For the first time since… my early Ultima Online days I’m not subscribed to any MMOs, nor I plan to buy WotLK when it launches.
I guess I can’t be surprised things went this way, but I have once again the regret. I had already decided long ago that I wasn’t going to play Warhammer, no matter how good or bad it was. Now I regret having undone that promise I made to myself. I regret having decided this summer to try the beta and then get lured in. I don’t regret having spent the money. It’s not about the money, it’s about time and passion. I wish I could go back undo things, and stay far, far away from the game.
Mythic decided that they want to copy Blizzard on every aspect, including very slow patch cycles every three or six months. Class balance will see a similar pattern, so no matter if classes are unbalanced or the game’s broken, they’ll only act when the time comes. It seems that learning from past experiences simply means ignoring problems till the slow patch cycle comes. A matter of form and not substance.
They continue this dick-measuring with WoW, assuming that Warhammer launched in the same state and that what is appropriate for WoW will be appropriate even for their game.
Mark Jacobs vanished from the forums. If you wonder why, a possible reason is that he had one big meeting with EA overlords these last days of October. He also has in his hands the “real” subscription numbers for the first time.
Warhammer, after one month, has already entered the same maintenance mode that DAoC has seen in these last few years. It feels pretty hopeless. The big patch planned for December adds more content on a broken structure. It’s not a matter of just rewards, but also of direction.
The real question is why they did nothing to address these problems long ago. Every single one of the structural problems that cripple the game now were largely predictable (and known from similar games who presented the same issues). When absolutely nothing is being done throughout the whole development cycle, then it’s rather pointless to hope Mythic will do something in the next few months.
They do not understand game design, especially the RvR.
1- DAoC first phase – Each of the three realms had a number of RvR zones. Players just mostly used one: Emain.
2- DAoC new frontiers – Mythic redesigns all the frontier zones without reducing their number. It’s once again a wasteland where players’ activity only focuses on a small spot and still is too dispersive.
3- DAoC Agramon – Mythic add ANOTHER zone to the already oversized RvR space. A central island to reproduce the gameplay that was found in the old Emain.
4- DAoC Labyrinth expansion – Mythic adds another huge RvR area to the game.
5- Warhammer – Lesson learned? Nope. They add RvR areas to all tiers and maps. All content and space wasted.
They do not learn even the most obvious lessons. They do not even understand that PvP needs convergence and focal points. This can only be solved in two ways. Either you reduce the space so that players converge to one point, or you implement some form of rotation system (like Planetside or WoW’s BG weekends) where you swap the “background” while all players still fight together in the same space.
There’s no back-pedaling here. Mythic’s been stumbling around with the design from the beginning. Simple example. We discussed the lack of incentives to do zone RvR and to capture and hold BOs back in April and I’m sure others that were in the Beta earlier than us brought it up as well. What did they do to try and fix that problem in the 5 months before launch? Diddly squat. They just don’t get it.
Now the more they are scared of losing those players they have, the least willingly to address the problems. I expect a long list of ineffectual band-aids as it happened with DAoC.
I confirm everything I wrote, though. Mythic did a very good work with that “beta preview” in late August and September. Twice they wiped the characters and only showed the public the very best of their game: levels 1 to 10, with zones vibrant of activity. But since I have some experience with these games, I gave warnings that the basic design had holes and the “fun” was too dependent on a optimal balance that would be rare to find in the real game and at all times, once players started to spread out in the tiers and zones. Where I was wrong was in thinking these issues would become glaring after the initial months, when instead they became glaring in a matter of weeks.
It’s what makes a game full of potential but with a bad execution and design flaws that undermine that potential. So I waited to see in what direction Mythic decided to move. Initially they seemed reactive and willingly to engage in a discussion. Now instead it appears that they have already closed the doors and entered the “hands off” phase.
I was on the brink of leaving for two weeks. I have waited to have a better idea of where Mythic was heading but kept getting deluded. The last patch notes (1.0.4) just confirmed that it’s not the same direction I think would lead to a better game, so I canceled. The RvR system is a mess, completely undocumented. The few times they reveal pieces of it, like in the last Grab Bag, or these patch notes we see more about how fucked it is and how out of touch Mythic is with their own game.
Sadly, because I really believe there’s a lot of potential and so many things I love in the game. From the art direction to some of the quests it shows how a lot of passion and love was poured into the game. But it’s all fucked due to poor game design and structure. A pity.
Maybe EA granted Mythic a lot of money to push out a quality product, with polish and good production value. Apparently, though, a lot of money doesn’t grant good game design.
Remember the 2004 omen I recently re-linked? Well, it’s now renewed. Mark Jacobs likes to engage in a discussion when his audience loves, admires and praises him endlessly. That feels good and he loves it. But when the times come to deal with critics beside the praises, with flying tomatoes and whistles instead of just applause and boasts, then it doesn’t feel anymore as good. He closes the door and goes away.
It’s too easy to be there on the stage under the spotlight only when things go well.
When things start to go wrong? Oh, he’ll let “the team” deal with that.
However, honestly, good luck to Mythic anyway. I’m sure you’ll do nicely even without me ;)