How things go

Via Twitter.

Mythic Entertainment, responsible for Warhammer Online, just laid off 80 people, about 40% of its employees.


Don’t know anything about numbers, but literally everyone I know who was still at Mythic outside of upper management is looking for work this morning.

Blame the economy, but not just.

Famous Last Words

I was digging the archive to see if I could find the quote where Mark Jacobs said that Warhammer will never be like DAoC (since the announce of Darkness Falls).

I didn’t find it, but I found this:

“The initial partnership between Mythic and GOA resulted in Dark Age of Camelot being the number one MMORPG in Europe for many years,” said Mark Jacobs, CEO and President of Mythic Entertainment. “With WAR our goal is nothing less than to take Europe by storm and regain that leadership position in the European market.”

We love DAoC and by continuing to improve and invest in the game, it will be able stand up in the face of current and future competition. We believe by continuing to drive DAoC’s evolution, it will remain the top RvR-based MMORPG as well as one of the top MMORPGs in the world. If you agree with us, we’re willing to put in the time and investment to make it happen.

Yes, I agree. But I’m not that gullible so I don’t believe (and didn’t).

For once we agree.

Checkmate in two

Nostalgia (and referring to this, there’s a rule: you only have nostalgia to things you lost, or traits of them that you lost, not to things that are done better). Then I’m done.

Mythic released today a patch with a few good changes (archer classes excluded) and I was writing a bit on the forums. It summarizes well my idea on the game (DAoC will remain my very own crusade and inspiration) and goes back to a lot of fundamental principles that I discussed on this site about mmorpgs in general.

One idea I’d propose if I was the producer (wink to Walt): plan a mini-expansion to be released this Fall.

– Price: $5.
– Purpose: completely scrap and reprogram/redraw the UI, with the goal of making it scalable so that it looks the same no matter of the resolution, which is a feature that should be STANDARD for every game. And then make it more functional, organized and responsive, with a fixed, well designed layout that leaves behind the old-style dockable windows and then buy a readable/polished/aliased font.

Giving DAoC a better “impact” while simultaneously work on the structure (meaning the PvE treadmill and a reorganization of task dungeons) would help greatly to make the game once again presentable and a first step to start drawing new customers.

Since they are retooling with the Frontiers. Redoing the keeps in order to fix LOS problems and make the client perform better is something I STRONGLY support, but it isn’t all that the game needs.

The two most important things from my perspective are:

1- Make once again the keeps the protagonists of RvR.
2- Work to remove stalemates at those keeps so that it’s fun to play there.

The bias toward 8vs8 groups made the game unplayable for me and, I’m sure, for many other players. But in particular it killed completely the accessibility for new players. When 90%+ of the RvR is accessible only in specialized groups the consequence is that a majority of players are flat out excluded.

What is left in the average experience is to sit LFG at a keep for hours. Or walk around solo just to feed points to a roaming gank group.

THAT’s the FIRST problem in DAoC currently: the game needs new players, and the very few players are turned off by the UI and boring PvE first, and the complete inaccessibility of PvP next.

That kills the game. Checkmate in two.

So for me the only solution is to bring back that cooperative feeling and realm pride that we had back then. When people grouped together to fight for communal objective. And when ALL the realm joined up for some crazy battles. Everyone grouped everyone else. Everyone was doing its small part. And there were BOTH specialized groups and casual groups working together. It was fun, exciting and it built the community.

The point is to make the RvR easily accessible and fun once again for all the players, while trying to make the battles at the keeps a bit more dynamic instead of boring stalemates where you wait, wait, wait and wait.

DAoC: casuals Vs veterans

There was a relevant news about DAoC I originally decided not to comment, but I want to answer on a specific aspect.

The news is that all the stuff you could get from ToA, the used-to-be hardcore PvE stuff that many believe ruined the game till the release of “classic” servers with ToA stuff stripped off the game, well, all this stuff can now be “bought” with bounty points.

The bounty point are some sort of PvP currency, so the bottom line is that previously PvE exclusive stuff is now accessible directly from PvP. I guess everyone welcomes this (LATE) move.

It works like an alternative path but you would lie to yourself if you would think this corresponds to a “choice”. Ideally you like PvE and get this stuff from PvE, while if you like PvP you get the same stuff from PvP. Choice is good but the point is that in the practice there’s no real choice (if not when things are completely soloable): you have to stick and adapt to what everyone else does.

Then you also have to see what is the conversion ratio. Mythic could even decide to make these items absurdly expensive in order to not make the PvE obsolete. But it would be a very bad move.

So, in practice, I agree with Apache. Mythic “killed” ToA and, yes, they may as well delete the ToA zones. That content is now completely mudflated. It lost its function.

I wanted to reply to this post in particular:

On one hand, the changes look wonderful, until you realize that once again, as always, the benefit here is for the “have’s” and the “have not’s” are left out in the cold. How so you say? You need an income of RP’s from NF to benefit from any of this. How does anything in 1.88 make NF any more attractive for the casual gamer? Being slaughtered by stealth zergs and RR10 8man’s isn’t many people’s idea of fun. Standing around at portal keeps LFG for 2 hours when you only have 2 hours to play is not many people’s idea of fun. You can’t earn bounty point in the battlegrounds, why not? Last time I checked battlegrounds were realm vs realm combat… So how does the casual gamer actually GET the rps needed for the bounty points? The powergamers reap 100% of the reward here and the casuals get screwed….again.

Until Mythic realizes that the powergamer is not keeping this game afloat, casuals are, the game will continue to experience it’s steady bleed off of players. Over time, casuals get sick and tired of being overlooked while powergamers are catered to over and over and over again. up to 25% of the players of this game are the so called uber powergamers which leaves a significant pool of players 75% to further bleed off the population. Mythic needs to figure out where their bread is really buttered before the prime time population for all servers is 2500…

The real problem runs deeper. Problem in DAoC is that there’s no influx of new players, so what’s left is long time veterans in high ranks and teamspeak.

While in the past the “hardcore” portion was there, but still somewhat balanced by a group less hardcore and welcoming new players and casual groups, the more the game declines, the more those few players who are left are veterans with powerful characters and a strong guild organization.

So here there’s both a problem of game design (strong bias and support to the 8vs8 meta-game) and a problem of community (game becoming increasingly niche and driving away new players).

Problem is that all this is the long-term consequence of choices made by Mythic a while ago.

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The last nail on DAoC’s coffin

From an interview with Copper:

what we’re doing is taking the resources we would devote to an expansion – artists, quests, content, programmers – we’re taking those guys and they are all focused on delivering high-level content every two weeks.

When you replace the last bits of game development with “live events” it means it’s really over.

On Mythic’s implementation of relics/artifacts

I promised myself to not comment or criticize DAoC anymore, but since it deals with one of my ideas I want to add something.

Reading the boards I see the players complaining about two main points when the relic system is discussed:

1- Adding another RvR space was stupid. PvP action needs to converge, not being spread even more.
2- The bonuses aren’t appealing enough to remain interesting in the longer term.

The point is that while Mythic copied exactly my idea (you can compare their official description page with my original idea to see that one is the carbon copy of the other) those two points are the only ones who were left out and that represent the ONLY difference between Mythic’s implementation and my original design.

Mythic: These relics provide temporary bonuses, but in order to keep the mino-relic, the wielder must actively participate in RvR.

The wielder (and his group, if not solo) of the mino-relic must participate in RvR combat in order to maintain the mino-relic and its effect. Each mino-relic has a feed rate (the number of enemy kills required over a specific time period); there are different feed rates for different mino-relics.

HRose: In order to keep them on your character, you need to “feed” them by killing the players on the opposite factions and have a role in the conquest, participating actively in the PvP. Exposing yourself. If you are hiding you won’t be able to fulfill the “feed” requirements and you’ll lose the artifact.

Mythic: If the wielder of the mino-relic does not get sufficient kills to sustain the mino-relic’s feed rate timer, the mino-relic “decays” from the player and it is returned to its encounter location in its locked state.

HRose: If the feeding requirement aren’t met, or if the player with the artifact has been logged out for too long, not meeting the active requirements, the artifact is reset to the original PvE instance that will remain sealed for a set amount of time depending on the type of the artifact.

Mythic: Mino-relics cannot be taken out of RvR areas and cannot be stored in keeps.

HRose: They artifacts aren’t usable in PvE, they lose all their properties if they are brought in a PvE instance.

Note: since the relics need to be “fed” the prohibition to take them out of RvR zones that Mythic added is superfluous.

Mythic: The wielder of the mino-relic is visible on the RvR map and the zone map (or dungeon map) via a special icon.

HRose: The other faction will also know that one of the artifacts was summoned and will be able to “divinate” your position in the map. They can track you down. you will be hunted.

Mythic: If a player is carrying a relic upon death, LD, or logging, the relic will drop to the ground. Due to this, mino-relics will constantly change hands while they are active. This complex game of “hot potato” will present a fresh new twist for standard RvR play.

HRose: If you die in a PvP battle, your artifact will be dropped on the ground and one of the players in the opposite faction can loot it and use it, acquiring the powers that were yours.

So. I’m paranoid, egocentric, or maybe my “feelings” are a bit justified?

Let’s see these differences concretely.

1- Adding another RvR space. Even if my idea wasn’t traced upon DAoC, it still avoided that mistake. While in Mythic’s implementation these relics are taken from PvE encounters in another, huge, RvR space (the labyrinth). In my idea the relics/artifacts were taken from an instanced PvE-only space. The players could “race” toward a relic. When a relic was captured, all the instances would be sealed.

This effectively removed the mistake of adding another RvR space while providing a perfect environment for truly challenging encounters. Getting an artifact, in my idea, was really the “hardcore” part (to then be brought back to the rest of the community via the full-loot system and feed reqs). The harder PvE experience in any game. Something that happens rarely, not every day. Plus it was also planned to be tied to an innovative, different placement of “PvE raids” (more about the new form of raids).

2- Mythic’s relics aren’t all that desirable. They are relatively small bonuses to skills, nothing that created directly new forms of gameplay and that the players carve. It’s just about adding yet another kind of items to loot and toy with. Completely forgivable after the novelty wears off, as they don’t really have a “place” in the gameplay. They are a transitory “cool” system. A gimmick. Instead in my idea the role of relic/artifacts was more significant. I often described them as the “heroes” in Warcraft 3. It was something planned with a strong impact and, instead of small bonuses to skills, each relic/artifact was supposed to infuse and channel new powers. Not just significant for their impact in a battle, but also graphically spectacular.

One interesting part of my ideas is that a relic/artifact would mutate graphically the aspect of the player. And this idea of “mutation” and “corruption” was taken directly from my own source of inspiration, Michael Moorcock’s Elric.

This second point is particularly important because it’s not the first time that Mythic wastes good ideas with a poor or inadequate implementation.

The ideas were valid, and not because they were my own. The idea of the “hunt”, of the mutation and the collaborative, “epic” effort to take down a player demi-god, with a spectacular graphic impact on the battlefield. Those were seeds and they needed water, not sand.

Conclusion: while there are parts of my idea that would have required more work than what Mythic has allocated to it, from the other side the “divergencies” between Mythic’s implementation and my idea are what the players are complaining about. Some of them required more work, but some of them are blatant design flaws that I had avoided.

Moreover I also proposed Mythic in another context to add another RvR zone. So was I stupid too? No, because I proposed a special zone that wasn’t “always on”, but that would open only on special occasions. When the new zone was open all the players were supposed to converge there and leave the classic frontiers deserted, this zone would remain open for one, two or three days and after the event was complete the zone would be sealed till the next “event”, that could trigger one week or more later (for example you could set it open for 36 hours and triggering every 10 days). With the purpose to not overlap with the standard RvR activity while offering a different kind of gameplay (physics system in that case) and also giving the feel of “epic” and “uniqueness”. Something that the players could “wait for” with anticipation.

And also something that has never been seen before.

On “reset buttons” and “progressive” territorial control

-Part 1-
This spawns from a blog post where Ubiq talks a bit about Mythic’s Warhammer (at least what he reads about the game).

Now I already followed and discussed things in the past, so I could better portray how Warhammer PvP and territorial control should work. *IF* what I understood is correct and there haven’t been significant changes in the meantime (I give them the benefit of the doubt).

You can see one of my previous analysis here (or check its category).

In short you may think to Dark Messiah multiplayer and have a good idea about how this system (here I’m focusing on the territorial control) should work.

At the “endgame” Warhammer should have five zones for each of the three “war fronts”. One war front for orcs/goblins vs dwarves, one for Chaos vs Empire and one for Dark Elves vs High Elves.

Of these five zones two should be the rival “capital cities” raid zones that Ubiq talks about. The ultimate siege that may trigger the definitive victory and the supposed “reset button”.

Now, as in Dark Messiah, each of those zones should be closed and instanced “scenarios”. If your faction achieves particular objectives and “wins” that scenario, there’s a “map switch” that moves ideally closer to the losing faction capital city.

So these capital cities aren’t player-populated “hubs”, but only combat scenarios that are “unlocked” through a campaign mode that implies the victory on previous maps/scenarios.

You start from the neutral map -> win it -> move to the one closer to the enemy capital city -> win that too -> and finally the “capital city” scenario is unlocked -> win it -> (supposed) system reset

If Mythic is smart, only one of the five endgame maps is going to be active at the same time (outlining the campaign progression), so a player should have a choice between three maps where he can go PvP (one for each warfront). Helping a lot to focus the PvP action instead of dispersing it among too many zones as it currently happens in DAoC.

On the other side, if there are too many players packed into one zone, the instance system triggers and creates more balanced “mirrors” of the same scenario.

So this should address effectively the two main issues, the convergence required for the PvP and the overcrowding.

-Part 2-

Ubiq: That being said, the question I’m most interested in is how a side that has been utterly decimated to the point that the capital is in ruins can hope to come back to turn the tide. While I genuinely love city conquest scenarios (I feel they capture the ‘massive’ part of what MMOs are supposed to be), most territorial control games are progressive – a game design term meaning that the winners tend to keep winning, as they gain more and more spoils of war, and more and more players on the losing side feel the desire to join up and/or play. This problem was a very tough issue for both Shadowbane and Dark Age of Camelot to deal with.

Long ago I had proposed an idea for DAoC that I think would work well (if not, I’m still wondering why).

Basically each keep can be upgraded to level 10 and levels make guards stronger, among other things.

Currently all keeps can be upgraded to level 10 with no limits (if not limits of time).

My simple idea was add a fixed cap for each realm.

For example you have five keeps for each realm, 15 in total for all three realms and you give each realm a cap of 50 points.

Since you begin with five keeps, you can upgrade all five of them to level 10, using up all your 50 points.

But then, as you conquer keeps from other realms the situation changes and you need to spread those points. You’ll likely try to upgrade your new keep so that it is well defended, but doing so would mean removing levels from your other keeps to upgrade the new one.

The other side of the medal is that the realm losing one keep gets back those 10 points that it used there. And the idea was that you could “overload” the level of your keep above ten, but where every point above ten would cost (x-10)+1 (so to go from a level 10 keep to a level 11 you would need to use two points, to go to 12, use 3, then four and so on).

The result would be that the more a realm expands, the more it becomes also harder to defend, because it exposes more weak spots as the points need to be spread between more keeps, while the realm who is losing can concentrate the strength on a stronghold and make it really hard to capture.

This means that the realm who is losing isn’t left staring passively, but it is given the possibility to counterattack effectively through smaller strike teams aiming at the weak points.

The overall idea is the one of the rubber banding. The more you force a situation, the harder it is to maintain it.

(that was the problem back then. Today players don’t even care about keeps and it’s all reduced to 8vs8 ganking groups)

Jason Booth: Territory is tricky, but I think it can be done in a satisfying way. I think the trick is really in convincing people that the inevitable loss of territory is part of the fun. It’s hard to convince people of this, so it must be some fundamental part of your reward system instead. Push the boulder up the hill, get distracted by shinny cookie, let the bounder roll back down again – but you get to keep your cookie.

Instead I think it can be done through gameplay. My idea is that being on the losing side with the possibility to turn the tide can be even more satisfying and fun than being on the winning one.

The problem is to provide gameplay alternatives, ways to effectively counterattack so that the losing side has something to do.

If what is left to do is get steamrolled by a zerg for the next two hours, the player logs out frustrated. The point is to offer gameplay alternatives.

The point is to foresee these situations, and design solutions so that the game offers things to do in those cases.

About the “reset button” or the boulder pushed up hill, Mythic model in DAoC is already stronger.

The donut is represented by the relics. Not only you get to keep the donut/relic, but the donut also becomes a “ransom” that the other realm will eventually want to get back.

So a victory doesn’t also lead to a reset (after a relic is captured things slowly fall back in normality) but also as the starting point for what’s next.

Three years too late

DAoC’s test patch:

Performance Related Fixes (Catacombs Client)

– Fixed two memory leaks relating to trees and tree shaders.


These days, our oldest assets in game are in Player Housing and Shrouded Isles. At this stage the vast majority of our art assets in game are solid, and we really need tech improvements to make things shine.

Yes, very true.

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Some infos on DAoC’s relic system:

the relics- basically there are 23 minotaur relics, 1 is in cathal valley the other 22 are hidden insice the labrynth which u need to find. these relics have special bonuses, weather its group or self bonuses.. examples are- more damage, encumbrence bonus, replenish arrows or something.. superstealth (yeah like we need more damn stealthers..)and other random bonuses they didnt tell us. these relics drop when you log out, ld, or die. if you die with a relic it drops and ANYONE can pick it up, even an enemy realm person. and the way u keep the relics on you is you “feed them” and when i say that i mean realm points.. if you afk for 30minutes ur relic will have decayed by then, and respawned inside the labrynth for someone else to find. if your group sucks and you keep dieing.. ur screwed as well. also if you have a relic you will be displayed on the /rw map.. like a blinking dot will be on you..

Those four parts I have underlined were unannounced and a sort of confirmation that they actually took my design as a source of inspiration, at least, as those were also described rather closely. See my rants.

The artifacts are also limited in number. The most powerful artifacts are unique and one and only one copy can exist in the PvP world at once.

If you die in a PvP battle, your artifact will be dropped on the ground and one of the players in the opposite faction can loot it and use it, acquiring the powers that were yours.

In order to keep them on your character, you need to “feed” them by killing the players on the opposite factions and have a role in the conquest, participating actively in the PvP. Exposing yourself. If you are hiding you won’t be able to fulfill the “feed” requirements and you’ll lose the artifact.

The other faction will also know that one of the artifacts was summoned and will be able to “divinate” your position on the map. They can track you down. you will be hunted.

Heh. It’s a bit discouraging.

(btw, there was also another idea that I didn’t have an occasion to write down and was about making the “feed” requirements adjusting the intensity of the power of an artifact. On my original design this also translated to a mutation of the visual aspect of a character, increasing size, turning demonic-like and so on. The idea was to make the power and visual mutation progressive instead of sudden as you pick up the artifact. You feed the artifact with souls (through realm points) and the power increases progressively, mutating your character, to decay slowly if you don’t kill other players for a certain amount of time.

I was thinking about a visual bar going from 0% to 100%. If it falls back to 0% the artifact returns to its original location(PvE) while if used (feeding souls) its power goes up till it reaches 100%. The rate of decay would be also progressive, so that it decays slowly when it is closer to 0% and very fast when it is at 100%. To simulate some sort of brief “berserk” effect when in full power. I thought it would be fun.)

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