10 Things Mythic Did Right With Warhammer

first-birthday-party.s600x600Happy one year anniversary, Warhammer Online!  Wow, has it been a year already?  A year since the long-awaited date when beta closed up shop, head starters trickled in, and then the gates were thrown wide open?  A year since we had a good month where all was praise and adulation for this title, without a lot of the frustrated griping and subscriber bleeding that happened after?  A year since Mark Jacobs, Paul Barnett, Josh Drescher and the rest of Mythic’s motley crew made daily soundbites across the MMOsphere?

Now, it’s the “in” thing to hit a company when they’re down, and while I’d really debate anyone who would claim that a 300,000+ subscriber title represents a down company, the perception is still out there.  Instead, I’d like to celebrate WAR’s one year milestone by going over ten things they absolutely, positively did right with the game:

1. They never once made the claim to be better than World of Warcraft, just different. Everyone was just waiting for them to say it — to say that they were going to “beat” WoW, to be better than them, to kill Blizzard’s baby, to top 11 million subscribers — but despite what some have deluded themselves into hearing, Mythic played it smart by stating up front that it wasn’t their goal to be the next World of Warcraft and topple the king.  They just wanted to be different, the “Led Zepplin” of fantasy MMOs to WoW’s “Beatles”.  Sure, the comparisons were inevitable, but Mythic kept its head in this area by not making fantastic claims as to the future ascendency of their game to the top of the pile.

2. They made public quests their legacy to the MMO genre.

Public Quests are one of those ideas that, when you see them, make you ask why they haven’t been in MMOs waaaay before now.  Sure, PQs suffer when they’re poorly designed or have zero participation by the players, but they are often awesome, dynamic events that make you feel as though you’re doing something meaningful that keeps you on your toes — with friends!  Seeing as how Champions Online, Guild Wars 2 and others have picked up on the PQ concept, I’d say that WAR pioneered a terrific concept.

3. They weren’t afraid to try new ideas — a lot of new ideas, actually.

If awards could be handed out for games that tried the most new things, then WAR would have gotten the blue ribbon for 2008.  Open grouping, trophies, “living” cities, flinging you across the battlefield in a catapult… Mythic was a wellspring of terrific ideas that got us excited.

4. They ran a textbook perfect pre-launch marketing campaign.

There was PR, there was hype, there was backlash to the hype, there was backlash to the backlash — but what many people don’t acknowledge is that Mythic accomplished the #1 duty of any MMO marketing team prior to launch: they got the word out to just about everyone on this game.  It was hard to ignore WAR last fall, even if you weren’t interested in it, because of their masterful video podcasts, hyper interviews and sheer saturation of advertising.

5. The Tome of Knowledge was incredible.

We’ve never quite seen a utility like the Tome of Knowledge in a MMO before or since WAR, and this multi-layered character-tracking tool was an immense achievement for the game.  Some people simply didn’t care, but those who did appreciated the ToK’s “meta game” — tracking down unlocks to gain titles and items.

6. Trophies and dyes solved the armor problem.

The armor problem being, “Everyone has the same-looking armor as me!”  But with trophies to add bits and pieces onto your armor, and dyes to change your colors, players had a bit of flexibility and customization to gradually craft a unique appearance.

7. Live Events were spot-on cool.

I never expected Mythic to pump out a new live event for the game pretty much every month, but that’s what they did more or less since last September.  Live events were always a blast to play, with new scenarios, cool rewards, and awesome synergy with the Tome of Knowledge.

8. They appreciated their community.

Ask just about any prior or current WAR blogger or fan site operator, and they’ll all tell you the same — Mythic was hands-down terrific with talking to the community and often treating the “little guys” with equal respect as the big media sites.  I’ve never seen a MMO company give so much to blogs, to the point where they used them primarily to promote two separate special events in the game (Night of Murder and Land of the Dead).  Doing a WAR blog wouldn’t have been half as fun without their support.

9. They responded and adapted to criticisms.

We can play the “this is where they went wrong” game until the cows come home (unless you don’t have cows), but dev teams rarely get props for working hard on critical problems and addressing them to the point where it removes the reason for the original protest.  And yet, if we’re to be honest, Mythic’s been slaving away at fixing, tweaking and reworking bugs and serious issues, especially over the past couple months.  Fixing things and making a game more stable isn’t “sexy” by any means, but it is important to the lifespan of the game, and it’s great to see that they weren’t so blindly driven to do their own thing while ignoring the cries of their playerbase.

10. They got Snafzg back. If you don’t follow Massively, Snaffy has been conducting a one-month experiment where he resubscribed and gave WAR a chance to win him back.  Turns out, they did just that — the boy kept his subscription running.  Knowing how critical Snafzg has been of WAR as I do, and how angry he’s gotten over the title, this is a symptom of a new, good direction Mythic is taking the game.

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9 thoughts on “10 Things Mythic Did Right With Warhammer

  1. I agree with most of the list. Of course, every single one of them can be turned in a negative light.
    I would add that they really did manage to recreate massive battles in a “modern” MMO – you can’t find that many players battling in a single place except for EVE online.

  2. 300,000 subscribers, lol, that is a very outdated number you got there Syp. Last estimate given was around 85,000, and even that sounds too high if you have ever played it anytime recently. I believe even a dev admitted not that long ago it was under a 100,000. No offense, but you obviously you don’t pay much attention to the game anymore if you think it is still doing well. the Warhammer official forums, and all the other unofficial forums are a great read on the downfall of this game.

    This game despite all the innovative ideas, and great launch period, is still a complete failure no matter what. They had a lot of good ideas, but seemed to have no idea how to implement anything correctly. The client is still a joke with its bad coding, the game is filled with hackers cheating, the end game still requires you to PvE to progress your character, and the city sieges still are pathetic and broken. Of course many servers don’t have enough players for city sieges to even happen.

    I completely disagree with 4, 8, and especially 9. If they had responded to criticism sooner, like in beta, this game wouldn’t have become the mess it is today. I know you like to stay positive with them since they supported your blog, and became friends with you, but please, there is nothing left worth praising about this game. We can only hope Mythic never touches another MMO ever again.

  3. Without any supporting evidence the above comment sound like FUD to me.
    Actually everything beyond the first paragraph sound like an accusation at Syp.

    It’s almost as if someone can not stand other people saying positive things about Mythic/WAR.

  4. I know this is a “let’s be nice to WAR post”, but…

    1. They never once claimed to be better than WoW… – instead, they let the hype machine loose and claimed WAR could cure cancer and bring my dead dog back to life.

    2. Made PQ’s a legacy… – if you’re speaking about the Empire T1 PQ with the giant than maybe, otherwise most of the PQ’s I played were forgetable. In fact, some aren’t forgettable mostly because they were so damn frustrating/lame.

    3. Willing to try new ideas… – yes, some were terrific. Just wish they would have put more thought into the not-so-terrific ones and never forced them on us.

    4. Text-book perfect pre-launch… – uh, you sure about that Syp? Unless you’re suggesting misrepresenting your product or pulling a huge chunk of your content at the last minute is textbook.

    5. ToK… – okay, you win this one.

    6. Trophies and dyes… – rarely found/made any dyes, and trophies didn’t work properly for most of my toons for the first few months of the game. Even if they did, all the characters looked pretty much exactly the same – a blue Chosen vs. a green one really ain’t that much in terms of uniqueness.

    7. Live Events were cool… – yes, until the players started wising up and realizing the devs were spending all their time developing new content for a borked game instead of fixing said borked game.

    8. They appreciated their community… – yet didn’t really start listening to us until MJ saw the writing on the wall (then got canned) and their corporate masters told them to get their sh*t in order.

    9. They responded/adapted to criticism… – but unfortunately much too late in the game when it’s now pretty much impossible to fix some of the major issues (3rd+ faction anyone?).

    10. Got Snafzg back… – well okay. That’s actually not too shabby. I may follow in his footsteps come winter when it’s cold outside to get my WAR fix. Worse case scenario? The game still stinks, but at least I’ll feel like I bought into a stinky game based on my own informed choice as opposed to Paul Barnett’s hype-sandwich I choked down about a year ago. Mmm, tasty.

    Oh, almost forgot – happy anniversary WAR!

  5. Probably the most significant is getting Snafzg to re-subscribe. I will be intrigued to see how long he stays. This is probably the best indication that things have moved forward.

    For some people though, no matter what Mythic do, it will never be enough or right.

  6. I played on Dark Crag (busiest server) until september 22 2009 and it was close to dead at all time, so don’t know how many were still subscribing, but it was not that many. Certainly not 300K like we had in spring.

    The major problem with the game is the lag. If the game was actually playable with 100 vs 100, then many of its other sins could be put aside as the playing would be possible. But the lag creates too many problems for all. My pc is half a year old with top notch graphic card, memory, motherboard and cpu, my internet is 30Mbit/sec and i still can’t play in 100 vs 100? what a great game! In aion, i got 50 peeps in the same room as me and i don’t even lag. Someone did not know how to code and they work for mythic.

    Now its too little too late. Only the hardcore fanboyz still play the game hoping against all odds that it will somehow get better. Good luck with that! These guys did the exact same mistakes they did with DaoC and now are using the exact same fixes they did in the other game. Seems they could not learn from their own mmo developpement experience. What did they do with the DaoC team? fire them all and start anew? This game looks like it was made by intern for a school homework, but with a lot of money behind it.

    I just started aion and it is night and day compared to war. Everything works, no lag to talk about, no bugs, no bad animations, no peeps getting killed in 4 seconds, every class usefull, all the gear customizable to hell and back in looks and stats and procs. And big battle on a big battleground in the abyss. mmmmm everything that war doesn’t have. yeah im sure everyone will cancel their aion subs to get back to war of lag. ;-)

  7. Pingback: 10 Things Cryptic Did Right With Star Trek Online « Bio Break

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