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02/04/15 - Day 3 - Zombiewood & Faq


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02/04/15 - Day 3 - Zombiewood & FAQ

 

Hey gang,
 
Today's update is light on art, but heavy on meat.  If this one doesn't get you talking, nothing will.
 
First off, we've had a lot of questions about funding for Crowfall.  Gordon (Executive Producer) has penned a letter in today's "Founders Update" that talks about our options and plans in detail.  We would ask you to read it, think about it, and let us know your thoughts.
 
Second, we're putting up a Campaign FAQ to give more detail about the Crowfall Universe: More on how the Campaigns work, why the Eternal Kingdoms are important to most players, and the opportunities opened up by this design. A continuation of my post from Monday (the infamous "Uncle Bob" post), this FAQ will fill in some of the details and will further sort players "in" and "out" on the game's vision.
 
EDIT: due to the size of this update, the FAQ template seems to be truncating more than half of the questions.  The full FAQ is posted in the thread below, while we work out this technical issue.  Apologies, and thanks for understanding!  
 
 
Crowfall_ZombiewoodConcept.jpg
 
Finally, we're dropping another of the Banner Series -- this one we internally refer to as "Zombiewood" -- because, after all, this is Hunger Week and we can't let a day go by without dropping some Hunger-related goodness!
 
Thanks again for all of your interest and support, and see you on the forums!
 
Todd
ACE

J Todd Coleman

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc.

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

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Nice art as always!  Time to go do some reading!!

 

  • These Campaigns aren’t just “instances”, though -- they are fully populated, continent-sized, seamless zone MMO servers with as many people as the server architecture will support. The ONLY thing they have in common with an “instance” is that they are time-limited.

This answers a very big question for a lot of people!  I am very glad to see this.

Edited by Tanom

Tanom of the WhiteWalkers

 

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For those who were super fast, you may not have seen the full FAQ. I was slow in publishing it! ... I know, I'm terrible. 

 

Sorry to be super fast, but I'm at work, don't have much time! Is 7 the end?

I'm in this for the Experience, not the XP.

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For those who were super fast, you may not have seen the full FAQ. I was slow in publishing it! ... I know, I'm terrible.

 

argh....your troll fu is strong.....

FIQw0eP.png

let the Code build the World and it's Laws....let the Players build the rest...

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So it looks like the full FAQ isn't displaying (too many words) 

 

here's the text version while I fix this. 

 

How is it different than a normal MMO?

A key facet of most (if not all) strategy games –checkers, chess, monopoly, risk – is that they have win conditions.  Even sports follow this model.  Specifically: the flow of the game includes a beginning state (where the competitors should be roughly equal), a series of moves made by each competitor, and a victory condition whereby a winner is declared. 

 

To make the game work for repeated play, there is a “reset mechanic” after each victory, where the board state is reset to allow players start the game again.

 

What do you mean by “reset mechanic”?

This “reset mechanic” is a way of returning to game to a start state, so that players remain interested in playing the game.  It is a necessary ingredient to making the game work over time. 

 

To illustrate this problem, let’s use an analogy. 

 

Every Thanksgiving, a family gets together for a game of RISK.  Only it’s not “let’s play Risk every Thanksgiving” – it’s “let’s pick up from where we left last year, in the SAME game of Risk.”

 

The same game.  The same conflict.  Year, after year, after year.

 

Imagine that, in year 2, Uncle Bob starts winning.

 

In year 3, Uncle Bob presses the advantage.  By the end of this game session, Bob basically owns the board.

 

Fast forward 10 years.  Same game.  Uncle Bob is now an unassailable tyrant. 

 

The other players (i.e. everyone other than Uncle Bob) wander away from the board – because they know they don’t stand a chance.  If a new player joins the game, Bob snuffs them out in their infancy, and they quit immediately.

 

Everyone is bored.  Even Uncle Bob is bored – because he hasn’t faced a challenge in over a decade.  But he won’t give up by choice.  That isn’t human nature.

 

In an MMO, we call this phenomenon server stagnation.  The game is incredibly fun – right up until someone wins.  Then, unless there is a way to start over again, the game stagnates and everyone quits. 

 

Are reset mechanics typical for an MMO?

Not at all.  The challenge in combining these two genres is that player have very different expectations when it comes to gameplay.

Where most strategy games have a win condition followed by a reset mechanism, a key feature of a Massively Multiplayer Online Game is that it is persistent. 

…actually, that’s not the right word, is it?  They’re permanent.  Players expect to play them over years, and the game world is generally static.

These two design goals seem diametrically opposed: the board must reset and the game must last forever.

Can these two concept be married together?  We believe so!

 

How do you marry these two concepts?

We call it “Eternal Heroes, Dying Worlds.”

What if characters are persistent (i.e. they never reset) – but the Worlds are not?

Consider each “world” as a separate Campaign.  It could have a beginning, a middle, and an end – after which a victor is declared. 

The characters can still be persistent, and they can participate in a series of Campaigns over the life of the character.

This opens up a whole new world of design possibilities.

  • Characters are permanent, and advance over the course of many Campaigns.  This gives you the feeling of persistence that we’ve come to expect from MMOs. 
  • Campaigns, though, aren’t permanent.  They still be “persistent” between game sessions – but they don’t last forever. 
  • How long will last?  As long as the game is still fun!  And they don’t all have to be the same duration.  Some Campaigns could last 1 month, or 3 months.  or 6 months.  or 1 year.
  • These Campaigns aren’t just “instances”, though -- they are fully populated, continent-sized, seamless zone MMO servers with as many people as the server architecture will support.  The ONLY thing they have in common with an “instance” is that they are time-limited.
  • Because each Campaign is marching towards an end condition, this means that the World doesn’t have to be static anymore. We can break the Campaign into different “phases”, and adjust the rules of the game change during each phase.  We can also allow the players to fundamentally change the world, without fear of the long-term problems this usually creates.
  • And since the Campaigns are discrete, why not make each one unique?  Why can’t each one have a completely unique world map (mountains, forests, lakes, castles, villages, quarries, mines, mills – you name it)? 
  • The “exploration” phase of the game can be different in each Campaign.  The world will never be stale.  We can take that initial rush of excitement you get when you enter an MMO for the first time, and bottle it.  We can make it repeatable.
  • To that point: since each game is a stand-alone event, we can even change the rules (and win conditions) of each Campaign.  We can experiment with different rules, to see which ones are more popular – and keep the game continually fresh.

 

Is it like a MOBA?

No, not really.  MOBAs are typically played on a single map (one zone), the characters start over at 1st level every time you play, the combat is limited two teams, each team has a small number of combatants, and the duration is very short (20 minutes to an hour.)

Campaign worlds are large scale, with thousands of players in the same environment – just like a tradition MMO.  The zones are seamless, and the scale of the map is huge (i.e. the size of a virtual continent.)  The maps are also unique; each one has a different layout that is unknown to the players at the beginning of the map.  In this way, the beginning of each Campaign is more like the first turn of a game of “Civilization” than the start of a “League of Legends” match.  Lastly, the duration is much longer – Campaign durations are measured in month, not minutes.

 

How big do you expect each Campaign to be?  And how long will they last?

In terms of number of players, it’s a seamless-world MMO server, so the goal is to support thousands of players.  It’s not a “50 versus 50 match”, or anything like that.  The only limit that will be placed on the user population for each Campaign Worlds will be the technical limitations of the hardware, i.e. how many players can a server handle?  We won’t know that until testing, but we expect it to be similar to other seamless world MMOs.

In terms of duration, we expect them to last anywhere from a month to a year.  Technically, they can last any duration – so we’ll probably put up a handful of options, and see which are most popular.

 

But since the Campaign Worlds go away, doesn’t that make Crowfall less persistent than most MMOs?

Actually, no – because, remember, most MMOs don’t allow you to modify the world at all.  The only persistent data they store IS your character data.   Since your character data is permanent in Crowfall, too, it’s technically accurate to say that Crowfall is “just as persistent as most MMOs.”  

The difference is that our maps aren’t static.  Campaign Worlds will constantly be created and destroyed, which means the Universe is continually in flux.  As a result, the game will feel a LOT less static.

 

What does a typical Campaign looks like?

Here is a narrative example:

Phase 1 is Spring.  The Campaign map is hidden by fog of war.  You are dropped (often naked) into an unknown, deadly environment.  This world is filled with the ruins of ancient castles, abandoned mines and haunted villages – which you have to explore to scavenge for weapons, tools and the resources to start building fortifications.

Phase 2 is Summer.  The Hunger starts to infect the creatures.  Resources become scarce.  Your team claims an abandoned quarry and must fight to keep it.  You use the stone to build an ancient keep, to use it as staging areas to attack their neighbors.

Phase 3 is Fall.  The creatures become more deadly as the Hunger takes hold.  Resources are heavily contested and transporting them is fraught with peril.  Your guild frantically builds a wall around your city, as the nature of conflict shifts from smaller skirmishes to siege warfare.

Phase 4 is Winter.  The environment is brutal.  Warmth is hard to come by.  Your kingdoms grows in strength; your neighbors falter and you demand that they swear fealty or face complete loss of the Campaign.  Instead, a handful of smaller kingdoms choose to band together against you.

Phase 5 is Victory and Defeat.  The World is destroyed in a cataclysmic event as the Campaign comes to an end.  Your Kingdom emerges victorious, and you return to the Eternal Kingdoms to enjoy the spoils of war.   Your adversaries head home, too -- to lick their wounds. 

 

Are any of the Worlds permanent?

Yes.  The Crowfall universe is divided into “rings” or “bands” of Worlds.  Each band contains multiple worlds of that have a common ruleset, running in parallel.  Within each Band, new worlds will be constantly appearing (and disappearing, whenever a Campaign ends).

The outer ring is called “The Eternal Kingdoms” and these Worlds are permanent.  They are also player owned and player-managed.  Typically, we expect them to act as places for players to gather between Campaigns.  They are still dynamic – meaning that you can build fortifications and structures on these worlds -- but they don’t have a victory condition and they never go away.  They are more like traditional MMO servers.

 

What do you mean by “player owned and player managed”?

As the owner of a Kingdom, players are the monarch of these Worlds.  They get to set many of the rules that govern that World and the buildings within it. Don’t want people to visit your world? Lock it out. Want to setup a place for others to visit and trade? Make it public! Want to set a tax for all trade that happens there? Go for it.  Want to turn on free for all PvP?  No problem.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to manage your own kingdom, you can always swear fealty to the Monarch of another Kingdom and be granted a domain (i.e. one or more parcels of land) within that Kingdom.  If your domain is greater than one parcel, you can sub-parcel out areas within YOUR domain to other players – creating a fealty tree.  This is an ideal approach for Guilds and crafters.

So the purpose of the Kingdom is to store trophies?  I thought you said “trophies” were lame?

“Meaningless” trophies are lame.  Giving a player a trophy for killing 10 rats is lame; because that’s like the “participation” trophies we give our kids for playing soccer.

Meaningful Trophies (like a Super Bowl ring, the Stanley Cup, or the Iron Throne of Westeros) are much cooler: they have value, both tangible and perceived.  A meaningless trophy is one that is not earned.

Many of the trophies that you can collect in the Campaign Worlds provide in-game benefit: they can be used to make your Kingdom stronger, or make you (or your team) more viable in future Campaigns. 

Campaign Trophies include relics, artifacts, materials and rare resources – the things that are required to build structures, craft equipment, and fuel the economy of your Kingdom.   A Kingdom is not a lobby in the traditional sense; but it serves a similar purpose as a place that players can gather in between participation in Campaigns.

That said, players who have no interest in Kingdoms are not required to visit them.

 

Why do I want to create equipment in my Kingdom?  I thought characters couldn’t take items into the Campaigns…?

Not necessarily!  Each World has a set of “import rules” that dictate what can (or can’t) be brought into that Campaign. 

 

Doesn’t that create balance issues?  Using the analogy above, isn’t this like Uncle Bob bringing a bunch of tanks into the next game of Risk, after the board reset?

It could, except that everyone coming into a Campaign is dealing with the same Import rules.  The key to the reset mechanic isn’t “the board must be clean,” the goal is “everyone needs to start on roughly equal footing, to make the game fun.”

If everyone is allowed to bring the same number of assets into a Campaign (i.e. if we can ALL bring in a few tanks) then the starting condition is still balanced.

 

But what if I choose a Campaign that allows for items, but I don’t bring any?  That would be unbalanced!

Well, yeah, it would be.  But that’s your choice.

Remember, our design goal is to ensure that players have the OPPORUNTITY to start each Campaign on roughly equal footing.   We aren’t going to protect players from making bad decisions.

 

Why would I choose to play in the different rulesets of Campaigns?

“Different strokes for different folks.”

The various rules sets were designed to keep gameplay fresh, and to balance risk vs. reward. The more difficult the ruleset, the higher the potential reward.   

We also expect that players will often sell the rewards they bring back from the Campaigns to other players, further driving both social interaction and the world-to-world economy.

 

That means I won’t have access to certain resources, if I am unwilling to play on those worlds?

You won’t have direct access, no.  You can buy those resources from other players.

Our hope is that you might step out of your comfort zone and try the more difficult worlds… but that’s your choice.  Again, it’s all about balancing risk and reward.

 

What is to prevent people from non-stop Campaign hopping?

Campaigns are not intended to be transitory.  Our design goal is for players to pick a Campaign and stick with it until the end. 

We have a number of ideas to enforce or encourage this, from hard rules (i.e. characters are locked to a Campaign) to soft rules (if you quit a Campaign early, you lose all rewards and pay a penalty.) 

This is one that we’re still debating, though – and we’d love to hear your thoughts!  On the good side, it’s also a decision that we can easily change, if we try something and we don’t like it.

 

How many Campaigns will be running at once?

As many as we need, to support our player base! 

The universe map shows ruleset bands; at any given time, each band will host a number of Campaigns, in various stages of completion.  There should always be new Campaigns starting, and old Campaigns come to completion.

Why would I participate in a long Campaign?  It seems like I would get more rewards from doing a bunch of shorter ones?

Rewards scale up based on the difficulty of the Campaign and the duration.  In effect, you can earn more rewards by making the longer-term commitment – and, of course, by winning. 

Again, it’s all about risk and reward.

Are there any of victory conditions other than the passage of time?

There certainly can be!

Our system allows us to make any number of Worlds, and any number of rules sets.  The amazing thing about this design is that it allows for a huge degree of experimentation!  Most MMOs get one chance – at launch – to find a mix of rules that appeals to the players.  The great thing about the Campaign architecture is that we can be trying dozens of ideas in parallel, all the time.  It’s like a generic algorithm for MMO design: the good ideas can be replicated (and riffed on), the bad ideas can be filtered out. 

 

How open are you guys to trying new ideas within Campaigns?

Our intention is to make this a community-driven process.  We’ll come up with ideas, you guys will come up with ideas – and we’ll take the best ideas we find, wherever they come from, and we’ll give them a shot.

If an idea gains enough traction – meaning we like it, and you guys like it – we’ll try it**. 

(**so long as it fits within the architecture.  We just have to be careful that we don’t break the game at the meta-level.)

You want to try a world with no magic?  Cool.

You want to try a world where we introduce gun power?  Sounds interesting.

You want to try a world where each character only has one life – meaning that if you die once, you are permanently banned from the World?  (I call this idea “Campaign Permadeath”)…  Sure, let’s try it.

That’s the cool thing about this approach.  We’re turning our game community into a massive, game-designing hivemind.

We’re game, if you are.

Tully Ackland

ArtCraft Entertainment, Inc. 

Follow us on Twitter @CrowfallGame | Like us on Facebook

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Will we be able to move betwen our chosen Campaign and the Eternal Kingdoms easily, or will we only be able to play on our selected campaign world for the duration?

Edited by soulein

Shadowbane - House Avari/Hy'shen
"Gimp elves get good elves killed." - Belina

Avari Discord - https://discord.gg/Bch24PV

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For those who were super fast, you may not have seen the full FAQ. I was slow in publishing it! ... I know, I'm terrible. 

 

Ah, crowdfunding. Hopefully that comes after the announcement and hopefully some gameplay! I'd certainly pledge if the game was buy to play and gameplay is appealing to me.

 

The concept is there and it sounds great. But I'd have to see that combat is smooth and fluid before I'd buy into it.

Edited by anj
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I must say I am deeply disappointed in you guys taking advantage of the crowdfunding model. Do your names count nothing when it comes to attracting more capital invested into the project? Now I'm deeply concerned of what you're going to offer with the package, as crowd funded models typically tend to favor the backers over your normal subscribers. When it comes to licensing overseas, you better damn not sell rights to Europe to some greedy publisher.

 

Peace and out.

 

"You want to try a world where each character only has one life – meaning that if you die once, you are permanently banned from the World?  (I call this idea “Campaign Permadeath”)…  Sure, let’s try it."

P.S It's last man standing campaign, I called it (Stinson, patent pending). You can name it Nehemia's Abyss if you wish to use permadeath campaign ruleset as a name for it. My lawyer will soon contact you regarding the IP rights.

Edited by nehemia
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lots to chew over here...some me likey...some not so much...some appear to be grounds for trebuchets firing in Austin...

 

moar when I get to my computer instead of typing o my phone....

 

argh.....

FIQw0eP.png

let the Code build the World and it's Laws....let the Players build the rest...

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