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Interview with Tasos Flambouras

Jon Wood Posted:
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Darkfall: Interview with Tasos Flambouras

Recently, MMORPG.com had the opportunity to ask a number of questions of Darkfall's Tasos Flambouras about the length of time that the game has been in development, the beta process and release schedule.


Can you tell us, as of the answering of this Q&A exactly where Darkfall stands in terms of nearness to being a launch-ready title?

Tasos Flambouras:

Darkfall could launch today. It's more ready for launch than most, if not all of the MMORPG titles at the same stage that I've personally sampled and it has been for quite some time. Everything has been tested internally and since November 10th we've been using an ever-growing number of external testers.


Darkfall has been in development for a very long time, can you please tell us why this game's development process has been so long?

Tasos Flambouras:

So long compared to what? We've been in development since 2003. Look at all that makes Darkfall stand out compared to other MMOs. In order to deliver all that we've had to develop proprietary technology from scratch. We also had to develop a company from scratch and everything associated with running a long game development cycle. We've done this independently.

Even games that license all their technology are taking 5+ years, while still using teams several times the size of our own. All this usually with the backing of major publishers, and most of their everyday problems solved.

So I would say that our development time is consistent with the making a breakthrough game, all the reusable technology to run it, and limited resources to do so. It's a long time, sure...but not for what we've achieved.


The length of time that this game has been in development have led some to speculate that this game is vapourware, can you speak to that point?

Tasos Flambouras:

We don't pay much attention to speculation but it's not the length of development that has led some to speculate...this has been going on since day one. I'd question the motives of those speculating all these years. We're almost talking about obsessive "trolling" either looking for a reaction, more information, or trying to hurt our efforts.

Darkfall is a game that stands out, it's not a clone. Some people doubt it's possible, others worry that it is. Either way it generates a lot of interest. If people were dismissing it, then they wouldn't be talking about it. The well-meaning gamers root for efforts that try to raise the bar. So who's left? It's so easy being a skeptic.

Another red flag is Darkfall's large, active and very passionate community. A lot of communities would like to be like Darkfall's. Slandering our game is a way to get a reaction.

We have a thick skin; this kind of thing doesn't touch us. It actually makes us feel like we're on the right track. It has also served to fire up our community and has created diehard fans. It got a lot of people to take a closer look at our game and realize that this is what they've been waiting for. All the "trolls" have achieved is to inadvertently help perpetuate the buzz for Darkfall.

We know exactly what we've got on our hands. Our best answer is that our game is coming out and then the voices will have to find something else to talk about.


Darkfall is a game that has many within the MMO community buzzing. Can you tell us why we haven't seen a marketing campaign similar to those conducted pre-launch by many other MMO studios?

Tasos Flambouras:

The MMO community is buzzing, and then you ask why we don't have marketing. It's somewhat of an oxymoron. We've done what we could with the resources we've had available.'

This has been a time for development. We're not going to sink development resources into traditional marketing before Darkfall is out. We need to be able to support this game and the response is overwhelming as it is.

What would a traditional marketing campaign achieve? To help sell some more game boxes? This is not a single player game. When you sell an MMO you're in it for the long-haul. The best marketing for an MMO is having a great game that retains your players.

Our marketing effort will be in response to our needs. The game speaks for itself...we expect a great deal of word of mouth. Darkfall can compete on merit with any MMO out there, but we can't compete against their huge marketing budgets. A traditional marketing campaign is not where our strength is. Having said that, we'll focus on working with online media that has been supporting Darkfall, and we will have a traditional marketing campaign as well, when we feel that Darkfall is best served by it.

Darkfall Screenshot


Can you tell us, at this time, how many players are in the current incarnation of beta?

Tasos Flambouras:

It amazes people that we don't have leaks yet. Our explanation is that people in our beta are serious about our game and they like it. You don't leak information easily unless you don't care, you're disappointed, or feel let down. Our testers seem to care about our game. Most of them have left MMOs they just started playing and are invested in our beta. We find that amazing. We can't talk about our total number of selected testers to date, but several hundred testers are in the game as I write this. We're adding more every day, and their numbers will go up considerably in the days to come.


Why is Darkfall's beta being run differently from betas that we have seen other MMO companies run?

Tasos Flambouras:

I'll agree that we're different. Even though we're a small team we've invested early in testing the game as much as possible. We know that even large game development studios keep testing as an afterthought, if that. We knew that with the complexity of Darkfall, we'd have to make sure that everything works well together. We're banking on our game being stable. In addition to our overall QA philosophy, we've had a team of professional testers on the game for over a year. An MMO is very complex software..We're not going to depend on playtesters for everything...the game is already tested. We need the playtesters mostly for extra gameplay feedback and to test hardware configurations.

Having said that, there's certainly no prescription on how to run a QA phase of development. Our development certainly has little to do with traditional MMO development. We have a great deal more features, more technologies, and more innovations to test.

We're doing our QA in such a way that we get good feedback on the game, so that we can handle our bug reports. The game is very stable, we're continuously patching, the testers have been impressed at our debugging turnaround. In short, we have to do what's best for Darkfall.


There is a great deal of confusion surrounding Darkfall's beta and release schedule. Could you clarify any of this for us?

Tasos Flambouras:

We've been trying to get our partners up to speed and there will be an official statement in the next few days announcing a release date for the game. This should clear things up.


Jon Wood