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Paragus Rants

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

Author: Paragus1

Darkfall: Alliance Leader Interviews

Posted by Paragus1 Monday April 6 2009 at 7:54AM
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Darkfall: Alliance Leader Interviews

I often find myself trying to explain Darkfall to new arrivals in Agon, or people looking to buy it still, so that they have an understanding of what exactly the game is like.  The best analogy I can give to the new arrivals is that Darkfall in many ways reminds me of Sid Meier's game of Civilization 4, in which you play the role of a single axeman, maceman, swordsman, or archer.  Most people play as the single soldier, some of us play as generals being guild leaders, but there are other who sit higher up at the seat of leadership in the major alliances.  Here we are, a little over one month in, and the lines are becoming very defined in regards to who the big alliances are, and the territory they have control over.

The above map is called the Darkfall influence map (credit goes out to Cosy for trying to maintain it), and much like Civ 4, this map shows the territory that each of the major current alliances have control over.  Over the past few months, many of you have been reading about my take on various aspects of Darkfall, but today we are going to mix things up a bit.  I have spent the last week getting in contact which the leadership of the major Alliances so that you can hear from them directly and get their take on the game one month in, and to also let them speak about the current political landscape of Agon.  I feel that a basic understanding of these alliances is absolutely critical for anyone who is currently playing, or is looking to play Darkfall anytime soon.

I have gone through great lengths to contact each alliance and asked them to pick someone who could speak on their behalf.  I then sent the same six questions to all of the representatives in order to be as objective as possible.  None of the leaders who were interviewed have any idea how any of the others answered them until now.  The goal is to provide new players with a grasp of who the movers and shakers of Agon are, to give current players a bit of insight into each of the alliances, to give people considering playing Darkfall some opinions of people playing it, and finally a chance for these players to express their concerns to Aventurine (who expressed an interest in the article).  The geographical location of each alliance can referenced on the large influence map, and for the sake of space, I am only focusing on major alliances who have significant influence.  With that being said, let's get started!

 

King Manus (The Duchy of Wessex) - Hyperion Alliance

1) Tell me a little bit about your guild's gaming history.

The Kingdom of Hyperion is the territorial name for a clan known as "Lumen Solis Victrix".  While LSV began in Asheron's Call, its identity was largely formed in anticipation of the 2003 game, Shadowbane.  LSV began on the Death server and had the first city baned, which we defended by allying with LOD.  Later, LSV established the first "island" city when Surly discovered how to plant a Shadowbane Tree of Life seed on the ocean floor, which we named "Elba".

In the prerelease of Darkfall, during the years of waiting and anticipating in the constellated community that surrounded it known as "Forumfall", we planned to revisit LSV in a way that would save us from being buffeted by the powers that be on the future server, forcing us into unknown alliances, and would instead allow us to call the shots.  We resolved to split our inner council up, and to have them each found clans.  We had Surly begin the Anvil Society, Brando Medici begin the Silver Sun Republic, and me begin the Duchy of Wessex.

We purposefully chose divergent themes for these clans to attract different types of players, so that we would be able to garner the divergent talents of the MMO community - from pvp, to nose-in-the-dirt grinding, to forum charisma and leadership, all in one place.  Then, we played them against each other on Forumfall to create the drama that would draw the community's attention and generate recruitment and momentum.  We called our Hyperion plan "Voltron" during these 4 years of waiting for Darkfall, and took great satisfaction in the irony of our debates on the forums - arguing over things as trivial as "clan structure" and "ranking", when in actuality we were using the exact same model for all the clans.


2) Tell me a bit about the Hyperion Alliance, and the territory they currently have influence over.

Rather than being a simple conglomeration of clans with a pact to aid each other, Hyperion uses a feudal model, binding all clans together in what we call a "kingdom".  The feudal structure creates a tree of vassal relationships in which "every man has a lord", and thus, a leader.  Further, there is a sense of equivalency among the different "tiers" formed by this feudal pyramid, so that even leaders from different clans which are yet on the same tier are regarded as the same rank kingdomwide.  We use traditional feudal titles to identify these tiers, which adds a sense of authenticity and "nation" ambience to Hyperion, which we had always sought to capture.  This, to add more immersion to the very political and intriguing aspect of the game experience.

The Hyperion Kingdom currently stretches throughout the entirety of northeastern Agon.  We hold dominion over everything east of the dwarven starter cities, and everything north of the human starter cities.  We also hold southern Yssam after dividing it between ourselves and the Yssam Coalition.

3) What's your take on the political landscape right now, and which of the other alliances are you keeping an eye on?

I see that the map is rapidly deterioriating in a "ten little indians" fashion, with factions collapsing or dissolving into others.  That's really a shame, as the developers had always promised that the world would be much larger.

We have our eye on all of them, of course.  There aren't many left, after all.

4) Is your guild or alliance planning on moving to the North American server when it opens?

For the most part, we are planning on staying on the European server.

5) What is your favorite part of Darkfall so far?

I love the degree to which playing Darkfall politically approximates to the logistics of running a real war campaign, from the need to organize revenue collection, play intel and counter-intel against your enemies, maintain morale among your men, and execute tactics in engagement.  Then of course, I love that all that this is carried out with physical collision based combat, the need to organize the collection of resources from the land and the monsters for their application in war, rather than the two pursuits being unrelated.

6) What do you think are Darkfall's biggest issues right now?

The biggest issue of all is the lack of doors on city gates, and the poor design of cities generally - while the ubiquitous "launch" spell can be argued as an approximate substitute for the ease of making a ladder, the fact that by and large, an army can just run in a front gate, or jump from elevated terrain right over a poorly placed wall is putting a damper on the enjoyment of the siege and raid mechanics for many.  Considering the state of things, the investment of time, money and resources toward constructing a city has no value other than for aesthetics, and so many, knowing that a finished 250 module gatehouse will have just as big of a gap as the rubble there presently, are cutting costs and leaving their cities unfinished.  I know of several cities that have tunnels from the countryside going under the walls and coming up right in the town square. So much for the utility of walls, even if gates are added.

The way it is now, one doesn't erect cannons until the enemy is already obliterated and the city is occupied, rather than using the cannons to breach the defenses so that the occupation can follow.  They are little more than wrecking balls for an already secured demolition site, as opposed to being actual weapons of war.

Another issue is the interfacing of the clan tab-while functional, its load time makes dealing with clan matters in game a serious chore. It can take a half hour or more to properly page through all of one's members and assign proper ranks. It would also be nice to be able to assign and name ranks, rather than to use a default "military" system, as not every clan operates on this model.

I am not fond of how people can jump onto each other's heads. The collision detection is negated in a large degree by the ability of a player to jump and stand on another's head, and battle lines, shield walls, etc, which would be great fun to implement, instead degenerate into swirling moshpits.

The game also needs banners and clan tabards - considering that incentives to not be ARAC were removed, all warring clans cater to all races now. This makes it difficult to identify specific people, like allied clan members, in the metal-clad press of battle.  While a "hovering icon" solution was implemented, this is not really enough, and not desirable for immersion, either.  Further, in addition to colored tabards or uniforms, the ability for a single man to carry a banner so that the locations of squadrons could easily be tracked in battle would be a big aid.

If these things were implemented or adjusted, Darkfall would have a start on being the solid playing experience it was prophesized to be, and would fulfill its own potential as the sandbox everyone was waiting for.

 

Lord Gluttony SDS (Awful Company) - Coalition of the Chillin

1) Tell me a little bit about your guild's gaming history.

We started off doing mostly board games in the late 1980's and early 90's -- things like Crossfire, Stratego, Guess Who, and Risk (this was our biggest).  When these games moved off the boards and on the web, we start delving into other online games and eventually found UO. 13 years later and 3d UO (Darkfall) was released and we decided to make the move to 2002-era graphics.  I think some of us also played Summers EVE or something... I dunno, I usually just stick a bottle of balsamic up there when I'm feeling a lil unfresh.

2) Tell me a bit about the Coalition of the Chillin, and the territory they currently have influence over.

The Coalition is more about chillin and killin than gayin and roleplayin. We’re basically just a group of guilds who would rather deal with a retarded alliance name than be a sub guild to some guy who calls himself King ManAnus. Why would you call yourself that?  If I was gonna be called King, I’d wanna be called King BigVeinyDick – even if I am hung like an asian boy, being called King BigVeinyDick would let me live out my RL fantasies in an online world.  In conjunction with DUSK, we have a foothold against King ManAnus and his hypertron (good weed) forces across all of Agon and all of the islands.  We’ve proven what happens when you try to attack us; how many successful sieges has LoD repelled?  When will people learn to stop fucking with the Coalition…

3) What's your take on the political landscape right now, and which of the other alliances are you keeping an eye on?

The coalition has 1 goal: to ensure that Darkfall isn’t run by some 40 year old roleplayer who wears a cape he got at the renassaince fair and burger king crown while he gives commands to his sub guilds in olde (gotta have that extra ‘e’) english.
 

ManAnus’ Hyperion Alliance is 3x the size of the coalition and they grow each day. Apparently they roleplay every aspect of the game, forums, and even their vent. This shit disgusts me… DF is about PVP and shit talk, not about paying taxes to some 40 year old virgin who thinks he lives in a Shakespeare play. Once the coalition defeats Hyperion, we will send Agon back into chaos as the last thing we want is one alliance controlling all of Agon making Darkfall more stale than raping a chick who is already passed out.

4) Is your guild or alliance planning on moving to the North American server when it opens?

We’re mostly North American Scum… with a bit of euro trash thrown in.  We also have some members who prolly cried instead of laughed when Steve Irwin died.

5) What is your favorite part of Darkfall so far?

The loot… the warrant… the crook. Does anyone else remember the live action Carmen San Diego gameshow that was on public television back in the 90s?  But yea, it’s all about the loot and making roleplayers rage. Hopefully their rage carries over to the IRL and they got in trouble for yelling at their moms.  That and the loot...

6) What do you think are Darkfall's biggest issues right now?

The biggest issue with DF is that the people of Agon aren’t doing enough to try to stop the super zerg Hyperion from trying to take over every small guild they can.  Big Brother needs to be stopped… unless thou wishes to communicate with his majesty KingManAnus using only the finest Queens English.  Id rather own someone and call them a faggot scrub…. Wouldn’t you? Crashing also sucks…

 

Yomm Hakine (Sturmgrenadier) - DUSK Alliance

1) Tell me a little bit about your guild's gaming history.

Sturmgrenadier has been in operation since before World War II Online was brought out, but it was that game that solidified the core group that has expanded into many games today. We currently have over 500 members from around the world all adhering to an organizational Charter which keeps our goals aligned with the progress of this gaming syndicate.

2) Tell me a bit about DUSK, and the territory they currently have influence over.

We currently own Rubaiyat.  We are also finalizing, through conquest and diplomacy, the lands of Nagast (with the exception of our friends over at KGB) and Mirendil, although there are still a few concerns around there that we need to address.

3) What's your take on the political landscape right now, and which of the other alliances are you keeping an eye on?

I'd say everything is falling into place.  Players that are surprised that large Alliances are forming, simply haven't had the experience of previous games like DFO.  While the first phase of the game was a land grab for initial cities, I think you're seeing the second phase as an Alliance grab, or trying to position yourself to have security and options later in the game.  As one of the larger Alliances, I think it is fair to say that DUSK is watching everyone.

4) Is your guild or alliance planning on moving to the North American server when it opens?

Perhaps. I'll say this: I think opening any different server will promote the 'have nots' to migrate over and try to start again, while all the 'haves' will fight for what gets left behind. Could be interesting. Could also be fun to go and punch the 'have nots' in the mouth again on a different server.

5) What is your favorite part of Darkfall so far?

I'm one of those crazy players that really enjoys the meta aspect of the game.  The larger picture.  The dealings that go on within Teamspeak or Vent.  Then, to see those agreements in person on the ground as 100's of players form up together and battle...its quite a thrill.

6) What do you think are Darkfall's biggest issues right now?

Cheating and using exploits.  Its bad enough, that many players would rather find a place to hide and macro themselves to higher levels then to actually earn them in battle.  But, to allow players to even bypass that tedious task and build unfair advantages over other players just ruins the entire spirit of the game.

 

Throne Rage (Covenant of the Phoenix) - Stasis Alliance

1) Tell me a little bit about your guild's gaming history.

CotP has been involved in AC: Darktide, SWG: Bloodfin, CoV: Triumph, EQ: Venekor, VG: Sartok, LotRO: Ellindilmir, WAR: Volkmar, Guild Wars, WoW: Perenolde and now DFO. Other Stasis guilds have very similar multi-gaming backgrounds.

2) Tell me a bit about the Stasis Alliance, and the territory they currently have influence over.

We're an alliance currently residing in Yssam. Our general area of influence is via our current holdings in southern, central and northern Yssam.

3) What's your take on the political landscape right now, and which of the other alliances are you keeping an eye on?

Stasis isn't going to give an official opinion, but a decent description would be that the speed of DFO politics makes a NY minute seem like days.

We are keeping an eye on all other alliances.

4) Is your guild or alliance planning on moving to the North American server when it opens?

Our decision will be based upon the goals of each allied guild at a time that best suits our combined interests.

5) What is your favorite part of Darkfall so far?

The politics and massive siege warfare.

6) What do you think are Darkfall's biggest issues right now?

Lack of varied and meaningful ingame political options, a credible list of city siege features that actually mirror what happens ingame and lack of server optimization for massive siege warfare.

 

Gordric Hirsh (Virakar) - Yssam Alliance

1) Tell me a little bit about your guild's gaming history.

Virakar was founded in 2002 while playing Shadowbane (Irekei guild).  As the guild grew, so did our friendships and the desire to play together in future games.  Following Shadowbane, we have had a presence in World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard, EVE Online, Warhammer Online, and Darkfall Online.

The other clans that currently make up the Yssam Alliance are DDi, Villagers of Eternity, Knights of the Blue Sky, Zipang, Order of the Blade, Dark Hand of Valor, The 10th, CORE, Crimson Serpents, Odin, and Addiction.


2) Tell me a bit about the Yssam Alliance, and the territory they currently have influence over.

The Yssam Alliance began as a grouping of four clans that played together on Yssam during beta (Virakar, Varangian Guard, The Seventh Circle, and DDi).  Soon after release, Villagers of Eternity was added.  From this point, one of our members (Priest) did a timetable of events.  It is a bit long, but should give an accurate account of the struggle on Yssam, to this point.

3) What's your take on the political landscape right now, and which of the other alliances are you keeping an eye on?

We are keeping an eye on all of the alliances at this time.  Unfortunately, current siege mechanics severely promotes large alliances, in order to keep control over cities.  Most of the advantages to sieging are in the hands of the attackers.  Cities and hamlets can be taken with much greater ease during the defenders off-hours (late at night or during their workday).  Protection for all times of the day/night are needed for your city.  The server is rapidly polarizing towards a two sided war.

Despite some game mechanics that need improving, Darkfall is an incredibly fun game.  It is the most fun I have had in an MMO in years.


4) Is your guild or alliance planning on moving to the North American server when it opens?

I believe some clans in The Yssam Alliance are considering a move. Virakar had always planned to move to the North American Servers, but that is something we will take a look at, when it becomes an option. We will more than likely move.


5) What is your favorite part of Darkfall so far?

There are probably too many features to just choose one. There are so many features that you cannot find in other, newer, MMOs today. Some of the more enjoyable features include:

- Full loot PvP
- Mounted Combat
- Skill Based Advancement
- No Name-tags Overhead
- Collision detection
- Aimed Archery and Spells
- City Building
- Need for Diplomacy

These are the features that stick out in my head as some of the more enjoyable features.  Some game mechanics still need some polish, but Darkfall is on the right path IMO.

6) What do you think are Darkfall's biggest issues right now?

- 6 hours for a siege, not including organizing and planning.  It does not seem to be a sustainable pace atm for even moderately busy people.  You could be at the end of a 4 hour playing session, when someone challenges your city, and you are sucked into another 6 hours of playing (if you want to keep your city that you have worked on for perhaps months).
- some grinding may need to be tweaked.
- exploits/hacks/cheats
- there are still quite a few advertised features, that are not in-game yet
- the ordering process has been terrible. Clans are split ATM, with many members still not able to order the game. This could cause additional problems down the road, concerning room on the current server.

 

Commentary


While one could certainly say Aventurine has not patched much in terms of content, but it looks as if Darkfall has become very player-driven in this regard.  It seems like there are always events happening on a daily basis that seem to shift the powers around.  A few days ago I was in an alliance meeting where guild leaders were discussing the future of their alliance.  Much like the Civ 4 analogy I keep using, some of the topics of discussion involved around the ability to control certain resources.  These resources ranged from access to certain types of ore to help build cannons, to monster camps that yield a necessary component to craft siege hammers.  Espionage also seems to be alive and well as there have been many instances of guilds placing characters in enemy alliance guilds to try and stay abreast on battle plans, as well as a few instances of guild's getting the banks looted by spies who had been given far too much access.  In a discussion with an Aventurine source on this topic, I was told pretty much said that this sort of behavior is fair and well within the bounds of the game.

The next day there was another meeting of sorts, an attempted "negotiation" in ventrilo between their alliance leader and a foreign one.  After this failed parlay, one of them made good on their promise and invaded the other's city.  After the loss of their city, the alliance degraded quickly as most of the guilds scattered into the wind.  Many guilds have gone off to either become a part of another alliance, help start a new one, or just go off on their own.  The influence map has undoubted already gone through significant changes over the course of the few days I have been putting this together, and it will definitely be a challenge keeping it somewhat updated.

Many of Agon's inhabitants seem to be concerned over whether or not a 2-sided war will be inevitable, and different alliances all seem to be taking a different approach to their conquest.  The Cairn alliance was offered a voice in this article, but declined because they seem to be playing along the lines of isolationists.  Hyperion seems to be central focus and concern of many of other alliances due to the huge amount of territory and large numbers they possess, and they do not have a shortage of guilds looking to join their cause.  The Coalition of the Chillin seems to be marketing themselves as the anti-Hyperion option making claim that their goal is not to conquer Agon, but to merely stop Hyperion from expanding.  This seems to lead to each side gathering bigger numbers in order to fight the other, possibly making a 2-sided server conflict into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Which side is in the right all seems to depend on your point of view.  Despite all this, there always seem to be new and smaller alliances forming on a daily basis, many who seem to have no part in the larger global conflict.

No matter what happens, it seems as if the current server is inching closer to the brink of a major blowout.  I keep thinking in the back of my head that we have yet to see anyone introduce war hulks are large ships into the equation, and how that will change the way the wars will be fought.  The interviews seem to show one sign of hope, as many of the guilds will be bound for a North American server when it comes down the line.  The possibility of a massive reset button and a fresh start sounds appealing to many, but only time will tell if the cycle destined to repeat itself when that day comes.

 

Paragus

Co-Leader of Inquisition

www.inqguild.com