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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Darkfall: Warhulks

Posted by Paragus1 Thursday May 21 2009 at 8:44AM
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Darkfall: Warhulks

Today I am going to finally be talking about one of the most requested topics from my readers, Warhulks.  Warhulks are the hover-tank looking siege weapons that many of us saw in the hype videos before the game went live.  It's been almost 3 months, but finally the first of these war machines have shown up on the battlefield, and I was fortunate enough to be there to see them in action.

Warhulks are basically heavy duty siege weapons that are land-based, and in many ways works how the ships do on the water.  There are 4 different types of warhulks that vary in size and cannon types.  The warhulk I was able to see in action is called a Vileforge, which seems to be viewed as the most powerful of the 4 types and the hardest to make in terms of skill and cost.  It has taken almost 3 months for the server to actually see anyone be able to build these machines, and I will try to explain a bit about why this has been the case.

To build a warhulk, you must first purchase the specific crafting skill which costs 15,000 gold, just like the shipbuilding and artillery (cannon) skills.  All 3 of those expensive crafting skills can all be bought from advance blacksmiths which can be found in many of the clan cities all over the world.  The main holdup was the fact that in the same way a warship has to be built in a shipyard, the warhulks require a special building of their own called a foundry.  Up until a day or two ago, nobody was able to find a city that had a foundry as a building option, and get together the 2,000 building modules needed to construct it in the city.  The Mercs, who some of you may remember from my warship writeup, recently took over a city that had the ability to build a foundry.  They constructed the foundry as quickly as possible and now have a new threat to unleash onto the battlefield.  Needless to say, many of their enemies are not happy with them having this capability.

So let's take a look at the layout of the Vileforge.  The main deck has 4 main weapons that can be controlled.  There are 2 normal cannons that act exactly like those found on warships.  The driver actually sits in a cannon chair that points directly ahead, and the other cannon is located in the opposite position facing directly in the rear.  The Vileforge also comes equipped with 2 flame cannons which mirror those found on some city towers.  The flame cannons are opposite of each other and located on the left and right sides in relation to the driver position.  While the front and rear cannons do similar damage to those found on ships, the flame cannons create a large fire which does around 20 damage a tick to anyone or anything caught in the fire that lingers after it shoots.  The range on the flame cannons is substantially less than the normal cannons, which means for the warhulk to really shine it needs to get relatively close to the structure.  The normal cannons which have decent range also are capable of damaging structures, it just takes a lot longer.

The main deck was a bit larger than I thought it would be as well.  At a glance I didn't think it would hold that many people, but once I climbed on board I was a little surprised.  There is probably enough room on there for 10 Mahirim if I had to guess, and I'm sure you could fit more at the cost of some breathing room.  Much like the warships, you have to climb up a ladder mechanism to get on board.  There were 2 ladders on the Vileforge that were located opposite of each other, but despite this, some naked Alfar managed to get on board somehow, making for a very tight and awkward fight for us as the largest race in the game. I am sure smaller races will be able to fit quite a bit more people onto one of these things than we were able to.

The Vileforge seemed to travel at a speed that was comparable to that of a sprinting player, but not as fast as a mount.  The main issue seemed to be with the steering and handling capabilities as the driver had a lot of difficulty getting a handle on maneuvering it around.  The turning speed in general seemed to be very slow, especially when the Vileforge was at a dead stop.  It seemed that once we started moving forward that turning became a bit easier.  The other major issue in this area is that even though the machine hovers off the ground a bit, it seems to have an issue with constantly hitting obstacles.  It seemed that when people were around the base that it would prevent the machine from moving in certain directions.  This can be especially annoying because in many situations this thing is going to be escorted and accompanied by ground support, and being obstructed by your own forces and escorts can lead to a frustrating situation.

This definitely marks a milestone in terms of warfare in Agon in general.  As time goes on and the server matures, I am sure more people will start to get foundry access and delve into warhulks adding yet another dynamic to the way sieges and wars will be fought.  I will be very interested in seeing the other 3 types in action and see how they differ from the Vileforge in terms of damage and size.

 EDIT: Video of this warhulk from this night can be found HERE.

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition
www.inqguild.com

 

Darkfall: Post World War I Interviews

Posted by Paragus1 Thursday May 14 2009 at 9:01AM
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Darkfall: Post World War I Interviews

Over the last 2 months, Darkfall's political landscape has been dominated by a massive server-wide war.  In my article "Alliance Leader Interviews" one month ago, I tried to set the narrative for Agon's World War I against the Hyperion Alliance ruled by King Manus.  Now one month later, it looks like the sun might finally be setting on the Hyperion Kingdom.

The server wide war consumed the community and reached into almost every corner of Agon.  Originally, the perception was that this would be a cold war in which both sides were mustering up as many allies as possible in order to defeat the other.  Almost every weekend for the last month had multiple sieges going at the same time in a variety of locations, and at the start of every new week, players watched as the political and influence maps shifted around.  Almost every single alliance in the game over the last month has watched their territory and influence shift as war started to literally tear the server in half.

On May 12th, King Manus made a formal post on the Clan Discussion forums announcing that the remaining Hyperion would be surrendering to the Death Alliance. In his post, King Manus lays it all out as only he can do:

"It is for this reason that after a long and successful run, I now capitulate to the blue dots, and such leaders as Obidiah of LOD and Bone of Sinister, who are gentlemen I most enjoyed sharing the chessboard with, and whose tactic of lying low and making strategic use of the more vocal alliances bought them an excellent position. Much like a good billiards player doesn't think only about the ball he's currently trying to sink, but about how much force he needs to apply to set up the next shot, the Death Alliance, the blue dots, are the ones who played their hand most favorably, and of all my three antagonists are now poised with the most advantage on the world map.

Although Hyperion has been significantly reduced, under the terms of our capitulation to the Death Alliance, it will continue, and our final holdings will be preserved. The Death Alliance will receive what remuneration we can still provide as contribution toward their endeavors against whatever new enemy they choose to face."

Considering the amount of support and interest my articles have been receiving from the Darkfall community, I decided to track down some of the key players at the center of this recent turn of events.

 

King Manus - The Duchy of Wessex (Hyperion Kingdom)

1) The Hyperion Kingdom has been the primary focus of Darkfall's World War I, and clearly a lot of planning went into the creation and running of it. Tell us a bit about what it was like from your perspective at the top of Hyperion trying to manage such a massive collection of guilds and land (27 different clanstones).

At first, Hyperion's feudal structure made the management of the behemoth very easy. After all, the system we were using, feudalism, was used to manage hundreds of thousands of people. The different tiers of the feudal pyramid, along with the royal bureaucracy which was broken into departments handling such things as foreign diplomacy, interior communication, internal revenue, and organizing the military made everything work smoothly and efficiently. Being on top of such a structured machine was everything one would hope it could be. Enough of the cogs were working that I was able to enjoy the fruits of the accomplishment quite thoroughly for a time.

It was only after the departure due to dissatisfaction with the game of those several hand picked staff members who kept those departments running that it became rather a chore, as the workload per individual increased quite dramatically. This in turn encouraged more people to become burned out.

 

2) Did you ever foresee the possibility that literally half of the server would band together to try to defeat you, and tell us a bit about how you went about fighting against such a large group of players.

Yes, I knew it would certainly happen eventually. There's no way to hide that much territory and influence, and we had been the center of attention on the Darkfall forums for quite some time, even when people thought that the two original clans of Hyperion, Wessex and the Anvil Society, were rivals.

Our tactics against the large groups were much easier to implement in the beginning because of our increased involvement, and the fact that hand picked individuals occupied the leadership positions. This allowed us to execute an organization and field presence that outmaneuvered our foes. This was demonstrated early on, during the Yssam campaign, and even on into the times during the pilfering of Spear Waters from COTC. Having savvy battle commanders from top to bottom made it easy to work in tandem and divide the enemy troops into smaller units.

Toward the end, however, we suffered from the loss of players as everyone did, but we noticed it most significantly in the gaps in our structured command that developed. Other alliances who don't necessarily have that reliance on novel organization, which provides such an advantage if you can get it, don't suffer as much from the loss of certain figures. A bigger mob simply becomes a smaller mob, and works pretty much like it did before.

In the end, our last strategic masterstroke was sieging our own cities on a weekend when we knew a major server attack was coming because we knew we no longer had the playerbase. That kept us going for a couple more weeks.

 

3) What in your opinion was the most significant turning point in the conflict?

I would have to say it was the loss of Surly, Brando, Nira, and Dulath. Not
only did we lose the Anvil Society, who were sheer excellence in battle, easily worth 3 men for each one, but we lost entire interclan teams devoted to certain aspects of the running of Hyperion. This started to turn us from an organized kingdom into a "regular" mega-alliance, and that made us vulnerable.

 

4) If you could go back and do one thing different, what would it be?

I would have tried to have made stronger diplomatic ties with Death before COTC did, and when Surly left the game, I would have put more of my personal focus on propagandizing the DF forums, which ironically is the very tool I used to build Hyperion up.

 

5) During a lot of the major battles, Hyperion employed the use of mercenary guilds to help aid in the fight. What is your opinion on these guilds and the role they play in Darkfall in terms of their effectiveness and viability as a playstyle.

Well, there's no doubt that certain of the merc clans have players who have done nothing but develop their characters for combat, as opposed to the average player who develops a little crafting, harvest, etc here and there. Shuyin Hail and the gang, for example, almost unanimously have weaponmastery skills which double their melee damage, and were pushing the frontier on weapon enchantment R & D. In fact, my royal enchanter for all of Hyperion, who was funded by all the royal taxes from 27 clanstones, had to get new recipes from THEM! Other clans, like Covert Ops and Black Company made major differences in battle for us, and when Hyperion was losing troops to the grind of the game and only had money, their use was crucial to some of our final victories.

 

6) What does the future hold for King Manus?

Well, other than some real life projects upcoming, such as a martial arts movie called "Fierce Target" and an American martial arts television series, I plan to continue to play Darkfall, enjoying my modest corner of the map. I look forward to perhaps finally getting the chance to simply "play", casually and freely, without the heavy burden of the Crown "upon a troubled brow."

 

Gluttony SDS - Awful Company (Coalition of the Chillin)

1) Today we finally saw King Manus surrender to the Death Alliance. I think the first thing people want to know if whether or not you will make good on your word to break up the Coalition and restore balance to the server. When can we expect to see the coalition dismantled and what do the various pieces look like?

I saw the "surrender" as well... but if you "surrender" to one army (and when I say "surrender", I mean pay a couple hundred thousand gold for mercy.. remunerations, lol!) when multiple armies are at war with you, all you've done is waste money that could have been spent on preparing for the final fight that awaits them. My promise to break down the CC will be fulfilled when Hyperion is off the mainland and eradicated from Yssam -- this doesn't necessarily mean the Yssam Co. will be attacked but Tempest, you're fucked. Keep in mind it will be interesting to see what Death does when the CC shrinks... nothing against my brothers in Death(sup vehementi), but if you look at the map, there's more blue than purple


2) Tell us a bit about what it was like from a leadership point of view trying to organize and coordinate the a lot of the battles against Hyperion.

Imagine running a multinational corporation that makes you very wealthy and at the same time has you making important decisions that directly affect thousands of other successful and important people. It's a lot like that except replace multinational corporation with online MMO crew, replace making lots of money with neglecting your job/girlfriend(sup boo), and replace making important decisions with yelling at nerds of the internet.

Oh yea, don't forget getting less than 5 hours a sleep every weeknight and 0 hours of sleep on the weekend. War sucks, even in MMO's.

 

3) What do you think was the biggest turning point in the conflict?

When Hyperion failed to siege eXile's city at 4am on a random Thursday morning. The CC's anzac/euro squad pitched a perfect game during their defense of the city and fought off a Hyperion force 3x their size. This was the first battle that turned the "cold war" hot.

 

4) Your side has been notorious for the use of spies and propaganda to fight against Hyperion. Tell us a bit about the effectiveness these to get information and rally more people to join your side as the conflict progressed.

I'm not a propagandist... I just tell the truth. People claim I use charm or the "gift of gab" to garner popular support for my cause but the true reason people follow my lead is that they can sense that I'm being genuine about my desire for this game to become a viable place for smaller alliances/larger guilds to replace the 'must zerg' mentality that often plagues games with player run cities. If I was bullshitting this whole time, people would have seen through it and Id have ended up like King Manus -- with 100 Greater Magic and no guild to use it with.

As for the spies... section50 (along with the KGB intelligence guys) is responsible for 90% of our success. Think you can be the next James Bond Jr? Send an email to sectionfifty@gmail.com -- service gets you citizenship


5) What's your take on the other various alliances?

I think we're gonna raid each other for a while as I'm pretty sure everyone is a bit burned out from WWI(now I see why they originally dubbed it 'The War to End All Wars'). Anyone down for starting a League of Gaytions?

 

6) Where does Gluttony go from here?

Hopefully I can finally relax a little bit and play some DF -- my char's skills are way behind and I've got some tourneys to win. That being said, we have a war to finish... Longmarch won't fall easily -- it's the hardcore loyalists who always fight the most ardently.

 

Bone Dancer SiN - Sinister (Death Alliance)

I have a relatively unique perspective on Darkfall, you see, I was the "King Manus" of Shadowbane. In that game my actions and my alliances (The Rolling 30's) effectively snuffed out all competition on the server every cycle of beta through the first couple months of final. While I found my play time as a "King" gratifying to my ego, it got pretty boring pretty quick. It was reflection on those events that lead me to work against 'The King' and its reflection on those events that continue to lead me to push every political ally I have against letting CotC gobble up all of that conquered land and influence. Simply put A single consolidated world free of conflict, and inter-guild intrigue is a game I have no desire to play.

It's been a long while since my Darkfall Geopolitical reviews but if you look through them in order you can visualize the game unfolding. Hyperion, Savage Alliance, Stasis, and Dusk each grew to strong and dominant positions before being dismantled by the dogs of war and attrition. Hyperion was clearly the biggest of the pre-game alliances and their eventual fall was prolonged more due to good leadership and organization then any other fact. Most of today's guilds/alliances are shadows of their former selves with most suffering a deflation of sorts and only a select few growing or holding pat. I'm rather found of comparing real world history/politics to in game occurrences and the fall of 'Rome' analogy to Hyperion comes to mind. Hyperion's domination of much of the eastern hemisphere had to come to an end just as it is likely that a new power will fill the void. That said this area simply has to many borders and to many nation-states to ever stabilize for long.

I count my guild lucky to have been one of the few to grow during the Roman Empire's reign, expanding the Sinister holdings from a simple hamlet in the middle of the map to the luxurious Sunthrone, and finally to expanding into two neighboring hamlets. Along the way Sinister has fought with or against nearly everyone of the formerly mighty alliances. While I appreciate the King's nod in Obs and my direction, it really is rather misplaced as the players inside Sinister and the Death Alliance are the real strength. The absolute commitment to an organizations excellence depsite individual sacrifices is the halmark of any great team, or army and Death Alliance membership certainly fits that bill.

Finally, a word of optimism and some advice for the players. Missed in all the posts complaining about siege mechanics, 'the grind', the 'bad pve', has been the fact that the world was still new. Players and guilds alike have been busy trying to accomplish all progression paths at once, stretching nerves and tension to burnout enducing levels. Today however nearly completed towns litter the map, there are now numerous characters with capped magical, melee, or archery skills, and the real game of Darkfall is only beginning. More player time, resources, and effort will be put towards interguild conflict and alliances will form and fall quicker then ever. Those of you that look forward to PVP on a nightly basis can rest assured it is only just around the corner. If the Darkfall team and its community can keep infusions of players coming into the game of Darkfall, the chances of them 'sticking' with this game are only going to improve.

 

Commentary

To help illustrate what has transpired in the last month, I have both influence maps here dated.

We can see right away on the newer influence map that there are some drastic changes during World War I.  With the exception of the Death Alliance in the Northwest, and the Cairne Alliance in the Southeast, the rest of the map has had regional power shifts.  The DUSK alliance in the Southwest erupted into a civil war that had guilds breaking off from each other, pitting Alfar against Alfar across the desert.  In the Northeast, Stasis alliance has been driven out of Yssam and many of the Hyperion owned strongholds have tried to separate themselves from the Alliance.  The mainland of Agon shows that after a lengthy campaign, Hyperion's holdings have been reduced to only their core holdings around their capital of Long March.  The Coalition of the Chillin managed to substantially increase its numbers by getting more and more guilds to join their cause based on the premise that once Hyperion is defeated, that they would break the coalition up into smaller pieces to try to restore balance to the server.  I think a lot of people are keeping a close eye on them to see if they become the very thing they sought to destroy.

Just to touch on something Bone said about the siege mechanics, there is one particular loophole that I think needs to be addressed.  During this World War, we have seen guilds who are in the same alliance declare sieges against each other for the purpose of abusing an aspect of the mechanic that grants an immunity window.  After a city has been challenged, a siege mechanic grants an immunity window of at least 24 hours where no new challenges can be issued.  This means that guild A can front money to siege guild B, who are both in the same alliance.  Guild A then makes sure they lose the sieges, which gives the money to guild B, who now has an immunity window.  Guild B can then simply trade almost all of the money back to guild A.  This means if you catch wind of a possible attack, or want to make sure you survive the weekend, this can be abused to ensure your security.  In my opinion, you should not be able to challenge anyone who you were recently allied with in the last 24 hours or so.

It's hard to imagine for many playing the game that we have seen so much transpire in only 2 months, and for me and I'm sure many others, it seems like it has been so much longer.  I think much of the game's population is looking forward to turning the page on this chapter of Agon's history, and most people seem to be ready for the day where there are more smaller alliances instead of a few massive ones.  How it all plays out as time goes on is completely out of Aventurine's control and it will be up to the players to write Darkfall's storyline.  With as fast as the map changes, I have no doubt that we will look back at this in a month or so from now and it will feel like ancient history.

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition
www.inqguild.com

60 Days of Darkfall

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday May 6 2009 at 9:03AM
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60 Days of Darkfall

It's been about 60 days since Darkfall has gone live, and I figured that I would take some time to give an overall update to how the game is progressing.  There have been a lot of changes since I wrote my Beta Review, so hopefully this should give people a general idea of where the game has improved, and where improvements are still needed.  I write again from the perspective of a guild leader, and someone who has been fortunate enough to see more aspects of the game than perhaps the average player.  I am not going to review the basic game here or go over things I have already talked about in previous articles, instead I am going to focus on some of the changes that have occurred over the last 2 months.

 

Harvesting

This is one aspect of the game that has really undergone some a variety of changes over the last 2 months.  When the game first came out, a given harvesting node originally held a different amount of resources for each player.  As an example, originally a tree would hold X amount of wood for every player who harvested from it.  This meant that a group of people could all harvest the same node and each person could get 50 wood as a hypothetical number, so 5 people could gain 250 wood collectively from a single tree.  The nodes have since become universal like most games where they have a set number of resources, so that same tree would only yield 50 wood collectively no matter how many people are there.

One major gripe about harvesting originally was the general tedium of it.  Originally the player would have to click each time they wanted to harvest a node, thus a player harvesting that 50 wood would have to click a minimum of 50 times to get it.  This tedium drove some players to get an auto-clicker to take some of the strain off of them.  Fast forward to last week, Aventurine changed the harvesting mechanic so that one mouse click now makes your character auto harvest the node repeatedly until it is depleted.  This was a welcome to change to me personally because I do not macro, and this is one less reason for me to consider doing so.  It also allows me to Alt+Tab while harvesting so that I can take care of other things.

There are still 2 aspects of harvesting that annoy me.  The first is the fact that you do not know a particular resource node is tapped out until you go through the harvesting motion.  I would think that I would be able to tell for the most part if a tree had no more wood to offer before I started chopping, it's hardly a game breaker by any means, it is just an annoyance I would like to see addressed.  The second beef with harvesting relates to me as a guild leader who owns a hamlet with resources.  I can understand the fact that strangers should be able to sneak into enemy cities to harvest their resources, especially given how rare some of the high end ores can be to get.  What bothers me is the fact that I have a farm in my hamlet, and if I do catch someone harvesting from it that I do not like, attacking them results me in me going rogue if they are on my racial team.  I would like to see players outside my guild or alliance be flagged rouge for harvesting from my land without permission, so that I can stop them and protect my property without consequence.


The Trade Channel

In a recent patch, Aventurine added a trade channel as a new tab to the chat window.  While it may not seem like a big deal, I think this was one of the simplest and better improvements that has gone into the game.  Previously, a lot of the commerce in the chat was bunched up in the "Race" and "Race Alliance" chat tabs.  This made it very frustrating to hook up with buyers and sellers for the various goods players were peddling.  These chat channels consist of a cross between WoW Barrens chat and guild recruitment messages, so trying to use them as a platform to sell goods was often unsuccessful.

With the addition of the new "Trade" chat channel, players are given a means to browse the goods of other players as well as to unload some items they might want to convert to cash.  While anyone is free to type anything they want in the channel, I am surprised that most players seem to respect the channel and use it for what it was intended.  The channel broadcasts to all members of your racial alliance, so depending on what race you rolled, you often hit a pretty wide audience with your messages.  This has helped boost economic activity in the game a lot from my own personal experience, and it no doubt helped crafters find a marketplace to link up with buyers for their wares as well as vendors for crafting materials.


Colored Names

I originally brought this up as a personal issue I had with the game during the beta.  My issue stemmed from the fact that the game colored the names of all the people in the game as either blue or red.  This color coding system bothered me and other players because it colored names based on the alignment of the person you are targeting.  This meant that as a Mahirim player, if I spotted another player who was a human, his name would be blue to me despite the fact that he was a natural enemy to me.  This became somewhat confusing, especially for newer players, who would see a blue name coming at them not realizing the person was actually an enemy who intended to kill them.  I mentioned in my beta review that a player's color should be based on their relation to you, not their own race.

Apparently Aventurine listened, because in a recent patch they implemented an entirely new system of color coding that went way beyond what even I had wanted.  Instead of names being just blue and red, Aventurine added a few other colors to help identify people based on their race, guild, and political affiliation.  Players who are members of your guild show up as a bright green, while members of your political alliance show up as a dark green.  This is extremely helpful to me as a guild leader because new people to the guild and the game can quickly identify what other guilds are in our alliance without having to check a list, which in many situations there is simply no time to do.  Blue players now represent all players who are racial allies, and have positive alignment.  Red names are for people who are racial enemies, political enemies, and individuals who have negative alignment.


Alignment

This is another controversial part of the game that has changed a bit since my initial write-up.  The original game mechanics had alignment on a scale that went from positive 100 to negative 100, being on the upside made you blue, and being on the downside made you red. Killing a friendly player on your own racial alliance would cost you somewhere in neighborhood of 8-10 points, depending on whether or not you let the friendly bleed out or you finished him with a gank.  On the flip side, killing an enemy player and ganking him would usually result in a net gain of around 2-4 points.  This meant that under the old system, a player could farm up to 100 positive alignment and then kill upwards of 8-10 people on his own team before going into the red zone.  I used to joke about alignment with my guild as redeemable coupons to go kill friendlies once you hit positive 100 that you could turn into loot.

Well change came to this system, and the cap on the upper end of the scale was changed from positive 100, all the way down to only positive 10.  Suddenly killing someone on your own racial team got much more costly.  Under the new system, even at your maximum positive alignment you would only really be able to kill one friendly at best before going into the negative red zone.  The negative side of the scale remained the same, leaving quite a large hole that a player can dig themselves into if they didn't start respecting members of their own races.  At the same time to make things even stricter, the amount of alignment rewarded for killing enemies was reduced to only 2 points, making that deep hole even harder to climb out of for red players.

My main beef with the system now is that there are times where I do have a good reason for wanting to kill someone on my own team.  Again using the harvesting from my hamlet as an example, if I attack or kill someone from my race harvesting in my farm, I will be on the verge of going red for protecting my property.  This could of course be less of an issue if renegade harvesters were flagged rogue, but it can be an annoyance.  The other part of the system that bothers me personally is the lack of penalties against ARACs (all race clans).  There are a ton of them because of a lack of punishment for opting that route, and it seems a little inconsistent to make players respect the lore with a strict alignment system, but not in terms of ARACs.

 

Crafting

Crafting is another area of the game that has been somewhat enhanced a little since release.  In addition to some new recipes for various pieces of armor, Aventurine is actively trying to add incentives for people to craft, or seek out crafters to get their equipment from them.  In a recent patch, Aventurine decided to lower the durability on weapons and armor found off of mobs.  In the past, farming mobs for certain pieces of gear became an ideal or preferred over buying from crafters because it was a lot cheaper.  Why pay a crafter when you can farm the same exact item off a mob for free?  With the new durability changes, many of the armor found on mobs has significantly lower durability which means they will break a lot sooner.

One thing I would like to see added would be a "Create All" button for crafting.  There are certain crafting activities in the game that are done in bulk, and like harvesting, it would be nice to have an auto-craft feature that would make as many of a given item as possible without having to babysit and keep clicking every 20 seconds.  The above picture shows a hypothetical situation where I would be wanting to craft a bulk quantity of arrows, but could easily be applied to potions, cooking food, smelting, and woodcutting.  Crafting a stack of arrows takes 20 seconds, and uses a single wood plus a single ingot.  I could conceivably craft 149 stacks of arrows in this picture, but it would take me 149 x 20 seconds to do it, or 49 minutes roughly.  While this is a somewhat extreme case, it would be a godsend to be able to click one button and go do something else, or make the time to craft a bit lower. I think a combination of the 2 ideas would be good.

 

Performance

It is worth mentioning that the overall performance of the game has been increasing over the course of time since the game has come out.  A lot of my guildmates who have weaker systems have been noticing some frames-per-second increases overall and in some larger battles.  Aventurine seems to be in the habit of dropping one serious patch every week consistently since the game has come out.  Almost every one of the patch notes seems to make some mention of server increases and optimizations.

A real test of the server as a whole came a week or so ago.  One Saturday afternoon, the world erupted into a massive war in which sieges were declared at seven different locations all at the same time.  As more sieges started to get declared, more and more alliances tried to capitalize on the hysteria and declare their own hoping the enemy would be too distracted to defend as well.  Five of the seven sieges actually concluded without a server crash.  Eventually when it came down to the last two, a lot of the server population locked into war mode funneled into one of the sieges and eventually buckled the server.  While the crash is always sad, when you compare what happened that day to situations from a few weeks ago, it definitely looks like the server has skilled up a bit in its own right.

 

Political Tides

This brings me to state of the political situation in general.  While Aventurine really has no control over this part of the game, I wanted to touch on something I found to be interesting.  If you have read my previous articles about "Alliances and War" and "Alliance Leader Interviews", you might have some understanding about the various sides and why they are fighting.


 

While Darkfall has had a fair amount of content patched in terms of new quests, the player-driven side of the game seems to be where the bulk of the content comes from.  The above picture is a before and after comparison of one of the subcontinents.  The left is from an influence map I used in my interview article exactly one month ago, and the right is a political map from today.  In a few short weeks, one of the larger and securely situated alliances has been completely shattered.  I think a lot of people get caught up in the meta aspects of the game and don't step back and realize how much the landscape is always shifting and how literally overnight, the winds of change can blow through and completely reshape an area of the map.  We are only 2 months in, and when you step back and think of all the drama, backstabbing, wars, and deals; it has to make everyone wonder what the future holds in store for the players who are actively shaping Agon.


Community

There are scumbags in Darkfall.  The official forums are often used a reference to highlight the level of douchebaggery people expect to see in game.  I'll be the first to admit that I have seen more than my fair share of freaks walking the streets of Agon.  One thing I have not seen much of is hackers, something that I have to say has been overblown to a degree on various forums.  I think in the 60+ days I have been playing, I can honestly say I have seen maybe one or two people with my own eyes that I thought were cheating with 3rd party software.  After the wave of bannings that Tasos handed out a week or so ago, those people have not been seen again.

One thing I will say about the community is that there are a lot of players who contribute a lot of their time to provide the rest of us with tools to better understand the game.  Players have created interactive maps, influence maps, political maps, and alliance spreadsheets.  I hope that someday Aventurine will incorporate some of these into the games basic functionality, specifically the political and influence map which are among my personal favorites.  Another surprising part of the community in Darkfall is the lack of angry hate tells.  In Age of Conan, a game with literally zero penalty for PvP death, my guild would get flooded with all sort of raging freaks.  In Darkfall, a game with a significantly harsher penalty associated with defeat, the hate tells are pretty few and far between, and some of them are actually somewhat light-hearted.  Most of the people who play this game seem to be tempered to the environment, and don't let it get to them too much.


Conclusion

In my beta review, I recommended that most people should probably hold off before buying the game until they worked out some of the kinks.  Is now the time to jump in?  I can say it is a lot better now than it was in the beta, and the frequency and changes in the patches we have been getting makes me think that this game is going to be getting better on a weekly basis.  I'd recommend that if you are on the fence, that you should keep an eye on the weekly patch notes.  It is by no means as polished as some of the so called AAA MMO's in recent memory, but at 60 days in Warhammer, my guild had one foot out the door, and here it looks so far to be going pretty well.  The irony is that despite its flaws, Darkfall performs better than Warhammer Online did with massive amount of people on the screen engaged in PvP.  Other than that, I hope Aventurine will continue to add some more soloable PvE spawns and work out some of the issues with the siege mechanic loopholes.  I am also hoping I will also get a chance to write again about the War Hulks many of you have been asking about sometime in the foreseeable future.

 

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition
www.inqguild.com