DF:UW – Distilled core

In the MMO gaming scale, time is far more valuable to me than money. $60 for a box or $15 a month is a trivial amount compared to the amount of time I spend gaming, so free crap is not something I bother with and paying for something I enjoy is always a good deal.

Given the above, I don’t really understand what Azuriel is doing with his 3-part Darkfall series. Yes, AV sent him a free copy, but why waste so much of your time just to prove that ‘doing it wrong’ is a good way not to enjoy a game? I mean, I’m not going to grab Axis and Allies, slot two hours for it, and then slam the product as inferior to Candyland because in my two hours I didn’t have fun and ‘lulz the UI’.

Wasting time aside, the series was in part the inspiration for yesterday’s post, because while it’s pretty clear Azuriel went in knowing he was doing it wrong, I’d bet many themeparkers have a very similar approach and a “must have fun NOW” mindset. I don’t know if it’s just an age/generation thing, or just a normal difference in human nature put on display thanks to things like Twitter, but in no way can I relate to that kind of approach to things.

Investing in something to build towards a ‘payout’ later is just something I’ve always done. I spent hours painting Warhammer miniatures because at the end, I’d have a great looking army to play with. Not once did I consider painting yet another foot soldier ‘a grind’, nor did I expect every miniature to look as special or unique as a leader/hero unit.

I approach MMOs the same way. It’s why I invest in the social fabric by joining or running a guild, reading the forums, and trying to keep up with that is happening in-game. It’s why short-term MMOs like GW2 feel to pointless to me; I’m not looking to have 3 weeks of instant fun, I’m looking to add a solid block to 15 years of MMO gaming.

It’s why seeing clans like Lords of Death, Sinister, Blood, SUN, LotD, OTG, and others is special; people and clans have gaming history with those names and the people behind them, sometimes YEARS worth of history spanning multiple titles. Those rivalries take time to build, but that time is well invested and the payout is worth it when clashes happen.

It’s why I deride the notion of the “jump in, jump out” MMO, or those that dabble in multiple titles at all times. While maybe that works on an individual level for some, an MMO should be far more than just your individual story or instance, and if you are constantly leaving you never become a piece of something greater.

In a way, it’s a bonus that a game like DF does not attempt to cater to that approach, because it weeds all those players out quickly and you refine down to your ‘core’ faster. DF:UW also has the carryover benefit of DF1, so much of the established history transferred over, and the distilled core was in place day one.

This is not to say new players can’t become part of such a world. They very much can, and do all the time. But in order to do so, you have to invest. And the investment does not have to be all-encompassing. You don’t need to be the leader of thousands to ‘get it’. But you also can’t just log in, look around, and expect things to happen. Joining a clan is one step, of course, as is being social-enough in that clan to learn from others and get up to speed. Being an active member is another; like the game itself, most clans won’t bring the fun to you, you have to interact and find it with others.

If any of the above sounds like a chore or pain to you, maybe this genre is not the right one for you. It is, after all, pretty niche.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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21 Responses to DF:UW – Distilled core

  1. bhagpuss says:

    You pretty much answer your own rhetorical question when you say “I spent hours painting Warhammer miniatures …not once did I consider painting yet another foot soldier ‘a grind’ “. If you’re doing something because you want to do it it never feels like a grind, no matter what it might look like to someone who doesn’t want to do it.

    I spend many, many hours sorting my inventory in GW2. I spent something like 15 hours doing it across one weekend last month. I never consider that a grind. I consider it gameplay. We don’t all like doing the same things, even when we are doing them in the same games. As long as we aren’t getting in each others’ way we should just get on with it and not mind about what other people are doing.

    Also, while it’s a fact that you and people you played with were done with GW2 in three weeks it’s not a fact that can be extrapolated to a generic description of a universal experience. I’ve played next to nothing else for eight months now and I see the same names around me, many, many of them, day in, day out. I’m sure a lot of people have seen all they wanted to see and moved on but a lot haven’t. It’s turned out to be very much more than a three-monther for a lot of people.

    As for the point or lack of it in Azuriel’s Darkfall experiment, curiosity is its own reward and he got three interesting posts out of it, so it hardly looks like time wasted. I try lots of MMOs I know I’ll never have time to persist with because seeing new things is amusing, or it can be. One hopes it will be, at least.

  2. spinks says:

    “In a way, it’s a bonus that a game like DF does not attempt to cater to that approach, because it weeds all those players out quickly and you refine down to your ‘core’ faster”

    You could probably make the same argument about all the 3 month PvE Themeparks. They refine down to their core pretty fast too :)

  3. Azuriel says:

    Thing is… how do you decide what to invest in? On some level, you had to have enjoyed the process of painting those Warhammer figurines; if it was all a giant chore, why not A) purchase pre-painted ones/leave them unpainted, or B) go play a different, but similar game? I’m not sure if there was a Warhammer analog in the tabletop world back in the day, but there sure as hell are about a million now.

    Similarly, unless you cannot have fun without a FFA full-loot ruleset, there are dozens of MMOs that will likely be around long enough to outlast most of the casual friendships you make in the game. And if you bring in an outside social network, then the specific game you are playing doesn’t really even matter. The game becomes merely the vehicle for your interaction with them, like inviting buddies over for Poker Night when all you end up doing is joking around and talking about life. In which case, the least you can do is pick something that is actually fun to play.

    […] I’m not looking to have 3 weeks of instant fun, I’m looking to add a solid block to 15 years of MMO gaming.

    But… why? I’m turning 30 this year, so 15 years is about half my entire life. If I’m still playing the same game 15 years from now, that’s nice, but the sort of notion that a game’s time horizon must stretch fifteen years before it becomes worth investing in at all is close to insane. I don’t even know if the people I’m around will still be in my life a decade from now. Is anything more “temporary” than 5 years pointless? One year?

    This is to say nothing about what else happens in the world in the next 15 years. Will you stay with Darkfall if Camalot Unchained ends up being everything you want and more? Or what if you still prefer Darkfall, but the clan moves to CU? What happens to the investment then?

    Even though I am going through an anti-obligation phase at the moment, I still yearn for a game I can invest in. But whatever game that is, I’m not going to settle for something that requires enduring long periods of boredom before having that fun. On the whole, I’d rather have the 1-2 year game experience than reaching the end of a 5-10 year one and realize that I spent 80% of it doing something I didn’t actually want to do in the hopes that I could have fun later (which may or may not happen).

    Different strokes for different folks, I guess. I’ll check back in on Darkfall in 2028.

    • Azuriel says:

      I might have misread that 15 year bit. I still think the response is applicable to “shorter” (5-10 year) time horizons for gaming investments.

    • SynCaine says:

      Buying a painted army would be like buying a 100m SP pilot in EVE. Instant gratification at the expense of long-term buy-in. Not a good deal IMO. I took pride in painting them myself, just like I take pride in my current pilot or DF:UW character.

      I think the major difference between how you view playing DF and how I do is I don’t look at harvesting a node and instantly jump to “omg this is boring”, I look at it as time to talk to my clan, time to relax after PvP, or ForumFall fuel with a hint of danger. But most importantly, I view it as the needed investment to add that extra layer to PvP due to the full loot. DF:UW would be a lesser game IMO if that downtime was removed or somehow limited.

      • Azuriel says:

        I completely agree that buying already-painted figures would defeat the point. In fact, I’m starting to believe that we’re not as far apart on this issue, it’s just that…

        I’m just about into hour 50 of Terraria, right? Yesterday I spent considerable time mining for Adamantite so I can craft gear to take on the hardmode bosses. That was an entertaining evening of gameplay, just mining these resources. It was fun on both points: the physical act (button clicks, searching around, etc) and the mental act (counting ore, knowing I’m closer to the goal, etc). I 100% understand how gathering resources in Darkfall can be fun in the latter context, and I get that the act of resource gathering can create conflict with other clans, etc. I just don’t get why they couldn’t make the physical act fun too.

        That’s where a lot of these games lose me. Make both fun! It’s possible, right? Maybe they indeed allowed it to be AFK-able because it gave you the opportunity to chat. And maybe more action-y/button-press-y games implicitly diminish the social aspect. But I don’t see how someone gets the inclination to make friends in the game in the first place if they are not already having fun. It seems like the cart before the horse, to me.

  4. sid6.7 says:

    He’s making the same mistake I always see people make when they review this game — they think of it as an MMO first. It’s better to think of it as an FPS that evolved into an MMO. That’s closer to the truth of it.

    An FPS game where everyone else is playing Team Deathmatch and he’s playing on a Team of One. He’s asking for a horrible experience. Oh well..

  5. Mekhios says:

    Oh look Azuriel is playing yet another MMO where he refuses to find a guild and then criticizes a group PvP-focus MMO for not being a solo friendly themepark.

  6. Larofeticus says:

    I gave DF a shot, and today i’ve ultimately decided against it. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to a lot of the lack of content polish and UI foibles. The feat system is pretty nice; rewards an hour or two of grind but intentionally stops you from doing the same thing for too long. From my former EVE mindset, the whole open pvp where the best resources are is good and I like it. I really really loved the stealth aspects of sneaking up on people in a forest or wherever and using human vision/hearing instead of computers telling you red plus signs are afoot.

    The problem is the combat itself. “It’s better to think of it as an FPS that evolved into an MMO.” I can see how that is true but thats the damning fact of it. The FPS aspects of the Darkfall are terrible. I read an apt description of it in global: “It’s like playing rock’em sock’em robots.” Unlike a real FPS, the movement and hit detection don’t feel solid; everything seems kind of foggy… people move too fast relative to the size and speed of weapon swings; they have no inertia. So you can sneak up on a mining guy perfectly, but then you both jerk and click around like headless chickens until the spring in someone’s neck pops.

    I’m sure I am a terrible player by default, but If I am going to keep playing a game I am currently bad at there needs to be a more obvious skill path for improvement: “oh if i had done this differently…” With that I could focus on some skill to work on in the future. In a solid fps these things are clear; i see where the bullets missed so get better aim, don’t get so close to the shotgun holder, learn the best ambush places. etc.

    Sure I could spend time killing 185 of this creep or that beast until my stats were all the way up, but the venue for those stats would still feel like hungry hungry hippos.

    • Pitrelli says:

      ‘ So you can sneak up on a mining guy perfectly, but then you both jerk and click around like headless chickens until the spring in someone’s neck pops. ‘

      Made me laugh. But its also the most accurate description of darkfalls ‘skill based’ combat that I’ve read. Having played the failed original I think I’ll pass on the reboot.

    • SynCaine says:

      How would someone describe EVE combat if they knew little about it? “EVE is just lock target, orbit, and F1. Zero skill, and the bigger ship always wins.”

      That’s basically what you are saying about DF combat, and just like in EVE, you need to understand the game better to figure out why certain people are really, really good, and most people are not. Combat where two people are just chickens running around happens between two poor players. Miners don’t survive 10 seconds vs a good player, for a reason.

    • Larofeticus says:

      Well for one thing the strategic depth of eve is much more obvious, even to a new player. You can choose different modules that actually do different kinds of things instead of everyone gets some damage skills, there’s a heal, and some kind of buff or debuff, too. Eve has enough rock/paper/scissors that sp counts and ship size can be overcome.

      DF fitting choices are picking two points on a linear scale from cheap/weak through expensive/strong. So go get better at grinding to afford to replace the good stuff…? Sarcastic yay. The available skill choices do a limited number of kinds of things and every role has the same choices for skills. There are no ways to hide effective surprises (except more people); you see their armor and weapons and you know their skills from seeing their class.

      And then there is the actual combat. Eve is segmented into fewer discrete choices separated by longer time intervals: ‘got the lock, point, weapons on. … ecm drones kill those … armor getting low rep on … armor back up rep off … there is a second ship I’ll disengage’ etc.

      In DF those discrete strategic choices are superseded by your ability to rapidly and wildly swing your body, aim, and click weapon to actually land hits; all strategic and context decisions take a back seat to being able to play click-a-mole.

      ‘oh I hear mining. *look* there he is, and his back is to me… his pp is similar to mine… walk quietly over there… his armor is the same as mine … i’m on him start clicking! two free hits! he’s awake and took his weapon out click click he’s running around wildly and clicking back at me, i will also run around wildly click click click i guess i should heal? click click click click oh he clicked at me more than i clicked at him i’m dead. i want to chat to him… fuck what was the way to get text into area chat… oh too late i’m ganked.”

      • SynCaine says:

        I’m sorry, but the above is basically 100% wrong, and it would take a book to explain it all in detail.

        Hopefully tomorrow 10 of the best players in the game have a 5v5 and record it. If that happens, I assure you the video will look NOTHING like how you described combat above.

    • Larofeticus says:

      So ten players go out and artificially construct a duel and it ends up looking completely different than when I do the DF equivalent of fitting T1 modules to an incursus and go wandering into lowsec looking for another frigate to fight? No shit. My criterion for judging a game isn’t how much other people enjoy it.

      I went out looking for a fight, caught what should have been a reasonably good match by surprise, and then the actual fight and it’s outcome felt arbitrary. Worse than being not fun, there was no indication of what could have been done differently to make that particular situation fun. Am I just supposed to hide from everyone naked in the bushes until I grind 50k pp? Or go off and join some blob?

      • SynCaine says:

        So the problem is not the combat itself, like you originally said, but rather the problem is the combat at 1k prowess between two players who have no idea what they are doing? Sounds more like a personal issue to me.

        Because I got more out of PvP at 5k than you seem to get out of it, and at 24k I’ve had ‘end-game’ encounters and greatly evolved my PvP from what I was doing at 5k.

      • Larofeticus says:

        Well I tried some more. Note that I’m in the 8.5k range, putting my points into str, booster, relevant weapon skill, the combat skills i have been using, and stampede.

        I found an elementalist who wanted to fight with an appropriate prowess amount. The fireball explosion pushing is a good mechanic; reminds me of using rockets to bounce people around in TFC; I can see how skillful fireballs could be used to have some range control. Still hate how the warrior has no similar options except “run a little faster every minute or so” I’ve noticed a thing where people run directly away and then turn around real quick and pass you, sometimes swinging a weapon or doing their spell when they do. Is that an actual skill thing people are doing on purpose or me grasping for patterns in the static? But this sets up an obnoxious dynamic; either I chase him and get flicked when he turns around faster than it takes to swing my sword, or I don’t follow him and he opens up range. Am I supposed to be carrying around a bow or something, even as a warrior? It’s unintuitive that running closer to a melee weapon produces what is in effect a ‘getting under the guns’ tracking effect.

        Then there were the rest breaks in the fight. What the hell. While running away, I would get him down to maybe half or so, and he would put out his mount, get on it (i’d catch up and get a hit or two) then run 150m away and get off and heal himself, so most of the time i would sit down myself to regen a bit. Then when i was done i’d go back over to him, he’d put his mount away and we’d repeat the chase/swing/fireball again.

        Another weird thing. We were fighting partially on a mountainside and partially in a forest. Mid/long range in the forest i tried to gain ground behind obstacles. Sometimes he got me with splash damage around one, sometimes i got him to hit the trees. But for some reason on the open ground/slope without obstacles I had an advantage? Needing to run around things slows you down more than the benefit of also using them for cover? I eventually lost at close range running in circles around a tree with a rock next to it that kept stopping me because the distinction between ‘slope ok to walk over’ and ‘oh actually you have to jump’ is not obvious. So what are the lessons here? 90% of fighting is just following people around? Warrior is stupid to pvp alone because you have crap range control? Try to use that pull-in skill when you’re 4 steps behind someone?

        Then the server crashed and rolled back. I went back out and found another elementalist who seemed like he wasn’t as good. Until a guy wearing plate mail ran up and I was about 5 seconds away from getting protection back before he stampeded me. There was more than one person, that is a very understandable reason to lose and I won’t complain.

        Then I decided the prospect of finding a good fight relative to the amount of iron i’m losing per trip is no good so i’ll go naked harvest. I snuck 2km away from the safe area. Got some bushes and metal and essences. Was able to spot people at a distance without them seeing me and avoid them pretty easily. While on the last metal node I hear the patter of a mount, look around and see a warrior in chain unsummoning his cat. Start running away. Keep running, mana to stamina when it cools down. Don’t hear pursuit. Seemingly, he realized he couldn’t catch up so he had to put his mount back out, and eventually got back on it. But even on his mount he wasn’t gaining much ground. I got back to protection and It felt waaaaay too easy. He caught up, I saw he had 5k, and he took some impotent swings before leaving. That would have been a reasonable fight if I had brought equipment, but too bad. So what did he do wrong? Should have dismounted further away and better out of sight? Should have had a bow? Should have stayed mounted and tried to chase/attack that way?

        If it really is as easy to run away as impressed by that encounter then that is a wild change from what i’m used to. Feels like there should be a warp disruptor, or a web equivalent. Instead you need to take 2 minutes to run them out of stamina? Can’t do that within a km of a safe zone. And if you are also trying to attack then you burn stamina faster and they have an easier time getting away. Do people use potions during fights? Standing still for a second to drink it seems like a terrible idea. Eat before a fight does something? What does nourishment even do? Nobody ever answers that question.

        I still have 3 weeks left, and I’m trying, but I can’t imagine being able to transition from “just scrounge what progress you can while avoiding encounters” to “there is now a reasonable chance of having an enjoyable fight without loss being waste so go voluntarily seek one”

      • SynCaine says:

        Using a bow as a warrior is a must. As you hinted at, its the only way to prevent someone from perma-kiting you. If you had a bow, that elem running with has back to you would have been an easy target. Either he keeps taking back shots and dies, or he tries to dodge arrows and you close the distance with him and melee. Repeat whenever he gets out of range (using foebringer and stampede to keep range as well).

        Using terrain is a skill, Knowing what trees/rocks will block shots, how to pop out behind them and get right into melee range, how best to use LoS to use longer-cast abilities like bandage, all of that is important to consider, and hard to keep track of it all in the heat of battle until you get comfortable. Just takes practice.

        The warrior who spotted you mining made a mistake. He should have stayed mounted and killed you that way. Mounted attacks hit hard, and since the mount is faster than a running player, you should be able to kill someone like that, even if they are close to the safe zone. Mounted combat is another skill of course, and its harder to master than it initially appears. Controlling the mount, timing swings, cutting people off, etc.

        Melee combat itself is a lot deeper/harder than just “run around each other left-clicking”. I mean it looks like that’s all it is, but fight someone good at it and in the end they will hit you 10 times and you will hit them once. There is a reason for that. Timing swings, picking angles, knowing how to ‘stickyback’ someone; all skills that take time to master.

        Eating foot or drinking a pot does not slow you down, and both are critical to keeping stats up in combat. Knowing when to quickly sit down and rest is more a group combat thing, but is also a factor.

        If you are in a clan, ask to spar people over and over. Have someone watch and give feedback. Use different gear levels to get a feel for them. Do some 2v2 and 3v3 stuff. Fight 1v3 to get an idea of how to manage that. Talk to skirms/elems/primalists to find out how they approach fighting a warrior, and what you can do to disrupt that.

        If you are not in a clan, join one, otherwise you miss out on what DF is really about.

  7. Nils says:

    Darkfall is not for me for the simple reason that I dislike the fps aspect. While I like playing fps games and have done so a lot in the past, it feels wrong in a fantasy RPG world. It doesn’t feel immersive.
    I’m too much ‘me’, the player, and too little ‘him’, the character.

    • sid6.7 says:

      Odd that you would say it doesn’t feel immersive. I feel much more a part of “the game” within Darkfall than I do in a game like WoW. You can’t just pan your camera and look behind you — you actually have to turn and that might even get you killed.

      Try running away from someone who is just barely out of range in water. If you turn to look, they’ll be too close — BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW THEY ARE THEY STILL FOLLOWING?

      Immersion is really about transporting you into the game and I don’t think many games are more compelling than Darkfall in this manner.

      Compare that to WoW where I often raided while talking on the phone and playing one-handed w/ my mouse.

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