Darkfall: Unholy Wars – Peaks on top of peaks on top of peaks

Readers here know that I like MMOs (hence, you know, this here MMO blog). And unless this is the first post you are reading here (hi), you know I prefer my MMOs to be more sandbox/virtual world than themepark, and I express that opinion often and generally with examples. This is one of those posts. Enjoy.

One difference between playing a themepark and a sandbox happens even before you log in. In a themepark, you pretty much know what you are going to be doing that login, be it a quest, a raid, some instanced PvP, whatever. And short of a miracle, odds are good you are actually going to do what you logged in to do (and if you logged into WoW, you will succeed, 100% of the time).

In a good sandbox, before you log in you will have something you want to do, but sometimes the sandbox will have other ideas and you end up doing something completely different. Those moments are usually memorable too. You head out to mine and you get ganked. You go to farm some mobs and a clan war breaks out. You log in to find your Corp has been war-decced. Someone did some really crazy stuff with the local/world economy. Etc.

The themepark model relies on giving you a consistent drip of fun, and the longer you play, the higher the dosage you need just to get the same high. Many confuse this with burnout, but really it’s just the core flaw in the model. A good sandbox is a continuous set of peaks and valleys, and those memorable peaks justify the mundane valleys. Blowing up a Titan is special because a lot of time was spent shooting a mining laser at a rock to build it. A city siege is an event because some clan spent hundreds if not thousands of game-hours building it up, living around it, and planning the virtual lives of its members around that location.

This weekend was an unusual string of peaks for me in Darkfall.

The first such peak happened when a group of OTG members got on a boat to go be pirates; we geared up and sailed out looking for other ships. Our ‘tracking method’ was to fish while sailing, and based on tiles empty of fish, we tried to pinpoint where a fishing ship or two might be located. It was an inexact science, but still fun.

After sailing much of the eastern ocean with little luck (but a lot of fish), we meet up with another ship from OTG and decided to sail back home to Cairn, splitting up so that we covered two tiles as we went. The ship that I was on and piloting had two of our members recall out, and with just three left we decided to pack the ship up and just recall back ourselves. As the others recalled, I despawned the boat, accidentally cancelling their recalls and setting off their timers (the boat disappearing caused them to fall into the ocean, whoops).

As we floated in the water, I spotted a boat sailing towards us. It would be just our luck that as soon as we despawn, a target comes along. The others quickly swam towards that boat and began shooting arrows and magic at the captain, causing him to attempt to dodge, which is a very slow process in a boat. Over Mumble I called out the target, and our other boat began to sail towards us in an attempt to cut them off. In a “wonder if this works” moment, I tried to spawn our boat from the water and much to my surprise, it worked. Climbing quickly on board, I sailed in pursuit.

After about two tiles of chasing, our second boat finally got itself into position, and the two members on board started shooting at the enemy captain. The more he dodged, the closer we got, and eventually his fate was sealed and he went down, leaving his boat floating in the water for us to claim. +1 pirate success!

Later in the weekend, I was riding around exploring on Cairn when I came across a random iron node. Needing to read something on my iPhone, I figured why not and started mining. About ten swings in, I heard the sounds of a mount approached, and turned to see if it was an alliance member or someone about to gank me. It was an enemy, and since I had just basic gear on me, I decided why the hell not and attacked.

Oddly, he turned to run immediately, even though our prowess levels were about even and he was a skirmisher in better gear. I chased on my mount, not expecting much to happen since unless someone makes a mistake, you can’t really catch up when both people are mounted. To my surprise, he started fleeing directly towards the ocean (mounts swim slower than players, so it’s never a good idea to enter water on a mount when combat is a possibility), and even more surprising, he jumped in and began mount swimming.

I got to the shore, jumped off my mount, and chased after him. A quick pursuit swim later, I was able to kill his mount with my starter staff bolt spell. He kept swimming, and I kept chasing. Then, he dived down deep into the water. I figured he was luring me into a deep underwater fight, and being a skirm, he would have the advantage, but since I had little to nothing on me, I figured what the hell and dove down as well. Rather than turning to shoot, he kept swimming, eventually leaving my line of sight. Lost him.

I swam a little further in the general direction of the pursuit and was about to swim back when I noticed something far off in the water. As I swam closer, I realized it was a player gravestone. Swimming closer still, it displayed the name of the player I was chasing. The guy hadn’t escaped; he drowned himself.

When I opened the gravestone, I figured out why he had panicked and run. He had a treasure map on him. Looting it and the rest of his (pretty decent) gear, I double-clicked the map and my assumption proved true; his treasure was very close to my initial mining spot. Very, very close in fact; just over a ridge and near the general flight zone of the local red dragon.

As I attempted to pinpoint the location, I noticed a player grave in some lava. Because “why not” was the theme of the day, I jumped in, got some nice burns, and looted it. Another treasure map, more decent gear. My lucky day! Oddly, this treasure map was nowhere close to Cairn based on the blinking, so this seemed like just a random death.

The fire dragon corrected me on the random part.

The ‘fun’ thing about the red dragon is it has a giant agro range as it flies high above. Sometimes it notices you and says hello, other times it keeps flying. Just as I was getting out of the lava, the dragon decided it was a good time to fireball me. That hurt, and flung me a good distance (luckily, not back into the lava). Not content with as single scorching, the dragon then showed me it also has a streaming breath attack that really, really hurts. Down I went. My guess is the gravestone in the lava was some poor soul that also experienced the above, but was additionally unlucky and died in the lava (insta-death). I simply had to wait out the revive timer and pray no enemy came by to gank me.

My luck held, I got up, and shortly after located the initial treasure and dug it up. 3k gold richer, I rode back to our bank and called it a day.

Finally, on Sunday I started my day by farming some ogre bullies just south of the human safe zone. Most (all?) ogre bully spawns are a PvP hot spot right now because completing their feat is worth a good chunk of prowess. As I farmed, another player ran into the spot, and I turned expecting a fight. However, when I looked at his prowess total I saw he was just at 4k (I’m at 17k), so rather than instantly attack I waited to see what he would do. He ran up, stopped next to me, and sent me a “hello” message. I said hello back and we grouped up to share the spawn.

About three mobs later, an enemy skirmisher that I’ve actually died to before ran up and started attacking. My new friend and I fought him for a bit, but the guy was good and eventually we both went down. Since I was bound to a chaos stone close by, I ran back to my corpse to see what loot was left. Luckily, the guy only looted some ore off me, leaving all my gear. After re-equipping, I went back to farming the bullies.

A few mobs later, the guy was back and attacked again. As I still had little of value on me (a bit of gold off the bullies), I figured more PvP practice never hurt and fought him, dragging the fight out by ducking behind trees to make it difficult for him to hit me with arrows and forcing him into running into melee range. The strategy worked in terms of delaying him and forcing him back, but I could never finish him and he was always able to dash away and recover. This cat and mouse game continued for a good bit of time.

Then someone on Mumble asked if I wanted to join their group that was about to start farming the bullies. I told him sure, but first we would have to take care of this enemy skirmisher. A bit more delaying later, they arrived and eventually killed the guy after a lengthy chase both in and out of the water. Recovering my previously looted ore and gold, I went on to finish the ogre bullies feat with the alliance group. Double success!

As the safe zone was close, and since I needed to do a bit of crafting, I said thanks for the group and headed north. Between me and the safe zone boarder was a small water inlet, and because this was just that kind of weekend, I spotted a boat sailing directly towards me. I called it out on Mumble, the ogre bullies group scrambled towards me, and I did my best to delay the boat with some archery shots.

The boat, with just two people on board, started to turn back towards the safe zone, but then suddenly stopped and just sat in the water. After the ‘wtf’ shock wore off, I climbed up the side of the boat and killed the mage who was not the captain (not much room to run on a boat). I then figured out why the boat had stopped; the captain had crashed/disconnected.

I waited for him to log back in, and when he did I fully expected a fight. Surprisingly, in a panic move, he instead started to steer the boat, no doubt hoping to hit the safe zone. He never even got close as I hacked him down. +1 boat, +2 graves!

And to top everything off, a SECOND boat had made its way down the inlet and got caught by my alliance group.

Pretty unreal weekend, and a very high peak in the sandbox.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Darkfall Online, MMO design, Old Timers Guild, PvP. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Darkfall: Unholy Wars – Peaks on top of peaks on top of peaks

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was stupid sick all weekend… bugger

  2. Zensui says:

    I’m curious, none of your posts have mentioned the painful patching experience or reguar latency issues making combat a complete gamble. Have you just been lucky to somehow avoid these issues?

    If you’ve instead been experiencing them, too, it would be helpful to call AV out on this, as they’ve not admitted to either issue. Yours is a respected blog, and you could help pressure them into admitting the issues, which is an important step if they’re to prioritise fixing them

    • SynCaine says:

      Haven’t had a single issue patching, and my ping is always around 60ish with 50-70 FPS at high settings. I’ve crashed maybe 2-3 times since launch, always after playing for a few hours straight. Don’t hear others having issues on Mumble either.

      Not saying they don’t exist for some, but IMO the game is stable and very playable for most (otherwise the in-game pop would not be what it is).

      • Zensui says:

        Very surprising, as there’re plenty of posts on the forums about the issues. I’m guessing its more of an EU thing than US, as we seem to have gotten the short stick.

        I’ve only had one good experience with patching so far. In all other cases, I’ve appeared to be in a rolling queue where you get a few MB, it pauses for 30s or so, then you get another few MB. I had just a couple hours to play last night, and spent most of that time patching.

        When I played afternoons/evenings last weekend (mornings were ok) or evenings weekdays there’ve been ping issues since launch causing huge lag (you’ll see others reporting this in global, and it affects different areas at different times). This makes combat impossible, with people and mobs warping all over.

        Frankly, if my sub were up for renewal, I would pass. I’m hoping they sort this before that happens, but given they’ve yet to acknowledge the problem, I’m not holding my breath.

        • SynCaine says:

          Yea it must be EU. I’ve had nothing like that on NA; always get the patches in one shot, and usually near my max download rate, and in-game my ping doesn’t spike.

        • sid6.7 says:

          The issue is largely related to the Clan member roster bug I mentioned below. If you view the roster, you’ll experience massive lag. If you don’t, the game works fine.

          Unfortunately, at least as of yesterday, AV hadn’t addressed the issue and most new people don’t understand what causes it.

    • sid6.7 says:

      Other than a couple of patch hiccups, the 1st two weeks have been surprisingly painless particularly given it’s launch by a small dev. The only issue i think they need to address sooner rather than later is the clan member roster memory leak.

  3. sleepysam says:

    It’s nice to get the posts rolling again. I’m curious as to how much time you spent in game this weekend.

  4. dyssent says:

    Your posts got me to pick up the game over the weekend. I got my character to right under 2000 prowess and it seems like this is the part of the game where I need to find a clan. Is OTG recruiting?

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  6. Malfase says:

    Ok, after reading this and the one from yesterday about the crafter I have got to try this game out! I’ve been sucking on the themepark teet for too long and can’t take it anymore!

    Anyone know of a good clan that can show a noob the ropes?

    • SynCaine says:

      The official forums have a clan recruitment section, I think you should be able to find one there. Can’t think of a crafting-oriented clan, but I would not be shocked if one or more existed.

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  8. Dominic Goud says:

    Are actually wednesday, may, 08.Server crash of North Server, i back and got a time warp of 2 hours ? i lost 300 Prowess 300 lumber, 200 iron and 400 gold. How can i get back these thing ?

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