Join the Murder (of Crows) is a new series detailing specific systems in the upcoming Crowfall title that we think makes it unique. We are working with the developers to ensure that these articles are factually correct and contain as much up-to-date information as we can pile into them. This article specifically, however, did not include feedback from them and is based on previous videos, blogs and commentary. It is almost certainly due to change before launch.
Crowfall Campaigns Explained
Campaigns are the single most defining concept you need to understand if you want to grasp what Crowfall is. They are also one of the most evolutionary elements it brings to the genre. In this article, we are going to take apart this core concept and then explore its implications.
In Crowfall, campaigns represent a variety of things to players;
- A “physical” server that players will log in to
- How teams are organized (if at all) and how winners are determined
- Specific rules that govern the players in it
- A community of specific players who play in it
- A period of time that it’ll be playable (campaigns end and are removed)
Essentially these bullets explain why Crowfall isn’t just one thing. It’s not just one style of PvP; it’s all of them. It’s not just a choice you make once after you install the game; it’s a series of choices that you will continually be faced with as you play Crowfall. Campaigns will define how you play, who you play with, why you might win (or lose), and when your time in it will end.
That is partially why it’s challenging to explain this concept. We’ve only discovered a single graphic that will help visually explain the concept but it’s worth showing to try to understand their “Bands”.
Crowfall uses Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) to power its servers. (This also allows them to spin up new instances to power your Eternal Kingsdoms on demand, which reduces their costs as they are only “on” when you use them.) In the traditional sense,campaigns are servers like you’d find in any MMO. You’ll need to join the same one with your friends or guild to play with them. This is a pretty easy aspect of the campaign concept to understand.
Just like in dodgeball, Crowfall lets you pick teams. Unlike in dodgeball, campaigns let you choose how those teams are decided. Crowfall teams are decided by what they call “campaign bands”. This wording only makes sense when looking at the original Kickstarter concept image, so we’ve included it here for reference:
In the “Gods’ Reach” band, teams are chosen when players decide to join one of three factions. In the “Dregs” campaign band, teams are decided by the players (don’t be picked last), a free-for-all. This means guilds and politics become an additional strategic element to players engaged in these bands. There are other bands of course, but the way teams are formed is based on what band the Campaign you decide to join is. You’ll know ahead of time before you join a campaign exactly how teams are chosen based on the band it belongs to.
Campaigns can also have unique rules that apply to them individually. The rules that can be adjusted like a “knob” is extensive and we still do not know the complete list. We do know of a few:
- Inventory Looting Allowed: Yes/No/%/# of Items are all potential choices here.
- Equipment Looting Allowed: Yes/No/%/# of Items are again, potential settings.
- Map Size: How big is the map in terms of parcels
- Max Population: This could be adjusted to allow for lower populations or higher ones. They’ve specified that they are aiming at 1,000-2,000 concurrent players per campaign world (at this time).
- Win Conditions: We don’t know an awful lot about how winners will be determined. In fact, we know precious little beyond some systems tests they’ve done to date. This could potentially be a knob, but it could also end up being tied to campaign band.
- Duration: We’ll cover this one on its own later.
- Custom Rules: For example, magic does more damage, or less. All sorts of unique experiences are potentially possible.
When you join a campaign, you are in fact joining a community of sorts. An interesting concept exists here in Crowfall: it’s not a permanent community like you’d find in a game like World of Warcraft, but more of a rotating one. I think the best way to consider this unique aspect of the campaign system is to go back to high school. In the high schools I attended, I rotated through different classes with different collections of students in each; you sometimes had students you didn’t know and sometimes you had familiar ones. Crowfall‘s campaigns are similar to this, the populations change, but at the same time, you have the potential to run into familiar faces. This can sometimes be a jumping off point to building a new relationship, familiarity with one person against the storm of knowing no one else can be hugely motivating to creating connections (inversely, it can also be the start of a nemesis relationship).
Crowfall‘s campaigns are also unique in that they end. Upon conclusion, you are forced to join a completely different one. Duration of campaigns can be anywhere from 30 days to a year in length. They’ve not decided on specifics of this aspect, that’ll be determined in testing soon. What is interesting is you can have all sorts of different lengths for each band, with the potential for some interesting ramifications on how players and guilds approach trying to go about winning them. Shorter campaigns might make for more aggressive play, while longer ones might encourage a diplomatic approach. No matter win or loss, you have some comfort in mind knowing that the experience will end. Players addicted to the “land rush” phase of MMO’s will find this repeat element addicting.
Crowfall represents an experiment in the fabric of what has made MMORPGs a genre that millions adore. The idea that when you log in to a game, you are playing with the same people over and over, creates a sense of community and family that many games try to replicate and encourage. It seems odd to risk that, to create a new style of game. With all of the variables and rules that can be adjusted, it does seem that Crowfall can appeal to a wide variety of players with an even larger history of what games those players have tried in the past. Did you enjoy Guild Wars 2‘s or Dark Age of Camelot‘s faction-based PvP? Crowfall has a campaign band for that. Do you like when World of Warcraft launches an expansion and that feeling of exploring an area or discovering something no one else has? Crowfall has a solution for that too. Both of these solutions boil down to one key system: campaigns.
Is it a risk to minimize this idea by creating servers with a known end date? Absolutely. It’s going to be one of the most controversial aspects of Crowfall, if not the aspect, that gets looked at the closest during the post-mortem of this game. Let’s hope that post-mortem occurs 10 years or more from now!