As a longtime FPS gamer its easy to identify what makes these games challenging and fun. It’s the ability to choose where,when, and how, you fire at something. That structure of the game forces you play a certain way which gives you more opportunities to make your “perfect shot.” When you line up this long-range impossible shot and everything goes right… there is nothing like the feeling of hitting your target. To see your coordination, planning, and timing all come together to hit something that most others would just call “luck,” really gives you great satisfaction. It’s this feeling that the Darkfall designers want to bring to their game.

And why shouldn’t MMORPG’s use this way of first-person and ultimately the most “realistic” targeting system?

Games let us enter a fantasy world and have fun. Thats why we play them. The more realistic and involved the game is, the more fun it usually is. Creating life-like situations where you have to use your brain just as much as your gaming “skills” create the best environments. Usually we have to go to several different games to get all these desired effects. I play Counterstrike for its realism with aiming, combat maneuvering, and teamwork. I play Shadowbane for its ability to create a world that my guild can conquer, and the amazing PvP fights and coordination along the way. I play Yahoo Pool because i can play for 5 minutes or 5 hours and never have to worry about my cities burning down or my rank slipping. I call it genius that Darkfall will bring two of these games together for us.

When i first heard that Darkfall would have 1st person “shooting” i didn’t quite know how to take it. Would it disrupt PvP or would it enhance it? It’s obviously not going in for the carebears. They want to explore and quest, not be bothered with practing their aim for fear of pk’s. And just like that… i loved the idea. Before we even get to know how exactly it will come into play in this game, theres one thing it does right off the bat. It will force people to practice their aim and it will clearly show who the veteran “shooters” are, and who bought the game a few days ago. This doesn’t just mean how fast and how accurately someone can put a target recticle on your face, it also means finding cover, flanking, position, and timing. All the things that are crucial in FPS games. Anything that distinguishes veteran PvP’s from noobs and lets them seperate themselves other than levels and skills is a great thing for gaming.

The biggest critic of this aiming system has been a question even my old guildies have brought up, what if someone is standing 10 feet from you, and is constantly zig-zagging to avoid your Fireball of Death? Or even before that stage of combat, you are fighting a lvl 1 spider that is running away from you, you can’t target it fast enough and it gets away, this is a good system?

My answer is yes, even although there is no stat or level awarded for “aiming,” it exists in your player regardless. You play the game long enough and practice aiming and judging spell velocity and gravity, and i guarantee you that you’ll hit your target everytime. You will know just how to hit that running spider, or just where to shoot that zig-zag’ing wimp in front of you to give you the best chance of hitting him. Just like in FPS games. The difference between a 2 month old player and a 6 month old one is apparent the first time they see each other on the screen.

Ok, it sounds great but, how will this be good for Darkfall?

If you look at a lot of the complaints about Shadowbane PvP you’ll see a few that keep coming up. All large scale fights end up with 2 huge zerg stacks trying to target each other, and how when it comes to it, its just who is pushing their buttons better. Imagine now the same system with aiming targeting in place instead of /tar. Not sure where to target in a large fight? Launch your Cone of Fire at the stack. Instead of mashing down the cast key for Cone of Fire, you are accurately timing its projectile to hit things that are moving. You will never see a stack in Darkfall, its just one huge mess of people with a bullseye on their forehead. Instead you will actually see people hiding around walls, in trees, and behind bushes. One step closer to combat in real life.

How aiming comes into play exactly in Darkfall will remain to be seen. I’m sure it will change how we fight in the game, but how much better it will make the game is up to the designers. It’s an amazing and exciting idea, i hope they give it all the attention it deserves. It will dictate not only how we fight each other, but how we play the game altogether. We can only hope and wait that they do it right(and let us beta test it before summer is over.)

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