As promised back in July, the team behind Darkfall: Rise of Agon are taking drastic measures to reorient the fantasy sandbox to a more fun direction. Ergo, the main focus of Tuesday’s patch is “reducing tedium and also reducing the power game between players” in the game.
This is being accomplished in part by rejiggering stats and skills. All races now start out with a baseline of 20 in all stats, and a single attribute potion will take a stat up to 100 right away (do not pass go). It has also become a lot easier to see what spells and skills you can unlock and what you need to do to get them. There are more ways to level skills through use, although the team said that scrolls remain the fastest way to boost your abilities.
The patch also added in a faster way to equip gear from inventory, something called “remote crafting,” and name change tokens for players who sneezed while typing their alter ego and added an unnecessary umlaut or that fun Danish Ø.
Every MMO tells a story through the run of its life. A lot of those stories are pretty happy, too. Ultima Online may not be the most happening place in the world right now, but its story is about launching a genre and then running for two solid decades. That’s a pretty great story. However much it’s become a tale of mismanaged expectations, World of Warcraft kind of became the most popular thing for a long while and brought in tons of new people to the hobby. Even titles with sad endings often have bright stories; the end bit for City of Heroes sucks, but everything leading up to that was a gas.
And then you have these 10 titles. These are titles where the whole story is a tragedy, start to finish, and in many cases the tragedy isn’t necessarily over, but the story is still just plain sad. There are reasons, of course, maybe even good ones, but the result is that the narrative for these titles is pretty sad all the way through.
Darkfall: New Dawn, one of a pair of indie-led player efforts to keep MMO sandbox Darkfall going after original studio Aventurine abandoned it last year, has a gorgeous new roadmap out this week addressing the current state of the build. Studio Ub3rgames says it believes it’s more than three-quarters of the way done with the game since last summer, with most of the work going toward PvE, combat, PvP, quality-of-life upgrades, and performance. The economy and virtual world, the team admits, has seen the least focus so far. The active players seem pretty pleased!
Most recently, Ub3rgames released patch 3.13, “switching into a higher gear” with what it dubbed “the great magic overhaul.” It’s essentially a complete do-over for the magic system that revamps secondary spell effects as well as adds a preliminary king-of-the-hill village control system, guild perks, armor durability retooling, collision system updates, performance upgrades, and dynamic tombstones, which sound festive and might be worth a relook if you’ve been standing on the sidelines of development.
From the sound of things, it doesn’t appear that Darkfall: Rise of Agon is doing quite as well as its indie team was hoping. The PvP sandbox launched in May and posted a roadmap just a few weeks ago, but now Big Picture Games is acknowledging that a drastic course correction might be needed.
In a short and slightly unnerving post on Rise of Agon’s site this week, the team acknowledged that the game’s direction is “underwhelming” to many players and is reassessing the MMO from the top down and bottom up.
“We came to the conclusion that much of what we have been trying desperately to hold onto were the roots of what Darkfall had become,” the team wrote. “This was a game that involved a heavy time sink, required perseverance, and tolerating insane amounts of tedium. What we attempted to do was walk a line between casual and hardcore play times, and we now know this was a mistake.”
Big Picture said that it will be evaluating how it can remove grind and inaccessibility, starting with “a series of design discussions” this weekend.
We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.
“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”
I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.
has a new dev blog up today on the Eternal Chasm
, one of its level 59+ multiple-mode instanced dungeons.
“Shinji – after the events of Darkfall – is particularly interested in what resides within this decrepit cave, believing the Eternal Chasm contains clues regarding the fate of his own father. Whether to aid your prince in his investigation, or to simply test your mettle against a huge array of threats and environments, the mouth of the chasm is eager to swallow all visitors and cast them down into madness. This vast map, ripe for exploration, is littered with nodes that render adventurers into a dream-like state, eliciting visions of what lies ahead. From fiery pits and voracious volcanos, to spine-chilling snow lands and sea-faring shenanigans, the Eternal Chasm is teeming with promising rewards and devious challenges to test yourself against, ever increasing in difficulty as you progress.”
Skill Cultivation Books, Equipment Blueprints, Duskcloud Nyx Treasures, and purple gear top the list of loot inside the dungeon. My.com says only two of the dungeons modes are unlocked at the moment; three more will be opened up in later patches.
In case it slipped your mind, Darkfall: Rise of Agon launched a whole two months ago now. With the fresh car smell of this reboot slowly fading away, attention for both devs and players have turned to the eternal question of “what’s next?”
The team said that with launch craziness behind it, focus can shift to the promised monthly updates for the fantasy sandbox. To wit, a Q3 2017 roadmap was posted with a brief outline of the content that’s planned over the next three months.
This month, Rise of Agon is going to beef up player vendor abilities, add over 100 new tasks, and throw in champion spawn chests, among other features. August’s update is going to take the form of deployable control towers and the ability for players to change their names (witness protection program?). Then looking ahead to September, expect to see armor and weapon dyes arrive.
Massively OP reader and Patron Avaera has a thoughtful question for the team and readers this week. “I wish more virtual world games thought deeply about what impact they can have for the better,” he writes.
“It seems to me we are living in a time when tribalism, intolerance, and lack of empathy are increasing, with online trolling, harassment and simple nastiness on the rise even before considering where real-world politics seems to be heading. Yet research continues to show that immersive virtual worlds (including MMOs) have significant potential to change us through the type of experiences they offer, with recent examples being that a VR out-of-body experience can reduce fear of death
and that social exclusion in a game environment carries a negative effect on real-world emotions
. Do you think any MMOs are already using this incredible power to change us as people through pro-social
mechanics, activities or narratives? Can you think of any examples where you have been moved or changed by game experiences, for better or worse, and do you think this was a deliberate act by developers? As our genre continues on a trajectory away from massively social roleplay towards cliquish competitive skirmishing, are there any signs that there are still companies willing to test whether virtual world games can be more than just moment-to-moment fun or entertainment?”
I posed Avaera’s question to the whole team for an intriguing Overthinking.
Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?
This time last year, I polled the Massively OP writers for their opinions on which MMOs had had the best year, or half year, up to that point in 2016 — which games were the most influential and important specifically in that time period. I was pretty surprised at the spread of answers too. Since we’re nearing the midpoint of 2017, I thought we should renew that question and see whether anything’s changed. So as last time, I’m asking everyone to pick three games that represent the MMORPG zeitgeist, using whatever combination of criteria they wish – revenue, playerbase size, hype, anticipation, update cycle, and so forth. What should we be paying attention to? Which games are a sign of the times? And just who is dominating now in 2017?
Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.
Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.
“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”
For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?
Is Ashes of Creation destined to be the Kickstarter event of the year? Today on the ‘cast, Bree and Justin talk about this crowdfunding tsunami, several MMO patches, a superhero preview, and even a launch. Also, Bree is selling the entire contents of her virtual garage. It was a busy week!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from Skyforge, EVE Online, Ingress, War Thunder, World of Tanks, Wakfu, League of Legends, SMITE, GTA Online, Elsword Online, Wurm Online, Darkfall: Rise of Agon, Worlds Adrift, Counter-Strike, SEAL Online, and Warspear Online, all waiting for you after the break!