Failure post is fail

This post by Lum is a little funny. Funny given the source, and funny given the ideas within. It’s also funny because in parts it’s more or less a time capsule of, oh, 5-10 years ago? I won’t bore you with all the details between Lum and DF, but let’s lay out some facts before we move on, shall we?

  • Number of MMOs Lum has launched in the last 5 years: zero.
  • Number of MMOs Tasos has launched in the last 5 years: one.
  • Current game Lum is working on (chasing bots): Aion
  • Current game Tasos is working on (not chasing bots): DarkFall.
  • Current MMO growing in the US/EU since launch: DarkFall.
  • Current MMO bleeding out in the US/EU since launch: Aion.

Amusing that Lum lumps SB, Fury, and DF together as one example in the post. Cute, but not exactly correct.

Fury was indeed a shitshow failure, but its PvP base was the least of its troubles. I would start with “The game failed to actually be playable” as my first item to address. I would then address “when playable, Fury was not remotely fun, for anyone, ever”. After that and perhaps another hundred or so issues, I’d start to think about PvP-related problems. I’d also stop calling a terribad medieval Counter-Strike clone an MMO, but that really does not matter at this point, does it?

ShadowBane had the problem of launching in a state that well, also made the game unplayable. SB.exe is a joke, but it’s really not. It’s more like dark humor, because sadly it’s true. That SB in any form was able to survive and last as long as it did is actually a tribute to its open-ended PvP base, considering once it failed at launch its financing was cut and development basically stopped. How many other forms of MMO content could survive YEARS without any meaningful updates?

And finally of course we have DarkFall, which Lum puts in the group above despite the fact that, you know, DF is growing, making money, and rapidly improving. Lum cites EVE in another example, so maybe he got his groupings mixed up?

Lum also mentions message boards and how they should be avoided at all costs by the developers. While 99% of ANY message board is at best garbage, in that 1% you CAN find some value. Consider this: if you were a teenager when Ultima Online launched, you are now in your late twenties or early thirties, hopefully educated and employed, and overall not a 13yr old basement dwelling degenerate yelling at your mom for another hotpocket. If you are the above-described gamer, you’re likely an Aion player anyway, since kids that age enjoy being an emo fairy.

Given that some of today’s MMO players have more MMO experience than some of the devs making the games, it’s not exactly out of the question that they might have an idea or two worth considering. Add in that we are talking about a genre that is still in its infancy, one that (unless you are making an EQ-clone) is still tossing out radically new ideas that may be sliced bread+1 or the next NGE, and you can’t exactly be an SME in MMO design. I mean Richard Garriott might count, but that expertise gave us Tabula Rasa, and then RG flew off to outer space.

And as Lum accurately puts it, given that a PvP-based MMO is more likely to attract the dedicated MMO player, that’s not the worst user-group to get feedback from. I’d safely say the Hello Kitty Online devs can avoid their suggestion forum however.

Looking over DF’s brief history, it would only take a little searching to see that many of the games positive changes (GC on spells, whirlwind) originated on the forums. Again, you don’t take everything written as gospel and write code based only on that, but to assume you can’t get any value out of such a dedicated and in-touch group is ridiculous. Add in the knowledge that had DF failed, those looking for a PvP MMO would either have to return to EVE or, god help us, play an emo fairy, and it’s not hard to see why those who truly are trying to help the game along are willing to put aside personal gain to improve things overall (players with high-end magic asking for magic nerfs, those who favor mounted combat explaining why it needs to be adjusted, etc).

Luckily for DF fans Aventurine does not share Lum’s stance on all of this, and so far DF is a better game for it. Good luck chasing those bots though, give em hell!

(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.
This entry was posted in Aion, Combat Systems, Dark Age of Camelot, Darkfall Online, EVE Online, MMO design, PvP, Rant, Ultima Online. Bookmark the permalink.

122 Responses to Failure post is fail

  1. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Do you have anything to back up some of those glib statements that seem to imply hard numbers? You know, who is bleeding out, who is growing, equating Darkfall growth to EVE growth. Or even that they are making money. A link to some financials would do.

    I mean, criticizing somebody for playing loose with their facts and then failing to support your own statements seems to be straying well into the whole pot/kettle argument.

    • SynCaine says:

      AV moving to a bigger office, hiring new people, opening a second server, releasing a boxed copy (one that will soon be more widely available). We both know very well about private companies and financial statements.

      The Aion numbers you can gather from either Xfire or just looking around different MMO communities. I doubt even when the financial numbers do come out they will paint a clear picture, as I’m guessing they will be lumped into the Asian numbers. Guess we will have to wait for server mergers to make it ‘official’. Care to place a friendly wager on those happening in 2010?

      • Wilhelm2451 says:

        I know about private companies and financial statements. I’ve seen companies get quite cash infusions from speculative investors in order to help them grow and get critical mass. I have personally moved into bigger offices and been part of hiring rounds that had nothing to do with financial performance. So financial success is just speculation, since neither of us have access to the financials.

        As for server merges, well I’ve heard you explain those away on past occasions. Something about tourists, wasn’t it? A game can consolidate servers and still be financially viable. Games with the word “EverQuest” in their titles spring to mind.

        Besides which, didn’t Lum just get hired to work on Aion? Are you really trying to lay your opinion about Aion’s failure at his feet? (Oh, btw, it would seem Aion is hiring as well.)

        Finally, it is nice that you are a big fan of Tasos. I am sure he appreciates it. But I haven’t seen him taking issue with Lum. I only see you. Would you care to compare your MMO development resume with Lum? I only ask because you are the one that made his credentials an issue.

        • SynCaine says:

          Man are you trying hard, almost up to Lum levels. You really believe that a small company, with one make or break product, is going to not only move into a bigger office, but also hire more people just to continue some illusion of success? And the second server and box copies are what, just a last-ditch attempt? Shhh then, don’t tell that to any NEW member, especially considering they are having trouble housing all of them in Hammerdale. For a dying game, we sure are getting a lot of new players.

          And so now not only are you trying to convince yourself DF is not doing well, but you believe in tourists? At least some progress has been made.

          Tasos does take issue with Lum, although I don’t know if it’s ever been said directly in public. Lum is the drummer boy of “PvP does not work”, and like the post shows, we can see how that’s working out for both parties.

          And again, lets wait until those 2010 Aion server mergers to keep talking success about that game. I mean clearly any company that brings in a contractor to deal with their botting issue is sure to have a bright future, and if any name in the MMO space says success, it’s NCSoft.

        • Zensun says:

          I always enjoy reading this blog, but for once I think your premise is a bit off.

          Wilhelm made a few good points, and I think he pretty much hit the mark with the pot/kettle remark on this one.

        • notageek says:

          “Would you care to compare your MMO development resume with Lum?”

          Yeah, Syn, how many games have you managed not to release? Lately it has seemed that if you really want to scrap your MMO project and fail epicly, hire Lum.

    • Irenor says:

      I suggest you look at this thread. This thread counts all the players who are in a clan and is updated every once in a while (with small inaccuracies based on inactive players).

      It’s the best proof to show that DarkFall is indeed growing.

      20k players (in a clan) might not mean much, but for a game that clearly had such a terrible launch, it’s finally starting to pay off.

  2. Ravious says:

    I was kind of surprised he brought up DF… I mean fury and SB, fine.

  3. silvertemplar says:

    Hmm this looks like a rant post because of a negative mention about Darkfall in an article (and DF wasn’t even the main subject under attack).

    Classic attacking the poster instead of the content eh? (is it now a pre-requisite to have launched an MMO to write an article about them?). What happened to objectivity? I’m pretty sure DF is not the perfect MMO.

    I think you might have some tunnel vision going too ;).

  4. Mordiceius says:

    As a new player to Darkfall, I am really liking it but the main complaint right now is about what to do with the people who macroed and exploited.

    There are numerous “top pvp” guilds in the game right now (I believe VAMP is one of them) have have multiple players that are maxed in just about everything because they exploited mobs before the banning started coming down and it was fixed. Aventurine has seemed to turn a blind eye towards it.

    I know they are banning people who are macroing and exploiting =now= but what about those who did it in the past to get where they are?

    • adam says:

      100% agree with this, and this is one of the things that concerns me most, being a new Darkfall player as well. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with the idea of coming up against foes which I can never compete with simply due to the fact that they weren’t honorable enough to respect the game and not cheat. Playing EVE for a few months was discouraging enough, knowing I’d never, ever catch up. This is the same thing, but in this case the disparity isn’t even frickin legitimate.

      But good luck ever expecting Aventurine to address it. I don’t see any way for them to go through their logs from months past and conclusively determine who was cheating and who wasn’t. And then knock their skills back down? More than likely, the cheaters would just cry foul and quit.

      I guess the question is, would they rather risk new players quitting or potential new players not trying DF because of the frustration of being so far behind the cheaters, or the cheaters quitting when their allegedly ill-gotten skills are taken away?

      We’ll see if in a month or two I personally can be convinced it’s not a big deal.

      • Stabs says:

        They made it easier to skill up recently didn’t they? That is presumably to help people close the gap a bit.

      • SynCaine says:

        As someone who plays with some top-end players, I can tell you that while they do exist, they are not nearly as numerous as you might think. Remember a lot of exploiters have been banned, and the ones who have been were the ones who really abused stuff hard. And then too often players with high-end characters get accused of cheating when in reality, they just happen to play the game an unhealthy amount. Seeing some of the guys in VAMP play I can see why they are as high up as they are.

        But more to the point, with increased skill gains and some recent limitations, getting your skills up to a competitive level is not that hard. You only need one weapon and one magic school (if that, I don’t for magic) at mastery, and archery itself goes up very quickly (one week of focus and you can get sharpshooter to 50+).

        The only thing you WILL be behind in is stats, and more importantly hit points. It’s just going to take a lot of time to catch up to someone with 350hp+, but again, those guys are rare (even some of VAMPS more dedicated players are only at 320 or so, I’m at 270).

        My guy is about average on NA, and I do perfectly fine character-wise in PvP (it’s my personal lack of skill that usually limits me). Sure if I fight the 2-3 near-max guys in the clan it feels like a major uphill battle, but remember PvP in DF is not about 1v1 or 6v6 combat.

  5. Stabs says:

    Oh my blog wars round two. And it’s not even Friday yet!

  6. evizaer says:

    * Syncaine implies he knows more about game design and development than Lum. Syncaine has 0 years (0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds) of game design experience and has participated in the development of 0 games. I wonder who has a more respectable opinion here.

    * Syncaine resorts to ad hominems in an attempt to discredit his opponent who makes an argument that he could’ve simply countered.

    * Syncaine asserts that because someone plays lots of games, they know stuff about game design. Have you ever read Keen’s blog? Hell, have you read your own blog?

    * Syncaine signals his high status in the MMO community through elitism: he asserts the opinions of gamers like him are more valuable and he asserts that such players are more valuable in general.

    * Syncaine gets defensive about DFO instead of actually making reasoned arguments.

    * Darkfall is the only game in the fantasy sandbox MMO market at the moment. Syncaine ignores this fact so that he can assert that DFO is just a great game. (When people only have one option, the fact that they go with that option doesn’t mean that they’re proving that option’s suitability.)

    Overall, I think it’s another successful post on Hardcore Casual!

    • SynCaine says:

      I like the glasses you use to read my posts, they seem to make a huge different.

      Bonus points for a list in a comment!

      • evizaer says:

        I guess my “logic” and “impartiality” glasses are of some kind of limited edition. I didn’t even have to line up to get mine on release day… so I guess you just got unlucky not grabbing your own pair? Oh well.

    • Anne says:

      While the blog post is extremely trollish, I’d just like to make a few notes.

      Critics vs developers. Do film critics know nothing about film design, setup, etc? Of course not. Syncaine is a critic, saying that he knows nothing about game design just because he doesn’t develop them is beyond stupid and on par with saying film critics don’t have the right to call bad films bad because ‘lol they havent made one’. Sure, he is opinionated, in an extreme, but doesn’t mean he is wrong nor is he unable to comment just because he doesn’t develop them.

      That’s the same for critiquing developers themselves. They are these pure beings that magically know much more then you and are objective. Example, some developers have a stronge enough will to do more free-range PVP while others don’t and prefer to play it safe (hence LOCK themselves from exploring new ideas, something that older developers/anything tend to do because they get so used to the market and what they can/cannot do that they don’t think anything outside the box anymore).

      For all you know, because Syn HASN’T been in a certain environment (the industary), this gives him more chance to think of more ideas/possibilities then those who have been shaped by what they cannot do for the last 5-10 years.

      Personally I think Syn was justified in getting peeved off. As the Lum seemed to have just personally insulted the developers who try for these games (calling them elitist players who know nothing and who try and fail to make games). He slides Darkfall in there even though it is a niche title that seems to be doing better then most people would expect. This seems like a very strong stab by Lum, and I really expect nothing less from fans of such games to react strongly against him (since he is acting like his opinion is fact more then anything).

      You could compare it to people sliding their own politic or religious opinions into articles (Syn doing this himself in the past), it is solely a trolling technique esp considering Darkfall is still played and enjoyed by thousands. He didn’t need to add Darkfall, yet he did, and this just shows he was trolling his own opinion (his opinion being the whole article) more then anything instead of taking an objective view like developers should be doing.

      • evizaer says:

        Syn used the same style of attack on Lum when comparing him to Tasos. I was illustrating the pointlessness of the ad hominem that Syn used to try to discredit Lum, when the same could be used to discredit Syn. Lum is as much a critic (and a better one, both writing-wise and content-wise) as Syn is. Why does Lum get lambasted yet Syn is sacrosanct?

        A part of being an adult is being able to accept other’s opinions and analysis without throwing a tantrum because they may have marginally insulted you. Lum has a certain style of writing that is clear from reading two or three of his posts. Syn took personally the kind of jocular tone that Lum uses all the time. Syn basically fell for the bait.

        And I don’t support trolls. I’ve unsubbed Syn because he’s just been trolling for the past week and I’m not going to waste my time with this crap. Tobold certainly has his issues, but at least he can spark discussions which can lead to something interesting. And he largely stays out of the way in comments (his moderation has been fairly good–even when I criticize his points he has no trouble letting the post through).

        • Damage Inc says:

          I find it funny because you seem to have a problem accepting others opinions as well.

        • Matt says:

          “All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” -Douglas Adams

        • evizaer says:

          I find it funny because syncaine is personally attacking Lum and you get all squeamish about opinions.

          Matt’s got it right.

          Because two ideas are subjective doesn’t mean that they are equally valid or useful.

          Consider the following opinions: “The Holocaust didn’t happen because my parents told me.” and “The Holocaust happened and here are images of the carnage caused, lists of the dead, and several hundred living survivors.” Clearly these two opinions aren’t of equivalent worth. (I’m not calling Syn a holocaust denier. I’m merely fortifying my point.)

        • adam says:

          “I’ve unsubbed Syn because he’s just been trolling for the past week and I’m not going to waste my time with this crap.”

          I subscribe to your blog as well. Quit being a baby. If you want to unsubscribe from Syn’s blog because you don’t like it taking up room in your feed list and his comments are that upsetting then fine, but don’t act like he’s forcibly wasting your time. Nobody’s making you read anything. You’re the one “wasting” your own time commenting and replying and responding.

        • evizaer says:

          I think this whole debacle is quite entertaining. This post is probably the last you’ll ever seem me comment on. I’m waiting for Lum to come out of the woodwork and take Syn to school.

        • SynCaine says:

          How many “I quit” attention-seeking comments do you plan to make? And are you also taking your guild with you from this blog?

        • evizaer says:

          I made one comment that could be considered “attention-seeking”. Then people have been egging me on and I’ve been shooting back.

          I don’t have a guild. Only lame loser PvE carebears need to rely on other people. Real hardcore PvPers like me can do it ourselves.

          Go back to WoW.

        • adam says:

          Lum take Syn to school? How would that work? Lum obstinately insisting that PvP is evil and Syncaine disagreeing? Or what, what do you envision, exactly?

          I personally find Lum to be mostly dry and uninteresting, to say nothing of his hollow pontification and holy “insider” perspective.

  7. jim says:

    Aion would have to loose a lot of players to get to the numbers that DF has.

    That is like saying Tesla is is growing like crazy and thus is beating Toyota. So Tesla has grow 400% in the last year it has still only sold 4 cars.

    (Those numbers are totally made up) The point is DF and Aion are different leagues of games. DF will NEVER have the numbers that Aion has.

    • Stabs says:

      Never is a pretty strong word. I don’t have any personal stake in this but it does seem that Darkfall is going up and Aion is going down. Tabula Rasa was a high profile expensive game – a game in Aion’s league if you like – and I think it’s safe to say DF’s numbers are ahead of theirs now.

      2010 will see more games that appeal to Aion players and only Mortal Online (which is apparently not a strong game at this stage) entering Darkfall’s niche.

      I think the big off-putting aspect to DF is not the full loot pvp but the afk macroed uber characters. These will probably be less significant over time as long as they can keep a lid on it.

      Aion’s tough grind has broken many players and we’ve yet to see whether end-game pvp will make it worth all that effort.

    • SynCaine says:

      DF does not have the numbers Tabula Rasa had either. How’s that working out?

      Pure sub numbers alone are not the whole story.

      (edit: Bla, beat me to it)

      • jim says:

        I don’t have any numbers but I would bet that TR had more subscribers when it closed than DF has now.

        Ever may of been a long time. I would say as long as Aion is open it will have more numbers than DF. NC Soft will kill it if it ever gets close to the number that DF has.

        I can not find any numbers for DF but I would guess they are below the 100k mark. If some one could point some numbers out to me that would be sweet.

        Pure sub numbers are not every thing.

        It is hard not to grow when you start so small.

        • Stabs says:

          Yeah but Jim all that means is that NCSoft is liable to kill Aion too soon.

          Aion seems to have 14 servers (source: ). Possibly that does not include Europe, almost certainly it doesn’t include Aion’s original Asian base.

          DF has 2.

          Next year will be a tough year for Aion. Many shiny new games with similar gameplay.

          DF is very likely to grow in 2010.

          So perhaps by the end of 2010 we’re looking at 2-3 DF servers in the US and maybe 7 Aion servers.

          By 2011, what then? 2012? Parity perhaps? Aion closed perhaps?

          Never having more people is a claim that seems hard to substantiate.

  8. Adam says:

    I’ve just never seen the attraction people have to Lum the Mad’s writing.

    He affects a snappy style but I’ve never seen him “get” pvp in any of his posts. Which in theory is something he “knows” about given his DAoC roots. shrug.

    Just looking over some of the stuff he’s posted in the last few months tagged “pvp” he has a post crapping on Stranglethorn Vale as “bad design” whining about killing tigers when for -me- it was one of the best parts of wow.

    The zone design led to some really epic pvp fights. You’d meet people on the road or gank Nesingwarys. Get hunted while hunting for quests or hunt those hunting for quests… one of WoWs best zones ever.

  9. bonedead says:

    Wow, not one “Adventurine” on the whole page, we’re makin progress!

  10. Graktar says:

    “Lum cites EVE in another example, so maybe he got his groupings mixed up?”

    Are you trying to imply EVE belongs with Shadowbane and Fury, or that Darkfall belongs with EVE? :p

  11. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    I completely disagree that Darkfall is growing and Aion is bleeding out. Maybe one day a PvP focused game will be hugely popular, but till then they will always remain a niche with a small but dedicated following.

    • Valkrysa says:

      “I completely disagree that Darkfall is growing and Aion is bleeding out. Maybe one day a PvP focused game will be hugely popular, but till then they will always remain a niche with a small but dedicated following.”

      I don’t know where you got your education but being small and growing are not exclusive. Darkfall IS small, but it IS growing.

      • xXJayeDuBXx says:

        Thanks for the backhanded comment. Maybe you shouldn’t take a harmless comment so personal next time. It was an observation and not a factual statement, one that I would correct if I was wrong. So there was no need for you to come and question my education. You have proved my point, small but dedicated, if not angry and spiteful following.

    • Damage Inc says:

      I was one of the last people in my guild to finally quit Aion. I just re-subscribed to DFO and I have to say, there are more people in the newbie towns of DFO than there were people the main Abyss city on my server.

      Before I quit there were maybe 3-5 people in the main Abyss city whenever I would go there and this is after 2+ months of the game being out. On the other hand, there are usually 10+ characters in the newbie cities I have visited in DFO since returning.

      Pretty much none of the current guild I was playing Aion with is still playing Aion and oddly many of them have either returned to DFO along with me or are new subscribers to it.

      I don’t have actual numbers but from what I’ve personally seen and read on posts on other boards, Aion is definitely bleeding customers and it appears that DFO is actually growing atm.

      • SynCaine says:

        And this is more or less the story of about a dozen guilds that went to Aion and came back to DF. My only surprise is that it happened so quick, usually a new MMO gets a 3-4 month honeymoon period, but most only lasted a month or two with Aion.

        • Damage Inc says:

          This is probably because of the HUGE amount of botting in the game as well as the leveling curve. From 20-25 it’s just horrendous and then it’s the same from 30-50. People hit that wall and it stops becoming fun.

          Oh and I was in Keen’s guild in Aion as well as DFO. One of the things we talked about in vent in regards to Aion is why was grinding more acceptable in games like Everquest and DAoC than Aion. To me, it’s because the grind was a bit different.

          In Everquest, I played a Necro, because I liked to be able to solo. The grind was never a pain for me because the game kept me on my toes. I likened grinding in EQ to playing a game of chess while grinding in a game like Aion is like playing checkers. Plus, the benefit of soloing in EQ was that you actually leveled just as fast if not faster than grouping. You could actually see your bar moving. In Aion to go from 49-50 required at about 30hrs of time in game. I don’t think any North American MMORPG has ever had that kind of ridiculous grind.

          Aion is one of the few MMORPG’s I’ve played where I left before reaching max level. It just really didn’t seem worth it to me anymore and I’m happy to be back in DFO.

  12. victorstillwater says:

    This blog post feels also completely like a knee-jerk reaction. It’s as if person A tried to punch person B when person B said that person A’s hair was messed up or something. :(

    Not an apt analogy, but it’s all I could think of at the moment.

    Anyway, *hugs* to you and sir Lum. :)

  13. scrusi says:

    “Lum cites EVE in another example, so maybe he got his groupings mixed up?”

    Lum cites EVE as a positive example in opposition to the other three. EVE is infinitely more successful than DF (alright, just by an order of magnitude) and certainly deserves its praise as a good example of PvP game developers staying true to their vision.

    Lum is also right that DF is part of the group of games that were hyped as the big revolution to MMOs that then dropped into obscurity right after launch. Even if the current growth of 1000 players/month (according to , discounting the subscribers gained from changing their way of counting) continues, which I doubt, DF will still never reach the numbers to match the hype.

  14. I’m very disappointed, SynCaine; I really did expect better than this. I guess the post title is appropriate if one takes it as self-referential.

  15. sente says:

    Well, you did not really address the points Lum was making with his post – the two sentences that were highlighted and kind of large in the article.

    If Darkfall had not been mentioned, would you still have made the post? Do you disagree with the attitude example?

    Your comment about listening to people on the forums also seems to miss the mark, plus that you actually provide made up number that motivate why developers should not involve themselves in the forums directly – 99% of the content is crap.

    If let’s say a developer can spend 10% of their time to read/discuss on player forums and 99% of that time will be reading crap, that leaves 0.1% of time to read/respond to valuable content. If they would work 40 hours per week that would leave them with 2 minutes and 24 seconds of valuable forum content experience per week, on average.

    There is a reason companies have community managers to filter this.

    • SynCaine says:

      I disagree fundamentally with Lum. He believes focusing on PvP, especially negative sum PvP, can only result in a doomed game, while I believe if done right PvP is the best form of content to keep an MMO going for years without having to reset everything yearly.

      That he took a shot at DF, a game he has a personal issue with, and another at the PvP community, also based on issues, yea, that helped to get me to post.

      • Damage Inc says:

        I would have to agree with Syncaine on this one. As an example we can look at the Darktide server for Asheron’s Call. While the game has ebbed over the past 5ish years, the server that consistently has the highest population is Darktide, their negative effect FFA PvP server.

        There is a definite market out there for a good well done negative effect FFA PvP MMORPG. I don’t know if it’s Darkfall, but DFO has brought us closer to what most of us FFA PvP players want.

        The problem is, no big name software development company wants to touch the genre with a 10 foot pole because it’s a definite niche market. They all want to be the next WoW. Sadly, so far we’ve seen how that has turned out.

  16. Bhagpuss says:

    This blog’s certainly not getting any less enjoyable to read, but it IS starting to seem disturbingly messianic.

    Apart from driving page-views, is there really any need to jump on any passing less-than-reverent reference to Darkfall and try to tear the offender to shreds? Is it just that PvP players think of blogs as another opportunity for PvP? Or should that be BvB?

    The way I see it, sandbox mmos are unlikely ever to appeal to a WoW-scale audience and full-loot pvp sandboxes are way behind even that in potential to reach millions. Darkfall can be, probably is, successful on its own terms. Aion may well be a failure on its terms. Comparing them as though they operate in the same market and are direct competitors, though, is meaningless.

    Also, I can’t see why Hello Kitty Online’s developers should disregard their player’s comments in their forums. Tipa of West Karana is an MMO blogger we’d probably all agree knows what she’s talking about. She’s posted some excellent stuff about HKO. Should HKO’s developers ignore the thoughts of someone like that, who plays and enjoys their game? What makes you think there aren’t many other intelligent, articulate HKO players out there.

    HKO is an age neutral product.

    I’m not a fan, although I do like their design sensibility, but I can’t see why HKO players should be disregarded by its developers any more than players of any other MMO.

    • SynCaine says:

      I don’t think an MMO game will ever reach a WoW-scale audience, PvP or not. And this site has been a source of BvB for some time now, so nothing new here.

  17. Eckyman says:

    “Number of MMOs Lum has launched in the last 5 years: zero.
    Number of MMOs Tasos has launched in the last 5 years: one”

    Can Taso not fight his own battles? Or does he pay you to do that too?

    How many MMO’s have you launched in the last 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Yet you have no problem making shitty comments all day long about games and expansions you have NEVER played.. (Syn-EDZITRON-caine)

    Then a guy like Lum comes along, someone not only with more experience of launching/making MMO’s but someone who actually plays the games he talks about.. he makes a comment about a game you like and here we are. Watching the blogging equivalent of a childs tantrum.


  18. Bri says:

    Bhagpuss says ” …Apart from driving page-views…”

    Bingo. I’m sorry, Syncaine, but you lost a lot of credibility in the MMO blogging community when you decided to take Adventurine’s money.

    I can’t see it being a fair comparison between Darkfall and Tabula Rasa. I think it’s a safe bet TR had a quite a few more financial stakeholders to answer to. Stakeholders with success-clause contracts, who drove business decisions, like, you know, closing the game and liquidating it’s assets.

    • SynCaine says:

      It’s not a fair comparison because one game failed and the other is a success, even though the failure had higher sales. That was my point, sales != success. Aion sold a ton of boxes, but like TR, it won’t be around long with 200k subs.

      If DF ever reaches 200k subs, it will be right on track to mimic EVE. If DF maintains 50k+ subs, it will allow AV to continue supporting it for a long, long time. Given that the DF server is bigger than most MMO servers already, and the pace of development is far above average, that 50k sounds like a sweet deal for everyone associated with DF, be it fan or dev.

  19. Werit says:

    Lum has always been biased against PvP, so this is no surprise.

    You can’t really argue with the success of EvE and to a lesser extent, Darkfall. There is a market for PvP games and it can be done. Although that market may be smaller than its PvE cousins.

  20. Wyrm says:

    I think Syncaine got a bit carried away.
    Let’s not, however forget the fact that Lum the Mad was lmost taking bets on how many months was Darkfall going to last. So while Darkfall is still around the occasional pot shot will be taken. That’s the only explanation for grouping DF with SB and Fury.

  21. Minsc says:

    Wow, this is sad.

  22. Xyloxan says:

    I just don’t get it. Why so many posters here expect Syncaine to write objectively about the games and other topics he is passionate about? Of course, he is opinionated and sarcastic and that’s why his blog is so fun to read.

  23. Darren says:

    Wow…I see new levels of douche-baggery have been reached in my absence.

    • SynCaine says:

      :checks watch: Huh? :checks watch:

      • Darren says:

        Yes…subtract 3 hours from the douche world you’ve seem to have put yourself in to get to the timezone the rest of us seem to be in. Might help you to be less of a dick.

        …good gawd man.

        • SynCaine says:

          No no, I was sure someone was oh-so-confident someone else would not be playing a certain game by now. Actually, many months ago now. How’s that little assumption working out for you?

  24. Genda says:

    Man, one of the things I always enjoy is a blog written with at least the pretense of objectivity. Shark, jumped..

    On the subject of PVP gaming, you and your supporters here exhibit exactly the kinds of “shout-down” and insult-based retort that most of us grown ups (with credit cards and active MMO accounts) actively try to avoid.

    Help me understand again why I would want to play ANY game with you and your sycophants again? You really aren’t making it very attractive to me.

    • evizaer says:

      Because they are elite and you are an inferior person for not being elite, clearly. It may be a crowd of idiots, but it’s an exclusive crowd of ELITE idiots. :p

      • Damage Inc says:

        Didn’t you say you were going to stop coming to this blog?

      • Wyrm says:

        “I’m just here to write that you suck thus increasing the network traffic from your blog and providing free entertainment for your readers without you even breaking a sweat.

        I’m just pissed off that Darkfall hasn’t tanked yet showing that the crowd of idiots are happy doing their thing and, goodness gracious, are even doing their part to build a Community with a semblance of cohesiveness and common goals.

        I hate you and any games you play.”

        • evizaer says:

          I constantly tout the virtues of sandbox gaming. I’m just not a fanboy for any specific game. I’m not afraid to point out where these games lose me, even though I agree with the approach they take in general.

      • Damage Inc says:

        Actually you’re the one who appears to be the elitist at the moment.

        • evizaer says:

          Yes. I write blog posts that involve actual thought and make nuanced points, so I’m an elitist. And someone who runs around asserting their superiority is not. Good one.

        • Damage Inc says:

          Have you read your own posts lately? I seem to remember you taking potshots at some other bloggers.

    • JdJdJd says:

      Geez Genda…you don’t know me, but sometimes I love you! You hit the nail on the head right there!

  25. Wyrm says:

    Anyway, you’re still exaggerating when it comes to Darkfall, Syncaine. Only with huge amounts of spin can Darkfall be, at this point, more successful than Aion.

    Also the pot shots at Lum were a bit too much. He doesn’t like DF and thought the game wasn’t as good as touted in the release. Big deal.

    Anyway, back to sycophanting: you are right about anything you say!!!

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  27. Doug says:

    Syncaine just lit his ship on fire. I enjoy watching him ride it in like true captain.

    Lets see if Darkfall people reconsider syncaine’s “support”. It would be funny for him to be one of the first support pullbacks for the company.

  28. Oakstout says:

    Good Gawd!

    After reading this entire posting and following the comments I have come to the conclusion that you people are INSANE.

    If people were in DF then moved to Aion and then moved back, this doesn’t constitute growth. You have to get new subs to achieve true growth not reacquiring old subs.

    1 + 2 – 1 + 1 is still 3 Not 4 or 5.

    And with people coming back from Aion, there would be a large group of people in the newbie zone, because all the old subs have come back.

    I’m sure DF is a great PvP game for those playing it, but PvP progresson alone will not drive one product to the heights of Everquest or even WoW, you can put down your crack pipes. I don’t see nothing in the future that would even suggest this. Sure PvP is fun and a small niche can be carved out in the MMO world and very possibly survive when games like TR and SB have failed.

    Also, the fact that Aion is merging servers doesn’t mean failure, it means they were very optimistic in what they hoped for their game. DF was more reserved in their estimation of possible accounts. Now they want to grow this by putting out a box and opening up a bigger office, which means they are now optimistic due to their small successes, but it doesn’t mean they will be successful in the future, they just hope to be.

  29. Chuck says:

    “I’m sure DF is a great PvP game for those playing it, but PvP progresson alone will not drive one product to the heights of Everquest or even WoW, you can put down your crack pipes.”

    Well, I’m not sure you noticed, but the new COD sold a few copies (think it grossed 500+ million in its first week worldwide). It contains levels, gear upgrades, titles, etc. I know MANY people who are obsessed with grinding levels in that PVP game. Infinity Ward has already stated that the MMO-like elements are going to be expanded in the future. I realize COD is not an MMO, but with a little imagination its not hard to see it moving in that direction.

    I’ve been much more on the PVE side in the past, but I’ve started to see the draw of PVP more and more. I think there is a market. If someone told you 5 years ago that a MMO could reach 10 million subs you would have said they were crazy. Anything is possible.

    • Genda says:

      You guys need to quit trotting out the console titles. They aren’t persistent and they aren’t subscription based and that is the basis of what we’re(most of us) talking about here.

      • Chuck says:

        Perfectly valid point Genda. I was just trying to remark that I think it would be possible to have a high subscriber PVP MMO, even if it hasn’t happened yet.

      • SynCaine says:

        So a PvP fan on a console can’t possibly be a PvP fan on the PC? (Even if we ignore that CoD:MW2 is a PC title, with F2P-like elements, with persistence about on par with a WoW arena team)

        You’re point was that the PvP crowd is much smaller than the PvE crowd, and we are telling you that in the broad scope of PC gaming, PvP titles have been just as, if not more successful than PvE ones. That the MMO genre is somewhat slow to catch up is another matter.

        • Gorehorn says:

          Sure, one can be a PvP fan on several platforms, but one has to consider what KIND of PvP one is a fan of. PvP in MW2 knows no loss, you can only gain by participating in it. If you LOST exp by losing a round of deathmatch it would be vastly less popular. As is, the levels are carrots-on-a-stick comparable to WoW raid loot.
          The majority of people enjoy their PvP consequence-free, THAT’s where the big audiences lie.

        • Oakstout says:

          Is there a subscription based PvP game that is making a run at Everquest 2 or WoW? No. Are they even able to make a run at EvE, which to date is probably the best example of a PvP game that has slowly carved out a nice piece of the action for themselves? No.

          CoD, MW2 are Shooters. They have MMO Elements? WoW has FPS elements, does that make it a shooter? It also has an auction house so does that make it like Ebay? You guys are really trying hard to make this square peg fit in a round hole.

          Consoles systems aside, the point is, DF isn’t a failure by any stretch of the imagination, but saying it will achieve the god like status of other AAA titles is pretty silly.

          I’m sure CCP knows what they have, they market it to the people they know to have the same interests as them and they are very happy. They aren’t going to be over taking Blizzard, but I don’t think they even care too.

          But Darkfall is no EvE, especially with all the bad word of mouth from exploits and hacks the minute the game hit the streets whether or not that’s all been fix. The might get some traction now that people are leaving Aion or after this Blog craziness settles down just to see what all the fuss was about, but that won’t last long.

          Darkfall might be the current flavor of the month for those abandoning Aion, but those numbers will change again when something new hits the streets in a few months.

  30. sid67 says:

    LOL. This is what comes from insulting MMO blogging royalty…

    I think someone needs to read “How to win friends and influence people”.

    Hint: Ad hominem attacks, particularly against prominent community figures, are a bad idea. LOL.

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  34. War says:

    You do realize that Lum is a programmer and not a designer right? He programs game systems and tools, he does not design classes, balance, etc…

    But good luck ranting about about other people’s rants.

  35. Celestis says:

    I’d like to disagree with your synopsis of Fury. Tech issues aside, it was a great game with a lot of potential, but it ultimately fell victim to what you call the “WoW tourist” effect. I have little doubt had the developers been smart enough to stick to their original premise (“Waste enemies, not time”) they could’ve kept 50k or so subscriptions and remained a nice little off-the-radar niche for players who happened to enjoy it.

    • Draglem says:

      So you contest that Fury failed because it started great and then once the same people that only started playing because of WoW left because Fury was not WoW it became a vacuum? Your position is that if started with a grassroots foundation then they would have spent time on productive product improvement instead of several servers? This is the reason they failed?

      • Celestis says:

        No, I’m saying that it failed because the “Age of the Chosen” patch was obviously meant to appease the WoW tourists that were flooding into the game. Auran was an indie developer and didn’t know which side of the crowd to listen to so they attempted to emulate WoW in adding a longer GCD, armors with passive %chance procs that would damage/stun/disable your opponent when they hit you, etc. This alienated the true fans into not playing, and once the WoW tourists left, what remained was essentially a dead game. They realized their mistake and attempted an about-face, but by the time they removed armor procs, reset the GCD, and made other fixes that would’ve returned Fury to what it should’ve been, it was too late.

        It was a damn shame too. Fury could’ve been a great niche PvP title for those that prefer zero grind or leveling but are very attracted to RPG-style PvP.

  36. pitrelli says:

    hmm you really have disappeared up your own ass this time Syn.

  37. Lum says:

    I’ll leave comments as a list because Syncaine loves lists.

    – I really need to add this blog to my Google Reader feed.

    – I don’t mind comments that come out swinging on what I write. I usually write with a very pugnacious style myself. The piece in question especially was intentionally adversarial in tone.

    – I have it on very good authority (from Tasos, actually) that Tasos doesn’t particularly “take issue” with what I have to say. I won’t comment further since private email is private but the thought that Aventurine needs someone to slap me to defend their honor is amusing.

    – Aion is not bleeding subscribers, aside from the 40,000 or so I helped to ban.

    – I hope Darkfall succeeds and am on record saying so.

    – I would judge Darkfall a minimally commercial success if it has enough subscribers to allow its developers to continue to grow (which it appears to have done).

    – The benchmark for success of sandbox hardcore PvP games is set by Eve – and I am fairly certain Darkfall is nowhere near Eve’s subscriber numbers. Then again they are a few years behind.

    • SynCaine says:

      I prefer bullet-point lists, and no, the fact that you can’t do that in the comments is not an excuse. You’re a game dev, you should be able to work around that.

      – I also have it on good authority that Tasos did not particularly enjoy you calling CtS a ‘patch’. And my guess is he also did not enjoy being lumped into a group with Fury. I mean, would you? I doubt however you two (or any two people debating about videogames on the internet, outside of Asia anyway) would come to blows or anything over it.

      – Hard to question you on the Aion point, but then again you also can’t tell us if it WAS bleeding, since NCSoft is a public company and all that. What I do know for a fact is that many of the more ‘well known’ PvP guilds tried it, found it lacking, and left. Same for many bloggers (and we count double!) Given that Aions end-game is PvP, that can’t be great news. Xfire is also looking very AoC/WAR-ish for Aion.

      – If we compare DF’s first year to EVE’s first year, I think it’s doing quite well. But just like EVE, it’s up to AV to continue to build on what they have so far. One bad patch or expansion could send people running.

      Now on to important matters: Did you start writing before or after

      edit: Oh yea, one more thing. Since we all writing the way we do just to get paid, you owe me monies for all the traffic I sent you over at And no, you can’t pay me in Aion game cards.

    • Adam says:


      For me, the Darkfall thing in your post boils down to-

      You write the obituary for 3 games in a few sentences…. of those Darkfall is still making a legitimate go of it.

      Not real classy to do that to a game that is plugging away at becoming a compelling version of what many pvp fans have wanted for a long time.

      Come on… putting it in the same sentence as Fury?

  38. Oozzy says:

    Dark… what? Oh, that ugly game with less than 100k subscribers? kk

  39. uh oh says:

    “Oh yea, one more thing. Since we all writing the way we do just to get paid, you owe me monies for all the traffic I sent you over at And no, you can’t pay me in Aion game cards.”

    Who thinks the guy is idiot? Vote here! :)

  40. Lum says:

    * I’ll do my best to use bullet lists in plaintext by using sexy asterisks instead of old tired hyphens.

    * The entire reason I used Darkfall as an example of “PvP pitfalls” (or, as I called it to rile up specifically as many PvP fans as possible, “How PvP Will Break Your Game”) is as an example of hardcore developers who talk smack on message boards before release. Which both Shadowbane and Fury did as well. Shadowbane is no longer with us after a run of about 5 years, and Fury was DOA, and Darkfall is on its second patch, er, expansion.

    ** Of course, if you believe I was making a list of “PvP games that are dead” as opposed to “PvP games made by hardcore PvP players turned smacktalking developers who learned suddenly they had to deliver on their promises”, well, that means I’m a poor writer for not communicating that effectively.

    * Believe it or not, I get paid a flat rate for my columns. Thus, it’s, in fact, in my interest that they have no readership whatsoever. Sadly this means that I have no Aion game time cards to give you (not that I have any) although I do have a Dungeon Runners box around here somewhere if you’re really hard up for swag.

    • Stabs says:

      “that means I’m a poor writer for not communicating that effectively.”

      You’re certainly not a poor writer but it was a poorly written paragraph.

      Excerpting from the paragraph:

      “Those games are usually train wrecks….

      developers … have no perspective whatsoever

      crippled by game-killing bugs, tedious leveling, and exploit-ridden combat

      Darkfall had similar trajectories

      the uncompromising purity of vision doesn’t survive long when you actually have to deliver.”

      Your sentence said what you wanted it to say more or less. But your paragraph, the context in which the sentence is set distorted your message.

      Of course I see that you wanted to be both provocative and accurate unlike certain other parties to this dispute for whom accuracy is a vice they have shed.

    • SynCaine says:

      In a way, don’t CCP also talk smack, just like, weird euro smack? I mean they have stuck to their guns for years, never trammy’ing Empire space, never backing down on their stance about in-game scams. They never compromise their Vision (they can use the big V), no matter how hard people cry, and they openly claim they are by far the most technologically superior MMO out (in terms of server tech and such).

      I know the stuff Wolfpack talked pre-release was crazy, especially given what they delivered. But is it really -that- bad if AV talks a lot, so long as they can back it up? If DF was vaporware, lulz away, but its not. It’s not even close actually.

      If they call CtS gods gift to expansions, sure, you can challenge them on that, but at some point you do have to admit it did deliver a hell of an upgrade, for ANY game, big or small.

      • Lum says:

        Yes, yes they do.

        Which is why I specifically used them as an example of smack-talking focused hardcore PvP developers that delivered.

  41. Lum says:

    * (Oh, forgot.) predated by about 4 months (6/99 vs 10/99). However started as a collection of other websites (Joy of Villany, Ronald McDonald, Greybeard, probably other HARDCORE STRICKTLY 4 THE PEEKAYAZ sites that I fail to remember) which predate my site by about a year or so. I never did flash movies of UO GMs being anally raped, and they never recreated Shadowbane design docs using Playboy centerfolds, so it all worked out in the end.

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  43. foo says:

    You apparently care whether people take you seriously but you’re still saying “fail?”

    Just an FYI. You’re no doubt right about Lum.

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