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Paragus Rants

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

Author: Paragus1

Darkfall: Progression and Sieging

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday February 10 2010 at 9:52AM
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Darkfall: Progression and Sieging

It's been a little over 2 months since I have rerolled fresh on Darkfall's NA server, and almost a year since the game's initial launch.  Today I want to just give my thoughts on character progression, take a more in-depth look at how the new siege mechanics are playing out from the last expansion.

Character Progression

At the time of my last write-up, I was about 2 weeks into playing my new character.  Now that I am past the 2 month mark, I want to talk about the progression my character has made to help give people a rough idea on rate of character development.  Let me preface this by saying that everyone develops at different speeds, and even in my own guild there are wild differences in some of these areas between my friends.  Since everything you do in Darkfall seems to raise something, results are bound to vary based how time was spent in game, as well as the amount of time played.  I've played pretty actively, logging in pretty much daily for several hours at a time.  Your results may vary depending on how much you play and how your time is spent in-game, this is just a snapshot of where I am personally at this stage to help give a general idea.

Let's start off by taking a look at where my stats are currently after about 10 weeks of playing, and compare it to where I was at my second week of playing.  The 10 week stats factor in me having a +4 Vitality quest title enabled.  I decided to focus on my archery skills and magic skills pretty heavily over my melee.  This path combined with the fact that I did not spend nearly as much time harvesting as my guildmates shows why my Strength and Wisdom are dragging behind.  Some of my friends who took a more melee oriented approach have much higher strength and vitality, and as a result more HP than me.

My heavy focus on Archery initially has made Dexterity one of my higher stats, and since shooting bows also seems to raise Vitality to a lesser degree, there is a substantial gap between my Vitality and Strength.  Archery has been an extremely useful tool for PvE, and seems to be the fastest path to doing damage in PvP for a newer player.  Compared to magic, archery is relatively cheap skill to work on with the cost of arrows being low, and many of the lower end monsters dropping arrows.  All of these factors made me want to get maxed out here early on, and it has been a boon for my ability to farm cash from some harder monsters as well as being more useful on the battlefield.

I decided early on that magic was going to be another priority for me because of the utility of tools it gives you in terms of buffs, damage, and healing.  The problem I had initially was trying to decide on which schools to focus on.  This indecision on my part led to me leveling up some of the elemental schools to mid range while I tried to decide what exactly I wanted to do, and as a result my Intelligence climbed to being my highest stat.  Ultimately I ended up focusing my efforts on Necromancy just because I wanted try a school of magic the rest of my friends hadn't really delved into.

The speed at which skills raise above 50 slows down a fair amount, and even more so at 75. This can make reaching some of your skills goals pretty grindy in some cases. The good news is that skills raise substantially faster when used on monsters, but for a magic school like spell chanting (focusing heavily buffs) you really aren't able to take advantage of this in a practical way since it makes little sense to buff a monster.  I wouldn't mind seeing some of the skills get a slight increase in leveling speed in the 50+ range.

Overall in terms of feedback in this area, I think I'd still like to see stats raise a bit faster up until around 40 to help newer player catch up a little bit, although I recognize there are many who would argue that it is fine the way it is.  One of the main concerns expressed from potential and newer players is the amount of time it takes to become "viable", and I think increasing the stat gain at the lower end will help curtail those concerns to a degree.  That being said, my guild of mostly rerolled characters has our fair share of wins when we travel together as a group.  I'd definitely recommend new players take the time to watch the "Accelerated Character Development"  videos that outline a path to getting key skills as efficiently as possible.


Siege Mechanic Feedback

I glossed over the new siege mechanics in my previous article because at the time I had not experienced it enough first-hand to feel confident enough to be able to talk about it.  During my time playing, I have had a front row seat in the Mercenary Wars that have been taking place on the NA server, which some would argue is the server's first world war.

In a lot of ways I think I like the overall direction of the new system compared to the old one.  Specifically the new system doesn't allow for a siege to hinge on a single person's connection, an issue which was responsible for a lot of sieges being completely wasted under the old system.  The new system also gives people enough time to make preparations inside and outside of the game to prevent a holding being ninja'ed in off-hours.  As someone who used to own a hamlet when the game first released, I was constantly nervous that I could wake up on any given morning to find us not owning it anymore.  These key changes are definitely a step in the right direction, but there is always room for improvement.

To help broaden my perspective on areas of the new system that could use improvement, I turned to players in the alliance leadership of the opposing sides in the recent world war.  Since the bulk of the sieges under the new system have been in some way related to their conflict, and considering they have been hired to get involved in sieges outside of their own war, they seemed like a good source for extra feedback in this area.

The mechanic for "bind kicking" players bound at a holding has been a heated topic of conversations lately.  The current mechanic for kicking a clan member off your holding bindstone can be used as a fast means of transportation.  A clan leader can kick a member off of one holding, and retroactively bind them at another holding owned by their clan across the world.  I believe this to go against one of the game's basic principals in regards to the difficulty of travel, and it also allows clans with multiple holdings to have a massive advantage that I am not sure was intended.  As a result of this, some of the more active clans are able to meddle in the affairs of others across the world with relative ease and without the risk and time of traveling. Instead of being able to be kicked from one holding to another, players who are kicked from a clan's bindstone should instead be retroactively bound to the closest chaos stone in order to prevent it being used as a means of super transportation.  This will also help conflicts stay more localized and regional in my opinion.

On the topic of localized conflict, one of the changes in the new siege system is that notifications regarding attack windows are broadcasted server-wide.  This tends to turn sieges into a magnet for third-party forces to come interfere knowing that they will likely find lots of geared people on the battlefield.  It could easily be argued that this may not necessarily be a bad thing, and it may be the intention of the broadcast, but combined with the bindkicking abuse, it can really empower certain clans to get involved in literally everything with minimal risk and time invested.  If the bind kick gets fixed this probably wouldn't be as much of an issue, but right now it makes the stronger clans with multiple holdings across the world able to cause gridlock in the conquest system by constantly being able to easily interfere in everything no matter how far from home it is.

One of the features of the new system is that one of the methods for declaring a siege involves dropping a stone on the ground within a certain radius of the holding being contested.  These stones replace the previous mechanic that had sieges hinging on a single person's connection, and in addition they can act as bindstones for the attackers to set up a forward base of operations.  The problem is that if an attacking player opts to bind at these stones and is killed in the field, they are pretty much screwed when they respawn at these stones because there is no bank for them to be able to regear.  Respawning near the battle naked doesn't really do a lot of good considering the odds are that your body is unrecoverable or looted.  I would suggest adding some sort of mobile siege bank that could be destroyed to make these more viable as binds (maybe can only be dropped within a few meters of a siege stone, but not right outside of the holding).  Since these are often time viewed useless as a bind, it can make it overly tough for an attacking force to overwhelm a massive defending force who has the luxury of a bank to regear.   Allowing allies of the attacking guild to bind at these stones would add some value as well, especially considering all of the defender's allies are able to bind in the city.

This leads me to the next issue.  One beef relayed to me by the alliance leaders was the fact that once a siege has been declared, the defender can ally up anyone they want to jam pack their holdings bindstone with upwards of 200 people.  Combined with the above current siegestone mechanic, this can put the attackers in an almost impossible position when trying to take a city.  If that holding all of a sudden has 200 active people bound there because the owners allied half the server, it can be near impossible to fight against such a large number of newly bound outsiders who can regear and respawn on site.  A suggestion to curtail this would be to not allow a clans to ally up while under a siege. This enables them to still use diplomacy to get assistance without giving an unfair advantage to a defender who already has innate benefits in a siege situation.

Another minor issued brought up to me was the in regards to the usefulness of cannons given the cost it takes to construct them.  Cannons only have a very limited number of shots before they become rendered useless, and once they are dropped they are effectively gone forever.  Given the cost of making cannons, the alliance leaders suggest that the amount of ammo in the cannons be considered for an increase (doubled or tripled) to make their value more in line with the cost to build them.

The final suggestion from the alliance leaders would be to implement some sort of mechanic for a clan to transfer ownership of a holding to another without having to go through a fake siege.  With all the wheeling and dealing in Darkfall, it has become a common for clans to want to pass ownership or sell one of their holdings.  It would be nice for everyone involved if there was some kind of mechanic in place for a clan leader to transfer ownership to another without going through the hassle of the current system.


Final Thoughts

The increased rate of character development make Darkfall much more appealing now than it was back when it launched almost a year ago. Aventurine seems to be making strides to improve the new player experience, and seems to have a lot planned for it's second year. The character advancement speed could be a bit better in some areas, but a unique and rewarding experience awaits the new players who have the courage to take the plunge.  The new siege system is a step in the right direction, and recent patches has squashed a lot of the virtual memory errors that plagued some users during the more epic battles. As long as Aventurine listens to feedback from its players, I see no reason why Darkfall won't continue to grow as it is continues to offer a unique gaming experience that has been lost in a sea of copycat theme park titles.


Paragus Rant
Co-Leader of Inquisition

ProfRed writes:

Brilliant write up.  It is interesting taking a look and comparing growth.  It is especially interesting comparing your growth with mine.  I dislike magic in almost all games so I focus on stats + melee and archery.  My STR and VIT are much higher, but the rest lower.  Archery is the same, and I am working on melee more now.

I am curious about which specializations you took?  I would assume Jump shot to keep magic open? 

Wed Feb 10 2010 10:39AM Report
Paragus1 writes:

I took aquatic archery and double jump for melee.   I don't feel comfortable taking anything right now that is going lock out my magic schools since I use them a fair amount.

Wed Feb 10 2010 10:44AM Report
Evasia writes:

Developers AV are one few i know realy listend to there fan base, and improve game alot.

Also so far they dont do big chances that realy nerf or buff game, like we saw in games in past and make players decide to leave game becouse it makes game to casual or to carebear.

Devs are fans of there own game there lifes dream and you can see this how they handle all new improvements over past year.

Darkfall is great now becouse of love and dedication dev team.

Wed Feb 10 2010 12:16PM Report
WhisperXIII writes:

Well said Paragus. The more that people like you broadcast the truth that catching up stat and skill-wise is not impossible and that competing in the mean time is doable and fun the sooner the current myths will be dispelled.

Here's to the future of our beloved game.

Wed Feb 10 2010 1:54PM Report
kcc9889 writes:

Another great article Paragus.

Wed Feb 10 2010 2:53PM Report
Thanosxp writes:

paragus,i must say: I don't like Darkfall (couldn't play past the first month),but i admire you. Really. Not for playing the game,of course,but you always take your time making a good article,spice it up with pictures and gives lots of detail about the big AND little things on topic.

I would love to see you making a review for this site. I mean it

Gratz man 

Wed Feb 10 2010 3:07PM Report
K'Dah writes:

Have they done something to limit the 'get close your opponent and constantly circle them while jumping' winning strategy for combat?  The archery and magic were fine, but I left the game because the only viable PvP tactic didn't include archery or magic - it was all hand to hand spinning and jumping.

Wed Feb 10 2010 3:39PM Report
Inktomi writes:

 Paragus, I never played DF but you always make it sound like fun. I'm telling you, one of these days I'm going to take the leap.

Wed Feb 10 2010 6:24PM Report
Realbigdeal writes:

There are ppl with much more higher stats then that. So please, let us know how much stats on each you will have after week 5 that would mean 3 months plus 2. week. I just really want to see if the macroers are really born to rule darkfall or not.

Wed Feb 10 2010 6:37PM Report
Kalefen writes:

Interesting looking game but without political separationg its shadowbane redux or any other free for all which means give it time and it will diminish.  Certain populations thrive in a chaos pvp format - longevity in an mmorpg seems to coincide with organized RvR/PvP ala faction v faction.  Whether the younger player base (naturally part of the anti rule population) disagrees with me is moot.  The mmorpgs of past show this as a simple fact.  However, in my own opinion ...I get bored of seeing the same looking classes beating each other up - its like one big army committing suicide. 

I love the flags and different looks of different cultures..i.e., Rome Total War, Dark Age of Camelot, vs them is a blast..not us vs - I don't enjoy lazy games anymore - think how much more maturity and skill and cost! it takes to make complex separate armor race and culture factions...where you can't talk to every soul on the battle field and by vision alone you can identify the enemy. I don't want your styles the same as mine, your armor the same as mine, your physique the same as mine - in a fantasy mmorpg I want to see believabe enemies separated by borders that allow for a culture to develop "differently" than the next.  That there my friends equivocates to flavor and advanced imaginative development on the part of an mmorpg company.

Now that's epic.

Wed Feb 10 2010 7:49PM Report
kcc9889 writes:

@K'Dah, combat is much more about magic these days. That is by far the best PvP tactic.

Wed Feb 10 2010 10:36PM Report
oscarkool2 writes:

I just started on thursday and my stats are already better than your week 2 ones, so new people can definitely get in the game and start doing well.  Stop second guessing and take the plunge.  I am seeing more new people everyday since I started.

Thu Feb 11 2010 12:33AM Report
raapnaap writes:

Regarding your bindkicks; You can only bindkick between the 2 closest holdings your clan owns. So looking at the political map you posted, look at the clan Nemesis, they own 2 holdings next to eachother on Yssam (island) and you draw an arrow to their mainland holding... They won't be able to instantly travel there because they will only bounce back and forth between their 2 Yssam holdings.

However, say if a member of that clan went to mainland and got a lot closer to their mainland holding, and THEN get kicked from a Yssam holding, then they would indeed end up bound to the mainland holding.

So bindkick fast-travel is situational and doesn't work like a teleportation system between all your holdings.

But besides that, it's an accurate write up!

Thu Feb 11 2010 8:20AM Report
raapnaap writes:

Just to be clear, when I say "You can only bindkick between the 2 closest holdings your clan owns", I also mean and assume that the player being bindkicked off a holding is also based there.

So really what would have been beter to say is that you get bound to the nearest holding, just not the same one as which you were being kicked off. Hope that seems more clear...

Thu Feb 11 2010 8:29AM Report
Galaturc writes:

Raapnaap, that is simply not true. You can actually rotate among all your holdings when you're being bind-kicked. So if a clan has three holdings, all it takes is (at most) two kicks to transfer its clan members to any of its holdings + the bind recalling time (all in less that 3 mins).

I completely agree with Paragus on his statement that bind-kicking needs balancing. This should be fixed either by completely removing the transferring of binds to another clan stone (thus, putting the chaos stones in to a good use finally; at the moment, if you're in a clan, they're virtually useless except for some rare cases), or by adding a down-time (e.g an hour or so) in between bind-kicks.

I'm also considered a new player, been playing for 10 weeks now, and my stats are a little higher than Para; 56 str, 54 vit (+6 title quest), 45 dex, 67 qui, 51 in and 56 wis. However, I must agree that raising skills up to 40 should be faster in the first week.

Thanks for the write up Paragus; as always, full of praise of Darkfall - but who says Aventurine doesn't deserve it?

Miemets Galaturc - LotD

Thu Feb 11 2010 12:24PM Report
MrBoots writes:

I see darkfall is still the same slow grind it was. That's 2.5 months of work for those skills/stats? I remember macroing up better skills/stats in 2.5 weeks on EU. In most games you can have a character that's viable in pvp in weeks not months.

Darkfall still has a low server population, and you want to slow down travel times?   Seems AV is still just as slow as ever at doing updates, and they still call them expansions....

Thu Feb 11 2010 2:01PM Report
raapnaap writes:

"Raapnaap, that is simply not true. You can actually rotate among all your holdings when you're being bind-kicked. So if a clan has three holdings, all it takes is (at most) two kicks to transfer its clan members to any of its holdings + the bind recalling time (all in less that 3 mins)."

Hmm, really? I currently only own 2 holdings on EU1 and I really thought it worked as I said it did. A lot of people think that aswell... Then again there arent all that many clans with 3 or more holdings so I assumed this information was always correct.

Heh, guess you still learn things even if you play it for nearly 8 months...

Thu Feb 11 2010 4:57PM Report
BelegStrongbow writes:

 Bump,  as per your request Paragus via Spotlight :)


Another awesome write up.  Promoting Valroths Starter Vids are a huge bonus.  Those things need to be advertised way more.  Awesome vids.

Fri Feb 12 2010 2:34PM Report
Izure writes:

Thank you for the information Paray. You are the best reviewer for IMO.

Fri Feb 12 2010 2:41PM Report
illspawn writes:

This was great, I am looking at maybe starting to play this.

Wed Feb 17 2010 2:42AM Report
tolzan writes:

raapnaap and others its simple as you blow up all the buildings and boxes that allow you to bind at a holding you keep alts there to make up the minimum bind slots then you can kick to the city you chose its really simple tbo. well we have been using this trick way before bata was over. any ways there is much to be fixed in DF to make it worth playing again cheers for the update paragus it was fun fighting next to you and your clanys. as for any one that has not tryed the game if you like in your face fighting and a real challenge. And you don't mind listing to a bunch of kids saying get shit on all the time you would love this game. it has a ton to offer but you will see that the game gets old fast as there is a huge cycle that begins to repeat it's self until you quit. that is the grind all week hurry up and wait seiges hurry up and wait pvp fights that is clan based. the down time as you harvest for several days to get gear to lose it in seconds. thos sorts of things. 

Sun Feb 21 2010 6:50AM Report writes:
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