As promised, buy-to-play indie PvP sandbox Das Tal has begun a Kickstarter campaign today to coincide with the launch of the German wing of the Kickstarter platform. Das Tal isn’t a new game for many of you as we’ve been covering it on Massively OP and Massively-that-was, but the pitch puts the game’s development goals in focus:
Das Tal is the world’s first Open World Battle Arena. It is the love-child of a Sandbox MMORPG and a fast-paced PvP Arena. Our goal is to make MMOs fun again for PvP fans. No more grind. No more pay-to-win. No more tab-targeting. We are creating a game designed to be compatible with the busy life of an adult gamer.
Das Tal’s devs have already been working on the game for several years and have plenty of game footage to show for it. The title is due to launch next year; the alpha is expected in the next few months. The Kickstarter, they say, is specifically intended to pay artists to flesh out the world.
I spoke with Fairytale Distillery Managing Director Alexander Zacherl last week to pick his brain on the PvP MMO market, the B2P model, graphics snobbery, and the apparent contradiction in the game’s hardcore-but-not-entirely design. We’ve got a fresh Kickstarter video as well. Read on for all of it!
Massively Overpowered: Where does Das Tal see itself positioned in the market? Are crowdfunded PvP MMOs like Camelot Unchained and Crowfall concerns or competitors? Do you see them as helpfully propelling more players to you by bringing them into the MMO PvP genre? Is there any resentment that Crowfall has taken your map reset idea [Das Tal calls it time-boxing] and run away with it?
Managing Director Alexander Zacherl: It’s a bit of both – competition and cross-promotion. Most serious MMO PvP fans will try out all three games when they launch. In the end they all will find different player types. People who really want massive battles will stick with CU, players who enjoy a destructible terrain will enjoy CF, and those who love hardcore friendly-fire and action combat will stick with us. And yeah, one of those games being super successful will definitely make the market bigger for all of us. Since our game worlds run for a limited time and since the game will require low amounts of grind, Das Tal might even be a “second home” for some hardcore players who already play a “big” MMO like CU, CF or EVE Online.
On the map resets: I haven’t asked them but I’m very sure that they have not “taken my idea.” I’m pretty sure that a lot of other Shadowbane players (and devs) have come to the same realization (“wow, restarting is fun”), and so I’m surprised that there are only two MMO designers yet who have taken that idea and based their games around it. Plus: Even if they had gotten there inspiration from us, there is a good reason on why you cannot patent game design – I’m all for people making awesome games though mix-and-match from other titles.
I’ve always been confused at how Das Tal promises both no grind and consequence-heavy gameplay. If it’s no trouble to re-equip a character, doesn’t that make full-loot on death a trivial consequence? Can you explain how the game will balance compatibility with “the busy life of an adult gamer” and consequence-driven PvP?
The idea is that there are different kinds of loss. Going out in a medium-quality set of PvP equipment and then losing it won’t be hard for an experienced player. He’ll have the resources to replace it fast. So will the newbie with low-end gear. And so they’ll be able to compete for small resource fights every day, when they occour. But taking your best gear with you, losing that and then also having your clan settlement wiped of the map: That will hurt. So will losing a game world where you thought your clan was a contender for the top spot. You can compare this to EVE in a way: You are not required to always bring a capital ship in every battle. In some you’ll just fly a Rifter for tackling because losing that won’t hurt. But in some cases, you need to bring 20 caps to a fight. That’s the big adrenaline spikes you can only get in a sandbox MMO.
I’m a big fan of isometric games, having grown up on Ultima Online, but a lot of MMO gamers can be graphics snobs. Do you think the isometric view and cartoon gloss will pose any problems to your capturing an audience?
I’d say the jury is still out, but I also have the feeling that our art style resonates more strongly with a mature audience who come from games like UO or Tibia (both of which we are often compared with). But your average 14-year-old who has grown up with Call of Duty and FIFA is generally not a big fan of our color palette. On the other hand, MOBAs – chief amongst them League of Legends – have really created a userbase of semi-hardcore PvPers who are very much used to top-down graphics. We’ll see if they enjoy what they see in Das Tal.
You’re going with a B2P model, which is becoming a fan-favorite with our audience, but you’re also promising no pay-to-win. How will the game sustain itself after the boxes are bought? What will the studio sell in the cash shop that won’t be construed as P2W?
I think we’re going to be pretty safe with selling cosmetic add-ons such as what you currently see in our Kickstarter. Animations, skins, awesome decorative buildings for your settlement – all that gives players a chance to customize their game and support our development while not destroying the game balance itself. And then later on there is a good chance that we can make a living off custom server rule sets, some of which might be paid-for in some cases. But we’ll have to see how that works out in the end – that feature is still a bit in the future, and we’ll have to evaluate if it works well for our playerbase.
Thanks so much for speaking with us, and good luck on the campaign trail!