I finished downloading the client on Sunday, but then discovered I couldn’t play.
Mythic isn’t handling this phase exactly well. On the e-mail I received there were instructions about how to make a forum account. After I discovered I couldn’t connect to the server I tried to access the beta forums but discovered the instructions on the mail were wrong. Later on I spotted a post from Mark Jacobs stating that they invited a lot of players lately and had no intention to upgrade their forums in order to fit so many of them.
Without being able to read beta forums and figure out what was going on (or even troubleshooting why I couldn’t connect), it was kind of hard to find infos. At the end I had to ask to other beta players on another forum and discovered that the beta was open, but only for some.
Apparently all the recent invites cannot access the server where current beta players are playing in, and we have to wait the opening of a brand new server “later this week”.
I’m a bit disappointed about this. Not much because I can’t accept problems in beta, but because communication about these issues was poor and because it’s a bit irritating to know that there’s first-rate beta testers (who can play on any server and have access to forums) and second-rate beta testers (who have to wait their own server and can’t access forums).
Moreover I don’t have a lot of time to play these days and I still wanted to have something ready for when the NDA drops. That’s why I was hoping to get in as soon as possible in order to pack as much playtime as possible before writing my commentary. At this point I don’t know what I’ll do.
While looking around I spotted this:
After such a packed and satisfying questing experience, it’s a disappointment to arrive at the RVR battlefield – player-versus-player realm warfare being the hook Warhammer Online is hung on – and find it barren. Deserted. No scraps anywhere. That’s fine, you think, I’ll just queue up for a Scenario instead: Scenarios are WAR’s equivalent of Battlegrounds – instanced multiplayer maps, usually with a base-capture theme – and unlike WOW’s tiny handful, there are dozens of these, one for each zone. But you can queue all you like in the Greenskin starting zone: you won’t get a match.
That voices one of my main concerns from the very beginning when they announced so many options for PvP. And it didn’t start even there as I was already criticizing their design in DAoC, when while redoing the frontiers they decided to retain too many zones and not consolidate the space at all.
As I said in the past in my PvP game design posts, PvP requires convergence. You may have many zones and variations, if you want, but you need also to build a “flow”, so that at any time there’s one hotspot where the action concentrates, or other density balance systems. Then you can move the players. Variate gameplay, moving from one section to the other, but you just can’t support RvR or PvP contemporary on multiple zones and game modes.
It just doesn’t work and it’s the first requirement for PvP: reduce as much as possible the downtime and never have a lack of targets and battles to join. Low player activity kills PvP, no matter how the gameplay is great.
From my point of view, these problems are the very first thing you have to work on when you start putting together a project about a PvP MMO. From the previews it doesn’t seem Mythic is giving this as much consideration as it should have. So the worries are on the air, and when a game like this launches it is then hard to go down and change basic mechanics to solve the problems. And in the past Mythic kind of made an habit to never solve problems in core design and only endlessly work around them, complicating things and creating bigger problems in the longer term.
We’ll see. (and I continue to be convinced of my proposals to at least reduce the problem)
Sure is that even if I can actually play in this beta, I’ll hardly have enough elements to guess these long term issues. It just surprises and worries me that Mythic doesn’t seem to have any safe net ready.
As I wrote on some forums, it is crucial for the long term life of Warhammer Online that even the low level zones remain active and well populated for PvP. Or that may become, six months after launch, one of the biggest wall that makes new players bounce back and progressively erode the subscription base.
WoW’s success was made through growth. Warhammer here risks to launch big and then slowly lose pieces if Mythic doesn’t give those problems some serious consideration instead of being too worried about cutting cities or classes. The true problems are elsewhere.
Not in the lack of content, but in the lack of RvR convergence and activity flow.