Reasons why Darkfall is catching my eye

Mahirim or Dog people

Mahirim or "Dog people"

This game has been in development longer than some of you have been able to walk.  Many consider it to be “Vaporware” – including myself at times (still do on occasion) – and many believe that it will fail horribly.  However, the game is releasing in Europe on the 22nd of January with a North American release coming sometime after that.  The Devs have said that North American players may still play on the European servers though, which is what my friends and I are strongly considering.  For those of you following the game, you’ll already know that it’s based heavily on Player vs. Player to the point of being classified as “hardcore” because of full-looting.  You’ll also be able to tell right away from looking at screenshots that the game is not as pretty (I’m being kind) as other games.   I don’t want to focus on the bad right now though, because everyone seems to be focusing on why this game will flop.  I want to focus on what is catching my eye and making me actually consider playing on January 22nd.

I’ve based my take on this information from the Official Features list, a FAQ, and Beta Impressions from a real player.

Truly open PvP
It’s the first time in a while that a  game is releasing where players can kill anyone they want.  In Darkfall you can kill the newbie standing next to you just because he looked at you funny.  However, there are loose factions based on race (Human, Dwarf, Elf / Ork, Wolf people / Dark Elf) that provide the servers some basis of friendly interaction.  Straight from the FAQ it says that it’s up to the players whether or not they care about these natural factions.  Players can form guilds with all Human and be completely anti-everyone else or they can stick to their racial lines or they can cross them compeltely.  It’s up to the players.  Of course there are downsides to killing the races that are loosely aligned with you.  According to the beta impressions I’ve read, there is a “murder system” in place that penalizes you for killing someone who is supposed to be allied with you.  However, this penalty can be negated by killing ‘true’ enemies.  I want to hear more about the specific details but so far this sounds great to me.

Full-Loot and the importance of gear
In Darkfall you can kill someone and take almost everything they have on them.  I’m told that the only things you can’t take are the basic necessities such as the player’s basic weaponry (Like a basic “Short sword” or something).  This is going to be tough for a lot of people to grasp.  Items in Darkfall will not have their permanent status like in WoW and other MMORPGs.  Even the best gear in the game can be jacked from your cold dead body by a band of newbies if they happen to kill you.  Also, using that gear is going to eventually wear it out.   I’m anxious to play under these rulesets though because, when you think about it, it has a ton of possibilities.  Gear won’t matter as much because if you get attached to your like you do in WoW then you’re going to quit in a week and start up a blog about how much Darkfall sucks – everyone will be glad to be rid of you.  A sword is a friggin sword!  A mail tunic is a mail tunic!  These are things which allow your character to deflect damage or cut a face but they’re not what defines who you are as a player.  That’s left up to….

A SKILL driven game!  No levels, no classes, pure freedom
There are no levels in Darkfall.  For some of you, this will be the first time ever (or in a long time) that you’re playing a game that doesn’t require you to gain levels.  It’s going to be completely skill based with ~500 skills and ~500 Spells (that’s the Dev’s goal at launch with more added later).  This raises more questions than I can fathom, but from my understanding it works like this:  Let’s say you want to be a sword using, plate wearing, warrior type character.  The first thing you’ll want to do is get a sword and some plate armor and begin training with them.  Yes, you USE your items to become better with them – not just to “hit” with them like most games but to become “better” with them –  and your character slowly begins to lean toward the type of character that would use these weapons.  As you gain sword skill you will be able to train special sword attackss/skills from a trainer and become more proficient with the weapon.  From what I’m told, your character will begin to really shift towards a fighter type and you will slowly gravitate towards the stereotypical warror-esque playstyle.  However, like I said, your character develops solely around your playstyle.  If you want to be a caster and cast spells then you don’t want to wear plate armor because it hinders your casting.  As you cast more spells you will mold into a spellcaster if your choosing.  Heck, if you want to be a plate wearing battle-mage then I bet you can be one – you’ll have to find the balance of skills and spells and take into account the game’s mechanics but I bet it’s doable.  From the impressions I’ve read it sounds detailed to the point where the game recognizes you are using archery and wearing armor so you begin to skill up in “armored archery”.  To top it all off, there is skill decay.  This means you lose skills if you dont use them often – how often I’m not sure.  And the best part?  If you don’t like being a sword using guy then stop using the sword and start doing what YOU want to do and you can easily shift from being one style to another without having to reroll.   There is no way to “mess up” your character or worry about “min/maxing” and the stress that brings.  You play your character how you want him to play and he will develop as thus.

Crafting and a Player-driven economy

Dwarfs are great crafters

Dwarfs are great crafters

I really enjoy these player-driven economies.  They always lead to a better community and more immersion for me.   From the FAQ: “You will be able to make almost every item found in the world like weapons, tools, armor, clothing, food, containers, furniture, jewelry etc.” Players can also repair items but eventually all items degrade to the point where they are useless.  That means that the economy will not oversaturate (ideally) and that crafters will always be in business.  From The Noob’s beta impressions, it seems like crafting is a detailed process:  “As an alternative to farming arrows from monsters who use them or buying them at the store, I’ve decided to try making my own. You need a wood axe and a pickaxe to collect wood from trees and ore from ore-yielding rocks. Then you must use a saw at a workbench to obtain wood planks and smelt the ore (using tongs at a smelter) to obtain ingots. THEN you must take your ingots, ore and a woodworking knife to a crafting bench…” I can’t wait to see what can be made – especially things like…

Player housing, guild cities, and player organized hubs!
Players and guilds can create homes, cities, hamlets, and central hubs of commerce.  Guilds can make guild cities/towns or whatever they’re called and, from what I have gathered, the individual can as well.  This will allow for the homemakers to decorate their homes and cities with furniture and for the killers to come and stomp it all down!  In past games with unrestricted PvP, I’ve seen players come together and siege these cities and hubs.  This has created rivalries and all out wars on some servers over these focal points.  Players band together and defend the areas they like to congregate in and then retaliate against the attackers.  It’s all in the hands of the players at this point and this means that servers will develop their own rules regarding player conduct and then be able to enforce them.  Since the world is so large, guilds can wander off the beaten path and find a nice secluded area to establish a guild base.  The possibilities here have me really excited because this type of player control is what I really enjoy.

Combat is more like Oblivion than a MMO
I’ve been trying to decide if I like this or not, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I like it.   Having to always aim at your enemy in combat (like Oblivion and other Elder Scrolls games) will really make combat more active, rather than passive.  I was once in favor of such a system while anticipating Age of Conan but was burned when it became a spazzy button masher.  According to the beta impressions it seems like the game will be much slower pace since it will require aiming, thinking ahead, and execution.   Having to load up a spell, aim, and fire it where you think the enemy will be and being able to actually miss because there is -zero- target lock sounds interesting.  Having to always be aiming at your enemy in melee combat will also be a pretty big change for the MMO genre.  This is where the “first person” stuff comes into play, I suppose.  Much of the game is done in first person – that’s how you cast spells and shoot arrows.  However, if I’ve read this correctly, you CAN go to third person but it is extremely zoomed in on your character.   Some people will hate this yada yada.  I think it can be fun though and it will certainly add to the immersion of being in a world and having to actually – physically – pay attention to your surroundings.  Seeing what’s behind you will require you to look behind you and not pan your camera around.  This means that players can sneak up on enemies without a “stealth” skill that makes them invisible but rather using the terrain, shadows, and natural sneaking stuff (Graev thinks of the game “Thief” here).  Footsteps can be heard so you really need to be careful when sneaking.   Oh, this also means there is no “tab targeting”. heh heh heh.

I’m getting really excited for the possibilities of a game like UO/SWG (and even EQ on the pvp servers) again where the players are in so much control.  I think that if Darkfall can deliver on these promises and concepts then it can be exactly what a lot of people find fun.  No, it won’t be a huge success and it will certainly be labled a “niche” game.  But if it can deliver on these promises and sustain even a small following then the game will be a ton of fun – the type of fun that keeps people playing for many years.  It’s all about the communities in games like these.  The players make the rules and the servers develop around the players.   The players can choose whether or not their actions will be looked upon by other players are “good” or “evil” and guilds/clans will form around these mentalities.   Players will congregate at a certain city (perhaps a guild or player made one) because of its location and want to have peace there, but the aggressive types may want to lay siege to it.  It’s up to the community to come together and protect their beloved location or not.   It’s up to the players to decide if ganking newbies is acceptable or if there will be clans dedicated to the protection of players.  Robin Hood types will spring up and their counterparts will as well.  You can play like a Pirate and make your entire playtime devoted to robbing people blind or you can be the guy who stands up and does something about it.   How one person chooses to play potentially creates content for someone else.

I’m not going to allow Darkfall to crush me if it fails but I’m finding it harder and harder every day to not want to jump into a sandbox world and begin playing my part in shaping it.  I hope, for the sake of MMORPGs becoming more than what they’ve slumped into, that Darkfall succeeds or at least opens the door for someone to make a game that embodies these types of ideals again.

If you’re interested in joining our potential Darkfall community then be sure to visit our forum!   At the very least it will be a support group if things go horribly wrong. 😉

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Loktofeit - January 6, 2009

“I’m not going to allow Darkfall to crush me if it fails but I’m finding it harder and harder every day to not want to jump into a sandbox world and being to play my part in shaping it. I hope, for the sake of MMORPGs becoming more than what they’ve slumped into, that Darkfall succeeds or at least opens the door for someone to make a game that embodies these types of ideals again.”

Word, bro. Our guild just bounced through AoC, WAR, and several other titles in 2008 and it would be nice if Darkfall breaks the pattern. I’m not holding my breath, but I’d like to see DF do oneof the two you mentioned – be that shining star or open the doors for the next one to shine through.

Pierre - January 6, 2009

First person slasher MMO?


Keen - January 6, 2009

I think you can’t slap a fail sticker on it yet for that Pierre. The details are just not available to pass judgement yet. From the info available, it appears that you can go into a third person view but not have it be like the WoW style where you can zoom your camera way out or pan it around. To see behind you will require you actually turning around. That sounds far from “fail” to me in theory.

bludkraze - January 6, 2009

I think if darkfall fails (witch im 75% sure it wil not) then other games will fallow soon afterwith the the 100% skill based idea. However im guessing they will implement levels. For now if darkfall is a sucess then it will be one of the best mmos in a long long time.

Snafzg - January 6, 2009

Hmmm, curious. I wonder what the potential for hybrids are like with this skill-based system. It would be awesome to make a rogue-wizard type char or a melee-healer. Or maybe a wizard-tank and or a rogue-cleric! Or maybe a bashing warrior-rogue with backstab! 😛

This game seems quite interesting and I love the concept of full corpse loot and completely open PvP but I won’t roll immediately at launch. I’m going to wait at least a couple months to see how things pan out. Getting into these games at the ground level can be great, but as I learned with WAR, it can also be immensely frustrating.

Crackbone - January 6, 2009


If you really think this is actually going to launch on the 22nd, well, I think you are mad.

And, if by some snowball’s chance in hell it actually does, without a real public beta, etc, well, I think DF is going to quickly take the throne of biggest disappointment from AoC.

DF is going to fail, and its going to fail hard. Erling’s got nothing on Tasos.

Keen - January 6, 2009

If it doesn’t make the January 22nd launch then I won’t be surprised. Until they come out and change it though it’s all we have to go on. Since the game is being distributed via Digital download only (last I heard) it won’t be hard to release it. Independent game developers have done this in the past and it’s worked well with little to no pre-launch hype like the Publishers make over AAA titles.

As for the game being a huge disappointment… I hope not. At the very least they’ve introduced some amazing ideas that I hope will be picked up by another developer. On paper it’s a winner. We’ll see what launch brings.

Green Armadillo - January 6, 2009

I wish them all the best, since more success in the MMORPG market would be a good thing for everyone right now, even those of us who probably won’t ever touch Darkfall.

I think the skepticism is that they’re promising a relatively ambitious slate of features, many of which have been problematic for games that used them in the past. People might be willing to take them more seriously if/when they’re willing to actually drop their NDA, rather than granting a special exemption to someone (Hand-picked? We can’t know…) but not even allowing him to answer questions on what he posted.

syncaine - January 6, 2009

I’m looking forward to DF as well, just to see exactly whats going to happen.

One thing though, UO uses a similar skill system, where ideally you do what you want and gain skill for it. The problem is, in a PvP game, you either min/max or die, which is why the 7xGM was needed for top level PvP in UO. I’m guessing DF will follow that model, but who knows.

Crackbone - January 6, 2009

My main problem Keen is that Tasos has been spewing his line of BS for the last 6-7 years. The game is roughly two weeks away, no one’s got a preview copy, no details on distribution, no details on pricing.

Seriously, Darkfall, the vaporware of MMOs in supposedly launching in two weeks. The game that this developer has been working on for almost 8 years.

Not one piece of data referring to that fact is on their main website page. Not one.

I’m with you, I hope they don’t fail, I hope it’s incredible and worth playing. However history shows that a game, without a serious and longterm public beta, fails, more often than not.

I’d love to be incorrect on this one.

Wickidd - January 6, 2009

Many speculate that January 22nd will actually be the open beta launch. I am really hoping that this is the case.

I have high hopes for this game, but that’s all they are; hopes.

Regis - January 6, 2009

From what I heard previously it sounded like a PvP hardcore game for all the asses, but when I read this it sounds more like a “real RPG”. The losing gear is a tough nut, as is the first-person combat (hated that in Morrowind and Oblivion), but the crafting, community, freedom and sense of being in a real world with real actions sound very tempting.

Cow Nose the 50 Pound Cat - January 6, 2009

Well, regardless, I know I’ll be trying this game at launch!

Keen - January 6, 2009

I think the “try and see” attitude is a good one to have. If we’re ever going to get away from these big publishers pushing nothing but the same old thing because it’s a surefire way to make a buck then we need to back these smaller companies trying to bring new things to the table. For those of you who were around when the original mmorpgs started releasing, not many of them were ever backed by the EA’s or Sony’s of today. Many of them started as smaller companies and either grew into larger corporations or were bought up.

sicc - January 6, 2009

I’ve been following this game for some time now myself and on paper it looks quite amazing personally. My only thought on the downside of full loot is that the incentive will be taken away. Incentive to have anything of importance. I really liked EQ’s looting system in it’s early years and is a path I would have chose if I could have it my way. EQ early on (on pvp servers or at least Rallos Zek server) was 1 item and coin but nothing in your bags. This led to strategy in combat actually because people would wear what THEY felt was viable to lose yet still could suit up in most of their good gear and not have to see it ALL gone when/if they die to a player.

I can see this being a problem for Darkfall even though I would like to see the game succeed. I mean this is NOT a fps this is a mmorpg. How can I progress when my stuff gets taken constantly mentality could easily appear. Another concern is the no level topic.

On paper this looks like a cool idea I must say. In the game world however I can already see this being AoC all over again. A free for all pvp game with no need of relying on others for necessary progression leads to mass RANDOM pking. This is one of the things I LOVED about EQ. EQ basically said “hey, if you want to level you’re going to group”. What this meant though was “hey, you’re not gonna be a complete jackass from day 1 if you want to do anything other than sit on your ass in this game”. I still believe forcing players to group to do the key things in a pvp mmorpg progession wise is smart and leads to success. People easily get reputations this way and it ends up drawing an imaginary line of good and bad within the community, because, there is an actual community, because, they have to work together most of the time to progress. None of this “hey mom i can solo to max level and gank every noob i see because i can do everything by myself” crap anymore ffs plz!

Anyways if the game can get past those two design (bites my tongue) flaws, as well as the publishing issues and technical things then I feel the game has a fair chance. Only time will tell and if you’ve been following this game at all you’ll know that it is in essence the Rumpelstiltskin of mmorpgs.

Werit - January 6, 2009

Gankers paradise. I’ll pass, but will enjoy the stories 🙂

Howdy Doody - January 6, 2009


I really hope a game like this can be successful. I am curious to see how the hardware can pull this off. I remember reading forum posts by the developers of Savage 2 and they claimed is was extremely difficult to think about getting 48 folks in a game because of the sheer volume of network traffic needed for a real time collision detection (people, swords, ranged, etc) system. This sounds exactly like Savage 2 game play does it not?

If this game doesn’t have any instances this seems “on paper” to involve a hell of a lot more then what either WoW or WAR are doing.

Oh I’ll be getting it…and I’m praying this game is as described. I don’t give a rat’s arse about the graphics if the game play is good.

Thanks for that write up, and thanks for keeping us informed.


Keen - January 6, 2009

@Sicc: Valid concerns and shared by many. The big thing to remember here is that in Darkfall the emphasis on gear must be shifted to your character. The weapon does not make the man but the other way around. You’ll strive towards improving your character in ways other than gear. It’s a hard concept to grasp because of how we’re trained to play games these days.

I think that this form of progression also encourages a focus on progressing the game world rather than the individual’s progression. The world needs to be built up by the players and the servers need to age and mature into a community. At first you may notice a lot of people out to benefit themselves without relying on others. However, in a game like Darkfall – as seen in previous games of this type – those in it for the long haul MUST rely on others. I think that in Darkfall, more than ever, we’ll see those imaginary lines being drawn and players reacting to them.

This sandbox community style game is far more advanced and truly “RPG’ish” than the “WoW style” game. I hope that Darkfall can represent it well.

Nollind Whachell - January 6, 2009

Even if Darkfall does deliver on what it promises, it will still “fail” to many people (like Pierre) because it’s a “niche” game that is focused on a particular style of play. I have no problem with this because I believe I fit into that “niche”, since a lot of the concepts in the game mirror the ideas for my own dream MMO (i.e. skill based, players skill required to aim/hit, etc). The question still remains though, will it deliver on what it promises? Definitely keep your notes handy when it launches so you can compare your assumptions of what you understood it to be with the reality of what it really is.

Nollind Whachell - January 6, 2009

BTW Keen, really looking forward to you thoughts on WoW (on why it’s failing you). I mean my greatest concern “again” (as it happened with BC) is what happens after people play through all of the content of WotLK? Honestly, no matter how much someone enjoys Wintergrasp, can’t see it holding your attention for very long. And sure you can create an alt such as a Death Knight if you haven’t tried it yet but what then? This to me is the greatest failing of MMO’s today, their lack of replay value. Hopefully Darkfall can rectify this with it’s gameplay approach.

Leakreader2 - January 6, 2009

It’s a very addicting game. I think you will enjoy it from your comments Keen.

It is nothing like AoC.

Argorius - January 6, 2009

I think DF is my last serious run at an MMORPG ( for a while). The Devs for that game have the right mindset and design philosophy. Just about everything I wish MMORPGs had these days is in DF. Sandbox style game, freedom with consequences for evil actions, skill system, no levels. The game seems to be going back to the roots and one of the few potential evolutions of the genre (after many the genre pretty much de-evolved).

It may suck – the community may turn out to be horrible – the game may not even be fun but it sounds like a nice attempt and certainly worth to give it a good shot.

Mordiceius - January 6, 2009

I’d really like to give Darkfall a try whe—if it does ever come out just because I’ve been a big naysayer on it since the very beginning. With the new year here and everything, I’d like to try to step out of my gaming comfort zone a couple times and this sounds like a great opportunity. Hopefully, some of us could roll together or something as I don’t think I could stomach this game by myself.

adammtlx - January 6, 2009

I’ll very likely give it a try. I played UO at release (over 11 years ago now, wow) as my first MMOG ever, and I still remember the impact it had on me. The openness and sense of wonder was amazing, and those feelings weren’t completely a product of it being my first MMOG, they were also because the design was so free-form, anarchic and crazy, and yet at the same time it was amazingly visceral and immediate and awesome. Not only that, but the players had the tools to create their own society, rules and morality, and not have those things forced on them by the developers and by the game’s design.

If the devs of Darkfall manage to give players a real reason to create those things (rules, morality, etc) and the proper tools to create them, I can’t see a reason why anyone not scared of his own shadow wouldn’t want to try it out. From what I’ve read, the ability for a player to create havoc is being appropriately balanced by the ability for others to wreak havoc back on that same player. That keeps people in check, and in my mind is the key to making this sandbox-type of MMOG work. We’ll see. I hope they pull it off.

FenixStryk - January 6, 2009

No levels? First-person Oblivion fighting style? Bad graphics (which means it will run on my computer)?


Medrin - January 6, 2009

This game has been completely off my radar(for reasons you stated, i.e. it being in dev for ages). That being said, from what you’re blotter about it’s like, I’m going to have to try it out. This sound like a lot of fun, especially as a second MMO for me. Thanks for bringing this game to light Keen.

Jeromai - January 6, 2009

On paper, it has lots of potential. Of course, potential could mean the possibility of being truly great, or more often than not, the chance of flopping once a plan encounters first contact with players.

Game mechanics are going to be a big issue in a sandbox game, because that’s going to drive player behavior. Players optimize along the easiest paths for success.

Will melee have a chance if it turns out ranged attacks retain their natural advantage in PvP as in most games? Will Darkfall end up a world of mages and archers?

It’s all very well to say that players should have the mindset that gear is not important and interchangable. But if stat values and scarcity in game design push gear into an important role, you’re going to have to all the emotional issues regarding full loot and loss of gear anyway.

Will a level grind turn into a skill grind a la Oblivion? Hit something multiple times with your weapon of choice in the easiest possible way to ‘level’ up a skill and progress?

If it is easier to destroy than create in a sandbox game, well, enjoy the barren wasteland that will result shortly after as players hunt around for things to do.

How quick will the game company be at recognizing flaws in balance or game design, how fast will they respond to someone using an exploit (and hardcore players WILL find them) and fix/patch the issues?

All those questions Darkfall has yet to answer in a Live setting with lots of players in an open sandbox. We shall see how it goes. I’m a pessimist about it, but do harbor some eternal hope that maybe someone, someday can pull it off.

Proximo - January 6, 2009

Will be trying DF too, probably not at launch but a month or five after. I’ll let others head into a buggy and rocky launch and if the majority of gamebreaking bugs are ironed out after some months I’ll try it, if they are not then imo the game won’t survive and I won’t bother trying it at all.

I’ve mentioned it before I think, but there’s also Mortal Online coming, it’s been said Summer 2009 but with no date set yet I think that might be postponed once or twice. It looks stunning but the one thing that annoys me is that it seems even more locked into First Person view than DF, and I think I will have a problem with enjoying that in any of the two games.
http://www.mortalonline.com check it out, think it might be worth a look. =)

Longasc - January 7, 2009

There was once and is a game called Ultima Online. A MMO. There was even role-playing. It was released way before WoW.

Probably before some WoW players were even born. :>

I am pretty sure Darkfall will not be too successful. As people expect every other MMO to copy the age-old levelling principle of EverCrack/WoW. Despite the flaws of a gaming world shrinking always to the zone of your appromixate level and not growing actually and so on.

The game also needs to fight against the immense lot of polish that WoW got over the years and already had at release.

Werit - January 7, 2009

You can never go back to your first MMO (the feeling).

Rog - January 7, 2009

I think they’re best off starting as a niche game and then building up a community from there, ala EVE. As long as success is measured in terms of trying to get that #2 spot behind WoW, things are going to be sticky.

Tabula Rasa should have aimed niche but they went for broke. Funcom should have stuck with what they were good at for Age of Conan. WAR as well couldn’t decide what it was, tho I think it’s falling back on DAoC 2.0 (only it should have three factions dammit).

I’m not saying these games should be smaller, I’m saying they’ve padded what they have to seem bigger and it’s a mouth full of cotton for people that came for the features that didn’t work out. Bigger would be better, just don’t shoot for the moon and miss.

Darkfall makes a lot of promises. They advertise “Play PvE or PvP however you wish” but I can already imagine the responses of ‘you don’t play Darkfall for PvE‘, because I know the hardcore PvP crowd has latched onto Darkfall for awhile now.

Sandbox sounds good though, with the right basics in place, that could work. It’s nice to see more variety in gameplay, that’s for sure.

I’ll give it a whirl if it survives the first few months. I’m not holding my breath and I’ll probably skip the inevitable launch difficulties.

Jason - January 7, 2009

Huzzah! It’s about damn time someone went back to the roots of MMO game play.

I’ve said it before, perhaps this genre needs to de-evolve before we can truly see any true innovation.

Jaosn (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

Nissl - January 7, 2009

It’s a radically different approach than everything else we’ve seen recently; still, I’m not going to pick this up at launch. Every indicator (dev time, NDA, marketing) is that this game won’t deliver everything that it promises. I’ve gotten burned enough times to have learned my lesson. If people are still digging this after two months then I’ll be all over it.

mbp - January 7, 2009

Every point you mention sounds good to me except for one: Skill Decay. I like to play a game for a while and take a break but I don’t want to come back after six months and find that I have lost all my skills.

On the positive side, EVE has taught me that even carebears can have a great time in a no-holds barred pvp game. Item loss and/or item decay makes for a great economy and that economy typically creates lots of opportunities for carebears. In fact PVE playes are vital to such games because only PVE creates wealth. PVP just redistributes it (and usually destroys some in the process).

Chance - January 7, 2009

Does anybody know where this game is avaiable when it releases, I can’t find any info on that.

Keen - January 7, 2009

I believe it will be Digital Download only, Chance. I’ve heard rumors that they may eventually have box sales but for now I’ve only seen info on Digital downloads. It makes sense though. A lot of smaller companies without big publishers go this route – especially the ones outside of North America. I’m sure they provide a link to it soon.

Russell Gusto - January 7, 2009

WOOT!!! Keen and Graev’s featured on Massive!!!! WOOT!


p.s. Darkfall will RULE ALL!!!! BOW DOWN AND BLEED!!

MB - January 7, 2009

No ability to opt out of PvP means I won’t even consider playing it. PvP doesn’t, has never, and will never interest me. Who wants to play a game that has it’s basis in ganking? And no, I want to be able to progress without grouping. Forcing players to group if they want to progress is old-school and silly. MMO’s should cater to solo players as well as group-players instead of discriminating or favoring one or the other.

AJ - January 7, 2009

I followed a story/link from another site to here, and was glad I did, because now not only do I have a new blog I’m interested in following, but I’ve learned about a new game that I’m excited about.

I started playing MMOs about 4 years ago, beginning with City Of Heroes. Nothing to this day has topped the feeling I had at the start of that, of just running around with new friends, having fun without worrying much about gear or levels or anything else. Then followed WoW, and while a great time at first, and the game that introduced me to the incredible world of pvp, eventually the game for me turned into a chore. I stopped playing WoW a few weeks ago, for good, as to me that game has become a non-stop grind. Get good gear, go get better gear. Repeat. I tried War, but the client stability left a lot to be desired, and even after just 20 levels, I began to feel the familiar WoW feeling.

Darkfall, while displaying some warning signs, sounds like it at least has most of the things I’m looking for in a game. I love what Keen wrote about ‘player actions possibly creating content for other players’, and mentioning the likes of Robin Hoods and counterparts springing up. That’s a great way to look at it. I love the idea of true actions having consequence, and by consequence I mean the loss/destruction of cities/hubs. Gear sounds like it is just that: Gear. All of the fantasy warriors we grew up reading about were warriors because of who they were and not what they wore, and the same for their villainous counterparts.

I’ll definitely be checking out the game. If Darkfall should fail, then at least I tried to support the ideas I believe should be present in an mmo. And that way, if we show our interest, maybe someone out there will pick up on that, and deliver a bigger, healthier product with those ideas intact.

Thanks for the great write-up and hope to see you guys in Darkfall soon. 🙂

Pignasty - January 7, 2009

Long tiem follower of Darkfall here, glad to see its caught your eye as well. The game has lofty goals and alot of ambitious design. I for one sincerely hope they pull it off….but its been in teh design phase for almost 8 years. I’m starting to wonder if it will EVER come out…esp since they are avoiding financing from giants like EA.

Wickidd - January 7, 2009


Skill decay will only occur while logged into the game. No skill decay while logged out. I would like to quote my source, but I am too lazy to find it. Do a search on the Darkfall forums.

The Claw - January 7, 2009

“I played UO at release (over 11 years ago now, wow) as my first MMOG ever, and I still remember the impact it had on me.”

adammtlx, as others have pointed out, you’ll never recapture the magic of your first MMO because it’s all about it being the first, not some intrinsic quality of the game itself.

Another thing to bear in mind is that while UO was the first step into the online space for Origin, it was from a developer with 17 years of experience and many many massively successful installments in the Ultima series. If you think Darkfall is going to deliver even 1% of the quality of a professionally developed game, you are delusional.

Danath - January 7, 2009

I can see problems abound, when you have such a WIDE array of skills to level up and which define your character, you have NOT removed leveling, you have merely REPLACED levels with… skill levels, same package, different box, and I wont even go into the inherent issues around being able to gank anyone anywhere, anytime, as this will automatically create a “favored” class that can gank heavily, and dont even begin to say there arent classes… players will create them quick enough, sure you can do ANYTHING, but the issue is can they make EVERYTHING effective? This one is in the air, but the above couple of things still bear thinking about.

I wont say anymore, otherwise I might as well just make my own blog, and im too lazy for that.

Wickidd - January 7, 2009

@ Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

I Listened to Channel Massive – Episode 71 – Different Strokes. It was my impression that Keen had “banned” you from his site, and deleted your comments, due to a heated argument over the micro-transaction model in the mmo market. Obviously this is not true since I have seen another of your posts on this blog site.

I hope that in the future you will not feel that it is necessary to compromise your integrity during your Blog-O-Steria segment, by making it seem that Keen is incapable of having a mature debate with someone that disagrees with him.

I am a big fan of the Channel Massive Podcast. Your opinions are always very entertaining to me, but please make sure that your facts are facts.

adammtlx - January 7, 2009

“adammtlx, as others have pointed out, you’ll never recapture the magic of your first MMO because it’s all about it being the first, not some intrinsic quality of the game itself.

Another thing to bear in mind is that while UO was the first step into the online space for Origin, it was from a developer with 17 years of experience and many many massively successful installments in the Ultima series. If you think Darkfall is going to deliver even 1% of the quality of a professionally developed game, you are delusional.”

And if you keep reading, you’ll note I mention the design of the game, independent of the feelings of newness I felt, was a large part of what was responsible for the impact it had on me. I’m well aware of the fact that your first MMOG is particularly special, but that doesn’t change the fact that UO’s game design was incredibly ballsy, frustrating, incomplete and yet still deeply affecting.

And as for UO’s dev team, I’ve heard nothing to suggest that the people who worked on it were all (if even one) the same ones working at Origin for the previous 17 years. Besides that, UO was very different from what they’d done previous, meaning they were essentially as inexperienced then as the Darkfall guys are now, since we’re talking about a radical departure in terms of game design. Anyway, there’s no reason to discount Darkfall because it’s coming from an unknown developer. It could be great. Stranger things have happened.

Dread - January 8, 2009

Pure PvP MMO’s will not succeed simply because the overwhelming majority of MMO players are PvE and won’t put up with being ganked every 5 seconds. People like to fondly reminisce the old UO days…well…even Origin new their game could not survive as is as it was haemorrhaging players due to all the gankers….which is why Trammel and Felucca were born. Guess which world was deserted over night? It wasn’t the PvE one 😉

PvP players are not crafters, never have been. By and large all your crafters about the place are the hard core PvE’ers….the PvP people are far to busy ganking lowbies or running the same scenario’s over and over and over and over again. So who’s going to craft all this gear, cities and keep the economy ticking over? Look at WAR, arguable the best PvP centred game about atm…..outside of the PvP area’s its deserted. In the PvP area’s its just a zerg fest where numbers > skill/gear. Luckily Mythic have stuck to their guns and confined the gankers to the pseudo PvP servers so there is still a PvP incentive…its just not very interesting, bullshit crafting etc

There needs to be more of a happy medium. Pure PvP is destined for the failboat, plenty of examples of it in the past. Which would be a shame since this game seems to promise so much.

Iskander - January 8, 2009

Man, I have to try this game. From what I read it’s like Meridian 59 2, which I still consider the best MMORPG ever built and I’ve played them all. Yeah, It can suck to get all your stuff taken, but games like this build real communities.

Crode - January 8, 2009

1. So is there friendly fire too? That would be nice 🙂
2. Can land be occupied? Is there any point to taking and defending territory or is it just a strait up PvP fest.

About the comment about collision detection: WAR has collision detection right now and that is with 600+ people in fortress raids. It is possible to do easy collisions these days.

Loosing equipment and getting ganked is only horrible if it really sets you back. Like if equip is cheap and easy to come by then it is not such a big deal. And same with death. It only matters if you loose massive exp and other penalties.

Keen - January 8, 2009

@Crode: Yes, there is friendly fire. If you throw that fireball too close to your party or even yourself you’ll take damage. Heck, if you swing your weapon at your friends you’ll hit them. Also, you can occupy land – Guild cities and more. I’ve heard of people sailing out to hundreds of different islands and claiming them for their own. I have no idea about collision detection though.

Thallian - January 8, 2009

There’s hope yet for it, so I wont snub it. We’ll have to see what it brings to the table in the next month.

Irishdrunk - January 8, 2009

FFA looting doesnt mean when you die all your loot is going to be taken. Only on rare occasions will a player take everything. From what i heard, DFO bags are small and cluttered. So unless you have exactly what they want, gankers aren’t going to be able to strip gankees so easily. Even if a player wants your chest armor, a well prepared player wont be able to hold reagents and a chest armor their not wearing. So what are they gonna do? drop their old crap and pick yours up. So then you can pick their old armor up and start again with a better advantage.

The item degrade sounds really cool, i love upgrading and putting new armor on. Plus, if someone wants your armor, their going to have to beat the shiny thing they want so badly in order to kill you. And by the time your blood wears off it, it’ll be broken and they get no more than PVP satisfaction.

Kellaen - January 8, 2009

If it doesn’t make the January 22nd launch then I won’t be surprised. Until they come out and change it though it’s all we have to go on. Since the game is being distributed via Digital download only (last I heard) it won’t be hard to release it.


EvE online was download only for years, and that has not hurt it one bit. If anything, this could be as close to EvE fantasy as you get, which would be a great thing. The playerbase will always be able to create a better atmosphere then any dev studio could hope to do through forced means, and that is the largest ‘hope’ you can hedge on Darkfall for.

Werit - January 8, 2009

Friendly fire sounds very interesting. Will it be too much of a pain for a form of entertainment? We will see.

JenoSidhe - January 8, 2009

this game sounds alot like shadowbane to me. the big problem that shadowbane had was the same as this knows from the start in that its niche. while being niche sounds fun it also means no newbies, almost noone without knowledge of what it will be will try and that normally leads to a small community. these are not always bad things but with a small community in shadowbane it lead to only being fun if you could play at exactly peak times anyhting off time was farming time.

also with FFA shadowbane lead to a completely political game where you werent allowed to attack anybody because you were constantly afraid you would amke the wrong person mad and your city gets razed. i played AC1 i played shadowbane alot of the people who thing this sounds fun havent experienced true FFA where you lose your items and it takes a wholly different mentality.

i may give it a try but it looks destined to be bad from the start, very bad. with a game being developed this long and no public beta usually means bad, i took a chance on AoC even though my mantra was no public beta no play from me cause they are hiding things from the public without a beta. if it is good enough to launch a beta does nothing but help, if your game sucks a beta hurts you. i want to see it last a month or two before i try this unless its horribly cheap to start with.

Cowabungaa - January 8, 2009

Sounds véry awesome on paper, 1 thing worries me: latency. Especially because the combat is Oblivion-style, even small latency problems can kill PvP in this game. Especially for US people who want to play it on the 22nd on the EU servers, it can very well ruin the game for them.

Cowabungaa - January 8, 2009

O btw, I just noticed skill decay for the first time, and that someone people don’t like it. But think about it, if that mechanic isn’t present, people can be good at éverything, don’t think you want that I guess. Buuuuut, as long as it doesn’t decay while you’re logged off, that would réally be lame.

Sleepless in Altdorf | reroller - January 8, 2009

[…] Online’s promised (err, vaporware?) no-levels, no-classes approach may alleviate the problem altogether, since without a level/gear progression (since it allows for […]

Gustavef - January 8, 2009

I might pick this up after it gets off the ground. It has a few good ideas that I think would make a good game.

However my concerns are is there any “safe” areas. Even UO had its cities. Sure you could still be attacked in a city, but guards were a real PITA.

How long does it take to “recover” from a PvP loss. Sounds like if there is a limited carrying capacity the loser may only lose a few pricey objects.

Lastly, can an organized group of noobs (about 6 to 10) be a threat to lone veteran player. This is one thing that I liked from EvE. A wolf pack of frigates can take down a battle ship or two. So is there something similar in DF?

Senses - January 8, 2009

Well, troubled history aside, it is really really hard not to be excited about this title. On paper, it is *exactly* what I want in a game, but problems persist in that a) it probably won’t be exactly what it claims to be and b) I might get exactly what I want and realize I’m an idiot and hate it ;P

People in the know see this as Ultima Online 2, and I’m feeling good about that. The entire MMORPG world shifted with Everquest and really hasn’t returned to its sandbox roots. I wouldn’t have left UO myself if not for the amazing(ya not so amazing now) graphics that EQ had to offer.

Peoples fears of ganking and item loss are all well founded, but that is because they still carry the WoW frame of reference in all their opinions. You are trained to think that Purple bad ass sword is yours forever because you spent 2 weeks waiting for it to drop, but in a game like this, its your skill in swordsmanship you treasure, not the pretty metal. Combine that with the clever ways players learn to hide their gear behind stacks of other gear and keep the most truly valuable things like house keys in the bank, and you realize that getting killed isn’t that bad.

Sorry for the wall of text, but one more thing im excited about is the fact that there will only be 1 10k player server at launch. Lets be honest here, Age of Conan has about 100k subs and Warhammer has what 250k? This game could completely and utterly fail with only 10000 subs and still have a packed server.

So ya, be pessimistic, but take the time to check this game out.

Enigmax66 - January 10, 2009

Many people here say stuff they haven’t been looking up.

First off, the developers of DF don’t have a PR deparment. It’s 30 gamers that decided to do better than the MMOs they’ve been playing.

According to testers (read the Noob too) latency is no problem regardless of where you are in the world and where the server is. The only problem would be your own connection, if it’s a slow one. Also the servers are optimized for 10k simultanous players and everyone from around the world can play on the same server, if they choose to.

Devs stated that many of the screenshots and the 17 min gameplay video are on lower settings. That means we can expect to see better graphics in the final game (if you choose to turn it all up). Ofcourse it’ll not reach AoC-graphics, but it’ll certainly be pretty to lay your eyes on (there’s a few screenshots with medium settings, if you look hard enough)

Aventurine hasn’t before made a release-date, so it seems that 22nd january is actually the day we’ll get to try it.

As for gameplay itself, most players won’t be killing others for their loot (unless it looks really good, aesthetically or stat-wise) but for the same reason that players kill eachother in FPS-games; pride, e-peen, getting a kick out of it etc etc.

I release I sound like a fanboy, but I’m not. I don’t put too much faith in any MMO anymore, so DF can only surprise me in a positive way… and I hope, and somewhere deep inside I also believe, that’ll do so.

Sifgrim - January 10, 2009

Seriously, we’re all hungry for something new and meaty to sink our teeth into and really enjoy for the next couple years. No matter when its released, just give it an honest shot (regardless of the graphics).

If there’s a respectable depth to its “world” that intrigues our interests in just the right way, then it just may be the dawn of a new king…

Let us hope anyway, cause all this other schitz gettin’ old.

The vicious cycle | reroller - January 11, 2009

[…] starting to see what Keen meant in his recent post discussing Darkfall Online and his excitement with respect to a level-less, class-less system where loot and gear are […]

Vaporware - January 12, 2009

Jan 22: Life as usual.

Sorry but I can see vaporware a mile away, we are 1 week away from release and we have no pricing, payment methods, monthly fees, currency standards being used, small beta community, lack of advertising, unprofessional website/forum/marketing. I remember being excited about this games release and talking to everyone about it when we where playing EQ… that was quite some time ago. Its unfortunate that they are getting everyone’s hopes up with the Jan 22 date.

Boerewors - January 13, 2009

Interesting combat system, but if you lag 2ms, you miss. There has to be a reason why targetted MMO systems work….
Sadly playing from Africa on a 158k Wifi connection will rule this game out for me.

mutantmagnet - January 13, 2009

I played Battlefield and Quake games with 200-300ms. You have to place your targeting reticule farther ahead of where you predict the player will go. It’s not hard as long as the connection doesn’t fluctuate wildly.

@Enigmax66 – Razorwax was a handful of gamers who decided they wanted to keep alive the gaming concepts from Asheron’s Call and Ultima Online.

Aventurine were programmers who usually worked for the Greek government and military and decided they wanted to branch out into making games. They liked the ideas Razorwax started on and noticed they had issues making it on their own. They absorbed Razorwax and that’s the new Aventurine in a nutshell.

To clear two things up skill decay occurs at a certain level. If you have trained your swordsman ship to 80 it will always stay that way. If it goes above that skill decay kick s in until it goes back to 80 (the 80 is a guess number).

There is also a second skill decay that occurs at level 100. At that level you gain access to a very powerful ability associated with that skill. If you use that skill you are automatically knocked down to 99 and need to retrain to 100 before you can use it again.

The second thing I wanted to clear up is that for balancing purposes using spells and ranged weapons puts you in first person view only.

Using melee weapons puts you in third person view only.

Resting is the only way you can freely move the camera around to see behind your character.

Lastly you can only use melee weapons for mounted combat.

Romp - January 18, 2009

Nothing will ever trump UO:R.
That was a masterpiece, a true and original genre setter that broke all rules and then some.

UO was the best game, MMO and general pexperiance I’ve ever had and likely will ever have. Remebering eve the opening intro of UO back in the day (like 99, 2001) gives me goosebumps.

How I wish they never screwed it up and made it item based.
Some duels would last 15 minutes and faction warfare was just absolutely top notch.

Nothing will ever be like that again. Nothing.
But I will give Darkfail a shot even If I’m pretty damn sure it’s going to be a massive letdown.

Matt - January 20, 2009

I hope DF devs learned the lesson of pre-Trammel UO.

Early UO was a blast for a lot of people, and they remember the good parts. However, as people learned the fastest path, pretty much everyone became a tankmage with bone armor. Woe to the crafter with a mount lugging stuff from a city to city, because all that work would be gone in a second. People who started later on had absolutely no way to progress, other than finding a buyer for a scroll or two, or just follow other people and beg for a gold piece or two. Second someone set foot out of most towns, *BAM* ghost.

I fear that the DF devs failed to learn that there are other playstyles than griefing. A lot of players will start, create a suit of armor and get a mount, only to have it taken from them by whatever FOTM skillset is the best at ganking. Then when the PvE players realize that they can’t really grow their characters, they will leave.

Just the hardcore PvP element won’t keep DF alive. You need to account for PvE players who are more interested in crafting or raiding if you want the MMO not to suffer Tabula Rasa’s fate.

Here is DF’s question to its survival: How can the game lure non-PvPers from WoW or their MMO to DF? DF only seems to promise great rewards for ganking, not much else.

Keen - January 20, 2009

@Matt: The answer to your question is that they don’t want to lure non-PvPers. Aventurine has come right out and said that they don’t want the WoW players who are happy with WoW. They want the players who have tried WoW and said “I want something else/more/different”. DF is a niche game through and through. It’s a sandbox game with harsh penalties and completely open PvP.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game’s design to me is that, although niche in so many ways, it’s attracting this enormous crowd of people. Why? Because it’s not being designed like a post-WoW generation MMO as nearly every single MMO has been. It’s being designed as a Pre-WoW generation MMO.

The mindset and direction games went in that day are evident to those of us who were around in those days but to everyone else this old way of doing things is actually coming across as ‘fresh’ and ‘new’. That alone is going to lure people to at least give it a try.

7 years and waiting - January 23, 2009

I hate how they were not prepared for 100k or so ppl. And how all these wow carebears are getting into the beta who will quit the game in the first week. Making the rest of us not have a chance to play in beta.

Anyone selling beta keys???

Darkfall’s intriguing potential | reroller - February 19, 2009

[…] sides of the fence, and many of them have been around for a long time voicing their disdain — or professing their love — for a game that many considered vapourware until the last year or less. I’ve been aware […]

Khantrah - March 20, 2009

Biggest bummer for me so far is how non-existent trade is. I created a site to try to facilitate more efficient markets, but ultimately I hope to see better in-game markets eventually.

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