I’ve been watching with a heavy heart as many from Warhammer Online’s blogging community are retiring from their solemn duties, one after another, in a morbid procession of regret, wistfulness and (sometimes) anger. Grimnir has the latest batch of farewells lined up, so I shan’t repeat them here, but there are some big names that have been blogging WAR since launch and before.
I understand, I identify and I support them wherever they go (and I sincerely hope that many of them, excellent writers that they are, keep on blogging in some format). As many of you know, I wrote about Warhammer over a year on my old blog, WAAAGH!, played the game extensively, and ended up petering out much the same way as has been described by my fellow bloggers. We all have our fun thresholds that have to be reached in order to sustain interest, and if it dips below that point, well, even having a major blog invested in talking about only one game won’t be the glue that keeps you stuck on it forever.
I’ve always thought of myself as more of a positive blogger than a negative one, but I’m not going to completely ignore what’s going on in the Warhammer community right now just because most of it is sour. Patience is growing thin for many (but not all), particularly with Mythic’s promises and execution of said promises.
I will always love Mythic for being the company that they are, because — bless them — they have showed me that they care about the player, they listen to us, and they’re willing to work hard and pump out new content like there’s no tomorrow to improve their game. It was a joy to cover WAR, because Mythic always gave us interesting personalities, excellent dev podcasts and interacted with the blogging community in a way that all other MMOs should do likewise. If I was the type to give report cards, I’d give them an “A” for effort, “A” for personality, “A” for imaginitive features, “A+” for hype, and “C-” for execution of it all.
Like Snafzg said, “If you keep building inefficiencies on top of inefficiencies, there is simply no way for you to untangle the mess you’re left with at the end.” That’s an excellent way of putting a finger on WAR’s main issue. It’s not that they weren’t daring, or don’t have a great IP, or have failed to throw a dump truck full of terrific ideas our way. It’s that, like a car with three wheels that you’re fueling with Jack Daniels, it just doesn’t work properly. Warhammer is an excellent game to play for those willing to overlook, for extended periods of time, faulty implementation in favor of the overall picture. Mythic’s answer to a fleeing playerbase is grand promises, new content and rapid redeployment of Dark Age of Camelot’s tried-and-true features, whereas the #1 issue has always been polish, stability and playability.
Great ideas, grumpy engine.
There’s also an extremely wistful part of me that recalls back to summer 2008 and how I’d devour the advance info and imagine how the game would play. In my mind, it was grand — the world was dark and gritty and humorous; the Tome all-encompassing; the play exciting; the customer characterization intricate. The game in my head wasn’t pie in the sky impossible, it just wasn’t anywhere near where WAR turned out to be. So I let that go, took WAR at its own merits, and eventually felt something intangible missing from my gameplay experience.
Of course, there are many, many players and WAR bloggers who don’t see it this way at all, and are in the thick of the fight even as comrades peel away for other MMOs. That’s perfectly fine and I encourage them — as I’ve often said, don’t let the opinion of others (myself included) influence whether or not you like a game and are enjoying it. If you do and are, then by all means: play away! You shouldn’t need my blessing to do so. We are all gamers, first and foremost, and should never be so wedded to one title that we can’t imagine ever playing anything else, or ever be able to leave.
I still hold tremendous hope for the future of WAR, because they are making strides to fixing and polishing and generating great content, and if in two years we start hearing about how we HAVE to come back and give this game another try by fellow players… then you won’t be able to stop a smile on my face. I don’t want WAR to fail, and I don’t think it really will. It can only succeed less instead of more. I dare Mythic to win me back, to fling much improved subscriber numbers in the faces of doubters, to be the comeback story of the MMO world in 2009 and 2010. I’ll be cheering them on if they do so.