Dev Journal #20: Fan Answers & Three Screenshots
In the final developer journal of the year, Tasos Flambouras chimes in with answers to a bevy of community questions. Topics include arrow physics, solo-ability, trophies and much more.
We also get three exclusive screenshots of the game that show off an Ork female, Human male and Alfar female respectively all in monster armor. There is an image on each of the three pages of this extensive article.
In this journal I'll talk about some things that caught our attention from reading the community boards the past couple of weeks, with a stronger focus on what I like personally since people are taking off for the Christmas holiday and my feedback is more limited than usual. As a matter of fact, I'm the last guy left at the office on a Friday evening typing this thing here so I can't go too crazy with it.
Someone was asking about arrow physics: In Darkfall arrows fly in a realistic arc and they leave a light tracer. They fly quite a bit faster than any MMO I've ever played and they have a pretty long range, longer than I've seen before in MMOs. I would say that the bow experience is pretty realistic. I don't think that we need to limit their range since you actually have to use considerable player skill, luck and plenty of experience to hit someone near the range limit. In other MMOs bow range is limited in a way by radar range since you have to select your target, something we don't do in Darkfall. Arrows in Darkfall do quite a bit of damage, and the bow will be a pretty powerful and effective weapon in the right hands. There's an exception to the realistic arrow physics, some magical arrows which fly in a straight line but have other limitations including damage. I really enjoy playing the archer in most games where it's offered as an option - if it's not gimped. In Darkfall it's so much more satisfying because, if you do it right, your opponents may not even be able to see you. It happens in testing all of the time. You don't appear on a radar, they have no idea where to look, or rather they might have an idea of the general direction judging by which way they were knocked back (an arrow hitting you will knock you in the direction of the strike) or a third party may notice the tracer. Then your opponents start running around so you can't get a clean shot trying at the same time to figure out where you're at. It feels great...I was playing around with someone once who happened to be on a wall inside the human capital and my arrow strike knocked him clear off into the moat. You've probably seen arrows sticking out of players in screenshots, but you can't pick them back up if they hit the deck. This is because we don't allow items in Darkfall to be placed on the ground.
The option to solo: again this is an option I personally enjoy the most and I'll give you my feedback on it as it relates to Darkfall. For one you don't need to conform to any alliance rules and regulations, you're not accountable to anyone except to your alignment and you can build your reputation as a solo player depending on your playing style. A lot of people are concerned that by going solo they'd be an easy target. That may be true in some cases, in others however, being a soloist makes you an alignment liability to a lot of people who may have attacked you without impunity if you were in a clan they were at war with. Additionally and reading the relevant posts on the forums I don't think you fully realize the impact on the game that the lack of radar has. You can go unnoticed when the odds are stacked against you, you can do hit and runs, and you can escape when you have to. You can be pretty self-sufficient depending on your skillset. You can always band up with other people in a party which is temporary but at the same time it's pretty powerful structure. Of course by being a solo player you may miss out on the clan portion of the game which is very interesting, or group activities like massive land or naval battles, epic quests etc. You could be affiliated with a clan or a group of players and get to enjoy that aspect of the game as well on your own terms. It's a given that the better crafters and traders would benefit more by being unaligned since this way they can offer their services to anyone. So as far as I know, soloing can easily be a viable and fun alternative.
In this journal I'd like to spark some debate on something we're thinking on, and another post on the community forum is what inspired me to ask here. As many of you know, mixed race clans are possible in theory, however NPC guards, and vendors make it hard for the race incompatible clan members to coexist in the same cities. Furthermore, the game makes it hard. If a mixed clan is located in a human area, then their alfar and orkish members will have it a lot harder than the humans. We have some leeway to limit the NPC reaction within the clan cities if we have to. As things stand right now during internal testing, NPC guards don't attack clan members, capital city guards do however attack enemy races. We'd like to hear some opinions, and various options of this will of course be heavily tested during beta. One problematic scenario I can imagine is a clan coming into the game not fully versed on Darkfall particulars and their members chose incompatible races. That, plus a possible one character per server setup could force someone to delete their character when they realize it's going to be too much of a pain in the ass. I can see that happening a lot actually. As with everything else we don't want to make the game annoyingly restrictive so we'll be looking at this carefully, and some initial feedback based on this information here would be nice.
On taking trophies from dead opponents: We planned to include head-taking to accessorize with but we don't have time to implement this by launch. It goes without saying that we'll patch it in when its priority ranking comes up. For the time being your trophies are your statistics of details on all your kills, and your looted items from your victims.
I was asked recently what the plan is after Darkfall. This was a relevant question because it was asked in a business context and you have to look into the future. The reason I mention this is because I saw a similar question in the community forum. The philosophy behind Darkfall is to give players what they've been asking for, to improve heavily on what was already out there, to not be afraid to try new things, to take player freedom to new levels. We'll continue developing the game throughout its lifecycle under this philosophy, and continue to do this with subsequent games. At least that's the plan. It's entirely possible we'll see a lot of cool features we haven't even discussed or even thought of yet finding their way into the game while Darkfall is live and we've kept this in mind throughout the development process. A year after launch Darkfall will probably be a much different game that what it starts as.
In another thread I was checking out, the poster was talking about how in the Darkfall videos he's seen so far, combat seems pretty simple and how it appears to be just a matter of timing - or something to that effect. I really beg to differ here. This is real-time combat. Weapon range, weapon swing, they matter. Timing matters. You have special attacks. The location where you hit your opponent matters. Friendly fire is on. Collision detection is on. You can push people, you can box them in. You have more weapon choices than you can imagine. You have to lead the target with your ranged weapons. You aim your spells, you aim your attacks. You have mounted combat, naval combat, cannons, warhulks, hundreds of spells. What else is possible? Something I don't think we've mentioned before is that you can hit multiple opponents with one swing. So if you're fighting with a polearm right next to your clanmate there's a chance if you're not careful that you'll nick him along with your target. If you're charging players using a mount and slice at them you could cut down a few of them if they're running in a bunch. Lots of fun really, but definitely not simple.
There are a lot of questions about travel times and how large the world is. I keep hearing that the size of our world is that of Germany. Of course it's not. It's not even remotely close. Even if we had the option for it to be that large, why would we choose it? Spread out 10 k people in Germany and see how often they run into each other. This is a PvP game and players have to meet. Additionally, this is a world loaded with content and points of interest. When you reach one, you can see the next one in most cases. That being said, the Darkfall world is larger than most, and possibly the largest in area, all of which is accessible to the players. Travel times can be long and there are not a lot of options to move instantly, and definitely not exactly where you want to be.
My eye caught a thread where the monthly subscription and billing methods of Darkfall were discussed. Several posters insist that there's no way we could offer Darkfall lower than other MMO subscriptions out there. I don't see why not. As a matter of fact if we're left to our own devices, or if we have a say in the matter, Darkfall will be extremely competitive. We have a lot of faith in this game and that's our competitive advantage. We want as many people as possible to be able to try it out.
In another post the uniqueness of Darkfall's characters was put into question by one of the posters. We've talked about this many times in the past, and I think that in testing where most of our screenshots are taken from we don't pay so much attention to modifying or dressing up our characters so you end up seeing a lot of the same stuff all the time. We won't implement character creation morphing because we're shooting for performance during massive battles, rather than spending time drawing everyone's uniquely disfigured character. Still...we've done everything possible to give your character variation and uniqueness and your character will definitely stand out in a crowd if you want him/her to. Henning took some quick screenshots with some new facial / hairstyle / equipment variations of characters exclusively wearing armor they looted off of monsters. The female ork is wearing face paint and angra skeleton shoulder pads, beastman bracers, and a servants of Malaut girdle, and revenant greaves. The Alfar female is wearing face paint, zombie shoulder pads, hobgoblin bracers, and Ciel Fey boots. The human male is wearing face paint, black knight shoulder pads, gloves, girdle and boots, and a hobgoblin helmet. That's a tar lake behind the alfar by the way.
That's all for today, thanks for reading. I don't think we'll miss any updates due to the holidays; at least I'll try not to. I'll try to give you a status report and a few other belated updates as soon after the holidays as possible.
On behalf of the Darkfall team I'd like to wish everyone Happy Holidays, and thanks for reading.