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Das Tal devs: 'We don't even own a gauntlet'

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Yesterday, we posted about an article penned by Das Tal Head of Communications David Wells in which he threw down the proverbial gauntlet, as we put it, at ArcheAge's feet; he laid out many of ArcheAge's faults and explained how Das Tal, an admittedly indie sandbox, could improve on the format and avoid some of ArcheAge's infamous mistakes. This prompted a fiery debate, particularly among ArcheAge's fans and frenemies, over sandbox design in the indie and AAA space.

Das Tal Managing Director Alexander Zacherl hopes to expound on that treatise with a letter to players of his own; he emphasizes that Fairytale Distillery's intent was not to provoke a duel with ArcheAge but to improve the studio's corner of the genre. We've agreed to publish that letter in full today. Read on!

Das Tal Devs: We Don't Even Own a Gauntlet

We've just found out that our recent blog post made it onto Massively. We're super-happy that our tiny project is being discussed there amongst huge productions like ArcheAge. But we felt that we were not super clear with what we wanted to say, and so here's our update for you:

First things first: We're not here to bash the developers of other games. We know how hard this job is and how many things can come between your vision of the game and reality. We've all experienced this in some form or another.

In fact we're huge fans of what other studios are currently creating in the Sandbox MMO space: Pathfinder Online, Albion Online, Crowfall, and Shards Online are all showcasing super exciting design innovation in a genre that has been pretty stagnant and starved for years.

That being said: I am a game designer. It is my job to dissect other games and figure out what works in them and what doesn't. This is the core of what I do to make our game. We have learned a ton from the groundwork that other people have done in the genre for the last 18 years. The last innovator in the area was XL Games with ArcheAge. We've been waiting for this game for years, and we were excited to finally get to play it.

But of course it was not perfect. No game ever is. Ours will also not be perfect -- far from it. And so we found stuff that we'd like to do differently. Dave took notes and decided to post them for our community to read and give us feedback on.

As a tiny team, we are not going to "make a better ArcheAge." We don't have the budget for it, and we will likely never have it. And that's quite OK. Our size forces us to make hard choices and innovate to even be able to make a great game. A lot of our design decisions (top-down camera, small game worlds, PvP instead of PvE) grew out of those restrictions. And that is awesome because it has led us to a point where we're doing something so completely different that we're not really "competing" with other sandbox MMOs anymore.

We're not going to have that one huge game world for a hundred thousand players. We're not going to have a 10-year history for each game world. But instead we'll be able to focus on the PvP experience and enable players to get into the most challenging PvP fights ever, without first having to grind for years. We do not have to do a "one size fits all" rule-set for our game worlds; instead, each game world can have different rules, and we can even have our players create them. Yes, we could even implement permadeath on one of our game worlds without ruining the game for the 99% of players who do not want that. This is the strength of our tiny size.

If you are as excited about the possibilities as we are, then here is our alpha signup page that will (eventually) get you to test the game with us. And here's our current Square Enix Collective campaign where we're collecting more feedback. Talk to us, we're around. - Alex
Many thanks to Alexander Zacherl and the Das Tal folks for the clarification.

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