Darkfall's Trial and Interview with NEW
It was a little over a year ago today that I opened my review of the Darkfall beta with "Darkfall Online is a game that is not for everyone." A lot of you have followed my blog closely (thanks for your support) despite the fact you may not play the game and didn't want to risk trying it without some form of a trial. Well apparently now you can find out if Darkfall is in fact for you for only 1$ for a one week trial.
Yes it is not free, but given the nature of the game and the fact that the trial does not seem to place any restrictions on you, it seems like a fair offer. If there is one thing you might have learned about this game from reading here and certain reviews out there, it's that one week is not enough time to even come close to seeing all that this game has to offer. Despite that, I think it should give curiosity seekers a good chance to get a handle on the games unorthodox controls, feel for the gameplay, and a chance to wander around Agon's zoneless and open world.
I've always believed that your first day in Agon is usually the hardest. To take the edge off getting murdered while you grapple with the controls, Aventurine has finally patched in their new player protection system that should give you some breathing room is those rough first few hours. You can identify these fresh players by the halo-like symbol over their head, of which I have seen quite a bit of lately.
Despite having the trial and the initial safeguard, learning the ins and outs of Darkfall can be overwhelming, especially for players accustomed to theme-park MMOs which have saturated the genre the last few years. Lucky for you, there is "NEW". NEW is clan of players who are dedicated to showing you the ropes and exposing you to aspects of the game (on both servers) that you might otherwise not see initially. They offer up to 30 days of membership to help teach you the ropes, after which it is up to you to find your own path into the world.
Instead of me trying to tell you what NEW is all about, I figured it would be best if I tracked down their leadership and let them explain some of the specifics for themselves. I traveled over to Hammerdale to visit their city and got to spend some time checking our their facilities and activities.
1) Tell us a bit about the purpose of NEW. Why was it started and are there any restrictions to joining up?
Fury Mortis – Newborn on Agon [NEW] is a clan on the North American server that was formed to aid the new player experience. With its harsh environment, quirky UI and steep learning curve, Darkfall can be a real challenge for beginners. Every time we lose a new player it puts more pressure on Aventurine to "Trammel the game up" to increase its appeal to the masses.
NEW was started as a joint effort, and officially kicked off when Elder Saurcon (Lords of the Dead) purchased an account and created the “New SupremeGeneral” character. With the support of Black Shields, Grief, Apollo, Imperil, Dominion, and too many other clans to list, NEW acquired Hammerdale at a very low cost. When the sticky post went up on the NA-1 forums and people could see that this was an honest effort, donations quickly poured in from across the community.
The only restrictions to joining up are that you are a relatively new player and that you agree to the rules on the website.
2) Tell us a bit about the services NEW offers and how owning a city has contributed to your mission.
Spewart thePunisher – New offers its members a place they can come to ask questions and get advice, either via clan chat or voice chat using the Mumble program (also hosted by lotd.org). Hammerdale provides new players (and visitors) a player city with a workbench, enchanting station, laboratory, anvil, oven, fighter trainer, master mage, and a farm. Our city is open to everyone, whether they are in NEW or not. In addition to its amenities, the city serves as a gathering place where people can trade, group up to fight tougher mobs, and help defend each other from the occasional PK raid.
Mycke Soulslayer – Without Hammerdale, NEW would be a little more than scattered new players getting war decked and ganked in NPC cities, pretty much more harm than good.
3) How many people roughly would you say have joined up with NEW and graduated since its inception?
Fury – Clymene Darkwind (our first Counselor) had the foresight to set up a google spreadsheet to track members’ join dates and progress. As of today we have 1,437 names on this list. All non-leadership members have a defined time limit in the clan; so far 1,043 members have graduated.
4) What are some of the most common questions and issues that you see get brought up by new arrivals?
White Knight – The most common question of new players is why they can’t fish, lol.
Spewart – "How do I get a mount?", "How do I make gold?", "Where is Hammerdale?" and tons of questions about the alignment system.
Fury – The biggest issue for new players right now is the difference between veteran players HP and beginning players HP. The formula should be changed to 250 + 1*vit + 0.5*str + HpSkills. It’s not the first thing they notice, but when they realize the tremendous gap between the total health of veteran players and new players, I believe it turns some casual players (the base of MMORPGs) away from the game.
5) Community support for NEW seems to be very strong on both servers. Do you find that many players or clans give NEW members a pass when it comes to attacking and ganking out in the world?
Buadthan Ludhurst - I think a lot of clans give NEW members a break; for example they will come up on there mounts chasing you and then stop, or start attacking you and then see the tag and stop. Some will send you a tell and say they are sorry and didn't see your tag, others will pk you but revive you because they really don't want to pk new players they are just looking for PvP. But on the other hand, we do have clans that specifically target us for pk'ing and raiding because we are a clan of new players.
6) Do you find that the majority of people who join up stay for the entire period, or do most end up leaving for other clans before their time is up?
Mycke - In my short time period many leave early. I believe this says we are doing our job well.
Skarth Manadragon - Most players seem to join another clan when their time is up or almost up.
7) There has been a recent movement by some of the veterans to donate gear and ready bags to help your cause. What is the best way a veteran player can donate and make sure their contribution finds its way to new arrivals to the game?
Spewart - I wouldn't say the movement to donate gear is recent. We've always enjoyed fantastic support from most of the other clans. If you want to donate gear to NEW, the best way is to come to Hammerdale and speak with a clan officer. If your clan lives far from Hammerdale, you can still help the cause of retaining new players by donating to random noobs (not necessarily NEW members) in the racial starter cities. One fun way is to find a group of newbies by a bank, load yourself up with gear, hit one of them and let the towers kill you. They will loot your tomb dry in seconds.
8) With the new trial program and new player protection for Darkfall, a lot of people are starting to give the game a closer look. Do you have any advice to the new players to the game or those sitting on the fence considering jumping in?
White Knight - The advice I give to new players is to just play the game and enjoy what Agon has to offer. It will take you some time to build a character but you can have an impact in the game right off.
Spewart - I recommend that people spend a day or two in their racial cities doing some of the simple goblin quests, etc. just to get familiar with the game. They should pick up the six "title quests" from their racial capital city during that time (just get them, no need to complete them). Then join up with NEW (ideally on Tuesday, since we graduate you on the 5th Monday) and come to Hammerdale. The main thing is to remember that this is a great game with a hard start. If you rage-quit early, you'll miss the good part.
Mycke - Darkfall isn't about always winning it’s about always having excitement. Sometime that excitement is “pwning” your enemy and others times its getting away from someone you know will kill you, or just dying to them giving it your best shot. No one always wins in DF.
Skarth - Get used to the idea of using voice chat programs like Ventrilo, teamspeak, or mumble. It's a requirement for anything group related.
Fury – Go to this website http://newbornonagon.guildplex.com/. Review the hosted training videos, links to guides, install Mumble and apply to NEW. A complete list with all responses to this interview from the NEW Counselors is on the forums.
If you have been sitting on the fence about trying Darkfall, there really is no excuse for not taking advantage of the trial and the services being offered by NEW. I'd recommend looking for one of their community publishers be it from a blog you support (No, I am not a community publisher) or shop around for a player offering you extra goodies. If you are already an established player reading this, then I urge you to help donate gear to our new arrivals and help any questions they may have.
If your getting worn down by the so-called "AAA" MMOs from huge studios with massive budgets selling you the same linear and shallow gameplay over and over with a new name on the box, then I highly recommend dropping the 1$ to see what the fuss is about. Darkfall is the only game my guild has played in the last few years that has held us for longer than 60 days, and it's a reminder to me of what this genre used to represent and could become again someday. Even if you end up hating the game, you won't find a week's worth of entertainment this cheap anywhere else. If you do decide to check out the trial, I'd love to read your comments here or answer any questions you might have.
Co-Leader of Inquisition