Editor's Week in Review - WAR, TR and EVE
In this new column, MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood sums up his thoughts on some of the happenings around the world of MMOs in the past week. This week, he talks about Warhammer Online's release date being pushed back, Tabula Rasa and EVE Online.
Well, it’s Saturday. That means that it falls on me to sit down and start a new weekly tradition here at MMORPG.com, the Editor’s Round-Up. In this new column feature, I’m going to look at one or more of the week’s top stories and do something I don’t often get to do: give my two cents.
We decided to add this column last week, and so I’ve spent the week trying to decide what major stories would pop out at me and make good fodder for the first edition of a column. I wasn’t having a lot of luck… That is, until Thursday night.
On Thursday, I learned that EA Mythic had pushed back the launch date for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning from Q1 2008 to Q2 2008. Not only that, but I had heard earlier in the day that “re-structuring” was going to be taking place at EA. I’ll stop right there and go on a mini-tirade: Why are we living in a world that uses terms like “re-structuring” to talk about job losses and studio closures? It’s not really re-structuring. De-structuring, sure, I’ll buy that. “Re-structuring” is a sanitized word that is used in the hopes that it will soften the blow and sound better than it is publicly.
Still, I don’t hold any malice toward EA for their choice of words. It’s become standard business practice, and you can’t really blame them for wanting to put as positive a spin as possible on something like this. I just wish that we could all speak a little more plainly is all.
Ok, where was I? Ah yes, I was talking about EA’s re-structuring. When I heard about that, I thought that EA Mythic would be one of the first studios on the block. It’s not that I don’t have faith in Mythic. Quite the opposite, in fact, their success with long-running Dark Age of Camelot is hard to ignore and from what I’ve seen of the game, it looks like it’s got the potential to be a lot of fun. It’s just that I guess I’ve become a little bit jaded after the Gods & Heroes “indefinite hold” and numerous disappointments in the MMO genre over the last few years. Fortunately, listening to the EA Earnings Call put those fears to rest when the EA CEO announced that EA Mythic would not be affected.
So, with that said, what do I make of the push-back announcement? Honestly, I think it’s probably for the best. We’ve all seen what happens when a game makes big promises (as WAR has) and doesn’t deliver on launch. If the WAR team needs another quarter to work to make sure that they produce a great game with lots of polish, so be it.
Honestly, I don’t think we’re going to see a whole lot of AAA MMOs released “on-time”, and we should always expect a date to be pushed back a few times. Game development, and MMO development in particular, is a very fluid process that requires many and frequent changes throughout a dev cycle. Even in as late a stage as Beta, changes are still being made and feedback is still being taken so that companies can release the best products possible. In the end, it’s probably best if we look at expected launch dates (especially when they’re expressed in quarters and not specific dates) to be more of a guideline than a rule.
For anyone who might not be aware Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa, a game that blends shooter elements with more familiar MMORPG elements, launched on Friday. I’ve been reading a lot of mixed fan reviews of this game ever since the NDA was lifted on the Beta. One thing I’ll say about this game is that people either love it or hate it.
Personally, through a limited amount of play time in their Beta, I found Tabula Rasa to be a fun diversion from the classic MMORPG style. The shooter elements bring a new dimension to the genre, and the story of the game is certainly unique. Obviously, I’m not qualified to review TR at this point (there will be a launch overview coming soon though), but I have to say I like the idea of the Logos system and the ethical parables that show up in the game. Time will tell how this game fares now that it’s on the market.
Thursday marked the beginning of EVE’s Fanfest in Iceland. It’s a chance for fans of the game to gather together, meet each other and devs and generally have an overall good time. Keith Cross, our News Manager is over there as I write this, and will be bringing us coverage of the event next week.
While I myself haven’t played much EVE, I’m constantly in awe of their community. People who play EVE really seem to love the game and the social aspects (both positive and negative) that come along with it. They seem to love the fact that players can be whatever they want to be, growing their characters from the ground up and even changing careers mid-stream.
I think what really sets EVE apart in the MMO world is the fact that it’s a sandbox game. Players are free to do pretty ell whatever they want within the EVE universe and aren’t fettered by MMORPG conventions like class and rigid level structures. I’m not saying that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that kind of game, but EVE offers an alternative.
Here at MMORPG.com, I often read about how dissatisfied people are with the current MMO conventions. What many people refer to as “WoW colnes” (even though the level / quest conventions have existed in RPGs for ages and existed in MMORPGs well before WoW hit the market), are losing their luster with a lot of MMORPG enthusiasts and they’re looking for something different. Honestly, I’m surprised that no major MMO development studio has released a sandbox fantasy-style game in the EVE tradition. Maybe the market could do with a few “EVE clones”.
Anyway, that really wraps up my thoughts on some of the things going on in the MMO world this week. I hope you enjoyed the column, or at least were able to understand my ramblings. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with what I’ve said here, but that’s what makes the MMORPG community so great; the fact that we all have varied opinions on a shared interest. Anyway, I’ll leave you to your weekend. Have a good one!