How evil is TOO evil?

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I’ve never been a fan of the Good Squad. I’ve only played one game with them (World of Warcraft) but it was there that I decided that they were “outside of the box” in a bad way. Don’t get me wrong, some of their stunts were entertaining, but their “pay to join, pay more for benefits” policy left a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, here you have a group that’s globally known for being a bunch of asshats. To me, their subscription model is no different than paying the class bully to be your friend. And it’s not too far off from RMT either.

But that’s WoW, they’re griefing was limited by design. In Darkfall, they’ve taken things to a new level under the clan name “Awful Company”. The funny thing is, it’s not that that bothers me. It’s their propaganda. They’re leader, the oh so humbly named Lord Gluttony, has single handedly created the worst possible image a clan could hope to have. Check it out. They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, and have no qualms about making fun of the Jewish people tortured during the holocaust. Nice guys, AC.

But they love it. Their aim in every game is to be the most hated and reviled on whatever server the make their home on. Their passion and appeal is in being the “evil ones” that hold no bars and take no prisoners. And that’s fine for them.

The propaganda BS is their only a mask though; it is the veil that hides a truth they’ll never admit. They want you to hate them but can only do that by representing themselves as the scum of the Earth on a website. They want you to get angry because they call you a “fag” but, for all their doctored videos, they take more pain than they dish out. It’s like the guy who criticizes “fags” all day and hopes no one spots him at the local gay bar that night.

But for all the word vomit that’s spilled from Gluttony’s mouth, it’s pretty effective in one regard. They’re building an “Evil Empire” that anyone with a fleck of decency would like to see fall. They have a big alliance on the server, mostly made up of those who have bowed to them out of fear, power, or in a mad grab for power that they’ll never see. So they oppose the “good guys” (if there are any in Darkfall), AKA Hyperion, AKA the winning team. Honor is a great price to pay for an agreement like that but that’s just my opinion.

In a small way, I like that there’s such a group in the game. There’s a little twinge of guilt with that though. You know the feeling, it’s like when you’re suckered into watching Grey’s Anatomy with the wife (or a car show with the husband, ladies) and feel just a little bit wrong when you realize that you’ve become interested. In this case, it’s an interest born in a hope for their fall.

So, for all the disgusting things Awful Company’s Lord Gluttony has said, he has given a face to our enemy… and painted a great big target on his back. I imagine a clash of epic proportions, a battle of good vs. evil, that defines what open-pvp is about. War, as true as it could be in an MMO. And it’s not just a pipedream. In Darkfall, it’s a real possibility and would make a prime example of players crafting their own history.

In a larger way though, outside of any game context, the messages he sends disgust me. People like Gluttony should have their mouths stapled shut until they learn what it means to be human. I’m sure that it’s all an act, probably to create exactly what’s happening (hear that Awful Company, your clan leader is an RPer! OMGWTF!) but how long can it go on before it starts to bleed into him as a person? How many times can you breathe deep the airs of hatred before the smell gets stuck in your nose? And to me, that’s just sad. Playing the bad guy is well and good until the “act” starts to eat into who you are.

Racism, sexism, homophobia and all forms of hate are burning forces. Decent people feel the heat sooner rather than later, act or not.

I have to wonder how Aventurine feels about this kind of thing being tied to them? Any tension this kind of behavior adds to the game isn’t worth the cost. Darkfall, a game of anti-Semites and cross burners? Any Jewish person who sees Awful Company’s website would probably say yes.

Self-Policing Revisited

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Hey everyone!

 

It’s been about a week since my last post and I’ve gotten quite a bit of playtime in. A while back, we talked about how realistic the idea of “Self-Policing” actually is in a modern day MMO. At the time, I wondered just how well the greater anonymity of a game like DF would allow for it to take place. Well, I’m happy to report that it works. Players self-police, and well.

 

So, what caused me to bring this up again? There’s an idea going around (mainly from people who dismiss the game by concept rather than design and practice) that we’re all a bunch of rabid killers who gank newbies two seconds after they enter the game. Somehow, people got the idea that playing Darkfall was an exercise in frustration, where you die all the time and everyone is out to grief you.

 

I think Graill, a commenter on a post over at Massively, says it best.

 

“The devs touted consequence as a stop gap to prevent “Lord of the flies” type play but that is what the game is degenerating down to at this time and alot of folks dont like it, the consequence is easily circumvented. Pass.”

 

First, the obvious, if he’s passing on the game, he’s never played it and is basing his opinions on forum posts. And, let’s be honest, the Darkfall forums are pretty much a cess pool most of the time, which makes his assertions pretty much worthless. They would be anyways, if they weren’t surfacing from people across the net.

 

Let me be clear here, Darkfall is not a game focused on griefing. It’s about PvP, sure, but not all PvP’ers are griefers. Here’s the other thing, gear is not the end all be all of every battle, so losing it isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. On top of that, if you lose it, so what? You can get a basic set from the starter mobs by any newbie bindstone.

 

Anyways, on to that “stop gap” he mentioned. What he’s eluding to is the alignment system. For those who don’t know, you start off with a positive alignment but if you kill a member of your own faction, you go negative. When you’re negative, you’re barred from using any NPC city which is a huge disadvantage if you’re not in a guild that owns territory. More importantly, the whole freaking world wants to kill you. Your race doesn’t matter. Your gear doesn’t matter. The fact is, by turning red, you’ve become a steak thrown into a shark tank. That’s when you’re going to be griefed. You’re a free kill and everyone knows it by the very color of your name.

 

So, that stop gap? It’s there, just people outside of the game aren’t able to see if because they’re not playing. Or color blind. The whole “this game sucks because they encourage people to be jerks” is flawed and plain out not true.

 

Back to self-policing. It works for the reasons I said above. I’ve also happy to report that the amount of players isn’t hampering the policing process. The game world is so large that players are localizing a lot more than I had anticipated. That’s good news because it means that even though 10,000 people may be in the game, you’ll probably spend a decent amount of time around a much smaller amount in your direct area. Remembering names and player reputations is much less of an issue than I thought it would be.

 

To be honest, I think that there should be more policing done by players are less by game mechanics, like the safe-zone towers.

 

In other games, self-policing probably wouldn’t work too well. In Darkfall, you can count on it, so don’t believe all of this anti-hype you’re hearing. This is a game you really have to play to give it a fair judgment. It’s more subjective than most other games available right now. Join the bloodbath 😉

 

Update: I found my first griefer last night! I was killed while harvesting but because I couldn’t bind to my clanstone yet (not enough room at the moment I was there) I was teleported to a nearby chaos stone (where reds go). Immediately upon respawning, I was attacked by some naked guy with a leaf blade. He proceeded to kill me the next four times I respawned. Because I had very low health and mana, I couldn’t really defend myself.

 

I could have been frustrated and logged off. In truth, I was frustrated. Honestly though, I couldn’t help but think of how sad this guy’s game must be. He’s naked, in the middle of no where, killing for no benefit and wrecking his faction. The guy was on a pathetic path and I could only see him rerolling or quitting the game because it was filled with “carebears”. Griefing gets you nothing but the pity of your victims because it’s really a sad demonstration of someone’s self worth. And I think most players in DFO realize that.

 

 

Lessons in Caution

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I crossed a boundary last night. I never thought I’d go there, not in any other game anyways. Then again, Darkfall has a way of bringing out the worst in people.

 

My dwarf (you know, the one with the Santa Claus beard) made his way out of Ringfain, ready to deliver presents to all the nice kobold kiddies. On his way though, a dark skinned Mirdain decided he wanted coal in his stocking and killed him. Brutally.

 

Well, things went a little awry in the mind of my Dwarf at that point. He hit the bank and wandered back to the area totally naked, wanting to fool potential enemies. Not that there was much to fool, since he only had a weapon, staff, and a couple pieces of cloth armor. Even still, he wandered until he heard the sounds of battle coming from a cave.

 

Inside, skeletons in ancient plate armor went to war with stocky, patch eyed dwarves (honestly, I was the only one of five of us without a patch). My Dwarf did his time in battle, tearing his shabby armor, until he noticed a comrade, at medium health in full chain, struggling against a mob. Being a helpful fellow, he went to his aid and together they killed the monster.

 

Now’s when the evil crept up in the back of his mind. The armor of this person he’d just saved glinted in the cave, making his own cloth garments look shabby. The guy was at 30% health and standing still looting the corpse of the skeleton. Did he receive a thank you for his help? No. A /wave? Not a thing, just an unbridled show of greed without gratitude for his life. My dwarf tossed him an invite into the party.

 

The chain-wearer accepted and my dwarf promptly went to hacking away at him with his polearm. His target turned idly, not understanding what was happening. Then he ran, and my evil Santa gave chase. He gained distanced, too much to be caught, but out of nowhere slowed and turned. My dwarf readied a mana missle, knocking his target bleeding to the ground.

 

Without remose, he was killed, looted, and removed from the party.

 

Was it underhanded? Yes. Sneaky? Oh yeah. Worth it? Without a doubt. I never thought I’d stoop to that level but, the thing is, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. Darkfall is a game where you have to be wary of everyone because even the people you think are your friends may have ulterior motives. I love that about the game.

 

So, if you’re adventuring, be careful who you group with. The funny thing is, as the person grouped with my target, I didn’t get the alignment hit. When everyone else saw me attacking the guy, they jumped on him like a pack of ravenous dogs.  And you thought WoW’s PvP servers were “dog eat dog”.

 

 

Running around, this town

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I’ve been playing Darkfall more than anything lately. When I can get past the queue-monster anyways, but that’s a story they say is coming to a close. You see, when an MMO piques my interest, I’m like a kid in a candy shop. I like to wander around and gaze with glassy eyes at all of the goodies lining the walls. And that kind of thing takes time. But, in Darkfall, it takes a lot more time.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had re-rolled a Dwarf. I have a dirty little secret though… and one that kind of bit me in the ass. I re-rolled in part because I didn’t want to run from the humans lands to the dwarves.

I know. I gave up a new character to save myself a run. Lame, right? Well, you have to understand that Agon is huge. Literally, to make the run from the South tip to the North is substantially over an hour run with a mount, which I don’t have yet. Usually, that’s going to be about half or more of my playtime per session. I resolved that the next day, I’d reroll a dwarf and join my clanmates.

So, the moon rose and fell, I laid and awoke, and queued up for the server. An hour later I had my connection and hit the delete button. Bam! Right back to the end of the queue. I hadn’t expected that because on other games once you have your connection you can reroll without losing it. I guess I forgot how hardcore Darkfall actually is; rerolling carries its own 2+ hour waiting penalty.

Take that, carebears. 😉

After three hours of queuing, I rerolled and saved myself that hour+ walk. Not one of my best decisions, I’ll admit. Yet, I’m a little happier now because my human kind of looked like an emo kid. No, really, this guy hopped to boat to Agon right after a Taking Back Sunday/Dashboard Confessional show. A couple pieces of armor later, he looked more awkward than ever, playing with his lip ring by the town bank and contemplating the bleak abyss that was his life. Why don’t those goblins understand him? He just had a quest after all. I did the right thing when I off’d him – he’s in a better place now. Aventurine limbo.

It retrospect, I should have made the run but I’m not totally full of regret. Not only do I like the look of my character more but he also has a better name (Cryptic Shadow – core’s don’t get much harder than that, amirite?). The best part though has really got to be the new environment.

The dwarf lands really are something to see. There’s far more color and character than you find in Sandbrook. The whole area has a stony, woody, vibe to it with a very “dwarf” city nearby. Not to mention that the mob camps are far less camped. I’ve just about finished up the starting quests and am ready to move out. I’ve done almost no exploring, so I’m really looking forward to it. That hour run I skipped may have afforded me a lot of fun, so my first journey will be in honor of my lost fanboi. May much blood be shed.

If you happen to see me around 7PM Eastern, toss me a /wave and a /mock and let’s kill each other. Maybe I can see my first decapitation. Mine, or yours, it doesn’t matter.

On that note, if you’ve recently joined up and are looking for a good clan, Keen’s (from Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog) guild Haven is currently recruiting. They have a lot of active members at all hours of the day and are always up for some fun.

Edit: For those that are wondering, I do not support any form of instant travel in the current version of the game. Ever.

My First Darkfall Impressions

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First of all, sorry for the delay in my posting. It’s been solo-week while student teaching, as I think I mention a couple posts ago. Apart from that I’ve been playing a bit of Darkfall. Yes, that’s right, I got my copy. Here are my thoughts…

I finally got my Darkfall account this past Monday. You know, you’d think that I would have walked away with a bitter taste in my mouth but I really didn’t. I guess after putting so much effort (ohh… four lunch breaks I’ll never have back) into it, that feeling of satisfied elation really made up for the few days that came before it.

So far, I’m really enjoying the game. The combat is a blast. I really like the click to swing style of fighting. It’s a lot more active than most MMOs out there and you really start to notice yourself become adept to the fighting style after working with it for a little bit. Because the mobs will circle strafe and run from you, you’re forced to pay attention to the battle if you want to succeed. In Darkfall, many mobs can easily kill you if you’re off your game. And by now, we all now what happens when you die. Toodaloo gear. I mean, it’s possible for you to get your things back, I suppose. The mobs in the starting areas are so camped though that you’d be incredibly lucky to not find your gravestone empty.

Archery is one of my favorite aspects of ranged combat. Because mobs run from you (and players, for that matter) being able to fire your bow accurately while also on the run can be a real challenge. There’s a nice sense of satisfaction when you land a headshot. Arrows are prohibitively expensive to the new player, so you’ll often find that they’re some of the first items looted from mob corpses.

Looting. There’s a big topic and one of some debate. Kill stealing and loot stealing happen. There is no mob tagging, so the person who gets the last blow gets the kill. But anyone can loot the corpse in its entirety. It’s not uncommon, at least in the human starting zone of Sandbrook, to see people deliberate stay out of fights only to rush up and try to ninja the items from the corpse. Here’s the thing though, and I’m surprised I feel this way, I really don’t mind. Actually, I think it makes the standard kill/collect quests a lot more exciting then they’d otherwise be. You’re forced to be competitive and on your game or else you’re bound to lose. With the choice of melee, archery, or magic, you can strategize to figure out the best way to take the enemy down without putting yourself in the line of fire.

There’s been a lot of posts on the official forums from people that hate the open looting system. They feel that if they got the kill, they should get the loot. What’s kind of funny is that very few of these people complain about the fact that other people help kill these mobs too. In truth, I think we’ve all developed a sense of entitlement when it comes to looting. The recent crop of commercial MMOs do everything in their power to keep things “fair” and do away with competition over the little things. Darkfall encourages it. Once we get rid of the sense of entitlement, and learn to click and drag the most important items first, open looting will be something we all get used to.

Suprisingly, I haven’t seen much griefing. The alignment system helps to ensure that people aren’t constantly chopping you down. In Darkfall, if you hit someone, even on accident, you can be killed without penalty for 10 seconds (2 minutes for two or more hits). If you happen to murder someone, you’re a free kill until you take out kill 3 people of an enemy faction. In the starting zones, that pretty much means you’ll be killed repeatedly until you’re able to waste those other people. Not fun. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll probably run into the occassional idiot who doesn’t care. Those players are few and far between (in the starting zones) however and will most likely get chopped down.

So how does the game look/perform? You’ve probably seen the screens and videos but here’s my take. The graphics in the game are decent. They’re not amazing, in my opinion, but they work. I’ve seen a couple of nice visuals, scenery-wise, but I have to wonder how good it couple possibly get. It seems like the draw-distance is really low. I mean, you can see the forms of objects, like trees, for some distance but they appear to gray out (they’re just shapes, totally grayed in) when they’re not a real long ways away. I have my graphics on max everything, so I suppose I’m satisfied, and have seen zero lag or fps hiccups. I’m quite a bit from being wowed however. To put it in perspective, and only in the realm of distance-based detail, things gray out on max settings where they would on medium-low settings on WoW or WAR. For close up detail, however, Darkfall beats them both without question.

There are certainly things that are a little silly though. For example, in the video options, the text/settings layout is not wide enough for the text they have entered, which means that a couple of the option’s descriptions get cut off. Expanding the window just gives you a black area around the layout area. Additionally, they really give you no idea how high you can set things. Graphics settings are number based with an up/down arrow you can hold and there are no (or few, I forget) sliders. So, to optimize things, be prepared to play around a little bit. I’d like to see that changed. I also don’t really care for having to go into and out of interface mode everytime I’m like to change or loot something. It’s quick to go back into game mode but it’s still a minor annoyance.

Right now, I feel good about the game. It’s a different experience, to be sure, but it’s nice to be back in a kind of DikuMUD environment again. Going in, I expect a nostalgia trip. The nice thing is that I’ve found a lot to have fun with apart from just playing a visual version of an old memory.

Darkfall is game rough around the edges but that can be a lot of fun if you’re a good match for it. If you can balance little typos here and there, grinding by design, and real consequences with the potential for great reward, adreneline, and the group experiences you’re sure to relish, I recommend keeping an eye on the game. Things may change the further players get into it, so I won’t recommend a purchase yet (especially since queue times have been atrocious) but consider it. You may find a throwback to the past the next step in your gaming future.

UPDATE: I re-rolled a Dwarf tonight and named him Reign Stormbreaker. Yes, Reign. I’ve been called Raegan for a couple years now, so I figured I would do something about that by rolling with the traditional spelling. Funny thing, Dwarf beards are bugged. You can’t change their color and it’s locked to plain white. Which means we all look like a bunch of old men. Beware the wrath of our Jitterbug cell phones and little red scooters! We have horns and we know how to use them! Anyways, the draw distance issue wasn’t happening in their starting zone. Maybe it was just Sandbrook?

/Salute Hammer of War Online

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I just tried to look up the site and found that it been taken down. It’s a shame and I wanted to give them a proper send off. For those that were unfamiliar with it, HoW aspired to be the WoW Insider of the Warhammer world. Yours truly even wrote for it for a while.

While I was there, I got to interact with some great people. Several well known bloggers worked together on the Husband and Wife lead project but, due to a lot of reasons, it ran out of steam.

The last update I saw let us know that Joey, one of the heads, had recently returned from his deployment in Iraq, safe and sound. While he was gone, his wife Victoria handled the administrative end of things. They were both very kind people and wanted to help our then tiny community grow. In short, they were putting themselves out there, even financially, to spur the Warhammer community. They deserve major kudos for that.

So long Hammer of War. Hopefully we’ll be able to see the site open up again. Even if they don’t, I wish Joey and Victoria the best of luck.

A Week in Review

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Hey Everyone,

It’s been a little bit since my last update. I’m sorry for the resounding quiet. It’s almost like being in an empty auditorium, isn’t it? Hellooooooooo……!

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, maybe you’d like an update? This past couple of weeks have been rough for my gaming time. Life is kicking into high gear. But I won’t bore you there.

What have I been doing? Well, a big part of my gaming time has been devoted to trying to secure a copy of Darkfall. And, darn Keen hasn’t made the waiting any easier. Unfortunately, I haven’t been lucky enough to squeeze through the peep hole they open to their accounts page every day.

I swear, it’s the most ridiculous setup. For the past two days, I’ve been arranging my lunch breaks to be online at the times the store opens. Each time, I’m able to get into view my billing information but no further; the page refuses to load, so I’m stuck f5ing over and over. Today, they sold copies for a grand total of 11 minutes. Yesterday, it was five minutes of up-time, 15 minutes of crashed account server, and then another 15 minutes of uptime.

Tasos posted today stating that the number of copies sold each day is in the four digit range but he can’t say how much. I call shenanigans. In 11 minutes, they could sell that many, sure, but I doubt they are. And, unfortunately, a portion of the ones being sold each day are going to people purchasing second accounts. How about this, only accept a single credit card per customer until they have a shop that will stay open? Or, hey, maybe open the shop at another time of the day? Tee hee hee, we crazy players and our crazy ideas.

I’ll keep trying as often as I’m able until I can get in. That may just be tomorrow though, so we’ll see. The game looks fun though. Hopefully it will be worth it and Aventurine can handle the actual game better than they handle the demand to purchase it. I’ll be honest though, my confidence in them has taken a massive hit. I understand wanting to make the play experiece as good as possible for the people already in, and low queue times are appreciated, but another server should definitely be opened. Some people are against this, so the first server isn’t underpopulated. I see that viewpoint but I still don’t see the current situation as a reasonable option.

Apart from that, I’ve twiddled around in LotRO a bit. Due to my reduced playtime, I’ve been leaning more towards “jump in/jump out” game this week. GTA4 has seen more activity from me in the past few days than it has since I first bought it. Left 4 Dead was the last week’s flavor.

Oh, and I started kind of a side-project to prop up the LotRO blogging community. It’s called Epic Book and is similar to this one only specific to LotRO. I’ll only be posting on it about once a week, give or take, and possibly mirroring LotRO specific articles posted here over there. We’ll see. Fires of War is my number one blogging priority though, so which ever way the river leads with it is okay.

Next week, I hope to bring you my impressions on Darkfall but that’s yet to be seen. And I still have that pesky “So your spouse hates video games…” article to write. I’m also hoping I’ll have time to try out the Slayer and Choppa classes, which look incredibly fun. Real life will officially kick off into warp speed come Monday (thankfully, only for a week), so we’ll have to see. Stick with me though, as post volume will be back to normal shortly thereafter.

Oh, and if you’re feeling generous and have a copy of Darkfall you’d like to donate, shoot me an email. I’m a charity case like that 😉