We’ll take DF as a platform to expand, but we won’t really get new players initially but mostly former players that loved the idea and were not satisfied with the implementation.
The trial program had a very good conversion rate, which means that whatever happened in those first two weeks got people hooked on the game. It’s just that past a certain point, people left the game. In our point of view, this makes player retention a higher priority compared to new player acquisition. Those interested in these kind of games will try it, our job is to keep them more than 3 months.
We consider that we have three targets for New Dawn:
- Players that bought the game at some point. Those that liked the idea, not the implementation.
- Virtual World MMO players, those that played UO, EQ, AC, DAOC and Eve and are mostly without a game nowadays.
- Survival gamers that want to find a deeper more permanent experience.
Those three groups will be satisfied with the same set of features, which makes our approach viable. We have a core audience of early adopters. Then an existing market to expand upon with very little competition. And finally we have avenues of growth that are optional once we’ve fixed our retention issues and can switch to player acquisition.
yes and no.
We have contacts for hosting in France, but that would be a fallback plan if we can’t find good deals abroad. We want to have a single server and we’ll place it where it makes the most sense ping wise for most of our players. We won’t be selfish, and if it has to be NA East coast, so be it.
However, and that depends on how the current code base is and how hard it will be to modify, but we’ve been experimenting with designs that may allow us to have a better solution. It is very early on, so we won’t go deeper into this, but we’d like to remove the “where are the servers?” question from the equation.
We are not going to ask for money sooner than this.
Whatever you pay us will translate into an actual service. You are buying a product with every customer laws protecting you.
We do not want donations or investment, and it is partly why we did not go down the Kickstarter route. It is important for us that the player base sees their purchase as a safe expenditure rather than a gamble. In the short term, we may receive less money, but on the long term, we’ll have a better reputation and customer goodwill.
As soon as we open up the store, and throughout the InDev period, you will be able to buy the box price and up to 6 month of reduced price subscription. Depending on how soon you make that purchase it will be 80€ to 100€ for 7 InDev months+ 1 Live month.
We’re currently finishing up our store interface and we’ll stress test it soonish, you’ll get a better idea of the bundles we intend to provide.
However, one thing to note is that the world was beautifully handcrafted and has a coherent aesthetic. This is hard to see in old videos, as most players lowered graphics, but former players remember the world fondly. The world managed to create beauty with a set of dated elements.
Once we have replaced these dated elements, and added recent technologies like tessellation, the gain in graphics appeal will be exponential.
In the meantime, it is clear that we are targeting a niche audience, a population that values gameplay over graphics.
This game is able to handle real time battles of multiple hundreds of players. As far as we know, this is a unique feat in the industry. The only other game coming close is Eve Online, but they “cheat” by slowing down time. Darkfall has fps combat, projectiles and collisions.
This has a cost, and graphics should never take precedence over gameplay.
The advantage this licensing project has over a new MMO is that the game was proven to work already. Battles of hundreds of players have occurred, wars, PvE, PvP and so on.
The game is a tangible fact.
In New Dawn’s perspective, we’re not creating a new game. We’re finishing a game that was never completed. A game we loved and cherished and wish to see in its full glory.
Racial wars, player housing, specializations, territory control, an alignment system and the economy all existed in a basic form, something like a first iteration. We just have to fill in the blanks.
In that spirit, the features we have announced are just an expansion on existing mechanics. The technical basics are there already, and it is mostly a matter of tweaking numbers or reusing code.
For the implementation aspect, we’re pretty confident we have it covered:
Well, we have that information about us on our website. Did you see it yet?
We didn’t want to do too much name dropping for now, as we’re still very early in the project’s life. But we will be revealing more as time goes by.
In general, most of us graduated from the Epitech school here in Paris. Some ended up pioneering the C++ teacher assistant program there. The others were grabbed along our professional lives as great workers and fun gaming buddies.
Now the core of the team has been working in banking institutions as “risk management” teams, developing high throughput calculation and modelisation programs alongside mathematicians. We also have a team member that has done freelancing for some government agencies(ratp, ministere de l’education) and designing high demand architectures for them and done some proof of concept work for researchers (bayesian networks, genetic algorithms). A couple of us have extensive experience with virtualization and cloud computing (AWS EC2)
We also have a network of former co workers that we can call upon to assist us in our endeavor as external contractors or suppliers.(datacenter managers, graphic designers, image acquisition, sound engineers, AI researchers and so on)
As we expressed in our website, what we lack currently are artists. But that is not what Darkfall needs initially to get set back online. When we start overhauling or adding assets, then there is a healthy online community of freelance artists we can use to scout potential hires with one shot projects. But that will come when we have the budget.
So far, we are 10 confirmed and active members on the team. We previously touched a bit on this, but we will operate as a startup. This means that initially we’ll be 1, then 3, then 5 then finally 10 full time employees. We’ll get extra skills through contract work at first until we get the budget to make in house hires.
The goal is to avoid overgrowing and always keep paying the entire team at full salaries. We’re passionate, and pouring our hearts into this project, but we want it to be sustainable and a starving dev is no good to us. We will only hire when we can pay someone for 6 months. We have had experience in startups before, and these measures are to avoid fatal mistakes we’ve witnessed before.
We do not plan to isolate our development. This is why we’re going public, to get a sense of “what did we miss?”.
We’ll also try to be as transparent as possible and post all our design decision as we clean them up from our brainstorming notes. We want the community to make an informed decision when we start selling New Dawn.
But we did want to make a point about “vision” and how we will analyze feedback. Popularity will not be a factor, only rationality will. if 50 000 people sign a poll asking us to go f2p, we’ll ignore it. If 1 person posts a great idea that fits in the grand design of the game, then we’ll implement it as resources allows it.
About the game and its management
And for bugged mob spawns, then that isn’t really a question. If there is a bug, we need to fix it. We’re thinking of ways to overhaul the AI modules of the game to accommodate our spawn scaling mechanic and as we do it we’ll try to take all possible bugs into account.
We do count on the community to report those when we do our “launch rehearsal” open beta.
If there is more to gain by killing someone, if there is something to lose by not killing someone or if there is in any way a double blind scenario where the first to attack is at an advantage, then this is the game dictating the rules of killing everything that moves.
This is decision theory 101 and purely logical. You can observe the consequences in DayZ likes or in the old Darkfall.
We will not create safe spots, but a scale of risk vs reward to create hotspots for PvP and quieter zones for normal play. This is what we call pseudo opt-in. Players chose the level of risk they are confortable with.
This, alongside a meaningful alignment system, rewards for collaboration and funneling players towards guaranteed PvPcontent and racial wars will work to reduce sociopathic behaviors towards the human average.
At those rates, griefers become content for other players. They are the thrilling factor that make PvE players play games with open PvP or the Dark Souls franchise.
In conclusion, there will always be griefers in games. But at least in PvP games they are not invulnerable. And in Darkfall they stand to lose quite a bit, especially with our planned changes.
What we’re aiming for is to create mechanics enforced role play behaviors.
To explain, we won’t have any meta RP rulesets, but we will design mechanics that encourage player interactions similar to what they would have been if roleplayed.
As an individual example, we will have mob spawn scaling, so that any additional character on a spawn is not competing with you but actually improving your skillup gains and ads some more loot and challenge.
The expected reaction will be “cool, more xp!” rather than “I must kill him before he kills me”.
Darkfall already had that partially through clan wars and diplomacy. Alliances, rivalries, betrayals, all of those things you can see in fantasy stories happened. It created its own epic stories and tapestries of historical relationships à la Game of Thrones.
If you remember back at the original launch, the Hyperion roleplay alliance was defeated in parts by pseudo RP, their enemies had to do heavy propaganda just like any movie warrior king would do to boost their troops morale.
In short, If players have the same incentives than their character would have, their behavior is similar to roleplay.
it also helps shape a virtual world where collaboration and positive interactions can occur organically.
We are aware of this issue and it is something of extreme priority for us.
Sadly, any specific plans are delayed until we have full access to the codebase.
Of course, we have leads on fixes and improvements we can make to eliminate a lot of those issues, but this will be a constant uphill battle. This will be our hardest challenge and we won’t shy away from it.
The community will be able to help us handle trouble makers. We will have proper reporting tools. We will also be logging a lot of what happens so that when a report does happen, we can review and avoid false positives. If someone is found out as a cheater, there will be punishment.
One of us was a “guide” on an MMO back in the days, so we’re familiar with the process. We won’t have volunteers, to limit abuses the position will be filled by paid staff. Of course this will happen once we have the budget for it
In the meantime, we will create some automated ways of going through the logs and reporting suspicious patterns for human review. For example, if someone has a 300ms average reaction time and here and there gets a 100ms just when it is convenient to sticky back, he will be flagged as suspicious and reported for human review.
Those type of hacks activated only here and there are the hardest to fight. It’s easy to report the dude obviously bending the rules of physique, but the guy that chooses when to have a small edge is the more dangerous one.
In addition, and just like our stance on macroing, we will try to have preventive measures alongside reactive measures. We will do our best to design the game in ways that makes hacking irrelevant.
Examples could be better server side player culling to avoid radar hacks, or adding a small cast time delay for instant rays, server side checks for flight, movement speed and teleportation and server side lag interpolation to prevent lagswitching.
Pretty much move as much as possible server side and let the client only “predict” but not have any authoritative say in anything.
Of course, we’ll know more once we have worked with the code for a while.
This covers just a small part of our strategy, but you should get the idea.
We’re prepared, but also willing to admit that no one can ever be fully prepared. We will be fighting an unending war, and hopefully we’ll limit the civilian casualties as much as possible.
For in fight macroing, that’s more of a UI issue that we intend to work on. For instance, double slots were you can bind both a 1h weapon and a shield makes sense. Or binding a staff and a default spell on a hotbar slot. Those really are quality of life stuff that should eliminate a good portion of it.
Of course there will be an ongoing effort to watch what the community macros and fix the needs rather than punish the players.
We are bypassing this issue in New Dawn. And we believe our solution is superior to a skill cap.
A lot of Darkfall was an happy accident, the lack of a skill cap created one of the best MMO combat system that we are aware of. But it did come with its issues.
Darkfall was also advertised as a class less game, and in essence, a skill cap is a “do your own class” class system and it will harshly limit freedom for our players used to more abilities.
Our solution to bypass those issues is our Title System:
In short, players have a set of 5 titles they can pick and chose that give buffs to certain aspects and nerf certain others. Generally, the nerfs are more consequent than the buffs. Some titles also have several tiers of commitment that will increase drawbacks harshly in exchange for unique new abilities or spells.
Titles increase in potency over time, like skills in Eve, and generally double the effects of “bonus skills” after 6 months.
The final idea is that someone should be able to focus on only the playstyle they enjoy, but still have access to many tools in a weaker form. A full hybrid character will still be possible, pleasing those that enjoyed that type of gameplay, but for a small fraction of the grind, a specialized character can be on par with that character and have unique perks the hybrid does not have.
It also serves to balance the economy as crafting masteries are titles that share the same slots than combat and utility titles. We hope to make crafters be a playstyle of their own and be desired by the community.
You can read more about that in our Economic Improvements page:
As a side note, we’re also adding diminishing returns on stats and skills. This alone, without the title system, will alleviate the power gap and the grind to viability by a large margin.
We’ll try to create an 80/20 split, 20% of the time to reach 80% of the max power, then 80% for the 20% left. It should motivate long term appeal but reduce the newb crushing effect.
The title system is a cherry on top that should reduce the size of the 100% to reach while leaving people the choice to go further if that’s the playstyle they want.
We’ll have a a long play testing period, and that aspect balance is one of our top priorities.
The game's performances were actually great for what it was able to do. But as in all things, there is always room for improvement.
The engine was not demanding on the GPU, which should leave us room to grow on the rendering side, but the networking used up a lot of the CPU.
We have leads to improve the multi core aspect, which among many things should improve the loadlag, but that's just things we'll experiment to improve the situation.
No promises until we have a decent grip on the codebase and have planned an actual solution.
However this will be our first development effort. As we said, we expect no functional changes to the gameplay for a few months as we upgrade the performances for both the backend and the client.
This will also give time for the playerbase to remember the issues Darkfall had in the past, and provide us with fresher feedback.
Changes from the 2012 version
Funny enough, we will.
As we get budget for it and can invest in art assets, we will add world item interactions.
This means your character will be able to sit down on chairs and benches, eat and drink at a table, lay down in a bed, play board games, lean against a wall, and finally, use some gym equipment in his house or in a clan barracks.
Of course it will be only cosmetic, but “fluff” is way too often ignored as a way to add immersion.
We have no idea how far in implementation they are, so we cannot comment on those as such.
In theory, a text only, no items, mailbox is a great addition and would be part of an overhaul of the friends/social system in game. We would work on that at the same time we work on the UI. It is what is expected nowadays from MMOS and would be a weird turn down for newer players not used to the rough interface.
As for the land towers, we’re skeptical. On paper it was a good addition to Darkfall in 2012, but we’re not certain it would be a good addition to New Dawn. Just like Sea Towers, it is a bit too shallow and doesn’t really involve the players at all.
We’ll be adding features serving the same purpose, land reasons to fight over, but more player driven and organic. Things like “neutral mines” similar to clan mines but in the wild to create hotspots. We’ll do a rework on village capture using our engaged system to make it a king of the hill scenario. We will be adding player placed objectives in the world that will add cool ways to represent territory and border skirmishes. We will be reworking and expanding the NPC trade route system to get people out there in groups, even using warhulks.
For sea towers, they may stay in the game, but we’d like to replace them. Our pass on villages should make using boats to capture those accessible from sea interesting. We’ll also add NPC trade routes requiring boats with content, we’ll also add some other systems including fishing high end nodes. Again, similar purpose of having a reason to fight, but not as static as two sea towers on a timer. We may reactivate them after a while if we see our effort are pointless, but we hope we won’t have to.
We also hope that our changes to the economy and localized resources will get people out there traveling and fighting organically.
Bunny hopping is one of the wonderful emergent gameplay that occurred in DFO and is here to stay. It made Darkfall unique and very dynamic by accident. We believe it is one of those core “feature” that should not be removed, but can and should be improved.
It came from a bug that never got fixed in how knock backs worked. We’re actually going to fix that bug and re-implement bunny hopping without any limitation of direction.
We’re considering changing fall damage though, in order to make bunny hopping possible but requiring a bit more strategy. The idea is to add drawbacks/risks to a great movement mechanic. We’ll try several versions of it in our “balance betas” as we can’t take a final decision without play testing. We may end up just leaving it as is, but we’ll try to experiment with every aspect of the game.
Localized resources are things we’ll be adding as part of a holdings value improvement. So those will be new things, not a modification of the loot tables.
That said, we will take a look at them to see if we can create hot spots and organic trade routes. Also, we don’t want to have high end gear only farmable at some locations exclusively. We’re not fully decided on it, but we’d like to avoid creating easy to maintain monopolies.
So more of a checking the tire pressure than reinventing the wheel on loot tables.
NO. A character as it was at the time that the servers shut down will still be viable.
What we’ll be doing is add more abilities that are mutually exclusive. So there will be 150 skills plus whatever we add.
We will also add choices where you could chose to lose access to some skills in exchange for a buff to others. For example dropping water magic mastery in order to get a stronger fire magic mastery. Or dropping all magic subskills to gain access to melee only buffed skills.
While you can still technically cast all spells, you can buff one element and debuff another element sufficiently to be able to exclusively use the buffed one at the expense of not doing anything in the situations you would have needed the debuffed one.
It is all a matter of player choice and their personal skill ceiling.
A great player will make great use of the versatility of a full hybrid character while a less experienced or able player will be able to use a simpler playstyle and still be effective.
We’re not afraid to experiment and see what can be improved in all aspect of the game. Despite its potential, Darkfall did have retention issues and this means there is something broken someplace.
Combat is definitely what we’ll touch the least. We’ll add new specs using what exists, more weapon types when we get a proper asset pipeline setup and so on, but if someone wants to play exactly like the night before the server shutdown, he will be able to and will be viable.
Movement, we will touch a bit more, as we want roads, bridges, mounts and vehicles to have a greater impact on the grand scheme of things. We will fix the knockback bugs but will re implement Bunny hopping on purpose and in a balanced way. There are plans for race specific movement abilities (4 legged run, tree climbing, etc)
There are many things, even controversial ones, that we want to play test both for combat and movement, to see if we can find ways to improve the game. For instance, we’d like to experiment with a more bushy world with more obstacles and add some light “parkour” elements to it. Something that adds more skill to moving and fighting in a forest and make roads even more preferable for travels.
And finally, economy is what we will be touching the most. There were gold sink and inflation issues by the end of the game. A big symptom of which is the fact that everyone at the end could use infernal/dragon armor in daily pvp bags. There was also issues with too little trade going on. Both issues whom newer players are suffering the most from. In addition,we want to expand on the concept of player vendors and give full time crafters and traders some meaningful gameplay.
Our goal for economy is that it really works organically. Our inspiration on this are other games that got this right and years of gaming and witnessing all the mistakes done by other games.
As we’ve mentioned on our website, we intend to first implement crucial changes before launching the live server.
We estimate that this period will last around 6 to 9 months, but we’ll give appropriate deadlines only after we’ve had the codebase for 2 to 3 months. We do not know yet what kind of velocity we’ll have and we want to first explore and document the entire project.
It will also give us time to do balance betas to make sure the changes we make to the player progression system and the new combat features we add are balanced.
Due to community interest, we will be hosting a vanilla version of Darkfall during that time period. This InDev server will not see much functional changes for several months, but as we start patching mechanics, it will server us as a great ongoing source of general feedback. We will have targeted balance beta week end for specific features.
Read more on our beta process and the InDev server.
We believe that the game cannot go out live without us fixing the PvE, the player progression, the economy and some of the long standing exploits. All the core systems that cannot be changed adequately after the server is in place.
We would also like to have our watchtowers and housing changes at launch.
Anything else we can add during the 6-9 month period will be a bonus.
Of course ,we’ll communicate on deadlines, and if we see that by adding a month or two we can add an entire new system, perhaps racial wars, then we will consider delaying.