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Will Darkfall Unholy Wars Launch? We’ll see.

Darkfall Unholy Wars comes out day after tomorrow.  At least… we think it comes out tomorrow?  No one has heard a word from Aventurine.  Why is there such a communication blackout?

The forums are in complete disarray as people have already begun rocking back and forth with, shaking violently with anticipation — or one too many Red Bulls.  As I write this there are four posts on the front page questioning whether or not the game will launch on 12/12/12, a few taking bets for a new release date.

The big problems I foresee are account management issues.  Forget the communication about what day and time; We don’t even have details on how or when we’ll be able to actually buy the game.  At this rate, if the game does launch in just over 24 hours will everyone be slamming the site at once?  Does anyone else remember the four day process of trying to actually buy the original Darkfall?  I think they sold a few copies an hour at most before the site imploded.

It doesn’t take much at all for one person from Aventurine to log in to their forum and make a simple post about the game coming out or not.  I can do that in 30 seconds for free (hit me up Aventurine!). That’s why I believe they themselves have no idea what the next 24 hours holds.  Chances are the third party people that handle their billing are either unresponsive, or there’s a last minute hiccup that will probably delay the game another two weeks.

Regardless, these are things you communicate to an eager following of players who are literally begging to throw money at you (see forums).  I believe any communication at all, good news or bad, is better than none.

Darkfall fans are an odd bunch.  I guess I count myself among them right now, as I am eager for any sandbox experience like the one I hope Drakfall will become.  We get ignored, the game gets delayed, there were tons of things wrong with the original game, yet we’re banging on the gate to be let in with our money in hand.   That’s all the proof you need to know there’s a market for a game like Darkfall.

Once we learn whether or not the game will even come out, I’ll make another post detailing my plans for tackling launch.  There should be a fair amount of extended coverage over the first few days of launch as well.

Darkfall Rank and Permission Changes

Darkfall Clan Permissions

Assign permissions within your guild to members individually instead of by rank.

Darkfall has made some waves within its pond by announcing some changes to guild ranks.  Basically, ranks you would normally assign to players are gone.  Think of those ranks like the ranks you would hand out in most MMO’s: Recruit, Member, Veteran, Officer, Leader — although the names are different in Darkfall.

Instead of ranks handling permissions — like a captain having bank access and the ability to invite people — players can now be assigned permissions individually.  Bob might have ABCD, and Chuck might have ABD.  All permissions are highly customized on a per-person basis.  I like that system, and I think everyone else does too.

What’s causing the issue is that the old rank titles (Captain, Supreme General, etc.) are now like an in-guild ladder.  Within each guild, members will compete against each other to see who can earn the most kills during an active siege.  The more kills you get, the higher your rank title.  Remember, ranks/titles have nothing to do with permissions, but are entirely cosmetic/showoff.   I think people are putting way too much emphasis and worry on a random person in the guild holding prestige over a try-hard who doesn’t perform as well.  It really doesn’t matter.

I can agree and sympathize with those who feel like the ability to assign a name to certain member groups was a nice guild tool — but we got along without them just fine for years.  I can also agree with anyone feeling uneasy about kills being the only metric for earning those titles.  There are plenty of ways to contribute other than getting a kill, so why should only those people get neat titles?  And yes, knowing someone’s rank within their guild just by clicking on them was nice, but there are very few MMO’s out there that tell you someone’s guild rank anyway.  Now you’ll have to make do with a title that shows how many kills they’ve achieved — that’s what Darkfall’s about anyway, right?  (Yes, my tongue was in my cheek for that one.)

For those of you fretting over rank being associated with kills, it’s time to lose to idea of titles being associate with rank.  Come up with your own ranks and post them on your forums.

Now I’m off to read up on what clan points are all about.  I hear you need them to declare a siege or something.

Darkfall Feats, Player Points, and UI

Darkfall Unholy Wars supposedly launches early December.  I say supposedly because I believe we won’t see it until at least January.  Nevertheless, information about the changes to Darkfall is finally being offered up by Aventurine.

Darkfall Bank GUI

The new bank menu with paper doll and inventory management.

Interface – Slicker, more console-like experience

I really, really like the look of the new UI.  I have no idea how it will actually behave when playing — I may despise it when I actually get to experience it.  I think visually it conveys a more action-like approach with radial menus for combat abilities, almost console-like menus, and a much more polished and informative GUI.

In particular, the Bank interface looks to be vastly improved.  I wasn’t a fan of the chaos created by the random, throw yourself anyway bank space.  The new paper doll looks good, and I like the general aesthetics of how information is being presented to the player.

Darkfall Feats

A list of Feats on the left helps to guide players toward activities, and rewards them for doing things.

Feats – Achievements meet Quests

The Feats sound to me like an achievement system and quest blend.  The game will suggest these objective-like tasks and the player can choose to complete them or not.  Look at the screenshot I took from the video, it looks like everything from exploring a town to killing monsters, crafting, PvPing, sieging, and just about every aspect of the game will give points.  I see a colored point value next to each Feat; I’m not sure if those are general Player Points or special points of a particular type matching the type of Feat.

I think Feats will give players direction.  One complaint I often hear from inexperienced sandbox players is, “What do I do next? What is my goal?”  This will provide that goal in an open way that will hopefully maintain the spirit of the sandbox game.  If these become more like chores that become required by the min-max meta game to be competitive — meaning the points associated become important — then the system will be a failure.

 

Player Points – Character Development Currency

Player Points appear to be the equivalent of experience.  They are used to buy new skills, boosters (whatever those are Titles with stat bonuses), and yet-unnamed “features” that allow you to develop your character further.  As I mentioned previously, Feats reward you with points, and simply playing the game however you want is supposed to reward you with Player Points.  Crafters can earn them by crafting, PvPers from killing other players or sieging, etc.  Sounds like this could work.

Overall, Aventurine is finally taking steps to modernize Darkfall.  I like the game I’m seeing on paper, and I’m anxious to get my hands on these changes to know for sure whether or not Darkfall will be worth investing my time. [Read more...]

Darkfall Unholy Wars

Well, I’m going to give Darkfall another try.  I can’t say it’s because Darkfall suddenly deserves being played again or because I missed the game.  I’m simply curious about the changes.  The basic premise of Darkfall was a good one.  Darkfall is definitely unique, and it has always felt closer to a virtual world than most games over the years.  Fun fact: I’m still quoted for saying that right on the official website.  I still stand by the quote.

The problems with Darkfall have always been the poor execution of ideas, slow development time, and awful communication from the dev team.  Unholy Wars marks the first change big enough to bring me back.  The game is being wiped clean, skill system redone, UI changed, and in many ways it’s a rebirth for Darkfall.  There’s a definite change to the game’s direction.  I get the feeling Aventurine wants more mass-appeal.  It’s still Darkfall, so it will never appeal to the masses, but the focus on third-person combat as well, as a streamlined skill system with classes, are obvious steps in that direction.

I’m itching for some medieval combat, a sandbox game, and some anxiety-driven PvP with consequences. Hopefully Aventurine can get it right now time.  At least it can’t get any worse, right?

Below is a new video Aventurine released to show some gameplay.

If any of you are planning to play, maybe we’ll cross paths. Who knows, maybe we’ll even be in the same alliance… or maybe I’ll be scavenging arrows off you.

MMO Reboots

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately: Should MMO’s reboot more often?  When I say reboot, I’m talking about the same type of reset we see when a new World of WarCraft expansion comes out.  Suddenly it doesn’t matter if you’ve played since launch with the best gear in the game. When Mists of Pandaria launches, no one will have an advantage and a new player can join and rise to the top.

Personally, knowing that people have been playing for a year or more with that big of a head-start on me is daunting.  I become discouraged thinking that there is no way I will catch up.  For example, I think about trying Rift again then I realize I am a year behind everyone else, and I figure why bother at all.  If suddenly there was a reboot, a reset, and everyone was on the same footing again, I would be more inclined to jump in and play.

Themeparks with vertical progression benefit from this system the most.  And while existing players who are excelling are technically reset, and in a way brought downward to the beginning again, they are technically free to give it a go once more.  It’s a temporary solution for a problematic model.

What about non-themepark games, though?  Last I heard, Darkfall may be facing a reboot of sorts.  Players have been PvPing and increasing their skills creating a massive gap with haves and have nots.  Aventurine gave players something like 20x skill increases, essentially helping the game to reboot itself, but there are rumors (are they still rumors?) that a wipe will occur to start everyone off fresh with a new skill system.

Something about starting fresh excites me.  I think that’s why every time a new WoW server opened — and they opened all the time back in the day — I would re-roll and start fresh.  That’s how I was the server-first in Molten Core and BWL three times.  I like starting over, I like the life it breathes into a MMORPG, and I like watching how the community established itself all over again.

Here are some fun questions for you to consider.  Would you like to see more MMO’s essentially rebooting like WoW does, and what do you think about MMORPG’s wiping entirely and starting fresh on a regular basis — something you would be interested in seeing?