Monday Morning quick thoughts

This is a good read from a returning player to DarkFall, with the most important point coming in the comments: just like in any good sandbox game, you have to go out and find the fun rather than wait for it to find you. Once you find it its great gaming, but just sitting around wondering why you are not having fun is not the way to play a sandbox. I don’t think any amount of design changes will ever overcome this simple fact: either you are someone who goes out and gets it, or you are not.

Aventurine is opening up EU to NA transfers soon in DarkFall, which should create some massive chaos on NA shortly. I know many players have been sitting on the sideline waiting for this event to get back into DarkFall, and it will be interesting to watch just how many new/returning players will be wandering around in Agon. Pure speculation here, but I think the plan is to see how transfers play out, release the expansion and stabilize it, and THEN release some kind of trial/buddy program. The next few months will be crazy enough in DarkFall without a trial, and when you do launch one you want your game in at least decent shape. At least, most studios do.

Finally, Dragon Age comes out tomorrow and Direct2Drive allows you to download the game now to avoid the launch day rush and start playing right away at 10am Tuesday. Nice move on D2D’s part, and just one more reason to go digital over a box copy. Very cautiously optimistic about this game, hopefully it blows me away.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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14 Responses to Monday Morning quick thoughts

  1. Werit says:

    Steam also allows for pre-loading.

  2. evizaer says:

    I understand the concept of finding fun in Darkfall. I wouldn’t have a problem finding fun if there was much content in the game. Looking at the map you linked me to of mob spawns, there are few of them–nowhere near enough. Most of the world is an uninhabited expanse of monotonous terrain where there is nothing to do or see. As a new player, what am I supposed to do? I wander around for an hour (at painfully slow speed because my character is new and has not leveled up the “run” and “sprint” skills yet–what a terrible design decision to even let you level those skills up) and see maybe 3 mobs to fight and maybe one other player. If I can’t fight mobs, I can’t learn how to play the game. If I can’t learn to play the game, I’m useless to guilds. If I’m useless to guilds, finding fun becomes very difficult.

    Also, the control scheme in this game is definitely wonky. I don’t have a problem with switching between first-person and menu mode. But juggling equipment is annoying. They obviously gave no thought to the interface here, and the game pays for it in clunkiness. They do not provide anything resembling a well-designed interface for the kind of juggling of abilities and equipment needed to play the game effectively. You are forced to work around a generic hotbar implementation. It’s like they didn’t think at all when they implemented it.

    And then there’s circle-strafing hilarity, magic’s OPness, AoE spam, Melee’s relative uselessness in PvP, whole schools of magic full of spells that are completely useless even to a casual player, and I suddenly don’t think Darkfall is anywhere near as fun or good as you make it out to be. Perhaps it’s better than WoW for a PvPer, but that’s like comparing a toy rocket to a Saturn V rocket. Of course you can’t get the toy rocket into space, it’s not meant for that at all.

    I come away from trying to play Darkfall with the impression that they didn’t really think about the game’s design much. It’s almost like they just tossed together a bunch of features that they thought would be cool without considering balance implications or if it would actually be fun. There’s a reason why FPS mechanics are generally not implemented in MMOs.

    Comparing DFO’s advancement system to even games that came out five years prior (Ryzom), I’m left feeling that DFO is stuck in a time warp. It’s trapped 6 years in the past. Ryzom’s got a significantly better interface, a significantly better skill system, and a world that can be considered living. Darkfall’s got a huge world and a little PvP. I’d chose Ryzom, honestly.

    Yes, some people will find Darkfall fun, but some people will find ANY game fun. In a market as starved as the PvP MMO market, Darkfall finds it easy to cut out a safe niche. Quality has little impact, because there’s almost no competition. I’m not unhappy that I gave Aventurine $50, though. They deserve to be rewarded for bucking the trend and being serious about making a PvP, open world MMO. It’s just not good enough for me to be interested, and I don’t know if it will ever get there.

    • Draglem says:

      At least acknowledgment of it being a good niche title is a step further than it is a terrible game, even if it is quickly cut down “because there’s almost no competition.”

      Is your speculation of “I don’t know if it will ever get there.” based on AV’s post release polish direction, or personal feeling?

    • syncaine says:

      Overall, this is the basic problem with Eurogaming DarkFall. Notice how anyone that goes beyond a few months never mentions the UI as an issue? It feels clunky to you because it’s just that different. A month or two in, you never think about it. But because it makes your life initially difficult, and you never get beyond that point, the UI seems like an issue.

      As for the world, once you know it it’s not empty. I don’t know how else to put that really. (and the map I linked you is not complete, it’s just a good general guide). If you are just running around randomly, yes, it feels empty (especially on foot, since mounted travel is much faster (and no, you don’t run faster with higher run speed, not very noticeably anyway)), most likely because you are missing mob spawns or running around them. Again, it’s not a game that hands everything on a silver plate to you, especially in the first few hours.

      I told you all this when you emailed me, DarkFall takes time getting into, but once you learn it (much like EVE), you ‘get’ it. I’m honestly a little surprised you would put up the $50, and then back away after only a few tries. I remember the first time I tried EVE it took me a good two weeks before I ‘got it’ enough to see why it’s a great game. Had I stopped at any point in that two weeks, I would have walked away thinking EVE is a boring, clunky game that people over-hype. I don’t really think DF is any different. (And Ryzom is a horrible comparison really, since the two games are trying to do very different things)

      • evizaer says:

        You didn’t tell me that runspeed is very slow and the world is very sparsely populated with mobs and NPCs. The world generally feels deserted because of how huge it is. I could not have gotten a feel for the interface without playing the game.

        Terrible interfaces are always hard to use. Subpar interfaces are difficult to learn or make doing important tasks unnecessarily complicated. It’s easy to become accustomed to anything that isn’t horrible. Darkfall’s interface is not game-breakingly bad, but it’s certainly not well-designed. It’s wonky. They didn’t actually make an interface that works together with the game mechanics.

        Part of the reason why I didn’t stick with Darkfall past when I stopped wanting to log in: there are five games right now that I want to play. Once I no longer wanted to log into DFO, I have five options that will definitely be more fun to play.

        Even as someone who wanted to like it, after like 8 hours of playing and learning the game I was struck by the fact that I could be actually having fun instead of slogging through DFO. Maybe I’ll log on again later in the month and give the game another 8 hours. Until then, my opinion is not positive.

      • syncaine says:

        DF is just not design that way, to grab you instantly and make you stop playing everything else because the first 8 hours are just that amazing, ESPECIALLY if you go in with 5 other titles already on your mind. That’s front-loading, and while many MMOs do it, DF does not. But thanks to not front-loading, it DOES work once you get past the initial level, something other MMOs have issues with.

        It’s odd you would put so much initial consideration into getting DF, and then once in knowing everything you know, walk away after 8 hours. What realistically did you expect to accomplish in that 8 hours that would have focused you away from those other 5 titles, especially never joining a guild or seeing real PvP combat (which is, you know, the whole point of the game and the thing everything else is build around. You don’t judge Disney land having never been on a ride, do you?)

      • evizaer says:

        I wanted to try it and see what it had to offer. You’re constantly raving about it here, I figured it would be somewhat engaging. I was in about a week of dead time between interesting games. Once that week was up, DFO basically fell off my radar.

        Before I bought DFO, I thought I’d be able to tolerate the game long enough to get through to the meat of it. I completely lost interest in the game before I got to the good part. I was actually dreading logging into the game again, because I knew it was going to take a while for it to become worth playing. I knew there’d be a bunch of expectations of me as a player that I may not be able to live up to after messing around with game system. After having experienced the game systems first hand, the “good part” because a lot less interesting to me.

      • syncaine says:

        That’s fair I guess (although you should have told me you have a one week window for the game, and I would have saved you $50), other than how could your interest in the good parts diminish without having experienced them at all? How can you possibly say you would enjoy siege warfare or small group PvP less without coming close to seeing it? How can you really judge what the world offers when you only experienced a small piece of it, in possibly the worst way (running around randomly on foot).

        That’s the part (the eurogamer aspect) that I don’t get. You KNOW you did not see enough to know more than how you reacted to the first initial sample, and even though you went into that knowing a game like DF has a ramp-up time and a level you need to join a guild to see, you still leave early and pass judgment as if you actually experienced what DF really is.

      • evizaer says:

        Through experiencing the how the game plays, I got a feel for how combat against other players would work. The speed of combat, how fast the character moves in different directions, how springing effects movement, how weapons swing, hitbox sizes, sound effects, how ranged combat works, how effective healing magic is, etc. are all facets I needed to actually play the game to learn.

  3. Draglem says:

    “once you get past the initial level”

    Wait wait wait wait wait wait….

    I thought there were no levels.

    (also, this is not my StarWars cup)

  4. Diametrix says:

    Why do you even bother responding to these people Syncaine?

    It’s bad! It’s terrible! It’s wonky! Everything sucks because it doesn’t match MY expectations!

    And NO! I won’t listen to any of your explanations with an open mind because Darkfall isn’t giving me what I demand.

    Bleh…thank goodness for companies that don’t run with the herd. Thank goodness for games that allow us to think outside the box that blizzard built.

  5. willee says:

    Evizaer- my guess is, and don’t take this as a knock, but Darkfall just isn’t the game for you. Nothing wrong with that either, there are a lot of people, most of the mmorpg market in fact, that would not like this game.

    It is, however, for people like me (and once real life slows down for me i’ll resub). I’m kind of the opposite player of what you are describing yourself to be. It sounds weird and counter-intuitive but in my experience, i know that if i enjoy a mmorpg right from the log-in, i’m off soloing mobs and getting fat loots and have no fear of losing anything etc., then i know that game will just not stay fun for very long. On the other hand, i’ve found that if I initially struggle in a game, or it seems to take a lot of work to get started and get comfortable (due to game complexity/challenge and not bugs, crashes etc.) then i’m pretty sure it’s a game i’ll eventually get really immersed and lost in…which is the hook that keeps me playing.

    Unfortunately i’m in the minority which means less games of my type in the genre but i’m glad there are at least some indie companies out there making an effort…and a damn good one in the case of DF.

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