I decided to post this followup because we felt that our answers in the recent Q&A failed to register and our intentions seemed to be misunderstood by a segment of the community.
The problem we faced with the questions asked is that they were mostly about topics we cannot discuss yet and that’s why it took us a while to deliver it. Rather than to not respond or to avoid answering most of them, we decided out of respect for the community to address every single question as best as we could. Some people mention that Syncaine’s recent posts about his visit to Aventurine are more informative than the community QA. A part of it was because through the interaction with us he was able to ask the right questions.
Before I go into the content within the Q&A, I have to explain that when we say that we’re looking into something, or considering, or have plans for, it doesn’t mean that we’re being evasive or diplomatic in our answers. If that was our intention, we simply wouldn’t answer. It means that we’re trying to give you actual insight or confirmation on what we can’t go into detail about. These statements are supported by a sequence of events that has taken place at Aventurine involving a number of Darkfall developers doing real work, a lot of planning and meetings taking place, infrastructure being designed and implemented, testing, documentation, community feedback taken into consideration, player feedback, support tickets, bug reports etc. depending on what we’re talking about. There’s a professional pipeline in place. Even when we say there are no plans for something, like an alliance bank for example, the process has still run its course and we’ve decided against it.
When we post something about upcoming features publicly, anything, it gets multiple authorizations before it goes out and there’s nothing informal about it. The specific QA replies were collaboration between Claus Grovdal, and Kjetil Helland and myself. There’s real information in the Q&A and a lot more insight to be found than skimming quickly through it might reveal:
Darkfall’s expansion was delayed due to a testing failure in a major feature we decided to add to it. There was an announcement about this and our newest estimate is one month with an effort to make it sooner. This won’t delay further development and on that topic, we are running parallel development of Darkfall and Darkfall 2010. This means that there are two different development efforts going on at the moment. We regret that the expansion was delayed repeatedly, but it’s only because we’re trying to deliver more than expected.
We mention that we’ve added new designers to the team to help the design team test and evaluate the balance of literally everything in the game and make all the necessary changes, improvements, and adjustments needed. This means everything: skills, spells, items, damage output, loot tables, various mechanics etc. Imagine how the results from this effort can impact the game, add to it that your feedback is very important in this process and you should be able to understand better what we’re trying to do here.
Prestige classes are the largest feature ever added to Darkfall and will definitely change the face of the game. The final design for them is complete. From here we go to the technical design, implementation, testing, evaluation, more testing etc. Sounds like this will take forever but it won’t. The functionality is all there. We cannot announce how many prestige classes there will be when they’re released because everything is subject to change from names, to skills, spells, requirements, and some may not even make it out of testing. There will be, however, a good variation of them offered at release and we’ll keep adding new ones. Prestige classes will be getting a full presentation of their own before long. Until then, a lot of people at Aventurine, even some of the developers don’t know more than you do right now.
Getting a Darkfall box out is underway and Darkfall is available now through most digital download channels and we’re in talks to get it on more of them. Each one of these initiatives in terms of effort is like a commercial re-launch of the game and requires a lot of work by a lot of people in many areas and a lot of coordination of several companies around the world.
Several new spells and alignment changes to the way you gain or lose alignment are on their way. These are generally considered important additions to a game. We also mention in the QA that we’ll reward mages for being mages and not simply through removing fizzle from spells. This is and should be big news for mages.
Villages and Sea Fortresses are getting more improvements. Recent improvements to Sea Fortresses were major additions to the game based on community feedback and suggestions, and future improvements to villages are as well. For example, we’ve already mentioned in a recent interview that players who cap a village will split the reward between themselves and the clan, and there’s more. We’ve also taken the community feedback on the Sea Fortress timing issue and we’re looking into it. We also confirm that new villages and housing slots will be made available.
We mentioned that we’re adding more PvP centric additions on land other than the villages and this brief mention hides significant features we cannot discuss yet, but the fact we can’t expand on these doesn’t mean they aren’t coming.
Darkfall’s user interface is being remade. This means we’re throwing away the old interface and a brand new one is being designed and coded from scratch. An interface for a game like Darkfall can take years to make, it’s a major development effort. We’ve been working on it for a long time now and everything we’ve learned so far is going into this, including a lot of your feedback. We believe that it will greatly improve the user experience.
We’re actively working on differentiating the races and this is a large ongoing project within Aventurine. We’re working on making races more unique and enhancing the racial element of the game; there’s consistency in the work being done in this area. It’s a balancing act but we feel that a pronounced racial element will greatly enhance the game and we hope that you agree. Someone posted that the question was simply asking if we’ll offer a race change option, in which case, we’ve already announced that we will. The Mahirim 4 legged run, mentioned in the Q&A, is still alive. As far as functionality it’s complete down to the final animations. We hope to be able to use this as soon as all races have something equally as cool and useful. It won’t be easy, and it’s a process, but whether we succeed or not, the last statement should give you an idea of how much there is in store as far as racial differentiation goes.
We mentioned that waves may be added to the sea. This may not sound like much on its own unless you take into account the tactics behind it. Add the possibility of weather impact on sailing a ship and the dynamic changes completely. Imagine yourself in a naval battle behind a cannon in a stormy sea bobbing up and down as your captain is having a hard time steering into the wind as he’s fighting to get positioning on your enemies. We’ve taken a lot of steps towards improving the naval element, and we’ll keep supporting that..
Archers are getting new weapon types and ammo types and they’re also getting secondary skills in connection to prestige classes. I didn’t think we needed to explain this statement, but in retrospect we should have put more emphasis on “new weapon types” and “new ammo types”. And to explain even further: right now archers have just one weapon type: the bow, and one ammo type: the arrow.
Concerning the global messaging system, we like that players can know in real-time what’s going on in the world. We like that there’s risk in making certain decisions. There are drawbacks to be sure but in our pros and cons list, the pros outweigh the cons. Are we open to considering making adjustments to this? Of course we are, if we believe it’s what’s best for the game and for the majority of the players.
About player deaths to falling damage, we don’t like it and we’ve tested this a lot. Players in early beta may recall that you could die to falling, something that we quickly removed. Dying in a full loot game, with a lot of elevation you can access freely, due a misstep or lag, can be extremely annoying. Are you prepared to die to falling damage once every so often and possibly lose everything you’ve got? It’s not like you don’t take falling damage now, and if someone is abusing the system during PvP, it should be easier in most cases for his opponents to kill him than gravity. As with the global messages, nothing is carved in stone but please allow us to have a strong opinion now and again.
We’re rolling out a political map and several other clan tools. We also have several plans for additions to clan cities and we’re working on implementing various types of clan insignia. What’s behind the previous statement should be pretty big news for clans.
We announced that we’re working in the direction of mobs leveling up, and mobs attacking player cities. We didn’t mention this in the Q&A but this should be in the next expansion plus a lot more as far as PvE goes. We’re mentioning it now because it was confirmed to me today.
There was a whole feature about the ambient sound system which should be one of the best in MMOs and that’s why we didn’t go into detail about it, however the feature itself and the supporting video were inspired by the Q&A question.
We’re moving towards more end-game PvE content with the total dungeon revamp. Again this is a huge undertaking in several stages and a big change to the game. We also stated that we’re adding new dungeons.
A portal system is being evaluated to make sure that it will be good for the game.
We confirmed that we’re working on more character customizations like dyes. We also restated our strong commitment to boost crafting with significant additions to the game along the lines of the recently announced addition of rare ores to metal nodes, and adding a very large number of craftable-only items.
Keep in mind that all this is running concurrently in different stages in the pipeline. These are not long-term plans. Consider that there’s a lot more in the pipeline than what we’ve talked about here, things that we haven’t announced yet. This is not a wish-list; these are things we’re putting a lot of work into as we speak.
Perhaps we could have spelled things out more in the Q&A, but consider that we’re working very hard at the moment, we’re also missing a few people who are taking their vacations, and we don’t feel comfortable at all going into details before it’s time. As for the timing, we’re busting our asses to get these things done right as soon as possible and that’s the best I can give you outside of what you already know. This Q&A mostly touched on to-be-announced items. There will be proper announcements and spotlight features on everything as they become ready.
Thank you for reading