In the first of what could be a few new takes on the developer journal series, Associate Producer Tasos Flambouras goes to a straight Q&A of questions he selected from his community. This is obviously a week early of the regular bi-weekly timeslot, not that any fans will complain, I am sure.
Article by Tasos Flambouras
Thanks to everyone for submitting their questions, I’m not sure if I expected this many.
I answered a couple which I thought were important to be answered immediately, and then picked some random ones. We’ll go down this list of questions and answer as many of them as possible. We just have twelve today, I wanted to do more of them and balance out the topics a bit, but it wasn’t possible due to time constraints. I’ll continue on to next week with more.
Thanks to Shaar for categorizing these questions for us. In answering the specific question, I try to answer related questions as well. I may answer yours as part of someone else’s. The questions posted are just there for reference, and that’s why I won’t add the name of the person asking. Here’s the first batch:
Community: Will the game be downloadable, or do I have to wait for a CD to ship to the nearest EBgames?
Tasos Flambouras: We strongly believe in digital distribution so Darkfall will definitely be downloadable with a number of options available for that. Of course there would also be a DVD option for those who prefer it.
Community: why has Darkfall had such a hard time securing a solid publisher and with the impending release of both age of Conan and Warhammer online aren’t you concerned that the game will be unable to maintain a self sustaining profitable player base considering that the other games have giant budgets and giant advertising campaigns.
Tasos Flambouras: In very simple terms, it’s not so much as Darkfall having a hard time securing a publisher as it is that publishers have had a hard time securing Darkfall. I’ll explain: We do have the capability to self-publish, so the competition to any publishing offer, aside from other offers, is our own plan for self-publication. In our self-publishing scheme we hire the same services that most publishers use so in effect “cutting out the middleman” is usually to our advantage, especially since as a newcomer in the gaming industry it’s rare to get a fantastic deal. Furthermore, getting a publishing deal isn’t crucial to us in regards to development, and we won’t just jump at offers. We have the “luxury” to try to do what’s best for the game in this context. That being said, we have been and still are in discussions with publishers who present a good and viable alternative to our self-publishing plan.
Giant budgets and giant advertising campaigns demand giant paydays. We definitely don’t need to be a World of Warcraft killer to be successful, but the same may not be true about some of the other games in development. When faced with the question of budget allocation we decided that it’s more important for us to first make as good a game as possible and then to market it on its merit. The opposite doesn’t work in the long run, and quality would be compromised by taking some of the development resources and throwing them into marketing so we’re betting everything on our strength. We couldn’t compete with some of the large titles when it comes to marketing since it all comes down to dollars and cents, but we can still make one hell of a game.
Community: How common will mounts be? Will they be cheap so everyone can afford one or will they have a high price to give a bit “Risk Vs Reward” of using them. + Related questions
Tasos Flambouras: Mounts won’t be cheap so there will be the Risk vs. Reward aspect. However, they’ll be affordable to the intermediate player, so we expect to have a lot of mounts in the game. They’re fantastic for transportation and their use in combat is specialized. In many cases, fighting on foot is better and we believe there’s a pretty good balance in place. Mounts are crafted into a figurine that you can carry on your person, so they’re also lootable. When deployed, they’re also killable. There are five different types with several color variations, also with the possibility of more mount types being introduced in the future.
Community: Can you teleport to each of your clans cities?
Tasos Flambouras: You could by using runestones and tying them to your cities. They’re expensive, they have limited uses and they’re lootable. If someone were to loot your runestone, they could go to wherever you’ve tied it to.
Community: What happens if two ships crash together?
Tasos Flambouras: You can’t ram another ship for damage. You can block it though and fire into it, board it from your ship, take it over etc. There are many tactical reasons why you wouldn’t want someone ramming your ship a certain way, especially if it presents a firing opportunity to their cannons or if they have a large boarding party waiting to jump onto yours. Ramming other ships or blocking them in will probably be used in naval battles where several ships are present.
Community: Clarification of the statement from Journal 20 that it matters where you get hit. Does this mean it matters in relation to knockback or that hit boxes have been added?
Tasos Flambouras: It matters in relation to knockback which can mess up your aim, but also to damage you take when hit in front and the back. You take much more damage in the back. There were more hitboxes available but not anymore and this was done for practical reasons. Also as things stand now, there are no one-shot kills in Darkfall.
Community: Siege engines- Will they only do damage to structures or can they hit people too?
Tasos Flambouras: They’ll do damage to characters, mounts, other siege engines, and boats as well. They’re used in city defense. We also want to see players setting up and positioning cannons and other siege engines for massive battles. Depending on the type of siege engine, new dimensions are added to battlefield tactics.
Community: With the more advanced AI of enemy monsters, how relentless will they be when it comes to pursuit? Will they follow us a set duration of time or distance, would they be smart enough to stop if we ran to a city? Also, along a similar line, if an enemy monster is outnumbered and out matched will it flee to find nearby allies?
Tasos Flambouras: They’ll follow you around but they won’t follow you forever, they’ll return to their area. They will call for help, and they’ll also flee when the odds are stacked up against them or if they’re damaged. The AI constantly assess the situation and will react accordingly but not in a consistently predictable manner. This is something I have personally never enjoyed in other MMOs that I’ve played, but it’s fun fighting AI in Darkfall.
Community: Beta ETA (we all understand possible setbacks that’s nature of the industry but a 1 month 2 yrs or something would be great)
Tasos Flambouras: Previous estimates on beta were honest educated estimates based on facts at the time. Circumstances have a way of changing, so we don’t want to try to estimate again when so many things are in flux. The only thing certain is that we expect everything to come together one way or another within a few months so that our launch can be within the year. When we decide whether to go with a publisher or to self publish we will announce a beta date.
Community: How much will light armor exactly hamper my spell casting? Will it be so enormous that robes are a must for every spell caster and that leather is already a big no-no?
Tasos Flambouras: If you’re a serious spell caster, you’ll probably want to be in robes since wearing armor to a varying degree will add penalties to your spell casting time and your spell casting ability.
Community: Will there be pole arms long enough to create a phalanx type formation?
Tasos Flambouras: There are some polearms which are pretty long, and reach matters so I suppose you could simulate this if you can maintain discipline in your ranks.
Community: If a player of a friendly race attacks you and in defending yourself you have to kill him, do you take an alignment hit?
Tasos Flambouras: I’m assuming in this answer that everyone involved is of the same alignment. When attacked you’ll get some time to attack and kill your attacker without the penalty. If you’re with friends and they help you, they won’t take the hit. If a bystander sees you getting attacked and kills the attacker, he won’t get the hit. You could say that the attacker “goes gray” to everyone of a positive alignment. In order to negate this effect in accidents we’ve removed it from clanmates and people in the same group. So if you accidentally swing into your clanmate or someone in your group, you won’t be open game to everyone. As you can probably deduce from this, you can spar freely with clanmates or with people that you’re grouped up with because there’s no alignment penalty.