INFERNO – DAoC 2 is possible, here’s how

On the Vault Mythic asks the dreamer to dream:

Okay, here’s the deal. The producers of Camelot (Walt and Jeff) wanted me to start this thread the other day, and I got bogged down in distractions. So do me a favor and make the most of it, and give the guys plenty to read today :)

What kind of expansion pack would make you excited? Wouldn’t be until next fall, and all the patches between now and then are probably going to be small improvements/fixes/revamp/tweaky things.

Land? Dungeons? Cities? Races? Classes? What about atmosphere, quests, items? What would be cool for you?

Again, leave this thread to the dreamers, everyone.

Despite the fact that the line saying “all the patches between now and then are probably going to be small improvements/fixes/revamp/tweaky things” doesn’t put DAoC’s future into a positive light, here are my ideas:

Everyone playing the game would tell you that what would be interesting for the game would be about RvR and not PvE. Fortunately or not, DAoC was thought so that its RvR is designed more as a “virtual world” and that “satisfying repetable content” I quoted often in the last days. So the mudflation just doesn’t stick on it and thinking about an optional expansion for DAoC has always been rather hard since the premises of the game drag it in a completely different direction. In a similar way to what happens with Eve-Online (in fact CCP decided to not release pay-expansions but just work through the subscription fees and keeping to radically develop the game).

This is why the production of the game has always tried to find “tricks” to work on the RvR and still keep it free, like the “free expansion” concept that brought the whole “New Frontier” overhaul. Basically we have a problem. We need good ideas about features and content that can be added to the game but that would still be optional to a degree and not absolutely indispensable but at least desirable. The problem is that the idea of “content expansion” is appropriate for mudflated games but not to one where the real focus is the RvR and the competition between the players. You cannot offer the players buying the expansion a direct advantage over those that won’t. It would just break the game (the design between the past expansions always tried to maintain a delicate equilibre on the edge between desiderable -to encourage the players to buy the expansion- and optional content, sometimes going overboard like it happened with ToA).

One of the basic design principles that was behind ToA but that was also betrayed, is about the possibility to give some of the players access to tools that can then benefit everyone. Considering this premise and considering some humor about other problems, I’d say that whatever could be added in an expansion should NEVER be usable and useful for 8vs8. This to mark a line. If it was, we would just add to the game another brand new requirement that the players would just hate. So what would be left is the possibility for the RvR to develop something related to the keeps warfare or something related to larger RvR missions that could be triggered by someone with the access to the exp and then experienced together.

Another of my ideas could be also adapted to provide a viable and expansion-friendly further character development. While the possibility to raise the level cap (and creating enough content to justify an expansion) is just inconceivable for this game. It would just destroy it and force it for years to tweak and adapt everything to the new cap.

As you can figure out there isn’t much left. As I said, the game just isn’t suited to be expanded in this way. It needs a completely different plan. But this goes also beyond the scope of this article and I don’t want to go too radical and irrealistic. I will just have to find something viable, that doesn’t damage the game and that is still possible to package as an “optional” expansion.

The premises of my thoughs are described here above. These are the ideas I squeezed out:


+ Add in the exp pack a key-code usable only once. This key-code would allow a player to flag a character and instantly /level it to 45.

+ “The Evolution Server Project”. Transform the “evolution servers” idea into the exp pack (sort of a DAoC 2 built directly on DAoC). This would be a way to go heavy on the development and keep these servers as a separate project that can be accessed only to those buying the expansion. An occasion for Mythic to go back and solve radically the basic mistakes and offer to every player an occasion to start again (and, in the case they choose so, use the key-code to have a levelled up character and enjoy the endgame without really having to repeat the grind). I won’t go in the details about how the Evolution servers should be shaped up because it would go beyond the scope of these notes. But this is supposed to be the major content of the exp and not a superficial tweak to the rules.

+ (all servers) The possibility to use “formations” in RvR groups. These will be selectable by the group leader and will be triggered on/off just by /sticking to the group. Pressing a movement key would break the formation as it currently breaks the /stick.

+ (all servers) Follow and build on the Final Fantasy XI idea of adding NPCs henchmen. At level 20 the players will have the possibility to do a few duties for the realms (similar to the Chapters of DR, with missions based on the classic world) and receive a personal henchman (realistic or not) summonable only on PvE zones.

– These henchman will have their own classes based on the basic archetypes. All their skills and spells will be designed from zero and some can be “commanded” directly by the player (see below).

– An henchman gains experience and levels like the player. He acquires experience twice as fast compared to a normal player and his level cannot surpass the one of the player.

– An henchman can “respec” to different archetypes. Each respec can be executed freely but “burns” 20% of the current exp of the henchman for that level.

– The henchmen will have separate exp bars and levels for each archetype. So each archetype will need to be levelled separately or not at all if the player decides to specialize.

– This is also a chance to rework the AI of pets and the interface to make the controls more deep and interactive (like the possibility to “command” the execution of specific skills from the NPCs).

– The appearance of these henchmen can be customized, both in look and equipment. The henchmen can be equipped with the standard items used by the characters, special items and specific new items only usable by henchmen that will be linked to specific new quests.

– Each henchmen will be named by the player.

– Only two henchmen at max can join the same group.

(A note on the purpose of these henchmen: For a solo player, the possibility to have a bit more involving and interactive PvE and the possibility to level more efficiently, cutting down the downtimes some more. For the groups, the possibility to “fill” roles and classes missing from the group, for example to partially solve the problem of healers, or tanks, or whatever the group misses. The henchmen should never be more effective than a player playing the proper class and they should only count as a “half” player when calculating the group experience, so that the bonus should be inferior.)

+ Style redesign. This is an occasion for all the server types, included the Evolution servers to redesign the styles (both visually and the mechanics). The new style system would included simple “combo” skills that can be performed by coordinating some skills or spells with other players. These combos can also be used with henchmens (see the possibility to “command” the use of a skill). This change would affect players with or without the expansion.

+ Finally my favourite: Add INFERNO (all capitalized because it’s more badass). “Inferno” is a brand new zone, graphically similar to the “Veil Rift”, with chasms and floating platforms moving in circles around Lucifero’s dark castle. This would also allow to introduce a new technical feature: a physic engine (borrowing from Warhammer development). The physic will only be applied to the chasms and platforms. Basically these platforms can “bend” in a direction, randomly, because triggered or because of how the players are distributed (so that the platform will bend if all the players are in one spot instead of spreading around and distributing the weight). The players will have to fight both on these unstable platforms while facing the difficulties added by the physical engine, as well on more stable constructions.

– The physical model won’t factor the collision between the players and affects exclusively the inclination of the platforms. When a platform bends in a direction the players will have to move in the opposite direction in order to maintain the position and not fall off it. The different types of environmental happenings that the physical model includes will be: earthquakes (the player is shaken, making it lose the direction), dynamically opening chasms, and the inclination of the platform.

– If a player falls off a platform he will disintegrate. In this case he will reappear at the entrance of the zone at no loss after a short timeout (think to WoW’s graveyards).

– This zone has hard PvE content tailored for at least three full groups and divided into consequent segments. The players will start on a floating platform and will progressively move around controlling it (like a manual elevator or a flying carpet). With this moving platform they’ll access various points on the map where to fight a sequence of encounters and different mini-bosses to remove progressively the “locks” to the castle. Once the castle’s seals (graphically shown as huge chains attached to the castle) are broken (graphically shattering and falling down in the void), the players can storm in and eventually kill Lucifero in a final, epic battle.

– If a player dies or falls off a platform, he’ll be ported to the entrance as I already wrote. When there, he can have access to some sort of flying “taxi” that will bring him back to the main floating platform where the other players are. These taxis will be named “Charons” and should be shown graphically as gondolas driven by a masked dark figure. The Charons should speak through voice overs.

– Lucifero should be designed to be hard and as a very long fight.

– Once Lucifero is killed the zone will seal, porting out the players at the relic keep. The doors to the zone will remain closed at least for a week.

– The entrance to this zone will be placed in the center of Agramon.

– This zone is flagged for RvR, once open every realm can enter it, fight the enemy realms on these floating platforms (with the added fun of the physic model) and attempt to be the first to kill Lucifero.

These ideas would make DAoC stand out again among the competition and revindicate strongly its predominant role as an unparalleled RvR game for the years to come. The “Evolution server project” would be a way to appeal brand new players with the possibility to start in a brand new world refactored to eliminate all the radical flaws that plagued the game along these years. While the INFERNO would offer an innovating experience mixing brand new mechanics like the physic system of the platforms and chasms with the classic RvR wars for the ultimate RvR experience.

And let’s see if WoW can outperform that.

And to conclude I’ll also explain why the ideas I wrote here will never be implemented. Mythic is working on Warhammer, in a year it be in full production mode, while the playerbase of DAoC, in absence of significant changes and signs from Mythic, will be even more shrunk. Planning something daring won’t be considered as worth the effort by the guys at the decision-making positions.

What Mythic can still accept to “waste” on DAoC is the content team. A few artists, the quest team, a couple of new races or zones and so on. This is, sadly, what awaits DAoC, just a dumbed down, inexpressive support that is going to hand out to the players the yearly “sop”. A brand new weapon or piece of armor, a couple of minor skills. The actual “development intensive” roles, the production, designers and programmers will be busy working on the new game while DAoC will be left just to “train” a few new guys at a low risk, just to keep the game running and teach these trainees how the company works and offer them a chance to show their worth and get trapped like a “cog in the vast machine” that kills all the good ideas.

So I don’t expect much because along these years I get to know how Mythic thinks and reacts. Of course I would love to be surprised but I’d lie if I’d say that I think it could happen.

Again, leave this website to the dreamers, everyone.

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