DarkFall is set to receive a patch later this week, and two recent spotlights have shown off two new items that will be included; Clan Teleportation Chambers and Deployable Strongboxes. Both threads are already very lengthy with everyone throwing opinions and predictions around, with feelings ranging from overjoyed to ‘slap in the face’ style responses. Or in other words, it’s just another day on ForumFall.
I don’t want to spend too much time going over the features themselves, as I think once they are added in and we know the full details of their functionality, limits, and costs, only then can we really evaluate what value they have added. What I do want to talk about however is the general difference between adding such features to a game like DarkFall versus adding such features to a game like World of Warcraft. For this post, let’s compare the upcoming strongboxes in DF to the repair bot in WoW.
Both additions certainly share some similarities, such as being player-crafted, deployable, and providing optional utility normally found in a city. The key difference for me however is that when the repair bot was announced, its purpose was very clear; repair broken gear in an instance rather than having to delay and run back to town. There was no ‘sneaky utility’ to the bot, there was no “I wonder how players will use this” debate. The bots function is very clear, its use is very standard, and it does its job in a fairly straightforward way. Taken one step further, many (but certainly not all) features added to a themepark-style game also fall into this category. A new battleground or instance is a rather straightforward addition; it’s another place to do stuff similar to what you are doing now, just with different rules or gimmicks and rewards.
This is in rather stark contrast to adding something like the deployable strongbox to DarkFall, where in just one day many have already theorized various uses for them. From the expected (resupplying at a siege stone), to the possible (personal storage while out farming/gathering), to the unlikely (making a wall of boxes to block an entrance) to potential exploits (using it to block mobs in so they can not reach you); in just one day the possible uses for the strongbox are being explored. And this exploration and strategic adjustment will only intensify once the item is added to the game and players begin to play around with them. Will the cost be low enough to use as personal storage while out farming? Will players adjust to include siege hammers or other tools to break boxes when they head out to PvP? How will the terrain you know today look to you when you start seeing it as “where to hide/find a box”? How different will a siege be in terms of offense/defense with this addition? What about when combining strongboxes with the teleportation chamber addition? One could go on and on, but it’s this level of player control that I love about a good sandbox MMO. Additional tools and features are added as time goes on, but exactly how those tools and features are ultimately used is as much up to the players as it is the developers, and for me that adds a great deal of excitement to each patch.