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Welcome to the World of Crowfall

Tim Eisen Posted:
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From the October 21st update. “It (the Big World testing update) is a traditional, open-world MMO with persistence and a MUCH larger virtual environment – and no pre-determined duration. The up-time for the server will be much longer (12-72 hours to start) and the world and character data should persist between restarts (except when we need to wipe it for technical reasons).”

I’ve been waiting a long time for this, Crowfall is taking a big step from small combat testing zones to a large persistent game world! I can’t over state how important this is. This world and the testing that is done within it is the beginning of what will evolve into Crowfall the finished game.

Keep in mind this is the very beginning of the world. Testing at this point is dry at best. When I say dry I mean reading a dictionary in detention dry. Grouping is in. Chat is in. Siege is not. Buildings are not. Beyond that it is a full loot PVP free for all but don’t let that fool you. Most players won’t find it very entertaining but that isn’t what this phase is about. It’s not about previewing the game or logging some entertaining PVP.

This is the one time developers want you to break their game! In this phase all of the stuff that we can’t live without, but never realize exists until it doesn’t work needs serious testers trying to break it. Things as exciting as can you log in? Can you make a character? Does it load into the world? Are your skills on your bar? Do they appear correct? Do they function correctly? Are their numbers correct? Etc. You get my point. Did I mention everything, I can’t stress that enough, EVERYTHING will need to be tested over and over again ad nauseam? Its dry but it’s incredibly important.

To most of us this kind of testing probably feels a lot like a certain four letter word…wa...wah…work! It’s not pretty or glorious or exciting. Its repetition and observation of meta data. That said it is, in my humble opinion, the single most important phase of testing. This phase lays the server/game client foundation for launch. If we don’t grind out the bugs they will be left behind, slowing forming cracks in the foundation. Fortunately, there are plenty of players that love this kind of challenge. Bug hunters your time is now, your services are needed, our fate is in your hands!

What can we expect after this foundational phase? “Once we’ve got this version in front of you (and stable), we’ll talk about the next big milestone. This is where the game vision will really be realized, as it includes features like exploration, city building, player-driven economy, capture mechanics and victory conditions.”

Once the basic functions are in place and stable they add another layer onto the cake, a delicious layer that gives our it some height, some depth. The features above elevate our base layer from looking like a rejected pan of brownies to a full-fledged PVP MMORPG game! Scrumtrulescent! What more motivation do testers need?

The second most important news to came out of the October 18th update. Crafting is getting serious, how serious? “The closest model to ours is probably “EVE Online”, though you can see our design is built on ideas that originally surfaced in early MMOs like “Ultima Online”, “Star Wars Galaxies” and “Shadowbane”.” Crafting isn’t just a layer on the PVP cake, it’s the sticky frosting that holds everything together! That said I’ve had concerns about a proper division of labor forcing co-dependence. My concerns seem to be alleviated.

“Is there interdependence between the crafting types? To make great equipment will require multiple stages. This means that you can focus on a particular area (“I make the best sword hilts!”) or you can collect components from other players and combine them to create really awesome gear. Most recipes that create equipment will require components from each of the crafting styles. Each guild should encourage their members to take a spread of crafting disciplines to cover all the bases.”

I hope it’s more than encouraged as forced co-dependence will be the division of labor maker. Sometimes developers have to do what is best for the game and begrudgingly better for the players (even if they don’t realize it). I believe forced interaction in MMORPGs is one of them. Oh, did I mention you can be a dedicated crafter?

“Each character will be limited as to how many disciplines they can use (we’re currently planning on three maximum), and remember that we see crafting as as a fulltime playstyle, not a secondary skill to be used when you aren’t in combat. Crafters will fill a valuable role for your guild or kingdom, just as critical as a tank, scout or damage dealer. In addition to being able to enjoy the “meta-game” of interworld trading between worlds, crafters also have a specific niche role -- every faction/guild will need to recruit them to turn resources into valuable equipment within the campaigns.”

Sounds like a familiar dream I had once before in another galaxy far far away. I was hesitant to compare crafting in Star Wars Galaxies to Crowfall but at this point it looks like ACE is doing it for me, let’s hope they can live up to it, or at least come close. Normally I wouldn’t bother saying come close, but Galaxies crafting was so good coming close would still be leagues better than most of what we’ve seen since.

Crowfall has had a great couple of weeks. A world was born and crafting is heading in the direction I hoped it would. It’s an exciting time to be a backer. Take note, Crowfall just crawled out of the primordial muck, now we get to watch its evolution in real time.


Tim Eisen

I roleplay a wordsmith that writes about the technological and social evolution within the game industry