Fight or Kite: Crowfall’s new Infected content is the best thing added to the pre-alpha

    
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This past week has been the best week I’ve had in Crowfall all year. First, ArtCraft dropped a weekend-long event that really turned heads, and then it immediately followed that up with a new world type.

I’ve got my own ideas on how we can get more players into the game even sooner, but in the short-term, these two updates were huge. I’ve been more engaged than ever in the game. Even more importantly than that, though, Artcraft is beginning to show us how the system it’s put together can truly shine in a live state.

Short and unique events are fun

Two weekends ago, we saw a decap-a-thon event running inside the primary campaign. In short, there was a competition between the typical three factions. The faction that killed the most other players by using a special axe to remove enemy heads and deposit them at a brazier would receive a unique reward.

It’s straightforward, it’s simple, and it encourages PvP. The idea that the event not only incentivized PvP but did so in an active Trail of the Gods campaign further impressed me. I know we are playing just a pre-alpha MMO here, but this is the type of thing that can keep us engaged and active. Honestly, the current iteration of siege warfare in the game has gotten very dull for me. As it stands, the faction with the most players is almost certain to win the campaigns, which is what has occurred with basically all the campaigns I’ve participated in. It’s not fun to be on the losing side or the winning side when the outcome is essentially predetermined.

The decap-a-thon threw a wrench into that meta. Let’s keep it fresh and keep up with these one-off events!

How about shorter event with smaller maps?

As much as I love the idea of the events, there is still room for improvement – there always is, right? Right!

Consider some even varying event lengths – some a single day long, some a week. You see, even though this event itself absolutely encouraged player combat, a shorter duration would add additional incentive for players to log in and fight each other. This has been one of my biggest gripes with the game; it’s too dang hard to find anyone to fight. In fact, despite spending several hours camping NPC camps, zone portals, and running around a keep during its siege window, I ran into only a couple of other players. Maybe that’s to be expected for a pre-alpha, but it’s hard to test PvP without any P.

This is why I’m really impressed and excited about the new campaign released right on the heels of the decap-a-thon’s ending: the Infected world type.

Quick run down on the Infected world

When it released last week, we posted a nice writeup: It’s a world type intended to fall between the PvE/newbie oriented God’s Reach maps and the full campaigns that have been the norm for a while now. It is also much smaller, with three siege maps and a resource map.

For someone like me who hops around games pretty regularly and can’t keep truly committed to a single game’s guild, this is a huge boon. With the Infected and God’s Reach maps in play, I’ll have to reassess my new player experience of Crowfall too. I still stand by my statements on leveling and arena-style PvP, but now a new player could actually get up to speed without crazy boredom.

The Infected map is exactly what the game needed

As important as guilds are to a game like Crowfall, there should be worlds where players can enjoy the game without requiring their guild being online. My guild tends to have a regular schedule for logging in and fighting in the siege window. But there are times when I log in and they are not available, yet I still want to fight.

For the game in its current pre-alpha state, the Infected map was sorely needed. I’ve seen around 60 players online in a single world at a time. For the sheer size of the Trial of the Gods campaigns maps, these numbers are way too low. However, 60 players in a world the size of the Infected? Now we’re talking.

This is where the Infected is shining. I can play with or without my guild. I can enjoy the game even when I’m not “achieving” something. Since the world is smaller, I can actually find other players roaming like me.

There is simply no game I play where it should work out that I can both actively seek out someone to fight and yet never find anyone. I don’t buy the argument that this is a guild-oriented game and I am simply doing it wrong. Organized or not, players should see other people in the world. So I’m glad the maps can be large. When the game is released and there are theoretically more players bought in, it’ll be great. For now though, we don’t have the bodies, so let’s shrink down the maps a bit and bring the players we do have together – in bloodthirsty, brutal battles.

Go back to the beginning with the Infected – one map decap-a-thon

Now, as much as I am enjoying the Infected, I still say let’s take it a step further. Let’s see an Infected world that is similar to the single map with resources scattered around that players had before the Trials of the Gods and larger worlds were created. Let’s drop in the decap-a-thon into this Infected world and really watch the heads roll. It’ll be pure chaos – and it will be glorious.

On a final note: ArtCraft’s system is beginning to really reveal itself, with several different worlds available simultaneously, offering players various types of game play (sort of). This is the idea behind Crowfall that really caught my attention: It can be a game where I can look at all the available campaigns, choose the one I feel like playing for now, and really become immersed until it ends – then find the next campaign to play. It will be a powerful gameplay design, and it’s starting to take shape.

So, horsemen who’ve come to take my head and make it your own – what are your thoughts on the limited-time events and the Infected worlds? Do you agree that even more of these events would help encourage player engagement and expand the playerbase? Are you against the idea that smaller maps are more engaging for the current population of the game? Or are you just another Ichabod Crane, denying truths I’ve laid out and cursing the fact that these modes detract from the faction warfare we’ve been playing in the Trials of the Gods?

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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angrakhan

They’re still calling this thing “pre-alpha”? Good Lord, what does it take for a game to hit alpha these days?

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Vunak

Pre Alpha: Non-Feature complete and bug testing
Alpha: Feature complete or nearly feature complete – Buggy
Beta: Feature complete – completing bug testing
Release: feature complete and bug tested

Alpha’s are usually internal, but with kickstarters its being shaken up a bit.

Crowfall isn’t feature complete, thus it is still being classified as a Pre Alpha as it should be.

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angrakhan

Nope. Take everything you’ve written and shift it up one level getting rid of pre-alpha and it’s correct. Otherwise why is Star Citizen in alpha when it’s clearly not feature complete. There hasn’t been a game in the history of ever that released without known issues aka bugs so by your definition nothing ever hit release and is still beta.

The reason for the existence of “pre-alpha” is due to the fact that devs started launching games while calling them beta to avoid negative reviews. Their marketing departments figured out that negative launch reviews pretty much destroyed their earning potential. People saw the reviews and would stay away even years later even though the game had been through countless patches. Thus, they got smart and started launching as “open beta” or “public beta” so that any negative reviews could be dismissed by the phrase “it’s still beta”. The problem with this is it essentially shifted the development phases to the left. Well, there’s no Greek letter before alpha, so how do you shift alpha left? You guessed it “pre-alpha”.

I guess the strategy worked because here we are with you defining pre-alpha as an actual development phase instead of what it really is: the byproduct of marketing teams wanting to avoid negative reviews at release.

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Vunak

Go back in time to the 1960s and argue with IBM then

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tiltowait

I love the idea of smaller maps! Player interaction is what MMOs are all about, and if map size can be adjusted to account for current population levels, then the game can always be fun regardless of player count.

One issue I had with Archeage was that while the player base was shrinking, they were adding more land, spreading it out further.