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Paragus Rants

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

Author: Paragus1

Darkfall Unholy Wars: The Delay...

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday December 12 2012 at 12:47PM
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Darkfall Unholy Wars: The Delay...

Last night the Darkfall community broke out into a virtual prison riot after the announcement from Tasos that once again the launch of the new Darkfall has yet again been delayed.   While people who follow Darkfall and are familiar with Aventurine in general are no strangers to delays, this one stung particularly bad given the timing in relation to the expected launch of the game. When I sat down at my computer last night after work, I read the news as it was posted and all my various instant messaging programs became to go into fits as rage literally spewed all over my desktop and I watched Forumfall go into a complete meltdown.
 


As I sat there in my chair face-palming, I began to wrestle with my own disappointment.   I had a launch editorial for the site here already written and submitted that the staff asked me to do. I had a few friends who had taken off for work, probably foolishly, prepared to hunker down.  I had already had meetings with other clans about launch plans, as well as my own guild members explaining to them what Inquisition's plans would be on launch.  Irate friends began to pile in vent looking for me, as is often the case when AV makes them mad, and an instant message from Tasos himself... "change in plans :( ".

After chatting for a while and expressing my disappointment in the news with him, especially considering the fact it came literally at the 11th hour before launch, I truly believe that AV is doing ultimately what they believe will be the best course of action for the game over the long-term.  After some time processing the news and our conversation, I calmed down and started to really think about whether or not there was some truth to what he said and began to ponder the benefits of the delay.

Obviously finding out at the last possible hour about the delay was an absolutely horrible communication blunder on AV's part.   Any sane and rational person has to admit this, and AV certainly realizes this by their own admission.  It was justifiably received by the community as a slap in the face.  But by the same account, I think any sane and rational person would agree that had the game launched at this time, the likelihood of a repeat of the original Darkfall's launch debacle would have been very high.

The article that I wrote that was to be published on MMORPG.com today talked about what a new Darkfall needs to do in order to be successful.  In light of recent news, it seemed unfitting to publish it today (perhaps it will be published at a later time), but one of my main points is that the launch needs to be better than it was last time.  The launch of your game is the critical moment when you have to make your case to the marketplace as a developer that your game is worth a purchase, and another debacle akin to what happened before could cripple Unholy Wars right out of the gate.

 



The silver-lining I see in all the madness and rage is that Darkfall: Unholy Wars will be beta tested.   Does anyone out there really think that if this game had launched without any real beta test that it would have went well?   Darkfall in its scope is a massive project being handled by a studio that is reaching farther than many of the large developer houses out there.   Those of you who remember the original should also remember the staggering amount of issues and exploits that emerged.  Those of you who remember all of those issues should also remember the damage it did to the game as a whole in terms of population.   Having a real beta test should hopefully help mitigate the chances of these issues crippling the new game out of the gate, because this time AV is going to be hitting a much much larger crowd on launch.

The delay also means that Darkfall's launch day will make a much larger splash because now it will coincide with the game actually being available on Steam the day it goes live.   This is important that people attracted by Steam have the chance to play on day one because the initial days will dictate who the power players are politically in the game moving forward.   I like to think of the initial rush to secure holdings at launch as a setting of the political chess board, and having players join from steam weeks or months after launch could diminish the initial splash as those players enter the game with the political gears already set in stone and being powerless to become their own cog in the machine.

Yes AV's handling of the situation was poor.   Neither us as gamers or they as developers are in denial about this.   Yes, they need to vastly improve aspects of their communication with their loyal community.   But once the rage subsides, I would urge the community to take a step back for a moment and realize how important it is to the MMO genre as a while that this game reaches it's maximum potential.   The MMO landscape for me shows nothing of any real interest on the horizon or even the immediate future.  As we sit here, big MMO developers are in the process of churning out the next big hype train MMO that looks just like the last 5 that came through and burned out in a month.  AV needs this game to succeed because it is their dream, but we as disgruntled MMO players also need this to succeed because we want other companies to know that there is a market worth pursuing in deviating from linear MMOs.   If waiting another few weeks increases the odds, then I think it's probably worth it, because the alternative means more of the same and a floundering genre that looks increasingly boring to me as a veteran gamer.


Paragus Rants
Co-Leader of Inquisition

DestLocke writes:

I do remember all the issues in the original, and I also remember all the issues that made it to launch despite a lengthy beta. 

Why you think a shorter beta this time around will mititgate anything is short-sighted; if anything, it will give the people who want to find and use exploits a chance to find them, and prepare to use them when the game goes live. 

Wed Dec 12 2012 1:06PM Report
Kasmos writes:

@Dest, it's because they have a MUCH bigger team than at launch of Darkfall 1.0 as well as a lot more experience.

55 people working on Darkfall is a lot compared to the 15-20 or so at the original launch.

Plus, we'll probably have a lot more people in this beta compared to the last.

Wed Dec 12 2012 1:18PM Report
Mifun writes: Well beta indeed a good idea. Let's hope it's gonna help to actually improve the game. Wed Dec 12 2012 1:19PM Report
Kasmos writes:

@Dest, it's because they have a MUCH bigger team than at launch of Darkfall 1.0 as well as a lot more experience.

55 people working on Darkfall is a lot compared to the 15-20 or so at the original launch.

Plus, we'll probably have a lot more people in this beta compared to the last.

Wed Dec 12 2012 1:22PM Report
Paragus1 writes: DF 1.0 Beta was on a dev team of around 11 people.    They are currently at 50 ish people on the project for 2.0 beta. Wed Dec 12 2012 1:24PM Report
Kasmos writes:

Yeah, that's even less than I thought.

x5 the amount of people is a huge difference.

Wed Dec 12 2012 1:34PM Report
DarthRaiden writes: Tasos was repeating how it doesnt need to be Beta tested. All the supporter were claiming how that is true. What now  ? Wed Dec 12 2012 1:53PM Report
DestLocke writes: You don't have to sell me on the beta, I was saying they should have a a beta months ago while AV was completely ignoring the subject completely.  All I'm saying is a few weeks is not a long time, and probably won't even scratch the surface of testing all the mechanics, mobs, dungeons and general landmass.  Do you think AV is actually going to step in, max people out, give people stuff to test with, that sort of thing?  Because a big problem with the 1.0 beta was not being able to test so much stuff because we simply didn't have access to it.  Like magic in general for instance. Wed Dec 12 2012 2:10PM Report
Jupsto writes:

really all thats happened is the instead of launching a p2p beta, the beta got delayed 5 days and is now f2p, but requires pre order.

surely by monday when no download/purchase was available people realised the game would be delayed a few days.

Wed Dec 12 2012 2:13PM Report
Paragus1 writes: I would say those are legit concerns.  In the case of magic (yours example), we don't know exactly if there is some sort of structure to gain access to various schools in terms of pre-requisitites.  The old game required you to reach X skill in a certain magic school to gain access to another school.    This may not be the case and if the design is broader it might help.   I haven't seen this deatialed anywhere so I could be wrong on this. Wed Dec 12 2012 2:15PM Report
marcust writes:

What I'm having trouble understanding is how DF will cater for all those people who buy via Steam as well as those from DF1 who will beta.

I expect the servers to be full just from beta testers, let alone the larger group coming via Steam.

What is the point of delaying to synch up with a steam release when you cant fit all those people onto the two servers anyway.  

Wed Dec 12 2012 2:19PM Report
DestLocke writes: That's very true.  If they aren't prepared server-wise along with being prepared in every other way, it will get ugly real fast when people can't log in or if they actually do, it's lagging a bogged down. Wed Dec 12 2012 2:25PM Report
DestLocke writes: The bottom line is, you can sugarcoat what happened yesterday all you like, but the fact remains glaringly obvious that AV is in a complete scatterbrain state.  Whether that is due to investor pressure, general deadlines, or just feeling overwhelmed -- there's no doubt about it, they are out of thier element.  I'm not sure where that would come from other than not being overly confident in the product they have created as it stands at the moment. Wed Dec 12 2012 2:27PM Report
Squarll writes: look at it like this you will get to play and hopfuly make the game beter so it could all be good in the end...so chill and wait :) Wed Dec 12 2012 2:43PM Report
dankmon writes: Ultimately the beta is a stress test.  Nothing more, and that's fine. Wed Dec 12 2012 2:53PM Report
SirFubar writes: That part made me laugh so hard : "We don’t need to tell you how incredibly complex MMO development is, with thousands of things needing to come together and how issues can pop up at the last minute. It’s ultimately our duty to do what’s best for the game and for our players" So if its so complex, why did these guys decided to scrap the original game instead of fixing it? Doesn't make any sense to me. Why wasting time to create a "new" game that might give them the same bad name as the original instead of fixing the original game to prove us they can make a good game. These guys are hilarious really. Wed Dec 12 2012 3:16PM Report
furidiam writes:

been waiting years....whats a couple more weeks...

 

doh thats what happened the first time df2010 where are you!

 

Seriously though, if you people were expecting the game to be released, without taking AV's history into account, that would just be mind boggling.

Wed Dec 12 2012 3:19PM Report
Melkrow writes:

"Yes AV's handling of the situation was poor.   Neither us as gamers or they as developers are in denial about this.   Yes, they need to vastly improve aspects of their communication with their loyal community."

The question is, how do we make AV more responsible.  You've been around long enough to know that sadly this is nothing new, this is business as usual from them.  This has gone on for years.  What can we do to lift AV out of their corner of ..whatever corner they're in (stupidity comes to mind).

Wed Dec 12 2012 5:08PM Report
GeneralSurgery writes:

Good article. 

 

Looking forward to Beta. I'm sure that this was a good decision for the Darkfall franchise overall, and I think Tasos has balls to make tough calls. 

 

Well done AV. 

Wed Dec 12 2012 6:07PM Report
Zelgiuss writes: AV missed the steam hype train.  News at 11 Wed Dec 12 2012 6:55PM Report
stux writes:

From my perspectice of playing the game for many years this is more likely an excuse for an infinished product then a legitimate excuse.

 

The have given so many excuses for not getting this out the door since I started playing three years ago.  Originally, it was suppose to be the next big patch (they called it an expansion but to me it sounded like what Asheron's Call pumped out every month) to the game added content and balance to the game.

 

Here we are today and yes they have added, changed, and fixed a more then that original patch

BUT.......

It still isn't finished and I am not happily playing it.

If I had more time I would probably be playing something else right now but RL has me busy so when that slow down if the game is out I will try it.

 

But if it isn't I am going to try something else that may turn my attention away.

In either case, I am sick or rationalized excuses.

Wed Dec 12 2012 7:20PM Report
wrekognize writes: Great article and agreed! Wed Dec 12 2012 7:35PM Report
Simsu writes:

AV has a huge problem with setting dates and not making them. People can make excuses (small company, indie, etc) for this until the cows come home, but none of that diminishes the fact that when AV says it's going to do something, you can basically ignore them until it actually happens. It's not a good way to represent your own company. (And I'll just leave it at that.)

However, lets all be honest here... DF:UW needed a beta, both the game server and the accounts/website, and you're deluding yourself if you think otherwise. AV could not afford another launch like the last one and this delay gives them a chance to iron out some of those potential problems.

In the end, if we're all saying "Damned AV can't keep to their dates, but at least it was a good launch," then it's a win for AV.

Wed Dec 12 2012 7:51PM Report
Simsu writes:

Paragus Said:

"... This is important that people attracted by Steam have the chance to play on day one because..."

This is mainly directed at Paragus..

The "I was here first" advantage of DF is something that everyone who's played DF knows about, usually in the context of being a "Vet" player with high skills, but I'm curious to how many people have really sat down and analyzed the social/polital apsect of this advantage. Specifically whether or not it is an intended game mechanic and whether or not it's good for the game in the long term.

I'm curious to know what you think about this advantage -- specifically in the context of planned server (holdings) wipes in an attempt to "reset" the "I was here first" advantage. If not specifically for DF, then just in general for sandbox style games.

(Off hand, I don't recall if you played Shadowbane, but in the previous paragraph I'm thinking of something similar to what Wolfpack did in regards to cycling the old game worlds [maps] out and adding new ones.)

Wed Dec 12 2012 8:09PM Report
Hrimnir writes: This game, its "release" and the fans of this game have been a constant source of entertainment and amusement for us.  I personally am ecstatic that the release was delayed because i didnt want the show to end. Wed Dec 12 2012 8:23PM Report
Ackbar writes: I hope there is a significant long and open beta for everyone to try the game. Its the only way they will win me over. Wed Dec 12 2012 8:26PM Report
DMKano writes:

The problem is actually simple - MMORPGs are still some of the most complex software projects to complete and get ready for launch. Small dev studios have a hell of time getting them out the door and this is why so many fail.

AAA MMORPGs still take large dedicated dev teams and solid operation teams that will handle server hardware, network, data center hosting and deployment.

SoE, Blizzard, Trion, NCSoft, Funcom - look at how their operations, look how many teams these companies have to keep online games running smoothly.

its not easy, and its not cheap.

Wed Dec 12 2012 9:18PM Report
karmath writes:

Good post. While I was annoyed the game didnt come out, as Paragus pointed out, df:uh's success is bigger than the game itself. It's rise or fall is going to influence the genre more than most care to admit.

If you like sandbox games and despise cancerclones, give AV some slack and the time to get it right  and have a great launch. If you dont, and pressure them to release it broken or not as good as it could of been, DF will be the last 'western' sandbox you ever possibbly see for the foreseeable future. If it goes well, expect to see more, maybe even a big studio wanting to cash in on this genre and make a AAA sandbox.

 

Wed Dec 12 2012 10:49PM Report
thinktank001 writes: I definitely agree this will hopefully bring about a better release, but there is absolutely no reason to let them off the hook.   Setting a release date for 12/12 means they should of had an open beta / stress test weeks ago, and I disagree that your words should be held back for a later date.   The time to let them know what you think is now.   An article about your time in beta and excitement  or disappointment for the release would be much more appropriate the next time around. Thu Dec 13 2012 12:54AM Report
kylen1 writes: The only  thing that bugs me is the lack of respect the AV team gives to it's community that is completely loyal. The players, myself included, that stuck around in DF1 and helped get UW to greenlight on steam are treated like crap all because of poor communication on their part. If they had any feeling of a delay they could have said this is a tentative release date with the possibility of getting pushed back. Tasos talks a big talk, but their HR department is lackluster. If they communicated with their audience in the likes of GW2 where they used every asset available.. reddit AMA's, blog postings, Q&A, and don't think that it needs to be once a week we show you a video so we have a week to work, then they would be a much better position. Instead they keep us in the dark .. in the dark... in the dark.. oh we gonna delay.. instead of "Hey guys, shits crazy these other fuckers we working with miiiight want a push back" if we woulda got that we woulda been much happier. Or just outright lying to us on a CONSTANT basis.. They have not ONCE that i can remember stuck to a release date of a game/patch since I have been following them (which is before EU release).. It just bugs me their poor communication they have with us.. maybe you can talk to Tasos in your IM and tell him Hey bro, come at us more just say hey whats up yall thats it. Thu Dec 13 2012 1:18AM Report
morbuskabis writes:

Guess that is the last chance for AV. If the launch won't be "smooth" (be able to get in the game 48hrs after release) and the game is still full of bugs, then it will be hard to explain the com. why they needed more time.

And the moste important part is, they got to communicate with the customers. If somthing isn't working, they shouldn't wait 5hrs but inform ppl on twitter or on their HP, that they working on it and will keep them informed. This is not rocket science, inform step by step what you do. You can't inform too much, but you can easily inform too less.

Thu Dec 13 2012 2:38AM Report
winter writes: Umm they missed torelease dates, and state they don't even have a playable beta build of the game running yet? Doesn't this worry you at leasat alittle? One would wonder how one announces any release date when you don't have a playable game of even beta standard built yet. I forsee a long, really long wait. Hopefully I'm wrong Thu Dec 13 2012 3:34AM Report
Quitto writes: i just cant wait for the delay anounchment of beta on sunday 11.59 pm Thu Dec 13 2012 4:26AM Report
Teilk writes:

Let's face it:

Darkfall is a niche game with virtually zero competition with regards to the FFA Full Loot Sandbox style play that it offers. Great idea, great product, horrible implementation and management. 

Until one of the big name companies with teams of GM's and community managers who communicate with the players on a regular basis jumps into this niche, there is and will be nothing like it. 

Hopefully the recent debacle, the petition to pull DF from Steam, the sudden reduction of hype to -15 (lol), and all the negative publicity that they received will be an eye opener for AV, and they will adapt their style of "community interaction" appropriately, but I doubt it.

Thu Dec 13 2012 6:16AM Report
zpwR writes:

@Telik  

Their fan communication right now is the best it has ever been. I remember back in 2010 it was impossible to get any news or updates from AV.  From June to September there wasn't a single update in either the announcement or spotlight threads.  During the so called "development of DF 2010" we didn't hear from AV for THREE months.  Now I can be rest assured that every single friday morning I can go to the darkfall blog and consistantly see an update from tasos or another developer on the progress they have made.

I agree with the delays AV has done because I am willing to wait for the best DF game yet, but others may not be as willing.

Yes, all of the previous DF players will wait however long it takes, but delaying the game twice is just losing potential players and giving it negative feedback.  That is my only concern for the game right now.

Thu Dec 13 2012 6:37AM Report
LizardEgypt writes: Love you paragus Thu Dec 13 2012 7:32AM Report
attckdog writes: Cannot wait, I don't care how long it takes. This game does need a beta test so I'm alright with the news.  Thu Dec 13 2012 7:47AM Report
me1dor writes: Good post Paragus ! Thu Dec 13 2012 8:29AM Report
tiagotbp190 writes:

Hype drop from 8.54 to 7.58

Tasos lie to your fanbase, proves that aventurine is a amateur company.

 

Thu Dec 13 2012 9:38AM Report
Uzik writes:

Good points Paragus.

 

I think we are all here for 2 reasons:

1) There is no game out there that deilvers everything we want

2) Darkfall is the only game that ever came close

Thu Dec 13 2012 9:58AM Report
keitholi writes:

My question is, what about us players who pre-ordered DF 1.0 and left due to the sad state of the game back then? Is AV going to honor our original purchase and allow us into the beta, or are they going to force us to pre-order and relive the original horror all over again?

 

The proper thing to do would be to honor the original purchase, but I somehow feel that given AV's track record, they wont do any such thing.

Thu Dec 13 2012 12:41PM Report
Paragus1 writes: They are honoring the original purchase in the sense that you do not need to buy the game again, and in terms of preordering for beta access, you only need to pre-order your first months subscription fee.    Whether or not you think that's a just way to handle it is for you to decide. Thu Dec 13 2012 1:20PM Report
JackieChiles writes: The delay was fine, the announcement of it was poorly executed. I don't mind paying early to play beta. (free first month anyways) Sat Dec 15 2012 7:56AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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