Interview: Darkfall's Tasos Flambouras
With the upcoming Darkfall expansion "Conquer the Seas" coming, I decided to touch base with Darkfall's Tasos Flambouras to see if he would be willing to field some questions regarding the expansion and other recent events with the game. Let me preface this by saying that at the time I sent the questions, I was unaware of the fact that the staff of MMORPG.com had submitted their own Q&A. Despite all of this, Tasos was willing to take time out of his busy schedule (and being up for 48 hours straight) do another round of questions here with me on the eve of the expansion's launch.
1) Your upcoming expansion update is titled "Conquer the Seas" seems to have a lot of focus on adding to content to the naval aspect of the game including sea towers and villages, new boats, a kraken, and making boats more accessible. Tell us a little bit about each of these and the effect they should have on gameplay.
It’s not so much about the individual additions to the naval aspect of the game; it’s actually the bigger picture we’re looking at here. A so far untapped resource of the game is now being activated in a variety of ways. Ships add a completely new layer of gameplay. It’s a lot of fun for a group playing on a ship and it’s also very challenging. Naval strategy and tactics need to be considered, created, drilled and executed. Teamwork within a ship and running a fleet of ships suddenly become very important given the worthwhile objective. A whole other element of the economy will unfold with ship related trading and building going on.
We’ll keep working on the sea element we’re introducing in this upcoming expansion. There’s so much untapped potential there and it’s very exciting contemplating and exploring the possibilities.
2) One of the major balance issue players have is the dominant role magic plays currently in combat. You have stated that players can expect to see some balancing done in the upcoming expansion to help bring melee and archery up to par with skill specializations and extensions. Could you elaborate on some of these changes players can expect to see coming up to help bring more balance to combat?
We started off by correcting some things that were causing imbalances, most of which were never meant to be this way. The global cooldowns we’re introducing stop the cycling of area of effect spell casting. After the new expansion you’ll get a cooldown across magic schools so you won’t be able to blast away like before. AOE spells were not meant for small scale situations, they were meant to be used to soften up large numbers during massive battles. AOE spells will still be very useful in large battles but they won’t be the main attraction anymore. Another fix is that the AOE spells will no longer go through objects.
The skill extensions and specializations are meant to help players with little interest in magic become viable using melee and archery. Some of the balancing aspects vs. magic allow these players to get bonus resistances against magic, do extra damage against spell casters, while suffering some penalties to their max mana and some of the more powerful extensions can completely block elemental schools, arcane magic, or necromancy.
Melee fighters and archers will also receive special attacks that can stop people from blocking, others where some of the damage they take is taken away from mana rather than their hitpoints, and there will be several other enhancements which are designed to help players fight against magic without having to use magic.
These changes came about from our own observation of what works and what doesn’t and from listening to a lot of good player feedback. There’s extensive testing being done and we’ll keep evaluating and making all necessary changes to keep the game balanced.
3) A recent update on from your twitter page talks about the addition of 2 new trade skills to the game to enhance items, Bloodcraft and Shadecraft. Could you talk about each of these tradeskills and give us some examples of what sort of enhancements players will be able to craft.
Shadecraft adds a permanent mana bonus at the expense of hitpoints. Bloodcraft adds hitpoints at the expense of mana. They’re new crafting skills which provide another way for players to specialize even further by making choices and compromises in the general spirit of specialization. There’s much more to come on that front, we’ll keep at it and there are some pretty exciting changes ahead to look forward to.
4) One of the longest requested features has been the inclusion of racial traits, which looks to finally becoming a reality in the near future. Will all races be getting their skills in this update, and could you elaborate some what the various races will be getting?
All races are getting traits which are small enhancements connected to the background story of each race. Alfar for example lean towards magic, orks towards melee, etc. we’ll keep working on differentiating the races even further. These are not huge differences at this stage but they will help give the races more individuality and these differences will be felt in the game. We’re taking small steps to keep everything well balanced and we’ll not stop at this. We’ll evaluate every change and build on it.
5) Your recently announced "Community Publishing Program" has sparked a lot of talk in various communities by rewarding players for helping to advertise. Tell us a bit about this program and if there are any other forms of advertising in the works?
The community publishing is our way of thanking our players for spreading the word but it’s also a marketing initiative. It gives a substantial payout for every Darkfall sale and several players are already doing quite well with it. We’ll be contacting the best community publishers about a more formal cooperation and this could give some people a real opportunity in the gaming industry. We’ve limited this program to our active players because they’re the ones who are most knowledgeable and most interested in Darkfall and we wanted to give them a piece of Darkfall’s success. We’re going to expand on the Community Publishing Program and we’re of course also engaging in more traditional forms of advertising in print and online media.
6) A lot of potential players have long asked about a free trial offering found in many other MMOs. Any plans on putting something together to give potential customers a chance to try before they buy?
We’ve been distributing some sponsored trial cards in local markets and it’s something we’re looking at but there’s no immediate plan to offer an open free trial yet.
Co-Leader of Inquisition