Last week Artcraft gave us a fiery heifer of an update leaving this embedded reporter speculating about the part that often gets tacked on to make launch, the end game! That’s right I’m talking about the Confessor’s animation update. The next playable archetype the Minotaur Myrmidon. And last but not least J. Todd Coleman (Artcraft Co-founder and Crowfall Creative Director) speaking exclusively with WorthPlaying about virtual worlds and the end game which got this writer wildly speculating (the best kind of speculation I might add) about what Crowfall needs to keep us invested in that endgame.
Before I subject you to my wild internet speculation I’ll confess the confessor has me near confessing my love for her. Her updated animations are looking quicker, smoother and rife with more attitude. Some might say she looks down right hot! Fire is always cool but the magic book is actually my favorite animation accent and not just because of the irony (you know, paper + fire = more fire). It’s almost like a bird but not quite in a good way. But why are we seeing updated animations for this smoking lady?!?! Weren’t those already done once before?!?! Because what works in the mind and looks great in design does not always work when applied to the real game!
Simply enough because she would start to rub a couple of sticks together to create a spark to ignite her fire balls only to look up and see her target was long gone! Timing her attacks was challenging due to the length of her animations. In a PVP game, especially an aim based PVP game, form must follow function. As a result, they did some trimming and have her shooting those fire balls as slick as oil. A wise artist once told me “it’s all part of the process”. Learn from this. Remember it and apply it in the future. The coolest animation ever created isn’t worth a thing if it can’t function in Crowfall PVP.
Mooving on the next bit of news will get your hoofs stomping! Many of us have waited a long time for the Minotaur Myrmidon to make it into the live game. When I first saw the concept art I thought it looked beefy. Of course most of us have seen a minotaur or two in a MMORPG before but this one had a darkness about him. He looks a bit edgier and angrier than most others. I suppose the severed head in his hand might have had something to do with my impression. The color pallet, the ominous sky and the red eyes didn’t hurt either. I continue to be impressed with how well Artcraft is translating the concept art into game art. It seems like, in MMORPGs especially, the concepts often look far better than the end result we get. That is not the case here. Don’t have a cow Shadowbane fans. You can play him soon.
For the last part I want to ask a few questions, ones that I’ve been thinking deeply about for a while. Hopefully we can continue the conversation and answer some of these questions in the comments below. For years I was convinced that all we needed was a sandbox to PVP in. Recently I found myself coming to a conclusion that sent chills up my spine. Maybe it took so long to get a proper PVP sandbox that the MMORPG genre passed it by? (puts on flame suit) Maybe in 2016 PVPers need PVErs in their game to flesh it out and make it feel like more than a glorified FPS “VS” match?
Dare I say it…maybe the trick to sustaining a PVP MMO lies in retaining PVE players to fill out the world? I don’t mean people chasing scripted quests, that stuff can stay in RPGs where it’s done better anyway. I’m talking about harvesting, hauling, crafting, selling and building as PVE.
I know Crowfall will feature that kind of PVE, but will it be deep enough to retain the players that seek it? Will doing it in the Eternal Kingdoms feel too isolated? How can you nudge those players closer to PVP without driving them away?
These are questions I hope Artcraft is asking themselves and especially their secret weapon Raph Koster. In his past life he was, among many things, the lead designer of Ultima Online and the creative director for Star Wars Galaxies. He just happens to work with Artcraft as a design consultant. I don’t know what that title means but I hope it means he has been consulted with a design to retain the PVE crowd while nudging them to embrace the PVP environment.
Of course Artcraft has many talented people on hand. I wouldn’t single Koster out had he not written a mini design bible on exactly what I worry Crowfall might need in order to ascend from “game” to “living world”. Where I first found myself asking all those questions, I later found many answers and reassurance within his Star Wars Galaxies design blogs. I’m not saying Crowfall will use the concepts from those blogs. Those mechanics worked a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. But I hope Artcraft is actively pursuing similar mechanics to retain those kinds of players as well as us hardcore PVPers. The kind of player that doesn’t focus on PVP but loves living in a world with PVP as a source of constant danger and excitement.
PVPers might consider them insignificant or, at worst, cattle that need to be driven off a cliff and out of their game but without them Crowfall lacks a living cycle of PVP gameplay which is one of the pillars that makes EVE so memorable. Artcraft has said they respect EVE and want to mimic its strong points. They found a way to create a shared game universe, now they need to create that cycle of PVP, a cycle that can’t exist without the elusive PVE player they need.