Today’s Darkfall patch is at least a step in the right direction

Any step in the right direction for Darkfall right now is a huge boost to player morale.  Today’s patch focused on adding exactly the type of things I, and many other players, have been clammoring about for weeks/months.  The crème de la crème of today’s patch is the improvements to PvE and solo play.  These changes are the “reasons” I’ve been B.M.C.’ing about that players need in order to get out and do something.  Official word:

In today’s patch we introduce the first step of our ongoing commitment to improving the Darkfall PvE and solo/small group experience. We’ve added new low level spawns and updated many existing spawns to be more suited for solo players or small groups. These spawns are primarily located on the sub-continents and on the various small islands surrounding the mainland of Agon. This placement should make it easier to find secluded spots to hunt at.

This will enhance the following dynamics in Darkfall:

– More secluded spawns you can handle alone or with a friend
– More opportunities for solo players or small groups to make gold
– More readily available reagents for spell-casting
– As smaller groups become more viable, small scale PvP frequency will increase significantly.
– More purchasing power for individual players means a significant boost for the crafted items market

While we continue improving the solo to small group experience, our next PvE balancing priority is to improve things for larger groups.

This is one way to accomplish the design changes Darkfall needs.  It’s definitely going to create more content for the individual and small-group player in both PvE and PvP.  I think that this concept can be taken a whole lot further though.  I still believe that Aventurine could take their big open (85% empty) main continent of Agon and fill it with stuff like this.  Fill it with more small-group (2-3) content.  Also, I’m still in favor of making special resource areas unique to different parts of the map that spawn in big hubs (without towers/guards) that players can congregate in (without global banks) to form sub communities.  It will draw players out of macroing, out of hiding in their cities, and give them an even bigger ‘reason’ to do something in Darkfall.  It will increase PvP, improve the economy, and improve the game.

There are a few more details in the patch notes to highlight.

Target FPS – players can now set their desired FPS and the game will adjust itself to match that FPS.  Should hopefully improve siege performance.

Auto-Harvesting – Hallelujah!  Hallelujah! And it continues to work when you alt tab!   The game will have your character continue harvesting until the node is empty, you’re out of stamina, or you’re interrupted.  It also continues to harvest when you break the mouse away so that you can do other things in-game other than focus right on that tree.

I like steps in the right direction even when they come at the eleventh hour.  Stopping here would be sad though.  Aventurine needs to build momentum and hammer out patches like this every week for the next month if Darkfall is going to make it very long.  Hopefully they’ll look into my suggestion of developing the emptiness into meaningful incentives.

My updated thoughts are in the comments.

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  • Keen, I see no reason why AV would “stop here”. They’ve really been making huge strides with every major patch, and they are releasing them fairly quickly. I mean, the game has been out what…2 months?? Look at all the changes they’ve made in such a short while, for a relatively small team i’m amazed at what they’ve gotten accomplished, and this is why i’m so confidant (and a little confused on why you aren’t) that they will continue to make positive, meaningfull changes to this game on a very frequent basis. You seem to be basing your conclusion on how long it took them to release the game, i’d say that’s not a good basis for your conclusion that they don’t have the ability/drive/whatever to improve this game post-launch in short order. A better basis is to look at what they’ve accomplished since release, i see no reason why that can’t continue that pace and direction going forward.

    If i had the time i’d list all the major patch changes…but my job (and laziness) are winning out so i won’t do that for you ;). I’ve been involved in several major mmorpg releases over the years and i don’t remember a company being able to make so many positive changes so fast. (Vanguard tried, but with every patch they’d introduce more bugs than patches).

    I too was really heartened to see the PvE changes however. I agree this is the main weak point of the game right now, and if they can ramp up the quantity/quality of the PvE sphere this game could truly evolve into something very special.

  • Well I think you should find the time to list all the major patch changes that have improved the gameplay Jordan. I think you’ll find that they’re fewer in number than you think. This patch is ‘so good’ because it’s a real step in the right direction.

    However, looking at it relative to others games it’s actually not that big of a patch. They moved some mobs around to make it easier for people to hide from zergs. In most games that would be lateral development. In Darkfall it’s a step forward. That says a lot about where Darkfall is right now. But a positive change for Darkfall is worth talking about and it’s worth hoping that they don’t stop here.

  • C’mon Keen, they did more than just “moved some mobs around”.

    OK…I believe, with a couple rare exceptions, all of the below patches improve the game whether it’s updates to the world, the NPCs, rebalancing of magic and melee and crafting, adding a bunch of quests, adding a bunch of monsters, tweaking armor, numerous visual updates, updates to siege mechanics, adding gates to clan cities etc. etc.

    More quests have been added:

    [Truncated because it’s annoying. The notes were linked to in my original entry and I’ll link them here too. -Keen]

    Keen, if you disagree that this is “a lot” then i guess we’re just arguing semantics as you have a different definition of that phrase than i do.

  • Like Jordan said, I think AV is doing a pretty good job of applying well-thought patches that are moving the game in a good direction, and see no reason to fear that they’ll suddenly ‘stop’.

    The following quote of yours concerns me, though:

    “Hopefully they’ll look into my suggestion of developing the emptiness into meaningful incentives.”

    Do you mean by this trying to fill up the land with more spawn points, camps, towns, cities, etc? If so, HELL NO! One of the things I love about the game is that I actually feel like it’s a world. There are vast distances in this game, and that’s a good thing. No insta-travel! No mobs every 15 feet! DF has this right, as it is.

    Compare with WAR, the MMO I played before DF:

    WAR: You can’t get from point A to point B without having to maneuver between mobs. VERY annoying and unimmersive.

    DF: I love that mob spawns are so spread out, that you need to know where you’re going to find them or–gasp–explore to find them!

    WAR: You in Empire and get the call from your guild that they need you in Elfland? Hop a copter, you and the rest of your clan, spread all over the map, can be there in minutes. Insta-zerg FTW.

    DF: You hunting mobs outside your hamlet in Mirendil and get the call in Alliance chat that an ally’s city is under siege on Yassam? Well, you’ve got a trek if you want to help, as do the rest of your friends. Zerging happens, but it takes much more time or planning.

  • What I think Keen meant about filling in the land is this. Im sure he can correct me if I am wrong.

    While raiding the other night we came upon a lake that had a building with a waterwheel in it. There was no reason for it to be there, no mobs, no chests, nothing. It was just there.

    We were talking about how that waterwheel needs to do something. Like a clan could “claim it” and while it was claimed they get a bonus to crafting or something. They could then defend it while they mass crafted for the bonus.

    Its things like that, that are basically already in the game but have no use, that I think is the issue.

  • Zensun Said:

    “Compare with WAR, the MMO I played before DF:

    WAR: You can’t get from point A to point B without having to maneuver between mobs. VERY annoying and unimmersive”.

    I don’t play DF so I’m not going to comment on the mob placement there, but I just started WAR and the placement and out-of-combat AI of the mobs there is one of the best implementations I’ve seen in a MMO.

    I’d agree there are too many animal mobs in any given area, as there are in every MMO I have ever played, but all the humanoid NPCs are extremely convincing. Yes, there are a lot of them in many areas, but these are highly populated lands in time of war, so that’s entirely as it should be.

    I do like big, empty landscapes though, and if DF ever gets anywhere close to mainstream (i.e. you can buy it whenever you get the inclination) I might give it a try just to see the sights, because some of the screenshots have looked quite spectacular.

  • Definitely a step in the right direction, and may actually get me to login for the first time in over a week. The constant skill grinding in the city burned me out and I stopped logging in.

    One of my biggest gripes with the game was the relatively small amount of soloable mobs (without exploiting). If they have truely added a good amount of profitable solo mobs, I will definitely stay subbed for at least another month or two. I agree with you though Keen, they need to add stuff like this all over the place. They have a decent foundation for a game (horrific skill system and grind aside) and if they continue to add stuff like this people will continue to play. If they drop the ball again though the game is destined to be another Shadowbane.

  • Maybe somebody can help me understand this…

    Why do so many PVP-based MMOs have FPS/performance issues?
    Doesn’t it basically come down to a math problem, albeit a complex one?

    For example, couldn’t Mythic have calculated the load required to handle x number of players during the design phase, and then built their game around that understanding?

  • Yea tank I think so. That and your pc capability to display all the characters and effects at once. Each person has a unique look/armor/color/etc…where as most FPS have certain skins. Add in all the effects and you can get quite a graphic stress test.

    In WAR for instance my older PC (1440×900) runs pretty good with ~100 folks if I have “fastest framerate” on, yet a another guy I know just bought the “latest & greatest” and can run it full settings in 1980x? with hundreds of folks.

    You mix in collision detection (like WAR) and non-targeted live shots/attacks (like DF) and the math gets crazier.

    I remember reading a post from a Savage 2 developer that said the max number of players they could support was ~64 soley because of the network traffic. It was so much to keep up with all the mele positioning/live shots/etc that it just filled up the wire.

    ….Oh if DarkFall had Savage 2 attack system/gameplay…Can’t hurt to dream.

  • I also agree with others. I’m pretty happy with the progress DF has made. I’m currently non-subscribed waiting on a NA server.

    If they make a NA server and keep up this pace of fixes, I will defiantly be back.

  • @Jordan: Obviously I was exaggerating when I said all they did was move a few mobs, but I’m trying to make a point. The patch notes, among many in the past, have had a lot of changes. But come on, tweaking how a spell works (or 20) or “optimizing system performance” can be added in any patch and it doesn’t mean a thing to me. That’s not content. That’s not a “huge stride”. Let’s list some big changes.

    – Gates for cities (-THE- biggest change to gameplay)
    – More mob spawns (I haven’t seen them yet)
    – Additional items that can be crafted (All 4 of them?)

    Those are “huge strides” and those constitute a “major patch”, but we’ve seen only a handful of changes like this. Yes, like I’m saying, it’s moving in the right direction. However, no one has a leg to stand on claiming that AV are saints for fixing something that was broken all along or being a company that’s trumpeting so many changes. I haven’t seen AV do anything out or the ordinary post-launch patching but the way some people go on about it you’d it was extraordinary.

    If something is broken, then fixed or worked around, that’s not ADDING to the game. That’s not even improving the game. That’s fixing the game to be on par with what it is supposed to already be – it’s playing catch up. There is nothing “well thought out” about fixing what you couldn’t get right already.

    @Zensun: To clarify, I don’t mean to make the whole countryside littered with mobs. I’m talking more about stuff that I mentioned in a previous entry. Cities, outposts, rare resource locations, objectives to own which benefit your clan, server-wide community things. I can walk 15 minutes and see nothing but ground and trees – no mobs, no buildings, no people, nothing… it should have something. I too like big open areas too but it’s crossed over from “big and open” to “big and underdeveloped”.

    @ThinkTank: I don’t know the answer either. It’s more of a problem with some games than others. It has to do with engines, hardware, coding and stuff.

  • After playing the patch quite a bit today it seems that the additional mob spawns are negligible. I don’t really see them making much difference at all really. Still, even if it makes no difference, it’s at least a change that shows they’re trying to move in the right direction.

    There was a nerf to mana missiles not listed in this patch (at least not that I saw first reading) and it’s wonderful. It’s a nerf to the naked zergs who can destroy people with their lvl 100 mana missile while having zero risk of losing anything. Take that you asshats.

  • It has only been two month also. And they were for the most part fixing a lot of other stuff with the game. Have a good feeling they will fix a lot of stuff that is needed.

  • “If something is broken, then fixed or worked around, that’s not ADDING to the game. That’s not even improving the game.”

    Couldn’t disagree more with this statement. That most certainly is improving the game and i’m not sure how you could argue otherwise. Something doesn’t have to be a completely new feature to improve the game. And while i agree in principle that tweaking how a spell works isn’t a major change, it still can have a major impact on how the game works when they tweak a bunch of spells (as they have done) or how stamina affects gameplay etc. I just think it’s refreshing they can make so many of those “smallish” types of changes to improve the game balance in a short time. I’ve played games where it would take a committee of 10 devs and a class lead to agree to tweak one spell for one class, and that process would take a month or two before a decision was finally reached. Thankfully this is not the case in Darkfall.

    Re: the additional mob spawns. Av did say that most of these mobs were placed mainly on some of the smaller islands surrounding the center continent, with the intent being to try to have places for newer characters to play the PvE away from where the bulk of the PvP is ocurring (less possibility of “ganking the newbs” etc.). If you stayed on the main continent you probably didn’t see them (not sure if this was the case though…just an fyi in case you didn’t know).

  • Keen,

    If you want Darkfall to be fun stop hiding. You joined the Hyperzerg and lost your way. Your hiding in the middle of a huge area of land controlled by your Alliance. You have friendlies to your left and right. You have to sit and grind your taxes to pay your king and then grind to build your cities.

    If you want to enjoy Darkfall then play it how you want (a roaming hunter) and not as a chicken shit hiding behind the hyperzerg.