Posted Fri, May 12, 2006 by Neddie
|by Byron Mudry & John Hammond|
Today John Hammond and I got a chance to sit down with Tasos Flambouras (Associate Producer) and Kjetil Helland (Lead Programmer) from Adventurine S.A. - the company behind the upcoming PvP centric MMORPG Darkfall, currently being developed in Athens , Greece . It has been in development for over 3 years and is getting close to a beta release.
|Darkfall is designed to be real physics, real combat, and real weather. The boobs will still look fake though.|
We started with an overview of the game, which is described as a fantasy based MMO. It features all the standard things you would expect in an MMO; large world, multiple races, clans (guilds), weather, and more. It does however feature several items that are significantly different than most games on the market. This is what we will be covering.
These additional features are based on real world physics and are an attempt at realism. It does not however have cake or pie, and we are men who like our pie… mmmmm … *shudder*.
After a brief introduction to the game, John drove the interview on by asking what the 3 things that they disliked the most about current MMO's and how they handled those elements in Darkfall. They answered immediately that they were grinding, combat systems and PvP.
Grinding was explained as completely boring and a waste of time. It wasn't any fun in games to have to hunt down and kill specific MOBs over and over again just to gain a level. To solve this they removed levels altogether from characters. They said a skill based system replaced character levels, however did not go into great detail about it. Perhaps they are hoping to hide the 13 year old twitch factor until beta.
|Screenshot of a warrior in Darkfall|
Their second complaint was the normal combat system in other games. They dislike not having collision detection, real world physics and the lack of friendly fire. They saw the lack of these elements as detracting from the realistic aspect of combat. Their combat system is very realistic, to the point of applying real world physics and trajectories to spells and missile weapons. They also have included blood splatter, dismemberment, knock back and unconsciousness. They want these features in the game to attempt to provide the adrenaline rush of real combat.
While I can not argue that their physics and combat system are very realistic, I think it has several problems. While realistic it means that you need to be very careful about what you are doing. Somehow I just don't see where the fun comes in having to worry about blowing you friends apart with your fireballs while trying to kill the enemy. On most days worrying about where the enemy mobs are is enough for me.
|A previously unreleased image of a warpig mount|
The last item that they truly disliked was the PvP aspect in many games. They disliked that death meant nothing, that you didn't loose items, that there was no feeling of risk or adrenaline rush. The threat of loss, and the challenge of preventing it is their idea of a good PvP match. Their PvP system is described as “a full combat, sudden death, no overtime, skill based event”. This brings up the fact that being a skill based game system, there are no character levels. Everyone has roughly the same health and ability the kill each other. What separates players in combat is their skill with weapons, equipment and their real life skill in controlling their characters.
The death penalty in Darkfall is that players bodies become lootable when they die. This means that when you die you must run back and retrieve your body as quickly as possible before others loot it. This is the risk element they felt was missing.
They also believe that PvP should be in effect all the time. This means that there are no distinctions between friend and foe. If your friend pisses you off, you can stab him in the back right then and there, even though he is on the same side. Kjetil said in the interview, “In this game it really is everyman for himself, just like real life”. I worry enough about getting ganked by enemies in games, I don't really need to add friends to that list do I… *looks at Ratboy*.
|Lead Programmer Kjetil Helland's description of Darkfall's features moves VP Tasos Flambouras to tears|
The project is defiantly ambitious, especially for a first game from a company. They do however have a very strong vision of what the game is and is not intended to be. They are not willing to compromise this vision and that should help them a lot. While they have set a high goal for themselves, they seem to be driven to meet it.
Putting my dislike of PvP aside, if they are able to accomplish everything that they discussed about the game, it will be a momentous accomplishment. I fear that the realistic nature that they are pursuing though will limit the player base based on the current trend towards easy access MMOs. This style of game has a bad track record in the North American market. If however, you are a twitchy hard core PvP player looking for an MMO that focuses on combat then this game may be exactly what you are looking for.