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 firstname.lastname@example.org -- 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.
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.
Co-Leader of Inquisition