Darkfall: New Dawn

I get contacted by a lot of people who want me to check out their game, republish their press release, or somehow how let them piggyback on whatever small amount of attention this blog can bring. Usually I ignore them, but this time the email was a tad bit different.

Darkfall: New Dawn

The team at Ub3rgames is negotiating a licensing deal with Aventurine to re-open Darkfall as a somewhat new game called Darkfall: New Dawn. Why did they contact me? Apparently they read my stuff regularly. Now I get a lot of people buttering me up. It’s usually in the form of, “We’re big fans of your blog,” or “We really agree with you.” Most of that I shrug off as the usual BS. These guys are a bit different, though. They cited specific things about the blog here that has influenced them over the years. In fact, I “brought them to Darkfall” which means I could be the reason why they played Darkfall to begin with.

My last post about Darkfall talked about how I would never go back to a Darkfall run by Aventurine, but if someone else stepped up and took the reins I would be much more willing to try. Apparently that got these guys thinking because they mention that specific post as something that got the wheels turning and motivated them. Again, this is what they are telling me. Could it still be buttering me up to get me to cover them? Sure, but I like a little butter now and again.

We exchanged emails a bit and they sent me over a link to New Dawn in a nutshell. It’s a little bit like a design document talking about how they want to change the game to be more like a fantasy version of EVE. They’re saying all the right things.

  • Reducing the power gap
  • Giving more reasons to play, and more ways to play, especially “positive” ways to play rather thank just ganking
  • Fixing the economy (or actually creating one)
  • Making PvE more enjoyable
  • Making PvP a little more sensical

Take a look and let me know what you think. I see a lot of potential here, especially in making Darkfall more than just a “gankbox” as they call it.

I have always maintained that Darkfall was one of the better social experiences I’ve had in a MMO as it pertains to creating an environment where people have to play together. I made friends in Darkfall that I still talk to every day, and Darkfall was one of the best experiences this community has had playing together. Put that potential in the hands of a good team and we might have something here.

As always, talk is cheap. I told them I want to get in there and get my hands on what they’re making so that I can try it out for myself and let you guys know what I think. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Thanks a lot for talking about us.
    We’re starting our communication by talking only to people we actually follow and know would understand where we’re comming from. We don’t have that much butter. 😉

    We’re looking forward to hear what everyone here has to say.

  • “I’m gonna butta yo’ bread!”

    Sorry, couldn’t resist with all the butter talk. On to the post!

    “Player progression – Stats, skills and abilities:
    All stats will get the same diminishing return than health.
    Debuffs will be changed to remove percentages rather than flat numbers.
    Gear tiers will have large increases in cost for small increases in effectiveness.
    Skill points will have a linear impact rather than steps every 25 points.
    Player will be able to raise skills by solo playing but it will be less efficient.
    Add flat skill decay on gank / tap out for what we call “bonus” skills.”

    I see nothing in here about skill decay on the whole. And forgive me if this was ever actually implemented in Darkfall (they originally before launch said it would be, and then it got left out). By skill decay, I mean that basically each character gets a finite amount of skillpoints to allocate as they choose. Now whether that is manual allocation or by actually doing things in game (use bow to gain bow skill, etc) I could care less. The important part for me is that a finite number of these skill increases, coupled with a skill decay mechanic… means that you specialize into a certain skillset instead of just ramping up to be capped at everything.

    You use a bow, and like it well enough for a while. But then someday you decide you’d rather be a sword master. So you start using a sword. You no longer use the bow, so bow skill drops… while sword skill increases.

    If this is not part of the revamped Darkfall… Then I still won’t enjoy it. Aventurine promised this originally. It was a tragedy that it was not implemented. The actual implementation just totally destroyed any new player experience… as everyone that had played longer than you was generally capped in every skill type. EvE bypasses this particular issue with the ships themselves. Piloting skills are only applicable to a certain type/size of ship. And the entry level ships are still worthwhile even to the larger corps. Just in case anyone wanted to cite EvE as a non-decay skill game without issues. It is indeed, but the skill system is implemented into the game vastly differently.

    Just my thoughts on Darkfall (3?).0

  • We’re also bypassing this issue in New Dawn. And we believe our solution is superior to a skill cap.

    A lot of Darkfall was an happy accident, the lack of a skill cap created one of the best MMO combat system that we are aware of. But it did come with its issues.
    Darkfall was also advertised as a class less game, and in essence, a skill cap is a “do your own class” class system and it will harshly limit freedom for our players used to more abilities.

    Our solution to bypass those issues is our Title System:

    In short, players have a set of 5 titles they can pick and chose that give buffs to certain aspects and nerf certain others. Generally, the nerfs are more consequent than the buffs. Some titles also have several tiers of commitment that will increase drawbacks harshly in exchange for unique new abilities or spells.
    Titles increase in potency over time, like skills in Eve, and generally double the effects of “bonus skills” after 6 months.

    The final idea is that someone should be able to focus on only the playstyle they enjoy, but still have access to many tools in a weaker form. A full hybrid character will still be possible, pleasing those that enjoyed that type of gameplay, but for a small fraction of the grind, a specialized character can be on par with that character and have unique perks the hybrid does not have.

    It also serves to balance the economy as crafting masteries are titles that share the same slots than combat and utility titles. We hope to make crafters be a playstyle of their own and be desired by the community.
    You can read more about that in our Economic Improvements page:

  • Thank you for not posting every new game that spams you. As for this one, I’m picking up three guys living in a basement vibe. Albeit well spoken and seemingly friendly. I’m just so jaded now. *raises fist*. Damn you mmo industry.

  • @Sanz: DAOC was made in a basement by handful of people when they first got started. This industry has run me down so far that I have more faith in the basement devs than I do the “AAA” ones.

  • Especially when it is guys in a basement revamping a game that already has an engine, already has animations, already has a map, world, terrain, etc etc.

    You just have to hope they really sit back, and take a long hard look at balance, and bringing things up to where you consider them to be fun 🙂

  • I’m right there with you on the balance issue. A lack of hard capping stats was a HUGE part of Darkfall’s failure. I don’t know yet whether or not the title system matters enough.

  • You’re pretty close to the truth. we are almost 3 guys in our basement. We’re around 10 guys sitting in our apartments. We all had startup experience before, but we’re approaching this with humility. This is our first game, and we won’t forget that fact. We’ll do mistakes, but we are prepared to fix them.

    On the other hand, Aventurine did DFO from scratch with those kind of numbers back when game dev resources and infrastructure technologies were less advanced.
    Comparatively, we’ve got it easy. We are getting a technically completed game. We “just” have to maintain and fix the game design. The approach is similar to modding, but with the full source code.

    As a side note, we’re also adding diminishing returns on stats and skills. This alone, without the title system, will alleviate the power gap and the grind to viability by a large margin.
    We’ll try to create an 80/20 split, 20% of the time to reach 80% of the max power, then 80% for the 20% left. It should motivate long term appeal but reduce the newb crushing effect.
    The title system is a cherry on top that should reduce the size of the 100% to reach while leaving people the choice to go further if that’s the playstyle they want.

    We’ll have a a long play testing period, and that aspect balance is one of our top priorities.

  • Just to make this clear for us who were interested but never tried DFO, Darkfall and Darkfall Unholy Wars are 2 different games?

  • Unholy Wars was a “rerelease” in the form of a “sequel” or an “expansion” of sorts that essentially took the exact same game and made it worse.

    Contrast that with New Dawn which is taking the original game and trying to “remake” it.

  • Negotiating a licensing deal…

    And how is this going? Is it a done deal so i can start getting hyped or you still working out the nuances ?

  • We’re still working out nuances, so the final contract is not signed yet.
    But we’re confident we can start hyping people slowly but surely, hence why we contacted Keen and a couple other people we follow.

  • I could tolerate the ganking, and I even thought the “uber jack of all trades” thing was cool, but there was one thing that broke DF for me: BOTS
    Nothing was more irritating than seeing two or more scripted bots hacking and healing each other in some hidden corner.
    On a side note, have you reached Syncaine yet?

  • With BOTS I mean AFK Macroers, in case it was not clear. Are you confident you can prevent/remove such (bad) player practice, with account bans and whatnot?

  • The city/village/hamlet placement system always annoyed me in this game. Being forced to build at predetermined city stones and having a limited number of “slots” for building always killed the world for me.

    These kinds of games always remind me of Shadowbane. Of course then I always end up comparing them to Shadowbane. They always fall short 🙁

  • Syncaine, Jef Reahard and Keen are the only three people we contacted. As we said, we focused on people that we actually followed and could be genuinely interested. This early in the project, we’re looking for interaction and feedback, not news coverage. (but it is a positive side product 😉 )

    For macroing, we have an answer about that in our FAQ:
    In short, we’re aware we can’t win this war, even large AAA companies don’t have the resources. However, we can design the game to reward normal play to such an extent that macroing is obsolete.
    This is through our engaged system, which creates scaling mob spawns but also provide skill ups only when engaged in an actual fights rather than when hitting an afk player.
    If we solve the root cause, there is no need to cure the symptoms.

    The static placement is useful to “balance” the map. We’re adding the watchtower system for some player made exploitation of the map, but centered around the static holdings. It’s in our opinion the best of both worlds.

    We don’t know yet if we interact too much or not enough with the community. We’re trying the devs we wish to have as gamers and are looking for feedback on that as well for when the game is launched and the community becomes larger.

  • Holding off my post until the license deal if final. Having negotiated things with AV in the past, being ‘close’ and actually having something with them is a big, big gap, but hoping it works out.

    As for macroing, it was an issue in DF1 because of how skill gains worked. It was a non-issue in DF:UW because of tweaks, so it’s more than possible to make changes to fully stop it, by making it useless.

  • As someone that played DarkFail extensively at launch, I’ll be watching with a guarded interest. Aventurine were very incompetent hosts for lack of a better word, and let rampant exploits and hacking persist for months with no action.

    Radar, stickyback, teleporting, you name it and the client was being abused with it. Security is going to be the most important aspect of any type of re-launch.

    • If it is, we’ll kick it to the curb just we like did Darkfall. It HAS to change. There is no option here. If it doesn’t change, it’ll be a failure.