Monday, June 26, 2017

Hey folks,

Big news on the horizon! Our first Campaign Test is about to launch on our newly-christened Test server!

First, though – as always – let’s do the caveats:

The first time we put something (anything!) out in front of actual players, it always a bit bumpy. That’s why we have a Test server and start each test with a small number of players.

So, when I say First Campaign Test, please don’t read that as our-first-fully-functional-campaign-that-we-can-all-play-and-it-will-be-like-a-released-game! … because it won’t be that. It’s a test to make sure the systems work, to help us find bugs and to see where the performance problems are so that we can fix them. We’re going to run it for a limited time (probably a weekend), and we may even have to take it down prematurely to deal with any significant issues that come to light. And then we’ll do it again, a little longer. And again, even longer.

By this point you guys know the drill: please consider this more test than playtest.

Got it? OK, great. Now let’s get back to the fun stuff!

Test Campaign Overview

The basic structure of this test campaign is a three-faction ruleset with a simple – but novel -- win condition. Players will pick one of the three factions on first login (Order-Balance-Chaos) and are locked to that faction for the duration of the campaign.

You will initially spawn at a…


Most of you are familiar with this already. You appear as a crow soul, and then need to create a character to explore the area and harvest materials for basic tools.

This is the part of the update where, normally, we would show you a map of the world. Not this time, however! That would defeat the purpose of…

Fog of War

Hit ‘M’ to open the world map. (Oh yeah! Did I fail to mention that we now have a World Map? We do!)

Initially, the map will only show the faction temple where you logged in… the rest of the world will be a mystery until you explore it.

As you wander around the world, the Fog of War will be lifted. The visibility radius that is uncovered as you explore will vary, depending on whether it is…

Day & Night

At night, exploration of the world will clear the Fog of War from your map within a relatively tight radius.

During the day, this area is extended to reveal more of the world around you. Want a shortcut to remove your Fog of War? Find a scout to make you …

Crafted Maps

Cartography allows you to share your knowledge of locations with other players. This process starts with a blank map, which can now be crafted like any other item. When you find an interesting location that you want to share with someone, right-click the blank map in your inventory to create a scrawled map detailing the area immediately around you.

That scrawled map can now be traded, purchased or looted. On use, it will remove the Fog of War from the map of the user, revealing the area in which it was created – as if the user had actually travelled there.

And this is just the first step! Next, we’ll hook up various Skills and Disciplines so that players who want to specialize in scouting can increase the reveal distance of Fog of War when exploring, and cartographers can increase the size of the area they can scrawl on a single map.

This feature will be quite handy as you explore the world looking for…

Crowfall Construction Fort01 Watermarked-1024x646

Forts and Keeps

Around the world, you will find abandoned strongholds that can be useful to you.

Forts are fortified wooden structures that factions can claim. These were designed to change hands constantly; you don’t have to siege them. You claim a fort simply by locating its dragon statue and using F to interact to claim it on behalf of your faction.

Of course, that will claim the statue, but not protect it. Other factions can do the same thing, so the only way to make the change stick is to clear the area of enemy combatants, and then keep them away from the statue.

Once captured for your faction, this fort will offer you a temporary base of operations: you can respawn here, access personal and faction containers and organize and craft in (relative) safety.

(Note: there are also crafting stations in each fort, but these are currently disabled. We’ll turn them on soon and move most of the Campaign World advanced crafting functionality to these locations.)

Keeps are larger fortifications, primarily made of stone, that can be claimed by planting a Tree of Life safely within their confines. They offer all of the benefits of forts, but with more permanence and better defenses.

Crowfall Construction Catapult Watermarked-1024x646

Once claimed by a faction, these strongholds can only be taken through a siege, which is in an event similar to our Siege Perilous testing last year. (More details on how we adapted that system over to this campaign will be following shortly.)

ALL of these derelict strongholds will require some repair. Walls may be pristine, towers may be under construction, gatehouses could be in a complete state of disrepair. None of them will offer full protection without effort.

To rebuild those defenses, you’ll need to collect materials from the…

Crowfall Construction Fort02 Watermarked-1024x646

Resource Points-of-Interest (Mines, Mills and Quarries)

These locations generate building materials that you will need to repair your buildings and fortifications. They spawn these materials on a timer. Since every faction will want them we expect them to be hotly contested. We also expect high-quality resource spawners to be highly valuable because we have imposed…

Crowfall Construction Fort03 Watermarked-1024x646

Import/Export Restrictions

In this world, the Spirit Bank will no longer allow you to move infinite resources in and out. You can only import and export a set number of items (or item stacks) in this world.

For this campaign, we’ve set the import and export counters to 10/10. Once you’ve used up your allotment, you’re done. So, pick your imports wisely if you want to…

Control the Map

There is a “Score Indicator” at the top of the screen that shows you which faction (Order, Balance or Chaos) is currently winning the campaign.

As I mentioned earlier, the scoring mechanic for this campaign is a bit novel. It’s an experiment, really. We could have gone with something more traditional, but the nature of our design--which was built to allow us to do unique maps and rules--made us think, “What the hell, let’s try something different!”

After all, if we don’t like it, we’ll change it.

We call this ruleset “Tug of War”. The basic idea is that there is a…

Crowfall TugOfWar Meter Watermarked-1024x280

Conquest Slider

There is only one “score” for the world, and it is mapped as a spectrum – a horizontal line divided into three segments.

The left-most segment represents CHAOS.
The right segment is ORDER.
BALANCE fills out the middle.
The slider starts in the middle of the line. As factions gain and lose territory (i.e. gain and lose forts and keeps), that slider will move to the left and right.

When CHAOS captures a stronghold, it moves to the left.
When ORDER claims one, it moves to the right.
When BALANCE wins or loses, the slider can move in either direction, depending on which faction captured it.
At the end of the campaign, the winner will depend on the…

Victory Conditions

CHAOS wins by ending the game with as many strongholds as possible.
ORDER wins by ending the game with as many strongholds as possible.
BALANCE wins by ensuring there is no clear winner between ORDER and CHAOS.
To facilitate this idea (that Balance constantly shifts alliances), we set it up such that when one side takes the lead, BALANCE is automatically considered an “ally” to the losing faction in terms of both targeting and friendly fire.

In Summary

To sum up: We have a LOT of stuff coming live very soon. As a reminder, it will probably be buggy and unbalanced – so if that really bothers you, you might want to wait until the dust has settled before jumping in to give it a try. Remember, when this version is ready, we’ll move to our “Test” environment first, for short-period testing, before moving it to our “Live” environment for longer periods.

We decided that we wanted to experiment with Crowfall, that our genre had become stale because developers weren’t taking any design risks.

This version starts to fulfill that promise. We fully expect to see some crazy results (like Balance suddenly flipping teams in the middle of a siege).

We went to the trouble to architect a system that would give us a platform to try out crazy ideas.

Let’s try a few and see what happens!

J. Todd Coleman
Creative Director, ArtCraft Entertainment

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