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Paragus Rants

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

Author: Paragus1

DAOC Origins: 6 Months of Silence

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday January 21 2009 at 11:46AM
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DAOC Origins: 6 Months of Silence

A long time ago old Dark Age of Camelot fans were rejoicing when Mythic announced that they were going to be releasing their "Origins" server. Many of the game's original fans had become disenchanted with DAOC after the release of some controversial expansion packs, and fans had been longing to relive that original DAOC experience.

On June 2nd, 2008, Mythic announced on the Camelot Herald the Origins project and revealed their plan:

"This server is designed to return DAOC to the great game experience it was in 2001/2002, while also applying wisdom from the lessons we have learned since then. DAOC is still a great game, but this server has its own appeal that we ‘old school’ players really enjoyed, and our goal is to get back to that while also continuing to support the other rulesets. Origins will not exactly replicate the game as it was is 2001; we are keeping as a part of server the ‘best features’ we have put into the game since launch, such as housing, horses, the market explorer, UI changes (to name only a few) and many of the improved systems introduced over the years."

The announcement also goes on to lay out their timeframe for the project:

"The most common question continues to be, “Is this really going to happen?

Origins has been in development for a couple of months now. We have been working with our Team Leads (as part of the Team Lead program) to work through the various gameplay details, ideas, and issues, while also collecting and reading your feedback. Our schedule requires around four to five months of development. This means that since the server has been in development for two months already, we still have another two to three months before it’s ready for primetime. Right now, launch is slated for the August/September timeframe."

On July 29th, 2008, Mythic amended their stance regarding their plans for origins by releasing another announcement:

"Initially, we had an aggressive timetable we wanted to meet in order to get this into the players hands as soon as possible. Now, looking at all the feedback and re-examining our own internal goals and objectives for this server, we realize that it’s better to take a step back and take our time with Origins. What this means in practical terms is that you won’t be seeing Origins in the original Aug.-Sept. timeframe. When we are happier with the overall design and functionality, we will begin talking about a launch date. Until then, we thank everyone for participating during this phase of the Origins project."

It has been almost 6 months, and DAOC fans are left scratching their heads wondering, "Is this really going to happen?" Mythic has yet to give their fans any official updates on the status of the project since then, and now it appears that Mythic has been hit by personnel cuts EA has made due to economic concerns. Mythic no doubt has their hands full with Warhammer Online, which has been wrestling with its own issues. Mark Jacobs made this comment on the Warhammer Alliance regarding the layoffs in regards to Warhammer support:

"It isn't any more complicated than that other than to say that we have a very large studio and pretty much every person there has been and will continue to work on WAR for quite a while (meaning we haven't started work on another game yet)," he continued. "When we launched, we had over 400 people working on the game in one capacity or another so it's not like we had a small team at launch or even a small team now."

There definitely seems to be a demand for Origins, and you would think that given that demand, Mythic would recognize the opportunity to generate some more revenue from their DAOC brand. I find it amazing that there hasn't been much of an update on the official site in almost 6 months, and one has to wonder if the revenue opportunity is getting smaller the longer they remain silent.

Hopefully the economic turmoil and layoffs have not derailed Mythic's original plans to give their old fans a taste of DAOC's original glory.  Perhaps Jacobs is telling the truth about "pretty much everyone" working on Warhammer, but you owe the DAOC customers who made your company successful at least some form of an update on if and when this project will see the light of day, or if it has been canceled.



Co-Leader of Inquisition

Darkfall Survey Predicts Playstyles

Posted by Paragus1 Tuesday January 13 2009 at 8:13AM
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Darkfall Survey Predicts Playstyles

With the slated release date for Darkfall Online approaching, forums have been buzzing with speculation on various aspects of the game in order to try and forecast what players could expect to see once the game goes live. Often times in the static of forums post and polls, something interesting gets drowned out in all the noise. Darkfall EU, a fansite for the anticipated MMO, ran a detailed survey that asked future players about their plans and views for when the game goes live. If you have been following Darkfall for a long time like me, you might find the results of this very interesting. The survey claims to have sampled a pool size of over 1600, and projects a margin of error near 3%. For the purposes of this article I will be using the combined European + North American data tables.


The Race Poll

The Alfar seem to have narrowly won the race poll, but when you consider the margin of error, they are roughly tied with the Humans. Remember that the premise of Darkfall has the races divided into 3 teams which break down as Humans / Dwarves / Mirdain Vs. Mahirim / Ork Vs. Alfar. If we add up all the percentages based on factional distribution, we see that the Alfar have roughly 25% of the population, the "good" races come in with about 47%, leaving the Mahirim and Orks with roughly 27%.

We can see that the "good" races seem to definitely have the population advantage assuming this data is correct, but we have to take into account that their team also has the most races included in it. The Orks on the other hand come in last place in terms of popularity by a substantial margin. On a personal note, I have always been fascinated by the races people pick in MMOs. I suspect a lot of people may tend to play races that are pleasing to the eye, which could also explain why the Orks might be dead last.


The "Evil" Poll

This is another poll I found to be very interesting. It looks like 2/3 of the players said they would kill someone on their team depending on the situation. This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the context of that situation, or your viewpoint. The poll doesn't allow people to describe that situation, which could probably range from self-defense to capitalizing on a moment of weakness. We just can't tell for sure, but what we can see is that about 1/4 of the players are ready to commit murder.

The other table also is very revealing as it asks those who are willing to commit murder what race they plan on playing. We see that a staggering 38% of them plan to roll Orks, and 36% of them plan to be Alfars, which means the "good" races are the least likely to commit murder. You have to wonder about the psychology behind this. Orks are generally perceived to be an evil race in most fantasy settings, so perhaps players who pick Orks are more committed to follow through on being evil? The Alfar on the other hand are on their own team, so many players perceived this as being the hard road, especially with the population against them. Some people speculated that maybe this shared mutual struggle would make the Alfar work together out of necessity, but I am guessing that Alfar players have committed themselves to taking the hard road, so may be more willing to take it all the way.


The "Safe" Poll

Here we can see the people most likely to not be killed. I find it surprising that the thing people seem to have the most respect for are players engaged in a duel. Given the number still shows that more than half would kill a person in a duel (if you look at the inverse of the number), there is something to be said about respecting 2 people settling something the old way. I suppose one could also argue that after a duel the targets will be at their weakest, so I guess I'll let you decide. Crafters and newbies seems to find a little more love than I expected, but I would argue that a newbie may be harder to identify in Darkfall because you are unable to con players with there being no levels at all. I guess its best to be a good aligned newbie in a duel, if you roleplay or look like a challenge people will be eager to bring you back to reality.


Playstyle Poll

This poll shows us the playstyle the future Darkfall player tends to learn towards, and who the game is appealing towards. It is no surprise to see that the PvP crowd makes up over half the of target audience, but it also seems that the zoneless and seamless world idea definitely seems to have those explorer types interested in going out into the wilderness to see what secrets the world is hiding. One bit of troubling news is that crafters seem to be in short supply, and according to Darkfall EU he elaborates on this point.

"What may be of some concern is that 67.50% of crafters plan to be in the Human alliance, whereas only 9.90% will be Alfar crafters. If we assume that 1/4 of players roll an Alfar, it looks like they could be struggling to find a good crafter."


The "Sausage" Poll

I call this one the sausage poll because it pretty much confirms something I think all we knew deep down. Darkfall Online will indeed be one of the internet's biggest sausage fests.

The guys over at Darkfall EU seems to have put a lot of effort into this survey, and hopefully you found this as interesting as I did. There are a few other tables over there that I didn't touch on just for the sake of time, but if you are bored you might want to go look over to the Survey Results Page over there, take a look at the entire thing, and read their analysis.  I'm curious to hear your take on the results.



Co-Leader of Inquisition

Rant: Warhammer RvR Population Capped!

Posted by Paragus1 Thursday January 8 2009 at 1:16PM
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Rant: Warhammer RvR Population Capped!

Mythic released an announcement on the WAR Herald today that I find stunning.  Here are some excerpts from the announcement.

"When the Fortress population reaches certain population thresholds, players who are attempting to enter the area of the besieged Fortress that are Rank 35 and below will be teleported to the warcamp for the region they are in. When the next area population threshold has been met, players that are Rank 37 and below will be teleported to the warcamp. The final population threshold applies to players that are Rank 39 and below. Once the total population cap has been met for the area surrounding the Fortress, all players that attempt to enter the area will be teleported back to the region’s warcamp."

"Because of the strategic advantage that players will always have when defending a Fortress, the attacking forces will have a numeric advantage when attempting to wrest control of a Fortress from the opposing realm."

"The purpose of this change is twofold: to improve server stability, and allow even more players to participate in, and benefit from, capital city sieges."

Now I know some fans of the game and Mythic are trying to spin this into a good thing, but take a step back a moment and think about what is going on.  This game was marketed as a massive RvR game. The servers are capable of holding thousands of players online at the same time.  Did it not occur to anyone at Mythic during the design phase of Warhammer Online that most of a servers online population of several thousand players would be in Tier 4 at any given moment?  It also seems they are prematurely stacking the population numbers in favor of the attackers.  Can someone explain how capping the population levels will allow even more players to participate?

Mythic finally seems to be admitting what the rest of us knew all along.  Their servers simply can't handle massive amounts of people fighting in one area at the same time.  Fortress sieges have often times led to the crashing of zones and servers leaving both side throwing their hands up in frustration.  Just like the Contribution System debacle, they are sending out their PR monkeys to try and make their subscribers feel better about the fact that the game was launched fundamentally flawed.

The question going forward now is where is this going to end?  Forums are stirring with speculation over whether or not instancing will be an inevitable step to stop the servers from crashing, or if Mythic can really do something on the hardware end of this problem to make their game work as advertised.  Even if instancing does not happen, capping the population on participation in a siege will make Warhammer Online's fortress sieges not much different than those found in Age of Conan (which is not a good thing).

The fact that they are trying to spin this by saying "to allow even more players to participate" by capping population in a given area only makes me feel better about pulling my guild out of this game.  I'll be waiting for the flames from Warhammer fans.



Co-Leader of Inquisition