My PvE Version of Darkness Falls

I’m developing this idea of a Darkness Falls type dungeon based entirely around PvE factions instead of how player realms are doing in some PvP/RvR/AvA type system.  First, I think a quick primer on what I mean by factions is required.

In this MMORPG I’m concocting in my head there are no predetermined sides.  You’re not joining the Alliance or the Horde or the Good guys vs bad guys. My world’s factions functions much in the same way the original EverQuest worked.  Every race has its own faction, and relationships are fluid based on actions taken by the player. If you are a Dark Elf and you kill Dark Elf NPCs you are going to be hated by your own people, but the Humans might start to like you more.  Killing certain monsters can bring faction hits or gains. An Ogre could work for a real year to gain enough faction to enter the Elven City.

Some of the work associated with factions can be done quickly. Depending on the race someone chooses, there will be predetermined dispositions. For example, Humans will have an easier time accepting a Dark Elf than an Ogre in their city. Some faction changes can be seen in a day, some a week, some might even take the player over a real year to accomplish.

Darkness Falls

Are you familiar with Darkness Falls? It was a dungeon in Dark Age of Camelot that would be unlocked for the realm (group of pre-determined allied races) who owned the most keeps in the realm vs. realm war going on in the frontier.  As soon as another group was winning, the dungeon entrance would lock for those who had it, and unlock for the other realm.  The other realm could then enter and kill the other players.

Darkness Falls in DAoC was an awesome PvE zone.  Great loot, great places to group, great PvP when purging the enemy, and all around a great place to be. It encouraged people to PvP.  People wanted this place.

My PvE Version of Darkness Falls

I’m still figuring out the entire idea, but I want to work a version of this type of open-world dungeon into my world.  I’m thinking about making it a dynamic dungeon that adapts to how various NPC factions are being treated by the players.  Imagine if the dungeon was centralized in an area where the orcs and the kobolds were naturally having a dispute — these would be NPCs.  If players in the area were killing more orcs than kobolds then the dungeon may be infested with Kobolds. If players were working especially hard to vanquish both of these NPC factions then another type of faction might actually move on and lay claim to the area.

What I don’t want is for the idea to devolve into some stupid public quest type feeling. I actually hate public quests and events because of how developers now rely on them to fake a dynamic and “changing” world. Bull crap people.  Take those lies to someone who believes them because they ain’t workin’ over here.

If this is ever going to work then the change has to be gradual, and the players almost have to be unable to perceive the change.  I don’t know, thoughts? I’m trying to work this faction system into impacting the world and I think this is one potential opportunity.  Whichever faction controls the dungeon would determine the mobs.  Think about how that can impact people based on what I said previous.

If I’m working really hard on my faction with the Elves and suddenly a faction of Fairies takes over the dungeon… I’m not going to hunt those fairies and take a faction hit.  In a sense I’ll have to work to influence the world in some other way to decrease the power the fairies have in the world.  If I can’t do that by killing fairies, I’ll probably have to kill the enemy of their enemy so that their enemy can overtake them.  It can add an interesting dynamic to how players thinking about factions.

As always your thoughts are wanted.

  • Unless you’re also able to hand-pick your player-base the big problem I foresee is that your faction dungeon will quickly become the preserve of those players who don’t give a tinker’s cuss about faction. If you recall pugging in EQ back when faction really mattered it was pretty common to end up with big arguments between some of the group who didn’t want to kill certain mosb because they didn’t want to take the faction hit and others whose policy was “kill em all and let Innoruuk sort em out”.

    If you’re in a PvP setting then these things can, arguably, work themselves out but in a pure PvE dungeon, if the elves vanish and the fairies arrive the nice people who don’t want to kill fairies will leave but the rest will either just carry on killing as if nothing has changed at all or, if they are nasty but for practical reasons DO care about their fairy faction, will stand around having a slanging match or engage in PvP-by-proxy by training each other, KSing etc.

    There are probably ways to circumvent this but its best to plan for a significant proportion of players being arses for the sake of it.

  • Perhaps the idea of player driven change can be taken too far?

    I don’t think I would like the idea of players too dramatically altering the world around them as opposed to playing a part in influencing it in a direction.

    I would rather see the NPC factions be dominant and seek out players to help influence their goals, which hopefully could vary over time in unique dev led storylines (like old school D&D DM’s).

    The underlying theme I detect in your proposition is an ecosystem of sorts, with enough diversity to allow for a good variety of reactively dynamic interrelated outcomes, which I think is a great idea; but as in real life when one “faction” establishes hegemony it all starts to unravel because the tendency of natural counterbalance is suppressed/overtaxed.

    This is why I feel players should not be the dominant influence, but one smaller part of a greater dev orchestrated storyline, preferably one with numerous unique events. The idea of every player being the ultimate Sith Lord is an overrated game plot line, one which is not as easily sustainable as playing a minor character in a various subplots of an evolving storyline guided by devs.

  • …also NPC factions encroaching upon player cities would be a refreshing change from static NPC strongholds existing solely to allow for player raiding.

    Your ecosystem approach would also work well here; for instance, if a player controlled area was overtaken by a dominant NPC faction, other NPC factions could provide questing in assisted raiding to knock them back into their strongholds, with the rise of other NPC factions to replace the power vacuum.

  • I agree with Bhagpuss – one of the first things you need to consider about an idea is: given that X percentage of the playerbase are going to be arseholes, how could those people abuse this? And how can we sidestep those issues?

    I never played DAoC so I have no idea what DF was like. To be honest I have trouble imagining what an open-world dungeon looks like too. I think for your faction-based control system, though, an idea is for control to be influence-based. So the faction with the most influence in the area has control of it. Players can then help or hinder that influence by non-direct means. Destabilising other regions that the faction cares about more, so that they have to devote more time and effort there, scaling back their operations in the dungeon area. Completing tasks for other factions in the area that increase their influence, perhaps at the cost of the controlling faction’s influence. Assassination of key npcs that reduce the controlling faction’s effectiveness in the area. Economic warfare – maybe cutting off supply routes or lobbying other factions to increase taxes on goods moving to/from the area. Basically, there are a host of non-direct, non-violent ways you can determine which faction has the most influence in an area, and players can have small, but sometimes significant effects on that.

  • I loved the factions in EQ its something that people over look a lot these days.

    Not only did it make u think and work it also opened up a lot of doors for other people wanting to make a fast buck.

    Many a time I stood out side a major town where players trying to get faction to get in would ask for a bind or just get them some food and water. It all interlocks and lets a game play the people want to not just following the guide lines of go to X at lvl X and do the quests then got to zone x at lvl x.

    People had to speak to strangers and interact. Think what they where doing and if all else fails skip town with as much as you could carry on the next Wizzard/druid express.

    For factions to work you would need the size and travel time as the old EQ. That way some of the best quests you have is the ones you set yourself. i.e. “Hey why don’t we go to Qeynos, I know where only lvl 15 and stuck in free port but I have a plan!”