What were Warhammer’s three biggest mistakes? Mythic’s Jeff Hickman recently engaged in that sort of Monday morning quarterbacking we so love — seeing a developer critique their own product. From an educational standpoint, it’s fascinating to read these sorts of interviews, because you grow to appreciate just how complex and difficult these games are to make and predict.
So what are Hickman’s three mistakes? Let’s take a look, along with my commentary:
1. PvE In The Beginning Was Too Easy
I guess soloing is bad now? I get that we should be challenged and whatnot, but I never thought WAR’s starting zone PvE was way too incredibly easy, especially with the PQs. Whether this is true or not, I would debate that this is a major mistake of the game — it’d be worse if the beginning PvE was so punishing that players gave up.
I can see a bit of additional challenging PvE, especially with mobs who did more than just run at you or run away when their health is 20%, as being beneficial, but I wouldn’t catagorize this as a big mistake, by any means.
2. Little Incentive To Group or Socialize
Hm. I grouped a lot in WAR, especially for PQs and PvP content, so I wouldn’t say that I was devoid of a grouping experience. But I would agree that their PvE dungeons were lacking in quantity, and that could have encouraged far more grouping to take place.
I will fully agree that WAR failed to promote and encourage a social atmosphere. It was a world where there was combat and only combat, where other MMOs at least make a token effort to provide fluff, RP and social elements. In fact, one of the biggest things that hurt the game was its lack of zone/tier-wide chat channels at launch, which led to a silent, “empty” feeling world where players felt disconnected from each other.
3. It’s The Economy, Stupid
Hickman nails it as he states, “Economy brings people together.” It really, really does. And WAR had almost no economy to speak of — a half-baked auction house and two crafting professions that offered very little in terms of manufactured goods that people hotly desired. People didn’t craft, buy or sell too much, and the sense of isolation instead of interconnected dependance grew.
All in all, it’s a thoughtful list, but… the three biggest? Perhaps I’d lump in the social/economy as one big mistake, for sure, but I’d put these two as the others:
1. A Lack of a Third Faction
It’s been said before, and Bootae said it again, but Warhammer simply and most assuredly needed a third faction. The two-faction struggle stripped away a lot of the uncertainty of PvP, as one side could simply dominate the other in terms of numbers, without any potential alliances or wild cards to spice things up.
I was asked a few months ago what it would take to draw me back into WAR, and while I stand by my answer of “I don’t think anything can”, I do believe that a third faction would be a crucial, deciding factor in getting a lot of players back into the battle.
At this point in the game’s development, I can appreciate that adding on a third faction presents a difficult task for Mythic — perhaps impossible, considering that they built the game from the ground up to be a two-faction conflict. But their decision to actually reduce the number of player factions from DAoC’s 3 to WAR’s 2 has proven to be a bad one in terms of Realm vs. Realm conflict, and that needs to be reversed.
2. Meaningless End Game PvP
What’s the point? That’s the question we started asking ourselves by the time we re-conquered the same keeps, flipped the same zones, and made the same attempts on fortresses and cities that we’d been doing for the past couple months. WAR had promised a world where your PvP mattered to some degree, but any impact you made was temporary and largely inconsequential. It really, really didn’t help that they nixed four of the capital cities — the end-game targets for PvP — and never put them back in.