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r1ft Gaming Blog

A mirror of my gaming blog at r1ft.com. The jaded game designer turned corporate lackey. Feedback is always welcome.

Author: Daedren

The Inevitable "Meh" of Warhammer Online

Posted by Daedren Wednesday October 8 2008 at 8:34AM
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Hi, I'm Daedren. You might remember me from other articles like "Squig Vicious: When Herding Goes Wrong" and "Fatality: My Age of Conan DVD in the Microwave." I know, I know - it's hard to write something where you know you're going to alienate or piss off a good portion of your readers with just the title, but it's just how I feel. To summarize, my thoughts are basically this: Warhammer Online is a mediocre remake of everything we've already seen in the industry. It lacks passion, it lacks real creativity, and at the end of the day, it doesn't provide a unique or memorable experience. Or yeah, something like that.

The first few weeks after an MMO comes out are always bustling with activity. People just can't seem to shut up about a game. I suppose it's all about that new and exciting feeling, the same sort of feeling you get when you're waiting for your test results back from the lab after hooking up with the tattooed girl at work. I can honestly say I really wanted to like Warhammer. That said, I don't. Just a warning: there will be an immense string of negativity hurled Mythic's way in this rant of an article. These are my personal thoughts on the game, and how I feel about it. Some will agree with me. Many will not. Keep this in mind before you get all stabby with the comments.

Warhammer Online, on paper, seems to be a good, solid game. On paper, it's a nicely designed game that at least tries to take some baby steps to advance our MMO industry. On paper, it's not so bad. Unfortunately we don't play the game on paper, so let's focus on one thing: why does Warhammer make me say "meh?"

The "MEH"

What the hell does "meh" mean anyway? Well, to me, it's this feeling of "blah" or apathy that can roughly be summarized as not caring too much about whatever it is you're talking about. For example: "How do you feel today?" - The "meh" answer here would portray a sense of uncaring blandness that isn't quite good, and isn't quite bad. Upon further questioning, the purported sayer of "meh" will be somewhat uncertain of the exact cause of this: they can't pinpoint something that is outright bad, but they know something is amiss.

That's my feeling towards Warhammer Online. The inevitable "meh." I can't get worked up to actually care about fighting Faction X because I'm Faction Z. I feel distanced from my character in game because it feels like I've been there before. I don't feel for the Elf or Empire or Dwarf cause. I don't care that Chaos people and Greenskins go burning virtual buildings and killing NPC's or players that magically respawn back into existence. And quite frankly, I've done enough "Ten Kill Rats", "Talk to Joe" and "Collect Item X" quests in my life to never see one again and be happy.

I just don't care about playing. Some people might say "Daedren you need a guild!" - well, I have a guild. A damn fine one at that. Never a shortage of people to do things with. Sadly, my guild can't make the game fun to play. They can't take that apathetic feeling away that makes it feel like a chore just to log in and progress. I just can't convince myself that the game is fun enough to spend my time playing. Perhaps I'm getting picky, but I really just think the game is "meh". Unchallenging, uninspiring, and lacking passion. They've solidified an already existing game dynamic, adding a few bells and whistles, and expect people to spend a good portion of their free time in their unoriginal cookie cutter world. I just can't do it.

Playing Bad Guys, Factional Combat and RVR

A few months ago, when people started saying that Destruction to have the most people playing it, I had my own ideas why. Mainly it's because I thought that most people playing Destruction would be some emo/goth hybrid, torn between listening to death metal or Evanescence whilst painting teardrops on the corners of their eyes or writing poetry about how the world doesn't understand them. Now, though, I understand that it's really because Mythic spent about 75% of their development time working on Destruction classes and areas. Thanks to that, we now have everyone and their kitten running around playing naked Witch Elves or hulking Greenskins. They've gone and made being bad popular, and what does that mean?

From a design perspective, Mythic has allowed players to play a bad or "evil" faction. The problem here is that they allow players to play the role of an evil-doer, yet infer no material or moral consequence for their actions. Universally, there is nearly no difference in playing Order or Destruction other than some weakly implied moral bias. Every player knows that you don't really kill another player in RvR - as they are magically reappearing seconds later because of the joke of a death system - but the real problem is that deep down, players know that they can never really win. You can't vanquish evil, you can't slaughter the forces of good - all you can do is work at inconveniencing them for a couple minutes. It's a never ending game with no side being able to actually win or claim a real victory, so it blends into a meaningless label of Good/Evil or Order/Destruction with a lack of substance behind any faction or player.

It's depressing from a player perspective: no matter what you do in the game, you cannot change anything. Sure, burn Altdorf down. It resets in a week or whatever. The Order players are still there. You can never get rid of them. You can maybe evict them and their stupid Keep Lords from their temporary residences, but they'll be back. They have places to go where you can't, making the Warhammer Online universe no more than a staged battlefield, a Valhalla of sorts, where nothing can ever really change.

Factional WAR

This subject has the potential to be the most disturbing and controversial subject of them all. Warhammer isn't the first to implement it, though, but they do use it as the main selling point of their game. RVR combat - Order vs. Destruction. Or, as I like to call it, Spock vs. Evil Spock. You know, with the goatee.

I don't subscribe to the "It's WAR! Kill them!" pamphlet that makes me a robot soldier in an army killing an opposing robot soldier for Generic Reason X. This sort of mentality is exactly what is wrong with the world - killing other "people" because they are a certain race or faction. Are there no Goblins in the Warhammer world that are happy growing food and tending their squigs? No Dwarves or Humans that would betray their faction for the right price? No Dark Elves that are born with purple eyes and happen to be morally at war with everything their people does? Oh, if only life were this black and white. They've eliminated any sense of a "grey area" and have overly simplified objective right and wrong. The fact that Orks and Dark Elves can't kill each other is almost as laughable as Elves and Dwarves fighting alongside each other. So much for embracing game lore.

So, basically all we are in Warhammer are Battle Droids. The leaders tell us what to shoot, and we shoot it, no questions asked. Or maybe we're Stormtroopers. Who knows. Either way, we seem to be stuck in the role of "Don't think, we'll do that for you" to the supreme Warhammer overlords. It sounds like a mentality that a typical government would love for it's people to have: unquestioning and unthinking. Sign me up for the war, sir.

Preventing this is something very hard to do from a design perspective. It definitely makes things harder, throwing grey into the world. Perhaps people like the ease of determining good vs. evil - perhaps the fact that it doesn't mirror reality is what makes it comfortable - it is, after all, fantasy. I'll admit that the thought of a real and visceral evil is a bit romantic and provokes thoughts of real heroism and chivalry. Warhammer hasn't captured that in any sense, though, at least to me.

Whatever happened to Heroes?

Another stream of logic that Mythic has embraced is downplaying of your character in the game. They aren't alone in this aspect: the only MMO to really capture the true "Hero" aspect is probably City of Heroes/Villians. However, they've taken the high-fantasy world of Warhammer and allowed players to make characters in this world. These characters are not heroes. They're more like errand boys and shock troops. At most you could be considered a red shirt wearing Ensign of Star Trek. Go, zerg that keep like the good minion you are. Us heroes will be safely waiting here in the Warcamp as you do our bidding.

The real heroes of this game are the Keep Lords and the terribly powerful guards you see standing around. The insane power of these guys make you wonder why they don't get on a damn horse and try to go mobile. Hell, half of the guards at a Tier 4 Warcamp could probably take the opposing faction city with little problem. And here we are, the players, running around delivering notes to them and letting them direct us. We're their minions. Whatever happened to making a player feel like they are a hero? Why can't we have minions and troops to command? Where are the armies that we can direct and lead? The reason that D&D and Warhammer tabletop games were popular is because the story revolved around the players; they could noticeably affect and change the world based on their decisions. This main aspect and magic of the game is lost in a sea of inane, repetitive and fun killing "Quests". Yay, fun!

Creative Vision

I suppose what Mythic really missed here was the Creative Vision. Now, that's not to say there is nothing creative in Warhammer Online: we have nifty things like Public Quests, an advanced RvR system, flags and statues in cities, nifty little easter eggs floating around, etc. In the big picture, though, it's all small beans. All the repetitive "content" will be explored and done. People will hit max level and RvR for a while. Keeps will be captured and Capital Cities captured, ad infinitum, like some sort of pointless tug-of-war. As sad as it is to say it, Warhammer just doesn't have that "epic" feel to it. Polishing brass on the Titanic is more like it.

It's clear that Warhammer Online was designed with World of Warcraft as its working business model - and this is probably the biggest weakness of the game. I can understand the logic of "Hey, let's make WoW - but with an actual PVP and RVR system!" - yet it's failing to do anything for me. The good thing about WoW was that it was new and exciting at the time, even if it was just a rehash of Everquest and DAoC with a bigger development budget. WoW was a logical evolution in the MMO industry, and it helped mainstream MMO's and brought in a boatload of new people from outside the industry. And now, it's all about the three step process to mediocrity:

  • Use WoW as a business model
  • Make a game almost exactly like WoW but improve it a little bit and make it a bit different
  • Try and profit

Yay, recycling is fun! Ok, it's not that the game won't make profit. Sure, I suppose it will. It sold enough, has enough "content", and its got enough raving fanbois to keep a healthy population for a long time. Then we'll have Vanguard and Age of Conan on one side, and LOTRO and Warhammer on another.

4 Games. Over 250 Million USD in production costs. And almost absolutely nothing new to the MMO industry.

What about the end game of Warhammer Online? I haven't experienced it yet, that's true enough. Not many people have. The end game is all about RVR. Keep Takes. City Sieges. Renown Grinding. People always need to have the best stuff. What's the best way to get to RR 80? Why, it's playing the same scenario, over and over again. Think of Warsong Gulch 75,000 times. So, the majority of my end game will be grinding up to max RR level, with sparse breaks for actual open world PVP and keep takes? Thanks but no thanks. As always, it'll come down to the time = currency formula in MMO's, though I suppose it was silly to try and think that would change anyway.

Burnout

I've been told by a few friends of mine that my disillusion with the game is probably due to MMO burnout, and I agree. I stopped playing WoW a year ago. Tried EVE, wanted to love it, but couldn't. Age of Conan was a disaster. Warhammer was supposed to shake things up, but I got bored of Warhammer quicker than AoC, which isn't how it should be. Warhammer, on paper, sounds like it should be great game for an old-school PVP hound like I am, but in execution it leaves me overwhelmingly dissatisfied.

Maybe it's just age. I've felt more drawn to games like King's Bountyand even replaying Bioshock than grinding yet another character up to max level in MMO "X". For some good PVP I'm apt to go play Team Fortress 2, DOTA or Call of Duty 4. Perhaps the appeal of PVP in a MMORPG has just worn off. I've yet to see any MMO implement a system where actual skill mattered in a PVP fight - it usually just comes down to who has the most time to play or who has the most people to roll with them. This thought especially weighs down upcoming releases like Darkfall which not only embraces the "shoot me in the head it's another high fantasy MMO" aspect but also seem to have a PVP formula similar to Shadowbane and Age of Conan.

I've often wondered how the MMO industry can recapture the minds and hearts of MMO veterans like myself. A good portion of the player base started off with Ultima Online or Everquest - meaning that it's safe to say we've seen and done nearly everything Warhammer has to offer, albeit in a different light. The magic, we wants it back. The draw to the genre was that it was massive and new. It felt like things were created with heart and passion, not based on a working business model. I suppose it'll take another company or another game to really break out of the mold to get a lot of the old players back.

So that's it, folks. Warhammer has failed to impress me. I'm not the only one to have this happen, but on the other side, there are plenty of people enjoying the game still. Anyone else feel unimpressed and unmotivated to play? Do tell.

Original article is here.

triste writes:

Hi Daed, good article as usual. I've been playing War off and on lately, but I'll admit it's been hard to get motivated sometimes. I've heard from others that Tier 2 / Tier 3 can be a bit like that and it gets fun again in Tier 4. Who knows.

I'm playing Destruction though. I tried to play Order, got bored to death. Maybe you should have tried the emo kids out! =) It's not so bad over here.

Wed Oct 08 2008 8:51AM Report
jindra81 writes:

Oh, wonderful Daniel. Now I don't feel like playing. Thanks alot!

;)

 

Wed Oct 08 2008 8:53AM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

From the initial start the way you describe to have a lack of interest in gameplay mechanics used in basically every mmorpg in existance. Your review of this game could fit any game on the market past present and future.

 

Yes, gameplay ideas and mechanics get copied over the years. How many completely original games come out that use no prior mechanics of the past? Noone's making rectangular tires for cars.

 

The market is for all kinds of people, including those who are new to a genre and for the most part developers feel no reason to  waste time reinvisioning conventions that already work well.

 

The fact that you have such a problem with these mechanics makes me beleive you won't be happy with any offering and this piece should have been addressed to the genre not the game. I'm sure that addresing it to a new popular game though would net you more visitors since it's a seemingly fresh approach to an age old argument made thousands of times before.

Wed Oct 08 2008 8:56AM Report
Daedren writes:

@Unicorns_Pwn: I agree, and that's why I've came with the conclusion that this is probably related to MMO burnout. That doesn't excuse Mythic, though, in my opinion. It's not like they owe me or the industry anything, I suppose, but it is at least the reason I won't be paying them. Sure, I'm only one guy in the sea of millions of potential geeks, but I'm still intitled to my opinion - which, of course, is only what this is.

If you read some of my old articles, I do address these concerns to the genre in whole. Also, I'm not worried about "netting" more visitors, though I understand what you're saying. I disagree, though - generalizing this makes it just a gripe about MMO's on a whole, which people quickly glance over as rambling bullshit and move on with their day.

Addressing it directly to Warhammer helps people relate to what I'm saying and gives them a reason to read it because I'm talking about the game their playing. I agree most of the stuff could be applied to every other MMO, however.

Anyway, thanks for the comment. ;)

 

Wed Oct 08 2008 9:22AM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

Np, And I really mean no disrespect. I can be a real ass around this site and I undertand your complaints but as we seem to agree this is a braoder problem in general.

In all reality though, there are plenty of criticisms  but no real suggestions made to fix the problem. We can all sit here and state blanket vague features and terms, but no way to implement them into a fun and viable means to make money.

 

I've been playing MMO's since Asherons Call released on and off. For WAR i knew up front what the game was about. The decelopers were so open they did all they could cept maybe show you the source code. Knowing that I took a good long break from the genre. Although I am met with alot of the same mechanics I am treated to better, more freqent and at this point more balanced combat against real players and for me at this point still warrants a play.

Wed Oct 08 2008 9:31AM Report
Daedren writes:

@Unicorns_Pwn: I disagree there are no suggestions made to fix the problem. Any company or producer I ever present my ideas to tell me the same thing: ideas are a dime a dozen. It's not that the devs don't *want* to revolutionize the industry, it's just they are usually led by corporate lap dogs who are shaping the game to be something corporate clowns want and not gamers. Hence using the same business model, slightly modified.

Anyway, my heart has never been 100% into dedicating my life to revoultionize the industry. I'm just hoping someone else out there has been. When scrubs like me can come up with ways to do it, but without the means, I can only image what some of the industry greats think of on a day to day basis.

Wed Oct 08 2008 9:38AM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

Well, I think I should elaborate some. I shouldn't state that ideas aren't brought up, but alot of times it seems like the ones that do currently don't always seem to fit the market and how they would like to make money.

 

Sure the corporate world may be a bunch of clowns and in most cases I do agree. At the same time realize that someone has to go to these clowns and make a pitch for a large sum of money, on an unproven set of design ideals for a video game.

 

We are short of genuine world shakers in the industry, but we've also seen plenty of more radical and inventive ideas die either on the vine or shortly after birth. Corporate clowns do talk from time to time and move around as well. This kinda falls under the fool me once... kinda mentality.

 

It's not mmo related but look at what happened to Clover Studios.

Wed Oct 08 2008 9:50AM Report
streea writes:

"no matter what you do in the game, you cannot change anything."

This is the one downfall of (save for one that comes to mind) every MMO out there. Honestly, if this is an issue you have, then MMOs are not right for you because they never end. No one stays dead.

"No Dwarves or Humans that would betray their faction for the right price?"

Actually, this does show up in the quests. I did one just last night on my HE where I went out to find some captured kins, discovered that not only the kins, but the DEs that captured them, had been killed but left no bodies, and continued on to discover that a Human (Order) NPC had been delving in death magic. The HE quest giver, upon turning it in, voiced serious concern about maintaining an alliance with Humans who would practice and kill with such magic. So it is there, just not enough to make it feel like the world is inundated with gray areas.

"I'll admit that the thought of a real and visceral evil is a bit romantic and provokes thoughts of real heroism and chivalry. Warhammer hasn't captured that in any sense, though, at least to me."

Because there isn't as much here. It isn't really good vs. evil, it's evil beating the crap outta good and good is desperately trying to stay alive... sometimes at any cost. Honestly I was put off by this at first, but as you level up, the quests help you realize that there's more to just surviving as a good guy.

"It's clear that Warhammer Online was designed with World of Warcraft as its working business model."

Funny how you ignore several major and inventive additions to the MMO genre (PQs, tome, etc.) and jump into the "let's beat this dead horse!" bandwagon. While I sympathized with you for most of your article (I too suffer sometimes from a "meh" feeling while playing WAR, but for different reasons), I can't now. You look at WAR, expected something completely different from what hundreds of interviews and websites have been talking about, and then feel annoyed that it didn't provide you with fantasies of what YOU wanted the game to be. Boohoo. They set out to make a great game and used DAoC as their model. Gasp. A company using their own game, which predated WoW, as a model. And it's not perfect, but there are some really great things going on below the "kill X" quests and doing *gasps* RvR with no real end in sight. You'd just rather the game spoon feed things to you without actually reading quests and trying to understand what the game IS.

Wed Oct 08 2008 9:53AM Report
Daedren writes:

@streea: Addressing your last paragraph:

PQ's and Tome are small beans in my mind. Sure, they're a bit creative (and I specifically mentioned PQ's) but it still doesn't change that the core of the game we're still doing pretty much the exact same thing we did 10 years ago in Everquest.

I didn't expect anything different. I was quite aware of what Warhammer was doing: they knew this was a WoW clone from the start. Except you say...

"They set out to make a great game"

And how great is a game where a good deal of veteran MMOers are put off because of the model it used? I argue that they didn't want to make a great game, they wanted to make a passable game that makes a profit. They weren't trying to revolutionize the industry, and they sure as hell didn't - but they did make a passable albeit not great game, at least for me. 

As for you saying that I want a game to spoonfeed me things, I think that's pretty much the opposite of every want or desire I'd have in a MMO. These "things" you talk about being more than "Kill Ten X" or doing RvR, I'd like to hear about them. Please don't say tome unlocking. Please don't say redoing or reexploring "content". Please, for the love of all that's holy, don't even bring up roleplaying in this game (it doesn't really exist).

Gaming is an entertainment industry. We get to watch PC Gaming and Console gaming evolve and come out with brave new ideas like Spore, Bioshock, World of Goo, GTA - where in the MMO genre we're stuck autoattacking or spamming the same couple buttons to kill an insane amount of the same thing. It's an exercise in tolerated hamster wheel running is what it is.

Anyway, thanks for your comment, it was thoughtful. You probably know me well enough to know that I like criticisms on what I write. ;)

Wed Oct 08 2008 10:06AM Report
Daedren writes:

@Unicorns_Pwn: I agree we're short of world shakers in the industry. I'll even give Richard Garriott at attempting to shake the world, albeit failing quite miserably at doing so.

As many will agree, the MMOG industry is in it's infancy. The biggest problem in my mind now is it's inability to evolve outside the current working model which closely resembles WoW.

Woe to the world where we're playing WoW clones for eternity. Surely humans can do better than this, no? I would hope so.

Anyway, I've pitched my ideas, no one would bite. Perhaps if I was younger and without a family I'd take off to the horizon with the intent to change the gaming world. I've not a doubt I could do it. Alas, unless something changes, we'll have to wait for another world shaker to come along.

Wed Oct 08 2008 10:12AM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

Spore wasn't really original but a dumbed down extension of previous games. Alot of people are kinda turned off by the game actually.

 

Bioshock was still basically a lil more intelligent fps

 

world of goo I will give you credit for but there are tons of small indie devs out there like cactus etc th inking outside the box.

 

All games require a certain amount of repitition. And all games you've cited will contain elements of repetition to. It's up to the end user to decide what aspects of the core gameplay and lore they focus on to determine if the repetitive nature is acceptable.

Wed Oct 08 2008 10:15AM Report
jindra81 writes:

streea, I’d also like to know what you consider the deeper or more fulfilling part of the game. I feel like Daedren in regards to the repetitive or uncreative nature of the tasks in the game. Sure, grabbing a stolen box might not technically be “kill ten rats” - but since you have to kill 10 rats to get to the box, it’s really just the same thing.

PQ’s were fun at the start but in Tier 2-3 they’ve become a chore to get people to do. They also have limited replayability since it seems you get the same loot item in the bags every time, depending on the bag color. Oh, and the PQ’s are really just “Kill 100 Rats, Collect 10 Boxes” and then “Kill 10 super rats, collect 3 other boxes” and finally “Kill one boss rat and some henchmen”. I haven’t found one PQ that didn’t follow this formula. I know it’s war and all, but it’d be nice to do something in the game that doesn’t involve mass genocide of something.

Just my thoughts on the subject.

Wed Oct 08 2008 10:19AM Report
Daedren writes:

@Unicorns_Pwn: I agree with Spore not being a spectacular game in execution, but it did have some good ideas. Some call it Black and White 2, whatever - if the entire game would have had the fun factor or depth of the Creature and Space stages, it would have been an epic game. That's the general consensus.

Bioshock was a wonderfully imaginative game in terms of storyline. Yeah, it's an FPS, but it's almost universally agreed that it's one of the most intelligent and taking stories told in games in recent years. The fact that it's Steampunkish makes it even sweeter.

Anyway, I'm sure there are tons of innovative and more creative games out for console and PC that I'm not even aware of. My point is that we have a good deal of choice and variety here and the industry seems to be evolving. However, in MMOG's, we are almost regressing in terms of market evolution. Companies are so busy bickering over the scraps from Blizzard's table, they forgot what it means to be creative and to have ingenuity.

Ah well. Let us agree that the gaming world would be a better place if someone had the courage to evolve it.

 

Wed Oct 08 2008 10:24AM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

That's also part of the problem. Spore wasn't a large success nor that original. It was a small evolution from his past works and sadly all the prior mechanics were dumbed down.

Setting and story were a bit imaginitive in Bioshock, but again I've been p[laying FPS since wolfentstein 3D and frankly the whole thing bores me except maybe Left 4 Dead.

 

The last point you make I want to argue against but only half heartedly. While to some degree I do feel it is regressing, I think there is a biger part to the whole. Alot of older gamers and some veterans won't the old feelings they had but at the same time no longer have the time commitment to actually do so. In an attempt they try and highlight the good and make it more accessible. It really doesn't matter they could have made it longer grinds and more original and more world shaping and guess what? Someone would say it sucked cause they had a job and by the time they got home the town was burned down, they lost all their belongings and felt they were too late to impact the world.

 

damned if you do damned if you don't. It's not so much an excuse as it is the reality that some people just don't want to come to grips with. Being married now, buying a house and running a company gaming isn't the highest priority on my list. I do want to game though and many MO style games with their progression and time requirements cannot be played by me. That design is at least a loss in my situation. WAR at least gives me a chance to play and make a difference at nearly all levels of play and If I play well I see results.

 

if you want an earth shaker look up Love by Eskil Steenberg

http://www.quelsolaar.com/love/index.html

Wed Oct 08 2008 10:32AM Report
Roguewiz writes:

Daed.  I will say that your article was well thought out and written.  However, you've only targeted concepts.  The concept of Evil.  The idea of a never ending War.  You've pretty much only complained about things that exist in all MMOs.  MMOs, in essence, require certain aspects that all MMOs share; Kill X mobs, go to point A, ect.  This is something that cannot be changed, at least without big ground breaking ideas.

You've compared WAR to WoW.  That was your first mistake.  If you compare a new MMO to the most successful MMO, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

Wed Oct 08 2008 11:40AM Report
Daedren writes:

@Roguewiz: Comparing WAR to WoW is necessary here. It's clear that the Mythic boardroom had "World of Warcraft" up as the design template for the game. However, I'll go as far as saying that Warhammer is technically "better" than WoW - fewer bugs at release, more content, and especially - a real PVP system with working RVR.

It doesn't change that its just playing the same thing, over and over. It's still swords and elves and orcs, its still horrifically boring and unchallenging PVE encounters, and its still time + group composition = WIN in PVP. *yawn* is the best way I can describe it.

"Big ground breaking ideas" is all I'm asking. For fuck's sake, for 300 MILLION US, you'd think we'd have something better to show for the progression of MMO's than Public Quests, a Tome of Knowledge and bloody Fatalties. ;)

Wed Oct 08 2008 12:00PM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

I showed you some groundbreaking ideas by a 1 man team with little to no funding.. no comment?

Wed Oct 08 2008 1:04PM Report
Roguewiz writes:

@Daedren:  Necessary, perhaps.  However, it still isn't a good idea IMO.  Think of it from this perspective: If WoW was your first MMO and you thoroughly enjoyed it, whether it be spending countless hours grinding, raiding, or just talking to friends; then how can a game stand up to that?  Yes, WAR has alot of similarities to WoW.  But what MMO doesn't?  Certain aspects, as I stated in my previous post, are ingrained into the MMO genre.

In regards to War PvE; the quests are easy and not challenging.  However, that doesn't mean all PvE is like that.  Some of the dungeons are incredibly hard.  Mount Gunbad is rough.  Imagine getting hit for 3k at level 27 from a mob that is only a 23 Hero.

Public Quests and the Tome of Knowledge are wonderful ideas.  So wonderful in fact, WoW is implementing their own "Tome of Knowledge-like" feature.  This is no different than WoW having a mail system, and EQ/EQ2 implemented their own version shortly thereafter.  Ideas are borrowed/improved on.  That is the nature of the market.

On a side note: Of course WAR PvE isn't as good as WoW, and WoW PvP isn't as good as WAR.  WoW is a PvE game that has PvP.  WAR is a PvP game.  While PvP games tend to have some kind of PvE, it isn't the primary focus.

Finally, I'm tired of the fantasy genre.  It has been done too much, whether it be good or bad.  I won't say I have high hopes for the Bioware/Lucas Arts game, but I will say that since it is the best "Sci-Fi" company (IMO) and the best "Story driven company" (Bioware); I don't expect to be disappointed.

Just give me a game that has:
-->  The Character Creation of Shadowbane and/or SWG (before it got fucked up)
-->  The PvP/RvR of Warhamer
-->  The PvE of WoW

Of course, that would be an expensive game

Wed Oct 08 2008 1:30PM Report
streea writes:

@Daedren: "PQ's and Tome are small beans in my mind."

That explains it. To me, these are really great things. Granted, they are great things that still need time to mature IMO, but I love grouping up with others to accomplish goals, and then have people stick around, not because they need anything from the PQ, but because they want to help. Not since (and only) SWG in its early days have I ever been impressed with a community that values interaction over loot.

"And how great is a game where a good deal of veteran MMOers are put off because of the model it used?"

I guess my question is... are veterans put off because of the model, or because the model's been used before (specifically by WoW)? Though I agree with you that they didn't revolutionize the core of an MMO game, we've seen what happens when a game sets out to do that... and aside from one or two games, they've all failed. WAR is taking baby steps, which I think is really the only thing the MMO genre can handle (or a company that can actually make a revolutionary core game work, but that's a different story). And the baby steps are enjoyable, if you look a little deeper.

@ jindra81 and Daedren,

And onto the deeper part. The first comes from quests. And not all quests, nor the majority of quests, but the sprinking of them throughout your travels that just make you stop and go "Wow..."

One example I mention above. You're really not sure where this quest is going... it starts off sounding like another "go rescue X high elves," yet it very quickly spirals into something very different. There was a lot of great story in there and it just takes you by surprise when you become engaged in a story. (This was a level 18-ish HE quest)

Another was a DE quest early on (around 5-7) where the leader of the camp has you speak to another NPC outside of the camp. When you get to that NPC, she basically laughs at you for following orders like a dog, and then tells you if you don't like it, tough shit, you're not strong enough to kill them so you're stuck doing their dirty work (speaking of gray areas, you really should have the option of coming back and killing the two of them when you're higher level...).

The other would be the social tools available (and no, I don't mean the chat). The option to causally look through open groups and join one in a PQ you're heading to is inventive, but not utilized nearly enough. Guild halls give players of numerous guilds a nice place to meet and discuss things, along with interacting with each other (there are benefits to visiting the guild hall as well). These features add a "hey, we want you to actually interact with each other!" that, again, really hasn't been seen since SWG.

Since you asked, I won't go into details on RvR, tomes, exploring, or RP (haha, yeah...). But this game is really about the great things being in the details. Of course, if you don't enjoy the main stuff, the little things won't make up for it, but if the main stuff is at least tolerable, then the little things will make the game sparkle.

Wed Oct 08 2008 1:41PM Report
Daedren writes:

@Unicorns_Pwn: I've seen Love before, and honestly, I can't understand what its about. The site design is terrible and "Gameplay" FAQ tells me it's a first person, sharing world where I can build stuff. Maybe I'm missing something?

Also, it's evening here (I live in France) so apologies if I'm a bit slow to respond. (Kids and stuff)

Wed Oct 08 2008 2:37PM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

So you take a look at a site for a 1 man development team making basically all the development tools and a procedurally generated world to actually shape and make a difference in, yet the best you can come up with is the terrible site design?

 

Try navigating the site a little bit more and see exactly what it is he has created and done and tell me that isn't what you spoke of when it came to world shakers.

 

The first time people are presented with the change they want it seems they dismiss it or the authors for some short sighted reason.

Wed Oct 08 2008 3:07PM Report
Daedren writes:

@streea: I suppose I can understand how those things can become attractive. I didn't find any particularly innovative quests up until late Tier 3, but then again, it could be because it's almost painful to read quest text after a while. You're right, though, I'm sure there are a few gems in there. I can't honestly say I read most of them, though, which comes back to me not investing or caring a great deal about my character. I don't know all the reasons why, but I just didn't feel attached.

The Tome of Knowledge is nifty, I guess, but it's really nothing more than a Quest Log with an advancement tracker. Bah, ok, it's a bit more than that, and I *do* like how they've gone overboard with the titles and unlocks and stuff like that, but it's not really my cup of tea. There are all these lore unlocks and stuff you can get, but I can't say I'm honestly that interested in the game lore for reasons I've stated above. I do agree it's at least a progression in that realm, though.

As far as the social aspect, I've found it to be severely lacking. I'm a friendly guy, I openly RP (when the occasion calls for it) but I found Tier 1 - Tier 2 to be pretty much a ghost town. People only talked when absolutely necessary, like in scenarios. I had a few good groups for PQs of course where everyone was friendly enough. My guild organized keep raids and dungeon crawls and PQ stuff. It just seemed all superficial to me. Like "why the hell am I here?" - or - "would anyone notice if I just logged off suddenly?" - no, probably not. ;)

To each their own, I guess. My "tight knit" group of friends got split up on different servers, so maybe that was one of the problems. Who knows.

 

Wed Oct 08 2008 3:33PM Report
Roguewiz writes:

@Daedren:  The ghost town aspect really only stems from the fact that Mythic over compensated for long queue times by adding too many servers.  55 Servers is a tad excessive.  They could have gotten by with 30-35.  Not everyone is having the ghost town problems.  Although, I am one of those people that are having issues.

Wed Oct 08 2008 4:21PM Report
chillsan writes:

I disagree, but I'll still read your blog my friend. Just pretend we're all cyborgs and when you see a High Elf cyborg shoot its light thing pretend it's a laser. lol  :)

Wed Oct 08 2008 4:49PM Report
A.Blackloch writes:

Well, took me 25 days to get bored with WAR. That's the fastest time I've ever given up on an mmorpg. And the game isn't actually bad, it's just very close on being a single player game. There's not even a real need to group with anyone. Only for the public quests and even then you are able to do the quest with other players, without ever saying a word to them.

The realm looks allright and I don't mind if the Destruction is overpowered. Just more to kill! Too bad the game just loses it's drag pretty quickly, I really don't have the urge to dive in game anymore. I think I'm done with the robotic, repeatative quests too.

In January things looked great but too bad the year 2008 has only been a series of failures in mmorpg-frontier so far. 

Wed Oct 08 2008 4:50PM Report
A.Blackloch writes:

Edit: This is the last mmorpg I'll play which has dwarfs, swords and horse mounts. Next game has to offer something really different or I'll just lower my standards and start playing java games. 

Wed Oct 08 2008 4:54PM Report
cosimusta writes:

"The real heroes of this game are the Keep Lords and the terribly powerful guards you see standing around. The insane power of these guys make you wonder why they don't get on a damn horse and try to go mobile. Hell, half of the guards at a Tier 4 Warcamp could probably take the opposing faction city with little problem."

"WoW was a logical evolution in the MMO industry, and it helped mainstream MMO's and brought in a boatload of new people from outside the industry."

"It'll come down to the time = currency formula in MMO's"

"an old-school PVP hound like I am"

"I've often wondered how the MMO industry can recapture the minds and hearts of MMO veterans like myself."

 

and then..

"This thought especially weighs down upcoming releases like Darkfall which not only embraces the "shoot me in the head it's another high fantasy MMO" aspect but also seem to have a PVP formula similar to Shadowbane and Age of Conan."

 

I didn't think i would read all of your article there, so I put myself on fidget-cynical-ihateeverything mode, but I honestly couldn't find anything I couldn't agree with and then I had an idea and then you beat me to it.  

 

Anyways, great read, I feel the exact same way about the game, I played WAR extensively for about 3 weeks.  It's like going to the movie theatres when there's nothing playing but your girlfriend wants to "do something" so you watch something that neither of you want to see and then you're both disappointed but don't feel like doing anything else.

 

I agree with everything you said except the Darkfall thing.  I'm sort of a "saw the pre-beta video" fanbois.  BUT, if you played Shadowbane, and you played AoC, then you know that those two games should never be compared to each other.  AoC was more of a gankfest than SB ever was.  Sieges were so common in SB, anyone could have a keep, rep mattered, there was money loot..blablabla you probably know this.

 

Whether you are interested or not in Darkfall, look at the other MMOs in development.  If you want to call yourself mr oldschool hardcore pvp MMO burnout......well you gotta try Darkfall first.  It's the only one out there that seems to be truly fighting for us "oldskoolers"

 

..and hopefully it will be out before 09....

 

Fri Oct 10 2008 6:36PM Report
Blaze323232 writes:

Pretty much, I read the article and the comments and there is not much I can disagree with...  I have been a newsletter subscriber for WAR for 3 years, since it was announced.  I have played DaoC, SWG, FFIX, WoW, MxO, countless F2P MMO's and also countless MMO trials.  When i read about WAR, some parts excited me (i.e. classes and how they played), however, I was scared of many things, including the resemblance to WoW.  I had played WoW for quite some time, enjoyed it thoroughly and was excited to play a new game.  I eagerly waited for the Collector's Edition Beta.  When I started playing, I was excited because of the new little things.  PQ's were fun, PvP was fun, etc.  However, over time, my interest faded.  Leveling was repetitive, I felt like a clone of every other Shadow Warrior in the game, the balance was bad, the bugs were bad, the world was so zone-ish.  All of these things put me off, but I convinced myself that I just didn't want to get high level and then have to start again.  So, a month later, I started the Head-start with a mindset to keep playing for some time.  I played with friends, and had fun.  Eventually, I found myself playing less and less.  My friends were all in a different tier than me, and I just got bored.  I played MAYBE once a week, and then eventually told myself I wasn't going to re-sub.  This game feels like Guild Wars to me.  Everything feels instanced, even though its not really.  Classes are unbalanced, some bugs are game breaking (i.e. morales not working), and I just am not interested in that anymore.  I have been playing MMO's for about 9 years, and WAR simply does not "evolve" enough to make it worthwhile.

Thu Oct 16 2008 9:45PM Report
dzikun writes:

I can do nothing then completly agree. I have the same symptoms of MMO burnout. War/ AoC had nothing that could catch me in a web like WoW did... These games are just so damn unoriginal and broken. anyway. Great article.

Fri Oct 17 2008 9:18AM Report
LimaBravo writes:

The reason EVE works is because its pointless, The reason WAR fails is because instead of freeing the players it binds them to you can go here you can only fight this level based bollocks.  They should have used the WFRP rules and let people do whatever they wanted.

Mon Apr 27 2009 11:21AM Report

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