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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

The Sun Sets on Cheyenne Mountain, The Stargate has Closed.

Posted by Inktomi Monday March 29 2010 at 11:08PM
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This is my least favorite type of blog to write. But as my title says, I must remain true to my cause.

I noticed from an article posted past thursday and followed it to the official Cheyenne Mountain website. Where I read an open letter to shareholders the details of the Cheyenne Mountain bankruptcy. They have gone into "recievership", which is -

"A Receiver is a court appointed person responsible for custodial control over the property of others which can include tangible and intangible assets and rights. In this particular instance, the Receiver, who is an officer of the court, has been appointed (as quoted from the court order) “as “receiver to take over the assets, affairs, management, operation and control of CMG and CME?”

This basically means that all assets of CMG and CME will or have been sold off and proceeds will be given to the reciever who will give it to whoever is contracted as an investor in CMG that needs to be reimbursed.

This contains the shooter they recently released, Stargate Resistance, will be owned and operated by a group of investors called "Fresh Start Studios." When a company goes 'rupt, as we call it down at WS they sell everything down to chairs, desks and paperclips. Don't believe me? Well someone bought the Enron 'E' from an auction for $44,000.00

Do I know what happened internally? No, nor do I want to comment. Some businesses fail because of internal conflict, lack of support, faulty product...etc. etc. The list goes on. But I will tell you that some of the rumors about the employees not getting paid ring true. Check this out: 

  • Cash funds on deposit in known bank accounts controlled by the company are less than $10,000.
  • Unpaid past due general creditor obligations of approximately $2.0 million may exist. There could be more.
  • CME or CMG is named in 5 complaints with estimated potential liability of approximately $10.1 million which includes a disputed landlord claim on space that was never occupied or utilized.
  • Payroll wages of over $1.1 million dating back to March of 2009 remain unpaid.
  • Federal and State payroll tax obligations of $3.0 million have not been paid.
  • An Arizona state tax credit for 2009 that may net $3 million in funds to CMG has been applied for which could be used to cover some or all of the unpaid payroll tax obligations. It has been represented by the CPA firm handling this matter that it could take up to 60 days to realize that credit.
For now, understand that the Stargate World MMO is finished. What will survive is the Stargate Resistance  FPS for as long as Fresh Start Studios can keep it running. 
 
I was excited about this game and the possibility of a fresh new MMO coming to market with a strong IP. The Stargate IP had a lot of followers and would have had a good turnout. The company had continued to be hit with setbacks that it couldn't recover from, it happens in the corporate world sometimes. From running low on oil and Dan Ellgren leaving not before telling the interwebs through his blog, CMG has had it rough.
 
Cheyenne Mountain, I tip my hat to you as you go. Good luck to all involved.
 
Play safe,
Inktomi

The Official Secret World Trailer Screenshots.

Posted by Inktomi Thursday March 25 2010 at 2:17PM
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You can go here to view the trailer at gametrailer(dot)com. But for you who can't,I took some screenshots of the preview of Funcoms new upcoming game from GDC 2010. This is the real trailer that runs about 1:32, not the 40 second teaser from tuesday.

Enjoy

From what I gather from the video, the cutscenes and environment is really nice. But the character designs look a touch awkward. No big deal. Understand the the game isn't even been internally tested yet. And as the industry says it hasn't even entered Alpha stage yet. This means its far from finished, far from ready and we have just been given a "taste" of something different.

I think that this is part of the coming changes that the mmo public has been asking for.

I feel that the game has so much potential. It has some of the great lore and settings that has captivated horror and suspense audiences for a very long time. Funcom might have a tattered lineage due to the state of the Age of Conan saga. But they are not rookies at this, they have good talent at their disposal and a lot of experience under their belt.

I am waiting patiently for the beta for this game,  I will just have to play EVE. What's a guy to do.

Until then...

Play safe,

Inktomi

New Screenshots and Video of The Secret World Revealed!

Posted by Inktomi Tuesday March 23 2010 at 9:09AM
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Morning =)

First off get off of my blog and head over to: The Crygaia Network NOW! There is new teaser video up.

What are you still doing here? Well, if you are determined to stay then look at some of these new ingame footage screenshots.

Bonus: according to darkdaysarecoming  there will be exclusive footage of the world premiere full ingame trailer at gametrailers.com on March 25th. Mark your calender (again).

I'm sure it will be here also, but this is from the official Funcom website.

1

If you are really interested, there is some video posted at the site linked above that you might want to see.

I cannot wait for this game to come out! I think this is...The One.

Jack Emmert of Cryptic Studios gets honest with The Big Freaks.

Posted by Inktomi Sunday March 21 2010 at 11:49PM
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emmert My friends Ivan and Shamrokk over at The Big Freaking Podcast had a chance to sit down with Jack Emmert, Chief Operating Officer of Cryptic Studios. Cryptic has released two big AAA titles within 6 months of each other: Champions Online and Star Trek Online. He is proud to say that Cryptic is the only developer to release four MMORPG’s in its game developing lifetime. Counting City of Heroes, City of Villains’, Champions Online and most recently Star Trek Online, not many studios come close.

Jack Emmert, an avid comic book fan who reads over 90 titles monthly, says his favorites are The Green Lantern and The Hulk. He holds multiple academic degrees and was approached to do City of Heroes while he was working on his dissertation about animal sacrifices. He left a possible career of being a professor of Greek and Latin to create Cryptic Studios with Rick Dakin in 2000. While he reminiscing about the lean years during the parting of ways from NCSoft he says, “He never got misty eyed” over selling The City of Heroes/Villians franchise but thought they would be working on for the next decade. He claims that Cryptic and NCSoft had “divergent interests” and after rescuing the company from the brink of financial apocalypse they acquire the Star Trek IP along with the Champions IP (Intellectual Property, the right to an idea.)

cryptic

It sounds like Jack Emmert has been through hell and back with Cryptic. He's passionate about his products and like everyone who creates a product for a particular market he has to deal with the critics. The mention of the different ratings systems and the mediocre scores would seem to have an impact on future customers for both games. But as Jack Emmert explains how the ratings system itself is quite imbalanced. When websites like Metacritic, Massively and Gamespot reviewed Warhammer Online and Age of Conan they didn’t expect the player sudden player drop off. Leaving many of the reviewers burned [sic] by loss of credibility.

Jack Emmert says it isn’t the reviewers or the fans that are ruining the MMORPG industry, “Wow has almost destroyed the MMO genre” he says. “Not in a bad way”, he follows, it’s because (wow) epitomizes everything that an MMO is, leaving all the others to be compared to it. This is why many reviewers judge a game on what it is NOW instead of what it COULD BE. But he also feels that it will take a lot of money and a strong IP to rival the World of Warcraft. After spending over 100 million dollars he feels that Bioware’s upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic could be the game to rival WoW.

43188_StarTrekOnlineNX-91001_normal

The future plan for Cryptic Studios looks very promising. Jack Emmert seemed very positive about the new upcoming updates for both games, Star Trek Online’s Season 2 and Revelations for Champions Online. An entire survey of the taken by the Star Trek Online community is going to be created into the next expansion called Season 2. “What the players want is exactly what we’re going to give them”, Jack says with authority. When posted a question of a death penalty or lack thereof, he admits that the community has strongly requested it and it will be in an upcoming patch. “What is fun about a death penalty” he jokes but then tells us a deep, dark developer secret that the only reason why a death penalty is incorporated into a game is to get the player to play longer.

There is one thing to be wrong, but not to stay wrong. At certain  times during the interview Mr. Emmert admits to certain points where bothchampion Champions Online and Star Trek Online they could be improved. He is looking to improve the company overall and make better product for the public. But the problem is a logistical issue of manpower, he doesn’t want to be detract from the developer team that is making new content to go back and fix certain issues. Problems ranging typos to quests that don’t tell the player where to go and ultimately description of powers and items that don’t make any sense, it will take manpower to make these changes.

Their latest campaign is to actively reach out to the community and the press to find their place amongst this universe of games. One of the many steps they are taking is something they practiced during their days as developers of City of Heroes/Villains’, they did this from taking a page from Richard Garriot’s book. By creating characters and actively getting involved with the players firsthand they get to see the game through the gamer’s eyes instead of a developer. In doing this they are looking to bridge the gap between gamer and developer.

broperEnter Bill Roper, the good cop to Jacks bad cop. As Shannon Posniewski ascends from the position of a software engineer to an executive role, this frees up Bill Roper to be the one who is going to oversee all games. One of Bill Ropers new roles as troubleshooter is going to be “making sure he play tests all of the taskforces in Star Trek.” Jack abruptly ends this subject with, “there is a little bit more going on than everybody knows yet.” Hmm, could there be a big surprise coming from Cryptic this year at E3!

Could it be Jack Emmert’s dream project of making a Godzilla MMO? Nah, never happen and I’m not one to speculate but one thing is confirmed that it will not be made for any consoles. “Consoles are not a current focus” he confides to the surprise of both Ivan and Shamrokk, he says he’s looking to “make the best PC products they possibly can.”

I will stop here; I don’t want to give everything away, but this was one of the most in-depth, personal and honest interviews I have ever had to chance to hear. This is a man that has made some tough decisions, choosing on becoming a video game developer than a college professor. During many sleepless nights he held up this company with the help of his staff. His employees look to him and put their trust in him not just as their boss, but as a leader.

Jack Emmert and Cryptic Studios are resilient, they have bounced back from numerous setbacks. The selling of a successful MMO franchise to release other successful MMO’s and in dealing with bad press they learn from their mistakes and keep the future in focus. According to Jack, 100,000 subscriptions is a success and their mission is to keep that level of quality. This builds confidence in their customer base and opens the door for future business.

But his main focus is on his employees that depend on him and his customers that look to Cryptic Studios to have fun by playing their games. That is the bottom line over at Cryptic Studios; they are just looking to make fun games, at the end of the day Cryptic is just a bunch of gamers. To hear the rest of the interview and catch up on past shows head on over to The Big Freaking Podcast, download and enjoy!

Until then…

Play safe,

Frank Inktomi

The Secret World @ GDC 2010. Official Reveal Date Announced!

Posted by Inktomi Friday March 12 2010 at 12:17AM
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 Don't get too excited. Seems that there is an information embargo placed upon the press by Funcom. Below  was posted by Erling Ellingsen, Director of Communication for Funcom yesterday. It seems that D-day for some of the material viewed by the press will be released on March 23rd. You can also read his original post below at the Official TSW forums

T-Minus 12 days and counting...


Hi, guys -

I understand many of you are eagerly awaiting information and assets coming out of GDC, and it's probably challenging trying to be patient during this time!

Right now I'm sitting in on one of the presentations we're doing here, but I have a few minutes to spare, so please allow me to take this opporunity to inform you guys about what we're doing at GDC and what you can expect coming out of the show.

Right now we are inviting press to exclusive presentations here in San Francisco, and we're showing them roughly 15 minutes of actual gameplay. That's all in-game footage, so it's an exciting time for us. The journalists are taken through some of the core features of the game, and they get to ask Ragnar Tørnquist and Martin Bruusgaard questions afterwards.

Just as we stated before the show, what we're doing is showing this to the press first before releasing the information and assets to the public after GDC. This is a strategic decision as we want to give all journalists the opportunity to release their coverage at the same time, and we want to give them enough time to prepare that coverage. This is a common publicity strategy, especially for games that are this early in the 'PR phase'. If not, the journalists who were lucky to be here first would have a headstart over the other journalists, which could severely lessen the impact of our reveal.

The embargo date for the press is 23rd of March. That's when they are allowed to report from the presentations and publish the assets. You should also note that there will be a staggered release of assets, meaning some assets will be made available on the 23rd, while other assets will be made available a few days after that.

The journalists will be free to write about anything from the presentations. They will also be provided with new screenshots and artworks. We will also make video material available, but this will differ from the material that the journalists got to see. The reason for that is simply that the material shown to the press may not be suitable for public consumption, as the video works best in a presentation setting and not necessarily as a downloadable video without that same context. It works in this setting, where we're showing it on a monitor with Ragnar standing in front of it describing what they're seeing. Just putting that out, in an unedited form, would most likely have a negative impact on our reveal. Sure, lots of the material we're showing to the press will also be made public, but it will be edited into - as we said before the show - a different shape and form. As I'm sure you understand, when we are now finally putting out the very first in-game footage, we want it to be perfect and we want it to shine!

We're all extremely excited about this reveal, and as I said to Ragnar yesterday, it's really difficult to wait until March 23rd before we can read about what the press thinks of what they got to see. Not to mention your reactions here on the forums!

But we will all just have to be patient. I hope you will find it worth the wait!

Best regards,
Erling Ellingsen
Director of Communications
Funcom
 


I'm sure everyone has been anticipating this game, I know I have. I will be posting any information I hear; but I feel that our man-at-large Jon Wood will have that covered. Hey Jon, are your socks still on or did Funcom knock them off?

Play safe,

Inktomi

Being Part of the Big Freakin' Family.

Posted by Inktomi Wednesday March 10 2010 at 3:59PM
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I just wanted to fire off a quick post before I head to the dreaded BIO(LOL)OGY Lab tonight. This class is the current bane of my existance. Anywho, if some of you might of missed or not cared enough I was recently a guest on The Big Freakin' Podcast. This is a Podcast run by my friend Ivan, former blogger of "My 2 Coppers Worth" and his good buddy shamrokk. We talk primarily about PC gaming, piracy (arggg) and the effect of DRM has on us poor PC gamers who don't wanna steal, just wanna get it for free!

As the story goes, we all got along pretty well and the cast was a success. Ivan has invited me to write on his website and appear on his podcast from time to time. This does not mean I am not going to write here. I love being part of the community on MMORPG.com

Writing over at The 'Freaks will give me a wider scope of topics. Being just a "MMORPG" focused website I'll be darned if the forum police will catch me writing something off topic. So if I want to rate a Single player RPG I can, if I want to rant about big corporation politics, I can as well. I am still going to give you the lowdown on all the MMO MONEY that is moving around the industry. Plus those guys are hysterical, I had an awesome time in making the show.

Some stuff I will mirror over here, some stuff will be exclusive for MMORPG and vice versa, I want everyone to check out The Big Freakin' Podcast. It is an honest, refreshing look at all sides of gaming. Whether it be console games, PC games, brand new stuff and old icons, they cover it all and have a great time doing it.

I am really excited about joining the "Big Freakin' Family", make sure to tune in check it out. Be ready to have a great time, they are two wild and crazy guys!

Play safe,

inktomi

 

Delving into Darkfall: My review and post newbshell blues.

Posted by Inktomi Monday March 8 2010 at 11:15AM
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"You observe that world after world, cave after cave , what prevails is the same agon, the same digital logic of one versus the other, ending in victory or defeat. Agony rules!" - from Gamer Theory, Mckenzie Wark.

Thank you for reminding me Ataaka, I needed to follow up my previous article about Darkfall. But the glitter is still there, I still think that DFO is one of the most ambitious MMORPGS running right now and will be for awhile. 

I was doing some more research on the game before I went shooting my mouth off and come off half-cocked. What I distilled from all the posts that I read is that its not the fact of grinding that people are upset about, its the way you have to grind. It seems that writing a macro and letting your character repeat a function while you are (insert activity here) as you raise your intended skill. I don't see myself doing it, ever; its just not my style of gaming. I am a hands on type of guy.

Although, most of the time spent I had been mining and woodchucking, all the while being alt-tabbed out playing my newest time-waster: Elements. That was all fine and dandy for a few hours, but it didn't cut it after my 2 minute warning on my newbshell. I was ganked right away after it fell, quickly pulling out my paranoia tactics and made me pay more attention to what I was doing.

The game FORCED me to pay more attention to what I was doing! Of all the nerve, how dare they! Don't they know I am a multi-tasking genius? I can write an article, read a post, listen to iTunes, talk to my (ex-)girlfriend on the phone and mine at the same time. Well, not here, not now, not in Agon. Darkfall is the classic case of when you snooze, you lose.

But not everyone is a cold-blooded killer type who is going to rape your bag of goodies for its wopping 45 iron ore, shortbow and pigsticker. I came across one who did sneak up on me while I was playing mana-missle dodgeball with some skeletons. He ran me down and killed me, then he rezzed me, traded me all this low-end loot and scooted away before I had a chance to thank him. When asking in chat who he was, he had a good rep, people knew of him and had good things to say. Very surprising for an Orc. Grisk Grelon, hats off to you.

But not everyone is as cool as Grisk. I was promptly stomped 3 other times after that and managed to scoot away from two other people. Using smart geographical plays of  jumping into a river and swimming with the current saved me some pain, but I will not always be so lucky.

Ok, now lets get to talk about real Darkfall: I really hate to be the one to tell you but Darkfall is going to force you to use your noodle even more than average. With my experience with the DPS police of World of Wacraft, people who have every shot of a hunter down to a science when dps is integral of killing beefy bosses for purple colored objects. Thats not the case in Agon, all loot is pretty much created equal and its not the driving force of the progression factor.

This is a skill based game, I just don't mean the category of skills you have listed. It means "how you play the game", skills might be one thing, but reaction time with the crosshairs in a twitch-based game is another. While equipment does play a factor this was posted in an interesting thread here: "Importance of damage output is :skill mastery > weapon rank > resistance on armor > twitch skill > stat" - DarthRaiden

I was in class saturday morning pondering Darkfall. Before the teacher started the class, I jotted down some of my own notes: "Darkfall is generational. Each league or influx of new players serve a purpose for making headway for the rest. As time goes on older players find new interests, new games, or lose the time and ability to play. While new players serve as cannon fodder for the more experienced ones, a new(er) generation comes along to serve as a scratching post for the previous pioneers. The newest generation of players, including myself recieve the punishment for the previous generations growing pains."

This isn't a new theory, its part of the progression factor of all games. Heck, its actually part of real life psychology. And thats exactly what we have here, a game with growing pains. Darkfall and Aventurine are only in the second inning of a nine inning game.

Wiki and 3rd part websites: Yes, but the wiki isn't totally as polished and extensive as I've seen for other games. There is many fan made websites dedicated to Darkfall and a wealth of information to be found. For maps a good website with a political map is and the Newborn site has a great listing for crafting and spell requirements. There are some good guides out there with so much info for someone just starting out. 

A+

The graphics:  The overall scenery is a nice dark artstyle, giving it an impression of primitive life. Thats the impression that I get about life on Agon: very primitive. Character detail, another story. Not anything I could really rant or complain about. The (lack of) detail serves a purpose for the developers to create a nifty single shard server.Its a necessary evil in my opinion. I am a big fan of single shard related games such as EVE and Darkfall. I've never been a big graphics whore, rather just have fun or die trying.

B+

The customer service: I was impressed when someone emailed me back after i sent in a ticket at 10pm EST on a sunday night. I possibly must have hit someones Blackberry or iPhone, but an answer was returned to me promptly. I have sent in tickets to other companies and never even got a response. Good job Aventurine.

A+

The UI: After some heavy rework and adaptation I got used to it. I previously called it clunky, but in fact its completely customizable, down to opacity of windows. Although chat is somewhat hard to get used to as local and trade is separated from racial. It just means I have to move some more windows around and pay more attention, I just don't want to have my screen too cluttered. I have got to watch my back. I did find myself having to do a lot of different buttons combinations to keep a fast flow during battles. Switching between my Greataxe to staff so I could heal on the run was an interesting challenge. But I was able to manage to get the hang of it after awhile, after a long while.

Your journal: is a browser and a one stop shop of useful information. That took some time to get used to but it frees up some keys to use for other stuff. I did like the fact I could autowalk and browse my quest options while I keep an eye out for nasties. The UI is unique and has tons of potential for becoming a social tool. CCP is trying to implement that into their browser that now runs off of Google Chrome. That is something for Aventurine to look into so i can twitter that I got ganked.

B

I saw that when I logged in and LOL'd.

Ingame Economy: Game economics is my field of study and the focus of my blog. This was also my biggest complaint I have with DF. The fact that there is no AH, no central way of trading goods other than posting in the trade channel was disappointing. Take into consideration that you can be ganked on the way to a trade or even after you trade with someone adds even more of a level of difficulty to the game. Not that I am complaining or saying "Hard MMO is Hard", its just a barrier of progression is what I see.

Making money in DF seems as though its an aftertought for Aventurine. They advertise having a player driven economy and thats EXACTLY what it is. But the most important thing in an economy is having a central trading hub in order to do business safely. I feel that in progressive MMO's if you make money faster on the outset, the easier it becomes to start acquiring the right skills and leveling them up faster. That is what I was trying to do from the start, its just taking longer than expected. 

I had been lucky with the steedgrass and was looking for ways of selling it. After advertising it, it occured to me that I would have to walk quite a distance naked into an unknown territory, find a bank and then do a trade. It seemed very unsafe and I chose to keep them. Now I just have to raise enough money to buy mount training and a damn whistle. I'll get there, all it takes is some dedication and smart play to make money in DF.

What this game does need is a website that is dedicated to listing realtime prices of goods spanning all of Agon. Asking PC (pricecheck) in trade can get annoying quickly not just to you, but everyone else. They might of done this to give it a more realistic feel, but I just ran up the sheer side of a mountain. Come on guys! 

C+

PVE: There is quests available and the ability to travel to other begginner areas and do the starter quests for those areas. I'm not sure if the abundance of quests holds up over time into higher end areas. There are enough mobs around to grind on and level skills, albeit its a slow process but there isn't ever a lack of something to do in Darkfall. Thats a good sign for people like myself that aren't ready to be competitive in PVP. But if you are not ready to fight a certain mob, you know it right away. I was having a horrible time with a pair of Kobold Shaman, they kept running away and healing themselves. Nice AI, Aventurine. 

A+

PVP: As I said before, Darkfall is generational and there will always be gaps in generations. Right now, I might not be able to be anything else in PVP except a skillup for someone else. Haven't had much ability to pvp other than getting run down by serial gankers except I did manage to hit one with an arrow before death. I didn't even put a dent into him. I picture PVP as me at level one trying to fight elites in Wow. What's even scarier is that those elites come looking for you! Muahahaaaaaa....

A+

Community: I chose dwarf, which according to some websites statistics is the total minority of all the races. I don't know why, I just wanted to try something new, I never played a dwarf before. I was always some half-human hairy creature or a human. The starter city is quiet but the chat isn't. I had some actual fun conversations with the locals and never had a problem getting some random newbie question answered. Newest data says there is 4,865 active members on NA1, seems like a lot more sometimes even thought the area population doesn't reflect it, there is always activity.

       The overall vibe is "we are all in this mess together" and the comraderie is free and easy, I hope this carries over to through out the game. This is exeperience from new player status and I am sure it gets messy as you go higher into the PVP ranks to nasty pointing fingers and calling names. I could be wrong, but its what I experience from other endgame-esque crowds. I know that other folks have complained about chat, but I survived the Barrens and Valkrum Dunes chat so there isn't anything I can't handle. We are all adults here in my eyes, if you are 12 playing Darkfall then you must have cool parents and they don't care if you see some dirty words now and then. But when it gets really stupid, I just turn it off, no biggie.

A+

Affordability and Pricing: I did some simple math on the affordability of DFO. The new birthday offer they have runs $59.99, which seems as a big investment up front. Not a bankbreaker considering most new games (Final Fantasy XIII) are running about thsame with limited replay value. You do get the initial 30 days free gametime (I made a point of clarifying that) and 3 months more following before the the traditional $15 monthly fee kicks in. So I look at it as I'm paying $15.00 over the span of 4 months to pay DF. 

A+

Taking a longer term outlook at the pricing, I will be paying less than $4 a week for Darkfall if I stay on the $15 sub plan. I can take that lower if I invest more money up front, but I do like to pace myself and leave room for change. Hey, you never know when you want to switch games or try something new.

Here is how it looks on paper:

Darkfall client: $59.99

Monthly fee: $15.00

Average weekly cost over the course of one year playing Darkfall: $3.39

The ability to finally melt someones face after skilling up without macros for a year: Priceless.

When looking at Darkfall you need to take a long term approach. I will quote something written in Alliance spam: "You just can't play DF, you have to get into it." That sums up more overall view of Darkfall Online. 

I will quote Paragus Rant, "The nature of the game is such that you will either love it or absolutely hate it depending on your playstyle." Which is the absolute truth on this game.

The Bottom Line: With Darkfall's newest sale that Aventurine is offering along with the implementation of a $1 trial this is the ABSOLUTE BEST TIME to try Darkfall.  I also give it an 'A -'; its totally worth the money. Unless you get really attached to your virtual stuff and get mad when you die. Because your character will die in Darkfall, not a question of "If", more of a question of "when".

Final Grade: A-

I play as Yarr Bluebeard the dwarf. Hit me up ingame anytime after 9pm EST.

Play safe,

Frank Inktomi

 

Delving into Darkfall: My First Impression.

Posted by Inktomi Monday March 1 2010 at 5:58AM
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I did it, I finally did it. 

After much deliberation over the months that the Darkfall saga has been unfolding. I have watched Youtube videos, live streaming gaming and read countless threads. I finally took the plunge and logged into Darkfall tonight.

I watched a few fellow bloggers take the deep dark road into Darkfall Online. Almost all of them came back satisfied. Why did I wait? I simply was leery because of the venomous reputation the game had and the fact it had no trial. If you wanted to play DFO, you have to drop fitty bucks.

Call me cheap, but I didn't want to risk it on, "what if it is really as bad as they say it is?" Not that I follow EVERYTHING I read, but when a few established bloggers dedicate their focus to one game. Either by endorsing it or makes it their fulltime game, it says something to me.

That's right, I'm talking about Paragus and Syncaine, author of Hardcore Casual. I want to thank you both for your help and support, even if it took just answering a few questions. It helped a lot. And yes, I did order the game through Syncaines blog, because he answered a few questions for me honestly and I believe in "tipping the house." Its good to do.

So, here is Agon in all its glory. Getting a--raped by goblins on the outset, I had a good laugh. But it also made me realize just how unforgiving DFO is. When I died I lost EVERYTHING. It was not much, just some cheap goblin loot. But it made me realize just how serious this PVP is. You die, you lose. Its that simple.

The skill system is going to take some getting used to. And the GUI took me at least one hour to navigate and fix to my style. Thats when I turned the tables on those poor goblins and handed in my stuff, I'm getting ready for my next session as we speak.

I realized right away what type of game Aventurine was aiming at. A sprawling, no nonsense, open ended, open-MINDED game. Don't expect easy street here. You get in exactly what you put out, you've got to play smart here. In 22 some odd hours I become open game. After I lose my "newbie-shield" I'm going to be bait for all the gankers and hardcore pvp'ers on the server. 

I'm so excited.

The Bad News

So far the game has had some technical issues: blackscreen crash, error at installation and I was stuck at character creation for awhile. I sent in a ticket and the response came rather quickly, but it just told me to hit the next button. That I did eight or nine times. Minor setbacks.

The GUI is a little clunky, but workable. I just had to take my time and go through the menu options. Simply rebound some keys and I had my old Oblivion setup at my fingertips, it felt just like old times. I do have some complaints about the GUI, but they are not worth whining over.

Very PCU demanding game. Holy smokes! I turned my shadows off and lowered some settings and it ran fine. I had some lag, but it wasn't a gamebreaker. I've had worse.

Starting out: All you get is a 6 page tutorial and a slap on the butt. You are on your way to greatness! Absolutely no tutorial and thankfully there is an experienced and helpful community. I asked a few questions in racial chat and someone actually had some answers on demand. The community is very vibrant, friendly and outgoing, so far I haven't seen any spammers or seen any jerks in chat. But thats actually good news.

Tick...tick...tick....

The Good News

Its fun. I really had a good time scooting around with the goblins. The AI is trifle annoying when they run away or gang up on me, but there is an actual AI pattern here. Not the mindless "stand in front of me so I can bop you."  It was the most challenging early experience I've ever had in an MMO. Apart from EVE, but EVE gives you massive tutorials on the outset. I think I've been spoon fed too long.

Graphically: There is a certain edgy, gritty and dark style here. I noticed it right away. DFO doesn't have miniscule details or the glittery saturday morning cartoon style, but it sets the ambiance of a dark savage world early. You are definately not in Kansas anymore. I took to it right away.

DFO feels totally customizable between its window positions and key bindings. I know macroing is illegal and such and such. I won't do it, but I feel having at least something I can use to switch weapons or equip certain items would help. There is a menu for that. I think? I need to play around with the tough GUI more. Oh and by the way, the character creation is not totally bland as people say that it is. Don't expect Aions complete mutateability but their are some cool looks to be made. Its not about having a pretty character here, its about having an experience.

Hey, they started a 1$ dollar trial. Thats what sold me! I don't look at it as $1 for a week of Darkfall Online, I look at it as free and if I decide to own then I just spend $51, I get 37 days before a $15 payment. Thats it. No item shop nonsense or paying for additional content. You get what you pay for and its not a low quality game either. After a 3 hour torrent and just 15 minutes install. It updated right away, with some minor hitches but seamless for the most part. I was in the forums and did read many technical issues posted, all sounded like graphic problems though. I just hope they don't charge for expansions, that will suck.

Ok, so far the good outweighs the bad on first impressions. But I'm certainly not looking at the uninstall button. Darkfall Online has a certain style and it will certainly attract a certain type of mmo gamer. But its only been about a few hours I've been to Agon and time will tell. I have a week to pull the plug.

DFO is not the hand-holdy type of game, but I think that this industry has made hand-holding part of the norm and players come to expect it. Some will respond to this no-nonsense approach and some won't; its going to come down to personal taste. But its made one hell of a first impression so far. 

Play safe,

Frank

 

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