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Interview with Tasos Flambouras

Interviews 0

We find out more about what to expect from this hardcore PvP title

Associate Producer Tasos Flambouras drops in to update us on Darkfall. This game has been coming for a long time and Flambouras updates us on the progress in this Q&A conducted by Garrett Fuller. Claus Grovdal (Producer) and Henning Ludvigsen (Art Director) also contributed to Flambouras' answers.

MMORPG.com: As Darkfall continues its development cycle when can we expect to see a Beta? Also do you have a target for production?
Tasos Flambouras:

We've mentioned before that it's difficult to run a beta test while continuing development on the game, especially when all our human resources are in development. We are now at a stage where we can and we are preparing the beta test which will allow external beta testers in and this is now a high priority for us. We do have a target for production but realistically the target date will be tweaked during testing. We think it's better to hold off on an announcement until then.

MMORPG.com: There seems to be a lot of talk about the customization of characters in Darkfall. Can you tell us a little about how players can create individuals and not all look the same?
Tasos Flambouras:

Character customization starts at the character creator stage. Players can pick their race from Darkfall's six main races, each of which has a male and a female character to choose from. Then they can select their face, the hair style and color, skin color and tone, facial hair, tattoos, piercing and facial jewelry, and various other accessories.

During the progress of the game, players can choose to add or remove facial hair, change their hair style, and dye their hair. They can also add or remove piercings and skin decorations.

There is a very large variety of clothing, armors, and robes available and the pieces can be mixed and matched to create an endless variation. There has been an effort to preserve racial identity. The same type of armor won't look identical on all races. Each race will make small modifications and customizations to fit their identity. Players may also dye clothes and armor and they can carry their clan's colors for extra customization to their appearance.

Aside from appearance, which is just the surface of character individuality, with over 500 skills and spells to train and master, each character will develop a unique skillset. Darkfall's fame system adds further variation to a character's identity, as does the alignment system, and the character's affiliations.

MMORPG.com: The game looks to be in the final stages of development. What areas are you working on now to give the game some polish?
Tasos Flambouras:

Darkfall is a game which will undergo continual development throughout its lifecycle. There is content which is constantly added, textures being brushed up, animations tweaked, there's a lot of testing going on, optimizations made etc.

MMORPG.com: Many players have certainly been looking forward to such a PvP heavy game. With the system you have in place, do you fear that griefing and ganking will lead to a smaller community in the long run?
Tasos Flambouras:

Griefing makes an impact in games not geared to deal with it. Darkfall is made for PvP. We're sick and tired of the instant association of griefing with PvP. The PvP community shouldn't constantly be discounted like that. There's a lot of griefing going on in non PvP MMOs, like kill stealing, training, camping, and when these same games enable limited PvP, it only gets worse. Griefers in these games aren't accountable for their actions and the victims can't do anything about it. Most of the complaints about griefing come from these games.

In Darkfall there's accountability via the alignment system and player enforced justice. Someone can try to grief, but won't have fun for very long as there's an alignment reward for his disposal. In Darkfall you're not a weakling starting out and you can defend yourself so newbie killing isn't such a safe pastime like it is in other games. Full loot and unrestricted PvP will also work against the griefer. NPC guards in towns provide added protection against aggressive griefing. There are no zones so griefing associated with zoning won't be a factor.

As for ganking, it's not all about numbers in Darkfall. Area of effect spells, friendly fire, and collision detection ensure that a small disciplined force can cause some damage against superior numbers. There are no levels so it's not easy to make out the "weaker" characters, and in Darkfall even new players have the capacity to defend themselves, to lay low, or to escape. There is no radar or floating names, which can work as an added protection for players traveling through dangerous areas.

I don't want to make it sound like we have a cure-all and that Darkfall will be free of all the problems that have plagued other games in the past. What I'm saying is that we've looked at these closely, both as players and as developers, and we've spent a lot of time addressing them and we'll continue to do so if and as they come up. One thing is for sure: We've empowered the Darkfall players in such a way that they can self-regulate.

MMORPG.com: Tell us about the clan system in the game? It seems to have a few different concepts to it than the normal guild set up.
Tasos Flambouras:

We've dedicated entire articles to clans in the past so there's a lot of information out there.

Darkfall clans can own territories and resource points. They can build cities, and conquer areas, and cities that belong to other clans. Clans struggle for power within their realm, and may or may not unite to fight against racial enemies. The level of interaction possible and necessary is unprecedented. The clan management tools allow clan leaders a lot of freedom and control in managing their clan.

One of the concepts that make clans in Darkfall different than in other games is that Clans in Darkfall will be mostly made up by race and alignment compatible characters. What has come to be referred to as ARAC (all race, all class) clans, while theoretically possible, offer no advantages and face serious management challenges so the racial and race compatibility theme will be mostly preserved.

"Zerg" clans in Darkfall are appropriately difficult to manage, they'll be divided by the cap we've put on binding locations, and since numbers in Darkfall aren't as important as they are in other MMOs, their effectiveness and reason to exist will be limited.

MMORPG.com: There are so many fantasy MMOs hitting the market in the near future. How will Darkfall be different? What is your plan to draw players in?
Tasos Flambouras:

I could just run through the numerous features that make Darkfall stand out, and I'll get to that; but before I do, I'll give you some background: The reason Darkfall begun was that we weren't happy with anything out there and we still aren't. We didn't just reach for the cookie-cutter or the clone tool. We didn't import yet another non-descript Asian game to localize for the western market. We created our unique design, our own tools, our own technology, development methods; we created a unique style for our game. We looked at what players have been asking for, what mistakes others have made and try to inject fun into everything and at the same time avoided being too clever. We fought compromise every step of the way and made the game that we wanted to play.

Darkfall features unrestricted PvP combat with accountability. Combat is real-time and attacks are aimed. There's full looting and an alignment system. Darkfall has a skill system where your character's skills improve through use, and no levels. More than 10 thousand players can be online at the same time. Player skill is as important as character development. All items in the world are player crafted. There is mounted and naval combat. There's a "real" weather and planetary system. The terrain is fully hand-crafted, all locations are unique. There are more unique mobs in Darkfall than in any other MMO. Clans can engage in empire building, conquest, massive battles, and there is control and ownership of areas. There's much more that we haven't and won't talk about before the game is released.

MMORPG.com: Over the development cycle have you made any changes to the user interface? Do you plan to allow player created Mods or UIs?
Tasos Flambouras:

The user interface pretty much reflects its original design. We have dedicated people to working on the UI throughout the development cycle. The user interface is highly customizable but we don't have any plans to allow user created mods or UIs.

MMORPG.com: You have been very good about giving information on the skills and Prestige classes for characters. Is there anything you have not mentioned in past interviews that you want players to know about?
Tasos Flambouras:

We'd like the players to know that most of the skills are currently in the game and working. What's left is balancing based on testing.

MMORPG.com: Give us a look at the tactics players can use in PvP or in PvE. It is said that the game is more influenced by the player behind the keyboard than the character you have. Is this true?
Tasos Flambouras:

Darkfall combat is through aimed attacks. The players control their character's movement like they do in most FPS games. So in Darkfall you have the type of control you have in a shooter, but you also have character skills, spells, a backpack full of equipment, mounts, ships, siege weapons and all these come into play when the character is in combat. It's not easy to say that player skill is more important than character development. The player behind the keyboard certainly is very important; a lot more than in other MMOs, but what's more important is a good balance between good character development, knowledge of the game and your character, equipment, teamwork, and individual skill.

One of Darkfall's more impressive gameplay features allows players to use group tactics because of collision detection allowing formations, friendly fire making them necessary, and area of effect spells which truly affect the area and not just some characters within it. Force concentration makes good teamwork important. Most real-world medieval combat tactics could probably be adapted for use within Darkfall and we expect to see unique group tactics emerge.

MMORPG.com: What is in the near future for Darkfall? After launch are there plans for an expansion?
Tasos Flambouras:

We're moving towards external testing in the near future. As for after launch, Darkfall follows a timeline and the design looks past the release of the game. We already have plans and guidelines for part of our first updates.