Did you miss me?
I’d say it’s good to be back, but really being back at work rather than sitting on a patio overlooking the caldera (google it) while eating breakfast that was just delivered is, well, not as cool? The honeymoon was amazing, as was the wedding, and Aria and I both had an unforgettable time. Greece was phenomenal all around as well; great people, great food, crazy sights, very relaxing. What more could you ask for?
But this is a blog about MMOs and gaming, not my personal life, so let’s get back on topic. As I mentioned before I left, while in Greece we had a visit set up with Aventurine to check out the studio, meet the team, and get some info about everyone’s favorite MMO. While I can’t say that was the highlight of the trip (Aria skims the blog), it certainly was a ton of fun, as was the dinner we had that night. Can’t really beat talking MMOs while eating great Greece food (and booze) until 2am, now can you? Plus we got a ride back to the hotel in the Darkfall mobile (ok just Tasos’s car with a DF sticker on the back, but still…) Everyone we meet at AV was extremely nice, and they really went out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable.
It was genuinely very interesting to talk to them about Darkfall, how they viewed the game, how I believe players/fans view it, and what the overall ‘vision’ for the game is going forward. Talking to both Klaus and Tasos, it was very clear that this is their baby, along with being the dream game they created as MMO fans themselves. Whether it was the early issues the game faced, the ‘unique’ relationship Darkfall has with certain media groups, just how aware they are of the community (they love you Ginger Magician), and how they react to the fans response to updates (Henning, the lead artist, needs some love. The man can’t fix bugs people, and the new terrain tech IS a big deal). I think, as fans, its not always easy/possible to put faces to the games we plan and the work that gets done, and seeing things from the other side was both eye opening and just very entertaining for someone who has been a fan of the genre for so long. We talked for many hours about Darkfall, and yet at the end I felt like I barely got to the different topics I wanted to bring up.
I got to talk to a lot of different people at AV, seeing what everyone does and what they are currently working on. While AV did not specifically say not to talk about anything (which was rather shocking), I did ‘accidentally’ see a few things that I just don’t think they want out their right now. That said there are things I know I CAN talk about that I think everyone here will find interesting, and the plan is to go over that in the next few days.
The first and perhaps most surprising item for me was just how happy Tasos and AV are overall with Darkfall right now, and when I asked about expanding the game to make it more attractive to a wider audience, ala EVE, they seemed somewhat taken aback by that. Maybe the question simply surprised them, but overall I just got the feeling that they like where Darkfall is at the moment, and are very confident in their plans going forward. I was surprised by this because while currently Darkfall is very strong in its PvP game, it has the potential to be a standout game with its PvE and economy as well. If those two areas see their full potential, it would attract a much different, and bigger, crowd to the game. One would think a company would be trying to attract all of their potential customers, but it says something about the PvP focus AV has that this is not a more pressing issue. That said, as time goes on I fully expect both PvE and the economy to get some major updates and hopefully reach that potential. It is reassuring to know however that we won’t be seeing F2P Darkfall soon, or an item shop selling $25 sparkle ponies. I think cash shops are just below EG on the AV list of things they dislike.
Speaking of PvE, I did get a chance to see some upcoming content, including a completely new dungeon that is set to arrive with the next expansion. The new dungeon reminded me heavily of DDO in terms of its look, layout, and overall feel, which is a good thing IMO as DDO has some of the most interesting dungeons in the genre. Inside the dungeon players will find an NPC belonging to some new neutral factions, who will hand out quests related to the dungeon. From what I gathered, these quests will be somewhat similar to the titles quests in the game, intended to be completed over a longer period of time rather then instantly, with suitable rewards. That’s subject to change based on balancing and testing of course, but the overall idea is to not only get players into the dungeons, but give them a reason to return or stay around, hopefully creating some PvP hotspots along with more focused PvE. Beyond the addition of the NPC, there are bigger plans for dungeons as well, but those are still very preliminary.
As with basically everything else, the plan here is to slowly role things out, and build upon a solid base one change at a time. It’s a design style that clearly frustrates some fans, but seeing it from the other side now, it certainly makes sense in terms of being able to deliver things within a reasonable time, as well as being able to get feedback on ‘phase 1’ of something and react by the time phase 2, 3, and 4 come around. Player feedback plays a huge role at AV, and this style allows them to get that feedback before becoming overly committed to a certain direction.
It feels good to be back and blogging again, funny how much I missed it actually. Guess doing something consistently for 3+ years now (yearly wrap-up post is on its way) kind of grows on you.
Chuck-o-the-day: Before Leo Tolstoy meet Chuck Norris, his book was called Peace.
(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.)