Six Reasons Why I’m Not Twitterpated By Darkfall

In the early weeks of 2009, a lot of online gamers (aka MMO tourists) are thrashing about for their next fix of New MMO to play.  Unfortunately, there are few titles on the immediate horizon, which has caused quite a few people to — in my opinion — force excitement over a title that wouldn’t get the time of day during a busier MMO launch season.  In this case, Darkfall Online.

Darkfall’s one of those indie MMOs that’s been in development nearly forever — in this case, mid-2001.  Almost eight years later, this Europe-based title is nearing launch, bolstered by a million promises with few substantial proofs.  Some bloggers are trying to “catch the excitement”, some amused by what they see as “overhyping”, some proclaiming it an “old school revolution”, and some, like myself, are giving it an apathetic shrug and moving on.

Why am I not inclined to give Darkfall a proper shakedown?  Six reasons off the top of my head:

1. It’s sharing the same “players must be craving ultra-hardcore MMO play after all these new sissy MMOs have taken over” mentality that Vanguard held onto so strongly, with little proof to back it up.  Yes, there’s always going to be a contingent of hardcore gamers who sneer at “accessible” titles like WoW and WAR, but appealing to the hardcore means that you’re deliberately limiting your game to a very narrow, unforgiving demographic.

2. Among its more hardcore aspects is true world-wide PvP with no safe zones and the potential to have another player loot everything off your corpse.  Like many things in Darkfall, this isn’t new and has been done before — in MUDs and Ultima Online — and it’s proven to be poison to growing the game past that hardcore ganker population to a wider range of players.  People, as a whole, don’t like to be unfairly ganked or have hard-earned items taken away from them.  You, personally, might find this more “fun” than I, but I see it as making a game more unforgiving just because they can, not because it’s enjoyable.

3. Although some writers have claimed that this is a “AAA” MMO, it really is anything but.  Adventurine SA (a Greek/Norwegian company) doesn’t have the deep pockets of a developer to fund a AAA title. My every instinct tells me that Darkfall will most likely be a very niche title to go aside other indie studio MMOs like Ryzom, Pirates of the Burning Seas or Jumpgate.  Its greatest hope isn’t that it can compete against other AAA titles, but merely that it’ll make a name for itself, turn a profit and hope to grow along the lines of Eve Online.

4. How many times has an overly long and rocky development history translated into a smash game vs. a dud?  I mean, before a month or so ago, Darkfall was equated with “vaporware” among most of the internet — now they make bluster about launching, and everyone’s quick to forget that it hasn’t proven anything yet.

5. They’re promising the moon and more.  It’s one thing to be ambitious, but Darkfall’s feature list is completely laughable when you consider how much better funded MMOs have had a very hard time getting some of their “innovative” features to work properly.  Push the hype-goggles aside and really look at that list — naval combat?  Player built cities that can be sieged?  Real-time combat?  Weather affecting combat?  Super-intelligent monsters?  Please.  This isn’t ambition, it’s a pure flight of fancy.  If half of this stuff is present and functioning properly on day one, I’ll eat my shorts.

6. The whole game is practically a giant billboard designed to attract the scum of the gaming world to gather together and create street gangs to pick on the weak.  It isn’t the lofty epic clash of armies in WAR, the carefully structured fisticuffs in WoW, or the guild-bound efforts of AoC — this promises to be a game full of soccer hooligans roaming around looking to ruin someone else’s day.  How can I say no to that?

6 thoughts on “Six Reasons Why I’m Not Twitterpated By Darkfall

  1. Werit January 23, 2009 / 11:50 pm

    You described pretty much why I am not very interested.

    A game where I have to watch over my shoulder all the time is not very relaxing or fun for me.

  2. Raegn January 24, 2009 / 9:16 pm

    A lot of what you say is true. I’ve pointed out a lot of good things about the game but no one can deny that the game is too niche to make any kind of real impact in the market. I think you’re spot on placing it alongside Eve Online.

    Though, that may not be so bad. The full loot aspect is something I think was better left in the old days because there are too many people that will *just* want to grief players far smaller than them. I can tell you though, when you know you have something tangible to lose, not just some mundane number, the exhiliration of combat is increased immensely.

    The only downside is that it’s incredibly easy for exhiliration to turn into frustration when you’re on the losing side too much. I’m going to give it a shot, and I think others should too, but I think people are fooling themselves if they think it will be the next big hit.

    We all crave that early feeling of awe that comes with MMOs. Unfortunately, that feeling is unattainable for most.

  3. Mike January 26, 2009 / 11:03 am

    FYI, There will be a weight limit on what you can carry. So a player that is already loaded up with full armor etc, will have to choose carefully what item you have that he thinks he wants. This will take time as the bags are very hard to look through. Not to mention most of your items will be similare to what would be a grey item in WOW. Why would another player steal your sword? if his is almost the exact same thing? and he is close to encumbered from all his gear and supplies? Unless is was near the end of it’s life, your sword will be safe.

    In lineage II We used to leave most of our coin in the bank, because we could drop it when we where killed by a player. This added an inensity to the game, that I have not felt since.

    Also, please remember that gear has a lot less meaning in Darkfall. You are still thinking that there will be the items that make your toon better. That is not the case with Darkfall. Anyone who played SWG, early on, will remember that gear was for looks and all weapons where close to the same. Sure you could craft a pistol with a little better stats, but it was not a huge difference.

    So in closing, you need to think outside the box to fully understand how full loot will affect this title and the players.

    Also, I do agree that I will be VERY impressed if half of what they say works at launch.

    For the first time I will wait for an anticipated mmo to launch and read the reveiws before deciding to spend my money on it.

  4. Gar of Meridian 59 March 9, 2009 / 1:28 pm

    One of the biggest problems in designing a game is that players outside of your target market will never understand it, but still be able to comment on it. They will launch tirades about this and that feature being horrible, but, in the end, they won’t even be the ones playing.

    I don’t personally like Darkfall, but it’s for reasons totally different than this article.

    This article simply describes what elements the PvP minority wants in a game, and why the PvE author doesn’t like those elements. It’s perfectly natural. Don’t get me started on how much I dislike the concepts of PvP and PvE as separate, because that’s a huge debate in itself.

    But yes, the undercurrent of scum generally also flocks to PvP games. This doesn’t mean a PvP game has never been done successfully. It stings a little bit to see everybody quoting Ultima Online as ‘that good old days game where they tried this and it didn’t work’, because the game that came before Ultima Online, Meridian 59, did it better and it DID work. UO ripped off a massive amount of content from M59, something that continues to trickle down to this day.

    Darkfall suffers from poor design. That’s why it’s not fun. It is completely possible to make a full-loot-drop, skills-and-hp lost permanently on death, open PvP environment game and have PvE players also along for the ride in a society that is surprisingly not filled with scum. Meridian 59 did it, and is still up and running 13 years later, if that tells you anything.

  5. Blackwings April 21, 2009 / 3:34 pm

    I can tell you Darkfall does have a laundry list of problem, mostly due to being developed by an under funded Indie company, but that said – it is still fun. But as is a popular saying with this game, it’s not for everyone.

    One point I would like to mention is that you covered some of the hardcore aspects of the game like full PvP looting and no safe areas. While this is true, it really isn’t one big gank-fest, in fact the game is filled with mega-alliances all vying for political control of Agon. And on that note, even if you do get ganked which, of course in a game like this, is going to happen – items don’t mean nearly as much as in game’s like WoW or War.

    I stole my first mount on my first day and was excited, reminiscing of when I got my first mount in WoW. It was killed two days later and I was really upset, then I realized it’s not a big deal – they are fairly easy to come by as is just about anything else in the game. Items play a role, but a small one – it’s really a lot more about skill.

    Is it ready for the masses to come check out? Realistically no, though I’d love to see them in game. It needs more polish – but it’s getting better every day.

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