Darkfall Dev Journal #19: A Round-Up

Due to the perils of email file transfer, this article appears on Monday as opposed to its regularly scheduled Friday slot. Nonetheless, Tasos Flambouras gets us up to date on a slew of the latest questions the community has been asking in our regular bi-weekly developer journal.

Darkfall Developer Journal
Article by Tasos Flambouras (Associate Producer)

Things have been progressing smoothly in most areas except for testing. We’re behind on the actual tasks and it’s a lot of work. We have on-site testers on the job right now and we’re looking for more. What we’re looking at, at the moment, are the things we don’t want the beta testers to have to worry about (ideally). I’m pitching in too, and my task at the moment is to check some areas for out of place objects, and doing accessibility testing, meaning that I’m making sure that players can get to places they’re supposed to be able to get to. It’s not the most rewarding work but it’s important that it gets done. Some Dwarven locations for example are being corrected because they were just too hard to access through the mountains. We are behind schedule on the testing, ahead in other areas, but we’re doing our best with it. We’re getting much needed new hardware next week and this means that things will speed up considerably; we’re also creating more workstations for additional testers.

All this work is making it hard to release more updates than what you get in this journal and even this is a stretch. We made an effort last week and got some screenshots from siege testing and released more later in the week on our website. We’ll keep trying to make more frequent updates as time permits. We want to give you videos, and we will, as soon as we can get around to it.

The last journal raised some questions which I think need answers:

When I mentioned universal banks, I didn’t think there would be such a reaction. This is probably because I know how they’re supposed to work and I didn’t think to elaborate, but I also didn’t think that a lot of people would assume we’re going to pick the worst possible way to implement this. Nevertheless, it was an interesting debate and we were glad to hear what you had to say. So to get you up to speed on universal banks: Universal banks are not bottomless. There’s a reasonable volume and weight limit to what you can have in there. You can store items which meet these requirements. Universal banks aren’t found everywhere. You can find them in starter towns, capital cities, clan cities if the clan builds one, and some quest hubs. The locations where they’re found also limit their use in a racial, an alignment and a clan membership context. You won’t be able to use every one of the few universal banks in the world. For example, it’s only theoretically possible for an ork to use a universal bank in the human capital but he’d be cut to shreds by the guards before he even reached it. When we make a decision like having universal banks we try to think it through weighing the pros and the cons and try to achieve a balance between convenience and challenge, always with fun in mind. Following up on this, we will be looking at universal banks during beta testing, listening to what the testers have to say, and making any changes that are necessary.

The debate on allowing one character per server or one race per server. This has been going on for a while. As with many things that haven’t been put to the test, there is no final decision yet but I can give you the consensus over here: We don’t think that you really need more than one character with the flexibility the skill system allows. We can also think of a lot of scenarios where you shouldn’t be allowed to have more than one character, Darkfall being a competitive game and all. There are many other reasons why we prefer one character per server but these are the main ones. If we’re left to our own devices, this is probably the way it’s going to be, one character per server, unless we’re convinced otherwise in testing, or by a publisher. You should also know that your views on this debate are known to us and we have, and will continue to consider them.

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There was an interesting question on the official forum on how you actually learn to craft items. The simplified answer is that you first learn the specific skill, and with each skill level you gain more knowledge which gives you the basic ability to craft more item types. Now the success probability in crafting the item and the eventual quality of the finished product have to do with the skill level of the crafter. The items you buy from vendors are of average quality, but a skilled crafter can make the higher quality versions of these items. Perfect versions of specific items are theoretically possible. Crafters can further specialize in advanced skills to craft the more elite items of varying qualities. What I’ve explained to you here is a perfect example of one of those things we don’t like to talk about because answer makes it sound simplistic, when the design goal is to make it straightforward. In practice it’s challenging enough and we don’t feel that we have to come up with something too complicated in order to make it interesting.

Another poster wondered why most large MMO battles degrade into chaos with everyone running around doing their own thing. Darkfall helps in this with the collision detection on players and with the friendly fire, making formations and picking your ground very important. The full loot makes preparation necessary. The lack of radar and the inability to select and cycle targets using the tab key makes tight formations necessary as to avoid someone breaking in the middle and creating chaos. The fact that even starting players can be dangerous in a small group makes everyone a factor when used correctly. So what it boils down to is good leadership, preparation, and practice. Those who have it will force those who don’t to adapt in order to remain competitive.

We had a few questions about what degraded the wall in our latest siege screenshots. It was various cannon types used against them, plus Warhulks which are not shown in the screens. Finally, can ships sail against the wind? The wind affects the sailing speed but we’ve simplified the model quite a bit as to not make it impractical to use ships. Tacking (zig-zagging) can be used to move faster if your heading is directly into the wind.

Thanks for reading.

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