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Darkfall (DFO)
Aventurine SA
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Cancelled  (est.rel 02/22/09)  | Pub:AudioVisual Enterprises
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:Free | Pay Type:Subscription
System Req: PC | Out of date info? Let us know!

Darkfall Interviews: Interview With Development Team

By Richard Cox on May 04, 2005

MMORPG.com:First of all I'd like to thank you for taking the time out of what I imagine has to be an insanely busy schedule to answer some questions for our members. I know they appreciate it and are definitely hyped about Darkfall and eager to get their hands on any little tidbit of information about the game they can, so let's get on with the questions:
Darkfall Team:

Thank you for the interest in Darkfall and the interview opportunity, our first in a while due to severe lack of time.

MMORPG.com:
Can you tell us a little about yourself; who you are, what you do behind the scenes of Darkfall?
Darkfall Team:

The following developers participated in this interview:

  • Claus Grovdal - Producer and Lead Designer
  • Kjetil Helland – Lead Programmer
  • Ricki Sickenger – Tools Programmer
  • Henning Ludvigsen – Art Director
  • Tasos Flambouras – Associate Producer

MMORPG.com:
(Pimpslayer)
Will character achievement affect the world other than PVP (quests etc.)?
Darkfall Team:
 advertisement 

Character achievement is the driving force in Darkfall. Our hope is that the players will take full advantage of the freedoms we provide them with and the potential the game has to offer. In answering Pimpslayer's question, we can only talk about some of the starting points and player creativity can take it from there, perhaps even take things to places we hadn't imagined:

Darkfall features city and empire building and this affects the game world considerably, both physically and politically. This sets the stage not only for PvP and clan warfare, but also for trade, politics, diplomacy, the development of the in-game culture etc.

Darkfall's player driven economy, and its' dynamic, is a component of the game that greatly affects the world and is dependent on player activities and player controlled resources. We'll also remind you that in Darkfall players can create all the items found in the world.

Diplomacy, politics, trade agreements, and laws add more dimensions to the game and give players more ways in which to affect the world around them.

Player interaction isn't restricted whatsoever. There are no safe zones, no realms, factions or PvP zones. Players have the full interaction experience to look forward to, up close and personal with their fellow players. Darkfall is very much a social game with a lot of support for community building within the game. Player interaction affects everything from the mere passing-on of game knowledge and information, to affecting the way the entire world population behaves. The large number of players that Darkfall supports per game world (more than 10 thousand simultaneously) makes for a very complex social environment. We're taking an active stance in supporting the building a strong in-game community and the Darkfall Online culture.

There are quests of great importance for clans and entire races. An individual player has the potential of becoming the champion of his clan, or of his race. Individual and clan competitions and events are also planned, with great rewards for the winners. Darkfall is a game where player achievement is documented and rewarded within the game, more substantially than just the collection of numbers and statistics.

Exploration, discovery, and the pioneering spirit seem to be an extremely short experience in MMOs nowadays. Worlds are fully explored within a few days. The Darkfall world is so huge, content-rich, diverse, and with a substantial content update program -- in order to prolong this experience and keep the game world fresh and exciting. Darkfall's terrain is entirely hand-crafted and hand-populated by our artists, designers, and world-builders in order to give non-repetitive, unpredictable, and unique locations to discover and explore.

MMORPG.com:
(Preston)
Are there any plans for how ships will be stored or protected while offline?
Darkfall Team:

When a ship is docked in a harbor before the player logs out, then the ship is safely stored. If not, then it may be destroyed. Destroying a ship isn't the easiest thing to do and you'll need another ship to do this with. Darkfall features many different kinds of ships, such as large warships, merchant vessels, small scouting and skirmish boats, even a pirate ship. An interesting functionality about Darkfall's ships is that players can move on board, fight on them, or fight from them using their own or the boat's weapons to attack other boats or to fire on land targets. Players don't just "become" the boat upon entering it.

MMORPG.com:
(Munka)
What was the biggest challenge the dev team has faced and how did they over come it?
Darkfall Team:

Darkfall is a very ambitious game as you know, and there have been so many challenges to overcome that we can't really agree on "the biggest one" of them. There are challenges of a psychological, technical, and of a logistical nature:

Psychologically, the team faces the challenge of maintaining focus over the long development period, while dealing with the everyday pressures, and through setbacks or disappointments along the way. The way we overcome this is through discipline, keeping our heads down and involved in the work, just grinding away at it, and reaffirming our commitment often. Our commitment to remain true to the spirit of Darkfall and to our promises to the Darkfall community through the production delays is something that we have to deal with every day, but we believe that the end result will reward us for our perseverance.

The technical challenges have been considerable: The amount of data, the seamlessness of a world this large, the large number of concurrent players that the game world hosts, as well as making the game look great while maintaining smooth gameplay, are all technical issues we're constantly working on.

The logistical challenges have to do with the size of the Darkfall world and the amount of content and diversity in the game. As far as we know this is the largest MMORPG world out there and it's all hand-crafted, the terrain is all modeled and textured by our artists, rather than auto-generated. The six unique player races were another logistical challenge, having to create six unique cultures and doing everything six times over. The logistical challenges were overcome by taking the time to do things right, while working efficiently and diligently producing the content. We could have taken the shortcuts but the end result is so rewarding that we're glad we haven't.

MMORPG.com:
(Secmanx)
I read you had 20 people working on it from your previous 4 have you hired more people since then?
Darkfall Team:

Razorwax started working on Darkfall in Norway with four developers who are now part of Aventurine in Greece. Aventurine was founded with the purpose of developing and publishing Darkfall. As we speak, there are 22 people in-house working full time on the game, as well as a few more outside of the company. Along the way we've hired several new developers --as needed, we've replaced a few people as well, but the original Aventurine/Razorwax people remain with the project. Right now we're hiring two more programmers, and that's what's happening on our human resources front :)

MMORPG.com:
(Munka)
When does the team think they can release some more info about the progress of DF, new additions, and perhaps some screenshot and a movie?
Darkfall Team:

We will be releasing new information about Darkfall as soon as we meet our latest development milestone. New screenshots, progress reports, and videos are all in the plans to be released. We're painfully aware that we haven't been forthcoming with information about our progress lately. Darkfall's progress follows development milestones and we're in the midst of a very long development stretch that should be over soon. Our first priority is the development of the game and this squashes our willingness to talk about it before there's something substantial to report.

On the other hand, there's so much information about Darkfall out there already, that we don't know how much more we want to put out there until the next stage. Most of the questions that are asked of us anymore have been answered many times before, or they're about topics we're not at liberty to discuss yet. Development is taking longer than we originally anticipated, and the flow of information has suffered along with our schedules. We were hoping to be well into playtesting by now, so we could be talking about the game to people with first-hand experience of it and that time is nearing, but we're not quite there yet. We ask the Darkfall community to be patient with us for a bit longer.

MMORPG.com:
(Pimpslayer)
How will first person be handled? Most MMORPGs released at the moment have 1st person but it is shallow, being hard to control and showing almost no detail concerning the character's own weapon/ armor.
Darkfall Team:

First person is Darkfall's primary perspective so we've put a lot of work into it. It's not an optional view like it is in other games so we hope that we've nailed it when it comes to movement and ranged combat.

We've already announced that melee combat isn't in first person anymore, but rather in a tight third person view kind of like what Max Payne or Savage are doing. The third person view choice was made because during testing we discovered that melee combat is much more fun in third person.

Darkfall's first person modes consist one for bows and ranged weapons, one for magic, and one for thrown weapons and items. There are also camera effects associated with the first person view and the sound is more immersive. You're also able to see the details of the weapon you're holding.

MMORPG.com:
(Preston)
What will lighting be like? Will you need a torch on a moonless night? If a torch is needed, will you need a hand slot?
Darkfall Team:

On the surface it's never that dark that you need a hand light. Darkfall's planetary system provides enough light to see by. There are two moons, a large blue and a smaller red one and they both give out light. We should mention that lighting is dynamic, and the planetary system is fully functional. There are some parts of dungeons where you would need a hand light.

MMORPG.com:
(Munka)
I'm sure the biggest thing on the mind of the fans is when the beta is going to be held. Is the team nearing this stage or is there still a great deal to do before you can think about a beta?
Darkfall Team:

We've been asked this question often and we know that this is on the mind of the fans, it's on our mind as well since there's nothing we would like more than have people playtesting the game.

We do have an internal milestone for the beta as the fans perceive it, and that's the state where the game can be playtested and fun could be had. We're nearing this stage. Other than that, we've been testing the game internally for quite some time now.

MMORPG.com:
(Secmanx)
Will it take 2+ weeks to build up a town that is destroyed in 1 night?
Darkfall Team:

Claus has answered this question, so we hope you don't mind if we quote his extensive analysis of this topic on the F13 message boards:

"Speaking about the losing side quitting the game because rebuilding is too hard, I think it is important to break the entire gameplay down into smaller steps. In Shadowbane you could build a city for months, only to have it burned down completely in a few hours. It is a cool sounding feature on paper, but in the end I think it is punishing the losing side way too much. I don't have any numbers to back it up, but I am pretty confident that every guild that had their city burned down, saw a good percentage of their players quitting the game in the following few days. Rebuilding after defeat was just too hard and tedious, and most players didn't want to go through with that again.

In Dark Age of Camelot they adopted the small steps philosophy. You can take over another guild's keep, and the losing side doesn't lose that much. Additionally, the losers can get the keep back fairly easily; it hasn't been burned down to the ground. I personally feel that the risks and rewards are too small, close to insignificant in Dark Age of Camelot, but still better than in Shadowbane.

I think a better balance lies somewhere between Shadowbane and Dark Age of Camelot. Let the conqueror take over the city and allow them to destroy a few assets if they so desire, but limit how much they can burn down. Basically you want them taking over instead of destroying. This way the losing guild has the chance to lick their wounds, regroup and try to take their city back through diplomacy, trade, or by force.

You keep most of the gameplay about building and taking over, instead of destruction, which ultimately chases players away from the game. The fun part in both Shadowbane and Dark Age of Camelot is the fighting anyway, so now there's always something to fight over.

It's still possible to burn down entire cities in Darkfall, but only a few buildings / structures every so often, giving the losing team the possibility of reclaiming what was theirs before it is forever gone. With this system we hope to increase the fun and excitement of waging war, and decrease the sense of a definitive Game Over."

MMORPG.com:
(Preston)
The lore describes Gods pretty well, are there plans to give them personal representation in the game aka Devs who RP and fight once in a while?
Darkfall Team:

The gods may be involved in various ways, mostly during events, and they will be played by Devs or Admins with great care not to screw anything up :) We have more creative ideas for using the ranking NPCs as well.

MMORPG.com:
(Munka)
Has the team been visiting the boards and reading the fans input, suggestions, and concerns? If so, what are some of the staff favorites and possible things that may be put ingame?
Darkfall Team:

We read the boards every day. They're a source of inspiration, ideas, encouragement, but also of frustration. The posts and discussions on our boards range from amazing to utter crap but generally the quality of the feedback is very high. There are posters we follow, and few that we ignore. When brainstorming on a game issue, we often run a search for the topic on the boards to get the community perspective. There are many things in the game right now that were influenced by the community input, that we don't quite know where to start. Here are a couple of examples:

The first person perspective was an issue we caught so much flak over, that we were open to the changes that were implemented as far as melee combat is concerned. The conquest system was influenced as much by community input as it was by testing. Many design decisions have been reaffirmed by the Darkfall community, like the alignment system, and full loot.

Finally, the community has helped us stay on course and true to the original vision for Darkfall. Right now we're implementing, so our next big date with the Darkfall community is during the playtesting phase where we expect that the feedback will be invaluable.

MMORPG.com:
(Preston)
Trading -> will raw resources be very heavy so they can only be transported in ships and wagons to give them more value for the distance they are traded?
Darkfall Team:

We haven't made it so limiting that it's frustrating. You can certainly move a lot more with a boat.

MMORPG.com:
(Secmanx)
Can you give us a current update on what part of the game you are working on?
Darkfall Team:

Currently we're adding and testing quests, and beautifying the world. We're populating the world with more monsters and NPCs, refining loot tables (loot that monsters drop), and balancing skills and spells. We're also adding visual and audio effects, refining artwork, finalizing the player character dressing system, and creating extra props to add to the thousands already in the game.

MMORPG.com:
(Preston)
Are there any alignment penalties for someone of your own race/alliance killing your NPC, mount, wagon or ship?
Darkfall Team:

Yes there are alignment penalties for doing this, but the fun part is that you get a free shot at them without taking an alignment hit.

MMORPG.com:
(Khahan)
In every MMO, we have been unable to use terrain for tactical advantage mainly due to huge floating name tags. Will there be floating name tags in Darkfall?
Darkfall Team:

Currently there are no floating name tags in Darkfall. You can see the name of the character you're targeting, and that's working out well for us so far, but there are several other options that we're also considering. It's an ongoing discussion about what works best and something we're experimenting with. We expect to get playtesting feedback on this topic based on several available solutions.

MMORPG.com:
(Preston)
Are racial mounts still planned?
Darkfall Team:

We're trying to release with the racial mounts. If we don't manage to due to time restraints, we'll release with horses as a universal mount, and fit the racial mounts in later through an update. Racial mounts made it on the low priority list, since horses and mounted combat work fine for testing at the moment.

MMORPG.com:
(Secmanx)
What countries are you planning on releasing the game in?
Darkfall Team:

The game will be released in N. America and Europe. Right now we don't see a reason to limit its release to specific countries, but there are certain issues to consider in distribution and publishing that we're still working through. There has also been much discussion about localization for certain markets but we don't want that to limit access for any group of players.

There has also been considerable interest in Darkfall by Asian publishers but there is currently no final plan to publish Darkfall in Asia. That said, our goal is to bring Darkfall to the broadest audience possible.

MMORPG.com:As you get further along in development have there been any features or ideas which had to be scrapped due to time restraints or just inability to pull it off in the manner you wanted to do it?
Darkfall Team:

Terrain deformation didn't make it due to technical and gameplay issues such as the lag griefing potential. Flying didn't make it either for game balancing issues. There have been several shortcuts taken in several areas without sacrificing anything from the gameplay. Other than these, there's a shortlist of low priority secondary features we're trying to get in the game if we have the time.

MMORPG.com:It sounds like your clan system is very well done. Will there be any visual way to easily identify members of clans such as the clan emblem being placed on their shield and cloak? Anything along those lines other than simply putting the guild name floating under the player name over their head?
Darkfall Team:

We calculated the possible combinations for character appearance, and the number was something like 3.5 billion different combinations without factoring in the color combinations so as you can see a clan can easily create a custom look for itself. Darkfall also features clan heraldry, as well as an indicator option, visible only to members of your own clan. Finally your clan name appears after your name when targeted.

We would like to extend a big thanks to the entire Darkfall development team for taking the time to answer all of these questions with such detail. We look forward to watching this title progress and we hope that our members will make use of our Darkfall forums and let us know what they think about the game by hyping the game on our list! You can also discuss this interview at this topic in our forums.

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