DarkFall caravans = roaming mobs or economic tool?

So far so good on the DarkFall twitter front, with little updates on what certain teams are working on. I’ve said this before, and it comes up again here, but Aventurine loves toying with ForumFall, with the latest example being this little line: “working on… trade route NPCs”. Come again?

Most likely the trade route NPCs are related to caravans, and that upcoming addition seems to be shaping up as some sort of roving NPC feature rather than a player-driven economic one. It sounds like instead of players using caravans to transport goods from one location to another (this would have played into local banking, another feature that is only slowly being explored), caravans instead will be traveling NPC groups. In a previous update “trade route logic” was mentioned, which again points towards caravans being NPC driven. Although perhaps a player hires a caravan, and the rest is NPC controlled?

Roaming mobs were mentioned a while back, and while everyone’s first thought was that this means monsters would be making wider sweeps, perhaps those ‘roaming mobs’ are actually merchant caravans and their guards? With DarkFall’s AI already playing better than some players, what’s to stop AV from making caravan guards act like juiced-up players defending a location? Tough mobs today are killed by leashing or other underhanded (but legal) tactics, but what if caravan guards don’t follow normal leashing rules, and are able to use knockback spells to stop you from perching, or just cycling nukes themselves to clear a perch? Make a caravan worth say, 10k in gold plus random high-end items (infernal or dragon armor, Q5 enchanted weapons), give it enough smart guards to require 10 or 20 players, make the caravan travel from one corner of the world to the other along a somewhat random path, and lets see what happens. Once attacked, allow the caravan to send out a global message for help in its current location, and you have just created a serious PvP hotspot with a sizable reward at stake.

Is that what AV is adding with caravans? Who knows, but given their track record of unexpected additions and creative methods of solving certain problems, I’m not going to rule it out.

(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.)

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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25 Responses to DarkFall caravans = roaming mobs or economic tool?

  1. ivoldir says:

    Hehe better not get your hopes too high or you’ll hit a wall.

    Nonetheless, definitively a system I would love to see but hey, Aventurine is slowly discovering what they can and can’t do so perhaps in a later expansion we will see such features added.

    They already created a thread requesting suggestions about “how to add more Role-Play” features in DarkFall so who knows.

    But seriously, don’t know who came up with the idea of slot machine but…..I want him fired ¬¬

  2. Ragnarok says:

    I’m wondering if the caravans are going to be for hire? Much like player merchants in Eve, I’m curious to see if players will be able to “purchase” a caravan to transport large quantities of items across Agon. While this was not necessary previously with universal banking, it could become common quickly with any scale of local banking implemented.

    The mechanics would be fairly simple. You could pay a caravan a fee to have your items ‘banked’ in their vehicle. You could then escort the caravan (or pay someone else to escort it) to its destination. Attacking players could still try to destroy it to acquire its goods.

    • Draglem says:

      I had hoped this would be a feature in the game when I heard about banking concerns regarding siege warfare, weapons and acceptable dynamics of a real sandbox. At least if I ran a magical bank that could teleport your stuff around, I would be charging a premium to use my service to say the least. Interesting dynamics could be introduced like bonus to speed when traveling on the road (why else would you use a predictable route) and of course traps to hinder this advantage for waylayers. Creativity is exciting stuff, which I would contend is the appeal of the box to the park (BtP if you prefer).

      Risk reward of transporting goods yourself or having npc’s do it. You are a merchant, then maybe it is worth every penny.

      Granted, I hear there is a problem with product differentiation in-game, which also would need some attention, but one thing at a time.

    • Economia says:

      looks like BH will not be playing dfo. what’s your plan, cononr? Vince, what’s our backup plan? we going small group, fuck people up mode, or do you have an idea of a group we should attach to? i think we might be bringing in ed, bob, erin, you, paul, ben, maybe the other ben (have to hit him up), misc body or so, then me. So we have 5-10 depending.

  3. A MUD called Medevia had some good NPC caravan action. I never used them much, but they were always on the main roads going here and there.

    BTW, you say that the AI is better than some players, but turn around and mention leashing and perching… isn’t that sort of contradictory? If the AI was any good, neither would work because the AI would be smart enough to turn away and not get farmed.

    • SynCaine says:

      The AI is ‘good enough’ in actual combat compared to other MMOs, but things like leashing work because they cause the AI to get confused, and DF does not have an immune ‘I’m stuck’ mode like other MMOs. If you remove or greatly expand the leash for roaming mobs, the odds of them getting confused drops.

      Perching is a legit tactic vs mobs that either don’t have a range attack, or have one that can easily be dodged. It does not work on mobs that either use AoE attack or that can knock back, so it’s more an issue of what abilities the mobs have rather than the AI they operate under.

      And at the end of the day, remember that the mobs job is indeed to get farmed, and they already have the advantage of greater HPs and harder attacks. If they also had the skills of an average player, people would only farms goblins like they did before the PvE nerf. My point was that with just a few tweaks, caravan guards could be ‘tough enough’ to require multiple players, and hence attract other groups looking to kill those players.

      Oh, and you can certainly leash and perch players in DarkFall, works all the time and they drop great loot.

      • Draglem says:

        “Oh, and you can certainly leash and perch players in DarkFall, works all the time and they drop great loot.”

        HAHA, good stuff.

  4. Coppertopper says:

    Is this really still considered an expansion? The only new items actually being added are wild life, slot machines, house banks (aka a storage chests lol), possibly a larger house model, and house vendors. The rest – AI updates and melée/magic balancing – standard patch fare.

    Isn’t this patch called ‘Conquering the Seas’? And a Twitter sentence about caravans….you are really drinking the coolaid here.

    • SynCaine says:

      The melee/archery/magic stuff is not just balance changes, but new abilities that (hopefully) dramatically alter how combat plays out in DF. In other paid MMO expansion, you get more skills/levels and the end result is the same 1-2-1-3 combat, often times with the exact same animation/effect and a new number tacked on. Plus the fact that DF has non-instances housing that matters already sets it apart, and now this expansion adds even more depth to that both economically (vendors), small clan (keeps) and fluff (slot machines and other new housing items).

      I mean show me a paid expansion you believe is worthy of being called an expansion, and then compared to what this is bringing, tell me why it’s far superior. Does a character re-skin (new race) give you reason to spend $40? Does adding a new area/dungeon (and hence making an older area/dungeon obsolete) give you reason to spend $40? What exactly pushing something past a patch and into expansion territory in your mind?

      • Draglem says:

        “hat exactly pushing something past a patch and into expansion territory in your mind?”

        I would contest that a patch fixes game-play that is broken or otherwise not functioning as intended, where as expansion adds new dimension to the game. SO, it sounds like there is a patch with the expansion being offered, as it is rolled together because there would be no reason a new player would not have the free expansion…

        This is an easy line on rails as it is easy to make the expansion a stand alone addition in the same realm as the original WOW, or even new dungeons that are progression of the same story (D2 and LOD), but without you are able to keep the meat of your game viable, not just a stepping stone to the expanded content, making for a better game in my opinion as it actually expands upon it, instead of the kind of expansion a commercial developer does in a forest.

        If you come from a park you are used to patches amending current game-play, no new content, where as you need to pay for your expanded game patch.

        It sounds more like Coppertopper is stating that DF is in such shambles that the stated additions are actually necessary to fix the game and thus are a patch in a sinking ship, but I do not have a psychology degree.

        • Ragnarok says:

          In the end, does it really matter? Aventurine is not trying to push out an expansion to wrest another $20-$40 dollars out of its players’ pockets. It’s free.

  5. Coppertopper says:

    I’m not knocking Darkfall so much as Aventurines smoke and mirrors version of hype vs what gets released methods..

    • SynCaine says:

      So again, if this is smoke and mirrors by AV due to the feature set and calling it an expansion vs a patch, show me your example of a legit expansion.

    • Ragnarok says:

      It should also be mentioned that Aventurine has only released bits and pieces of information about the expansion, teasers if you will. It is their right as a company to keep whatever they like under wraps to get the hype up. “Conquer the Seas” is supposedly adding ocean objectives. These could range from something resembling the village system all the way up to something more akin to the city-siege system, either of which could act as a standalone expansion.

  6. willee says:

    ok…everything sounds great in this expansion but…slot machines??? eh? Tell me you won’t walk into some home/guild hall and see a replica of Mandalay Bay or Ceasar’s Palace.

    Seriously…slot machines? I’ve long been an advocate of some types of mini-games in a mmorpg. I always thought some kind of card game that could be played between PCs (and/or NPCs) where you could bet some coin would be an awesome addition to the genre. Make the game playable only in towns/cities to make those areas a little more populated etc.

    But slot machines never entered my mind. I seriously hope they at least try to make them something that half-way fits into the world and not something that sticks out like a sore thumb and looks completely out of place.

  7. Coppertopper says:

    Who knows – the company seems like it’s run by enthusiasts which is a good thing and explains their lack of organized communication. Like an expnsion webpage instead of having to sift thru weeks of forum page posts. Or patch notes lol. For the games sake I hope they deliver on everything they promised.

    And an expansion worth $30-$40? Trials of Atlantis for DAoC. WotLK for WoW. Those weren’t just ‘look and feel’ releases. They added whole new classes and continents and quests lines that expanded the lore and offered hours and hours of gameplay.

    • Draglem says:

      And for WotLK at least, invalidated any achievement made prior to its release other than having completed the pirate gear / faction grind quest for the blood-sail buccaneers which enabled your Undead Mage to RP a NPC Pirate around Booty Bay, Yell “ARRRR!!” in G ad nauseum, and generally parade with his Battle-master enchanted Sun Eater while your guild’s off-tank was left to moan about how it never drops when he is on a Kara Run… Or was that just me?

      I am glad that I saw a post SynCaine made regarding Blizzards “Expansions” that are effectively new games in the same universe. I thought I was the only one who was rubbed the wrong way, though I never actively looked for confirmation. I really felt cheap the first time with Burning Crusade, though I had stopped playing for around one year and upon reconnecting with guild-mates got pulled back in. I was kinda put off that I had spend one month grinding to 60 and being told the raiding trials I ran were no help to me.

      Sorry, I do not know why I brought this up, but back on topic:

      “And an expansion worth $30-$40? Trials of Atlantis for DAoC. WotLK for WoW. Those weren’t just ‘look and feel’ releases. They added whole new classes and continents and quests lines that expanded the lore and offered hours and hours of gameplay.”

      What do you expect an expansion to contain when a game has more in game land than any one other (No source, so crucify away with reference) and no class system? When Single player questing takes a back seat to the Massively Multiplayer designation of the genera? I mean, its not like anyone is calling DF a Sizable Singleplayer Online Role Defined Game, or are they? I do not claim to be hip to what the young children are saying.

      • coppertopper says:

        “What do you expect an expansion to contain when a game has more in game land than any one other (No source, so crucify away with reference) and no class system?”

        Shit to do and see that wasn’t there to do see before. So we have critters and slot machines and possibly bigger house models. Really expanding the economy via caravans or broadening the ship combat (as the expansions’ title suggests) on top of those things might warrant calling it an expansion. But so far I’m seeing what amounts to a much needed patch with some fluff added in. But Aventuring may be saving everything they promised over the last few months in the big reveal next week. I wouldn’t bet 50 on it though.

        • Draglem says:

          So, they have a name that has nothing to do with the title of the expansion? I’ll take that bet, though I think judging by the time, both copious and hour, the three of us have to post (9am my time) none of us are gainfully employed.


          I am reminded of the eclipse Gum commercial, “You can put it in your car, if you don’t have a car, you can put it on your desk, if you don’t have a job, you probably shouldn’t be watching TV.” Followed by a giant unavailable sign.

          … “Oh, thank God we live in this time.”

        • SynCaine says:

          The only reason I keep up with this and other blogs so regularly is because I’m paid to be at a computer that I can’t play games on at 8:30am or so.

          The few weeks I had in between jobs a while back was a major down time for this blog, and I basically stopped reading 90% of the blogs I read today. Given my blog stats, I would say most of my readers also follow this pattern. It’s amazing what (and at what length) you are willing to discuss when your choices are work or blog.

        • Draglem says:

          So, you want to bet me $50?

          I am in the same boat. I never understood Blogs when I was in school. Talk about game !> Play game.

        • coppertopper says:

          I work 24hr shifts :p

    • SynCaine says:

      For starters, I’m going to ignore that you brought up ToA as a good addition, considering it might be the most hated three letter acronym not called NGE, and Mythic themselves have said it was a mistake that more or less screwed DAoC RvR beyond repair.

      Now lets look at WotLK. First we need to put a few things aside in order to make this close, so forget that WotLK is the second expansion in four years, made by a team that has a bigger QA team than all of Aventurine combined, and that it cost $40.

      So what did WotLK expand. If you are a raider, it made all BC raids obsolete (minus 6?), and in turn you got exactly zero new raids and one cakewalk rehash (Nax). Hmmm, not a lot of expansion there, and you were forced to grind out 10 levels of solo PvE instead of raiding with your guild on a set schedule, plus all previous raiding progression (gearing up) was erased.

      If you enjoy PvP, you got a broken attempt at world PvP in WG, a mistake that Blizzard later removed and turned into a glorified BG because it was causing server-wide lag every three hours that, according to them, was impossible to fix (despite DF having no such issues with 100+ sieges, and EVE having battles in the thousands). You also got one new BG (compared to the 20+ in WAR), and what was it, one new arena map? Oh and you got DKs that broke arena balance initially. Not exactly a huge improvement for PvP.

      Solo or small group players got ten more levels and a gear reset, plus some new instances (that in turn made all BC instances obsolete). They also got a new class, but in order to play the new content with it they had to re-grind BC levels.

      Plus one new trade skill, which follows the WoW tradeskill model of 100 useless items to grind to cap so you can make the 2-3 worthwhile ‘rares’.

      So if we place them side-by-side, and assume WotLK is free, it’s released towards the end of WoW’s first year, and it’s made by a fraction of the WoW team, than I’ll say it’s in the same conversation as CtS and we can call both of them a patch if you want. Of course, then what you are saying is that Blizzard took two years to charge you $40 to have the biggest dev team in the genre create a patch. Sounds awesome, but I’ll take my enthusiast teams free update instead.

      • coppertopper says:

        Yes ToA f’d up the game. But it was nonetheless an awesome, awesome amount of creative output for the size of any game company, let alone Mythics relatively small team.

  8. Draglem says:

    So, Moral of the story: there is no patch .

    Syn, it would appear the point is until action is taken we have nothing. So nothing to judge except hype, nothing to judge on content, just nothing. I understand you are geek’d about DF stepping up and not only continuing their game development on nothing more than subscription dues, which is awesome, AND the fact you are a paid spokesperson, which is awesome, but until their money is where their mouth is everyone and their mother with any slight reason to be upset regardless of how relevant their grievance will be expecting their foot as a replacement (to the money, keep up with my complicated metaphor).


    AV needs to overcome their EG review and bad initial PR brought about by genera definition shattering games, *Cough WoW*, and the damaged new MMORPG generation of players they have produced.

    If you are unclear, just imagine me shouting the whole thing, I will spare the rewrite in caps.

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