DAoC’s “Evolution”

Some more comments about the latest poll. If I wasn’t awfully deluded for my own reasons I would be all hyped up, because I definitely appreciated Mythic’s interest toward this direction. This game and Mythic are still able to tickle and awake my interest more than anything else out there, sometimes they surprise me and this is one case. What I appreciate is the hint of a probable on-going debate within Mythic about the game itself. I find this positive because it’s different from a lack of interest and from the perceived sensation I had in the last months. I thought they just wanted to drop the game as quickly as possible because it wasn’t anymore positively successful (read as: growing). Jump off the ship before it’s too late and bet on brand new projects while DAoC is put in a conservative mode to transition both the players and the dev team while Warhammer is in the work.

The poll isn’t directly breaking these impressions, but it suggests that this transition could be at least interesting and challenging on its own. And not just a boring transition process to suffer (and forget). Not as a declining game that is becoming more like a burden and a negative weight for Mythic instead of a resource and a reason of pride. This is why I register the poll itself as something definitely good and positive. This is the first step.

Then the critics. If you read some of the active forums and threads, my opinions aren’t really different from what everyone is thinking right now. The idea of more new rulesets just doesn’t sound as something viable. I strongly criticized the release of the classic servers. Despite I play there and despite they are better than anything Mythic has done till today. My reasons were that Mythic was refusing to solve the problems. Instead of addressing them properly and dare with the development, they were just seconding the rants of the players without really understanding them and deciding that a rollback (such are the classic servers) was a positive path to try.

When those classic servers were released we were worried that Mythic wouldn’t have supported them properly, in particular when the ruleset become divergent and head toward completely different directions. The prioritization of new features and problems doesn’t work anyomore. As time passes DAoC has more and more problems and misses more and more basic functionalities. Splitting the dev team simply doesn’t work under these conditions, it just cannot bring to positive results in this situation. It would just stretch an inappropriate model till it breaks.

The real point isn’t really the development and launch of a new server type. The real point is the support from release onward. Mythic needs to decide if they want DAoC to sit in a place and remain there till it lasts (and without moving, it will die, sooner or later. Immobility = illness = death) or if they want to keep daring with it, adding new ideas, exploring new possibilities. I hope the “Evolution” server follows this second path. Without just drawing a line that doesn’t move again. Without the need of an Evolution 2 server to release one year after the first to address the new issues that the first brought up.

The “Evolution” server I’d love to see is what DAoC (and every other mmorpg) was supposed to be since release. An ongoing project that reacts and grows as the result of the interactions between the community and the developers. The possible mistakes would be the very substance on which to found the premises of the actual “evolution”. Instead of representing failure. A failure is a problem without a development. Mmorpgs have the innate characteristic of being malleable and never fixed in a form. They have the innate possibility of transforming a failure in a strength. So lets speriment, lets discuss passionately, lets rant, lets feel deluded and then excited again, because this is what founds a growth as opposed to a stasis.

DAoC has been a stillwater pond. If done right the Evolution server could be a way to break the model, in the hope that it will set a trend and will continue to move instead of sitting again and starting to show the negative stasis of the current DAoC.

Of course these are my dreams, not my expectations. I write this exactly because I expect something else and I would hope Mythic to consider these points and share my ideas. There wouldn’t be any reasons to discuss if we all agree. But these points are important because they are exclusive. Mythic cannot continue to branch the game, furtherly shattering its integrity and its resources. I hope the Evolution server is the beginning of a journey and this cannot work if they need to focus on contrasting plans, multiple ruleset with opposite needs and split their teams continuously, losing more and more resources (and dev personal interest toward the game) as Warhammer approaches.

The point is about planning in the long term and put the developers in the condition to be creative, see the results and react consequently. Curiosity. A vibrant development and a vibrant community as a result. The Evolution server instead risks to be just a “light” version of the same game. A sop for the players to second their supposed needs, instead of actually understanding them.

In fact lets see the actual fundamental points. This poll can be seen as just another attempt from Mythic to make everyone happy. Another superficial attitude disguised as the intention to listen the community and give it what it demands. The reality is another. Mythic is refusing to take decisions. They are just failing at deciding where to lead the game and so they just react sparsely, without a defined direction. They do everything and nothing at the same time. They dodge the problems without dealing with them directly. They fear change and so they branch the game, hurting it in the long term.

The point is that this is just not possible. You cannot please everyone and this attitide will just bring them to fool themselves. DAoC needs its strong personality as it happened when it was released. It needs to “impose” its quality as it happened because no remarkable game, book, movie or whatever else was shaped up through polls. DAoC needs a strong direction and authorship. It’s not important where it goes as much it is important that it goes *somewhere*. This is why in the other comment I wrote that I’d like Mythic to focus on something. Anything. They must make choices and face the consequences, positive or negative. They just cannot avoid this, they cannot please everyone and they cannot keep shattering the game in a FOTM (applied to a ruleset) that just doesn’t lead anywhere in the longer term. They are deluding themselves because “avoid to take decisions” isn’t something possible.

But what about the present beside these words? It just wouldn’t be possible to fix the standard servers. DAoC has been still and unresponsive to problems for too long and fixing its issues all at once is just not a possible or viable path. It cannot be done at this point. The problems are now too deep-rooted and fused with the fabric of the game to be addressed efficiently at this point (despite I had suggestions). The “Evolution” server can be an occasion and the reason why I wrote all this is because I hope this occasion won’t be thrown away and get wasted. So what this new server needs to do is to set a new standard to tackle the problems and address them with courage and determination as they come up. Without letting them rot. Building on the actual, progressive “evolution” (the real evolution) the strength of the game.

And if there’s the will to dare and transition *this* game (and not Warhammer) toward its *real* evolution, why not open two different servers? One as a brand new, clean server. And another with the possibility to convert and port old characters to it. Maybe in the simpler form of an old idea I suggest more than a year ago: a single-use key code to spend to instantly bring one (and only one) character at level 45. This would allow everyone to quickly get involved in the RvR without suffering the treadmill and without, at the same time, killing the community at the early levels in the longer term, since all the alts beside the first will be required to start from level 1.

This doesn’t solve all the problems. The players don’t want to leave their servers not only because of the wealth they gathered but also because of the social ties they have. But through the design it is possible to ease up at least one part of the problem and this is something that should be done.

The final question to Mythic is: Are you willingly to focus on this new server and set the premises for the future of this game? Decisions must be taken. A defined stance must be set. An ambiguous behaviour that tries to please everyone at the same time is just not possible nor good for Mythic or the game.

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