By Request, This Week's Darkfall Post!

Eurogamer reviews Darkfall, gives it a 2/10.

While playing for a few hours of reasonably solid combat only netted me a few increases in sword handling, a kindly fellow informed me that it would only take me “about six or eight hours to get good”. On further questioning, this was revealed to mean “keep banging your head against the same goblins until you can reliably hit something bigger”.

And so hit those bloody things I did, not enjoying one second of it.

Tasos Flambouras reviews Eurogamer, gives it a -15/2.

When we read the hostile review by Ed Zitron, one thing became apparent: he had not played the game at all. Eurogamer readers and Darkfall players are posting bullet lists of factual errors in the story. The reviewer hadn’t even figured out the very basics of the game before he wrote about it. We checked the logs for the 2 accounts we gave Eurogamer and we found that one of them had around 3 minutes playtime, and the other had less than 2 hours spread out in 13 sessions. Most of these 2 hours were spent in the character creator since during almost every one of the logins the reviewer spent the time creating a new character. The rest of the time was apparently spent taking the low-res screenshots that accompanied the article. At no point did this reviewer spend more than a few minutes online at a time.

Darkfall is the largest MMORPG game of its kind and this guy spent a few minutes playing(?) before he tore it apart. How can someone do that responsibly? Ed Zitron didn’t even give Darkfall a chance.

Eurogamer reviews Tasos Flambouras, gives him a 13/20 .

The reviewer in question, Ed Zitron, disputes the server logs that Aventurine presents as fact. According to the logs they supplied, Ed played the game for just over three hours. Ed says the logs miss out two crucial days and understate others, which suggests they are incomplete, and he insists he played the game for at least nine hours.

That said, the passion with which Aventurine has attacked Ed’s review is considerable, and the allegations obviously go a long way beyond arguing the toss. With this in mind, it seems only fair to take another look at Darkfall to supplement the review we’ve already published.

I’ve already contacted another one of our PC writers, Kieron Gillen, who has agreed to review Darkfall. Kieron is a vastly experienced, award-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. I’ll publish his review as soon as it’s ready, and we will see whether he agrees with Ed or not.

Lum reviews Darkfall, gives it a 0/10 since despite, according to Tasos, it being “the largest MMORPG game of its kind”, it’s not technically, you know, actually for sale.

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185 Responses to By Request, This Week's Darkfall Post!

  1. J. says:

    Getting Kieron Gillen to review it will make the second bite at the apple that much easier to dismiss by Aventurine, which has apparently already declared Darkfall to only be for those who already like it, New Games Journalism be damned. Plus Kieron’s writing a whole bunch of comic books now, like he has time to be all hardcore n’ shit.

  2. sinij says:

    Game journalism is dead, Eurogamer’s review is nothing but a marketing ploy to grab attention by presenting polorizing opinion about controversial topic. How many of you knew Eurogamer existed before they made an ass out of themselves?

    Lum’s – Not for sale bash… I’d rather few people had playable experience than A LOT MORE had complete clusterfuck of lag and log-in queues. You are barking up the wrong tree, they did the right thing for a change.

  3. Matt Mihaly says:

    How many of you knew Eurogamer existed? Seriously? It’s one of the largest game publications in Europe. The largest independent one, I believe, and has been around for a decade.

  4. CaesarsGhost says:

    if you can’t buy the game, it shouldn’t be reviewed

    …and no, people should not be required to hit “refresh” on the sale page for a digital download hoping they’re one of the lucky ones who catches the page at the moment they decide to open it.

  5. GreyPawn says:

    My experience with Darkfall was short and telling. It went like this.

    (GreyPawn logs in.)
    (Creates character.)
    (The world loads.)
    (GreyPawn looks around for a tutorial or tooltips on interface/progression/etc and finds none)
    (GreyPawn logs out, uninstalls Darkfall)

    This is 2009. You don’t get to make games without tutorials anymore. I have neither the time nor the energy to study the arcane assembly of design choices made by your development team as a player, and if I have to fling myself headfirst at a sheer cliff that you call your learning curve, my Trammie carebear butt wants nothing to do with your fancy “hardcore” game.

  6. Cecil says:

    Hey Grey, whats up?

    Been playing Darkfall, or trying to, for nearly a month now. My biggest issue that is likely to drive me to quit is that the divide between the early exploiter class that has near infinite funds and levelled up skills and newer users with lower skills that are much harder to get up is far too vast. I don’t care how ‘hardcore’ you are, it isn’t worth a minute of work, with no failures and without being killed by roaming gank artists to make 20 arrows out of the thousands that will be required to level up archery to a level that would compete with the gankists.

    Games like this need an EVE styled ’empire’ area for newer players and less pvp minded types to play and get used to the game as well as a reasonable amount of pve content for the entire playerbase. Retarded mob AI that is only killable by semi-illegitimate perching tactics or outright stupid and should-be-bannable teleport hacking or fighting enemies from inside of the walls is painful and useless.

    tl;dr Darkfall failed to learn the (failed) lessons of Shadowbane and also somehow didn’t learn the successes of the EVE model that could very easily apply to a fantasy game.

    I’d kill for fantasy EVE, but I guess it can’t exist due to the ‘hardcore’ being too extreme to realize the less hardcore need breathing room and a game to play to support said hardcore. Whatevs.

  7. TariqOne says:

    Yeah. Darkfall is not for everyone.

    Aventurine’s posturing made me almost believe they truly were rebel bad guys who didn’t give a crap and wanted us all to go back to WoW. Then they get a 2/10 for their self-professed “not for everyone”” niche title and they go all wobbly and sensitive, bemoaning the lack of truth and dignity on the internet.

    If they’re all worried about internet inaccuracies about Darkfall’s features, how’s about they update the features list on their own website? If they’re worried about people being scared off buying their game, how about they stop their army of minions from telling everyone to go back to WoW or — even better — I dunno, actually SELL the game?

    Total nonsense. 2/10 seems right for the whole tawdry mess.

  8. Goedel says:

    The problem for Adventurine is that that review is perfectly accurate for the vast majority of potential players, and therefore Eurogamer readers. Good god, it’s a full loot PvP game with a grind atleast 2 orders of magnitude worse than UO.

  9. Bonedead says:

    SOmebody played their cards right, blogstyle and such. Waiting until the end so you can masterfully wtfrape that shit. GJ Mr. Jennings, and I still love you.

  10. dartwick says:

    I have some guildies(who are actually playing DarkFall) who keep talking about what a great game it is and about how it is to have a real sand box.

    But when they describe the game game it sounds a shallow repetitive long grind punctuated by some fun PVP. And every time they try to solo they get radared.

  11. VorpalK says:

    hahah. PvP game is teh Fail. What a suprise.

  12. Raad says:

    @sinij
    THE TREE MR. JENNINGS, YOU SEEM TO BE BARKING UP THE WRONG ONE.

  13. geldonyetich says:

    “Independently-run MMO Darkfall Online is certainly special – special in the way in which it so flagrantly ignores many of the rules of what makes a great, playable game.” (From the Eurogamer review.)

    I like this Ed Zitron guy. He neatly encapsulates just what I find so repulsive about non-game spectacles like Darkfall Online or EVE Online without requiring fifty pages to do it. I’m a rather half-baked writer until I figure out a similar flair.

    I know the people who enjoy Darkfall Online or EVE Online will take offense to that, but they’re getting offended for the wrong reasons. We’re calling the games crappy because they’re very mediocre examples of what constitutes a good, playable game. People will still enjoy them simply because they might not care about a game being good and playable.

    They shouldn’t take that as a personal affront. What other people do with their free time is none of my business as long as they’re not trodding on my lawn.

    I don’t go out and yell at the neighbor kids, “Hey you! The 9 year old girl across the street! Stop playing Barbie Horse Adventures – it’s a simple and derivative peddling of a popular franchise that does nothing to improve the state of the art! What you aught to be doing is playing a dynamic immersible online game with mechanic and aesthetics which are both casual friendly while deep enough that the hardcore can enjoy it!”” That would be silly – just because the kind of stuff she does strikes me as boring and hardly innovative doesn’t mean she feels the same way.

    A game reviewer, on the other hand, sort of assumes his audience is gamers looking for a better game, and simply did his duty in reporting this product has many aspects of suck to it.

  14. Coppertopper says:

    Phew! Glad that the object of your angst is someone else besides your ex employer finally!

  15. hitnrun says:

    I agree with all 3 reviews Lum posted.

    @Goedel: Whoa. Even using “UO” (or EQ) and “grind” in the same sentence as a modern game is a capital hyperbolic offense, much less suggesting that Darkfall is 100+ times worse.

    In a similar vein, how can the Eurogamer reviewer complain about “six or eight hours to get good” when they specially re-reviewed WoW to bring its score up to 10/10 for Lich King?

  16. dartwick says:

    @geldonyetich

    UMM EVE is actually fun – Im guessing you tried it and you were afraid to go beyond high security space.

  17. geldonyetich says:

    @Coppertopper

    I couldn’t tell if you were referring to my past employer angst or somebody else’s. Mine was extremely short-lived to the point where I’m surprised anyone remembers it.

    @dartwick

    Wow, way to totally misinterpret what I wrote. That you found it fun, and I didn’t, was completely my point.

    That’s basically what I’m saying here: Darkfall Online gets lambasted in reviews, but some people will still enjoy it.

    I just dragged EVE Online into the picture because it has one powerful similarity with Darkfall: they’re both games which prioritized shifting player content heavily, while not being particularly enjoyable to play on the very game mechanic level (if they were a single player game they’d not have much to recommend them on).

    You’re right about not leaving high security space, though. I’m not sure why imperiling my ship to bored gankers would improve my enjoyment of the game. Here, too, is a matter of different strokes.

  18. dartwick says:

    Well it seems kind of odd to lump EVE and DF on the basis of “fun”.

    Fun is subjective but DFs big issues seem to be that there really isnt anything to do other than PVP and its rife with hacks. EVE actually has a lot to do in addition to PVP and is essentially hack free.
    DF would be more like EVE with only mining and PVP where you had to grind experience.

    Im not saying you personally need to enjoy EVE, but right now DF is failing at a much deeper level than EVE is failing for you.

    Im hoping that DF actually grows into something closer to EVE with avatars in time.

  19. geldonyetich says:

    Actually, I agree with you there. Darkfall’s level of failure is significantly higher than EVE’s.

    EVE Online is a much better production all around, and at least what they’re trying to accomplish is a whole lot more innovative, what with a whole free-floating market and all that.

    Darkfall, on the other hand, mostly just goes through the same paces with a few rarely-seen concessions: building your own villages, twitch-based combat, open PvP with full looting.

    These differences would earn Darkfall more recognition if a lot of them weren’t just plain lazy. Twitch-based combat and open-PvP with full looting isn’t innovative, it’s a “default state” before you add something more complicated to the mix.

    The village building is unusual – it joins Ultima Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and Shadowbane in being one of the few games to offer that – but the player economy is not that far removed from other commonly seen “default states.” The simple auction interface, simple harvesting system, and simple trade skill system.

    Darkfall does have the “huuuge world,” but I’ve often found that feature rather ill conceived. It spreads out the players too much and results in a bunch of empty meaningless cut/paste content.

    I probably would have enjoyed EVE Online a lot better if I got in the game a lot earlier and had some strong corporate connections so I actually could participate in events other than mining, minor production, minor market speculation, missions, and PvP.

  20. Goedel says:

    Seriously. If you start playing Darkfall today, you will have to log many, many tens of days of played time to stand a chance against the existing playerbase who used various exploits and shortsighted design decisions to rapidly level their characters and amass absurd fortunes. Right now, players who missed out on the crazy exploits are busy running two-character combat macros 24/7 so that in a few weeks (of macroing) they might not be fodder.

  21. Please says:

    @Geldonyetich

    A game reviewer’s job is not to assume that their audience is gamers looking for a better game. It’s to play a game and provide their opinion of it.

    You are effectively going out and yelling at the neighbor kids that they shouldn’t play a game they enjoy when you tell us that “He neatly encapsulates just what I find so repulsive about non-game spectacles like Darkfall Online or EVE Online…” and “…reporting this product has many aspects of suck to it”. The neighbor kids are those who read the comments here. You’re telling us we shouldn’t play games we enjoy.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with expressing your opinion, but, deriding telling one’s neighbor that the games they play “suck” and are “non-games” while saying, yourself, that the games your neighbor plays “suck” and are “non-games” is hypocritical.

    If what people do with their free time is none of your business; why are you commenting on it? You’re making it your business by continuing to tell the neighbor kid that they’re playing terrible games.

    You’re an attention seeking troll. Please stop posting here since you, by your own admission, aren’t interested in telling people that the games they play suck; yet it’s all you seem to do. I won’t be responding to any reply you make. I think I’ve clearly pointed out your own contradictions and fallacies. I tend not to feed trolls (after seeing you pull the same garbage in a couple comment threads, I had to).

    Full disclosure: I have never played EVE or Darkfall.

  22. geldonyetich says:

    I don’t know why I bothered trying to explain there’s a difference between describing a game as being a poor game because there’s very technical reasons why it’s a poor game versus describing a game as being a game nobody can enjoy.

    Why not? Because there’s far too many young firebrands such as Please here who are way too addicted to calling people out for infractions that, in reality, were simply a matter of being unable to understand what was going on.

    No, I hate to break it to you, but you misunderstood every little taken-out-of-context quote you took there.

    This topic, that some people will interpret critiques in a kneejerk manner, was extremely relevant to the matter at hand because it’s very close to the core of this Darkfall Eurogamer review issue.

    Thank you for providing a reinforcing example of what kneejerk human fallacy is by criticizing me so heavily.

  23. geldonyetich says:

    Let me try to put this a little more fairly.

    I will go so far as to say that clearly there’s a provocative level to just about anything a person can say that may be of value. So, along those lines, that I would say things that people may severely disagree with, yes, I suppose you could say I’m just an attention-seeking troll.

    I’m making assertions about what constitutes a higher level of game quality, as well as observations as to why Darkfall and EVE Online do not support my assertions. This may conflict with other people’s ideas. Maybe they’ll even let this hurt their feelings.

    However, the bottom line is, I can’t be held accountable by the opinions of people. Especially those who don’t even understand what I’m trying to say. Really, where do you even get off coming over here and acting like you’re the regulating body of the comment threads? Who died and made you the supreme overlord of Shut Up And Discuss Things The Way I Deem Is Intelligent?

    Well, you’ve successfully trolled me by demanding I must be a troll. Well done. Maybe I’ve overstayed my welcome on this public forum. Right or wrong, you’re just sick of hearing from me, am I right? Maybe I’d best retreat to my ivory tower.

    In truth, I don’t really like it when topics become about me. For awhile I did blame myself. However, in retrospect, I think I just argue at such a high level and so quickly that it’s just overwhelming for the vast majority of those I come into contact with.

    It’s a rather lonely existence.

  24. Aetius says:

    GreyPawn :
    My experience with Darkfall was short and telling. It went like this.
    (GreyPawn logs in.)
    (Creates character.)
    (The world loads.)
    (GreyPawn looks around for a tutorial or tooltips on interface/progression/etc and finds none)
    (GreyPawn logs out, uninstalls Darkfall)
    This is 2009. You don’t get to make games without tutorials anymore.

    There is a tutorial that pops up as soon as you log in, which explains the controls, how to move around, and what to initially do. It will keep popping up until you disable it, and you can re-activate it in the game settings.

    I played Darkfall for two months, and cancelled my account because of issues with the game. I understand Lum’s dislike of Darkfall, but he’s missing the point. Zitron’s review was, to put it simply, filled with factual errors and perhaps outright fabrication. He said things that were entirely incorrect about the game, or at the least misleading, while leaving the real issues untouched. It was a bad review – there are plenty of things that a good reviewer could have found in the game to perhaps justify such a score, but they are not the things he misunderstood or outright fabricated.

    For example, his comments:

    You have a crosshair, and your hits are dependent on whether or not this crosses the enemy at any given time – like an FPS, except with little to no reference point.

    This is incorrect. Hits having nothing to do with the crosshair “crossing the enemy at any given time”, they work exactly as they would in an FPS, based on projectile speed and/or drop – or in the case of a melee weapon, swing arc.

    Enemies’ AI boils down to running in circles, which is actually surprisingly effective, considering how slow and floaty the controls tend to be.

    The AI does occasionally run in circles, but that doesn’t happen very often. It does a medium-good job of running away, is reasonably good at melee, and is pretty good at transitioning from ranged to melee combat. The “slow and floaty” controls happen for some people, which if he’d bothered to do five minutes of searching, he could have disabled the mouse smoothing and raised his mouse sensitivity to compensate – something any game reviewer should have immediately checked. Such an issue is certainly not unique to Darkfall, nor is it entirely their fault.

    Worse, there are in fact serious issues with the AI. It can be easily manipulated at the tether range, and ground-based foes will not enter the water. Further, there are ranged targeting issues for ground-to-water combat that nullify the mob’s ranged attacks. These are real problems that should have been caught by any competent reviewer.

    The difference in feedback between a sword hitting or missing is negligible

    This is flat incorrect, as there is a crunchy meat-chopping sound when you hit, and blood sprays on the ground. The same applies for magic and bow combat – it’s trivial to tell when you’ve hit and when you haven’t, even at very long range. It’s one of the things about the game that works perfectly.

    The lack of hit detection saps the combat of any weight or skill, and makes it incredibly frustrating to fight enemies during PVE or PVP combat. Judging the distance that one needs to be at to fight a foe is largely guesswork, and, worse still, your combat skills affect how often you actually connect.

    This is also flat incorrect. Hit detection works perfectly. Judging the distance one needs to be at is very straightforward, and you become accustomed to it after just a few minutes. Each weapon’s range is slightly different, and the range also varies with the type of swing you are performing. Also, combat skills have nothing to with hit chance, which is blindingly obvious after just a few minutes of combat.

    It isn’t even an issue of timing your clicks based on the connection with your sword – it’s nigh-on random. Using spells or arrows is somewhat less exhausting, but usually ends messily when an enemy decides to run at you, leaving you with the choice of changing weapon (a ten-second operation – five if you’re particularly nimble) or running backwards in the vain hope of not dying.

    Combat is not random in Darkfall, though it does require timing. Weapon switching takes less than a second, assuming you’ve bothered to read the tutorial and learn how to drag your weapon onto the hotbar in order to switch back and forth. Which, apparently, Zitron didn’t do.

    The rest of the review is filled with similar factual problems and basic misunderstandings. Darkfall has many problems, but they are not the ones this “reviewer” reported on. And that is a much bigger problem for Eurogamer than Darkfall.

  25. […] 9, 2009 I replied to Scott Jenning’s post on the Eurogamer/Darkfall fall controversy, and I thought I’d reproduce it here. GreyPawn : My experience with Darkfall was short and […]

  26. tmp says:

    That timeline misses the final stage: Morricone’s tune plays in the background as Aventurine blinks first. Tasos announces “we’ll take our 2/10 and like it, thankyouverymuch”.

    http://forums.darkfallonline.com/showthread.php?t=185733

  27. Boanerges says:

    Scott is being totally unfair to Darkfall! I mean, come on, many MMOs have been perfectly purchasable but unplayable at release. Darkfall is trying to invent a new genre where you can neither buy the game, nor play it. Give them credit where credit is due for their innovation.

    Oh, and this comment thread seems to be emulating the blog post. Greypawn reviews Darkfall, Aetius reviews Greypawn. All we need is a Greypawn response and the circle will be complete.

  28. EpicSquirt says:

    Best post ever Lum.

  29. Sl0th says:

    @Boanerges

    It’s not a new genre. Shadowbane, EVE and UO could all be considered direct predecessors. Simply trotting out new features does not a new genre make.

    And even if it were, it wouldn’t excuse the inept release. Many games have bugs on release. Many games are, as you said, darn near unplayable on release (And they don’t have much of an excuse either, but that’s a rant for another day.) But it takes a special brand of ill-prepared to allow wide-scale use of highly publicized hacks go on for as long that it completely unbalances the playing field for all later new users. And of course the whole “Can’t actually buy it” thing doesn’t help either.

  30. Paks says:

    You forgot the part where DF fanboys took nerdrage to a whole new level and declared war on EG http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/1433/wardec.jpg

    Highly entertaining.

    And then there’s this little gem from Keen: http://www.keenandgraev.com/?p=2303

    This entire dramafest has been un-freaking-believable… and yet like a train wreck I just can’t look away!!

  31. Viz says:

    @Sl0th
    I’d help you out here, but jokes stop being funny if you have to explain them.

  32. Einherjer says:

    More and more I realize that Darkfall is like a DOGMA film (google it) that people bash for not having Hollywood production values.

    But I’m having fun in it and that’s all that matters.

    Nice post though. Really 🙂

  33. Gx1080 says:

    The issues that i have with DarkFall is that, well, they should at least pay to someone that host the downloads given their incapability to do it themselves.

    And for gods sake, they just couldnt make that the offensive abilities actually hurt somebody and the healing abilities heal somebody before skilling up, that is easy to code.

    The only way to DarkFall to be viable is that they put the damage/healing check and reset the player’s skills. The issue is, that would severely piss off the current players and that would hurt severely the game.

    Another thing, the players of EVE dont kill themselves for territory for nothing, they kill themselves for territory with the goodies, without that and a decent crafting system, well i can stay in my home city and macro all day.

    And, lets be real, Tasos and Co. talk big but they are completely manhandled for their players aka they let the players suck their balls, of course that they wouldnt piss them. For fuck’s sake game design 101: If players dont hate you: ur doin it rong.

    If, at least they dont fix the macro issue and make people have a reason for killing each other, well i can expend my time better playing Counter Strike. Or EVE. (Need to get credit card).

  34. geldonyetich says:

    Maybe instead of sounding like I’m dumping on a game and all its players the time, I should try a different approach. Instead, I’ll describe some existing alternatives to mechanics I take exceptions to.

    PvP Balance

    There’s been talk of having to spend days macroing to have a chance to compete in PvP in Darkfall Online. The core problem, fairly obviously, is that persistence-based power accumulation provides an insurmountable challenge to new players.

    A good example of an alternative mechanic can be found in Chronicles of Spellborn, where a level 25 character can harm and potentially defeat a level 50 character. (Or so I’ve been told – I haven’t witnessed this firsthand.) Guild Wars has been mentioned as another example, but it sounds like they might have screwed that up with epic loot — well, it did have a fairly good skill:persistence balance at release, at least.

    It’s a bit of a catch22, of course. If you don’t reward players with a noticeable advantage for grinding, they’ll complain that grinding has no point. If you reward players too much, new players may be put off with being tortured by being ganked with impunity until they torture themselves with repetitive action.

    The GUI

    The awkward GUI that halts all movement and leads to slow clicking and dragging of all inventory: well, you can see better solutions in nearly every RPG. I don’t know if it’s simply a great omission of the Eurogamer reviewer, but it seems there’s not even a simple “loot all” button.

    Here, again, is a place where I think The Chronicles Of Spellborn provides a better example: loot is never on corpses, it just pops up in the lower right of the user screen along with “need” or “greed” buttons. Very quick, no hassle loot handling. (Granted, Chronicles of Spellborn does have a sticking point here: if somebody in your group doesn’t push one of those buttons, the queued loot will sit there for several minutes.)

    In this case, the Darkfall Online admins claim that these were deliberate design decisions. They wanted players to be vulnerable while looting, so they made looting take time to do. They wanted players to be able to steal eachother’s kills, so they didn’t add kill looting restriction facility.

    If this is true, then it opens up many cans of worms related to just how viable that idea is. But, well, Mr. Jennings pretty much already had separate blog entries about that. Heck, he’s also covered the things I just got done talking about, the GUI and the PvP curve.

  35. Angelworks says:

    There is an art to reviewing games successfully – and oddly enough it doesn’t reside with the reviewer. When I was a tier 3 technician for a certain infamous adobe products (no longer – since the big riff) I used to work with their pr firm who handled who got review copies of stuff. They would call me to fix whatever was wrong with the reviewers copy.

    A lot of what we did was make the review process as pleasant as possible – we never just handed them the program and said have fun. They got the program, a special number/email for support, training cd’s/movies and a reviewers guide. Plus if it was available they were invited to whatever seminars we had going in their area at the time for the product.

    Independents do get ragged on in reviews because more often than not – I suspect they just hand off the game as requested and say have fun – and that’s it.

    What Aventurine should have done (maybe they did – no clue) was give these guys a bunch of maxed out characters that belonged to a guild and had special people online to escort the reviewers through the more fun parts of the game instead of giving them noob characters in the ass end of any mmo – the starting zone.

    Its clear reading this review again – that the reviewer didn’t really have any idea what to do in the game, and that’s probably because of the game (seriously – get over it – Darkfall has a steep learning curve and it doesn’t work like other mmo’s). Every mmo I’ve ever played (even world of warcraft and eve online) I relied heavily on friends and guild-mates to show me the ropes – when those don’t exist any mmo blows. If there was a lot more guidance the review would have turned out better.

    tldr version: hire a pr firm to hold the reviewers hands at all times.

  36. Freakazoid says:

    Adventurine can’t even afford to sell their own game, and you’re telling them to hire a pr firm?

  37. heartless_ says:

    Kieron Gillen has already written a review for Darkfall, which I have already posted without his permission: http://hgamer.blogspot.com/2009/05/darkfall-lost-review-made-possible.html

  38. Owain says:

    Well, as the resident DarkFall promoter, I’ll give you the rundown of the KGB activities for one day, yesterday, Saturday, 5/9/09. For the full story, go to oracle.the-kgb.com.

    Following days of planning and negotiations with allies, both large and small. 8 am Pacific time signals the beginning of the KGB mustering of forces in preparation for the siege the city of Andruk, which lies in the northeast corner of the main continent. Initially, we organize our forces into two main groups and set off across country to another city, where we will rendezvous with out allies.

    The land mass is vast, and it takes nearly 30 minutes on mounts to traverse the distance from our city, Khosgar, to the objective of the siege, the city of Andruk. The final approach to the city is brutal, but the attackers make it across the ground that is being hammered by enemy siege guns, and begin the assault on the walls. On one side of the city, the gates are under attack by our allies, while on the other side of the city, KGB scales the walls and pour into the city. There is a steady rain of fire from all sides from both archers, mages, and a defensive lightning tower, but the attackers succeed in taking the central keep, and now the defenders must split their forces to try to repel the attack on the gate and expel our forces from within the city.

    Andruk defenders attempt a frontal assault on the keep, but every attempt is repelled with great losses. The fighting intensifies inside the keep, but when the main gates finally fall, we are reinforced by our allies and together, we sweep the defenders from the city. The fighting is not yet over, however, because the automated lighting tower is still blasting our troops in the city, and defenders and their allies are resurrecting, and returning to the fight.

    Part of the attackers now equip siege hammers to try to take down the lightning tower. The rest of us defend them from the re-attack being mounted by the defenders, and the fighting remains heavy for a long time, but by this time, the defenders have depleted their supplies and are returning to the fight unarmored in a desperate attempt to stop the destruction of their lighting tower. When it falls, all our arms now turn to the defenders, and fighting within the city ceases abruptly. Now we must hold the city for two hours against all counter attacks.

    About 30 minutes later, we get word that an allied city is under strong attack, and their main gates are being battered by cannon fire. Under Darkfall siege rules, this city had been wagered against Andruk. While we were fighting our way into Andruk, enemy forces were besieging our ally, but had been unable to breach their defenses. If they are able to take and hold that city and successfully expel us from their city, the wager will be lost, and the alliance will lose a city. Reinforcements are desperately needed.

    Our ally is too far distant from Andruk to be able to be reinforced over land, but their city is close to the KGB city of Khosgar, so the command is given, all KGB forces are to perform a bindstone recall to teleport back to Khosgar. After the recall, we mount up and ride for the beleaguered city. Their situation is getting desperate.

    As we approach the city, we can hear the enemy cannons pounding the main gate. We approach unobserved from the southwest, under cover of a large stone outcropping that forms one flank of the city’s defenses. Rounding the hill, we see the massed formations of the enemy surrounding and defending their siege cannons. The KGB executes a cavalry charge directly through their position while the defenders from the city emerge to join the battle. It is a slaughter.

    Part of the KGB forces remain while 30 or so of us start the long ride back up to Andruk. We no sooner start off when our lead riders spot a mounted force of 60 or more headed right for us. The counter attack has begun.

    We wheel about and head back to the city with the attackers at our heals. We sweep into the city, dismount, and immediately join the defenders to repel the renewed attack. The attackers are getting desperate. If they do not take this city soon and then expel the besiegers of Andruk, Andruk will fall to our alliance.

    The fight continues for over an hour, but the attackers are not able to make any headway, so they fall back. Their only hope now is to break the siege at Andruk so that the war will end in a tie. The KGB mounts up again and races back to Andruk, for everything will be decided there.

    After a long ride, the KGB rides into the city to find the fight still in progress, but our allies have successfully held the city, and with new reinforcements, the end is inevitable. At the expiration of the two hour waiting period, the main city bindstone is now subject to attack and once it falls, the city is ours.

    So, what can we conclude from this? Well, you can accept the Eurogamer review, written by a guy who had played the game for a few minutes, and from that, concluded that DarkFall is not a very good game. Or, you can read a report from a player who has only been playing the game for a few weeks, who is still very much a beginner in terms of skills developed so far, and yet who has now participated in some of the most amazing, enthralling online role playing combat that dwarfs anything I have taken part in over the last 10 years playing in multiple other games.

    Darkfall still is not for everyone. It is still very difficult to get into the game for US players. It helps to consider that your first game related quest. Over time, that will improve, and once a North American server opens up, things will rapidly get better. They are a small company, and I sympathize with them regarding the distribution problems they currently have.

    But with respect to game play, DarkFall has nothing to apologize for. There is nothing that can compare with it, in my opinion.

    That is MY review. Take if for what it is worth.

  39. Guy says:

    Game reviewers tend to review game mechanics, the game environment, controls, etc. ie. the game itself, rather than the emergent behaviour or social experience. Owain, I noticed your report barely mentions such things, besides mentioning some of the siege mechanics without going into too much detail. A game counting only on emergent behaviour (ie. self-organized guild competition) to sell itself is going to have a harder time making its case. If the basic mechanics/control/environment are seen as unfriendly or very hard to learn, that is quite a hurdle to the long-term experience.

    Maybe it’s worth it, but reviewers aren’t necessarily going to see it. As such they probably represent very well the average user experience to such a game, which is problematic for niche games in terms of general PR. But does a niche game like Darkfall really need the approval of the masses to do what it does?

  40. Owain says:

    This is why I don’t place much stock in game reviews. By necessity, game reviews deal with superficial things, like interface, graphics, and so forth, but they typically don’t have the time to play a game in depth to see how it holds up over the long haul, particularly with respect to entertainment value.

    Interface is important, but I don’t play games in order to experience the niftiest interface. If the game isn’t fun, who cares if it offers a really good interface not to have fun with? Darkfall isn’t the prettiest game around, but offers game play that is head and shoulders above a very much prettier game like Vanguard, which was nearly unplayable, in my opinion.

    You can learn a new interface, and you can overlook cosmetic blemishes. Further, interfaces can be refined, sometimes with 2nd party tools, and graphics/environment can be refined, but if the game doesn’t have fundamental entertaining game play, what is the point of even starting it?

    So the point of my admittedly lengthy post was to provide stark contrast with the faulty Eurogamer review, which apparently concentrated on environment, controls, and cosmetic details, and probably covered their distribution problems as well. Instead, I concentrated on details of game play from a point of view that I think is more helpful to an average user. Should they care about the details of the character customization screens that they will use once for 10 minutes one time, and never again, or should they be interested in the meat of what is a central feature of the game that should they buy the game, they will take part in that activity time and time again?

    That’s like buying a plasma or LCD large screen TV, and determining if it is any good or not by how well the setup instructions are written. If the setup description is so bad that you can never get to watching it, that is one thing. If they could, admittedly, be worded better, yet still let you get set up reasonably quickly, will that matter to you as you spend the next 5 or 6 years enjoying your new TV, which is why you bought the thing in the first place?

  41. Aetius says:

    Boanerges :
    Oh, and this comment thread seems to be emulating the blog post. Greypawn reviews Darkfall, Aetius reviews Greypawn. All we need is a Greypawn response and the circle will be complete.

    I didn’t review Greypawn, I just pointed out that he was incorrect and the game does, in fact, have a tutorial. Perhaps he ran into a bug and didn’t see the tutorial. The rest of my discussion was referring to Zitron’s comments in his review, not Greypawn’s.

  42. Guy says:

    @Owain

    You’ve mostly missed my point. For example, you say:

    “but if the game doesn’t have fundamental entertaining game play, what is the point of even starting it”

    Perhaps that’s exactly what the Eurogamer reviewer felt (and probably many others do as well). He felt Darkfall wasn’t a fundamentally entertaining game to play, and all your talk about the emergent guild-organized parts of the game are a step beyond the fundamentals.

    FPS’s aren’t superficial because it’s immediately obvious what makes the game fun. Many games are deep and yet are immediately entertaining as well (RTS’s for example). Wanting a game to nail the basics upfront isn’t superficial; games are supposed to be fun, so they’ll be approached as entertainment products.

    I think Angelworks has an excellent point: Adventurine should perhaps have done more to lend a hand to the reviewer, in order to be able to “fast forward” to what Darkfall enthusiasts feel are the strengths of the game. After all, reviewing a game is work, you can’t expect a reviewer to persist with the same amount of energy as a Darkfall fan.

  43. geldonyetich says:

    Owain :
    Well, as the resident DarkFall promoter, I’ll give you the rundown of the KGB activities for one day, yesterday, Saturday, 5/9/09. For the full story, go to oracle.the-kgb.com.
    […]
    That is MY review. Take if for what it is worth.

    Seems to me like a civil war reenactment.

    There’s a bunch of guys out there in a field dressing a part and going through the motions, and they’re all very excited about the historical significance of what they’re doing.

    I respect that… I really do. However, I’m a computer gamer. Civil war reenactment isn’t my idea of a good time. I’d rather play a good computer game.

  44. Owain says:

    geldonyetich’s post makes no sense to me at all. A civil war reenactment, except that you have swords, bows, magic, orcs, elves, and a ton of other stuff utterly unconnected with the civil war, and I can do it from home, on my computer, in a virtual world. No, that sounds nothing like a computer game to me. And the hundreds of people taking part in that activity should not have been having fun, because geldonyetich has already proclaimed that Darkfall is not a good game. Or something…

    I don’t know if I’ve ever heard what you consider to be a good game. If you list one, will I start bleeding from the ears again like I did the other day when a poster mentioned that she had been trying without success to complete her WoW cooking achievement, in spite of trying the quest daily for a month, but dammit, the Kibbles and Bits recipe just WILL NOT DROP!!!11!1

    I would cut my guts our with a rusty butter knife before subjecting myself to THAT…

  45. geldonyetich says:

    I sort of agree and disagree with aspects of Angelwork’s suggestion.

    On one hand, if Adventurine had taken the time to show the reviewer the best parts of the game, it can only improve the score they earned.

    On the other hand, if Adventurine is giving the reviewer special treatment, then the reviewer ends up with a review that does not really reflect what the average player will encounter upon subscribing to the game.

    The reviewer identified many problems with the core gameplay of Darkfall Online, and he was not wrong to do so. This is because he writing a game review, he was reviewing how Darkfall’s implementation as a game succeeded or failed.

    To an extent, a reviewer is required to get into a game in depth to understand how good or bad it really is in the whole sense. However, to an even greater extent, enough is enough.

    The dude claims he spent several mind numbing hours bashing his head on goblins trying to find the better game. He wandered up and down the countryside trying to find the better game. He couldn’t find the better game.

    Instead of complaining about the review, maybe Adventurine should take a hint that if this is how professional reviewers will see the game, so also will the average player. Their first impression is in drastic need of improvement.

    Most players need to be hooked within the first 5 minutes. This reviewer couldn’t find a favorable thing to say about the game after two hours of play, possibly dozens of hours, depending on who you ask. It’s a moot point how long it actually was: the 5 minutes were up, and the artist either takes notice of the honest reception of their work or lives in denial.

  46. geldonyetich says:

    Owain :
    geldonyetich’s post makes no sense to me at all. A civil war reenactment, except that you have swords, bows, magic, orcs, elves, and a ton of other stuff utterly unconnected with the civil war

    If you get past the first sentence and into to the second and third paragraphs of what I wrote, I thoughtfully provided a description of what part of that analogy was supposed to apply and why it pertains to me.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever heard what you consider to be a good game.

    Chronicles of Spellborn received a couple mentions from me yesterday.

    If you list one, will I start bleeding from the ears again like I did the other day when a poster mentioned that she had been trying without success to complete her WoW cooking achievement, in spite of trying the quest daily for a month, but dammit, the Kibbles and Bits recipe just WILL NOT DROP!!!11!1

    We all hate the grind, but considering we’re all in agreement that Darkfall Online has a massive brickwall macro-happy grind only alleviated by exploits that the earlier players were able to partake of, this is not a point in your favor.

  47. Gx1080 says:

    Hmm. You know, Owain, since you are actually playing the game, the macro is as bad as it sounds? Because the impression is that you can sit in your home city and macro all day and get all the good stuff close by.

    Besides that and the fact that they should hire a PR-community guy that check what they say, i think that DarkFall its fine, so what if doesnt have a step by step tutorial? It can be added later and its not the end of the world.

    BTW, they should get other people that host downloads. They suck at that.

    Its not perfect, but its actualy a real battle that affects the world, unlike the theme parks. And we all get it, geldonyedicl, DarkFall and EVE arent for you, but i ask: What its a good computer game for you?

  48. Owain says:

    Guy, it depends what you mean by fundamental entertaining play.

    If the reviewer logs in, runs the first few quests and gives up because he isn’t instantly in gaming bliss, he’s too stupid to be reviewing games for Eurogamer. Those quest make up the tutorial he complained was non existant. They hold your hand, telling you how to fight things, where to go to fight things, and where to sell stuff when you get back from fighting things. They go on to introduce crafting, harvesting, magery, and other game features.

    A tutorial isn’t the game. It’s used to teach the interface, lay the groundwork for later game play. As it it, in essence, the reviewer was reading “Dick and Jane”, and complaining that it wasn’t “Macbeth”, even though, if he ad stuck around for more than 10 minutes, maybe the game playing Macbeth equivalent would have eventually been available to him.

    A fundamental part of all RPG games involves starting weak, and working yourself up over time as your character develops. An FPS is structured differently because you don’t have that development over time, and the game isn’t persistant.

    The other part of MMORPG involves the community aspects. Again, an FPS typically doesn’t support that in game directly, although many players form their own ‘guilds’ and play together exclusively in order to dominate other players. But guilds and clans are a fundamental part of MMORPGs, and if you ignore that, you are screwing up. As such, when Dartwick complains about his friends experence, saying, “And every time they try to solo they get radared,” my immediate response is, “no shit – did they learn anything from that, or are they still trying to play Darkfall like Diablo?”

    Would any of the WoW fans consider a review of that game fair if it only cover character generation, and the first newbie quests, but never gets into the team quests or the level 80 content? The guy never broke the level 1 equivalent, and he wants to talk about fundamental gameplay aspects of Darkfall?

    Pfffft!!

  49. Owain says:

    “Hmm. You know, Owain, since you are actually playing the game, the macro is as bad as it sounds? Because the impression is that you can sit in your home city and macro all day and get all the good stuff close by.”

    Sure, power gamers who are obsessed with being uber as quickly as possible will hole themselves up and macro endlessly. I’ve seen those guys on every MMORPG I’ve played, starting with Ultima Online. They are also the first ones who complain there is no End Game Content. Well sure, moron, if you spend a month macroing unattended, I suppose you will miss something along the way.

    I spend part of my time building skills, part harvesting, part crafting, but mostly I just play the game. I didn’t get Darkfall to exercise a macro generation program.

    B”esides that and the fact that they should hire a PR-community guy that check what they say, i think that DarkFall its fine, so what if doesnt have a step by step tutorial? It can be added later and its not the end of the world.”

    It does have a tutorial in the form of the quests in the newbie area. Every person playing Darkfall seems to have been able to figure that one out without a great deal of difficulty, but apparently there is a VERY low qualification threshold for aspiring Eurogamer reviewers.

    “BTW, they should get other people that host downloads. They suck at that.”

    I think the current download process is intentional. They want to limit distribution right now while they continue development and refine their server capacity. They have the population they can handle at the moment, and will expand the population as their ability to handle the population expands. I’ve never tried to develop a client/server game for a graphics intensive game for thousands of people, so I’m guessing it must not be a trivial exercise, given that big companies, like the one running Warhammer online and Age of Conan initially released with gobs of servers and are now having to combine and close servers to address wasted capacity.

    Which is the better approach for a small independent developer? Should they waste resources and money for a huge capacity that they may not ultimately need, or should they plow their money into making a good game, and grow their server capacity over time? As I can attest from first hand experience, I’d rather have a good game even if it is a pain to get at first, than a crappy game like Vanguard that was widely distributed, but failed because it wasn’t a fun game to play.

  50. Angelworks says:

    @Owain

    So your saying an mmo reviewer should spend the next 6 months to a year reviewing every mmo that crosses their desk? Because that’s how long it takes for some of these games to really get going sadly. I think honestly what you are looking for is for the reviewer to be an experienced veteran of the game. Face it – these are hard games to review. I don’t think Eurogamer gave Darkfall a fair shake, but what else do you expect when the publisher/developer drops them into the starting zone without a lick of guidance – Adveturine should have known better.

    I also disagree with the interface statement. I spent a long time (about a year) fighting the Lineage 2 interface – great game, but the most horrid controls and ui ever conceived. So much so – it was very high on my list of things to persuade me to leave. So yeah, kinda being able to log in, cast spells on stuff and move about is something that is very very very important to an mmo. If you can’t get past the UI to start with – you can’t play the game as intended.

  51. Owain says:

    No, I’m not saying the reviewer should spend that time. I’m saying I don’t trust game magazines to review movies, because they aren’t able to do a good job of it. They can’t devote the time needed to assess what players think are important, so they evaluate things that are of minor concern to gamers because that’s all they have time to evaluate.

    I’m not saying that interface in totally unimportant, it’s just not the deciding factor. A game with an excellent interface that has bad game play is still a piss poor game. If you have game with great game play but the interface needs work, you may be able to overlook that, or find a 2nd party interface that fills the gaps, such as the many WoW UI extenders. A UI extender can’t fix a bad game.

    At any rate, the Darkfall UI is easily as good as WoW, it’s just a little different. If the reviewer couldn’t figure out how to run the newbie tutorial quests, I doubt that a better interface would have helped any. Some people can’t be trained.

  52. Raelyf says:

    @ Owain

    I play EVE. I know a thing or two about player driven gameplay. While your earlier ‘review’/story/whatever sounds very cool and interesting, I know better than to assume right away that that equates to fun. While the events that passes may be significant in your eyes, significance also does not equal fun.

    In EVE, I read about epic fleet battles, the capital ship fleets, the month long struggles over territory, ect ect ect. because it’s a very interesting side of the game – but I don’t take part because it’s incredibly boring. What those stories all too often leave out is the tedium, the lag, the waiting, ect. that accompany the events.

    To me, your story boils down to this ‘We spend an hour twiddling our thumbs while everyone got their shit together. We spend half hour running to the enemy city. We ganked the enemy – they came back naked, we ganked them again. We had to help some friends, we ran another half hour to them. We ganked those enemies. Then we ran half hour back to the first city we attacked. We won.” (See how much presentation counts for?)

    The thing is, your leaving out how much waiting there was. Your leaving out whether the PVP was actually interesting or not. Your leaving out how many people lagged so badly they couldn’t play, or went LD. Your leaving out people who were killed before they even reached the walls of the first city, and spent 2 hours preparing for nothing at all. It’s all glossed over. Out of all the time spend, how much of it was ‘fun’?

    Now, I’m not saying that Darkfall isn’t fun – but your story didn’t win it any points from me because I play EVE and I know how to read between the lines of stories like that. Darkfall may be an amazing game, and I hope it is – because there’s nothing I’d like better than a ‘real’ fantasy PVP oriented game. Regardless of how ‘epic’ it may be, however, to conduct city seiges and such, that does not make it fun.

  53. Guy says:

    @Owain

    What I mean by the fundamentals is all the little game mechanics that you constantly interact with: how exactly the fighting works, how the interaction with the environment works, the crafting, the skill effects and how they balance, all the little tasks that make up your gaming day. It’s not the entirety of the experience, of course, but it is important. The nuts and bolts of the game.

    Yes, MMORPGS are harder to review than other types of games.

    To be perfectly honest, I don’t think the Eurogamer review has done much damage to Darkfall. It’s a niche game to begin with, you have to be really into long-term “hard work” gaming to be interested at all, and anyone who’s sufficiently informed to actually be interested enough would have caught all the blog posts about Darkfall anyways, many of which aren’t flattering, so they would have been exposed to the negative views on Darkfall already.

  54. dartwick says:

    @Raelyf

    Great post seriously.

  55. falstep says:

    @Raelyf

    Yeah, good post.

  56. Alex says:

    If you’re in the pocket of the big boys, giving poor reviews to games from studios with less clout would make sense.

  57. geldonyetich says:

    That’s essentially what I was trying to get at with my Civil War Reenactment analogy. Sure, it might seem cool to re-enact The Battle of Gettysburg, but it’s basically a bunch of marching around fields in formation for hours, firing muskets, pretending to die. I’m a computer gamer, historical LARPs aren’t my thing.

    The Eurogamer reviewer was a computer gamer too, and he’s pretty much criticizing Darkfall Online along the lines of what constitutes a good computer game: a well designed GUI, a good balance, reward balance, entertaining content, ect. You didn’t need to play the game for months to see that it doesn’t do a real good job here.

  58. Viz says:

    @Guy
    If the game has nothing to offer other than “emergent behavior” and “hardcore PVP,” an SA forum membership gets you much the same at a much lower cost.

  59. Vetarnias says:

    A question which hasn’t popped up here and which I think needs to be asked: Why didn’t Eurogamer try to get Darkfall accounts on its own, instead of going through Aventurine?

    It was mentioned in the comments how software reviewers were always given preferential treatment from the software companies, but shouldn’t reviewers seek a treatment similar to that received by their average readers? The case that comes to mind is that of food critics, who visit restaurants incognito because they know that if they were identified, they would always be given preferential treatment. I was reading about a food critic for the New York Times going incognito to a famous restaurant, only to be ignored by staff and made to wait at the bar for a table to free up. Then she returned to that restaurant as the New York Times’ food critic; not only does she get a table immediately, but no less a personage than the King of Spain was still waiting for one at the bar. A scathing review followed.

    Sure, unlike a restaurant, a game remains the same for critic and player alike, but there are all the asides involved here that makes the experience a vastly different one (Angelworks’ post is particularly enlightening). Here we could mention Darkfall’s slapdash and haphazard registration process that still makes some people say Darkfall can’t be considered released. But Eurogamer immediately bypassed all this uncertainty as to whether the game can be played at all, by just contacting Aventurine and asking for a couple of accounts. By all means, get to play the game, but don’t ask for preferential treatment when the game is already being known for its inaccessibility. And how much is in the review about Darkfall’s erratic registration system? Why, the very last paragraph… Thanks for not telling me sooner that I can’t even play it.

    We can’t consider Eurogamer’s review of Darkfall (or all the others that sought preferential treatment) as representative of the average player’s experience, simply because they didn’t go through it. They flashed credentials and got right in, like the food critic. As for contacting the developer/publisher, I know it’s always better when you don’t have to pay for playing a game you intend to review, but by going through the company to get accounts, you’re basically allowing yourself to be tagged, and when you’re dealing with an apparently vindictive company like Aventurine, there’s nothing good that can come out of it.

    I would certainly favour reviewers mentioning how long they’ve played a game (but they won’t, since we’d inevitably remark, every single time, how little of it they have played), but with accounts provided for by Aventurine, you get a controversy such as this.

    And Tasos rose to the occasion by using the word “fraud” five times in one post discussing the Eurogamer “scandal”, all based on the reviewer’s total hours played. And if the review had been good? Not a peep, probably, but if Tasos had been pressed for an explanation, it would have been “oh well, the reviewer recognized quality at first sight, he didn’t need to play longer”; something like that.

    I support neither Eurogamer nor Aventurine in this matter, but if Ed Zitron ought to be held to account for anything, it’d have to be his 9.2 for Warhammer Online. Despite being tired of Tasos’ grandstanding, I would say that the more justified negative gaming reviews around, the better. And if it weren’t for my general aversion to the type of player Darkfall panders to (not to mention the aforementioned Tasos), I’d be far more willing to concede that Aventurine was given a low score because it was a budget-less indie and therefore as safe a target as you could find.

  60. EpicSquirt says:

    9.2 for Warhammer Online? ROFLMAO! Someone forgot to take his medicine.

    Warhammer Online is “so great” that it disappeared from EA’s Q4 2009 results.

  61. Raelyf says:

    @ Vaternias

    Getting a bit OT, but the problem with the resturant analogy is that it’s missing something.

    Consider a resturant that served a 10 course meal rather than a single one, and brought each dish out in incresing orders of deliciousness. A food critic comes by to review the place, and clearly he only plans on sampling a single dish – obviously, he could never eat 10 courses here and then again at every other resturant! Would the resturant be out of line in bringing him the last, most delicious course? How about the 5th course, as a sort of delicious average? Clearly, the first course is not representative of the entire meal, nor is it meant to be. Ideally, the resturant should bring the critic a sample of each course.

    Strange and twisted analogy aside, MMOs are a different breed of game, and content is expected to change as playtime is invested. A good review shouldn’t discount ‘newbie’ content, but it should spend most of it’s time addressing whatever it is an ‘average’ player will spend most of their time doing. Good game companies really need to hand hold those who are reviewing their product and let them participate in each stage of the game, so they can have some idea of what it would be like to play over weeks or months – Adventurine dropped the ball on that one, I think, but I’ve no idea if they got a fair shake or not.

  62. IainC says:

    @Vetarnias
    That is a pretty horrible analogy. The point of the review is to review the game, in context as a gaming experience. External issues like the retail availability, the official website, the billing system etc are pretty irrelevant to that. If Ed Zitron had turned in a review saying ‘No clue what this game is like because I couldn’t buy it’ that would have been a complete waste of everyone’s time. Instead, he did as expected and reviewed the game.

    Your concern that somehow he got preferential treatment seems to be at odds with the actual content of the review where apparently he didn’t have any kind of hand-holding as he was playing. The extent of Aventurine’s hand-holding was to furnish him with a working account.

    Just to explain a bit about how game marketing works with regard to the press, what normally happens is that you get some journalists in a room (real or virtual) talk to them about the game, make sure they all have the selling points down, show them some of the shiniest things about the game and make sure that they ‘get it’. Then you send them home with a bag of goodies a review copy or two and a comped account. Usually they’ll also have the mobile number of one of your marketing droids so that if they get stuck or need clarification on anything they can get that before their deadline hits. That’s pretty much the extent of the hand-holding.

    I did a few virtual tours for DAoC in Europe where we gave some press guys kitted out, max level accounts and herded them around the test server to show them expansion content as part of a guided tour but that level of interaction isn’t possible for a full review.

  63. Tremayne says:

    Here’s the thing… it’s not going to matter how brilliant the ‘endgame’ is if you have to slog through 200 hours of mediocrity to get to it. If the first four hours I play spending a game are tedious or frustrating, I’m never going to get to the ‘good stuff’. Because I’m just not going to log back on the second evening. Life’s too short to put all that time into one game to get to the enjoyable bits, when there’s stuff out there that’s enjoyable NOW.

    So I’d say the Eurogamer review accurately reflects what would be most readers’ experience of the game – log in, play around, find it unappealing and log out for the last time.

  64. Vetarnias says:

    @Raelyf
    That’s what a restaurant should do. But it’s precisely because it can’t be relied upon to do this when so much is at stake that food critics don’t announce that they’re coming, much less ask for their meal to be free of charge. Their employer, not the restaurant, pays for their expenses.

    But in the case of Eurogamer, it’s the equivalent of the review copy for books. Maybe the practice will need to be addressed from an ethical viewpoint, but it’s so widespread that Eurogamer can’t be blamed for this. What, however, I am blaming Eurogamer for, in this case, is to have used its position to avoid experiencing what the average gamer has experienced, i.e., “how can I play the game when the registration screen appears and disappears within seconds?”.

    In the anecdote with the food critic and the king, the purpose was to expose the blatant hypocrisy of the restaurant. Here? Not so much, just to get access to the game. If, whatever you do, you can’t get to play the game, that’s what your review should be about: the fact you can’t play.

    And the last thing I want is game companies hand-holding game critics; there’s enough of that already. The best way to have an average experience of the game is to not let the game company decide for you what should be the average experience (especially since they can’t be trusted to give you the warts-and-all tour). In Darkfall’s case, for example, if Aventurine shows you what a 200-member guild has achieved, what good would it be? Or is it what Aventurine expects its players to be — members of 200-people guilds?

    I understand that game reviewers are pressed for time and won’t get to the endgame after a few hours. And maybe there are cases where the early levels are not representative of the later levels (Shadowbane’s newbie island, for example). But I don’t think it’s up to the company to facilitate access to endgame content to the reviewer; it shouldn’t be up to the company to facilitate anything, because I want reviewers to look at the stuff that isn’t being addressed. Sure, with limited time, what you get is superficial schlock. But given the nature of the industry (and game reviewing), even if reviewers waited a month before writing their review, just to get a taste of the endgame first, we’d still get superficial schlock that wouldn’t dare to be negative (except with small guys like Aventurine).

  65. Amaranthar says:

    Darkfall’s learning curve for newbies is steep. By the time you finally get the hang of things and start making some money to better equip yourself, some skilled up and decked out gank squads come along and take your stuff.

    The worst part is that it feels like the game is set up for you to loose your stuff, pay your initiation fees, to the uber l33T PKers. Some examples of this are:
    -If you are harvesting resources you are locked into a narrow view while doing so. This gives PKers a good chance to sneak up behind you to gank you. Worse yet, you lose stamina while harvesting and your PKers are at full stamina. So when you try to run once attacked, you had better be close enough to a safe town because you can’t outrun them since at 0 stamina you are slowed to a walk.
    -If you are fighting MOBs and PKers come along (and they do, often in groups) you are already low on stamina and health. Running is futile unless you are close to a safe town, and even then you are lucky to make it away.
    -If you are looting a MOB you killed, you have entered the no-do zone. In other words, you’re locked in a window and must exit that first to do anything else. To do so, you must right click. Then you can run. Or fight back. To do so, you must first draw a weapon, because you had to disarm it to do the looting. To do this, hit ‘R’. However, if you are “skinning” the MOB for resources, you have switched your weapon for a tool. You must switch back to your weapon using the action bar. But the good news here is that you didn’t have to lock yourself into a separate loot window.
    And may the gods help ye if you are stuck in the chat window bug at the time, where you have to first click in the chat window, then click in the play window, THEN proceed to the above button mashing tasks.

    Now lets look at what happens when you are looting a MOB and get attacked, from a first hand experience.
    Now, I’m not the leetest of typists. I don’t have the dexterous fingers that some have. But here’s the situation.
    -I’ve locked myself in the loot window and get attacked from behind by 1-3 PKers because I can’t see them coming once I’m locked in that view. And I was in a hurry to get into the loot lockage window because otherwise other players will freely loot my kill. So I’m under surprise attack.
    -I must right click to get back into action mode.
    -Then I start running.
    -While running I must do the following because of the way I set up my action bars.

    -Click F2 to go to the action bar where I have my magic actions set up.
    -Click 1 to arm my magic staff, required to cast magic.
    -Click ‘R’ to rearm myself.
    -Click 9 (my standard healing button in all games) to select heal self.
    -Left click to actually cast the spell.
    Invariable what happens is that I pushed the buttons too quickly, and I didn’t get my staff armed before I clicked the 9 button to select the heal self spell. And since while using a staff, you are locked in 1st person mode, and while running you can’t see your hand holding a staff, I can’t see that that’s actually the case. I must look at a small icon to see this for sure, but since I’m on the run and trying to dodge missile attacks by sound and view of arrows flying past me (for timing), this isn’t as easy as it sounds. I must now learn that I have to push the ‘R’ button first, assuming that I was armed with a hand weapon, because that way I’m in hand weapon mode where I can see in 3rd person mode, and then I’d be able to see if I left it for 1st person mode, an indication that I successfully armed my staff.
    And may the gods help ye if you are stuck in the chat window bug at the time.

    And if, after a week of playing, you have enough extra funds to buy a mount, and you walk off to test it out, remember one thing. There is a stupid timer to put your mount in your backpack. While the ‘F’ key works great to mount the beast once you’ve summoned it, and to likewise dismount it, to actually put it away using the ‘G’ key has a freakin’ timer of about 8 seconds. Should anyone else come along during this time, the ‘F’ key works great for them too. And they will be riding off on your mount that you just spent 300 freakin’ gold on and took you a freakin’ week to collect over and above initiation fees and other expenses, while you are standing there wondering why the F the designers saw it fit to do it THAT way!

    Like I said, it feels like the developers made it this way just for you, newb.

    Are there any more questions about why a reviewer might give Darkfall a bad review?

    But the game is getting better. I think these developers made a lot of big mistakes based on their own feelings as PKers, and they obviously were. They played UO and made a splash about making a similar experience. And they forgot how important all the other stuff was. Now they are finding out the truth, that people didn’t leave UO because of bugs or the lack of getting PKed enough.

  66. Gx1080 says:

    @Amaranthar
    Pshhh. UI is not perfect, but your things arent that important. EVE rules 101: Dont fly what you cant afford to lose. That means that you shouldnt put all your eggs in a basket, because unlike WoW or Lotro when those baskets are made by the God-Emperor himself (5 points if you name the reference), here the baskets are fragile and you can lose your stuff.

    Shinys arent the important, dont buy uber, buy a lot of regulars and then let me know how it went.

    TL,DR: Clunky UIs are annoying. But the perfect UIs wont stop people of expending all their money in one thing instead of buying several.

  67. Vetarnias says:

    @IainC
    As my response to Raelyf might explain (I posted it before reading your comment), I understand that Aventurine’s hand-holding limited itself to providing accounts. Which, if the following debacle means anything, was already too much. Sure, game critics ought to be accountable, but the last people who should hold them to account are the companies whose games they are reviewing (unless we’re falling into libel territory, which is another matter altogether).

    As for those other concerns you post in your first paragraph, they are relevant if they concern either the developer or the publisher. When Spore was released, did an assessment of the game’s DRM scheme belong in a review even though it was just incidental and had nothing to do with gameplay? Well, not maybe to the extent of the bozos who posted dozens of one-star reviews at Amazon based purely on that, without even addressing the rest of the game. But it ought to matter in one way or another.

    As for hand-holding, I’m not sure giving out maxed-out characters would be any better.

    I’ll give you my own example. I’m not a reviewer or anything like that, but I did once post my reasons for leaving World of Warcraft at level 46, after maybe 6 weeks playing. They were demolished by so many rabid fanboys who could not accept the mere fact that I didn’t like WoW. So they zeroed in on the weak point: Level 46.

    That got me a few unwarranted accusations that I’d never bought the game (until I posted my invoice), and that I’d lied because I had failed to specify that the price I had mentioned before as the one I’d paid for WoW, which they deemed too high, was in Canadian, not US, dollars (yeah, they’re petty like that). But anyway, level 46. In a nutshell: How could I review the game without getting high enough to see this, and then see that, play in this, raid through there, get this piece of equipment, etc.

    Never mind that I had laboured six weeks on the thing, running through old quests, playing the economy on the side (which got me the comment that I possibly couldn’t know how to do that, because I had just played 6 weeks), fishing a lot, etc. I was still being judged on the fact that I had not seen the endgame content, even though I had bored of the game after a reasonable amount of time. In a way, that you haven’t seen all that the game offers is a legitimate concern, but if you’re bored of the stuff you get at level 46, that too should count for something without being told, “level to 80 before commenting at all on the game”.

    All of this to say that the problem with game reviewing is not so much that they usually start at the bottom and see little of the endgame, it’s that regardless of where they’re being dropped in the game, they won’t play enough of it, or long enough of a particular aspect, for the novelty to wear off. Grind is always fun for the first 14 days, even though you know you’ll despise it later on. That’s why I never trust rushed reviews, but I see no practical solution to this.

  68. Vetarnias says:

    And I forgot to add: What bothers me about Ed Zitron isn’t that he gave a rating of 2 for Darkfall with only a few hours’ play; it’s that he probably did the same for Warhammer Online before giving it a 9.2, which is even more reprehensible, if you ask me.

  69. Vetarnias says:

    @Taymar
    Her webcomic’s still hosted by Aventurine, isn’t it?

  70. Gx1080 says:

    1) the guys at The Noob, once again, nailed it. 2)All MMO fanatics, religion fanatics, sport fanatics, etc. are the same. They believe that the ting that they like its “teh awesome” and will se as blaspfemy anything that disagrees. WoW isnt perfect, neither EVE, LOTRO, DarkFall, and all MMOS are. But the ones that last are the ones that, despite those imprefections, are fun for a significant number of people.

  71. Owain says:

    “The Eurogamer reviewer was a computer gamer too, and he’s pretty much criticizing Darkfall Online along the lines of what constitutes a good computer game: a well designed GUI, a good balance, reward balance, entertaining content, ect.You didn’t need to play the game for months to see that it doesn’t do a real good job here.”

    You keep using pharases like these. I do not think they mean what you think they mean. (end_princess_bride_reference)

    I’m not sure what complaints he would have about the GUI – I hardly notice it so far as hot keys and icon slots go. It’s a pretty standard implementation, similar to that used by WoW and numerous other MMORPGs. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s not deficient either, so if the reviewer panned the interface, I think he’s off base.

    Things like Archery and Magery have a different interface that is an improvement, in my opinion. You have to aim to use those skill, like in a first person shooter, instead of just targeting someone and mashing hot keys to nuke someone. I think that is an improvement. Even in melee, you have to be careful where you swing to avoid hitting group mates. Maybe an interface that requires you to think was what the reviewer was complaining about.

    If you never get beyond the tutorial quests, how would the reviewer know jack about “a good balance, reward balance, entertaining content?” He never experienced any content other than tutorial content. I finished that in about 3 days, and in hindsight, I could have finished much earlier. When the north american servers open up and I reroll, I will take just enough of those quests to get the free gear, and head out to experience the real content the reviewer never experienced.

    I never read magazine reviews. They are worthless for reasons that have already been mentioned. I rely on word of mouth from players who have long term experience. With a new game, that can be hard. Vanguard, for example showed promise at it’s start, but failed to live up to it’s early promise. Age of Conan was similar. It’s extensive tutorial area on Torgage Island was novel and entertaining, but trying to extend that beyond level 19 to the rest of the game was prohibitive, I guess, and the rest of the game beyond level 20 was flat and bug ridden, with some dungeons triggering crashes to the desktop, or worse, reboots. THAT is a sure sign of a bad game.

    For people who complain that my ‘review’ merely described emergent behavior, that is the entire point of a ‘sandbox game’. It doesn’t rely on developer provided content. Players provide their own content. I don’t want a series of quests leading my around by the nose. Other than trinkets and goodies, that kind of content provides nothing. Succeed at the quest, or fail – it doesn’t matter except to the person running the quest. Did you get your carrot, or didn’t you? The next guy runs the same quest regardless. Maybe he’ll be lucky, and the “Kibbles and Bits” recipe will drop for him. Big whoop.

    In the account I posted here, wide spread changes in the gaming environment have occured. The KGB has a new city, with far better resources and infrastructure. One of our allies now resides in our former city of Khosgar, a move up for them, and other allies are better off as well. Our alliance has extended our sphere of influence considerably. Our enemies have lost a significant stronghold, and rival guilds, large and small, are now jockeying for position, considering how they should respond to the shift in the balance of power in the region. There is a ripple effect that occurs when an event like this takes place, and the effects are far reaching.

    In WoW, a 40 man group completes an epic quest, and the server heaves a vast collective yawn. “Whatever. Doesn’t have any impact on me.”

    Granted, thing like this don’t happen every day. During this event, I depleted my stores, so I will be spending the most of the next week restocking, chopping wood, mining store and ore, and helping repair structures in our new city that were damaged in the siege. That is good, because I can to that in a hour of gameplay here and there, on a casual playing basis. Throw in a little PvP repelling the occasional raiding party, and a little PvE to make some gold, and I’ll have a nice relaxing week. Unless something unexpected happens. That could be interesting too.

    For a game that is so fundamentally fatally flawed, there sure are a lot of people playing that are enjoying it immensely. But what do we know? Not as much, apparently, as folks who barely played it, like the Eurogamer loser, or to people who have NEVER played it and who break out in hives at the mere mention of unrestricted PvP. You know who you are…

    Whatever. Have fun with the cooking quest. Sure hope that Kibbles and Bits recipe drops for you.

  72. IainC says:

    @Vetarnias
    You’re barking up the wrong tree. Really you are. Providing review copies and accounts isn’t any kind of malfeasance by Aventurine. If they want a review they need to pony up the means to review it, that’s the same for an MMO or a single player game. The staff of your games review site of choice don’t have a trade account at Gamestop.

    Regarding the point about not seeing the whole game; the reviewer is reviewing the game experience. What are the graphics like, is it stable, is the UI clean and intuitive, how does the experience stack up alongside the bullet points on the press pack and so on. It isn’t necessary to see the whole game from start to elder game because the review doesn’t cover that kind of scope. A good reviewer can deconstruct his experience and apply that to the game he’s reviewing. That’s why they’re being paid to write what they think rather than doing it for free into a random forum.

  73. JuJutsu says:

    “For a game that is so fundamentally fatally flawed, there sure are a lot of people playing that are enjoying it immensely.”

    I don’t think ‘a lot’ means what you think it means.

  74. Guy says:

    Viz said:
    “If the game has nothing to offer other than “emergent behavior” and “hardcore PVP,” an SA forum membership gets you much the same at a much lower cost.”

    heheh

    Owain said:
    “Whatever. Have fun with the cooking quest. Sure hope that Kibbles and Bits recipe drops for you.”

    You’re sure taking this personally. And being elitist to boot. You’re saying what other people find fun is not actually fun. You’re doing exactly what you accuse other of doing to you.

    “For people who complain that my ‘review’ merely described emergent behavior, that is the entire point of a ’sandbox game’. ”

    If I keep mentioning emergent behaviour, do you think I don’t know what sandbox games are about? The point is not whether or not it’s a sandbox game. The point is, even a sandbox game can have basic game mechanics or interface choices that the majority don’t find enjoyable, despite the potential long-term rewards a sandbox game could provide. It’s a *game*, above all other things; it’s not a character flaw to quit if you’re not having fun.

  75. geldonyetich says:

    Owain :
    “The Eurogamer reviewer was a computer gamer too, and he’s pretty much criticizing Darkfall Online along the lines of what constitutes a good computer game: a well designed GUI, a good balance, reward balance, entertaining content, ect.You didn’t need to play the game for months to see that it doesn’t do a real good job here.”
    You keep using pharases like these. I do not think they mean what you think they mean. (end_princess_bride_reference)

    Delivering a line intended for Vizzini to me is oddly appropriate.

    “Anybody want a peanut?”
    “Ghaagh!”

    However, strictly speaking, those phrases do apply to things Darkfall Online doesn’t have. In spades – with lots of back up comments here, confirmation in screenshots, videos, and reviews of the game.

    So, in refuting them, you’re sort of sidling well over the level of being a Darkfall Online apologist and into the dark realm of being a Darkfall Online fanatic.

    I can respect a fanatic’s zeal. Having a purpose is important. However, I’m sure not going to expect them to change their mind no matter how much they’re reasoned with, through definition of the role they’ve committed themselves to.

  76. Andy O. says:

    Roffles…

    I guess any press is good press, I’m shocked Eurogamer would offer them a second review. I guess they are just giving Advilturine what they want, more bad press. Hard to take darkfall seriously at this point, but eurogamer I’d imagine will write another stellar review. Can’t wait to read it.

    -A.

  77. Belsameth says:

    Kierons review was actually linked earlier in the comments and while I didn’t play Darkfall, nor plan to, it seems a whole lot better and more honest.

  78. IainC says:

    Belsameth :
    Kierons review was actually linked earlier in the comments and while I didn’t play Darkfall, nor plan to, it seems a whole lot better and more honest.

    Um that was a parody…

  79. sinij says:

    I think the noob comic get this one covered best:

    http://www.thenoobcomic.com/index.php?pos=350

  80. Gx1080 says:

    You know, this thread get long because what its fun for somebody isnt fun for somebody else. And, i hate saying it, but invalidating the other point of view it doesnt make you look better.

    Thats for ALL the involved parties.

    Jeeez. Alright, you dont find the other people tastes in videogames fun. So what? Everybody likes different things. Theres isnt a need of proving that you are right and/or the other people are lower that you for dissagreing.

    Thats for ALL the involved parties.

    @shinj
    Try reading other people coments. Somebody already linked the Noob comic.

  81. sinij says:

    @shinj
    Try reading other people coments. Somebody already linked the Noob comic.

    Why would I read multiple pages or people telling me that something I enjoy doing is wrong? That what marriage is for, and last time I checked I yet to get past first base with Lum (and his blog).

  82. Tremayne says:

    @sinij
    Maybe you should try actually reading some of those posts then. By and large, we aren’t discussing whether enjoying Darkfall is “wrong”, we’re discussing whether bashing on Eurogamer for daring to give Darkfall a bad review is wrong.

    Of course, if by “something I enjoy doing” you meant attacking anyone who hurts Tasos’ feelings, then never mind…

  83. Viz says:

    @Owain
    You know what else is a sandbox game? My imagination. I can play a virtually infinite number of different scenarios in my head, and I don’t have to pay anyone for the privilege.

    That your game is a “sandbox game” doesn’t excuse you from providing decent tools.

  84. Einherjer says:

    “And if it weren’t for my general aversion to the type of player Darkfall panders[…]”

    Whoa! Isn’t that a sweeping generalization?… There are, you know, gamers who play a FFA-PvP game who do so without the express objective of ruining everybody else’s gaming experience.
    By the way, how is Lineage 2? It’s also PvP with full looting right? I bought Darkfall for the lack of competition (or so i thought) and then someone mentions Lineage 2. Is it any good?

  85. JuJutsu says:

    “Whoa! Isn’t that a sweeping generalization?”

    Yes. Whether or not it’s true is a different story. This isn’t one of those universal ‘all swans are white’ type of statements that can be disproven by 1 black swan. Feel free to make your case that Darkfall doesn’t pander to asshats.

  86. Einherjer says:

    I think any game can pander to asshats. Even Pong.
    And speaking of asshats, have you played WoW? How about that Warlock needing on a BoE plate?

  87. Vetarnias says:

    @Einherjer
    Sweeping generalization? Yeah, probably. I have no doubt that there are honourable PvPers who just enjoy PvP and don’t think of devising new methods of screwing up other people’s games. But in many cases, it’s the matter of the one rotten apple, especially when the game doesn’t create any mechanisms to prevent them from spoiling the entire barrel.

    In the case of Darkfall, specifically, I think that my position has to do with the way Aventurine sold its game. Total freedom and all that, which usually means I’m free to get ganked out of my skull until I quit.

    And the other problem I have with Darkfall-style games is that they not only cater to the “hardcore” but to the large guilds. Owain’s guild got its start in UO, if I remember correctly? So it’s going to be one large guild formed in UO versus one other large guild started in DAoC or whatever. When it boils down to when you’ve started your guild, that’s a problem to anyone just starting out. All that’s missing is the SA goons starting their own Darkfall guild just for kicks.

    I’m sure those things must have been exciting when they were new, when you and your real-life friends started playing together, and then you met strangers whom you invited to your group, and finally you had a small guild going. Then those guilds became institutions, then they expanded into new games like chain department stores. And soon enough we reach the point where those guilds are all Walmart-type behemoths going at one another with mind-boggling predictability, while making sure that startups can’t ever get to compete with them.

    Darkfall seems to be a game like that. But complete freedom, remember?

  88. Owain says:

    Viz :@Owain You know what else is a sandbox game? My imagination. I can play a virtually infinite number of different scenarios in my head, and I don’t have to pay anyone for the privilege.
    That your game is a “sandbox game” doesn’t excuse you from providing decent tools.

    Whatever. Have a large time wandering around in your own head, ok?

    What decent tools does Darkfall not provide, though, in this game that you do not play? Neither I nor anyone who actually play the game have any real complaints about the interface, so give me some specifics, not vague generalities, so I can try to see if your criticism is valid or not.

  89. Owain says:

    “Owain’s guild got its start in UO, if I remember correctly? So it’s going to be one large guild formed in UO versus one other large guild started in DAoC or whatever. When it boils down to when you’ve started your guild, that’s a problem to anyone just starting out.”

    Not at all. At least for our part, KGB membership has changed considerabley since UO. There are only a few of the old guard left. The usual pattern we have followed is between games, membership falls off. When a new game is released, only a small cadre remains to enter the game. If the game is a flop (i.e. Vanguard), we pull out and mercifully let the game die by itself. If the game has promise, we recruit heavily from new players in the game. As this generates interest, veterans from previous games return, but a large part of current membership is derived from new players in the game.

    Darkfall is a good example of this. Since we have been waiting impatiently for 5 years for this game to release, we have a large number of veterans who returned to the KGB to play Darkfall, but it is very interesting to listen to wide variety of accents in our Ventrillo voice chats channel. We have Brits, Finns, all sorts of accents in there, some that I haven’t even identified. We have an entire subgroup that only speaks French, and they have a couple of guys who speak english who translate what is going on in their own voice chat channel. So instead of being an entry barrier for a new player, we are a resource new players take advantage of without requiring them to reinvent the wheel.

    New players can and do form their own clans as well. We have dozens of them in our alliance, so a new player doesn’t necessarily need to be absorbed by a large collective, so yes, startups are very common. Some do well, and some don’t, just like in every other human activity.

    These are the sorts of misconceptions people fall into when they don’t actually play the game they are slamming…

  90. JuJutsu says:

    Einherjer :I think any game can pander to asshats. Even Pong.And speaking of asshats, have you played WoW? How about that Warlock needing on a BoE plate?

    Any game can pander to asshats? Now that’s a sweeping generalization if I’ve ever seen one. How does Hello Kitty pander to asshats pray tell?

    I’d say there’s a big gap between ‘can’ and ‘does’. Aventurine doesn’t just pander to asshats, it’s proud of it.

    I did play WoW for just under 2 weeks and canceled. I’ve never had any desire to go back and I pretty much ignore it as a consequence. Thus I can’t comment on Warlock needing on a BoE plate. I’m playing EVE Online, I might be able to comment on something in that game but I’m pretty n00bish so there’s no guarantee.

  91. Owain says:

    “I’d say there’s a big gap between ‘can’ and ‘does’. Aventurine doesn’t just pander to asshats, it’s proud of it.”

    Specify, please.

  92. Einherjer says:

    “Any game can pander to asshats? Now that’s a sweeping generalization if I’ve ever seen one. How does Hello Kitty pander to asshats pray tell?”

    Not being a native english speaker I’m probably misinterpreting what “pander” means, but whenever 2 human beings have contact, “asshatery” may ensue.

    I also play Wizard101, and even in that game you can pull additional monsters to other players battle and then just flee.

    As for Eve, have you read the new player forums, there a good topic for noobs there. Anyone that reads that topic and is willing to play a game will know everything in order to succeed in a FFA-PvP game.

  93. Einherjer says:

    Oh, and there’s an advice: whenever you get ganked in Eve or in other game, don’t start insulting the ganker. You’ll be feeding his ego. Say nothing or better congratulate him on a nice kill and, if it’s the case, the fine loot he got from you. Then go right back and keep doing the what you were. He may gank you more times but, unless he is 10 or literally retard, he will get bored for he will not get his QQ tears from you.

  94. Owain says:

    The accepted definition of ‘asshat’ around here seems to be ‘someone who does something I don’t like.’

    That seems to be overly broad, to me.

    “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?”
    – William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2

  95. Guy says:

    Go read Keen’s blog, Owain. He was very enthusiastic about Darkfall, joined up with some friends, had some cool times, but decided in the end that Adventurine didn’t really pull it off, that there were several flaws that made him want to move on. So have a look at what he said, I think it’s a great honest appraisal of the game from someone who really wanted to like it, and got honest thrills from the core of what the game was about.

  96. JuJutsu says:

    I spend a LOT of time in the new citizen forum and the n00b help chat channel 🙂 I’ve also discovered that EVE has one of the most helpful communities of any game I’ve ever played. Someone that will pod you without a second thought in null sec will give you advice on how to improve the fitting of a frigate you’re puttering around with.

  97. Owain says:

    Guy :Go read Keen’s blog, Owain.

    I don’t see a link in this thread or in the Lum’s blogroll, but the IT nazi’s where I work would probably block it anyway.

    Until I get home after work, what were Keen’s major complaints?

  98. Owain says:

    I don’t see a link in this thread or in the Lum’s blogroll, but the IT nazi’s where I work would probably block it anyway.

    Until I get home after work, what were Keen’s major complaints?

  99. Vetarnias says:

    As for Darkfall pandering to asshats, I think it’s best exemplified by Tasos’ grandstanding over the years. Though the release of the game proves wrong all those who shouted vaporware over the years, when it came to management Aventurine was pretty much the software equivalent of the Keystone Cops. It gave deadlines it never stuck to, promised a guild beta that never happened, and so on. It was downright amateurish in presentation, failing, for instance, to update its website even after the game went live (sort of), and it flubbed its release by accepting, I’ve heard, three times as many orders as could fill their server.

    I have no doubt that many people were enthusiastic about Darkfall and what it promised to accomplish. But it takes a special kind of enthusiasm to remain impervious to seven years of broken promises while the Aventurine chest-puffing continued unabated. How many people would be put off by that, and say to Aventurine at one point or another, okay, cards on the table, put up or shut up? And Aventurine would vehemently denounce the accusers while offering nothing to back itself up. Deadlines came and went, and Aventurine didn’t even bother to offer an explanation.

    In other words, the pre-release history of Darkfall was seven years of attrition among followers and slapdash treatment of the community by Aventurine, which ensured that only the blindest of the blind would be left standing, salivating at the game they had been promised. It was almost religious fanaticism by that point, and the pecking order on the forums (for lack of an actual game) was based on when you created your account.

    And Aventurine pushed all the right buttons to get that type of player. In that, it was lucky, because the “old-school” hardcore angst was there to be tapped into. Dissatisfaction over the Trammelization of UO. The WoW juggernaut ruining the mainstream, which made niches the only possible salvation (with EVE being a convenient success). So even a blatantly unprofessional company as Aventurine was able to pull it off even though you’d need papal levels of forgiveness to overlook all the disrespect towards its player base.

    So yeah, you get the asshats. The blind followers who will pride themselves on their game being niche right into unprofitability. I remember seeing an exquisite specimen at work on the MMORPG.com forums, arguing that the Darkfall website SHOULDN’T be updated, so that not too many people would know about the game. And Tasos, well, Tasos is the high priest of the enterprise, with a sense of PR apparently based on the premise that the more bellicose you get, the more appeal you have to your community (think Fox News or talk radio). No matter how heavy the spin, they always appear to be telling the truth because what they say is so brash that it can’t be anything other than niche, and niche, as mentioned above, is seen by Darkfall’s followers as the only salvation in a world dominated by slick Mark Jacobs types.

    That’s the best explanation I can come up with.

  100. Guy says:

    Keen’s blog is blocked at my work too, but luckily I can dig in my Google Reader RSS archives. He has many, many posts on Darkfall, including very detailed (and often enthusiastic) accounts of his time spent in Darkfall, and I skimmed through them just now backwards, latest posts first. Here’s one towards the end, where he collects some of his general thoughts on the flaws:

    Here’s a far more detailed collection of thoughts on hits and misses written in the middle of his time in Darkfall:

    Here’s one part way after his initial beginner days (actually after the last link), describing what he’d been up to in-game:

    Here’s where he gets hopeful about the “end-game”

    And this is from the very beginning, part 1 of 5 or so of his initial impressions

    So hopefully you’ll see that he did give the game a fair shake and that, for him at least, the unsatisfactory outweighed the good.

  101. Guy says:

    Well, I tried submitted a long post with links, failed several times, then succeeded with some reformatting, then editted it, and the edit caught the moderation filter. So I don’t know if it’s still visible from before the edit, but if it’s still not up for a while I’ll try again.

  102. geldonyetich says:

    Gx1080 :
    You know, this thread get long because what its fun for somebody isnt fun for somebody else. And, i hate saying it, but invalidating the other point of view it doesnt make you look better.
    Thats for ALL the involved parties.

    I was saying this on page one. However, while it’s true that everybody likes different things, you can still point out a lot of things that are clearly wrong with Darkfall Online in terms of game design.

    This is the real point of contention we’re having here. Some people are hearing, “Darkfall Online is a poorly constructed game” and are interpreting this to mean, “Darkfall Online is bad and you’re a poor judge of games to play it.” There’s a difference here that’s not being properly recognized. A game can still be poorly constructed and yet people will find it enjoyable.

    Darkfall Online fully deserved a bad score because it is, in many ways, an ill-conceived game. Provably so, insofar as game theory is provable (which is not very, but I’d like to say we’ve learned something). Regardless, some people will still like it, there’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, a lot of those people playing the game actually agree it has these faults.

    Regarding the “pandering to asshats” aspect, that’s sort of putting a negative spin on the idea that they’re basically fully supportive of play mechanics which are typically identified as grief play. I’m not saying grief play is great, just another thing that’s wrong with Darkfall in a game design assessment, but if you’re going to say it panders to asshats it builds a heavier negative suggestion than necessary.

  103. Guy says:

    Risking a multiple post (sorry Scott):

    Keen’s blog is blocked at my work too, but luckily I can dig in my Google Reader RSS archives. He has many, many posts on Darkfall, including very detailed (and often enthusiastic) accounts of his time spent in Darkfall, and I skimmed through them just now backwards, latest posts first. Here’s one towards the end, where he collects some of his general thoughts on the flaws:

    Here’s a far more detailed collection of thoughts on hits and misses written in the middle of his time in Darkfall:

    Here’s one part way after his initial beginner days (actually after the last link), describing what he’d been up to in-game:

    Here’s where he gets hopeful about the “end-game”

    And this is from the very beginning, part 1 of 5 or so of his initial impressions

    So hopefully you’ll see that he did give the game a fair shake, and that, for him at least, the unsatisfactory outweighed the good.

  104. Owain says:

    Vetarnias :As for Darkfall pandering to asshats, I think it’s best exemplified by Tasos’ grandstanding over the years.>

    Not sure how that’s pandering to asshats. Shit happens, and nothing ever goes as planned. They’ve had their problems, but finally released. That’s something that some companies never accomplish, so good for them.

    [blah blah blah – bunch stoopid crap deleted]

    So your chief complaint is that they marketed the game for their target audience? How dare they? Things didn’t go as planned, but they persevered. The FIENDS!

    Yet in spite of that, they released the game, demand exceeds current capacity, and for the most part, the players they have enthusiastically enjoy the game provided.

    Losers!

    >

    That’s the best explanation I can come up with.

    And a pretty lame explanation it is…

  105. Owain says:

    A game can still be poorly constructed and yet people will find it enjoyable.

    This statement makes no sense. I would think that it would be axiomatic that if people enjoy a game, by definition, it is well constructed for that audience. Tastes differ. I do not proclam that soccer is poorly constructed, and thus a failed game just because I prefer basketball.

    Darkfall Online fully deserved a bad score because it is, in many ways, an ill-conceived game. Provably so, insofar as game theory is provable (which is not very…)

    Yeah, this is great. It’s provable (but not really…). Do read this stuff before you Submit Comment?

    Again, you are referring to an issue of taste and preference. It is not an absolute.

    Specifically, what is wrong with Darkfall from a game design assessment? I have yet to hear that defined.

  106. Brask Mumei says:

    Owain :
    Specifically, what is wrong with Darkfall from a game design assessment? I have yet to hear that defined.

    How about this? The loot mini game ignores client being in the hand of the enemy. It is merely time until auto-loot is written and becomes defacto. History of UO should have made this clear.

    This has nothing to do with taste or preference, it is just a design decision made in spite of certain physical facts that apply. Complaining about players macroing, botting, or scripting and ruining a game is the same as complaining about gravity ruining your plane design. You knew it was there when you went to the design table.

  107. Nero says:

    I find blog game reviews like Lums way more helpful than “official” game critics. Bloggers are just people with a website and an opinion. They do not pretend to be anything that they are not. On the other hand game site critics tend to have nice things to say about any game produced by a company that has advertising money to spend. Making their reviews almost totally useless.

    I read Eurogamers review and it looks like Aventurine does not have any advertising money to spend. So the reviewer decided the game was not worth nice words or his time. That said, some of his observations may well be valid. The complaints about the combat system concern me, but the rest of it sounds like the reviewer was unhappy because the game is not like WoW.

    I have not played Darkfall. But I remember Owain’s guild from Shadowbane. I’ll bet that is why Owain is having a good time well others are struggling. In Shadowbane you join a guild first, and then you make a character. You log your character in and get it added to your guild, and BAM, you’re in the end game content. I’m betting Darkfall is very similar.

  108. Raelyf says:

    Demand exceeding availability is a failure in itself – no no, really, it is.

    Regardless, I think Darkfall has, as any MMO, made some good decisions and some poor ones. Time will tell if they can recover from those or not – whether the game turns a profit and keeps running is, in the end, the final judge of success.

    In all honesty, I think the negative review is most likely justified. When I can actually play the damn thing, I’ll repent if my opinion is wrong – but I’d put money down that the game is unpolished and a bit rushed, that every feature isn’t sufficiently thought out long term, ect, ect. It’s forgivable in light of the fact that Darkfall is doing something somewhat unique – I’ll put up with certain problems because there’s no other alternative. Still, I suspect Darkfall is to perfection what Everquest is to WoW – a long ways behind.

  109. Owain says:

    There’s a loot mini-game? I’m not entirely sure I understand what you are saying.

    Do you mean that the process of looting a corpse, npc or player, is controlled by the client, and although it hasn’t happened yet, so it currently is not a problem at all, at some point in the future (or maybe never) someone may write an autoloot hack, so Q.E.D, Darkfall is teh FAIL.

    How would you suggest that this design abomination be fixed? The user has to select the tombstone using the client. The user has to drag individual items, again using the client. Everything the user does to communicate with the server, by definition, uses the client. How do you suggest they change this. Require telepathy?

    I don’t see this as a major problem. If you are in a pickup group, and somebody employs a loot hack like this, you have a nice option. The group can always gank him, and take the loot of his rapidly cooling corpse.

    This isn’t a long term solution, so maybe the best bet is to report him to the dev’s, who hopefully will be able to detect the use of an unauthorized hack in violation of the TOS, so you may be able to perform the ultimate gank, and get his account canceled.

    If this is the worst ‘flaw’ you can come up with, I can rest easy.

    Next?

  110. Owain says:

    “Demand exceeding availability is a failure in itself – no no, really, it is.”

    In a perfect world with unlimited resources, maybe.

    So, which is worse?

    1) Capacity far exceeds demand for your game, so you lose money hand over fist, you have to combine low populations servers, delete servers, and perhaps go out of business because you’ve developed a game no one wants to play (Vanguard comes to mind here).

    2) Because you are a small developer with limited resources, you conservatively open with one server, and limit availabilty to maintain a server population you can support, but you are able to continually enhance your product and improve capacity because you remain profitable, and over the long run supply an entertaining game to an appreciative audience. (Eve most closely fits model).

    As you say, time will tell. For now, Darkfall appears to be following the second development strategy.

  111. Vetarnias says:

    @Owain
    I’ll give Aventurine that, it knew precisely which type of clientele it wanted to reach, but it’s not much to Aventurine’s credit because that clientele is incredibly easy to pin down. They hate Trammel UO way past everyone’s caring point. They played Shadowbane, until the bugs and exploits, not the premise, ruined it. They cry “carebear” left and right, and they can’t find a game to satisfy them because the games around them have all been tainted by carebearization. They see their gameplay as permanently under siege from their inferiors who dare to refuse to play victims to their greatness. They are organized. And whatever they say, they ensure they say it as loudly as possible.

    Aventurine just pushed the right buttons, and that’s how it ended up with that “community”. Whether it’ll manage to retain it over the long term, considering how quickly such players abandon games, is another matter.

    That clientele and Tasos’ grandstanding are, to borrow a cliche, a match made in heaven; they feed off one another. And if you don’t believe me that the community is one of the worst out there, by all means, check it out for yourself, both on the official Darkfall forums and on the MMORPG.com Darkfall forum (since I don’t play the game, it’s the most direct evidence I have). See their old-school smug sense of superiority which might be, WoW’s invincible-juggernaut “casual elitists” excepted, the most arrogant you’ll find around a game anywhere. Read the Darkfall players’ trash-talking, even when addressing legitimate questions or answering mild jokes. But if you’re reading a blog such as this, it’s likely you already read the forums.

    As for pandering to such hardcore players, what about the “choice words” before choosing to finish off another player? I’m pretty sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

  112. tsweatt says:

    Owain :

    2) Because you are a small developer with limited resources, you conservatively open with one server, and limit availabilty to maintain a server population you can support, but you are able to continually enhance your product and improve capacity because you remain profitable, and over the long run supply an entertaining game to an appreciative audience. (Eve most closely fits model).
    As you say, time will tell. For now, Darkfall appears to be following the second development strategy.

    With the exception that Darkfall has not improved it’s capacity. They can’t even manage to keep the store open. So really, they haven’t followed item #1 or #2 in your post.

  113. Owain says:

    In that case, WoW panders to it’s resident asshats, Warhammer panders to it’s asshats, and so does Second Life, Left 4 Dead, and every other game that has ever been released. It’s called Marketing.

    ‘Darkfall, the Forum’ is not ‘Darkfall, the Game’, which is why I do not waste my time on the forums. In my experience, the players who are the least accomplished in the game are the ones who are most prolific on the forums. If they spend as much time in game as they spend perfecting their forum PvP, they’d be better off. I’m sure I could go on the WoW Battleground forums and find morons there as well. They might even be the same morons, playing both games. You’ll have to do better than that.

    What “choice words” when finishing off another player? You don’t have a feature in Darkfall like you had in UO where speech appears over your head. You can’t ‘talk’ to another player. There is a global chat channel, but no one I know monitors that channel. I’ve deleted it from my interface because I have quite enough to keep track of in the System, Clan, and Alliance channels. There is a tell function, which shows up in a separate tab, but those are usually Delete-Before-Reading. If you open that tab, you deserve what you get. I think I’ve gotten a total of 3 annonymous Tells, which may have been innocent, I don’t know. I don’t think that trash talk is a big problem.

    Again, since you don’t play the game, you really don’t have an accurate idea what goes on in the game. Since your assumptions are flawed, perhaps you should reconsider your conclusions.

  114. Vetarnias says:

    Owain :
    “Demand exceeding availability is a failure in itself – no no, really, it is.”
    In a perfect world with unlimited resources, maybe.
    So, which is worse?
    1) Capacity far exceeds demand for your game, so you lose money hand over fist, you have to combine low populations servers, delete servers, and perhaps go out of business because you’ve developed a game no one wants to play (Vanguard comes to mind here).
    2) Because you are a small developer with limited resources, you conservatively open with one server, and limit availabilty to maintain a server population you can support, but you are able to continually enhance your product and improve capacity because you remain profitable, and over the long run supply an entertaining game to an appreciative audience. (Eve most closely fits model).
    As you say, time will tell. For now, Darkfall appears to be following the second development strategy.

    It’s one thing to be conservative. It’s quite another to brag about how successful the game is because the game’s demand so outweighs supply.

    If I print a single copy of my book and that three of my friends want to buy it from me, can I claim it’s a runaway success because demand outgrows supply in a proportion of three to one?

    Option #2 is the most realistic to follow in the case of Darkfall. It’s fine, and as a niche product it’s probably the ideal way to go (this coming from someone who saw the all-but-niche Pirates of the Burning Sea when it had 11 servers, quickly whittled down to 4). However, I’m not sure about long-term growth by restricting supply. If I’m left waiting too long in line outside a fashionable nightclub, how long will it take before I say, screw it, I’ll do something else instead? It’s arguable how long it will take, but the game’s momentum will pass. And the queue will dry up.

    If so many people are lined up, why doesn’t Aventurine seize the opportunity to maintain supply as close to demand as possible? Why not make a cash grab early on, even if that might mean cutting down on servers in a few months when the Darkfall fad has passed? It’s one thing to start with too many servers (or to mistake early success for steady numbers down the road, a la Age of Conan); it’s another to keep supply low no matter what, especially if the demand is there.

    The only type of goods for which an artificially low supply is successfully maintained is luxury items priding themselves on their exclusivity; in their case, it’s part of the branding process. But Darkfall? No. Playing it isn’t a status symbol, and like all games it has a very limited “shelf life”. In fact, restricting supply just risks pissing off guilds that can’t get all their players into the game.

    I can understand Aventurine’s refusal to overestimate demand. But I can’t understand their not even trying to meet it.

    EVE is basically one large server, but did it have limitations on the number of players who could play? I’m not sure, but I never heard about anyone being forced to wait to register for the game.

  115. Owain says:

    Vetarnias :

    It’s one thing to be conservative. It’s quite another to brag about how successful the game is because the game’s demand so outweighs supply.

    Is anyone bragging about how wildly successful they are? I haven’t heard about it, if so. Got a link?

    Even so, success is relative. They are FAR more successful than the developers of Duke Nukem Forever.

    I haven’t heard about it, if so.

    However, I’m not sure about long-term growth by restricting supply. If I’m left waiting too long in line outside a fashionable nightclub, how long will it take before I say, screw it, I’ll do something else instead? It’s arguable how long it will take, but the game’s momentum will pass. And the queue will dry up.

    Patience, grasshopper. It took Eve years to build it’s player base, which was done slowly, and mostly by word of mouth. There seems to be a ‘fast-food-mentality’ at work here. If you don’t instantly get your gamer-happy-meal, something must be wrong. Maybe. Maybe not.

    If so many people are lined up, why doesn’t Aventurine seize the opportunity to maintain supply as close to demand as possible? Why not make a cash grab early on, even if that might mean cutting down on servers in a few months when the Darkfall fad has passed? It’s one thing to start with too many servers (or to mistake early success for steady numbers down the road, a la Age of Conan); it’s another to keep supply low no matter what, especially if the demand is there.

    Let me scroll up… Yes, I did mention ‘small independent developer’ and ‘limited resources’. Just checking.

    I’m sure the Darkfall devs would dearly love to capture some of that pent up demand right now, but for reasons best known to them, there must be constraints they facing that precludes that. As soon as they are able, I’m sure they will.

    I can understand Aventurine’s refusal to overestimate demand. But I can’t understand their not even trying to meet it.
    EVE is basically one large server, but did it have limitations on the number of players who could play? I’m not sure, but I never heard about anyone being forced to wait to register for the game.

    Eve doesn’t have multiple ‘shards’, so speaking of servers is a misnomer for them, and is probably not accurate for other games as well. As I understand it, Eve increases it’s player capacity by adding more servers to a collective server farm, which is probably also true of other games.

    I played Eve briefly, but didn’t like the ‘ship is your body’ approach. I couldn’t identify that ship on the screen as being ME. While I playing, there were times where you would have problems in high population star systems. Lag in those systems would be very bad, and when trying to enter that system via a jump gate, you’d enter a jump queue that would keep you waiting for a long time sometimes. Eve did not limit game purchases, but allowed population to degrade game performance. Over time, they added additional servers and larger servers to improve things, but some systems were always very laggy.

    Darkfall has elected to limit population rather than degrade game performance. Having tried both, I prefer the Darkfall approach, but that’s easy for me to say, since I’m in game, and others are still waiting. Again, time will tell if Darkfall made the correct development choice here.

  116. Owain says:

    @tsweatt
    A false statement. The population for the European server is steadily increasing. Slowly, to be sure, but it is increasing. In addition, there used to be big problems on login with server queues where players would have to wait for long periods of time in the queue before entering the game. Those problems no longer exist.

    The reason the store is infrequently open is because they are doing that to control server population. Players may not like that, but it is not because they don’t know how to keep the store open. It’s intentional. As capacity increase, they allow additional downloads. Sure, I would have preferred not to wait as long as I did, but I don’t have millions in development funds invested in this game and they do, so they make the rules.

  117. Gx1080 says:

    Vetarnias :@OwainI’ll give Aventurine that, it knew precisely which type of clientele it wanted to reach, but it’s not much to Aventurine’s credit because that clientele is incredibly easy to pin down. They hate Trammel UO way past everyone’s caring point. They played Shadowbane, until the bugs and exploits, not the premise, ruined it. They cry “carebear” left and right, and they can’t find a game to satisfy them because the games around them have all been tainted by carebearization. They see their gameplay as permanently under siege from their inferiors who dare to refuse to play victims to their greatness. They are organized. And whatever they say, they ensure they say it as loudly as possible.
    Aventurine just pushed the right buttons, and that’s how it ended up with that “community”. Whether it’ll manage to retain it over the long term, considering how quickly such players abandon games, is another matter.
    That clientele and Tasos’ grandstanding are, to borrow a cliche, a match made in heaven; they feed off one another. And if you don’t believe me that the community is one of the worst out there, by all means, check it out for yourself, both on the official Darkfall forums and on the MMORPG.com Darkfall forum (since I don’t play the game, it’s the most direct evidence I have). See their old-school smug sense of superiority which might be, WoW’s invincible-juggernaut “casual elitists” excepted, the most arrogant you’ll find around a game anywhere. Read the Darkfall players’ trash-talking, even when addressing legitimate questions or answering mild jokes. But if you’re reading a blog such as this, it’s likely you already read the forums.
    As for pandering to such hardcore players, what about the “choice words” before choosing to finish off another player? I’m pretty sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Ahhhh. Now I get it. Its not that DarkFall its terribad, its that you, Lum and many, many others really dislike the market of DarkFall. Even if it DarfFall was perfect (that it isnt), many people would still complain about it because they hate the community.

    Besides that, i still stand that Adventurine doesnt fight macroers because they enjoy their blowjobs.

  118. Owain says:

    @Guy

    OK, I followed the links, and I can sympathise with what he says. That said, I think his biggest problem was due to unrealistic expectations. In one of his posts, he listed all the game features important for him, his expections before release, and his impression after getting into the game. His expectations in all areas, I think, was “fantastic”. Reality, for him, fell far short of that. No kiddin’? I can’t imagine how that might happen.

    Perhaps I had lower expectations. I played UO, Shadowbane, DaoC, SWG, WoW, Vanguard, Age of Conan, and Warhammer, plus probably some others I’ve forgotten before coming to Darkfall. No game is fantastic in every category. Every game has it warts, and every game has it’s good points. Darkfall is no different.

    For people accustomed to a class/level based game, yes Darkfall will may seem slow to you if you have an unrealisic expectation of maxing all your skills out in short order. I’ve been playing about 3 weeks now, and my archery skill just hit 30. No, KGB enemies do not phear my ‘l33t bow skills. By the same token, during our recent siege, I shot a shit load of arrows to good effect, so I’m not broken hearted about it.

    I don’t expect my skills to go up lightning fast in game, maybe because in real life I play the bagpipes. I spend a LOT of time practicing piping drills and exercises. I also spend a fair amount of time shooting arrows into the air in Darkfall to build archery skill. I’ve been playing the pipes for about 6 years. I’ve been shooting arrows in Darkfall for 3 weeks. I’m pretty happy with my archery progress. I had a lot more trouble learning how to play “Dr Ross’s 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering.”

    I also played high school football, years ago. A month before school began, we had two practices a day. After school started, we had a practice every day, and played an actual game maybe once a week. We still had plenty of guys who wanted to play football, despite all the time we had to spend ‘grinding’ our skills.

    If your expectations are for nonstop siege operations and PvP, your expectations are unrealistic. I spend a lot of time harvesting resources for crafting and to support city repair and development. I hunt mobs with clan mates to earn cash for equipement and supplies. Those activities support PvP and sieges, which are my recreation. You have to decide for yourself if the effort expended working vs time spent playing (PvP) is worth the effort. That’s very much a personal choice.

    Turns out Darkfall was not the game for Keen. Darkfall probably is not the game for many of Lum’s readers. I have no problem with that. But just like my high school football team, there are a lot of people playing, and a lot of people waiting to get in, so it does appeal to the people it appeals to. I can’t worry about the people who were cut from the team, or who quit, for whatever reason. I’m still having fun playing the game with the people who are here, and for right now, that’s good enough for me.

  119. Einherjer says:

    Owain, please…
    You are being too articulated and making sense.
    You are even bothering to politely debate with people who are not engaged in a serious discussion, just mud slinging.
    We have to keep the FFA PVP players reputation.
    Just write a “back to wow, n00bxor, lulz1!!!!1111”

    😉

  120. IainC says:

    Owain :

    A game can still be poorly constructed and yet people will find it enjoyable.

    This statement makes no sense. I would think that it would be axiomatic that if people enjoy a game, by definition, it is well constructed for that audience. Tastes differ. I do not proclam that soccer is poorly constructed, and thus a failed game just because I prefer basketball.

    His point makes perfect sense. A game can be poorly designed or otherwise flawed and people will still play it despite that. People will play practically anything as long as they are able to find some meagre crumb of comfort from somewhere in the design.

    There are plenty of bad games out in the wild. People play all of them despite their many faults. And a ‘bad game’ is defined by the quality of its design and not by the preferences of its players. By trying to redefine the argument as a question of differing tastes, shows that you don’t actually understand the points that are being made.

  121. Vetarnias says:

    IainC :

    Owain :

    A game can still be poorly constructed and yet people will find it enjoyable.

    This statement makes no sense. I would think that it would be axiomatic that if people enjoy a game, by definition, it is well constructed for that audience. Tastes differ. I do not proclam that soccer is poorly constructed, and thus a failed game just because I prefer basketball.

    His point makes perfect sense. A game can be poorly designed or otherwise flawed and people will still play it despite that. People will play practically anything as long as they are able to find some meagre crumb of comfort from somewhere in the design.
    There are plenty of bad games out in the wild. People play all of them despite their many faults. And a ‘bad game’ is defined by the quality of its design and not by the preferences of its players. By trying to redefine the argument as a question of differing tastes, shows that you don’t actually understand the points that are being made.

    At one point, though, the preferences of players will reflect on what is deemed good or bad game design.

    However, I entirely agree with the view that people will play deficient or even bad games (even by their own standards) because they enjoy one element of it. Would Mount & Blade, for example, be such a success if it were judged exclusively by the depth of its politics or the variety of its quests? No, all that I hear about the game is that it is good despite the repetitive quests (worse, being forced to do them if you’re a vassal with any given kingdom), mostly on the strength of its battle mode. Or the Gothic series, a model of how to NOT do an interface, which wins points purely on immersion and plot design.

    We could discuss this subject for days on what makes a good or bad game, and how we should assess it, but tastes would probably take a large part of the list of criteria — unless you want to address purely technical concerns such as bugs or game stability, which are besides the point here.

    However, as far as this conversation is concerned, I feel like taking the disgustingly consumerist cop-out of saying that a good game, as far as MMO’s are concerned, is one whose features are commercially viable. That way, I skirt around personal tastes and the moral high ground. Yeah, I know what this also means, and I can’t shake off the mental image of WoW fanatics grinning from ear to ear. But games are a business. As much as I think that WoW’s commercial success doesn’t mean it’s perfect (far from it, in fact), from a commercial viewpoint it’s still some kind of holy grail that, for better or worse, can’t be ignored by the industry. But sustainability is an important factor that is unique to MMO’s, because in single-player games the closest we get to that is replay value — and even then, they’ve made their money off you, they don’t care if you play it a week before letting it gather dust on the shelf.

    From that perspective, can Darkfall sustain itself? That would depend on a few factors. First, assuming the game lives up to its premise, it refuses to offer anything to PvE players because it doesn’t want to have them around. Fair enough. Better make that clear instead of having a situation like Pirates of the Burning Sea where you try to appeal to both PvP and PvE players, and in the end satisfy neither. Where’s PotBS today? It’s still around, but based on what I saw last month the PvEers seem to have all left. A few reasons I’m tossing out: lack of quest variety, PvE that almost exclusively served PvP, the internal guild production that killed the economy, etc. But the big one: PvEers like to do their stuff without being fodder to the PvPers. And the PvPers, on the other hand, just need to grind to be able to PvP. If we’re talking about imperfect design, that is one blatant example.

    So on that level, the game just made it clear it’s not for the PvE crowd. Fine, I’m not losing sleep over that. But then you need to explain why Shadowbane, which also made it clear (with “play to crush”, etc.) that it was exclusively for PvP and RvR, happened to fail. Six years might be long, but how long was it artificially kept alive? I played in late 2007 and it looked dead, despite the Asian popularity of the game, an unwanted demographic as far as advertisers funding the then-free game were concerned.

    Unfortunately, what you’re getting when discussing Shadowbane is that everything but the premise is to blame for its failure. The bugs (SB.exe, for example), the exploits, the developers’ actions, a few design choices (Wanderer often mentions the function-follows-form problems of the game). Sure, there were problems with that. But in the world of laissez-faire sandbox gaming, there is another problem that accompanies the premise: What happens when the map is dead? Big alliance decisively wins over other big alliance. Now what?

    When that happens in EVE, I’m sure the game will start dying, unless CCP comes up with something to keep it dynamic — and after six years, surely they’ve thought of something. Pirates of the Burning Sea used periodic map resets as an alternative. It detracted from the “permanent” aspect of the world, and the same factions won every round unless they had collapsed in the meantime, but at least the map maintained a semblance of dynamism as a result — even if by a deus ex machina.

    And that’s where I’m not particularly confident about Darkfall. Maybe they’ll be lucky, and the map will stay dynamic for years like EVE’s. But what will Aventurine do if it doesn’t? Have they thought of something? And how will the Darkfall community take it? Does the community even think long-term after starting to play the game? Don’t such players usually stay for a few months then leave when they start losing or when they get bored?

    Honestly, I don’t have much confidence in Aventurine to solve or even address these problems. Everything about the release so far has been amateurish, from their sort-of beta and their woes after going live to their credit card billing problems to the rampant macroing we hear about. And all we get is smack-talking from players and Tasos alike. It’s as though the issues will just go away by bullying them hard enough. Attitude is no solution to game design problems, because it just smacks of “no, never mind the sea water in your cabin, or the objects rolling off your dresser, the ship is NOT sinking”.

    Is there anything in place to avoid a Shadowbane scenario? I’m not sure. But the two servers that did remain alive before the last round of wipes last year were those where the map was still dynamic, and where the Asian zerg hadn’t invaded everything.

    If Darkfall can sustain itself, all the better, because we sure as hell need alternatives to World of Warcraft. I even remember Lum posting something to this effect a few months ago. But the problem is thus: Aventurine is almost like an opposition slate in a two-party system where the administration is corrupt, arrogant, and haughty. But all it manages to propose as an alternative is to fill fire hydrants with single-malt Scotch and hold armpit-farting contests as the high point of its cultural policy. They are, in one word, a joke. And if they fail, the bean counters will just nod and say “we told you so” and stay away from PvP games. And the WoWites will just claim another scalp, regardless of context.

    And regardless of shortcomings in execution (such as Shadowbane’s), the premise of a sandbox FFA PvP comes with problems, but Aventurine has shown little willingness or competence to address them. How do we combat player attrition? What is there to do with griefing? How can the map remain dynamic? Questions apparently all brushed off, for it would be too carebear to address them.

  122. Owain says:

    @IainC

    @Vetarnias

    People keep saying the Darkfall is poorly designed, but fail to specify HOW it’s poorly designed. I contend that it is not poorly designed for it’s target audience. It’s not perfectly designed, by any means, but for it’s current audence, it is adequate.

    Consider player demand as a gaussian distribution, => a standard bell curve that describes a normal distribution (http://www.netmba.com/statistics/distribution/normal/)

    WoW was developed to capture the fat part of the distribution – they try to have something for everyone. They have PvE servers, they have PvP servers, they have roll playing servers, they have battlegrounds, they have solo play, they have play for 40 person groups, they have achievments for everything from battlegronds to cooking. They cover the spectrum, and thus they have 8 million subscribers.

    Other game companies want a piece of that market, so you get new games recently like Vanguard, Age of Conan, and Warhammer. They all open up with dozens of servers, and they sit back and wait for the subscriptions to roll in. Initially, they do roll in, but their problem is that they have designed their games for the same part of the gamer distribution dominated by WoW, and too bad, WoW pwns that segment of the market, so you start hemoraging players and dollars, so you have to combine servers, and close servers, and possibly fail. You chose your market poorly.

    Game companies think that if they clone WoW, but add a few minor changes, they will succeed. That’s like some newcomer trying to compete with Starbucks. Unfortunately, no one is interested in coffee served with an avacado slice, even if you do call it “Kalifornia Koffee”. And no one is interested in you new MMO, even if you do call it Vanguard, or whatever, because everyone who wants to play that kind of game is already playing WoW.

    Unless game companies supply something completely different than WoW, they will almost certainly fail, which is why for MMOs, you see things like Second Life, The Sims Online, and Eve doing reasonably well. They are nothing like WoW, so they are capturing market segments that Wow does not serve.

    Darkfall is also going for a segment of the market unserved by Wow, the free for all fantasy PvP market formerly served by ShadowBane. They know that is a small market, so on release, they opened only one server. As mentioned previously, as a small independent developer, they have limited resources, so it makes sense for them to open that server in Europe, because that is where they are located. Right now, that server is filled to capacity, and demand to get into the server remains high, which is frustrating for gamers. Still, for this segment of the market, it’s the only game around that even comes close to giving them the kind of game they want. Over time, the distribution bottleneck will HAVE to improve, but for right now Darkfall isn’t doing that badly.

    The problem with Wow, from my point of view, is that it is too bland. That is an inevitable result of their ‘one size fits all’ design. One might say that they are ‘pandering’ to the mediocre player, to use a phrase lightly tossed around here, but I wouldn’t say that. They have successfully developed a game for a market to which I do not belong. So I don’t play that game because there are too many elements that I don’t want to have to support with my purchase/subscription dollars. I’m not interested much in PvE, except in so far as it supports my PvP. I’m not interested in quests, since my friends and I want to pursue our own goals rather than being let around by the nose on endless quest rails. I’m not interested in ‘achievments’, cooking, or otherwise. I’m not interested in battlegrounds. I’m not interested in 40 man dungeon crawls whose main objective is competing for an uber purple trinket drop so I can complete my set of fashionable uber purple crap. I don’t like class/level games in general. A lot of people DO like all that stuff, and WoW is the game for them.

    Darkfall is the game for me, and for players like me. As such, it has good, but not perfect design. It is a design for players toward the end of the normal distribution curve, far from the center region. That design will doubtless change over time, but I hope the Darkfall devs resist the temptation to move too far towards the center. WoW OWNS that region, and trying to move there will only annoy your primary market, and will fail to attract players who are already happy with their game of choice, WoW and it’s imitators.

  123. faefrost says:

    Owain :“Demand exceeding availability is a failure in itself – no no, really, it is.”
    In a perfect world with unlimited resources, maybe.
    So, which is worse?
    1) Capacity far exceeds demand for your game, so you lose money hand over fist, you have to combine low populations servers, delete servers, and perhaps go out of business because you’ve developed a game no one wants to play (Vanguard comes to mind here).
    2) Because you are a small developer with limited resources, you conservatively open with one server, and limit availabilty to maintain a server population you can support, but you are able to continually enhance your product and improve capacity because you remain profitable, and over the long run supply an entertaining game to an appreciative audience. (Eve most closely fits model).
    As you say, time will tell. For now, Darkfall appears to be following the second development strategy.

    There is a third state, where capacity is grossly below long term fiscal viability. This is the state we all suspect darkfall is currently in. They have been limiting the availablility of the game to throttle the number of players on their server, because the server and software capabilities simply cannot handle larger numbers. At least not alone or not at this time. But everyone reading here is a student of MMO’s for many many years. Even if Darkfall is an extreme niche product, with a planned lower development cost and cost of operation, there is simply no way that the numbers we have been seeing make sense. In any modern subscription model MMO do you really see any feasable way for a MMO provider to pay off several years worth of development costs and pay for continuing operations on the basis of 10k or so subscribers? Based on their known or stated staffing, and their known or strongly suspected subscriber base, their annual income stands at roughly around $36,000 per employee. This is before development costs and ongoing non employee operational costs such as servers, bandwidth etc are factored in.

    Does anyone here really think this is a viable success or a sustainable model of operation? I think we all have come to expect that the absolute drop dead break even point for most MMO’s, The low ball budgeting estimate that makes it a “niche game”, Is a minimum of around 100k paying subscribers. And the sad thing is Darkfall could probably hit that easily, if their tech could actually handle that number. The fact that their current tech cannot handle subsciber numbers that would be needed for fiscal viability, at the time of release, is a core design flaw. The biggest I at least have ever witnessed in one of these games.

  124. IainC says:

    Owain :
    @IainC
    @Vetarnias
    People keep saying the Darkfall is poorly designed, but fail to specify HOW it’s poorly designed.

    Yeah they have, you’ve just been blowing it off as hate on the niche PvP market.

  125. Brask Mumei says:

    Owain :
    There’s a loot mini-game? I’m not entirely sure I understand what you are saying.
    Do you mean that the process of looting a corpse, npc or player, is controlled by the client, and although it hasn’t happened yet, so it currently is not a problem at all, at some point in the future (or maybe never) someone may write an autoloot hack, so Q.E.D, Darkfall is teh FAIL.

    Yes, I mean that process. No, I did not say “Darkfall is teh FAIL.”

    You asked what was wrong with Darkfall from the design perspective. I presented this as evidence as something that is poorly designed.

    How would you suggest that this design abomination be fixed?

    Design goals:
    1) prevent people from looting quickly
    2) trade off fully looting a corpse vs escaping quickly
    3) prioritizing looting order quickly
    4) excitement of seeing the Sword of Coolness among junk items

    User view:
    Click on the tombstone to loot. You go to the loot screen. You click once on items to loot. These items are added to your loot queue in order of clicking. Queue is visible, growing as you add to it, and disappearing as you successfully grab the items. Items also disappear from the queue if someone else loots them first. You can hit a Loot All button that just dumps everything on the queue, maybe sorting by some $$ metric. Maybe you can rearrange the queue by drag dropping the queue if you see something you want more.

    Looting proceeds by the server grabbing the top item on your queue and transferring it to you. Then there is a cooldown time, run on the server, before you can loot the next item. If someone grabs the item before you, it is gone from your queue, so you don’t lose your loot chance, you just pick the next thing on your queue.

    Result:
    We have pretty much eliminated the possibility of a client side hack. We have maintained the tension of looting a corpse, and the fun part of the game of choosing which things to loot first. What we cut out was the twitch button mashing. We also have the option of making a Looting Skill which cuts the cooldown period.

    The user has to select the tombstone using the client. The user has to drag individual items, again using the client. Everything the user does to communicate with the server, by definition, uses the client. How do you suggest they change this. Require telepathy?
    I don’t see this as a major problem.

    The limiting factor in how quickly I can loot a corpse is how quickly I can drag items with my mouse. This is a false limit as I could easily make an auto-looter that does that dragging for me much faster. If looting quickly becomes important, such auto-looters will predominant. If looting quickly isn’t important, well, why the heck do you have this in the first place. Why give people RSI if all you wanted to do was slow down looting? If your goal is to slow down looting, slow it down.

    If you are in a pickup group, and somebody employs a loot hack like this, you have a nice option. The group can always gank him, and take the loot of his rapidly cooling corpse.

    That is a rather meaningless counterbalance. In such a pick up group you probably would *want* someone to use this to ensure no one outside the pick up group loots it. The designated looter would then call out the items and do the person-to-person trade. Or just wait until everyone is back home to redistribute. In UO, the dungeon crawls I went on always ended with dumping all the loot on the ground for people to pick through afterwards.

    This isn’t a long term solution, so maybe the best bet is to report him to the dev’s, who hopefully will be able to detect the use of an unauthorized hack in violation of the TOS, so you may be able to perform the ultimate gank, and get his account canceled.

    And how do you tell the difference between an auto looter and someone who is just really skilled at dragging stuff off a corpse? And how is it good game design to make a system where the “solution” is to waste GMs time investigating hard to substantiate rumours?

    If this is the worst ‘flaw’ you can come up with, I can rest easy.

    You merely asked for evidence of poor design. I have presented it.

  126. Vetarnias says:

    @Owain
    Nobody is asking Darkfall to be more like WoW.

    The problem I have with Darkfall, if we can call it a problem, is that it not only claims to offer an alternative to WoW (which I’d say is most welcome when the bulk of the industry is seemingly content with copying it), but that it pretends to offer a superior alternative. Superior not just in design, which any company would claim, but in gaming ideology as well.

    I, too, fear the landscape where WoW would dominate everything, as several of its elements leave me cold. Achievements are hollow, the economy is utterly meaningless, the lore is risible, PvP is based entirely on level and gear, and the rest is a gigantic treadmill. Tolerable in small doses, if you like that kind of thing, but as a necessary template for an entire industry, no thanks.

    But then you get the Darkfall demographic. The old-school hardcore players who seem to never have outgrown pre-Trammel UO. Any hardcore game harking to that tradition, they’ve played it: EVE, Shadowbane, etc. Nothing wrong with that. I’d love to play a sandbox game with consequences if it were peopled with chivalric fools such as myself, and yes, even with people who’d readily stab you in the back — as long as they respect the game environment.

    (I believe there is a place for roleplaying in such games — not the cliche “carebear” version of roleplaying, pictured as spending its time inventing implausible story lines full of Mary Sues and trying new clothes, but roleplaying that respects the nature of the game and doesn’t tax others with too much backstory, as though you told your entire biography to every single person you met.)

    But the problem with Darkfall is that this type of player seems to be a rarity. Instead, you get griefers with leetspeak names. That’s what Ed Zitron was talking about when he mentioned being “killed by a six-foot wolf called BarBArIaX WooFKilLer”. If I’m looking for a medieval fantasy world, it’s the kind of thing that kills a game for me. No respect whatsoever for the game environment, as though it were one big excuse for them to do whatever they do, and in many cases what they do is grief.

    I’ll be frank here and say that I’ve never been an admirer of the PvP type, because they put so much stock in their own superiority. How did “go back to WoW/Hello Kitty noob/carebear” become a catchphrase among such players? Could it imply some failing on the part of the player at the receiving end of it? Not to mention the implied superiority of the playstyle: WoW is kiddie stuff, it’s the majors here. I’ve often seen variations where any complaint about PvP in a game (or even the game in general) was immediately answered with “you must suck at it”; otherwise, I wouldn’t be complaining, right? In such cases I just say, “assuming I do, so what?” because it’s both honest and reduces uber-PvP skills to their appropriate worth in the general scheme of things.

    But at least the PvPers respect the game (since excelling at it is so important), whereas your griefer-ganker types don’t. Even worse than that, I’ve seen examples (including one in this blog’s comments a few months ago) where someone would claim that griefing was the saner playstyle, because it was devoid of emotional attachment to any virtual property.

    So that’s why I’m skeptical of Darkfall. Not because it is different from WoW, but because it claims to be superior to WoW for reasons mentioned above. Sure, it’s fine to be at one end of the bell curve instead of smack in the middle. But what you get as a result is the sort of elitist mentality that creeps in when you have a minority subjected to the majority, the minority being inherently superior because of its smaller numbers as opposed to the lowest common denominator, and therefore constantly under siege. But the elitists trash-talk, cheat, and brag, just to make sure the club remains exclusive and small.

    And here it’s worse: the developers encourage it. Worse than Shadowbane’s “play to crush”, worse than Pirates of the Burning Sea’s “no crying in the red circle” (which they were sensible enough to drop a few months after release), because you have Tasos calling the shots.

    Is it any wonder why some people want to keep their distance?

  127. Owain says:

    @faefrost

    What, then is your theory as to why Darkfall does not provide additional servers? My theory is that they will expand capacity/servers incrementally as resources permit. I see nothing to contradict that theory so far. Prior to this, they have been developing with ZERO customer revenue. They may consider themselves still in development are are using the subscriptions to improve their cash flow. The game now is sufficiently mature that I don’t mind paying to play it now, even if it isn’t in it’s final form. Customers pay the development costs over the long run anyway. Most costs are paid after the fact. Maybe I am helping pay more up front than most. Hopefully, the game will only get better as a result.

    @Brask Mumei

    In practice, your autoloot ‘problem’ isn’t a large concern. I noticed it while running newbie quests during my first 3 days. Since that time, I have only run in clan groups where we have a designated looter anyway, so I haven’t opened a tombstone in nearly 3 weeks.

    It isn’t a problem in PvP either, since it’s an all or nothing thing. In a big fight, people frequently don’t have time to administer the gank coup ‘de grace, let alone loot your corpse. If you pause to finish someone off, or try to loot them, you will quickly find yourself being looted. If they have time to successfully loot your body, it means you have no allies close at hand to prevent it, so fast or slow, it doesn’t make much difference.

    You approach, it seems, is a solution looking for a problem that doesn’t exist over the long term. It would be a minor improvement down the road, perhaps, but I’d rather have the dev’s working on other issues before they address this one.

    @Vetarnias

    “The problem I have with Darkfall, if we can call it a problem, is that it not only claims to offer an alternative to WoW (which I’d say is most welcome when the bulk of the industry is seemingly content with copying it), but that it pretends to offer a superior alternative.”

    It IS a superior alternative for the market it was developed for. It is the ONLY alternative in my view, so that makes it an EXCEPTIONALLY superior alternative. It may not be the alternative YOU would like, but that in itself doesn’t invalidate the statement. Sometimes, it’s not all about you. It’s not even all about most game players. In this particular case, it happens to be about ME, and people like me.

    “I’d love to play a sandbox game with consequences if it were peopled with chivalric fools such as myself, and yes, even with people who’d readily stab you in the back — as long as they respect the game environment.”

    I’m sorry, that is elitist role playing bullshit. There isn’t a great deal of difference between a character named “BarBArIaX WooFKilLer” or “Grishnachk the Terrible”. Neither are particularly easy to pronounce, and both are equally hard on the eyes, but in general I don’t notice names except to separate friend from foe. Who knows. Maybe in Orkish, Grishnahk translates to Ganks-a-lot.

    You are proceeding from a false premise, though, with respect to trash talking. As I mentioned yesterday, I see none of that in game. Words don’t appear over players heads as in UO, they appear in the global chat channel, which to my knowledge, no one monitors. So even if someone is trash talking, no one is listening, so who cares. I suspect no one does it because they KNOW no one is listening, but it isn’t worth the effort necessary to check the theory.

    The old-school hardcore players don’t need to outgrow pre-Trammel UO. Why should they? They prefer the kind of game they prefer, and are content to have you play the kind of game you prefer as long as OUR kind of game is available. However some people, you perhaps, seem never to have gotten over the fact that long ago, someone was mean to them, and used rude language. As such, the thought that somewhere, somehow, a PvPer may be enjoying himself is for some reason, intolerable.

    Is it any wonder why some people want to keep their distance? No! You should keep your distance. That’s what I’m trying to say. If you don’t like unrestricted PvP, don’t play Darkfall. I suspect most people on this forum will fall into this category. The reason I’m here, bucking the current, is NOT to convert the ‘heathens’. I AM one of the heathens. I’m here to explain why most of commentary here about Darkfall is uninformed/misinformed nonsense. If along the way, I attract a new player or two, fine, but I don’t expect that to happen.

    But when people say things like “Darkfall is fundamentally flawed and that’s provable (except that I admit it isn’t, but I like saying stoopid things like this because most folks here will nod their heads in agreement anyway),” I have to roll my eyes and submit yet another wall-o’-text to try at least to counter the most laughable misconceptions.

    Futile, I know, but then I enjoy unrestricted PvP in general, and Darkfall in particular. I MUST just enjoy the pain.

  128. Drakks says:

    There are a lot of words here.

    Let me sum up simply: This is not a game many people will play, and of those that play fewer will like it. Those that do, more power to you. You’re a minority, and probably totally okay with that. Also, the idea you have to pass a fucking rite of passage bonding with your refresh button to even buy the game is god damned hilarious all by itself.

    I would certainly lump it into the “sweet jesus this is bad” category, but not everyone would because of the sweet, sweet hype deal that came with labeling it hardcore. It’s harccore like Mountain Dew is hardcore, and it’s sold to the same people that would drink Mountain Dew because it, of course, is hardcore. You’ve seen the commericals. You skydive, and snowboard and shit when drinking mountain dew, and in Darkfall it’s 100% pvp loot your kills OMG HARDCORE!!!111!1 (insert tiger roaring or screaming jet engine here).

  129. Owain says:

    Drakks :…in Darkfall it’s 100% pvp loot your kills OMG HARDCORE!!!111!1 (insert tiger roaring or screaming jet engine here).

    If you include the phrase, “screaming twin J-79 jet engines, in full afterburner, from a supersonic MacDonnel Douglas F-4E Phantom II, it’s freakin’ 20 MM Vulcan cannon blazing”, you will be closer to the mark. But that’s only because I used to fly Phantoms…

    Otherwise, not bad.

  130. Raelyf says:

    @ Owain

    I’m not knocking DarkFall’s premise, or DarkFall’s niche. It’s my niche as well.

    Now, you can argue all you want but let’s be honest – being unable to buy DarkFall is a huge mistake on their part. As another player pointed out – they’re not financially stable with their current population and when every month puts your already considerable (from the development) debt higher and higher, waiting for ‘resources to permit’ the cost of additional servers is quite clearly counter productive.

    On the looter – Brask is 100% right. If the looting mechanics make no difference, as you say, then clearly the developers should implement an autolooter and save people the unnecessary hassle. If, on the other hand, the looting is a conscious design decision by the developers to add flavor and choice and risk, as I would assume is the case, then they should have built the system in such a way as to be, at the very least, not completely trivial and untraceable to hack.

    Now, like I said before, I’d consider myself part of the niche DarkFall is shooting for. I really think DarkFall’s premise is sound and that there’s a market for the genre it’s addressing. That being said, that doesn’t mean DarkFall is doing well. EverQuest did well, but it was poorly designed in dozens of ways. In truth, the demand for DarkFall is almost entirely due to the fact that there is no real substitute, in my opinion. If Blizzard had put out a AAA, hardcore PVP game, DarkFall would be just another forgotten drop in the ocean.

    My point is this: DarkFall will succeed if it is even barely adequate – at least until an alternative is released. That does not make it well designed, and a slip up on something as simple as the looting system suggests a serious lack of foresight. Couple that with the fact that the fact that I can’t even buy it – which to me suggests short sightedness and poor planning (it could be excused as a limited resources thing if they stayed conservative until measuring the demand, then did their best to meet it – but they’re not even doing that) – and I wouldn’t even give this game a second thought let alone buy it if not for the fact that there’s no real alternative.

    As a note, lag in EVE hasn’t ever been due to subscription numbers or even number of people online – the lag in EVE has always been due to the problem that there’s frequently spikes where 500 people show up and start shooting eachother in a system that generally averages a few dozen players. I’m more than willing to bet that, when you start seeing those kings of numbers coming together in DarkFall – you’ll start seeing lag as well.

  131. Ed says:

    Crappy game play or not, there are tons of companies that would to unspeakable things to livestock to be in the same position as the Darkfall folks. (i.e.: too many customers to actually sell your product)

  132. Owain says:

    @Raelyf

    The limited availabilty may indeed prove to be a mistake, but right now, for whatever reason, it’s intentional. It’s not just because they forgot to open the store. They announce when the store will be open, and within seconds of the announced time, the store opens and then closes when the desired number of downloads are sold. I have my theory why they are doing it, but regardless, it is working for them at this time, otherwise they’d do something different.

    Until we know more, I don’t know that this point requires much further discussion. You can suggest short sightedness, poor planning, or bad flossing technique, but neither you or I have a clue of what is going on, so why dwell on it? They are doing what they are doing, and they must feel they are justified in their current course of action. If they are doing well a year from now, they will have been proven right, and critics will have been proven wrong. We’ll all just have to wait to see how it plays out.

    I do not contend that Darkfall has a perfect game design. It’s OK. As you say, unless something else comes along it will succeed. Currently, you have to agree that Darkfall has THE best design for it’s target market currently on the market. Competition in the market is a good thing, but right now there is none.

    Even so, a less than perfect design is not the same thing as a failed design, which is the common refrain around here. And again, I do not agree that the looting thing is a slip up. It is a simple design, but it doesn’t need to made more complicated than it is, because the current design has a near zero impact, long term, on game play. It is possible to overengineer things, and right now, changing that design would be a waste of development resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

    And yes, Darkfall does have lag, for many of the same reasons you list for Eve. Go to a big siege, you will lag. Further, the server is based in Europe, which doesn’t help US players any either. Bandwidth is finite, and even with a big pipe, sooner or later you will exceed available bandwidth. That’s physics. Under most circumstances, though, with the current population, lag is acceptable.

  133. Guy says:

    “You can suggest short sightedness, poor planning, or bad flossing technique, but neither you or I have a clue of what is going on, so why dwell on it?”

    We can’t know for certain what exactly is in Tasos’ mind so we shouldn’t bother discussing it? Come on.

    “If they are doing well a year from now, they will have been proven right”

    How will you define “doing well”? That’s the tricky part.

    “I do not contend that Darkfall has a perfect game design. It’s OK.”

    What do you consider it’s flaws? (Even if for you they aren’t big enough to cause problems.)

    “It is a simple design, but it doesn’t need to made more complicated than it is, because the current design has a near zero impact, long term, on game play.”

    You’re not really getting the server-side vs. client-side problem, are you? Making the mechanics completely client-side, instead of for example implementing a server-side cooldown, makes it trivial and untraceable to hack, as others have noted.

    “And yes, Darkfall does have lag, for many of the same reasons you list for Eve.”

    And yet EVE didn’t restrict purchases like Darkfall does.

  134. Soulflame says:

    PvP MMOGs are worthless because of the problem of persistence. Add on top of that whatever sort of “grind” has been added in front of actual participation, and it’s little wonder PvP MMOGs are a tiny niche. Even “large” PvP MMOGs such as DAoC or EvE rarely see more than 20% of the online playerbase in actual real-live PvP. Most of the playerbase is hiding in whatever safezones exist, only venturing out on occasion, and getting a facefull of proof as to why they rarely do bother attempting to PvP.

    In Darkfall, you’re already too late to the table to ever be meaningful in PvP. You’re months behind the people who’ve been grinding skills from the word go, earning money, building whatever laughable “ownership” exists in the game world itself.

    On top of that, it’s trivial to provide examples of absolutely stupid game play decisions. The PvE aspect, which is largely what, shooting at mobs from inaccessible terrain, or creating inaccessible terrain by blocking in tougher mobs while someone other than the blockers kills it? Yes, brilliant game play, that.

    Darkfall is going to fail, and fail horribly, because at some point soon the number of people who stop playing will exceed the number of people who start playing. At that point, the game will be locked in an inexorable death spiral. That there are no safe zones, and grinds to even become competitive will only hasten its demise.

    Oh, and the sorts of people who are attracted to this sort of game won’t help either.

  135. Vetarnias says:

    Owain :
    @Vetarnias
    “The problem I have with Darkfall, if we can call it a problem, is that it not only claims to offer an alternative to WoW (which I’d say is most welcome when the bulk of the industry is seemingly content with copying it), but that it pretends to offer a superior alternative.”
    It IS a superior alternative for the market it was developed for. It is the ONLY alternative in my view, so that makes it an EXCEPTIONALLY superior alternative. It may not be the alternative YOU would like, but that in itself doesn’t invalidate the statement. Sometimes, it’s not all about you. It’s not even all about most game players. In this particular case, it happens to be about ME, and people like me.

    Fair enough. I’d just shrug and move along. However, the segment of your player core which scoffs at any other gamestyle except its own makes it impossible. These guys don’t respect me as a player; why should I just turn the other cheek?

    “I’d love to play a sandbox game with consequences if it were peopled with chivalric fools such as myself, and yes, even with people who’d readily stab you in the back — as long as they respect the game environment.”
    I’m sorry, that is elitist role playing bullshit. There isn’t a great deal of difference between a character named “BarBArIaX WooFKilLer” or “Grishnachk the Terrible”. Neither are particularly easy to pronounce, and both are equally hard on the eyes, but in general I don’t notice names except to separate friend from foe. Who knows. Maybe in Orkish, Grishnahk translates to Ganks-a-lot.
    You are proceeding from a false premise, though, with respect to trash talking. As I mentioned yesterday, I see none of that in game. Words don’t appear over players heads as in UO, they appear in the global chat channel, which to my knowledge, no one monitors. So even if someone is trash talking, no one is listening, so who cares. I suspect no one does it because they KNOW no one is listening, but it isn’t worth the effort necessary to check the theory.

    Then I really have to ask how much of a community you have in the game if chat isn’t even paid attention to. But I’m pretty sure you’re going to say it’s all happening inside guilds, and most of it on voice chat.

    As for roleplaying, yeah, I know it seems elitist to some. That’s why games maintain designated RP servers. That reminds me of the controversy surrounding the fact that Age of Conan didn’t have a North American RP-PvE server, while there was one in Europe. I remember some forum comments at the time wondering whether this wasn’t some sort of prejudice on the part of Funcom. I can understand why it’s annoying to non-roleplayers, as roleplayers usually seek to impose their own criteria on everybody to make sure the illusion is complete. Hence the segregation, and when there is no roleplaying server, such players just agree on one and settle there.

    But sadly, roleplaying seems to be exercised by a small minority today. And I thought the RPG part of MMORPG still meant something.

    The old-school hardcore players don’t need to outgrow pre-Trammel UO. Why should they? They prefer the kind of game they prefer, and are content to have you play the kind of game you prefer as long as OUR kind of game is available. However some people, you perhaps, seem never to have gotten over the fact that long ago, someone was mean to them, and used rude language. As such, the thought that somewhere, somehow, a PvPer may be enjoying himself is for some reason, intolerable.

    If we leave the psychobabble aside, the problem isn’t that some people loved UO (or maybe still do), it is that by now said love for UO has been taken over by nostalgia. And unfortunately, part of the effects of said nostalgia has been to transform game the game design flaws of UO into now desirable features.

    Don’t be mistaken, I love old games (well, going back to the late ’90’s, when I bought my first computer). I still play a few of them, just as I can imagine myself playing Mount & Blade on occasion five years from now. But I realize that the times have changed, the technology has changed, as have artistic considerations.

    I respect the history of the field. However, when I see something like, say, Dwarf Fortress, that is replete with nostalgia at the expense of gameplay, how can I not cringe? In the case of Dwarf Fortress, it’s a very good game, with more depth than most of what’s on the market today, but it’s a post-2000 throwback to the glorious era of ASCII. Even worse, the sole designer is in his lower thirties, which is about my age. But the difference between him and me is that he had access to a computer as a child, whereas I did not, so I was spared the entire eighties’ contribution to home computing which he apparently can’t shake off.

    Which means I end up looking at Dwarf Fortress and its chain-key commands barely less convoluted than an optometrist’s eye chart with a mix of desperation and frustration, because I see how much better the game would have been had its maker been willing to acknowledge the existence of the mouse. (And instead of working on his interface, he’s still adding on top of the existing game following his every whim, the gaming equivalent of the Winchester Mansion.)

    Likewise, UO is a product of its time, and I see attempts at duplicating it as quite unfortunate — especially if the new design makes it a point of ignoring every problem that game had (or turning them into “features”) or of throwing the entire following decade of game design, graphics excepted, into the garbage bin.

    And unfortunately, Darkfall looks like just that. Perhaps it’s not, but it seems to make a point of pretending it’s a time capsule straight from 1998.

    Maybe roleplaying is a relic from the past, too, though if that’s the case maybe it should be given a proper funeral (Haris Pilton from WoW could deliver the eulogy). And for that matter, it’s already public knowledge that I oppose the use of voice chat, less out of nostalgia for the good old days of typing things out than privacy, and it’s gotten to the point where it makes it almost impossible for me to play a game where any amount of player coordination is involved. I suspect I wouldn’t last long in Darkfall, if for no other reason.

    As for PvPers enjoying themselves, fine. As long as it isn’t at the expense of someone who didn’t want to be involved in PvP in the first place. That was one of the reasons for the failure of Pirates of the Burning Sea. PvEers wanted to run their missions but had to cross red-circle PvP zones to get to them, or wait until the zone went away. The PvPers, however, thought it was just dandy. And when the PvEers dared to complain, the PvPers immediately remarked, “we’re forced to PvE to make the red circles pop up, so stop complaining about being forced to PvP.” And you had the hardcore guild types saying every other type of gameplay had to be stamped out of the game, even if that meant only 200 people hardcore enough were left playing it (pity Flying Lab Software in that case).

    Maybe the PotBS case explains my views on the matter. It cemented my view that hardcore gamers don’t care about the viability of a game, as long as they can have the run of it. And having the run of it means chasing away everyone else. At least Shadowbane and Darkfall aren’t ambiguous about that, but beyond that, I’m far from convinced that Darkfall can survive in the long term.

    Is it any wonder why some people want to keep their distance? No! You should keep your distance. That’s what I’m trying to say. If you don’t like unrestricted PvP, don’t play Darkfall. I suspect most people on this forum will fall into this category. The reason I’m here, bucking the current, is NOT to convert the ‘heathens’. I AM one of the heathens. I’m here to explain why most of commentary here about Darkfall is uninformed/misinformed nonsense. If along the way, I attract a new player or two, fine, but I don’t expect that to happen.
    But when people say things like “Darkfall is fundamentally flawed and that’s provable (except that I admit it isn’t, but I like saying stoopid things like this because most folks here will nod their heads in agreement anyway),” I have to roll my eyes and submit yet another wall-o’-text to try at least to counter the most laughable misconceptions.
    Futile, I know, but then I enjoy unrestricted PvP in general, and Darkfall in particular. I MUST just enjoy the pain.

    I will just have to say that Darkfall has history going against it. Sure, there is the EVE exception. But I’m not sure it’s going to repeat itself with Darkfall. The guys in Reykjavik never displayed the level of incompetence of Aventurine (I mean, the website still isn’t updated? Beta first impressions, really?).

  136. faefrost says:

    Owain :@faefrost
    What, then is your theory as to why Darkfall does not provide additional servers? My theory is that they will expand capacity/servers incrementally as resources permit. I see nothing to contradict that theory so far. Prior to this, they have been developing with ZERO customer revenue. They may consider themselves still in development are are using the subscriptions to improve their cash flow. The game now is sufficiently mature that I don’t mind paying to play it now, even if it isn’t in it’s final form. Customers pay the development costs over the long run anyway. Most costs are paid after the fact. Maybe I am helping pay more up front than most. Hopefully, the game will only get better as a result.

    My assumption on the single server and strictly limited sales is that they quite simply do not or did not have the money to implement a larger scale server farm and infrastructure. They pushed the single primary development platform out live. They probably lost the funding for a real production multiple server facility when they lost the retail box publisher. So they have gone live with what they have, and are generating interest via word of mouth and a weird limited feeding frenzy in the hopes that they can now, with a working product, actually drum up funding to implement the full server infrastructure.

    So I suspect that they are survivng on a razors edge right now. Now to be fair they do seem to have pulled off whatever they would normally need to prove they are not vaporware and generate some funding. I hope it works out for them.

  137. Owain says:

    @Vetarnias
    One mans design flaw is another mans feature. That’s about all that can be said about that.

    “Then I really have to ask how much of a community you have in the game if chat isn’t even paid attention to.”

    You are correct that most community involvement is in the guild. The KGB has dozens of people in game at any one time and more during big events. So I monitor guild chat, alliance chat, and system chat, and I have a hard time keeping up with that. I don’t need a universal server wide partyline.

    “Maybe roleplaying is a relic from the past, too.”

    That, I think, is due mostly to the pace of operations. I played D&D, and sure role playing is a big part of that game. You decide what you want to do, describe it in detail to the DM and fellow players, and then roll the dice. Now where did I leave my d6?

    You can do that in a PvE game too, without too much trouble. The mobs are generally predictable, so you can decide who is going to tank, who is going to dps, who is going to nuke, who is going to cc, and what to do if you the mob baf’s, and you can do it all in Elizibethan English, if you want. Ready for the pull?

    Pacing in an unrestricted PvP game just won’t allow that. Everything is stripped to minimums. You could try it if you like, but I suspect you would be spending most of your time resurecting at your bindstone.

    “…it’s gotten to the point where it makes it almost impossible for me to play a game where any amount of player coordination is involved.”

    And yet you oppose the use of voice chat. There is a great deal of player coordination going on, and voice chat seems to me to be the most natural efficient way to to that.

    “As for PvPers enjoying themselves, fine. As long as it isn’t at the expense of someone who didn’t want to be involved in PvP in the first place.”

    Which is why Darkfall is a nearly pure PvP game. By definition, someone who doesn’t want to be involved in PvP should NOT play Darkfall.

    I don’t think that it is a case of hard core PvPers not caring about viability of the game. PotBS sounds like it was a really bad design in the way they tried to force both PvP and PvE. PvE players wanted to play the game in such a way that they wouldn’t have to interact with PvPers at all, even though it was an integral part of the game. Were they unconcerned with the viability of the game? The PvPers were playing the game as designed, so how you blame them for not caring about the viability of the game? If you don’t want to PvP, don’t buy a game that requires you to PvP! PvP sounds like a PotBS requirement, since players HAD to traverse the PvP areas. The devs didn’t do that by accident, I’m guessing.

    Darkfall doesn’t have history working against it so much as it merely serves a smaller audience than other games. The KGB still had people playing ShadowBane right up until they closed the servers, but even I wouldn’t go that far due to the many problems ShadowBane had that were unrelated to PvP design (mostly interface, lag, and stability issues). That audience will move en masse to Darkfall once it becomes more widely available. I think it will enjoy modest success, along the line of Eve Online.

    I would predict more, but my crystal ball now reads, “Future Hazy – Try Again Later.” I guess I’ll just have to wait and see, like everyone else.

  138. Raelyf says:

    Soulflame :
    PvP MMOGs are worthless because of the problem of persistence.
    […] Even “large” PvP MMOGs such as DAoC or EvE rarely see more than 20% of the online playerbase in actual real-live PvP.

    PvP MMOGs are not ‘worthless’. Hundreds of thousands of people play and enjoy them, and they continue to turn a profit for the companies who own them.

    In any case, though I highly doubt your numbers, your premise is fairly sound: not everyone, or perhaps not even most, people who play EVE regularly participate in PVP – if at all. I myself actually played EVE about a year without actually having anything to do with PVP. The PVE side of EVE is reasonably good, actually.

    That being said, just because I didn’t actively participate in PVP did not mean it didn’t affect me. PVP in EVE allows for a level of real risk vs reward, which you simply don’t have in most other MMORPGs. Without EVE’s PVP, EVE could also never have developed a real economy like it has. Persistence without loss or risk, is, to me, completely meaningless.

  139. geldonyetich says:

    Owain :

    A game can still be poorly constructed and yet people will find it enjoyable.

    This statement makes no sense.

    No kidding.

    There’s no reason why you would keep beating your head against a forum largely occupied by gaming pundits unless you have the wrong perspective to understand that’s going on here.

    As I said, this is where pundits reside. Considering a game as a pundit would is an attempt to distance one’s self from subjective opinion and instead consider a game in very technical terms. Darkfall Online has a lot, technically, wrong with it.

    Coming here and explaining to people that you like the game and they should try it is missing the point. You could do it all day and night for a week, you could be very vocal about it, but it still doesn’t fix the fundamental fact that the game is clearly broken in many ways we’ve pointed out, and we know this, because we’re pundits who have come to observe games this way.

    This is actually pretty core to the Eurogamer versus Adventurine debacle, really. Adventurine missed the point, and was very vocal about it, precisely in the same way you are here.

    Actually (taking it to the next level) as a game designer, they should have been immune to making that mistake. Chances are, they’re just being vocal to work the hype and make their fans support them despite the flaws they know are there.

    Hurray, I think I’ve reached last week territory.

  140. Gx1080 says:

    Time will say if DarkFall will remain or not. But, if many of you havent realized yet the market of DarkFall enjoy making others explode in attacks of nerd-rage with the fury of a thousand suns.

    DarkFall it works for its demographic despite all the issues with it. Their demographic is despised? HELL YEAH!!. But their demographic enjoy all the nerd-rage against them. Because it means that they screwed with somebody. If you cant think in terms of revenge as a reaction for defeat you shoudnt play a PvP game.

    And, come on, being “teh hero” of that demographic is what motivates Tasos and Co. (that and all the hero blowjobs).

  141. Owain says:

    @geldonyetich “Coming here and explaining to people that you like the game and they should try it is missing the point.”

    Missing the point? Irony is so ironic. I think Yogi Berra said that.

    No, I’m not saying you should try it. I am saying, how can the game be broken when the people playing it don’t consider it broken?

    Let’s try this again, preferably so I can keep this under 2500 words. What is the single most broken-ness about Darkfall?

    In a game so fundamentally broken, that should be easy for you to list.

  142. Owain says:

    @geldonyetich
    Pundits. I really was going to try to ignore that one, I really was.

    Did you have to go to pundit school for that or something?

    All I can say is that I’m sure WAAAAAY impressed now!

    How about the rest of you pundits? Are you all equally impressed with yourselves as geldonyetich obviously is? Even if you are, I think he’s got you beat as far as smugness is concerned.

    PUNDITS!!11@1

    Ok. I’ll be nice now.

  143. geldonyetich says:

    Owain
    No, I’m not saying you should try it. I am saying, how can the game be broken when the people playing it don’t consider it broken?

    A game is no different than anything else in the world that it can be broken but some people will like it anyway. There’s many examples you can find in this world.

    Really, it comes down to fact vs opinion. What’s not subjective versus what is subjective.

    The technical and design issues in Darkfall Online? Fact/Not Subjective. (Well, small parts of it will be, such as whether or not the subject (player) finds interface awkward.)
    That the game is highly enjoyable? Opinion/Subjective.

    If you’re going to interpret non-subjective fact as subjective opinion, you’re setting yourself up for infinite frustration.

    Most of what was in that Eurogamer reviewer and what other pundits are trying to isolate is the former: fact.
    Most Darkfall Online apologists are stressing the later: opinion.

    Never shall they meet by the nature of the things.

  144. Keybounce says:

    … your premise is fairly sound: not everyone, or perhaps not even most, people who play EVE regularly participate in PVP – if at all. I myself actually played EVE about a year without actually having anything to do with PVP. The PVE side of EVE is reasonably good, actually.

    Now this surprises me. Everything I’ve heard about EVE up til now was that it was a PvP game. Yes, there’s a 1.0 “secure” space, but first, that’s only the “starter” area — everything I’ve read indicates that to make any real money, or get any ship other than the most basic, you have to go into PvP space, and second, early on in the game’s history there were guilds that were planning on waging war in that 1.0 space just because they could. In other words, 1.0 space wasn’t “safe”, it was just “riskier to attack”.

    Secondly, I’m really curious about PotBS. I followed this game closely during Beta. I don’t have a machine that can run it (G4 mac, or back then, Microsoft windows with motherboard graphics), so I wasn’t able to play it.

    But as I understood it, the idea was that the PvE game would have enough things to do that even if some of your quests were in a red circle, you had other things to do that were not. And the “lifespan” of a red circle was only supposed to be three days, after which the port battle would clear the redness. Was I wrong about this, or was there something else that clobbered the PvE game here?

    Fundamentally, the “battle” of the game needs to matter. In WoW, a “battle” is just “hit this mob a few times until it dies”. This is botable. You play this tiny battle game thousands of times a day.

    PotBS, on the other hand, had a “battle” of a ship to ship combat. That really sounds like fun — the game itself is fun, not just the “meta-game” of putting lots of not-fun fights together. The only other choice for ship to ship combat that I know of is Puzzle Pirates, and that’s a very different type of game.

    So if PotBS has failed/is failing, what happened to wreck what seemed like a great setup? Yes, the economy seemed to be about 50% too big (a smaller level of detail/abstraction would probably be better; YPP’s economy is about one size too small), but is that the only cause of failure?

    Your comment about PvP being meaningful, and the PvP economy being meaningful making PvE and the PvE economy meaningful seems to apply to PotBS just as much as EVE. So what’s the difference here?

  145. Owain says:

    @geldonyetich
    So for a game that is so amazingly broken, you not only can’t come up with the single most broken design element, you fail to list a single one.

    Just what are the qualification one must have to be a pundit, anyway? Whatever they are, they must be pretty minimal.

    Fact?

  146. geldonyetich says:

    I’m not going to bother listing them again.

    Not only are you oblivious to the fact that I listed them before on this comment thread, you’re miraculously oblivious to the fact you recognized and agreed with their existence on this thread.

    Go read the one and only published real pundit review of your game, the one scored 2 stars out of 10, if you’re looking for some examples.

    To be fair, maybe there’d be some more big-name reviews to refute that. You know, if it weren’t a product made by a strange-minded indy developer that caters to a ridiculous niche.

  147. geldonyetich says:

    Oh, and if you’re looking for a definition of what a pundit is, it’s right here. Yeah, Lum (Scott Jennings) is a fair legend, it’s sort of how he got into the industry. A lot of people who followed his little singularity sort of have aspirations towards punditry. However, that guy who works for Eurogamer who writes reviews? He’s the one who gets paid specifically because he’s a pundit.

  148. Vetarnias says:

    @Keybounce
    About PotBS: The first thing you need to know is that the map, unlike EVE’s, is microscopic, maybe 45 minutes from one end to the other with favourable winds. So this means that when a PvP red circle pops up, it can cover half a dozen or more ports, and not just of one nationality.

    This led to very strange dealings in the game, a famous one being an informal Spanish-French agreement to not attack Havana and Cayo de Marquis (in the Florida Keys), because both were deep water harbours where the largest ships could be built, and if a red circle appeared around one, it immediately covered the other as well.

    A screenshot is probably necessary here: http://www.burningsea.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=9337&d=1210216947

    This was taken in early May of last year. The circle most to the left is around Cayo de Marquis, and as you can see it covers Havana as well as one pirate port, and it ends right on the outskirts of Grenville in Florida, which is a lowbie port.

    That setup means that some regions will always be inside one red circle, whether from one port or another. The Haiti region was pretty always in the red, because if someone wasn’t going after Leogane, then they were after Port-de-Paix, or Irish Point, or Jaqueme. If you were a pirate, that was a problem if you needed to get to Tortuga, the capital (the black dot right north of Haiti). Same situation for the Lesser Antilles, where the French have their capital.

    What that screenshot also illustrates is that while theoretically you did not have to enter red circles, in practice it was almost a necessity from time to time. If you’re playing French, Florida is the lowbie area, and Louisiana is next when you’ve outgrown it. On that map, the only way to go from one to the other without crossing a red circle is to sail east to the strait between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico and sail west again; twice the length of time it would have taken you to just go west around Florida (and perhaps more, if you consider that prevailing winds are from the east). Had that channel been covered with a red circle, the map would have been cut in two.

    And a few of the missions (especially career missions, as close to a necessary mission as you would get in the game) had you go to specific ports, including the capitals. Some rewards could only be obtained there. But with the French and Pirate capitals being where they are, how long would it take you to go there if you wanted to avoid red circles? This was often longer than just a few days, because one circle would appear in the town next to where the old one was; sometimes it went for a week or more, even worse when unrest decay was turned off for a while last year.

    And because the game world is split between levels, the high-level missions are all around the Antilles. If you’re level 40 and want to level up to 50, that’s where you have to go.

    Despite all this, much was made by PvPers of the PvP being “consensual” because you theoretically never had to enter a red circle, but at the same time other PvPers made the point that if PvPers were forced to do PvE stuff to make the red circles appear, it was only fair that PvEers be forced to cross red circles. So which was it?

    And the game was indeed marketed to both PvP and PvE types. In fact, I do remember reading the CEO of Flying Lab praising the quality of the writing of the missions in one interview last year. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s all PR, but as Shadowbane and now Darkfall ought to demonstrate with their complete absence of quests, missions are at their core PvE material, especially when the meat around the bone is being graded. Those two PvP games, on the other hand, decided early on that they didn’t need missions, since it’s just grind-and-kill-stuff anyway, and I don’t see Darkfall’s core demographic clamouring for missions. (I can’t talk about EVE, which I hear does have missions, often described as uninspired).

    As much as I want to avoid saying the game has failed, the situation I read about, with some players already requesting another round of server mergers (from five to one or two) isn’t exactly encouraging. On the MMORPG.com forums, comments on the game have dwindled to practically nothing, so its momentum seems to have passed. So I would say that while it has not failed beyond redemption yet, it appears to be failing.

    The intricate economy wasn’t the problem, but maybe it’s just the economic player in me speaking. The developers claimed it was too complicated when they brought changes to the economic setup a few months ago, ostensibly to increase ship production and presumably lower the costs on lower-level ships. But market shortages and inflation were not the result of the economy being too complicated. The problem was that, regardless of what the flow chart looked like, it was entirely possible to produce everything in-society — and in fact it was the most efficient way of producing things. However, it also meant that because you couldn’t make money off the market, you still needed to grind for the capital required to produce your goods.

    What made this possible was that the amount you could produce was not pegged to the time you, the player, spent crafting it; it was pegged to game time. So three days of production were three days of production by structure “workers” no matter how long you were logged in. You could log in every three days, drain your structures of their labour, which you could do within minutes, and voila, three days’ worth of production. So the societies, knowing that their own production wouldn’t cut into their other activities, started acting following a communistic economic model, and multi-boxers had a field day. Some even advertised cross-server lot swapping on the game forums, but FLS might have clamped down on those in the meantime; I’m not too sure what the policy on that is these days, or if there are any means to enfore it.

    So it wasn’t the complicated economy that was the problem. In fact, I would argue that simplifying it (and reducing the labour time needed to produce certain items, thereby increasing production) has probably made it worse, because it just made it easier and faster to build ships inside a society with no need for the outside market. I have no doubt that FLS’s assumption was that when societies would have built the ships they needed for themselves, they would continue to produce ships to sell on the open market with their extra labour, but I don’t think it works that way. Because you’re forced to grind to fund production, with a very hypothetical sale at the end of the line (which would never materialize if every society produced things internally anyway), you would not continue building ships for the open market; you would stop producing for as long as you had a reasonable cushion of ships for yourself, and only when the cushion would grow thin would you start producing again. You might take private orders (a guaranteed sale), but you would not supply the market. Great if you know who to contact; not so great if you’re a new player just trying to quest.

    This also meant that the crafter demographic, which I like to think is entirely different from the mob grinders, never had the opportunity to take hold in PotBS. (If I may be allowed an aside, I think this might be what disgusted me most about WoW, when I realized I could not even craft meaningful recipes without turning to mob grinding for ingredients.) Player skill didn’t matter in crafting production, because you didn’t craft things yourself. And you didn’t actually spend time doing it apart from a few minutes each day.

    The other problem was that the economy entirely revolved around shipbuilding, which meant ship loss was the only way to get it going. There is a famous devlog from over a year ago which all but admits that the game shipped with only this leg of a planned economic tripod in place, and the other two (social spaces, port governance) are not yet in the game. Insurance was brought in to minimize PvP losses, but with the money having nowhere to go but into ship production, the inevitable result was inflation, which only favoured the communistic model for those who could set one up, along with the port battle (a.k.a. endgame) dominance of ships once so costly as to be routinely inaccessible.

    It costs (or used to cost, not sure if prices were affected with the economic changes) over ten million doubloons for a First Rate, and now port battles routinely field 5-10 on each side (out of a 24v24 maximum), with several Second or Third Rates. Either you have one, or you’re not welcome at the battle. And if you don’t have one, better start grinding. As a new player (and you would be useless in a port battle until you hit maximum level anyway), it’s quite daunting.

    The ship-to-ship battle was the high point of the game; but what was there apart from it? Everything around it was broken or incomplete. Furthermore, since fights were instanced, it led to the creation of ready-made six-ship ganksquads that quickly took over. And PvP in PotBS isn’t meaningful, insofar as the RvR is only limited to changing the colour of dots, capped by a map reset. Players don’t run ports (that’s what port governance is supposed to do, if it ever sees the light of day), they can’t stake out a territory like in EVE, and economic production isn’t affected by the loss of a port except for higher taxes — quadruple the usual amount for freetraders with tax evasion (read: everybody’s alt) — which means that anything outside the most expensive ships isn’t particularly affected by it. Ports gained by Pirates automatically flip back after three days, likewise any starting ports the Pirates lose, so that nation can’t really win the map anyway and has no reason to pursue the RvR aspects of the game.

    The RvR, therefore, is uninvolving, and I think it’s one of the major differences with EVE, where corporations get to run things instead of being just one society forced to belong to a loose “nation” as in PotBS. I’m not saying the PvP can’t be fun (it can), but that it has no RvR underpinnings. Hence the gankers, who aren’t particularly concerned about whether they can get to wrap what they do in a flag.

    Gankers took over the game in the first few months, and when I returned to PotBS in April of this year, they were still to be found here and there, but the players who remained just accepted them as a fact of life. But how many other players did the gankers chase away in the meantime? Sad to say, the PvE demographic in PotBS seems to have vanished completely. As much as Owain might say that it was supposed to be that way, the case of PotBS was never as clear cut as that. Why did so many PvP players of the game go out of their way to point out that PvP in PotBS was entirely consensual? I’m pretty sure you didn’t get that kind of rhetoric about Shadowbane, and I’m sure you don’t have it around Darkfall.

    As for Puzzle Pirates: Great game, very different but very accomplished. The economy was for the most part functional, too.

  149. JuJutsu says:

    “I am saying, how can the game be broken when the people playing it don’t consider it broken?”

    Punditry may have a low hurdle but you still manage to trip. For a while I thought you were being obtuse but I’ve decided that you really and truly don’t get it and never will. Enjoy your game. As for me, you’ve made it clear that you have nothing useful to contribute to discourse about gaming.

  150. Owain says:

    @geldonyetich
    Thanks for the dictionary link, but I already had a pretty good idea what a pudit was. Perhaps I was unclear. What are YOUR qualifications for punditry, or do I just have to take your word for it? I can accept Lum applying for the position, otherwise people wouldn’t come here to read his blog, but I suspect he wouldn’t be dimwitted enough to come out and annoint himself as such. You aren’t a pundit just because you declare yourself to be one. Lum, I’m willing to accept. You, not so much…

    As far as the review writer goes, he doesn’t match the definition cited in your link. “a person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner…”
    What was the process he used to evaluate the game? He spent two of the his three hours in game in the character customization routines. He wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to use the introductory quests, and never got out of the newbie areas.

    I’m sure there is an entry in the dictionary for “a person who gives opinions in an incompetant manner”, but that definition will NOT be for pundit. Dunce seems more applicable.

    JuJutsu :“I am saying, how can the game be broken when the people playing it don’t consider it broken?”
    Punditry may have a low hurdle but you still manage to trip. For a while I thought you were being obtuse but I’ve decided that you really and truly don’t get it and never will. Enjoy your game. As for me, you’ve made it clear that you have nothing useful to contribute to discourse about gaming.

    Shall we wait for Pundit geldonyetich to supply a dictionary link for ‘broken’ then. Without consulting the oracle at Merriam-Webster, my rough approximaton would be ‘non-functional’ or perhaps ‘not operable’. If I have a broken record (remember those?) it can’t be played. If I have a broken tool, it cannot be used. If I have a broken arm, that arm is useless. If I have a broken neck, chances are, I’m dead. Broken is a pretty serious condition, wouldn’t you think?

    Darkfall, then, is not broken. The server is full. The people playing the game do so enthusiastically. The game functions, for the most part, as designed, and is being steadily improved to correct features that need to be corrected. The game is not perfect, and there are many areas that could be improved or redesigned, but it is operatiing as intended for the target audience for whom it was written.

    THAT is not broken, as I see it.

    To a PUNDIT, however, broken apparently means “something I do not enjoy”.

    And PUNDITS, when challenged, refuse to go on record to state exactly what is broken about this oh, so broken game.

    I think geldonyetich mispoke, and got the wrong word. When he said pundit, I think the word he was looking for was poseur. Here’s a dictionary link, poseur. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/poseur

  151. Amaranthar says:

    I agree that Darkfall isn’t “broken”. I have complaints, as I alluded to on page 2, #14. (That’s down that dark aisle in the back of the room, around the corner from Lum’s stuffed vulture). But the fact is, I find it far better than games like WoW. Not that I don’t see that many players would like WoW better. But for some of us, who want to get away from “the grind”, not because of the grind itself but because of the railed express you as a player are placed on, this kind of game is just better even with problems. And all games have problems, especially at release.

    Darkfall does have some nice ideas. The enchantment system is not only cool, but leaves open all kinds of mysterious possibilities. Briefly, you get a window up where you can place player items in, and it has boxes where you can add other items. Then you see if this combo “enchant” the item. Uses the gear of a player from weapons and armor to clothing and jewelry, and the combination is trial and error. Many have been discovered, many are still to be discovered, and really, there’s no end to what they can do with this.

    The openness of the game is appealing. While I’m still pretty much stuck in newbie land, I could go out and explore all I want. It’s just that I don’t want to lose things yet because I don’t have lots of extras, having chosen to spend most of my “worldly wealth” on skill building. But I was in beta, and explored then, and am very anxious to do so. I don’t think the game is even close to complete, and I’m looking forwards to the future. The only thing I’m concerned with is the PKing. I won’t continue to play if it ends up that I’m just a pinata for PKers. We’ll see where this goes, they may make some adjustments there, or maybe the world really is big enough to allow players like me to survive in it (doubtful, but I could be wrong).

    Overall, while the game has a learning curve, it is better than what else is out there for me. It’s “worldly” to some degree, and can get much more so as they add to it. Or they could go the wrong way too, for that matter.

  152. Owain says:

    @Vetarnias
    “As much as Owain might say that it was supposed to be that way, the case of PotBS was never as clear cut as that. Why did so many PvP players of the game go out of their way to point out that PvP in PotBS was entirely consensual? I’m pretty sure you didn’t get that kind of rhetoric about Shadowbane, and I’m sure you don’t have it around Darkfall.”

    No, actually this does seem to be the case where PotBS could be said to be broken. PvP Players were playing the game as it was intended, and as designed, but the outcome, the collapse of the PvE demographic, certainly was NOT then intent of the game developers. Here is a very clear instance of a game design element that is non-functional, not operational, or otherwise broken, and that has a far reaching impact on game viability. Perhaps a fatal impact.

    Now if I could only get one of the resident poseurs, err, pundits to supply me with an equivalent Darkfall example, I might have a better understanding about what they mean when they say Darkfall is ‘broken’.

  153. Vetarnias says:

    @geldonyetich
    If I may comment on a few of your posts.

    First, I tend to be wary of the word “pundit” because of all the Fox News/talk radio negative connotations the word now has. Because of that, I’m almost considering punditry to have a very low barrier of entry, and Owain seems far too intelligent to be left below the cutoff point.

    In the debate about Zitron versus Aventurine, I find neither of them to be without blame. Aventurine can be blamed for going after a bad review by accusing it of a hostility that the Darkfall makers have exhibited in far greater quantities over the recent months, and of almost using the bad review to further their own popularity with the game’s followers. Zitron can be blamed for not so much the content of his review (as I am lacking first-hand experience of the game to safely corroborate it), but for having placed himself in a situation where his credibility can be questioned. In the matter of how long Zitron played the game, however, I am tempted (against my better judgement) to side with Aventurine.

    There is always the possibility of Tasos lying (like that didn’t happen before), but let’s assume for a minute that he is telling the truth in this case. Zitron’s excuse (“two days are missing, and others are understated”) sounds hollow; it’s almost as if he’s banking on Aventurine’s reputation for incompetence to make it sound plausible that the company can’t keep track of such a thing as logs. And again, assuming Tasos is telling the truth here, two hours split between 13 sessions isn’t much. This pattern of logging in for just a few minutes at a time, more than anything else, seems to indicate that Zitron might not have been particularly dedicated to reviewing this particular game.

    I’m an ordinary player, and despite distractions on the side I don’t log into a game for just a few minutes unless something major and unforeseen happens — or unless I’m bored. Zitron, on the other hand, is writing a professional review of a game, and, assuming his game or his computer didn’t crash (in which case he makes no mention of it in his review) he can’t stay more than a few minutes in the game for each session? Even if you’re bored, you’re supposed to stick it out, because it’s your job. This alone seems to indicate that he wasn’t particularly dedicated to the game in the first place.

    And that’s what I’m reading between the lines of his review, “not my stuff”. In which case it’s fine. But it’s not so much punditry (as you would define it) as opinion. That’s why Darkfall is so difficult to assess from a design standpoint. It’s niche, undoubtedly, and it preaches to the converted, offensively so. At the same time, Zitron is clearly not someone who would have been converted in the first place, so on that charge, I have to agree with Tasos: Zitron strikes me as a guy unable to like this type of game. It doesn’t matter if the design itself is good or bad — he won’t like the game in either case. Like a food critic who isn’t interested in finding out whether this is a good or bad pizza, since he doesn’t like pizza anyway.

    It doesn’t help that some of Darkfall’s converts are vindictive pricks who seek to tar Zitron on every two-month-old blog entry that mentions his name (see here: http://thereticule.com/2009/03/ed-zitron-talks-on-reviews/ ), but Zitron’s comments linked to in that link (http://www.blog.edzitron.com/?p=14) also tell us a lot about Zitron as a game critic. Coming from reading that, and then his review of Warhammer Online (http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=198952&site=pcz), and finally his review of Darkfall, I’m thinking the guy is quite apt at practicing what he denounces. But if his guidelines for reviewing are to be believed — that game critics these days are guilty of “treating every game like a bloody sonnet” — his entire approach to reviewing takes place on a Fun/Not Fun axis.

    So, based on that, we can surmise that Darkfall got a bad review from Zitron because it was Not Fun. Fair enough. But how does Not Fun lead to an objective assessment of the game as is proposed? The only way I can think of is by saying that having enough Not Funs means a game can’t succeed — in other words, some crass commercial consideration that he would probably quickly denounce. Seen in that perspective, why should Zitron’s Not Fun be inherently superior to Owain’s Fun? Because Zitron is paid to do it? Neither of them is interested in anything beyond their own enjoyment, but Owain is the one being honest enough to admit it.

    That’s why I’m saying Zitron can’t be cast as a martyr. Because in his case game reviewing isn’t about design, it’s about Fun. Fun equals good design, while he despises what is Impressive. And he seems to have nothing but contempt for people who disagree with him (see that link, “it’s not enough that the PC industry is getting murdered by piracy, or that people like Braid”). The Braid reference should speak volumes; I never played Braid, but all I hear about it is that while it is pretentious, it has an extremely solid design. Maybe, just maybe, Tasos was correct on this count.

    Ultimately, I think that whether Zitron played two or nine hours is irrelevant, because I think both numbers would be below what I would expect a critic to play before reviewing a game. Zitron didn’t even need two hours to find out where Darkfall ranged on the Fun meter; if he did play nine hours, unless he had some nagging doubts about whether the game could have been Fun later on, he was just wasting his time. For a serious discussion of a game, nine hours is still inadequate, but it’s a debate involving the entire game reviewing field, not just one critic.

    But I think a discussion of his credentials would have been more vital in the case of a game he did support (such as Warhammer or any other) than one he did not. As much as Darkfall has a right to a fair trial (which I believe it did not have with Judge Zitron sitting on the bench), a negative review doesn’t encourage you to part with your money.

  154. Owain says:

    @Amaranthar

    Amaranthar. You sir, are no pundit. Congratulations!

    The game is very much better once you are in a clan. This should not be seen as a bad thing. This is an MMORPG, not a single player game, so many of the issues you desribed on your post on page 2 are addressed by simply getting grouped, and being in a clan is the most reliable way to find group members you can trust.

    I’m sure the Darkfall Forums guild page has plenty of clans who are actively recruiting. If you’ve been following my posts on this thread and others, you may want to consider the KGB (Knights of Glory and Beer) http://oracle.the-kgb.com. If that is the case, go to our web site, and check us out. Review our requirements for citizenship. If your goals and playing style coincide with ours, submit an application (the sidebar has a link to the application server), and list Owain ab Arawn as a sponsor. You would enter the KGB with the probationary rank of Recruit. All very complicated, I know, but this process has served the KGB well for the last decade, so that is how it’s done.

    Sorry for the spam, but I don’t see a Private Message capability here. But here we have yet another person actively playing Darkfall. Perhaps the game is not quite so broken as some would have us believe.

  155. Owain says:

    @Vetarnias
    Now this is about the best analysis I have read lately, and certainly more to the point with respect to Lum’s original post than many, most certainly including my contributions. I can’t read his Warhammer review at the moment, but I look forward to comparing his impressions with my own, since that is another game that I have played, and for my part, found wanting.

    Thanks for your observations. These are the posts that keep me coming back (other than opportunities to vent my own spleen, of course.)

  156. Guy says:

    Owain, a game is not broken when it is completely non-functional. A broken game can still be played. But a broken game typically has problematic mechanics (typically game imbalance, exploits, etc.) that compromise the intent or enjoyability of a game. That is what is meant by a broken game.

    Typically, a broken game often still attracts followers until the players recognize the broken aspects and leave. There can be reasons for staying even after this though (for example, if you enjoy exploiting the exploits, for social reasons, interesting in the setting, etc.).

  157. Drakks says:

    You guys are an odd bunch, and sweet jesus are you wordy.

    Darkfall is full pvp, so from jump you’ve already pigeonholed yourself into a subset of gamers and ostracized yourself from the majority (see also: Shadowbane, etc) Furthermore you’ve artifically limited your playerbase by not actually selling your product with any regularity (This certainly created a buzz, good or bad).

    Now that is out of the way, ask the following two questions of Darkfall the game:

    1. What new “things” does it bring to the table?
    2. Of the common elements to any MMO, what does it do better (drawn from lessons learned) than of it’s predecessors?

    I think for most people who don’t like the game, the answer to both questions is nothing. We find that a bad thing, obviously. The people who do like the game also tend to find the answer to these questions to be nothing, but see it as irrelevant.

    In a full pvp game the actual game itself has always seemed to be far less important than the ability to, well, full pvp. So a review coming from a standard reviewer that doesn’t find him/herself in this pvp fanatic camp is going to be along the lines of what the average gamer would probably agree with, while the review of someone driven by the pvp aspect of the game will more or less praise it’s ability to meet their one criteria.

    It’s a polarizing topic, because you are dealing with two seperate camps of players and to be fair the review should’ve been written by someone from within that pvp camp — because the rest of us wouldn’t give two shits what that review said, as we already knew we weren’t interested.

    It also extends to the hardcore pve camp as well — anyone seen the crazies that lament the halycon days of EQ and corpse runs, exp/leve loss, and the like? Dear god, it’s like talking to a crazy person!

  158. Owain says:

    @Guy
    Fair enough. We may have a terminology issue with respect to the word ‘broken’.

    Now give me an example where Darkfall has problematic mechanics (typically game imbalance, exploits, etc.) that compromise the intent or enjoyability of a game. Not just a feature you don’t particularly care for, but something like the issue described by Vetarnius, where an entire demographic in the game abandons it because the game as implemented is unplayable.

    Otherwise, you are using the term ‘broken’ to describe cosmetic problems.

  159. Guy says:

    Remember when I posted the links to Keen’s article? You already have my response about potential flaws in the game. Just because you blew it off doesn’t mean it ceased to exist.

    As for broken, I never claimed Darkfall was broken. Go ahead and look at all my previous comments. I don’t think I even wrote the word broken until I decided to correct your ridiculous “broken arm” analogy.

  160. Owain says:

    If this results in a duplicate post, I apologize. My first two attempts didn’t appear to take, probably due to trying to embed multiple links to previous posts. That didn’t work, so you’ll just have to scroll up.

    @Guy
    I followed the links. I didn’t blow off either his remarks or yours. I commented on them at length (do I comment any other way?) above.

    His argument are unconvincing. He played the game, and initially was very excited, but over time found that he didn’t enjoy it as much as he did at first. If I remember correctly, he remains a Darkfall fan, but hopes that the devs can tweak it a bit, and change some elements so that he will find it more fun than it currently is.

    I had exactly the same experience with WoW. EXACTLY! I played it to level 60, and dropped it because I could no longer take the grind. By that logic, does that make WoW a flawed game? No. It’s a game that I don’t prefer, just like Darkfall is a game that Keen currently does not prefer. Currently, I do prefer Darkfall. Does that mean Darkfall is perfect. No. It is a game designed for a particular demographic that I belong to.

    And as for ‘broken’, I was responding to different posts. ‘Broken’ is a term loosly thrown about by poseurs/pundits like geldonyetic and JuJutsu, above. I’ve asked for specific examples where Darkfall’s design is broken, but for some reason, they get very vague when you try to pin them down. In that context, I don’t think by ‘broken arm’ analogy is quite so ridiculous as you might thing, but your milage may vary.

  161. Guy says:

    “His argument are unconvincing.”

    You’re not going to allow yourself to be convinced though. So everyone makes their argument, you say “not good enough!” and then go on to say we haven’t raised any examples. Victory is yours! Don’t bother asking for more arguments, just take your glorious victory like a man. But don’t deny that people have given you plenty of examples.

    Did you *really* have the exact same experience with WoW as Keen did with Darkfall? You levelled all the way to 60. Was this when 60 was the max? So WoW was good enough to keep you playing all the way to the max level? Given that levelling was its strength, that doesn’t seem much like Keen’s experience at all, of being disappointed quite quickly.

    Unless… did you feel WoW was flawed, but *kept playing anyways*? Hmmmmmmm…..

  162. Owain says:

    @Guy
    “You’re not going to allow yourself to be convinced though.”

    I remain unconvinced because, logically, the argument is unconvincing. You say that Keen’s posts are evidence that Darkfall is flawed. By that argument, WoW is flawed as well, is it not?

    Your basic premise is faulty. The only thing Keens blog demonstrates, as well as similar posts in this thread and elsewhere, is that for whatever reason, Keen no longer cares for Darkfall. By that token, I suppose you could say that for Keen, Darkfall is flawed, but Keen is not the ultimate repository of Truth, the last time I checked.

    The only specific I recall being raised was that someone mentioned that corpse looting on Darkfall was excessively controlled by the client rather than being governed by the server, and possibly subject to exploitation. I did request an explanation about why this was so awful, since to my knowlege, it has no significant impact either on PvE or PvP, but if an answer was provided, I must have missed it.

    I played WoW until shortly after the expansion that raised the cap to 80, if I recall correctly. I obviously played Wow longer than Keen played Darkfall, but my reasons for leaving were much the same, and followed the same pattern. It was initially entertaining. Over time, it became less interesting. Ultimately, I left the game because I could face the continued grind necessary to reach the newly moved goal posts to lvl 80.

    So no, my experience, other than in broad strokes, was not exactly like Keens. Congratulations. You caught me. Here’s a cookie.

    Logically, the situation is equivalent, however. I left WoW because I no longer found it to be entertaining. Does that make WoW flawed? That is the question I’m trying to get answered, because as near as I can tell, everyone here who says Darkfall is flawed uses that basic argument: “I don’t like this feature, Darkfall is flawed, so I won’t play it”, or “this guy quit Darkfall, ergo Darkfall is flawed.”

    By that criteria, every game developed by humans, from tic-tac-toe to the latest release of ‘whatever’ is flawed.

    Vetarnias gave a description of what I think most people would agree is a flaw.
    @Vetarnias According to him, “Sad to say, the PvE demographic in PotBS seems to have vanished completely.” Since this resulted from players playing the game as designed and implemented, I’d say that’s a pretty serious flaw that isn’t just the result of some guy saying, “this game sucks!”

    I’m not claiming victory, because there is no victory to be claimed. The theory has been advanced that Darkfall is fundamentally flawed. Broken, according to some. I think that theory remains unproven. Darkfall is not perfect. No game is, but it is not fundamentally flawed in the manner that PotBS is flawed. That game is truly broken, according to Vetarnias.

    I maintain that the best case you can make with respect to Darkfall is that it is a game many do not care for, no more, no less. At the same time, it is a game that many gamers to car for. It is a game that is being played at capacity, where demand exceeds supply, and it is being played as designed and implemented. No major game features are currently unplayable, to my knowledge.

    A game for a niche audience. Yes, of course. Fundamentally flawed or ‘broken’? I’m not seeing it, regardless of how broken hearted Keen or others may be at this time.

  163. geldonyetich says:

    Guy :
    Owain, a game is not broken when it is completely non-functional. A broken game can still be played. But a broken game typically has problematic mechanics (typically game imbalance, exploits, etc.) that compromise the intent or enjoyability of a game. That is what is meant by a broken game.
    Typically, a broken game often still attracts followers until the players recognize the broken aspects and leave. There can be reasons for staying even after this though (for example, if you enjoy exploiting the exploits, for social reasons, interesting in the setting, etc.).

    This is about what I was going to say next. So, thanks for that, you saved some wear and tear on my fingers.

    To an extent, an existentialist like myself cannot help but agree: a pundit is just a label.

    We can, via the dictionary, determine that a pundit is a critic who writes for pass media. However, strictly speaking, what does that prove?

    Only that the people who ran the magazine reasoned, to the best of their abilities, that this person should be paid to practice being a critic professionally. There’s a lot of ambiguity in there – you’re questioning not only Zitron’s qualifications, but the qualifications of those who hired them, and we don’t really know any of them personally.

    So lets forget that label. Instead, lets put it this way:

    Anyone can be entertained by a given instance of entertainment media, whether it be games, movies, radio, the stage, ect. However, it takes someone who has partaken so many instances that they’ve developed a sort of detachment to understand that any given instance of entertainment is a sum of its parts.

    Is Darkfall Online *completely* broken? No. Are some of its parts “broken”? Well, under the definition of “broken” being, not just a little, but *significantly* less than ideal circumstances behind their conception and/or implementation? Yes, parts of Darkfall Online are broken, especially compared to better examples that have long been in the field.

    Would a person who is experienced with the wide range of the gaming entertainment medium of games judge Darkfall very negatively based off of the number of mechanics which fall under this definition of “broken?” Yes.

    Do you require 6 months of gameplay to recognize that what your playing has these flaws? No.

    Boom: 2/10 review. Completely justified, and in no way indicating that your opinion doesn’t matter if you enjoy this game.

  164. Guy says:

    For the vast majority of people, virtually all games lose their appeal given enough time. The velocity with which this happens is an indicator of how well the game was constructed and presented. Just because you quit eventually doesn’t mean the game must be flawed. If you quit after a very long time, then the game must have been a pretty good experience. If you quit after a very short amount of time, it must not have appealed to you for some reason.

    These times, of course, are affected by how fast you can get through the content. Playing a single-player adventure for two weeks would mean far more good about that game than it would for a MMORPG, where quitting after two weeks means the game failed for you.

    With a PvP MMORPG, I would add that there are significant social/competitive factors inherent in group play that are always present and always draw in people *regardless* of the game’s mechanics.

    You’ve spent a lot of time pointing at the fact that there are X amount of people playing right now as proof that the game *cannot* be broken or flawed. This is an extremely unconvincing argument, although you’re using it less now. As you said, time will tell whether Darkfall can sustain interest.

  165. Owain says:

    Again, this may be a duplicate post. My firewall is pwning me today.

    @geldonyetich

    “…it takes someone who has partaken so many instances that they’ve developed a sort of detachment to understand that any given instance of entertainment is a sum of its parts.”

    I can accept that. How about this. If you are a professional game journalist, hired to write a game review, should you do more in your 3 hours playing the game than spend 2 hours generating your character, and maybe get out of the tutorial newbie area in order for you to make proper use of your ‘wide range of experience in the gaming entertainment media?” It sounds more like he made ample use of a vast experience in slacking off, to me.

    “you’re questioning not only Zitron’s qualifications, but the qualifications of those who hired them, and we don’t really know any of them personally.”

    I don’t need to know them personally. Zitron for one, is incompetent. His employers have failed to recognize that. Draw your own conclusions.

    This is what I know about Zitron:

    He hates whacking goblins. Yeah, me too. Maybe if you got out of the tutorial noob area you’d learn that Darkfall != goblin whacking. More on this later.

    Zitron thinks “The difference in feedback between a sword hitting or missing is negligible.” He must have missed the audible “THUNK” cue that is played with each hit, the groans and screams (yes, screams) from mobs and players upon each hit, and blood spatter that covers your target, the ground, and yourself on every hit, but yeah, other than that, feedback is negligible.

    Zitron also thinks “You have a crosshair, and your hits are dependent on whether or not this crosses the enemy at any given time – like an FPS, except with little to no reference point.” This is so beyond wrong, I can only suspect Zitron started playing Second Life, rather than Darkfall, and couldn’t tell the difference. Let’s move on…

    Zitron doesn’t like mob AI. Dude. It’s a PvP game. Mobs are a resource, like the trees I chop for wood, only they move, hit back, and drop gold and minor loot instead of lumber. If you came here for the PvE, you are in the wrong game and your vast experience “with the wide range of the gaming entertainment medium of games”, or something, just isn’t working for you. Try telemarketeering instead.

    Zitron thinks this is true: “Using spells or arrows is somewhat less exhausting, but usually ends messily when an enemy decides to run at you, leaving you with the choice of changing weapon (a ten-second operation – five if you’re particularly nimble) or running backwards in the vain hope of not dying.” Anyone who has GOTTEN BEYOND THE FRICKIN’ NEWBIE TUTORIAL ZONE knows you can define a hot key to change weapons at a moments notice, so you can blast your target at range, and immediately switch out and finish them off when they stagger up to you, since you are unhurt, and you have been shooting the CRAP out of them. Obviously, no one has EVER figured out how to do THAT in any other game.

    I could go on, but you get the idea, I hope.

    I sure am glad Zitron “is experienced with the wide range of the gaming entertainment medium of games” that qualifies him to write incompetent reviews without the use of a functional brain. That settles it then.

    Man, this pundit shit is HARD!

  166. Nero says:

    This is the statement that irritates me about Ed Zitron rewiew. “I genuinely wish that this was a case of me not getting what Darkfall is trying to do. Sadly, it’s all too obvious.”

    Darkfall is a game were people get together in guilds and kill each other for fun and profit. I think Aventurine has been pretty clear that this is the main feature of the game.
    Yet in this review the only reference to pvp comes as a complaint about getting ganked by “cyber-bullies”. Sounds to me like he does not get it, or thinks the pvp aspect of a pvp game is irrelevant. Either way Ed Zitron looks like a jerk. Someone above put out the opinion that Ed Zitron gave a fair assessment of the features of the game, and rated it 2/10. I would have to argue that 2/3rds of the features he mentioned are not important to the game. It is like rating a mmo by its music or a motorcycle by its switchgear. And of the features he rated that are important, he does not give enough information for me to tell why he is upset. Like I said earlier, his review is useless to me.

    On a side note, there is a reason the complaints about the lack of pve content and quests in this game are ignored. People are drawn to a game like this simply because its focus is not a long pve grind. They do not want to have to reach maximum level before they can start doing the things they started playing for in the first place. There is a big misconception I think in the mmo industry that states that if a lot of people are doing something it must be fun. This is BS. I leveled an armsmen to level 50 in DAoC just so I could pvp. Maybe 5 minutes of the 3 months of /played time was fun. The pve content in the best mmo’s is pretty uninspiring overall. If you don’t believe me ask Richard Bartle.

    On top of that, if this game launched with the most mouth watering mmo pve content imaginable it would have to be done in a way that keeps the pve rewards viable to the players, but completely separate from the pvp. Otherwise it would be forcing the pvp players to pve witch is not what they want to do. Also the pve players would be annoyed about constantly getting ganked trying to get to their raid or complete there quest. That sort of content has to be done very carefully in a game like this and it ultimately is a secondary focus.

  167. geldonyetich says:

    Owain :
    I could go on, but you get the idea, I hope.

    Yeah, it looks like Zitron took too many liberties with his prose and lost his objectiveness.

    Was the difference between sword hitting and missing “neglegable” – no, but perhaps it wasn’t quite as jarring as he was expecting if he had played games such as Oblivion or Dark Messiah. (Okay, that later one was so well done it’s hardly fair because few, if any, games met that.)

    Being completely wrong about how hitting and missing worked is bad. On the other hand, why didn’t the game make this clear? It’s bad sign when an experienced game player has to make guesses about how hitting and missing works. It was a good assumption based on the idea that this was supposedly a “twitch” game, though. The same goes with spells.

    Zitron wants better mob AI – irrational desire in a PvP game? Not really. Just because it’s a PvP game doesn’t mean you have absolved responsibility for making a decent AI. Here, at least, is a fair description of a broken mechanic. Never can you really say, “well, we forgive you for that part of the game completely sucking because…” no, if you’re going to do it, it’s worth doing right.

    If Zitron had cut down on his flair a bit, being less the scathing critic and more the patient one, perhaps he’d have been able to avoid a bad interpretation. Instead, he left himself open as non-objective.

  168. Vetarnias says:

    If I may add: I think that what bothers me about the reaction to Zitron’s Darkfall review here is that there seems to be a foregone conclusion that because the review is negative, and because Aventurine went nuts over it in a typical fashion, that it’s necessarily a good review. So even though I’m no fan of Darkfall, I’m glad to see that Zitron’s review is finally being addressed.

    If I reviewed Darkfall, chances are I would give it a negative review as well, especially with all I have heard about it so far. But I would be open-minded enough to see for myself before committing myself to one position or another. But I don’t think Zitron’s review, in this specific case, even tries that.

    It’s one of those reviews where you can almost see the writer’s agenda running in the background, which can affect any critic, even professional ones who would remind you of their status, as though that immediately justified their agenda — and the cloak of objectivity always comes in handy, too. My skepticism comes from seeing too many instances of criticism done by a seemingly invisible checklist which inevitably leads to the same intended conclusions.

    I like to compare that to some less-than-honest calls for tenders in government contracting processes. Assuming every company is invited to bid on them, you inevitably come across cases where all the criteria deemed necessary ensure that only one firm could ever meet them all: the one intended to win the contract from the beginning. The better schemes will make every criterion, taken individually, seem reasonable enough, but the result is rigged nonetheless.

    To return to gaming, there’s an example I always like to bring up; it doesn’t involve a professional game critic but a WoW fanatic. Said WoW fanatic was discussing the various ways in which WoW was great and made much of flying mounts and such, while dismissing EVE for “not allowing you to leave your cockpit”. Whether EVE’s design was successful for what that game attempted to be didn’t matter. This wasn’t even meant to kick-start a discussion on how much EVE would find itself improved if the player were provided with such an option. No, the only purpose of that comparison was to bury EVE, not praise it, regardless of its overall success as a niche game, and the easiest way to dismiss a successful niche game was to blame it for not having a definite set of features which… erm… World of Warcraft happens to have. And the more expensive the required features, the better; that way, the list of good games would be whittled down to pretty much WoW by its lonesome.

    And that’s what I can’t shake off while reading the Zitron review: That there is a general aversion to this type of game present in the background, and that Zitron chose instead to camouflage it under the guise of bad design choices. I’m sure that Darkfall is chock-full of such bad design choices, but the problem with Zitron’s review is the old chicken-and-egg dilemma: It seems, while reading the review, that Darkfall is not a bad game because it has deficient design choices, but that it has deficient design choices *because it is a bad game*. The critical reasoning, in Zitron’s case, is reversed, because you can see the Fun Factor, the most subjective criterion imaginable, coming first; if he can’t enjoy a game, it’s a bad game, and it must be because of bad features. Considering the subject matter, it’s not a bad approach, if design were left outside of the equation when it is clear that the enjoyment of the game, or lack thereof, does not hinge on the design.

    This explains Zitron’s dismissal of both Darkfall (which I will concede has bad design choices, just for the sake of the argument) and Braid, about which I heard only good things as far as the design was concerned (if someone can point otherwise, by all means do so).

    In Darkfall’s case, I can quote the following passages as suspect (and I’m sure an actual player of the game could come up with many more):

    “Worse still, the entire economy is player-driven – meaning that anybody wanting to get involved in crafting has literally hours of harvesting wood, or rock, or any of the other generic resources.” Assuming he does not talk specifically in terms of the cumbersome inventory management, what is wrong with having a player-driven economy? From what I read, it ended up being nothing like Aventurine advertised, and I have no doubt it’s a genuine grindfest. Compare that, however, to Warhammer Online, where the economy was a sick joke, which made the auction houses of Age of Conan and WoW look like worthy of Wall Street Journal coverage. But not a line in Zitron’s 9.2 review about the WAR economy, which I’m tempted to think is a clear demonstration, unless he was just whitewashing the weak points, that in-game economies don’t matter to him.

    “The developers have taken the classic stance when faced with the echoing cries of “you barely have any content”, and claim that the “core” of Darkfall is clan warfare. Players can build “camps” and “towns”, and fight each other in “epic” wars. This is, as you can probably imagine from the screenshots, rather more underwhelming and frustrating than the hyperbole would have you believe.” Since I’m coming from PotBS, I’m quite glad (for reasons listed in a previous post) that Darkfall tries to be without ambiguity as to what type of game it wants to be (though I’d gladly do without the bad manners and grandstanding surrounding the game). And for one, I would welcome building camps and towns, as the problem isn’t with the feature itself; the problem is when the usual-suspect large guilds (yes, I know, it’s one bias of my own) start planting flags on the map in advance, leaving little opportunity for the rest of players to achieve anything. But the feature, in itself, sounds appealing, and if the result of Zitron’s position is more WoW glossy instanced crap that has no bearing on the game world, no thanks.

    “You see, anyone can kill anyone. For the most part, your first ten or so hours in Darkfall are spent dying, repeatedly, at the hands of either the AI or a cyber-bully in a wolf-suit. In fact, past that mark, it feels impossible to avoid the clammy hands and bloodied sword of somebody who has specially allocated part of their day to griefing.” By his own admission, he spent nine hours playing Darkfall, yet he feels confident that he can comment on “your first ten or so hours” and even “past that mark”, a stage he didn’t even reach himself regardless of whose version you choose to believe on how long Zitron played the game.

    “It’s the emperor’s new clothes of 2009: such a marvellous game that only an idiot wouldn’t realise the beauty of the gaping holes in its content, its wonky control system, and its seemingly decade-old engine.” There we go, “only an idiot”. There might be several idiots playing Darkfall, but that is because Darkfall offers them an opportunity to behave like the idiots they want to be, an opportunity which they are denied in WoW and similar games. Remember: Complete freedom, including that of behaving like a jerk. It’s too bad that Aventurine just exploited that instead of just proposing a standard PvP/RvR world where the stakes were high to appeal to the competitive guild demographic. They actually *went looking* for the jerks with all their antics and proposed game features, and it’s why many here are highly skeptical about the game.

    As I said, in the first case, with a group of serious and mature players, I’m sure I would enjoy Darkfall, but the developers want the jerks, and couldn’t have prevented them from showing up anyway. Pirates of the Burning Sea, if I may return to that subject for a moment, made a few contradictory decisions early on about this. Just look up the remark of Isildur (PotBS’s lead designer) about gankers waiting for the “next big failure to come along, to let them grief noobs for a few months before it shrivels up and dies” and saying how his game would attract the competitive PvPers. That was six months before release. At release time, the developers went all “no crying in the red circle” and “make it not fair in your favor”, until they dropped those a few months later shortly after a devlog entry called “Ambush gameplay” (http://www.burningsea.com/page/news/article&article_id=10831 ). I’m sure they were expecting the competitive PvPers but Pirates of the Burning Sea got the asshats and the six-ship ganksquads whether it wanted them of not (which, I think, can be attributed to poor design rather than intent). Darkfall, on the other hand, welcomes the asshats with open arms and doesn’t seem to have second doubts about what it means for their game. However, I don’t think that the mere act of enjoying Darkfall makes you an idiot — which seems to be what Zitron thinks.

    I’m sure I must have missed something, but it’s all I can think of for now.

  169. Wendelius says:

    How is Darkfall broken? From the MMORPG.COM forums….

    “Ok so people throughout Darkfall have been using a great way to train rigor by encouraging mass participation within major alliances. Basically we have 15-30 spell casters with the earth magic called earthquake and then we form a pyramid with non-casters surrounding the casters. Everyone donates reagents for the casters to use.

    Then they click and release the AOE spell which trains our rigor skill while we don’t get hurt since they don’t hold onto the spell. Earthquake is a spell that does DOT around the caster and hurts everyone in range. But we don’t take damage which lets us train rigor 100X faster than normal. This was suppose to be a smart way to train a skill but the GM’s recently declared it an exploit.

    Yesterday, while we just formed our pyramid after over an hour of organizing 200+ people a GM talked on public chat while we were taking advantage of game mechanics. I later found out that they destroyed another ‘rigor party’ in another major clan/alliance by kicking people. First our alliance leader tried to persuade the GM that it isn’t an exploit but it failed since the GM said that the devs considered it an exploit. Then he started talking bs with some sarcasm which was hilarious.

    Soon the GM began kicking people but there were too many people so I barely noticed people disappearing. Our casters just logged back in after being kicked so the GM couldn’t beat us. He kept trying and trying but for some reason he couldn’t kick us fast enough. Then we spammed public chat with stuff like “MORTAL ONLINE” and “MO” and the chat was flooded like crazy and it became more laggier.

    Eventually the GM gave up and we used the rigor pyramid all last night into the morning when the servers went down for daily restart. We did it the whole day also today and the GM isn’t interfering anymore because we kicked his ass. We are going to do it until they patch it in about 7 hours which is the patch tomorrow morning. It was the first time that I saw a GM back down from the biggest alliance in the game.

    Fun.”

  170. Owain says:

    I’d heard of earthquake for rigor, but hadn’t made use of it myself. I figured it was no different than casting fire field or any other direct damage spell on yourself in UO to raise the Resist Magic spell. It’s an oversight that will be corrected, no doubt, with the next patch.

  171. Raelyf says:

    Owain :
    I’d heard of earthquake for rigor, but hadn’t made use of it myself. I figured it was no different than casting fire field or any other direct damage spell on yourself in UO to raise the Resist Magic spell. It’s an oversight that will be corrected, no doubt, with the next patch.

    Perhaps it will be corrected, but will the guilds who exploited this have their characters rolled back? Clearly, this isn’t the only exploit which will have set a certain subset of players leaps and bounds ahead of the others – and that, to me, is a huge problem.

    In my opinion, everyone involved here who didn’t break off and leave should have had their accounts banned without question. Not only were they intentionally exploiting the game, they basically outright ignored the GM’s demands and harassed and spammed public chat. The fact that, for whatever reason, the GM couldn’t/didn’t start laying out bans is a pretty damn concrete example of the powers that be pandering to asshats.

    I expect someone overrode the GM on the issue, not wanting to piss of the largest alliance – or perhaps wanting to make sure it could get another leg up.

  172. Nero says:

    @ Wendelius

    That is an excellent example of what asshats will do when left to their own devices. All mmo’s face this problem though. Eve had lag ambushes and Wow has pvp baiting just to name a few examples. It would be funny if they rolled back these players skills after they patch the problem.

  173. Owain says:

    Raelyf :

    Owain :I’d heard of earthquake for rigor, but hadn’t made use of it myself. I figured it was no different than casting fire field or any other direct damage spell on yourself in UO to raise the Resist Magic spell. It’s an oversight that will be corrected, no doubt, with the next patch.

    >

    It’s already corrected. Here are the latest patch notes. http://forums.darkfallonline.com/showthread.php?p=3386715#post3386715
    It’s a minor one line entry in 7 pages of update notes.

    Perhaps it will be corrected, but will the guilds who exploited this have their characters rolled back? Clearly, this isn’t the only exploit which will have set a certain subset of players leaps and bounds ahead of the others – and that, to me, is a huge problem.

    In one month, no one will now the difference. Rolling things back would probably create more problems than they solved.

    In my opinion, everyone involved here who didn’t break off and leave should have had their accounts banned without question. Not only were they intentionally exploiting the game, they basically outright ignored the GM’s demands and harassed and spammed public chat. The fact that, for whatever reason, the GM couldn’t/didn’t start laying out bans is a pretty damn concrete example of the powers that be pandering to asshats.

    Perhaps. Since they didn’t, I think this reflects the assessment that the problem is not that significant. Summary executions for jaywalking, so to speak.

    I expect someone overrode the GM on the issue, not wanting to piss of the largest alliance – or perhaps wanting to make sure it could get another leg up.

    Check the fit on your tin-foil hat. I think it might be restricting blood flow.

  174. […] if you base MMO popularity solely off the length of Broken Toys comments thread, Darkfall is the most popular MMO of ALL TIME. So, there you […]

  175. Vetarnias says:

    @Wendelius
    It’s a very good example of the Darkfall “community” and how they act, and I hope the Mortal Online guys are rightly getting worried that their game is where this rabble will be headed next. It doesn’t have the luxury, like, say, Conan had (and which saw its share of that same demographic when it launched), of PvE servers where those who bow before such hardcore maturity can be invited to go instead.

    And some guy on the MO forums was writing a while ago that the community looked much better there… Enjoy it while it lasts.

  176. Owain says:

    It’s an example of the MMO community. Be honest.

    I’ve seen this kind of stuff in every MMO I’ve ever been in. Boys will be boys.

  177. Gx1080 says:

    Amen. But lets face it, theres need to be a way to stop macroers without having to ban them. Jeez, just a simple check of the spells/skills/whatever actually doing something to somebody its that hard to code???. Ive said before and i say it again: without a check system its just macro land.

    Who’s ruling the game anyways? If a show of asshatery like that its allowed to win, well the GMs in there are weak.

    Ive said that Tasos and Co. are a bunch of guys that talk a lot but they are being manhandled to their players.

    I was wrong. I couldnt expect that a bunch of first timers behave better that that. Lets see an example in another PvP game: EVE Online. The GMs in there TODAY are cold, proffesionals, fair and merciless. They are that TODAY (im resalting that for disallowing whines of the past).

    But heaven knows that those qualities were forged with experience and pain (i mean they live with a outpost of Something Awful) and they learned the consequences of the lack of said qualities the hard way **cough*t20*cough**. Its my impression for their handling of the recent major crisis.

    It its fair to expect Adventurine to act like them today? No. But i wonder, will DarkFall live enough to they can learn those skills? I dont know.

    BTW, a free tip: The fix for macroers is in the C compiler, not in the BanHammer.

  178. Gx1080 says:

    For the unlearned: The outpost of Something Awful its called GoonSwarm.

  179. Vetarnias says:

    @Owain
    True, but in this case the boys happen to be in “the biggest alliance in the game”. What happens when your guild city gets wiped out by “the biggest alliance in the game” precisely because they used such tactics while they could and you didn’t?

    Based on what I am reading here, it’s not some minor renegade guild that is doing it, it’s the major guys, and based on experience those guys are so competitive that if one side starts doing it, all the others will. Those who won’t will simply be left behind.

    It’s an instance of the one rotten apple spoiling the entire barrel. The only people to remain competitive will be those who have used such tricks; the others will have fallen by the wayside. And then what?

    And the pattern of pretending it’s not an exploit, even after being informed by a GM that it is one, and then boldly assert that “we’ll keep on doing it right until the patch comes in, so there”… I’ve seen that before: Pirates of the Burning Sea, Blackbeard server, February 2008. The British nation on the server was notorious for all the underhanded tricks it used, while being demographically dominant, and seemed to have dedicated its entire efforts to pissing off the French, the smallest or second smallest nation.

    At the time, you could push an entirely peaceful town (zero unrest points) to a port battle (10,000 unrest points) just by dropping unrest supplies at the rebel agent in the town. (And the port battle itself took place x hours later, always beginning on the hour.) Normally, the cutoff was at 5,000 points, when the red circle appeared; after that, the rebel agent stopped accepting supplies, and you had to grind the remaining 5,000 points on the open sea, where players of the defending faction could show up and attack you. The problem was that it took a few seconds for the game to check when to turn off the rebel agent’s demand. So what the British did was gather all their numbers at the port they wanted to attack, and turn in their supplies simultaneously before the game checked whether to turn off the rebel agent. So the port went from zero to 10,000 instantaneously without having to grind on the open sea for the 5,000-to-10,000 part.

    I remember that the Blackbeard British didn’t invent the trend, as the Spanish on another server had done it before, but the Brits turned it into an art form. Then there was a case, after the developers had acknowledged that it was contrary to intended game mechanics (without, however, calling it an exploit) with a patch on the way to solve it, where the British attacked three French ports at once using that “ecobomb” technique, which meant three simultaneous port battles. How many battles could the French fight, given their population? One. Which the British knew all too well. France won the one port battle it showed up for, and lost the other two by default.

    Finally, the developers acknowledge it’s an exploit, and say they’re working on it. As for the ports France lost as a result? Oh, but the port battles were won honestly, so we won’t do a rollback, nor will we do a full map reset. It’s all right here: http://www.burningsea.com/forums/showthread.php?p=161224 . Never mind that the ports were lost because there were three battles at once, which was a direct result of the exploit, the port battle results were entirely legitimate in themselves, and therefore we couldn’t dispute them. (I always compare this to calling an election legitimate because the ballot boxes weren’t tampered with, never mind one candidate’s thugs guarding the entrance to the polling station with baseball bats.)

    Then the natural thing happened. Why should anyone want to win a map that automatically resets, with only marginal rewards, when your sole purpose is to grief? So the French (those who didn’t leave after the developers’ disappointing response, that is) just told the British, take your damn map win, we’ll go after the Spanish instead. And the British, needless to say, dragged their feet for as long as they could, and at one point there were even rumours of extortion. They didn’t want to play the game as intended; they just wanted to grief the French.

    So you see, you don’t need a server full of exploiting pricks to wreck a game. You just need a server where the exploiting pricks are organized and provided with the opportunity to do so. That is what happened with PotBS on the Blackbeard server; it took months for France to recover, long after the original faction had more or less quit the game or transferred to the Rackham server after the April mergers (followed, the next day, by the British exploiters) even though Blackbeard was one of the four servers to survive. And this probably will happen in Darkfall if this particular alliance comes to dominate the game, not to mention that there seems to be the same developer ambivalence towards the course of action to be taken.

  180. Vetarnias says:

    And if I may add, regarding the PotBS exploit I mentioned in my previous post: There had even been a developer log entry that had been posted almost a week before that forum thread: http://www.burningsea.com/page/news/article&article_id=10638 . While it avoided the word “exploit”, it clearly made known that it was not to be regarded as not intended by the gaming mechanics: “The problem is that we clearly never intended for players to be able to take a port from 0 to 5k or even 10k unrest instantly. While were biased towards attackers (we like PvP!) this goes well beyond bias and into the realm of insanity. Defenders should be able to draw a line in the sand, declare a port off-limits, and enforce that with doubloons. Thats not currently possible. Worst of all, this tactic can be used on new player ports just as easily as on ports in the Antilles. New player ports are intended to be harder to attack, and this process circumvents all the tuning we did to make that the case.”

    So clearly, things were not meant to happen that way, but they did. And I realized I made a small mistake in my previous post: the game checked at the time of taking the unrest-supplies mission, which was even simpler to coordinate as long as people didn’t complete them, which they finally did together, hence the “ecobomb” exploit.

    Also, one of the three ports mentioned in my previous post was in fact a newbie port, the only one which the French defended. But the key point of the devlog entry is that, incomprehensibly, it gave extensive details of what the exploit was and how it was done, even though it had been practically verboten for players to post any information about it on the game forums, on the grounds that it would urge people to use it. With the devlog, anyone who didn’t know about it by then now knew exactly what they needed to do. Since that came out on a Tuesday with the patch next Monday, they had another week to do it! And since the word “exploit” wasn’t used, the less scrupulous players could raise points of semantics until then.

    Why am I mentioning this example? Because I saw it first-hand. Because it occurred early in the history of the game, and had long-lasting repercussions. Because I think it’s a clear example of failure in the face of exploiting at all levels, and I believe it deserves to be studied. Developer failure to make the game mechanics exploit-proof. Developer failure in the initial treatment of the problem, still marked by ambivalence (i.e., publishing a devlog entry detailing the problem before it was solved, while refusing to explicitly call it an exploit). Developer failure to act accordingly at a later stage, by refusing to act upon the exploiting done between the devlog entry and the patch (such as those three ports flipped at once), demonstrated by the refusal to reset the map on the one server clearly affected by this.

    And I could mention failure at a later stage, when it led (directly or indirectly) to a desire to otherwise encourage the creation of red circles, so the developers came up with the idea to turn off the decay of unrest points. That way, you could start a red circle, leave it there, and continue grinding later on to bring it to a port battle — if you could risk the enemy countergrinding in the circle to bring unrest down; unrest just wouldn’t decay on its own.

    But there were two problems with that. First, the only way for the defender to reduce unrest was to attack NPC ships (or players) of the attacking nation. So that would mean: If the British put a red circle around New Orleans, the only way for the French to bring the unrest down (and get rid of the red circle) would be to attack British NPC ships or British players. But what NPC ships did you get in greater numbers near a French port? What a surprise, French ships. British ships were a rarity, which meant the defender couldn’t effectively countergrind. So in many cases, with the defenders lacking the means to reduce unrest, the circles wouldn’t vanish until the conclusion of a port battle.

    But then again, and this was problem #2, like those Blackbeard British who made no effort to win the map once they got to sit on every French (and Spanish) port of importance, what would be the incentive for an attacker in search of griefing (and nothing else) to hurry in bringing the unrest up to 10,000 (and a port battle), when you could just leave the circle there as a quasi-permanent PvP zone? So that’s what happened. Zones were put up, with no intent to ever bring the town to a port battle. Pirates (almost a ganker class in the way their RvR was designed to be meaningless) did the rest. What prevented the entire map from turning red was, if I remember, that only a certain number of ports from each nation could be put in the red simultaneously.

    Unrest decay, the turning off of which some people had warned against, was soon put back into the game.

    Ganking was another problem in the game, and the developers, as I mentioned above, once said in a devlog that they would make ganking go away. As an open-sea instance was limited to 6 players on each side, it was usually a 6-on-1 or something of that sort, and methods were used to make the attacker believe that there was only one ship. So a player would enter a fight thinking it would be a challenging 1v1 battle, only to realize after entering the instance that the opponent’s five buddies had been waiting in the closest port, ready to join the battle at any moment. This was a typical PotBS gank, and some players prided themselves on it. So the developers came up with the idea of allowing the defenders to have up to 9 ships enter the battle in progress as opposed to the maximum 6 for the attackers. It became known as the “Supergank”. Same tactics as before, but with more gankers. The attacking group of, say, 3 ships, would attack a defending group of 4, and then 5 buddies of the defenders would jump in from the closest port. I was not playing at that time, but I heard that a climate of sheer terror swept through the Burning Sea, with everyone afraid of attacking everyone else out of fear that it would turn into a 6v9.

    Nobody asked for a 6v9 system because it was all too predictable, and everybody objected when it was first suggested. They brought it in anyway, until the next build, when they realized that their players had been right after all and pulled it out.

    That’s the problem many fear with Darkfall: Bad design decisions with players ready to take advantage of them. But the difference between PotBS and Darkfall is that at no instant, not even during “No Crying in the Red Circle”‘s heyday, did FLS hide behind a mask of arrogance and hostility as Aventurine seems to be doing.

    That’s why, despite all the awkward design decisions (and even the developers’ withdrawing from their own forums), I still care for Pirates of the Burning Sea, whereas many people here, myself included, are just indulging in schadenfreude about Darkfall.

  181. Owain says:

    It wasn’t just the one big guild doing it. The alliance the KGB was in was doing it as well, as were many KGB members. As I said, our initial take on it was that it was like casting a fire field, or a poison field in Ultima Online, and then running through the field to build the Resist skill. Initially, there wasn’t any guidance from the GMs or the devs that the practice was considered an exploit. Gamers are inventive, and I don’t think the devs were even aware that that this game behavior existed.

    I didn’t do it myself, because I didn’t have the 750 sulpher required to buy in, nor the gold to acquire the sulpher, but if I had had either, I would have been in the middle of the rigor pyramid as well. As it was, from what I’ve heard, the devs announced that it was an exploit one day, and within only a day or so, the problem was fixed. As I mentioned, it was a one line fix out of 7 pages of changes listed in the most recent update noted.

    If the near riot that was reported earlier is anywhere near true (don’t know, didn’t see it), yeah, that was poor form. Game impact, I think is negligible. Yes, some of my KGB mates have rigor attributes that are higer than mine. Do I see a big difference in performance between their characters and mine? Not really. It was a problem, it was caught, it was quickly fixed. I think the dev’s did a good job once they were aware of the issue.

    Another thing that the latest update did was speed up the rate of skill gain, so I suspect my rigor values will catch up to those who spent thousands of gold on sulpher, so in a way, I came out with the better part of the bargain. It will take a little longer, but I will catch up, and I didn’t have to waste a pile of gold in the process.

  182. Vetarnias says:

    Speaking of exploits:

    Even the Bermuda Triangle wasn’t that effective.

    And we need THIS week’s Darkfall post….

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