My Private WAR

f1f50_warforthemacAlthough I love talking about MMOs, and especially playing them, I would never, ever want to go into the business of making them.  I’m honest enough to admit that.  For some, it sounds like a dream job, and perhaps it even is to a few, but the risks of attaching your hard work to a failing bandwagon in this field is just not worth it.

Consider: you could work for years on a project, only to have it canceled for various reasons right up to the point where it would have launched; it could flop on release, and you would be stuck tending a lame duck for years afterward; you always will have to listen to and deal with malcontents and trolls who hate every decision you make; and there will always, always be a shiny new star ready to come along and steal the spotlight away from you.

So I admire the dev teams of all MMO studios, because they have a lot more passion and persistence than I ever would, especially when every decision they make is subject to analysis, critique and second-guessing from people not in the hot seat — you know, like me!

Lately, the question of Warhammer’s recent “unlimited new experience trial” has prompted a few discussions among writers, including KTR that sees this as a desperate flailing of sorts to reverse unfortunate trends.  Personally, I think it’s the right move, and I think they had to make it.  Why?

Because WAR has endured a series of body blows that haven’t killed or even crippled the game, but has left it gasping somewhat.  Stalling at a few hundred thousand players (most likely less at this point) was just the start — follow that up with the firing of a considerable chunk of their staff, the studio merger-of-some-kind with BioWare, the loss of Mark Jacobs, and the dead on arrival “Land of the Dead” public dungeon all served to put Baby in the corner and keep her there.

Still, there’s hope for the title, unless you refuse to see it.  WAR continues to expand into different worldwide markets, has some help/resources from BioWare, recently launched their Mac version to great acclaim, retooled their entire New Player Journey experience, and continued to push hard to increase performance and decrease technical issues.

Mythic needs to de-emphasize the negatives and highlight the positives, which, to their credit, they have serveral of.  Since the newbie zones got the most love recently, it makes sense to want to (re)introduce those to players.  And now that we’re seeing how these “unlimited” free trials are working in titles such as DDO or Wizard101 and are largely popular, it makes sense to latch onto this trend and see if it might not lift WAR’s reputation out of the gutter.

It also wouldn’t hurt for Mythic to take a look at the following suggestions:

  1. Get on that third faction and/or expansion ASAP – it’s the only thing that’s going to make most non-WAR players sit up and notice you again.
  2. Take a note from BioWare’s marketing team, and resurrect your video podcasts and developer blogs (hey, free publicity is free publicity, and sites love to link to these things!).  You guys used to be a personality-led studio, and now your public enthusiasm is all but buried and gone.
  3. Aggressively go after disillusioned Aion players by pointing out your PvP strengths vs. Aion’s weaknesses (after all, you allow your players to PvP from level 1, and in a variety of ways!).
  4. Grab some of that EA money and throw together a few witty, memorable and personality-laced ads!
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24 thoughts on “My Private WAR

  1. Thac0 November 3, 2009 / 8:46 am

    5. Even though your a PvP game add some bad-ass PvE for those people who like a little balance and Make the PvP mean something besides getting someone a chance to raid a city.

    The PvE in the game was laughable and the PvP was shallow. I’m not sure how they could fix it

  2. Fuzzy November 3, 2009 / 9:08 am

    Personality-laced ads? Eff that, let’s go own some noobs! 😀

  3. lukane09 November 3, 2009 / 9:10 am

    I recently re-subbed to WAR and I am loving it! I grew tired of “trying” to have fun in Champions and thought I’d check out the 10 free days and 1.3.2.

    The game runs much smoother, is more responsive, is much more balanced, and high level loot is no longer for the leet.

    A game like this will always be dependant on a certain amount of player made content. Last night I joined a great pug warband in T2 and we spent the night playing cat and mouse with 2 Order warbands.

    I would suggest joining a server that has a steady population (eh hem, Gorfang) and giving the game another shot. WAR has come a long way in delivering on the promises they made at launch. I would go so far as to say it is the best PvP focused game on the market right now.

  4. tjsonntag November 3, 2009 / 9:22 am

    I wanted to love WAR. I was so tired of WoW, even before Wrath released, and I really did give WAR a healthy shot at capturing my attention.

    However, after having my character moved three different times due to server consolidations, it was becoming clear that WAR simply didn’t have the player base to make it. Your article has given me hope that perhaps an 11th hour resurrection is in the works.

    And speaking of Aion – I’m playing it, enjoying it immensely, and while I did suffer through the early weeks of spamming, I’ve had zero issue with bots whatsoever.

    Thanks for insight, and I’ll definitely put this one back on the radar.

  5. tarisai November 3, 2009 / 10:10 am

    5. Give GOA a pen, or two sticks to rub together so they can at least ATTEMP to communicate with the EU player base!

  6. Tdubs036 November 3, 2009 / 10:11 am

    Maybe they should try and tie in WAR with TOR – if you subscribe to WAR now you get certain bonuses with TOR depending on how long you have been a suscriber for. Like an early start, bonus usuable buffs or several bits of novelty equipment similar to Dragon Age/Mass Effect 2. Then release a joint account where you get access to both for a little extra money – would be tempting to take advantage of being able to play either.

    Certainly tapping into the hype surrounding TOR would do no harm when the game has taken such a battering.

  7. tarisai November 3, 2009 / 11:16 am

    Tdubs036

    I’ll play WAR everyday till TOR’s release if they give me a heard of nerfs to call my own as a bonus reward…

    (ATTEMPT*)

  8. Tesh November 3, 2009 / 11:33 am

    A permanent free trial area is brilliant. It lets people build social ties that keep them in the game, and lets casuals stay in touch with friends. It lowers the barrier to entry and reentry. More games should use this method. It’s not desperation, it’s late adoption of what should have been there from the very beginning.

  9. Aaron November 3, 2009 / 12:38 pm

    If only Mythic had done what DAoC had done so well and not tried to follow the WoW recipe: PvP for abilities instead of gear. In that way everyone can get the gear via other means and put themselves in a place to compete first, then get into the PvP.

    Making GroupVsGroup PvP actually viable in WAR would also help a ton (as this was the very best part of DAoC).

  10. CirdanX November 3, 2009 / 1:11 pm

    They realy could learn a thing or two from Bioware´s marketing team and the way they communicate with their player base, they listen, responde but still stick true to their believes and don´t force a game into a mass market direction.

    Yes the third party, this realy hurt, i will never understand what they thought while aiming for two factions only especialy after DaoC *shakes head*

    I would love to go back to WAR and i probably will give it a try again next month with my new computer, let´s see how they fixed the performance, i´m very sceptical!

    Oh stop hitting at Aion you start to sound sound like the typical hater, making claims without proof or enough playtime. Though i wish there would be PvP from start on, i realy love that about WAR. But open PvP and fortresses are done way better than WAR and run more stable too, combat overall is more smooth in my experience. Battlegrounds wouldn´t hurt, but then all the balance crying would become more and more, so except BG´s and lvl 1 start there is no variety. That´s hardly disilluisional.

    I realy hope Mythic get´s their act together, as i said i like WAR and will give it a try again.

  11. xXJayeDuBXx November 3, 2009 / 2:25 pm

    I agree with Thac0, WAR needs more balance. I like the game, I am seriously thinking of resubbing, but I ‘m not refusing to see hope, I just don’t see it right now. Maybe that’s because I am not playing the game at the moment, I don’t know.

    I would like to see more PvE improvements, but maybe Mythic should just make all servers PvP, getting rid of the RvR lakes.

  12. We Fly Spitfires November 3, 2009 / 3:58 pm

    I’ve love to make a MMORPG but I’d only do it if I was a gazzilionnaire and was able to fund it without worry. Maybe one day 😛

  13. JoBildo November 3, 2009 / 4:01 pm

    I’ve yet to try the new patch, but think I will. I’m still in love with the IDEA of WAR. But every time I’ve tried to get back into since leaving, it’s the PvE that drives me away. I need it as well as the RvR to keep me going, and the PvE in WAR is just somehow… bland.

  14. Jessica A. November 3, 2009 / 5:27 pm

    Great advice. I have a soft spot for WAR, it had the only PvP that I actually participated in and enjoyed. Most games I don’t really try pvp unless I have to, and then find it to be a miserable gank fest and give up. Got too much on my plate atmo to really be interested in trying it again, but I hope the best for it.

  15. Longasc November 3, 2009 / 6:06 pm

    As a PvP focused game it needs better, better balanced and better working PvP.

    Then there is my personal eternal question if heavily pvp based actually have to fail by default – IMO PvP is an important part of MMOs, but not the most important part that makes or breaks a game.

    See Guild Wars, supposedly a PvP game, PvP endgame and all that – and the bulk of players does PvE. Talking about WAR and PvP made me just think about Guild Wars. Maybe you give Guild Wars some love, I just realized that not many people write a lot about Guild Wars. It does not seem to be good blogging material for some odd reason.

  16. Green Armadillo November 3, 2009 / 8:42 pm

    The perma-free-trial is a good idea, but I’m guessing that it doesn’t work for canceled accounts. I’ve been meaning to give Warhammer’s retrial a try at some point, but I feel like I have to save the 10-day window for sometime when I’m prepared to devote most of my gaming time to Warhammer. I’d gladly take a level 10 restriction to get around that time limit.

  17. Tdubs036 November 4, 2009 / 7:24 am

    @tarisai – LoL I like the reference

    Also I am pretty sure you would get a weapon called the “Nerve Herder” somewhere in the game

  18. Nollind Whachell November 4, 2009 / 12:34 pm

    “Make the PvP mean something besides getting someone a chance to raid a city…and the PvP was shallow.”

    Thac0 nailed it. The core PVP experience within the game is extremely shallow and lacking.

    This is where I think MMO developers need to take some serious lessons from FPS developers. How so? It simple really, learn from map development. If you develop a map in an FPS game and it sucks, people don’t play it (doesn’t go into rotation on servers). If the map is great, then it gets played all the time and people never get bored of it, even after playing it for years.

    That’s the problem with the core PvP experience in WAR. The “map”, that being keep combat, sucks and really gets boring after doing it repeatedly for months. They knew this which is why they decided to add in a second ramp in bases to try to improve the experience. Nice try but they have to do a helluva lot more than that. Simply put, the keep combat experience needs to be complex and dynamic (similar to FPS games like Tribes or even Planetside), yet it’s not.

    My suggestion is rework the entire keep combat experience and play test it repeatedly with a consistent group of people who do nothing but that. If they start enjoying it, even after playing it repeatedly a month, then I think you’re on to something.

    In a nutshell. WAR’s developments seems to have taken an approach of “fill in all the gaps” first (i.e. PvE, PvP, etc) and then figure out the details afterward. Bad approach. It should have been focus on one aspect of the game first (preferably the core aspect of PVP initially), figure it out fully, then focus on other aspects of the game. In a sense, they should have created a pure PVP game initially and then integrated in PvE stuff later.

    The way the devs were talking prior to beta, I assumed that’s what they did. But once I got into the game and experience the single ramp experience in keep combat, I was like WTF is this? I could have more fun playing Counter-Strike or Team Fortress 2. It was then I realized the full details of PvP was like an afterthought to the game and not the core focus of it.

  19. heartlessgamer November 4, 2009 / 3:51 pm

    WAR was laughably dysfunctional at launch, all hidden under a really great skin. There is potential there, but if Land of the Dead couldn’t do it, then what will?

    The new player experience was the LAST thing in WAR that needed to be touched. Tiers 1 and 2 were the BEST parts of the game! They were the only tiers that were extensively tested and actually tweaked based on tester feedback.

    WAR should be talking about ripping out and replacing all the Tier 4 RvR zones, not what new players will see.

    A couple non-gameplay things that could help:

    1. Allow players to activate ALL CD keys on Steam.
    2. Go free-to-play with microtransactions/advertising.

  20. qgi November 5, 2009 / 7:40 am

    I absolutely loved WAR. I didn’t have much MMO experience beforehand, but the first half year was the best time I had in a game so far. Problem is it stopped being fun in T4 and after hitting 40 the second time I had actually seen anything in PvE. If they only introduced a third faction or at least another race pairing with additional areas it could be fun for another two month. To become successful in the long run, they need reasonable end game content. T4 raids are just zerg runs 99% of the time and crafting in this game is really meh.

  21. qgi November 5, 2009 / 7:48 am

    I really loved WAR until I hit 40 for the second time and suddenly realised that it’s either leveling up through the same content a thrid time or to go grinding up my RR through mindless zerging. Give me another race and new PvE ares, some additional scenarios (the factory during the heavy metal event was great) and I’ll resubscribe again for another couple of months. The lack of actual end game content is the real problem. T4 RvR is just a copy of T3 RvR with worse balancing. And crafting in this game is meh.

  22. walabone November 19, 2009 / 12:54 pm

    WAR has very much improved. Speaking as a player who has their city raided multiple times a day, I’m having a blast in WAR. In terms of career balance I believe only a few minor tweaks are needed for PvP balance, and in PvE the blend of tactics available is deep and exciting.

    I agree LOTD has some rough spots… but when it was released everyone on my server was in for 24/7 for a couple weeks. We got bored and went back to RvR for months… But recently my guild has been doing event in LOTD and rediscovering it, and it’s truly alot of fun and a rich PvE experiance unlike any other game. No lair encounter is a straight forward tank and spank, and that makes every encounter different. The PQs themselves are interesting, fun, and unique. TOVL is a very challenging and fun experience. The dungeon has only been cleared by a handful of groups up to this point. The warcamp raids are fun as well, and the zone is a great place for 1v1 PvP.

    I’m very happy with the state of the game now! Before 1.3.2 I was on the verge of unsubscribing – now that’s completely out of the question!

  23. DaBigNob December 16, 2009 / 2:42 am

    LOL, I’m one of those “disillusioned Aion players” mentioned in the original article. I hit level 39 in Aion… barely. It was all I could stand, just to log in and “play” the last several days before I decided to cancel.

    As you climb in levels in Aion, the game gradually becomes increasingly bland with less and less to do besides grind and attend the lag fests otherwise known as fortress raids. It’s a pointless game with no compelling reason to want to keep coming back for more. It’s sad when a game starts to feel like drudge work before you even hit the level cap.

    So I’m coming over to WAR precisely for the reason of filling my PVP urge that wasn’t quite satisfied in Aion, despite all it’s flashy (and false) promises prior to game launch.

  24. Celina Roefaro March 5, 2010 / 9:50 am

    [..] A little unrelated, but I absolutely liked this webpage post [..]

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