WAR In Retrospect

warI finally got around to answering an e-mail from Josh Drescher that he sent out to a number of bloggers/journalists/WAR community members.  He was asking for some frank feedback on the game, which I gave off the top of my head (not having really considered much about WAR lately), and thought that I might as well go ahead and post some of my answers here as well.

Based on your interaction with the WAR blogging community and your own experiences, what are the top three things players, bloggers, you enjoy the most about WAR?

1. Great community and communication/relationships between the devs and the players
2. The Tome of Knowledge
3. The concept of the game — so many of WAR’s concepts and ideas are intriguing and solid

And what are the top three things that disappoint players, bloggers, yourself? Please don’t include client/server stability or performance on this list as we know it needs more love and is already our #1 technical priority.

1. If the concepts were great, the execution often was lackluster. It’s hard to put a finger on it, so I’ll use the trophy system as an example. Great, great idea. You sold it to us through the podcasts. But the implementation felt very half-hearted — trophies were small and almost unnoticable, and a bulk of the trophies were for late-game players, meaning that you went through most of your initial career without picking up many of them.
2. RvR as a whole felt completely pointless and way, way too chaotic.
3. The combat never felt totally right… the sounds were weak, the damage somewhat slippery. It’s one of those things again that you know doesn’t feel right but it’s hard to identify specifically.

If you’ve stopped playing WAR, what was your primary reason for doing so?

Mostly due to the pointlessness of the end game and the feeling that I was disassociated with the game world. I didn’t feel “in” the world, just visiting, for some reason.

You’ve been given a magic wand and can change three things in WAR as you see fit in order to improve the WAR community’s opinion and enjoyment of the game. What would they be?

1. Stop adding new content before going back to fixing and polishing a lot of the older systems — trophies, scenarios, new player experience, quests and Public Quests (fewer of these but much more interesting, polished and varied).
2. Make character development a LOT more fun than it is. The mastery paths simply don’t evoke the same sort of character building fun that WoW’s talent trees have. Perhaps scrap the paths and rely wholely on tactic builds (but make the builds bigger… I like how these were put into the game).
3. Remove 99% of the CC in the game.

Moving forward, what should we add MORE of?

1. Utilize the Tome of Knowledge more, especially beyond it’s current functionality as a piece of fluff/kill counter. I still feel quite strongly that a lot of the unlocks in the Tome should be visible (or at least have the option to be) so that players have something to shoot for.
2. Dungeons, especially polished, instanced ones that players frankly want.
3. Better crafting with a wider variety of gathering/crafts.
4. UI polish.

Anything else you’d like to say? Positive, negative or otherwise – just let loose!

I’ve certainly praised WAR and criticised it as well, and right now I feel pretty ambivilent toward it. I wish that wasn’t so — I had very high hopes for the game, and really felt like it was promoted to be a certain type of game that it really never reached in reality.

That said, you guys have a great team and some awesome ideas, and I’d love nothing more than to see WAR experience a renaissance due to finally getting a lot of broken things fixed, meh things polished, and new content added.

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24 thoughts on “WAR In Retrospect

  1. Adam July 21, 2009 / 10:51 am

    “The combat never felt totally right… the sounds were weak, the damage somewhat slippery. It’s one of those things again that you know doesn’t feel right but it’s hard to identify specifically.”

    Totally agree, though also can’t explain how. This was the main reason I quit. T1 was awesome cause I actually felt like I contributed to the fighting, and T2 felt the same to a degree, but after that it was basically getting hit by approximately 87 CC or AoEs per second and trying to do the same to the other team. While it was still fun to some degree, I never felt the immediate, visceral thrill of Gates of Ekrund or the other T1 scenarios.

    The only thing I can think of is that I stopped being able to actually feel like I was having a noticeable affect on the combat. I’m sure I was, but there was so much crap flying around that I could never know whether it was me or not. I’ve never felt to urge to twink in WoW, but I would have in WAR if I could.

  2. James July 21, 2009 / 11:45 am

    I totally agree with you that things need more polish. The build-up to the game had me so excited that I was telling everyone I met about it, but once I got into closed beta and the game launched the excitement fizzled with so many features that were only partially completed.

    What ever happened to the evolving changes? Like the black orc’s getting larger when they level, or the keeps changing their appearance to mimic the faction that holds it.

    One thing that makes me sad in the game is now there’s very few people actually doing PVE and PQs….it’s really too bad since there are so many interesting PQs!!

    There really isn’t any ‘feel’ to having a talent spec in the game other than a few different skills, and it really sucks that you can’t look at your build without finding a career trainer. 😦

    If they had another year to spend on the game to polish it and add in a few key missing elements, it would make so much of a difference….particularly the missing capital cities and how IC feels like a half-built city…

    After reading a forum post on WHA, I think that if they split up the Order/Destruction factions into a faction for each race, it would make more sense for the ‘Warhammer World’. Don’t go the way WoW created their 2-sided conflict, expand on what they did with DaoC…

    The only reason I’m still playing is that I love the community and I’ve been a fan of Warhammer Fantasy for 20 years now and I really hope to see something better come out of this.

  3. BVD July 21, 2009 / 12:02 pm

    Syp,

    Love it.
    Pleased as punch to see Mythic reaching out to the community and asking what we think / want with regards to WAR (a strange sense of optimism makes me feel like they’re actually going to do something with this feedback), and that you were willing to share your response with us.

    Pretty sure you did an excellent job of summing up what is on the minds of current and ex WAR players (well, at least what is on my mind anyway). There might have been a couple of things missed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those missed are smaller issues that tie back to the main ones you’ve identified in your response to Mythic.

    Cheers!

  4. Sven July 21, 2009 / 12:29 pm

    Great answers Syp. I think you managed to touch on everything I thought worked and didn’t work for the game. I hope they do something with the information they are gathering. I really think WAR could be an amazing game with a few relativly small changes.

  5. Beej July 21, 2009 / 12:40 pm

    The main thing I had a problem was server population, and I know that’s not something Mythic can really do anything about. The only solution I see is merging more servers together, but that’s signing one’s own death warrant in many cases. Higher pop servers would get scenarios more active, as well as give players more of a “world” feel that is missing, as you note.

    I would love to see the game have only around 5-6 servers, if that, and work with a system like EVE online where there is actually a world to interact with instead of copies.

    Have a single realm, perhaps, for each type of server: Core, Open RvR, etc.

  6. Frank July 21, 2009 / 12:40 pm

    @BVD

    I can say that there’s been a bit more of that effort on Mythic’s part, and that Syp probably isn’t the only one who had the opportunity to give such feedback through things like guild focus groups and surveys.

    As I said before, it’s a necessity for WAR to focus on its existing problems and not worry about the mindless bashing or negative press they are receiving except to catalog and take note of it. It has ground to make up, and if they can get past the hump of fixing core issues players have been talking about (like the AoE damage which is taking a huge hit in 1.3.0b), they’ll be just fine.

  7. Sharon July 21, 2009 / 1:07 pm

    I agree with most of what you said, and I’m glad to see that Mythic is really taking an interest in why people are leaving.

    I keep going back to WAR, mainly because of the people. But I’m finding myself more and more irritated by little things, like getting stuck or sliding down objects when I jump over them, or waiting for the mail server. I have a love-hate relationship with WAR. I want to play it, but sometimes I just get so annoyed that I have to log out.

  8. Chris July 21, 2009 / 1:48 pm

    As someone still playing, let me add strong support for the fewer/better PQ’s, and polished old and new instanced dungeons. I’ve heard good things about the new Gunbad, and like the LotD PvE, so we know they can do better than a lot of the original PvE. I think it would also help a lot on the PvE side to add:

    1. Class-specific quest chains
    2. Treasure chests in out of the way areas and unsed little dungeons (like the Thorsafan? crypts in Ostland). Make it like Diablo II- boss (champion) monster + linked normal ones loiter around a treasure chest. This would add a lot to the immersion/exploration angle.

  9. Cirdan July 21, 2009 / 2:02 pm

    Very goog points and i agree with most i have to say, but totaly absolutly disagree with the talent trees and the example of WoW´s.

    Their talent trees could show just 1 path every class patch, because everyone speccs the same and the other speccs can´t live up to that “fotm” one. that was always the case since release.

    i felt more freedom in war because i could go with 3 different speccs (or 4 with my shaman) and could have fun with all of them.

    maybe that just me 🙂

    i guess it is realy me because i also like the combat but overall i agree with you, again good points.

  10. Krosuss July 21, 2009 / 3:49 pm

    Good article.

    Mythic has a potentially good game on their hands if they can fix those lingering issues.

    They say they know about system performance so it’s nice to hear them asking about other items. Question is, can they do it?

    They aren’t that far off. Class balance is a problem in most games and from what I understand, all MMOs have constant tweeks to class balance. So that won’t change. Hopefully the fixes planned for end game will be good ones and they can stabilize some of the other items many have mentioned.

    So my hype and promise … and not even a year old. It’s a solid enough foundation but will take quite an effort to built upon it.

  11. We Fly Spitfires July 21, 2009 / 3:56 pm

    “I didn’t feel “in” the world, just visiting, for some reason.”

    Sums it up for me. I just felt like I playing an arcade game, not living in a virtual world.

    I love the concept of WAR – I want to be actively involved in huge fights over land and sieges over keeps but unfortunately, when I played it, it just ended up being a slow PVE grind fest with people pvping in scenarios.

  12. royale July 21, 2009 / 5:00 pm

    1. Stop adding new content before going back to fixing and polishing
    2. Make character development a LOT more fun than it is.
    3. Remove 99% of the CC in the game.

    Damn, I feel like I could have typed these out myself. I also wholeheartedly agree with combat not “feeling right.” Character response/timing/feedback/control was never quite there.

    The best way to describe it: Fire a gun in HL2 or TF2… or attack something in WoW or GuildWars… then compare the feeling you get from those attacks to the lack of feeling you get from casting Warhammer’s skills.

    In the other games, you actually feel like you’re hitting something and have good control of your character’s abilities. But in WAR it just feels so “blah.”

  13. skarbd July 21, 2009 / 5:53 pm

    It’s the polish thing, that’s the problem, that last 5%. Like you said, trophies great in concept, in execution just poor.

    Communication of what’s happening in RVR is once again blah. Like the capitals are being locked down and the scenarios are gone. Yet when you highlight the scenario button, it tells you nothing about why you aren’t getting a scenario list.

    You have a join all scenario’s, but where’s the leave all scenarios, which we have to do a lot of when in a group…

    I could go on, but I would just bore myself rigid.

    I often wonder if Mythic play the same game as me, since all these annoyances would grate on me a lot.

    I have a rule of thumb when developing any applications. If something annoys me, or is just clumsy, then it’s sure as hell going to annoy the people/customers using it, so get on fix it.

    I think it’s worth Mythic remembering that we all haven’t spend 2/3 years developing Warhammer, so we sure as hell don’t get all of it’s nuances, so if the software doesn’t educate us, then who hell will. Using the forums as the primary education tool, is plain lazy and I certainly don’t have the time to trawl through the crap, to get to the gems.

  14. merck July 21, 2009 / 6:03 pm

    “Mostly due to the pointlessness of the end game and the feeling that I was disassociated with the game world. I didn’t feel “in” the world, just visiting, for some reason.”

    Very well put. My feelings exactly.

  15. Chris July 21, 2009 / 9:30 pm

    One other comment- you said you like the concept of the game, but felt the end game was pointless. What would you change about the endgame (or how would you have designed it) so that it was a meaningful/engrossing experience?

    I think this is probably the core design issue WAR needs to face- how to reconcile an RVR endgame for the players that just want to fight each other, with high-end PVE content for those that want more.

  16. royale July 22, 2009 / 8:36 am

    Make rank 20 the max character level. Remove tiers 3 and 4.

    Lame combat is the biggest problem with endgame, so roll everyone back to when combat was fun.

  17. Slurms July 22, 2009 / 8:54 am

    I agree with most of what you said, and it was straight-forward.

    The one thing I disagree with (it’s the internet, I can!) is the addition of more Tome of Knowledge fluff.

    I actually wish it was taken from the game entirely (along with collision detection). Even if there was more fluff, you’d run out at some point and it would just be this collection of stuff you did, but if you’re like me, you’ll never look at it. My biggest reason for the want of its removal is actually performance. That thing HAS to take up a huge amount of resources through the pipeline. Look how many checks are being done at any given time through that “achievement” system. Adding more fluff just means lowering the servers performance. It’s neat, but I’d like less latency more.

    Let me get my fire retardant suit for the flame…..ok, go!

  18. Syp July 22, 2009 / 9:02 am

    I don’t specifically want more “fluff” for the Tome, I want it to be more useful as a whole — be a better motivator for players, offer substantially tasty rewards, and be a better info delivery system for the players. But yeah, I can see your point.

  19. Slurms July 22, 2009 / 10:49 am

    Oh I see what you meant. I missread that the first time through. I still want it out though lol.

  20. Jonnytheshirt July 23, 2009 / 6:14 am

    Nicely put, agree with many points, good to see Mythic seeking feedback. First off I love the community and game – offers PvP like no other. Long time Warhammer fan; tome doesn’t figure anywhere in this game for me however – I believe tis a bit lame.

    Is there an Elephant in this room however in realtion to WAR? Performance – the mass RvR marketed by Mythic does not happen; because its seems the game was tested under Mythical circumstances. In a keep with 320 Chaos attacking it I had to up grade Microsoft powerpoint to watch it. Perhaps in an underground venue somewhere on Tokyo with as unyet released octo-core CPUs it would be possible, but real world no. AOE debuffs and effects clutter up the interface and play terribly to begin with…

    Happy to find this post – hope Mythic are reading!

  21. Shamus July 23, 2009 / 12:02 pm

    I’m still currently playing (nearing 30) but have stopped the renew on my subs. I’ve only been playing once a week with friends as WAR never managed to drag me away from WoW.

    I’ve never got on with the Tome. The idea of having a central repository for all this stuff is a good one I think, but the execution just jars with me. Mostly it is a UI issue. The tabs all look the same to me and the page turning just makes me irritable as it feels unresponsive. The bad idea of a book as UI is highlighted when they extended the quest log. It really should be a scrollable list, not pages where you’ve got no control over where the page breaks go!

    There are some very good things about WAR. The way that all classes use the same action point mechanic works very well I think, along with the scaling of spells. Certainly this is a better approach than the very increasing mana and spell ranks. The ideas for classes and the abilities are very nice. The concept for PQs is good.

    But the game just lacks polish. Little bugs linger for ages (such as the error when buffing your own party). The fact that the contribution system (a reasonable idea) has never worked properly is a massive failure.

    The biggest turn-offs for me though are:

    Everything is zoned, I was so dissappointed when I was first ready for tier 2 only to find the road was a dead end with a stupid zone portal. This is especially annoying when flying where you get the taking off animation which lasts several seconds and /then/ it does the zone load!

    Graphics glitches and performance. The graphics engine isn’t good. I have a decent high spec PC but still have to turn down the graphics quite severely to get a decent frame rate. Add to this the number of glitches, from little things like flickering hats that don’t quite line, medium ones where characters randomly appear mounted, to big ones where characters occasionally look like alien spider monkeys (ok, they’re rare but still). And far too much getting stuck on scenery.

    Biggest problem I have though is that the game just doesn’t feel responsive. I’m running at 40fps on a decent network but I still get massive spell lag. My heals will land whilst my cast bar is still only 2/3 of the way completed. Instants … aren’t. Or maybe they are, but the feedback certainly isn’t. Hit button … pause … character starts animation and cast bar appears … pause … spell lands … pause … character completes animation. I wouldn’t mind if it was slow … as long as it was at least in sync!

  22. Kevin July 27, 2009 / 9:04 am

    The combat felt weak and non-immersive with the exception of a few classes. For the most part, it feels thrown together. This game has room for a lot of potential, but the devs have to change it and polish it a lot more. Since you get most your required/good skills in the first half of the game, you have to rely on talents… and the talent system is linear and limiting (limiting you to the skills that benefit by your chosen tree). I hate to say it, but at least WoW encouraged different builds and playstyles within the same tree. Combat was the biggest area where WAR lacked for me. The next biggest factor was the lack of good, immersive, meaningful RvR where you actually were bored when you were NOT in it. Instead, I was bored when I was in RvR. Scenarios and PvE were more interesting but still got boring because it was so linear. PQs were some of the most fun, but not enough people did them.

    The game felt like it was so varied in race/class that the zones and classes were not focused on enough. Overall it was fun for awhile, but very monotinous and somewhat boring outside of the fact you’re fighting a bunch of other players. I liked some of the PvP objectives though – great job at varying the scenarios also.

  23. chris July 29, 2009 / 4:41 pm

    I only use the Tome to change my titles, other then that its totally useless in my opinion.

    I hate to say it but when Wintergrasp came out in Wow it was a million times better than the fortress fights in War. That is what Warhammer needs; destructable buildings, seige tanks, better seige weapons, actual explosions from seige weapons.

    They also need to make T3 and T4 simple like in T1 and T2. Scenarios are the same, they need to keep it simple. Make dungeons hard to complete with a organized group.

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