The Warhammer “grind”

For two days I debated with myself whether to write this or not, as I want to cut down considerably the number of posts about games and Warhammer especially.

Since no one is giving this aspect the relevance it deserves, I’ll do it here. This is a quote from Mark Jacobs recent outburst on F13:

Here’s one damn thing I would change, I would make this game have 70 levels and keep dinging all the way, all the time. I do think that some of the problem is the fact that people think 40 < 60 when it comes to levels and that the grinding seems worse because you have only 40 levels to go to max out.

Imho, that’s one huge misunderstanding of the way game design works.

What’s wrong is in the line that follows:

I’ve played a ton of MMOs and, at least according to the spreadsheet the time to solo most toons is faster here (on paper, I know) than EQ, DAoC, WoW when they launched.

See, it’s rather evident if you read the many posts Mark wrote on this, that they tweaked and balanced Warhammer’s leveling curve not basing it ON THEIR GAME. But on the other popular MMOs out there.

Mark says that Warhammer should be well paced and not-a-grind because it’s faster to level there than in other games. So, the players cannot realistically complain the leveling is slow, IT CAN’T BE. And it can’t be because he has spreadsheets in his hands that state this with mathematical certainty.

What is wrong in that reasoning is that “grind” is not a finite, absolute, portable concept. The feeling of “grind” is relative to the content. A game can feel grindy if it has 100 levels the same way it has 10. It’s not an abstract number, it’s not about an ideal time span between level to level. It’s simply about the novelty of the experience.

Blizzard, for the nearly full year the open beta went on, tweaked continuously the leveling curve. But they adjusted it accordingly to the content in the game. It’s the amount of fun content you have in the game that DICTATES the leveling curve. NOT a spreadsheet that compares leveling speeds of all other games.

You are looking cross-eyed at things that don’t matter. Your game matters. Stop looking at WoW.

It’s rather obvious to me that Mythic’s devs overestimated their content. Especially the novelty of it. If I’m dead bored of Morkain Temple after I’ve done it 50 times I won’t feel ANY BETTER if you put 80 levels in the game instead of 40, and so make me run Mourakin Temple for 20 levels instead of 10.

Players are just monkeys, you can’t fool them with these sophisticate shufflings and deceits. Whether 40 or 80 levels: IT’S THE SAME GODDAMN GAME.

Does this reminds you of something? Yes, it reminds me of D&D Online. Same level of “insight”. They were scared that 10 levels in the game weren’t enough.

This is what happens when a genre becomes so self-referential and unable to see outside the box that all the rules have no real foundation and the game consequently falls apart.

Why Warhammer feels like a grind, or boring for many, many players who are expressing this one way or another (including Tobold, Krones or Cuppy just no name a few)?

Because it’s relying on Scenarios as the dominant aspect of the game. Often on just one scenario for each tier. You are relying on the most repetitive and boring system (the Scenarios) as the main drive through the levels. No surprise that the players are bored.

I’ll repeat that the same happened in DAoC with the task dungeons: best rewards (leveling speed) coming from the worst of the game. Its most redundant, repetitive aspect. Under these conditions you can’t be surprised that the players are bored. You already shrunk the content down to almost nothing. And in particular to just one scenarios for each tier, hence the most repetitive activity there’s in the game.

Scenarios/BGs are awfully boring even in WoW, do not doubt. But at least WoW offers a whole lot more beside them. While Warhammer is becoming a game shrunk to one aspect, and even the least interesting.

It’s not a matter of “Ding!”, “Grats!”. It’s a matter of what you put between them.

There are just two ways here. Either you believe “us” and think the game has a lot of potential that needs to come out. Or you just accept that the game has nothing to offer beside scenarios, and so you just watch the game going on on whatever path it has taken.

From my point of view the game is showing its worst, and players are forming a strong idea about it that will be very hard to dismantle later.

Taking out that potential isn’t simple at all and needs a lot of work. It’s not just about encouraging ORVR as much as Scenarios because ORVR has its own issues (and fighting in a keep is unfun because of the cramped and unlit space, and path rubberbanding of the guards). At the very least it requires the team to be heading in the right direction, and that’s my main doubt.

They do not “read” their game correctly, and so their solutions risk to be inadequate, late, or totally missing the point.

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