:

    @Damage: what part of the history I wrote above is false? And I’m glad Keen is using his time to play a game he considers bad and beyond repair. I like to use my free time on things I enjoy.

  26. Bill says:

    Keen has simply been a petulant child over every game he’s blogged about. He worshiped Warhammer and then barely gave it six months, now Darkfall had been out for less than two months and hes complaining to anyone who will listen that the game is boring and broken.

    For those of you with only rose-tinted glasses for Keen, you complain often about Syncaine’s constant bashing of WoW, take that and spread it to more or less every game Keen has blogged about and then retract it every three months as he finds joy in the same game he was bashing.

    Keen is definition of a MMO tourist, not in derogatory terms but in the sense that he enjoys anything with a shred of promise as long as hes not playing it but when he gets there every minute flaw turns him off immediately.

    Those of us who tend to play games up to and beyond the statistically average six month point get annoyed by tourism because we ourselves have the “wait and see” method as well as the “make things happen for ourselves not expect everything to come to you on rails” method.

    @Carlos: Excellent post sir, you may want to consider blogging with chops like that.

  27. coppertopper says:

    Heheh – yeah Keen has that boyish enthusiasm, that you haven’t seen for decades no doubt. That he evokes such an immature response from you Syncaine just speaks to his abilities as a writer to get us all fired up about this or that game.

  28. João Carlos says:

    @Bill: my native language is portuguese, so my grasp of english language is not good enough for I try blog using english.

    @Damage Inc.: I played EQ, SWG, FFXI, Ryzom, EVE, EQ2, City of Villains, Vanguard, WAR, A Tale on the Desert. Most these games are PvE games and not PvP games. All these games I saw achievers, socializers, explorers and killers. All these games I saw that Bartle’s archetypes have similar behaviors.

    At no moment I coment about a game I not played, like WoW or AoC. Sadly, that rule is not followed by the guys that hate DFO, that know everything about the game and never played it.

    But if I try to compare games I played I can make some observations.

    Sometimes the Bartle’s archetypes don’t work like our bias and pre-conceptions make we think. Crafters are mostly achievers and not socializers. And a game like EVE is a PvP for socializers, but you will hear that socializers hate PvP. IMHO, it is important that the same social phenomena you see at EVE you too see at DFO, like the forum cold war.

    You need group at Darkfall, but for a diferent reason than FFXI. At FFXI the game mechanics force you to group, because you cannot kill the mobs soloing or because you cannot gain xp eficiently soloing. At Darkfall you don’t need xp and the people group because the worse opponent in game are the other players. Darkfall is a group game not because a game mechanics force you to group. It is the social mechanics forcing the grouping. Go alone and you will get ganked.

    Some people say that crafting at Darkfall is repetitive. I advice these people to try a Tale in the Desert, a game that everyone say have the better crafting, because it is a crafter’s MMO. Yes, it is the better crafting. But crafting at ATITD is like to climb the Himalaya, so there is a reason why the achievers play that MMO.

    I never saw mobs with the IA we see at Darkfall. It is PvE and it is not easy. And diferent mobs drop diferent resources. Some meaterials drop only from specific mobs. And if you are skinning you will need specific mobs for get specific skinned materials. But you only see that if you are crafting and need resources. By the way, with the durability nerf to the droped gear, everyone now will need crafted items.

    I played theme parks MMO, I played sandbox MMO. DFO is a sandbox, and sandbox games need time for develop, because the players develop the game. I just not understand why you say DFO PvP fails because there are no focal points as dungeons for be controled. Maybe you are playing a diferent game.

    I learned the hard way to never go alone farm the trolls near an alfar player hamlet, the guys there don’t like anyone out their guild farming “their” trolls. Even if you are alfar. Maybe because trolls drop cloth, and you can skin blood from them. Cloth is 10 gp at NPC, so skill up tailoring is cheaper if you have free cloth. And you cannot craft greater potions without blood. Some enchanting recipes too need blood.

    Ex Lunara, my clan, just don’t like anyone farming our players when we are farming mobs. Everytime we have players from our guild being attacked at any mob area we normally farm, we join a group and go hunt the enemy players there.

    [by the way, if you are new to the game and alfar, maybe you can consider our guild. We constantly make groups for mob farming and player farming. Eventually we kill other alfar, if they are fair game]

    Finally, if the players inside Hyperion don’t try to mantain control at the areas around their cities and hamlets, I am very sorry. Maybe they are making something wrong. However, IMHO, Hyperion aliance will break, soon or later. Some serious dissent is slowly growing inside it.

  29. Beleg Firebreath says:


    >> However, IMHO, Hyperion aliance will break, soon or later. Some serious dissent is slowly growing inside it.

    Good call. You were right. :)

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