Choose My Adventure: Framing my first foray in Darkfall

Choose My Adventure  Framing my first foray in Darkfall
Break time's over! Now it's time to roll up our sleeves and get back to work building our latest Choose My Adventure. The first order of business is to establish the framework for the rest of our Darkfall Unholy Wars (mis)adventures.

Of course, we can't just build willy-nilly; we need to follow a plan. And as with any major construction project, we couldn't really move forward until said plan was OKed by the planning commission. So while we waited for the foundation to set, we sought approval for which type of structure to base our continuing adventures on. And as is wont to happen with committees, there was trouble coming to a consensus; even though the proposed models were all pretty similar, disagreement arose as to which to pick.

However, after some debate (one proposal won by only one vote!), we finally got the go ahead: The final word was to build a Mahirim Deadeye. I'm on it, boss!%Gallery-187735%
Darkfall screnshot
My Darkfall disclaimer: Before this project gets too far along, I have to tell you that I won't be providing a comparison between the original Darkfall neighborhood and the remodeled one. I can't because I didn't really play it. My experience in the old Agon consisted of character creation and the slaughter of maybe 20 goblins. I went into the game then because of my companion (who loved it), but I had neither the time nor the inclination to dig in. So these impressions are all pretty fresh and centered on how the game is right now.

I encourage everyone to go ahead and approach the game and this Choose My Adventure the same way, brushing off any preconceived notions that might color your experience.

Darkfall character creationThere's no winning this race

Step one: Select a race. As an aesthetically minded person, I am going to admit right up front that how a game looks influences me. And it's not just good vs. bad graphics; if I do not particularly like a style, no matter how well done it is, no amount of stellar gameplay will keep me there because I'd rather not be even looking at the screen.

That said, Darkfall characters are decidedly unattractive; there is only one slightly attractive model, and it's not the one you chose! I'd have been totally happy to play a wolf running on all fours, but this incarnation of the Mahirim is really just... ugly. Of course, one more vote and Orks would have tied. Luckily no tie meant I didn't have to petition for an Ork-Mahirim hybrid. Now that would have looked... I shudder to think of it.

At least I learned that I won't have to look at her face much, so I'll spend more time on hairstyle since all I'll really see is the back of her head. (Even then, while my bow is unsheathed, I don't even see that!) The good news is because of that, I didn't have to spend much time creating a character. During our last adventures in another land, I mentioned that it can be a relief at times to not have so many customization options that I spend my entire week agonizing over character creation. And so it was here. Granted, I still got hung up at a couple of spots, but I prevailed with much play-time to spare.

Customization options are numbered selections -- there are no sliders -- and each selection has limited options. For the Mahirim, my choices were skin (fur) color, hair color, face, hair, nose accessory, earring, and extra accessory. Face had the most with 20 choices, and nose accessory the least with five. Since the fur color options were so muted and indistinguishable, I opted for colorful face paint instead of the deep scars raked down my eye. Then I added a couple of adornments and a hairstyle that looks pleasing enough from the back, and continued on.

Darkfall screenshot
Being classy (in a classless world)

Build a Mahirim Deadeye, you said. And I did. She may not be as individualized as I would prefer, but she's passable. I did it because I am bound to follow the instructions of my foreman who is overseeing this project. But one thing I can't quite figure out is whether you are trying to be kind or severely sadistic. Were you kindly trying to give me a ranged class knowing that's what I've been more comfortable with on my healers of the past, or did you want to see me fail miserably at what amounts to just about the hardest combat class?

Yeah, the moment I mentioned that I was directed to focus on archery first, my friend who loved the game audibly groaned and expressed his condolences. That doesn't bode well! I know that the game does not have tab targeting (which is just fine by me, really), but apparently the ranged missiles must also take into account realistic physics like trajectory. Am I going to be able to let arrows fly, especially on the fly, by judging distance, height, etc.? Not so confident here, but I will give it a go.

After selecting the starter "class" I'd focus on (and yes folks, we can change that in-game at any time just by using and advancing skill in another weapon) and plugging in a name, we are ready to start our life in Agon. So, here she is: Introducing Emey Brokenclaw!

Emey Brokenclaw!
Getting schooled

No, that doesn't refer to having my furry butt handed to me in PvP! I am sure that will happen as our adventure progresses, but for now the saying is about following Darkfall's tutorial. Oftentimes I actually ignore most parts of a game's tutorial; however, knowing that things in Darkfall work differently from what I am familiar with, I worked through the entire thing.

The first thing I noticed was that the world looks better than the character models. Thank heavens. The second thing was that the tutorial auto-updates whenever I finish a task instead of forcing me to take my mouse and click something to advance to the next bit of instructions. Very nice! The comments your teacher gives you throughout the exercises are pretty funny too, which made reading the text enjoyable. Lines like "Brandish now your mighty weapon that we may all tremble at your fierce self" and "Excellent, that was very fierce. No, honestly. Had I a bladder, I would void it" kept me amused as I progressed.

Tutorial tips
What I didn't like was how various parts of the interface were locked if they hadn't yet been "introduced" in the tutorial. Part-way through, my mouse wheel stopped accepting input from clicks, and I was unable to equip my bow. OK, fine, I will just equip it from my inventory, right? Nope. Bags weren't accessible until a later step of the tutorial. So I tried rebinding keys, but having a weapon switch be off the mouse was too impractical -- I knew I'd need to switch in an instant, and I didn't want to get through training with one method and change to another. So I fetched my laptop mouse and used it for the rest of the gaming session.

Laboratory crafting station in DarkdfallIn all, the tutorial was pretty simplistic... too much so at times. A couple of objectives could have been a bit more clear, but in all the tutorial was there to introduce commands, not get the player completelye familiar with them. OK, I am porting past the dragon, so on to real play now!

Well, yes and no. The little tutorial instance was finished, but next I was guided through a series of feats (think of quests that just auto-pop on your screen to direct you) that gave me a taste of the other parts of the game beyond combat. I got to harvest, craft, use a merchant, and plop my valuables in the bank. I also got a free bantha-esque mount to ride around and had to move out of the safe zone then back in for that experience.

And that brings up a very important point: The city areas are safe zones, so you can go in, get the feel of the game, and practice your skills without being slaughtered right away. As a newbie who'd like the chance to actually get a taste of the gameplay and become familiar with how things work, I give a definite +10 for that. Remaining in the generous safe zone I was able to finish my tutorial unmolested and practice using the game controls. At least, I think I've finished the tutorial -- nothing has popped up since I completed my three feats.

The next phase

And now I am ready for whatever task you throw at me; I'll just bide my time harvesting while you decide what comes next in this project. This week the question is where should I focus my crafting energies: Shall I make food, weapons, armor, ships, or something else? Also, do I dare venture out of the safe zone this week as I gather materials, or should I stay close to town? Take a look at the choices below and make your selection before 11:59 p.m EDT on Saturday, May 11th. And be sure to tune in to Massively TV tonight (Wednesday) at 8:00 p.m. for Choose My Adventure Live!%Poll-82430%%Poll-82427%
Strap yourself in for the ride of (six weeks of) your life! Where are you going? Well, that's entirely up to you, the Massively readers, to decide -- the where, the what, and the how are all directed by you. The who is MJ Guthrie! For the duration of Choose My Adventure, her virtual life is in your hands! Join MJ in-game, on-site, and live on Massively TV to be a part of the adventure and watch the story unfold.

This article was originally published on Massively.