Daily Archives: February 25, 2009

Let’s go to Darkfall

There’s a short story that sticks in my mind, Google suggests it was “Let’s go to Golgotha” by Garry Kilworth (danger, spoilers coming up!). In it, time travel is possible and tourists can book holidays including a “Crucifixion Tour”. They’re togged up appropriately and sternly warned that they mustn’t change the course of history, so when the crowd are asked whether Jesus or Barrabas should be spared they have to shout in favour of Barrabas. The twist at the end comes when a tourist realises the bulk of the crowd are time travellers, all shouting for Barrabas, drowning out the few locals.

So, I gather Darkfall is released today (possibly, the website doesn’t say much and the forums appear to have melted as everyone looks for news). I wasn’t planning on playing it; it’s nice to see alternatives to the Diku-esque model of most recent major MMOGs, but I don’t think Darkfall is for me. Apart from anything else, the community have something of a reputation for being eager to engage in a full and frank exchange of views over the game. Seeing a quote from Ten Ton Hammer: “… what I experienced in the world is still the worst example of an online community I’ve ever encountered, without question.”, though… I’m a bit morbidly tempted to go in and see what it’s actually like. With the forewarning of the article, and the expectation that everybody would be out to get me, I imagine I’d adopt the persona of a paranoid sociopath, doing unto others before they got a chance to do anything unto me and generally being a bit of a git.

At this point you might realise that first paragraph is actually vaguely relevant rather than being a random copy/paste mishap. Perhaps the true Darkfall community is a model of politeness, courtesy and restraint but somehow it’s attracted a ferocious reputation, so the tourists come in and snarl and gank and teabag, believing it’s the done thing, while the locals roll their eyes and get on with a spot of topiary, or an honourable duel to the cries of “well played sirrah!” from an appreciative crowd. Perhaps…

Rivalry is the life of trade, and the death of the trader.

Looking at release schedules you’d think that World of Warcraft was the younger sibling to Warhammer Online and not the other way around, as soon as WAR got a chance to be front and centre with their initial game release, WoW came bursting in to the room and shoved WAR aside with its Wrath of the Lich King “Look at me, look at me, I’m the special one! Look at me!” routine.

So WAR patiently takes a back seat as bemused parents watch WoW perform its new expansion routine, in that sickeningly over-cutesy way that only younger siblings can. Once WoW has burned itself out on being the entertaining centre of attention and crawled off to the corner for a nap, WAR steps forward again to gentle smiles from the adoring parental audience and announces that it will now perform patch 1.2 for them. But just as WAR opens its mouth to begin a delightful recital of new classes and dungeons and such, WoW wakes from its slumber, realises that someone else might be getting some attention and charges back in front of everyone, shoving WAR out of the way yet again and announces with puffed-out chest that it is now going to perform patch 3.1 for all and sundry.

Once or twice is a coincidence, but Blizzard’s uncanny ability to release next to no content until one of its competitors does is coming across as quite childish to my mind. Not only that but it shows their lack of respect for their customer base, because we all know that one uses ‘competition’ with respect to World of Warcraft in the very loosest sense of the word because nothing can really compete at this stage of the game, so while their player base clamours for more content for their subscription fee, Blizzard seem to be holding it back until such a time as it is useful to stamp on the release schedules of other companies.

Quite frankly Blizzard you won this generation of gaming a long, long time ago, and one would expect a more mature and perhaps even benevolent attitude from such an unsurpassable behemoth as yourselves.