The most useless feature in history of games

How to waste money and time when you obviously have too much of both. That would be Eve-Online “walking in station” project.

Now, in order to comprehend the bullshitting CCP is used to wave around and flaunt, I need to do some quoting from original dev blogs.

Now, today we’ve set our sights on character rendering and lifelike animation. It’s important to realize that in order to create realistic looking characters, you have to pay great attention to how they will be animated. We have examples of 3d rendered characters in films and digital media that look amazing when you see a screenshot or a still frame, but once they start moving, they look like zombies or animatronic RealDolls™. There’s actually a term that describes how cg or cartoon humanoid characters tend to look creepy and un-lifelike the closer you get to photorealism. A Japanese roboticist named Masahiro Mori gave it the name “Uncanny valley”. If we plan to create close to photorealistic characters, we must ensure that they’re behavior matches the quality of the shading and rendering in order to keep them out of this valley of darkness.

So exactly how do we create lifelike animation? Well, for one, we will use state of the art motion capture. There are nuances in the biomechanics of the human body that only the most experienced and skilled animators are able to express. It takes them, however, days to create what you capture in minutes in mocap. The amount of animation needed for a project like walking in stations prohibits us from hiring an army of the worlds most talented animators and having them animate for years until their fingers bleed.

This brings us to an area of computer graphics called dynamic avatar human-to-human interaction. It tries to apply knowledge derived from years of research of human body language into the actions of computer generated avatars, so that their behavior mimics human behavior without the user or NPC controller micro-managing every little twitch of the body or glance of the eyes.

This is one of the areas that we intend to research and apply to our animation system.

Two years passed since this dev blog I quoted. Now you can see the result of all that inspired and hyped work:


Two years passed and now you can see the result of so much bullshitting. You can see where all their work with “lifelike animations”, study in “biomechanics” and “state of the art motion capture” went.

Enjoy some of the WORST character animations I’ve ever seen. Featuring lobotomized facial expressions, stick-up-the-ass robotic walking animations and bump-aganist-the-walls like a drunkard. Please don’t offend zombies and animatronics, they move with so much more grace.

But, for this year, they are up for more bullshitting.

Zone control

One quick comment on the latest Grab Bag and the zone control mechanic (I’m trying to divert my attention away from the game).

I’ll avoid to waste time to post some kind of armchair designer proposal but I want to point out what’s wrong in the overall approach. If you want the RvR to pivot around zone control, then the players need to be able to parse it correctly. It needs to be a transparent mechanic that players can use and plan strategy upon (in DAoC the relic raids involved strategy because a realm had to guess the way the other realm would react and where it would be).

This problem is not dissimilar to Mythic’s bad habit with slash commands. In order to know and use slash commands you need to read guides and memorize them. They aren’t intuitive. In the same way a player who wants to engage in RvR should NOT be required to read a page of text on the Herald to understand the way zone control works. This knowledge needs to be delivered in the game, not outside of it.

The second mistake is that these mechanics need to be simpler and easy to parse, so that they can be evaluated and “used”. Here Mythic is repeating a similar mistake Blizzard did with its PvP. First with the Honor system, then the Arena rating, the rules are too opaque, too convoluted. Zone control in Warhammer needs to follow simple rules. The progress bar needs to deliver all the infos and the players’ actions need to be reflected tangibly.

Show numbers. The zone control bar is useless if its interpretation is arbitrary. Show how many points are fixed and relying on oRvR, shows how many points go in the scenarios, show how many in PvE. The only reason to keep these numbers hidden would bee because Mythic isn’t convinced of the mechanic and so doesn’t want to disclose it to the players.

Simplify the mechanics so that they aren’t convoluted, show the numbers so that the players can see how they are contributing and change the zone control bar so that it shows usable data and not just some arbitrary value open to interpretation.

Some spontaneous proofs.
Further proofs.

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Cleanse the idiots and don’t look back

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. For how extreme the idea can be, I can’t see a valid reason not to do it.

– You make official forums for a game, where your forum account is linked to your game account (not publicly). Everyone can read the forums, but to post you need an active account to the game.
– You then enforce rules on the forums by taking actions on both the forum and the *game* account.

Yeah, exactly what happened with that EA story recently, with people banned from the game as consequence of them being jerks on the forums.

I can’t suffer to read the Vault for more than 2 minutes. 90% of what is written there is plain spam or trolling.

How to fix all that? Simple, you use official forums and then make reflect the forum behavior on the game account. In the same way you can get banned in the game if you harass players and break the rules, you would be banned from the game if you break the rules on the forums.

The rules would be simple. It’s not a matter of censorship or arguing the merit of what someone says. What should be regulated is all those stupid posts like “First!” “IBTL!” “QQ” and all those messages that add absolutely nothing to a discussion. Use a general discussion forum where players can write down all the shit they want, but keep the game discussion forum clean of that shit. Use a ban system that is granular enough, so that you educate progressively players to behave even on the forum (something they aren’t used to). 3-hours ban from forums and game if you post spam messages, or messages that say nothing at all. Then make consequent offenses correspond to longer ban timers.

Ban the fuck out of the idiots and I’m sure you could have a more constructive and useful discussion.

Sure, you could lose some customers, but I’m pretty sure they’ll learn and stick to the rules.

I repeat: this shouldn’t be a way to ease censorship. Opinions, no matter how harsh and blunt they are, should be untouched, as much to allow the general bitchyness that you would find on F13. The rules should instead enforce *arguments*. If what you write has no arguments it should be deleted by a moderator and the user banned for a short amount of time. Subsequent offenses get longer bans.

Clear, unmistakable rules and direct consequences on the *game* account if you don’t respect them. You would be surprised how quickly people learn how to behave.

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Mark Jacobs threatens to carry his bag of candies somewhere else, AGAIN!

Okay, this last one, then I’ll try to mind my own business. But it’s just too easy and fun to not do it.

Mark Jacobs: However, to say that we are not paying attention, don’t care or the ever-popular “I quit now” simply makes it less likely that we will continue to post and interact here.


I wonder where he wants to bring his bag of candies next. F13 already slapped his face (and his ego) too many times for him to have the courage to go back there. Warhammer Alliance is a cesspool alike the Vault. Where will he go, I wonder? He must feel so unloved right now, poor boy.

In other news the “Combat n Careers” patch buffed Bright Wizard damage (especially DoTs) and nerfed healing. My class, Ironbreaker, was also hit with the nerfbat.

“Love to all classes” is the stupidest myth in game design. When you boost damage across the board the result is that the fights are over in less time. When you then also nerf healing the result is obviously much worse. Especially since healing needed a boost instead of a nerf from tier 2 onward as healers couldn’t keep anyone alive. Add the fact they they also nerfed root abilities, that, while usually a good idea, is another nerf to a defensive skill, and you can imagine that the whole system has been shoved heavily toward the offensive side, making combat more deadly and sudden, and removing that little bit of strategy there was. If you think this is what was necessary, good for you.

Just a glance at those patch notes and even one like me, who usually restrains to comment class balance, can see that they aren’t even in the right direction. Not only they are doing too much, all at once, late and prioritizing the wrong things, but they even move in the wrong direction.

Just to be clear and demonstrate that I don’t simply criticize no matter what, this is what I wrote a month and half ago in regard to class balance:

For the first time in many years I felt powerful in PvP. Yesterday I tanked two other players that outleveled me, alone. I didn’t even use all the aces in my sleeve. Is this the way it should be or should I expect the nerfbat coming? I play in scenarios and have the time to ACTUALLY SEE WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON. I can REACT TO COMBAT. It’s paced perfectly. This opposed to, say, WoW. Where the combat is fucking ridiculous and I can be dead in a matter of seconds in a cloud of stupid graphic effects while I can’t even control my character because of CC, with my tank. Here fighting takes time and is not too twitchy.

In Warhammer, from the little experience I have, it seems they got the “feel” right. Now I hope that while they work to also have the “numbers” right, they won’t fuck the rest.

Even in my first preview of the game I praised the combat system because it got right one of the most important aspect: the pacing. The classes were unbalanced, but the “feel” and pacing was right (and this was also the reason why I don’t think class balance is a priority). They needed to tweak numbers, tone down some ridiculous skills that were overused and exploited, and boost some classes (like pet classes) that lacked a real role and efficiency.

Now, do you know what happens when you boost the damage and nerf healing of all classes across the board? That you fuck the pacing. Exactly what they did.

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Oh yes, we are there

A curious exchange on the forums (no links because linking to the Vault sucks. Just look at Mark’s account and all his posts):

Mark Jacobs: And yes, this is the patch that pretty much everyone has been asking for and talking about here and elsewhere. Brought in from 1.1 to 1.05 as I hoped we could do.

random guy: Mark, is there anything in this particular patch to buff up RvR?

Mark Jacobs: No, not a lot. This is the Combat and Careers patch and it took priority over everything else.

Imho, their priorities are all wrong and their procedures even worse.

Priorities are wrong because what I would have done is:
1- Boosting PvE experience in Tier 3 and 4 and smooth the leveling curve.
2- Add teleports/flight masters to the warcamps and the chapter PvE hubs to ease travel between PvE and RvR.
3- Rework the RvR system to use a hotspot system where players activity gravitates around BOs and keeps (details here).
THAT, maybe, would be the patch people have been asking. Or at least that’s my perception.

The procedures are wrong because class balance is one aspect where baby steps are the best approach. Refine and test over and over. Reiterate as much as possible.

Instead? Mythic goes for the big sweeping changes for all classes at once. No wonder balance is hard.

You know. Balance. The word says it. It’s something that requires very, very slight adjustment till it’s perfect. With big shoves all over the place things won’t be exactly easier.

Mark Jacobs: The 1.05 patch is the anxiously awaited “Combat and Careers” patch. As I mentioned already, it is over 17 pages long and still growing and it includes, among other things, adjustments to every career in the game. It is, by far, the largest WAR patch yet and is by its very nature, full of far-reaching and sweeping changes.

Big sweeping changes to all classes.
Baby steps or nothing for RvR.
Right on track.

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There is no team, there is just Mark Jacobs

Your commander takes the helm:

Over the last week or so I have been playing the game continually focusing on RvR from a solo player’s (though I have joined a guild for one of my toons) perspective. I’ll talk about some of the changes/additions that have come from that experience in the coming weeks. The first result of that is a 7 page document that I’ve delivered to the team and I’m working on a second document that might be even longer.

Holy cow!

He’s written seven pages to explain his dev team the problems of open RvR. Seven fucking pages. And here I thought I was logorrheic.

He’s explaining his team the problems of open RvR, a game whose major feature is RvR, a game that was just released and whose design is only examined now.

What the fuck have you done in the last 2+ years?

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Warhammer has 600k subs

Accordingly to Mark Jacobs, with some approximation, the current “active” subscription numbers should be somewhere around 600k.

This is the logic:

Our retention rate is higher than 70% based on current data. DAoC was indeed 72% in North America. WAR’s number is higher and remains higher than DAoC since billing began. I’m quite happy with WAR’s numbers as they are exactly what I expected they would be.

800k is the number of registered accounts accordingly to EA (see the recent financial report).

75% is my guesstimate on retention rate, since Mark Jacobs states here that it’s higher than the 72% of DAoC.

75% of 800k is 600k.

Imho, the number will drop. By how much will depend on too many variables. The game is supposed to grow for a few months, this is what Mark Jacobs expects. But with WotLK release it will have an hard time. From January onward a lot will depend on the quality of the games, but I doubt Warhammer is going to improve. Mythic is already working to add more scenarios.

Unrelated, from Q23:

I heard that the layoffs started hitting Mythic today. Just three so far.