DarkFall: Is macroing intended?

I briefly mentioned some areas of unavoidable macroing in DarkFall on Friday, and it’s something I want to go into more detail today. While I’m not one of the “must grind everything to 100 before you can compete” people, no one can deny that certain skills/spells are just not designed to be worked up from ‘normal’ use, and I’m wondering how others feel about them.

For instance, take Impetus from the fire magic school. It’s a simple Agility buff spell that costs one mandrake (2g) to cast, has about a 6-8 second cooldown, and the spell at level 1 lasts a good 3-4 minutes. I’ve now cast the spell over 2000 times or so and it’s just about to hit 50. The skill gain drops significantly after 50, so let’s just assume it takes 10,000 casts to get it to 100 (I think it would take closer to 30-40k casts, but let’s just be safe and say 10,000).

Now over the course of a normal PvP trip you might buff up 4-5 times on a good night, and it’s very unlikely you will need to cast Impetus twice in one fight. Even if you go out to PvP 5 nights a week and each night is a good night, it will take you 5×5=25 casts per week. 10,000 / 25 = 400 weeks of PvP at that pace to get Impetus to 100, or just under eight years of PvP’ing 5 nights a week and buffing yourself with Impetus before each of your five fights a night.

But lets also assume you are doing some PvE between your PvP trips, and you keep Impetus on at all times while PvE’ing for an hour each night, five nights a week. I’m going to use a baseline of 5 minutes per Impetus cast, as sometimes you won’t be able to cast right as it fades etc. 60 / 5 = 12 casts per hour. 12 * 5 = 60 casts per week, and when added to your PvP casts that comes to 85 casts. 10,000 / 85 = 117.65 weeks, or just over two years.

Now maybe it’s just me, but two years of continual use seems like a rather lengthy time just to get a buff spell to 100, and that was using very, very conservative numbers. If it really ends up taking 40k casts to hit 100, we are talking close to a decade of use. And the real issue is that almost all of the non-damage spells follow a similar model. Want to get Launch to 50 so you can actually make it over city walls? Either wait a few years or grab a bunch of regs and start casting launch just for the sake of skilling it up. Want your heal or transfer spells at a decent level? They won’t get their through ‘normal’ use, so again grab some regs and start casting.

Now clearly Aventurine is aware of the numbers needed here, but I do wonder what the design intention is. Do they really expect people to wait years before getting certain spells up, or is casting them just to skill up intended? Certainly one aspect of PvP is raiding a city/hamlet and killing people who are macroing for large amounts of regs, but is this really intended or a side-product of some oversight?

Now I’m not saying Aventurine needs to reduce the length it takes to get these spells to 100 by such an amount that the above ‘normal’ use gets you to 100 in a few months, as all that would cause is for most people to hit 100 in one night of repeat casting, and time and time again we have seen people ‘cap out’ in skills and just as they have reached their magical “I can compete” mark, they stop playing because there is “nothing to do”. Character development IS content, and if you skip it, you skip a ton of the intended content.

So the more I think about it, the more I tend to side with people who argue that afk macroing should be allowed, just with some changes. For instance, macroing within the safety of NPC zap towers should NOT be allowed, since you are more or less 100% safe there. If you macro in a player city or out in the wild, you run the risk of getting killed and looted before you get the intended results, and this would increase the value of ‘safe’ cities to macro in.

I also think actively playing should give much faster gains, to encourage people to go out and, well, actually play. Hitting mobs with damage spells is already 6x faster than hitting players, and that is a significant savings when you consider the cost of getting spells or schools to 100. Money along with time being a requirement for high magic is fine by me. This then also places an increased importance on banning players for bugging out mobs for easy skill gains, but mobs like the Hive Queen (99% resistance to magic, immobile) become even bigger PvP ‘hot spots’ due to the ease and pace of skill gains there. In a PvP sandbox game like DarkFall, I don’t think this is a problem at all, and actually adds content.

Finally certain skills would also have to be changed, such as swimming and running no longer giving stat gains. Afk swimming while naked is a zero risk activity, and would not fit into what DarkFall is all about (risk/reward). To balance this out stat gain overall, and especially from PvE, would need to be increase. It already needs a boost so new players can get to 50 or so in each stat faster, but that’s another topic altogether.

(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 Combat Systems, crafting, Darkfall Online, MMO design, PvP, Rant. Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to DarkFall: Is macroing intended?

  1. sid67 says:

    I like how you label it “macroing” and not what it really is.. automated play. As in, botting.

    Even if you are looking at the screen while it’s happening, you are still ‘watching’ your character level your skills.

    I think what is so surprising to me is the ambiguous answers that Aventurine provides on the topic.

    One topic about using AutoHotKey posted a month ago is still active and getting posts. Another post questioning the legality of such tools (or a G15) is Closed.

    It’s as-if they don’t support it, but recognize it as a necessary evil they can’t prevent.

    • SynCaine says:

      Maybe its just a technicality, but I always viewed botting as a script doing complex actions for you independently, like what buff bots did in DAoC. Those seem rather different from me than clicking your left mouse button every 8 seconds. But I get your point, and it’s certainly a thin line (if at all).

      But Aventurine’s stance on third-party programs (including G15 and Razor mouse scripts) has always been clear: attended macroing is ok, unattended is not. And of course third-party programs that do thinks like Radar or sticky-back are bannable as well.

      • sid67 says:

        You do realize that you can use AutoHotKey and many of these programs to do some things that most people would really frown upon.

        For example:
        “Shift-KEY” sets an X,Y point on the screen. Then upon pressing “KEY”, a left-click drag to X,Y is performed and mouse returns to original position. The result being a very fast way to “loot” or move things.

        Or as an extreme example, “KEY” remembers the color of a group of pixels at center of your screen. Holding that “KEY” down keeps that pixel group centered on your screen. (a.k.a. auto-aim)

        The first is fairly easy to setup, the second is a bit more difficult but still very do-able.

        I was SHOCKED. Absolutely SHOCKED to read that AutoHotKey and other such programs are actively being promoted on the official forums.

      • sid67 says:

        By-the-by, Aventurine’s position is NOT clear.

        By my definition, an “attended” macro is a macro performed that is sequenced.
        Example: KEY1-KEY2-KEY3.

        It becomes “unattended” the moment you add a WAIT or SLEEP.
        Example: KEY1-(wait 2 seconds)-KEY2-(wait 2 seconds)-KEY3

        HOWEVER, it’s obvious that many Darkfall players are using the literal interpretation. That unattended means that you aren’t there at all. So “watching” while it macros is apparently OK.

        Honestly, it puts me in a difficult position that I resent a bit. I don’t WANT to play a game that way, but I will to remain competitive.

        • SynCaine says:

          The way they determine if you are active or not is when a GM messages you. If you don’t respond, they ban you.

        • sid67 says:

          Yes, I’ve read that and thought it’s ludicrous on several levels.

          1) If I’m sitting there happily mining away in a protected area and the GM sends me a PM when I am on an extended bio break, I can get banned? And that can happen without macroing at all since you can start mining a node and won’t stop until you run out of stamina.

          2) The best detection method is a message from a GM? Seriously? Beyond just the waste of manpower, how do GMs find out?

          Player reports. Which are only going to happen if they are in a protected area because the the more likely outcome elsewhere is that the person macroing gets ganked.

          Which I guess brings us back to the whole “safe area” thing while doing it near Guard Towers.

          Are they making the attended/unattended distinction just because it’s OBVIOUS and the person can’t be killed easily?

          If so, then that position just seems to unofficially agree to look the other way from these kinds of abuses.

        • SynCaine says:

          People claim to have the bio break ban happen to them. I don’t know, never happened to me. I think the GM waits a decent amount of time before banning you, but I’ve never been banned so I don’t know.

          Certain cities, like Talpec, are under constant GM watch because they get reported so often, while other cities never see a GM. It’s a mess, which is why I’m for simplifying the whole thing and just making afk macroing legal, and allow the players to sort it out.

        • Bhagpuss says:

          Being able to reply to a GM when questioned has been the benchmark of acceptable or unaceptable macroing in most MMOs I’ve played. Even that may not be enough, though.

          Back in the mists of time, there was a guy who went to the trouble not only of writing ultra-detailed botting software for his characters in some MMO I played (I think it was Everquest, might have been DAOC) but also of including AI routines that he claimed were more than capable of holding conversations with GMs in his absence. He posted logs of all this on some website I’ve long forgotten.

  2. Paragus says:

    This is my beef with the entire school of Spellchanting. Since it consists of buffs, it simply is not practical to use it in PvE. So there is no increased skill gain. Doesn’t make much sense to sacrifice on mobs either.

    I would love to have a few spells from Arcane, but getting spellchanting to 75 sounds about as fun as broiling my balls in battery acid. I definitely think that buffs and the like need to be examined in terms of how long it should take to raise them and their school in the case of Spellchanting.

  3. Werit says:

    This is one of the major obstacles for me and Darkfall. I don’t want to have to PvE in order to be at all competitive. In a game where skills are gained by use, I’m not sure there is a better way.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea you can’t play DF without doing PvE. I find the PvE enjoyable, but if someone does not, I doubt DF would be the game for them.

      • Werit says:

        Yea, I’m not going to fault DF for it. It is what it is.

        • Bhagpuss says:

          In a level-based game, skill maximums are often tied to levels. There are several ways to control or direct the raising of skills in a skill-based game in analagous fashion.

          For instance, your character might only be able to raise a given skill once per game day. Or once per actual day. Or once an hour. Or there could be a set maximum number of skill increases for a given skill in a set period.

          Any set limit would discourage macroing. Whether such a degree of control would be acceptable in a free-for-all game like Darkfall, though, I wouldn’t care to guess.

  4. Mordiceius says:

    Well, one of the problems I have seen in the game is you have a good number of people at the “top” because they raised a lot of their skills using bugs or glitched mobs at launch. Now that the bugs and glitched mobs are fixed, it will take forever and be nigh impossible to ever get your skills to a point where you could compete toe to toe with them.

    • SynCaine says:

      That whole angle is overblown, especially on NA since banks did not transfer. Since NA launch the rate of gains overall has greatly increased, so things that were basically impossible before (100 enchanting) are at least now just almost impossible.

      But actual combat abilities like weapon mastery or 100 in a spell school are very doable now. High-end stats (75+) are a different issue.

  5. Andrea Bargs says:

    As I mentioned in your previous post, macroing (and other “skip ahead” activities like gold-buying, buying end game toons, exploiting game mechanics, etc) at the end of the day is meant to “save” time, because we all don’t have years and years to waste/spend on any game, i.e. we have real life to attend to, and we want results/enjoyment sooner rather than later.

    By being sort of an advocate for macroing in DF, you are part of the “skip ahead” crowd after all, like we all are.


    • SynCaine says:

      I do enjoy how hard you try, I just wish the results were a bit more entertaining.

      • Andrea Bargs says:


      • sid67 says:

        Hah! Actually, I agree with Andrea on this one. The hypocrisy is illuminating and entertaining.

        Of course, we are all hypocrites about something (in real life or not). I’ve actually learned to embrace my hypocrisy rather than deny it.

        Or put another way: So What?

        • SynCaine says:

          He/she lumps macroing with hacking to make a point. I generally think you have to have a base to form a conclusion.

          My point with macroing buffs and other such skills/abilities is that when you look at the math, it seems to suggest AV intended the spells that way as well.

          To look at a different game, look at WoW crafting. Blizzard design it so you have to craft 100s of ‘junk’ items to raise the skill, rather than always crafting something useful. Is crafting 100 copies of some vendor junk ‘skipping ahead’?

        • sid67 says:

          Or perhaps they simply never intended to have people “capped” in every area?

          As you’ve pointed out yourself, capping out means that people quit because progression ends.

          If I’m Aventurine, perhaps I “want” some things to take years to level. You don’t get all your skills maxxed in EVE in one year (or even 3).

        • SynCaine says:

          I totally agree that you don’t want people getting totally maxed out. But in EVE, no single path takes this long to master, even flying a Titan is shorter and you pick up a lot of otherwise useful skills along the way.. What’s impossible in EVE is to get everything maxed. What would be near-impossible in DF right now is to get a single buff maxed.

        • Andrea Bargs says:

          “To look at a different game, look at WoW crafting. Blizzard design it so you have to craft 100s of ‘junk’ items to raise the skill, rather than always crafting something useful.”

          Is that why DF players craft hundreds (or is it thousands?) of cloth plants to skill up their tailoring? Because cloth pants are useful?

          I believe cloth pants are “junk”. Or are you saying cloth pants are useful? Zing!

          Cut the crap, please.

          These players, and I believe I describe almost every player who has 100 tailoring, “skipped ahead” i.e. they crafted the cheapest possible item to skill up bec doing so in any other way is a waste of both resources and time when all they really want to craft is end game bone-armor.

          and btw,
          “lumps macroing with hacking”…

          Fail at reading comprehension. Try again. I think I give you credit for your smarts than you really deserve.

        • SynCaine says:

          You only get one more reply today troll, hope it was worth it.

          My point about WoW crafting was exactly the same point you are making, so thanks. In both games you craft/do crap just to advance a skill. It’s not ‘skipping head’ because its intended. You are not saving any time crafting those 100s of items in WoW/DF, you are following the exact path the devs designed. It SEEMS that is the same design decision behind DF’s buff spells, and hence this post. You’re welcome for the personal explanation.

          The problem you have is you lumped the above with buying a character and exploiting game mechanics to indeed ‘get ahead’, when they are not the same thing. Like I said though, it’s funny to continue to watch you try.

  6. Andrea Bargs says:


    People look for the fastest, easiest, most efficient route to the end game. Meditate on it. I won’t spell it out any further than that.

    Like I said, I gave you too much credit for what you really deserve. Its pointless to expound on the matter further, as you, like all DF fanbois, label those who do not agree with you (but actually have a valid point that you are incapable of comprehending) a “troll.”

    I did enjoy discovering how un-smart you really are. I mistakenly lumped you together with other actually intelligent bloggers I read.

    Today’s lesson: Having a blog doesn’t mean you’re intelligent.

    Bye bye…

    • Xyloxan says:

      Andrea Bargs, you forgot to mention that his fiance is ugly and equally “un-smart.” Unlike you, of course.

  7. Quietside says:

    About the buffs, what is the total increase to duration/effect between a skill of 1 and 100? I agree that spellchanting sucks to skill up for the reasons stated previously, but unless there is some truly dramatic increase in the effect of impetus, why worry about maxing it? There are several skills in the game where the net gain from improvement (i.e. rest) is so low as to make ‘grinding’ the skill less than worth it.

    Regarding Crafting: I have made nothing that I do not have a use for. Period. I saved gold when i was small and made cloth armour that i used when hunting goblins, full sets, or whatever bits filled out my bank. So with leather, chain, studded leather, banded, scale, plate and bone as i went after bigger prey. What i don’t or no longer use i donate to my clan, newbs or sell to interested parties depending.

    I think that the biggest problem with DF is that people keep playing it like it’s some other MMO, when it’s fundamentally different in its approach.

    The idea that people in general want to shortcut to endgame might be valid, but it’s also pretty sad.

    • SynCaine says:

      As with most things in DF, the actual independent gain from casting a lvl 100 buff vs a lvl 1 buff is not that huge, but combine that with a dozen other ‘small’ differences and the end result is a noticeable power increase.

      I agree that having Impetus at 100 is not needed or even that highly desired, but just from a pure ‘how long is this going to take’ perspective, its suspect. Rest on the other hand I skilled up to 100 ‘normally’, simply because I ended up using it often when gathering. Same for skills like riding, sprint, running, or rigor. All went up as time went on. The more ‘passive’ skills I think work well (rest is not exactly passive, but its different imo than a buff spell).

  8. sid67 says:

    As a player, this leaves me in an awkward position that I resent. Do I jump off the bridge and start macroing? Or do I gimp myself relative to other players by watching them shortcut success?

    Macros: Taking the plunge into dark waters…
    Serial Ganker (Sid67)

  9. Quietside says:

    I agree with the idea of incremental increases adding up in Darkfall, and self-buffs are part of that. On the other hand, I think that the ridiculous development on them was also to encourage the use of spellchanting (twice the effect at level 1 for each buff from what i’ve seen). Things like making the individual skilling lengthy encourages grouping and fighting in a more social way. It may be Aventurine’s way of saying ‘you can solo all the way, but it will be a very long road’. The same sort of thing applies to Arcane, Spellchanting and a couple of others, I don’t think they were meant to be things everyone gets eventually, but rather treats available to those who specialized in the pursuit of one kind of magic or another. Doesn’t make it any less grindy, but it does put it in an understandable context. One of the problems is the whole flavour of the month mentality though, where large groups of players immediately leap on whichever skills have been made easier to gain or are perceived as overpowered. I doubt that they intended for everyone to end up using witch’s brew, or it would not have been an aoe.

  10. Malakili says:

    So, if AFK macroing were to be legal and accepted practice by the playerbase, why would this be a more desirable result than just decreasing the amount of time (if not resources) to level up skills?

    I am asking this legitimately. Using your example of 5 days a week of playing, what would be an acceptable time frame for most skills doing 0 AFK macroing. If its ok to do it in say, 2 months by AFK macroing, shouldn’t it be possible to do it in 2 months by actually *playing* the game. Or would that be even worse, because then the AFK macroers would just do it in like 2 days.

  11. Hatch says:

    Here’s a tip
    Instead of all this wasted speculation & froth as a result. Ask them.

    You’re basing your entire argument on what ‘you’ think & not what they (the makers of the game) have stated. I’d add that because it hasn’t been stated categorically (& what does this say for the developers in the least) that you’re basing your assumption (read: guess) to suit your inclination, to macro (cheat, exploit et al).

    I think it goes without saying that it’s amazing the quality of games people will play just so they can gank some newbs.

    • Kilratha says:

      “Any macroing or disruptive skilling up within the protective radius of the towers is strictly forbidden. Offenders will be kicked. Repeat offenders will be banned.”

      “Unattended macroing anywhere is forbidden. Offenders will be kicked. Repeat offenders will be banned.”

      The general rule is that any third party program that interfaces with the game or gives a player an unfair advantage is prohibited in Darkfall. The only types of programs allowed are chat communication programs and screenshot-video capture programs.

      Also, starting today we will detect and take action against any use of loot scripts. The action will be temporary bans which will escalate to permanent ones. This policy will also be posted inside the game lobby and there will be no appeals for these offenses.

  12. Derrick says:

    It’s why skills shouldn’t have a cap. They should progress on a logarithmic scale, so after a while they take so long to increase it’s impractical to continue.

    When there is a cap, people feel wierdly compelled to get there.

    You just want to balance the skill so it functions properly at a given skill level that an average player will reach in the desired timeframe – weeks,months, whatever.

    With a lack of caps, you can always improve your character, but when the usage required to level each ability scales in this way it’s easy to get to a competetive level.

    On the other hand, long term veteran players don’t become so enormously powerful. They still hold an ever greater advantage, but you quickly find that while there isn’t a fixed cap, the time required to make individual minor gains serves as one.

    Everyone wins.

  13. Ed Z says:

    Using macro’s makes you a bad person, sorry.

    You clearly belong to a generation who is used to being spoon fed. Your generation does not understand the concept of delayed gratification. Just because you see a high wall in the game you think you are immediately “entitled” to be able to leap over it without putting in the years of effort that someone who doesn’t cheat has to. Macroers just want everything to be eazymode and resort to cheating when the going gets a little tough.

  14. Kyff says:

    I can’t comprehend why afk macroing should be the solution to the problem described.

    – There are buffs.
    – Raising the the buffing skill gives small albeit noticeable benefits.
    – The buffung skill may be raised by casting the buff over and over.

    So if anyone wants to get the small albeit noticeable benefit of raised skill he should cast the buff over and over. No need to use a macro for that. Of course this is in no way interesting gameplay or hardcore, but it’s possible. No one forces you to do it. With a 6 second recast timer you may cast 10 spells in a minute and 600 in an hour. So it takes 4 hours or a normal gaming night to get to skill 50, which is not bad. 3 more nights will get you to the max skill. There are title quests that take longer.

    If you think you really need the skill, then level it. If it’s not worth it, don’t do it. No one is forced to grind skills and even more no one is forced to do so with the help of external software.

    • This guy is onto something.

      Also, I think this was interesting (from Dawntide Developer Q&A):

      [13:26] As for macroing, I’ll answer another question at the same time and say we’re NOT planning to allow macroing/botting, and we intend to combat it through a nubmer of means, the most important of which being the memory system. The memory system works by remembering how you raised a skill (for instance, that you raised long blades by fighting a goblin) and giving you bonuses for doing new things, and penalties for gaining skills in too similar ways. Grinding the same spot over and over will not be the best way to raise skills

  15. silvertemplar says:

    Sounds an interesting feature to add into this game, ala “Location Based Bonusses” . As in , going to a special spot, and using your skills there will improve it faster.

    Catch would be, these special spots would be kinda risky….imagine the PvP that will errupt around these spots.

    Likewise having a “Debuff” to skill increases in extremely safe spots.

    As for the “macro” term, doesn’t alot of MMOs actually have a “Macro” menu in the game? As in ability to create a sequence of key-presses….i’m pretty darn sure Warhammer was big on the Macro’ing. Except it was not “unattended” obviously, but you could most certainly chain a bunch of skills/activities up together with one key-press.

    And that is what a macro is, the chaining together of events/activities with one button….the “automated-repetition” of the macro is not necissarily part of the macro is it?

  16. Bhagpuss says:

    I do think it comes down to personality in the end. If there is a “best result”, some people will never settle until they have it while others won’t even notice it exists.

    If having the “best result” gives you an observable competetive edge, then in a PvP game I would imagine more people would feel compelled to do whatever was necessary to get it than not, but there will always be plenty of players who either genuinely don’t care or just can’t be bothered.

    Personally I rarely even make or use the simplest macros in games that permit them and it’s once in a blue moon that I bother to make any particular effort to max any skill. I both don’t care and am too lazy, and more to the point from the odd occasion I have put in the effort I have not felt that it was in any way worth it. Goofing around is just much more entertaining.

  17. Kilratha says:

    “Any macroing or disruptive skilling up within the protective radius of the towers is strictly forbidden. Offenders will be kicked. Repeat offenders will be banned.” – this is crap they do nothing to stop it at all. They come to a player city, see 20 people macroing right under the towers protection, send them a tell, and as long as they reply they move on.

    “Unattended macroing anywhere is forbidden. Offenders will be kicked. Repeat offenders will be banned.” – The macros they have made now are so advanced it supposedly even sends a reply tell back to a GM. (personally do not know because I deplore macroing, but I have heard it talked about at length)

    My thoughts are that the macroing is the same as gold buying, they both lead to skipping content with the intention of reaching some goal with minimal effort and or risk. But hey, dont worry, everyone does it. So, if you do it, that makes it OK…No, not really.

  18. Aberron says:

    This all reminds me of Diablo 2. No-one cared about getting to lvl 99 except for a few demented individuals or botters. Lvl 85ish was totally adequate for all purposes. So no-one cared. I don’t recall anyone torturing themselves about the misery of lvl 85 characters. As a bonus we know we can always log on and get a few xp, so even 10 years on it’s not a ‘waste of time’ to play D2 in that sense.

    Actually maybe this haxx/gold buying/bot backlash is derived from a communual memory of the mess you all made of D2. Yeah thanks for that, selfishness FTL :P

    Because that’s what we are talking about here, no one seems to want to say the word but I will:


    There I said it.

    And yeah I know your selfish because the other guy was first but still…

    selfish shmelfish la la la
    *hands over ears can’t hear yoo*

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