Darkfall (and Hype)

Reading Keen and Graev’s latest article is like watching a kid on a sugar-high right before he’s about to get his presents on Christmas morning (bless ‘em). Man, they are excited about Darkfall. Me, however, well I’ve been a MMO player for a long, long time and I’ve seen many games come and go. All are different, a few make it huge, some survive, but a lot of them flop and disappear. One thing that never fails, however, is the hype that always surrounds them.

The hype with Darkfall seems to have more than a passing resemblance to the hype that surrounded Vanguard. I guess that’s because they both appeal to the same type of players – the hardcore and the nostalgic. I briefly got sucked into the hype with VG and came away wondering why I ever believed any of it. Hype is one of those things – like crowd mentality – were people get absorbed with the emotions that go with it and never stop to actually address the facts. Let’s fix that.

From Keen and Graev:

  • It’s not for everyone.  If you don’t like PvP (especially open pvp), a Sandbox Style, or a skill based system then don’t comment on Darkfall – it’s not the game for you!
  • If you’re wanting the next graphical messiah and can’t stand looking at dated graphics (albeit not so bad, save for animations) then (in the words of Bartlebe) this is the game for you.
  • If you get attached to your phat loots and consider your sword a status symbol, then save yourself the grief. (There is full looting in Darkfall)
  • The game is not World of Warcraft.  It’s not Warhammer Online.  It’s not LOTRO.  Honestly, it’s not like any game currently being played by this generation.  It draws some influences from UO, Shadowbane, EVE  and some other older PvP/Sandbox/oldschool MMORPGs.  You’ve been warned.
  • If you don’t like grinding then this game is not for you.  You gain skills by using them.  If you’re going to B.M.C. about having to raise skills by using them over time as you play then this is not the game for you.  In Darkfall you can raise your skill by shooting a tree or shooting a player.  I choose to shoot players.   You have to work towards what you want in Darkfall – that gives it meaning and worth.   Again, if you see working for something as “a grind” then you’re probably not going to enjoy Darkfall.
  • If you want a Sandbox game that allows you to raise your skills by playing your way; a game that allows you to build cities and take them from enemies; become a crafter and sell your wares in a completely player driven economy; and most important if you want a game that is different in a sea of ‘the same’, then give the game a shot.

So… first off, they’re telling me that most people won’t actually even like the game – O…K. And then they’re telling me it’s got shitty graphics – well, at least they’re being honest. And then they’re telling me it’s actually just one huge grind-fest and that I probably won’t even be able to keep my hard-earned loot cause someone from a guild called ‘The Unemployed’ will have grinded even more than me and be able to kick my ass and steal my shit. Not exactly sounding very appealing.

And what the fuck is a sandbox?

sand·box (sndbks)


1. A low box filled with sand for children to play in.
2. A litter box, especially for a cat.

So there you have it. Darkfall is a sandbox.

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  1. Raegn says:

    I’m looking forward to trying the game but mostly because it harkens back to my days of playing a PvP (PK) MUD. I know a big chunk of it is nostalgia.

    What gets me is how hyped up everyone is getting when most people recognize that whether or not this game will be good (even by people’s varying perceptions) is going to be a coin flip.

    It’s not for everyone. By that, they mean it’s not for most of the MMO crowd. Most of the MMO gamers out there today got weaned on WoW. Most of these people will hate the game and then spread that perception around everywhere they can. That includes most of Keen’s audience and, most likely, most of all of our audiences. Darkfall is a game that is trying to bring the old back into today’s light. It’s not friendly, which is what got the new crop of MMO players into the scene anyways.

    I digress. Sorry for the rambling post. It’s gotten to be a little crazy that people get so worked up any game that happens to release during a semi-dry period. If darkfall had a launch date around the time of SW: TOR, the detrimental comments would probably still be flowing. As much as I love Keen and his writing, he criticized the hell out of the game before it became the only release on the horizon. Now look.

  2. Karthis says:

    Man…. I remember the “loot everything” PvP MUDs…. yeah. Not for me. I left one of those for something more carebear, and never looked back.

  3. Keen says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but where in that post did I ‘Hype’ Darkfall? If anything you have clearly illustrated how I have done exactly the opposite. I have painted Darkfall in a very real light.

    btw, your dictionary sucks. Here’s what mine says:

    “A game with nonlinear gameplay presents players with challenges that can be completed in a number of different sequences. Whereas a more linear game will confront a player with a fixed sequence of challenges, a less linear game will allow greater player freedom. …”

    That’s your very basic definition. If you need a more thorough explanation then you haven’t been playing games long enough to understand the differences between a linear and nonlinear world. You’ve only been playing MMORPGs since WoW though.

    @Raegn: If you would like I can link you to every post I have made on Darkfall. You’ll see one reoccurring theme… I have kept the criticism up. 6-8 months ago I thought the videos released made the game look like it belonged in 1999. They since updated the graphics and it looks a little bit better – the animations still suck – but it’s doable. If you fast forward to when teh game began to enter a more ‘open’ beta phase, I began to get information from friends that began to change my mind about the game.

    And my blog entry yesterday… I think some of you guys need to reread. I’ve come right out and said that based on what I’ve seen the game is going to be rough for some people. Obviously this has come full circle with blog entries like these from people who were probably not old enough to touch a keyboard before WoW and wondering what a “sandbox” style game is about.

    I am and will continue to be skeptical about the game. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to give it a try for myself though. Come on, it doesn’t take hype, fanboyism, or even much effort to say you’re going to give a game a try even though you’re on the fence.

  4. Gordon says:

    Nostaliga is exactly that and not something that can be used as a mechanic in a game. People don’t realise that old MMOs were tough because they either couldn’t be changed or didn’t know any differently. It’s not being ‘easy’ or ‘hard’, it’s about being fun. I didn’t do 2 hour corpse runs in Everquest because I enjoyed it – I did it because I had to! Problem is that as time passes, we forget the bad and embellish the good, linking to the two things together.

  5. Gordon says:

    @Keen: Fair points! And regarding the term ’sandbox’, I used the literal definition cause it amused me and I thought it would get a few cheap laughs ;) Love your blog btw!

  6. Nobs says:

    The major difference between MMO’s now and EQ/UO is the community. The argument begins ands ends there. MMO’s are to popular to provide a tight community required for a truly open PvP game or strong community.

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