Darkfall Devs: Eurogamer Sucks

Darkfall Devs: Eurogamer Sucks

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After long-delayed MMO Darkfall received a scathing 2/10 review from Eurogamer, the developers fired back, claiming that the reviewer had spent just under two hours logged in - not even playing the game.

Here's a quick recap to bring you up to speed if you've never heard of Darkfall Online: The game, announced in 2001, was for a very long time the MMO equivalent of Team Fortress 2 or Duke Nukem Forever - vaporware, doomed never to come out. It was an overly ambitious project, people claimed, and would only collapse under its own weight. Then, this February, Darkfall came out, largely slipping beneath the radar - but making a decent-sized splash for an indie MMO. Go figure.

Yesterday, Eurogamer finally published their review of Darkfall Online - and reviewer Ed Zitron gave the game an abysmal 2/10, saying that the game was effectively broken in every respect:

While other MMOs have relied on their players to fill in the content to an extent - Star Wars Galaxies being the most notable example - few have abused the sandbox mentality so readily as Aventurine. It's the emperor's new clothes of 2009: such a marvellous game that only an idiot wouldn't realise the beauty of the gaping holes in its content, its wonky control system, and its seemingly decade-old engine.

Harsh, eh? But hey, Zitron calls 'em like he sees 'em, so--

--wait, not so fast! Darkfall associate producer Tasos Flambouras responded to the Eurogamer review, calling it fraud. Not only was the review full of factual inaccuracies, Flambouras claimed, but their own server logs show that, of the two Darkfall press accounts Aventurine had given to Eurogamer, one had logged on for only three minutes, and the other "had less than 2 hours spread out in 13 sessions." Furthermore, said account wasn't actually playing the game most of the time: "Most of these 2 hours were spent in the character creator since during almost every one of the logins the reviewer spent the time creating a new character."

It doesn't end there, either. Eurogamer Editor Tom Bramwell defended Zitron, saying that the reviewer had played for longer than Flambouras was claiming, but also adding that they'd be getting a second opinion review as well. However, it wasn't enough for Flambouras, who posted a rebuttal suggesting that a reviewer would have to put more than a hundred hours into Darkfall to do it justice, since it's an MMO.

Whew. How 'bout them apples? On the one hand, part of me sympathizes with Zitron, because as a reviewer it can be so inconsistent how much time you need to sink into a game in order to give it a proper review. Do you always need to beat it from start to finish? What if it's a fighting game - how many hours do you need to play Street Fighter IV before you can talk about how satisfying beating peoples' faces in is? Do you really need to play Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad for more than five, six hours, to understand that it's not a very good game?

But those aren't MMOs, and you don't want to know how much time I logged in, say, the Wrath of the Lich King beta for my review. Even if Zitron is telling the truth, and he played Darkfall for nine hours ... that might be enough for an offline game, but not an MMO. If Aventurine's server logs are correct, though ... well, that's another ballgame entirely.

In the meantime, though, we'll be content to pull up a chair, cook some popcorn, and watch the drama unfold.

(Thanks for the tip, WarCry!)

Permalink

true or not, theres a lesson here for other potential lazy reviewers. If you arnt gonna play the game ur reviewing, be sure to not be playing one where they can track your activity.

CantFaketheFunk:
Do you always need to beat it from start to finish?

You need to get beyond the character creation screen. That much is clear.

I will be interrested in seeing how the second opinion review rates the game.

Out of curiosity, David Jaffe wouldn't happen to be working on Darkfall, would he?

It sounds to me like its simply Eurogamer getting caught out for trying to fake their way through a review. I have to side with the developers - their records show that the reviewer couldn't have possibly spent enough time in game, unless they made a new account (and thats just sttupid).

True or not, I have a bias against Darkfall and aplaud any insult made towards it. The forum dwelling monkeys they kept around did not impress me.

I think both have relatively credible arguments, then again the reviewers are going about it a bit childishly when confronted by the fact that their progress, or lack there of, had been tracked. Just give the game another go, its their job to play a video game get it done.

How strange that I never heard of this MMO before. 2/10 is a bit harsh for a professional review. Is it a gaming journalist or a child reviewing it?

Meanwhile, the actual target group just waits for other reviews to see if it's even worth arguing about all that...

Nothing against Eurogamer, but when in doubt, i just look what others have to say about the game.

EDIT: Don't understand the poster above...IF the Game IS broken, wouldn't it deserve a 2/10, or is the number generally forbidden for "professional reviewers"?

Wow, that's great, good on the developers for speaking out.

I've heard about this game, but... it was released? Woah.

I am truly amazed that they just want another "unbiased" review.
There are enough articles that connect the dots between a review and sales figures.
If he really didn't do his job and punched out a review that is giving negative press without any facts backing it up, they could actually sue them.

Actually, I do like to see how this turns out as it often appears that a lot of so-called professional journalists out there turn into marketing tools of the publishers/developers.

For example, I am still waiting for some journalist to give Bethesda some serious heat for the patch debacle with Fallout on the PS3. I mean, this would even be something that a lot of consumers are interested in and whenever I see one of those "interviews", they just cheer at themselves for having the greatest community support on this planet.

Of course, every reviewer has his own opinion, but an article should always be objective and come with arguments based on facts for the good and the bad sides.

That's one of the main reason why I really stick to the Escapist. I don't agree with every article, but I can almost always follow the argument and see where somebody is coming from to get a different perspective from my own.

But I am afraid that this is a general problem when it comes to "journalism" and monetary interests in any kind of media.

While fowl play on the part of the reviewer may be at hand, most of the review is pretty much spot on.

Darkfall is broken and shouldn't have been released in its current state. Tasos also is very quick to bash anyone that says a negative word about the game.

To give you an idea of how bad the state of the game was at launch, Vanguard launched in better shape.

I cite every review of Empire Total War for how shady games journalism has become (openly this kinda thing always happened)

Doesn't it say a lot about the game if a person didn't even want to play past the character creation screen? I appreciate the need to log in more hours before dropping a review but the fact that this fiasco is even occurring says a lot.

Who needs to play hundreds of hours to determine if a game is fun? Play 2-3 hours, if it's no fun you can just quit (a good game would give you fun within the first hour or so and that's already a very lenient standard, it should start practically immediately), if you really want to strain it maybe 5 hours. If that's no fun, well, guess what, noone's going to give a shit if the game becomes fun later on because it has already wasted hours of your time providing no fun whatsoever. Who'd bother playing further after that much rejection?

dnadns:
There are enough articles that connect the dots between a review and sales figures.

All I recall is a study finding no correlation between sales and reviews.

Why would someone lie about a meager 9 hours? why doesn't AV use an unbiased 3rd party to maintain server stats? Isn't Tasos known as a liar on darkfall's own forums?

Delmar Wynn:
While fowl play on the part of the reviewer may be at hand, most of the review is pretty much spot on.

Darkfall is broken and shouldn't have been released in its current state. Tasos also is very quick to bash anyone that says a negative word about the game.

To give you an idea of how bad the state of the game was at launch, Vanguard launched in better shape.

Oh, so happy to hear this. Suck on this, uh, my beloved Warhammer-ragequitters-guildies :)

Heh at least Escapists reviewers are not lazy

MMO reviews should take at least 1 month of gameplay to be accepted.

Remember the Age of Conan fiasco... the reviews were great at the beginning because the lazy rewviewrs just have played in the NOOB island. After that inicial zone the game was a complete garbage.

LeonHellsvite:
Heh at least Escapists reviewers are not lazy

Can you tell my mom that? She still wants me to go do something more productive than just talk about games all day. :)

What!? Some random internet review site owned by corporate hosebeasts is lying do us!? THIS IS SHOCKING! RIOT! RIOT!

calvinbox:
MMO reviews should take at least 1 month of gameplay to be accepted.

Remember the Age of Conan fiasco... the reviews were great at the beginning because the lazy rewviewrs just have played in the NOOB island. After that inicial zone the game was a complete garbage.

An interesting and poignant example of how the inverse of this situation can be a bad thing.

Delmar Wynn:
While fowl play on the part of the reviewer may be at hand, most of the review is pretty much spot on.

Darkfall is broken and shouldn't have been released in its current state. Tasos also is very quick to bash anyone that says a negative word about the game.

To give you an idea of how bad the state of the game was at launch, Vanguard launched in better shape.

I'm curious now. What exactly IS this game like?

TsunamiWombat:

I'm curious now. What exactly IS this game like?

Having actually played the game for more than 2 hours, I can address most of the inaccuracies in the Eurogamer review and give you an idea of what it is actually like. Considering the number of mistakes and falsehoods in the review, it is tantamount to slander. I wouldn't have bothered with such a long post if this review wasn't so absurd that it's almost unbelievable - I consider it to be equivalent to IGN posting a /b/ thread from 4chan as a professional review (it's okay if you didn't understand that comment). There are aspect of Darkfall that need work, but the Eurogamer review has no connection at all to the actual game.

-- Response to Eurogamer Review --

Eurogamer:
Unbelievably, to do anything that involves any interaction at all, you have to stop still - this includes any and all inventory management, looting, chatting - anything interactive.

1. You can move while doing chatting and inventory management. Corpses and NPCs are stationary, so you have to stop anyway for interacting.

Eurogamer:
you open your bag, and physically drag the items from one pouch to the other. There are no inventory 'blocks,' and thus your inventory quickly becomes a horrid mess of vague icons left on top of each other.

2. Items are managed UO-style. Inventory management is quite easy if you actually place items instead of randomly throwing them in, and this style allows you to keep a backpack organized even with hundreds of items in it, an impossible feat with block-style inventory.

Eurogamer:
This gets particularly thrilling when you ... try to loot something from a corpse in a particularly dangerous area

Comment: Does it not seem obvious that it should be dangerous to loot a corpse while in combat or in a *dangerous* area?

Eurogamer:
You have a crosshair, and your hits are dependent on whether or not this crosses the enemy at any given time - like an FPS, except with little to no reference point

3. All melee weapons have a swing arc that is quite obvious, especially since melee is done in third-person (no crosshair). Only archery and magic use the crosshair, and both hit based on projectile path (arrows arc, magic moves slower).

Eurogamer:
considering how slow and floaty the controls tend to be

4. This is only true if you have mouse smoothing enabled and set to a high level - the vast majority of players simply turn off mouse smoothing, which gives very quick and responsive controls.

Eurogamer:
The difference in feedback between a sword hitting or missing is negligible

5. Not only do hits make impact noises, blood splashes, and enemy grunts, but you can also enable "hit sounds", which gives a very distinct sound on every successful hit with any weapon.

Eurogamer:
Judging the distance that one needs to be at to fight a foe is largely guesswork

6. Not only is the range visually apparent, but it is uniform across every weapon within a weapon type, so you only need to learn the range once for a weapon type. (i.e. every Great Sword has the same range).

Eurogamer:
your combat skills affect how often you actually connect

7. Hitting opponents is 100% player based. Combat skills only affect how much damage you deal (or take) on successful hits.

Eurogamer:
choice of changing weapon (a ten-second operation - five if you're particularly nimble

8. Most players just put their weapons of choice on their hotbars, so you can change weapons, use potions, eat food, etc. by pressing 1-9. The actual switch time is about 300 milliseconds.

Eurogamer:
And so hit those bloody [goblins] I did, not enjoying one second of it.

9. It may not have been clear to the reviewer, but the player was clearly commenting on him, as a player, having very poor aim. Successful hits is entirely based on the player, and I have often sent newbies that I am training to do PVE as practice for aiming and combat before attempting PVP.

Eurogamer:
old-school EverQuest - which was actually graphically superior

10. I consider the graphics on Darkfall to be quite impressive, especially the landscapes and character detail. However, it is optimized for higher resolutions - I play at 1680x1050. The reviewer was clearly playing on what I would term "a shitty resolution for anything".

Eurogamer:
random placement of flora with little in the way of lore to tie it together

11. Resources have clear patterns based on terrain types and regions, though I'm not sure why he expects a backstory for trees. Darkfall has quite a bit of lore, and many players stick to the lore surprisingly closely. (i.e. there's quite a lot of anti-Dwarf and anti-Human sentiment on the Race Alliance for Mahirim <wolfs> and Orks, even though quite a few clans are All-Races, and we often crack jokes about the enemy races).

Eurogamer:
It may also be tied to the fact that there's very little to see

12. There's an enormous amount of stuff to see. It probably would have helped the reviewer to actually open his map or check the Sinister wiki map (which virtually every player uses). It also sounds like the reviewer was walking the whole time (and didn't use either sprint or a mount, which everyone uses for long distance travel).

Eurogamer:
On one such jaunt, I walked for around six minutes

13. The game map is quite large. Six minutes walking is a negligible distance. Even mounted, the central continent takes over an hour to cross.

Eurogamer:
Players can build "camps" and "towns", and fight each other in "epic" wars.

14. Guilds can own and build up Hamlets or Cities (which takes a huge amount of work, but has huge benefits). There are no "camps" or "towns" as he suggests. Also, there most definitely is an epic war going on right now, a World War of sorts involving several thousand players as the COTC, DUSK, SB, and Death Alliances are fighting against the Hyperion alliance. Over a hundred separate guilds are involved in this war, and dozens more are indirectly involved. I have personally been to Sieges involving hundreds of players, and when you're riding in to assault the enemy with 80 mounted warriors, it definitely feels pretty epic.

Eurogamer:
You see, anyone can kill anyone.

15. Races that are at war with one another can kill each other freely (as the Mahirim apparently killed him, a Dwarf). Players within the same Race Alliance can only afford to kill 1 friendly without going Red, which makes them hostile to all Race-aligned NPC cities and KOS for everyone of their Race Alliance. Most clan alliances don't allow killing of allied members, either, but any player should still be considered a potential hostile. Most of the random PKs are simply looking for easy loot against newbies, and clans tend to ignore them. Clans do often raid each other, though, which much more serious fighting.

Eurogamer:
The quests are repetitive kill-X-of-Y monstrosities

16. The starter quests (the only quests) are very clearly meant to teach newbies how to play. It is very unusual for anyone to do the starter quests more than once. Most people just ignore them. Quests are not at all the focus of Darkfall.

Eurogamer:
The world is bland in the extreme, with no definition in areas

17. This is simply untrue. There is a vast amount of variation between the different regions and I've seen so many unique and interesting things while scouting that I know he didn't do any real travelling at all.

Eurogamer:
It doesn't even have ... a simple experience system, or some form of tutorial.

18. There is a tutorial and starter quests. Having a UO-style skill system is one of the key selling points of Darkfall (which makes this comment from him seriously confusing).

Eurogamer:
There hasn't even been an attempt to construct a faux-story

19. The reviewer obviously didn't read *any* of the quest information. There's actually a surprisingly large amount of lore written into the game, especially considering that lore isn't on the priority list for the vast majority of players.

Eurogamer:
this is just an excuse for Aventurine's inability to create a balanced, playable game

20. The game is fairly well balanced at this point, and entirely playable. Some crafting skills could use buffs, though. However, the reviewer is obviously in no position to make any such claims, as he didn't even get into any real PVP, PVE, or even crafting.

Eurogamer:
Its skill system is like a twisted version of EVE Online's

21. There's no real relation. Darkfall's skill system is almost directly inherited from Ultima Online.

Eurogamer:
few have abused the sandbox mentality so readily as Aventurine

22. There is a ton of content in Darkfall. However, I suspect the reviewer never took the time to actually do anything. For example, it probably didn't occur to him that he had to actually *purchase* most crafting and others skills before he could use them - and so he assumed the short list of skills he had was everything, which it most definitely is not.

all the more reason not to take online game reviewers too seriously.

Phyleron: Thankyou for the clarifications =)

Heard about the game years ago, rediscovered it a few months ago and have been watching with great curiosity, waiting for a more mainstream release than the graded shop openings at present. It seems like caution on their part - they know they have limited means and money and are choosing to slowly ease their way into the market with the hardcore fanbase before they consider opening up to the curious masses.

This whole Eurogamer debacle appears to only be doing them good - It invites attention with scandal, but the negative review is so unbelievably badly written and unjustified it immediately biases the reader toward -liking- the game ;)

I'm very pleased to see a developer standing up for themselves, dropping any professional facades and simply being honest, with a hint of self-respect. This needed to be challenged, and the challenge has been delivered with maturity and good judgement. They don't really seem to have much recourse but to bury their heads in the sand or make peace.

Phyleron:

TsunamiWombat:

I'm curious now. What exactly IS this game like?

It sounds like the primary problem the reviewer had is he's from a completly different generation then the one this game was made for. The MMO market is saturated with WoW and WoW-esques who have differences admittedly, but are geared towards streamlining. UO however is the definative past generation game and has considerably more depth and lets structure.

So, three questions:

1. Is it hard to get into and learn? I won't be memorizing math equations and macro's, or hunting phat lewts will I?

2. Is there roleplaying, and if so, what is the emphasis on it?

3. Is there a monthly fee?

Thank you for any responses.

Abedeus:
I've heard about this game, but... it was released? Woah.

I'm with you. This game came out in February? Where was the welcome party?

Sadly this is common of anyone who does reviews. You can always tell if the reviewer didn't play the game, watch the movie, ect. if you did.

I side with the developer in this case, but I do have some sympathy for the reviewer. Some games, MMOs in particular, take alot of time to "fully experience" and a reviewer is on a scedual.

related to this is when a reviewer has no experience with a given topic. Like when an adult whos never heard of pokemon writes a review on a pokemon movie.

It's a quite nicely made game. I've had the "honour" of playing it on my friend's account, who used to be in beta.

I can't wait till the North American servers go up, if ever. Because technically the game was released in february... and some people in my clan have been in game since then. But some weren't that lucky...

Hopefully, they'll actually try to attract more attention to the game... and make freaking north american servers.

TsunamiWombat:

Phyleron:

TsunamiWombat:

I'm curious now. What exactly IS this game like?

It sounds like the primary problem the reviewer had is he's from a completly different generation then the one this game was made for. The MMO market is saturated with WoW and WoW-esques who have differences admittedly, but are geared towards streamlining. UO however is the definative past generation game and has considerably more depth and lets structure.

So, three questions:

1. Is it hard to get into and learn? I won't be memorizing math equations and macro's, or hunting phat lewts will I?

2. Is there roleplaying, and if so, what is the emphasis on it?

3. Is there a monthly fee?

Thank you for any responses.

1. It's fairly hard to get into it at first. I haven't played a long time, unfortunately, just a couple of hours and a few more hours of watching my clan mates. The game has it's flaws, and is very similar to FPS games in general - you actually "hit" by swinging a weapon, your arrows are affected by gravity, and you generally have to get used to speed/gravity et cetera to start using ranged abilities efficiently - that is, spells and ranged. It's not much in terms of math equations or macros, though. It's a lot like Morrowind or Oblivion in terms of gameplay -there aren't that many abilities, and you skill up through use of skills, which unlocks updates and generally makes the skill stronger. The combat is pretty hard at first because the monster AI is often smarter then some players' - the monsters WILL strafe to avoid your arrows, and they WILL run away when hurt... and they WILL agrro when they see you. There is no actual "aggro range". If something is aggressive, then it will go after you when it seems you. There is no actual stealth-invisibility either. All the stealth comes from natural surroundings like trees, stones, grass and everything.

It's very neat, but once you get into it, it becomes easier. You get to be pretty creative too.

2. Roleplaying is pretty much between players only. It's a technically speaking free-for-all game that has 3 factions, one containing 3 races, the other 2 and the last one, just one race... but you can communicate and group/guild with any race. There are only a few race-restricted things in the game - mainly, their capital - a human capital won't let an ork in even if he's in a guild with humans; and, there are race-exclusive "epic" crafted weapons.

But, yeah, roleplaying depends on who you play with. I'm pretty sure there must be a roleplaying server, and there are certainly many roleplaying guilds - and the game offers more creativity since it's free-for-all and lets you do some crazy things.

3. Yes. I think the monthly fee is about 15-20 US dollars. Assuming that you've actually managed to get in game. I think you can only get the game off their website right now, and same goes for account creation... So a credit card is a must.

Oh, and PS. Some of the stuff I said might be a bit outdated, I've only played in the last days of beta. But it should stay the same. I haven't really communicated with my clan mates recently, was too busy and playing AoC in spare time.

Nice read but this "Go figure" thingie in every single news is kinda on my nerve. Innovation?

Jakkar:
It seems like caution on their part - they know they have limited means and money and are choosing to slowly ease their way into the market with the hardcore fanbase before they consider opening up to the curious masses.

The primary reason for the still limited release is simply server capacity. The devs have been continuously expanding the server cluster and optimizing the servers and client, so things have been improving quite a bit, but they just don't have the server capacity for an uncontrolled release yet. From Tasos own statements, they'd rather preserve the playability for those already in-game than cram in more people.

TsunamiWombat:

So, three questions:

1. Is it hard to get into and learn? I won't be memorizing math equations and macro's, or hunting phat lewts will I?

It's a little tough to adjust, but there's nothing particularly hard. The general learning curve is 1-2 days to adjust to the controls, 4-5 days to become comfortable with PVP, and 1 week to be fully adjusted. The only 'math equation' is to remember that Iron Ore smelts to Ingots in a 5:2 ratio (and the same for Timber cut to Wood). Crafting can be a little imposing at first, because the crafting stations list *everything* you will ever be able to make with that skill, but you figure out what to make fairly quickly. You will also have to learn the armor types and differences between the weapon types, but that will come naturally.

TsunamiWombat:
2. Is there roleplaying, and if so, what is the emphasis on it?

There definitely are roleplayers in various forms, but I don't participate in it much. For example, the Hyperion alliance actually has a *KING* - who has a Herald, and to whom all the clans under his control pay taxes. Some of the primary Hyperion clans have names like Duchy of Wessex, Fiefdom of Oxford, etc. Many of the anti-Hyperion forces avoid roleplay specifically because Hyperion does it so much.

TsunamiWombat:
3. Is there a monthly fee?

Yes, as with virtually every MMO. It's about $14 US.

Thank you for any responses.[/quote]

Susan Arendt:

LeonHellsvite:
Heh at least Escapists reviewers are not lazy

Can you tell my mom that? She still wants me to go do something more productive than just talk about games all day. :)

Okay, Susan's mother, Game reviewing IS productive, and talking about games all day isnt lazy :P
(Side note: PLAYING the games is less productive... maybe... or not >.>)

Even if the review isn't a review, darkfall still has several massive problems:
-The game is only available on their site for a limited ammount every so often when they can scavenge another server cluster.
-The community is about as hostile as it gets. Their response to me mentioning wow in a topic of "what other games do you play" was "GTFO of our forums weak minded fucktard".
I think alot of people will be put off from buying it when the game is either unavailable or they get yelled off the forum for not playing UO exclusively.

Also, didn't adventurine borrow about 20 million euros a while back from the government? Where did they spend all that on?

Frybird:
IF the Game IS broken, wouldn't it deserve a 2/10, or is the number generally forbidden for "professional reviewers"?

From what I understand, a game that doesn't even start, hence is unplayable, gets a 1/10.
So yes, a 2 would be incredibly bad. But it doesn't seem the tester done more than loading it up...

 

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