[su_lightbox type=”image” src=”https://www.keenandgraev.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/original-darkfall.jpg” class=”pointer”][/su_lightbox]My fascination with the Darkfall revival projects continues to grow, and I’ve recently become aware of another project called Darkfall: Rise of Agon. Unlike Darkfall: New Dawn, Rise of Agon is looking to basically bring back the original Darkfall.
New Dawn is seeking to take the foundation of Darkfall and create the game we should have been given. That’s my take on these two projects, but to try and bring another perspective in I asked Marc Thompson, Lead Developer and CEO of Ub3rgames (the company making New Dawn) a few questions. He was kind enough to reply, and I will say now that he was very professional and did not rag on Rise of Agon at all. He was quite objective, and my questions, albeit brief, weren’t easy PR questions.
[su_box title=”Keen’s impromptu interview with Marc Thompson” box_color=”#011948″]Keen: How does New Dawn differ from Rise of Agon?
Marc Thompson: “In our opinion, both projects have merits, but their approach is very different. What they do have in common is a desire to have diminishing return on stats (they call it front loading) and some form of specialization. They did not enter into details yet, while we’ve had everything ready on our website for a few weeks, but I believe that we are going further than them regarding balancing the power gap. Our title system will be probably more specialized than them, as this is quite a polarizing issue in the current community. To be honest, we’re curious to see what they will release.”
Keen: Why should someone choose to be excited for and follow, and ideally play, New Dawn over Rise of Agon?
Marc Thompson: “On our side, we are less nostalgic, or at least we try not to be blinded by our love of the game. We believe that Darkfall was not a sustainable product back then and are not afraid of doing the necessary changes. We want to mix the dreams we had during the hype in 2008 with what worked well in Darkfall 2012 and the successful games in the genre.”
[…] “We will focus a lot on getting more play styles viable and getting players to enjoy the game sooner. We’re making changes that are unpopular with the late Darkfall crowd but was asked by the early Darkfall crowd. Like less grind, more specialization and a balanced meta game. We are not doing sandbox for the sake of sandbox but as a tool to fuel activities. The local banking is there for trading to emerge, along dedicated crafters and highwaymen. We are expanding holdings and villages for people to have something they can call home and want to fight for. We’re doing skill decay for players to stay interested in the world and collaborate with each other. Same for racial wars and our engaged/alignment system, we want to create a sense of larger community, what you would call realm pride. We are not afraid to use “gamey” mechanics if it means it serves a purpose.”[/su_box]
Marc really hit on a key point for me. You guys all know that I really hated so much about Darkfall because of what Aventurine screwed up, and because of how the players (who are 99% toxic trash) ruined the experience. Rise of Agon looks to recreate that playground for the deranged sociopaths. New Dawn is looking to provide an experience that I personally believe is a better game. I like that they aren’t afraid to use gamey mechanics. I like that they’re thinking more along the lines of ‘how can we make this game fun’ rather than ‘how can we recreate this social experiment gone horrible awry.’ (All my direct and very poignant words, mind you.)
If you’re interested in more New Dawn talk, Marc was on The Sandbox’s podcast.
[su_spoiler title=”Expand to Listen” icon=”arrow”]
To wrap this up, I want to say that whether or not any of these projects ever get to fruition doesn’t matter as much as the overarching idea of making better games. Darkfall really sucked in so many ways, but if a team can make it better? More power to them. That goes for all games, and one of the many reasons why I support fan-based initiatives. I’m a P99 fan and SWG EMu fan; I’ve played plenty of UO shards. Bring back what works, toss out the rest, and continue to improve.
There’s a lot for developers (the ones not in basements) to learn from this mentality. There’s a lot for players to learn here as well. I used to be incredibly preachy on this subject, and perhaps it’s time for me to dust off my soapbox for another round. Identify what you like about MMOs, what you don’t like, and demand developers quit fixing what isn’t broken or focusing on flash-in-the-pan gimmicks. Return to substance, and return to making MMOs fun.