Goodbye WAR

So today was the last chance to drop in and say goodbye to Warhammer Online. And seeing as how it really kicked this blog off a little over 5 years ago, it seemed fitting to let bygones be bygones and pay my respects on the last day.

I didn’t have much time, but I logged into my main, a Shadow Warrior, and dinked around for half an hour while I grabbed some lunch. I did some combat, completed a quest, visited the capital, used some leftover dye’s, made a couple of potions, and, true to my real life patron, planted some seeds and grew a plant or two.

war crafting

I had forgotten how fun crafting was in WAR. I guess you could call it a minigame of sorts, but it was never onerous. I loved planting and harvesting and then turning the ingredients into plenty of potions that then got handed out to my brother or friends or just used for myself. Most of my backpack space was dedicated to seeds I was saving or wanting to use once I got leveled up enough.

In fact, most of my time was spent uncovering all the little things that I enjoyed so much about WAR. I hate that the game got derailed in the way it did, and to be honest, I hate that I gave up on it so soon. I think that was my main lesson learned today. And I know nobody wants to hear me go on and on about the awesome dye system, or how the poses of the characters were straight from the tabletop game, or the neat buffs that granted abilities and so on. So instead I took a few minutes to put together a collage. So here you go, a few of my favorite things:

war favorite things

Looking back, I regret not giving the Gobbo Shaman and the Elf Swordmaster a whirl. Those were both classes that seemed fun. Eh, I’m getting all misty.

I guess its easy to look back with rose colored glasses when the game is getting its plug pulled isn’t it? Someone might even be in such an emotionally delicate state as to make outrageous claims about how good the game was…or is.

war best game

Truth be told, the game is still rough. The graphics are pretty bleh, not having held up well over time – which is sad given the minimum requirements of the game back at launch – one of the many things that can be filed under “poor design decision.” The PvP over PvE imbalance was a nightmare – though it seems they might have fixed that, given the insane XP I was getting per kill for creatures a level or two lower than me on the quest I did.

Overall, I think we will look back at WAR as being a bit of a pioneer. Public Quests, Open World PvP, Slottable Passive Abilities…just a few of the things that we have come to integrate fully, iterate on, and to some extent, feel are absolutely necessary in MMO’s today. WAR was ugly at times, but it was brimming with new ideas and exciting possibilities. If it fell short of expectations, at least we can afford it some respect for shooting for the moon, and doing so with an IP that was rich and fun (remember the Gobbo/Orc starting area? Getting shot out of the catapult? And the dwarves in the barrels? lol…).

Thanks for the memories WAR, and the impetous to do this blog. Like you, its had its ups and downs, but it was a worthwhile endeavor. Until we meet again…

war goodbye

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Even In Death, WAR can’t be bothered to PvE

Remember how Mythic/Bioware/EA promised power ups for characters to enjoy the last month that they were giving away free?

From the forums:

I have seen players asking about that NPC in /advice so I will just post some info here.

First of all – its NOT power up NPC that offer anything unique or give u some high renown character with gear, gold, mounts etc. Also nothing is for free – war crests is what u need in this case.

War crests are new currency (instead of medailons, insignias and emblems). U get it for rvr activities – killing players, locking zones, doing scenarios and as reward in keep loot bag.

NPC is located in t1 warcamps (Nordland).

It was the beginning of their death within the first two months of the game’s existence, and it continues to be a disappointment right up until the last day. I wonder if WAR might have been successful if they had spent a little more time delivering the MMORPG they promised, and a little less time delivering a glorified MOBA nobody wanted.

WAR is Over

Whether you want it or not.

News is probably old to most of you by now (being..what, 48 hours out now?) that Games Workshop is not renewing the license for EA/Mythic to continue running Warhammer Online. Is it just me, or does that sound like a blame game? “Well, we would love to keep it going, but…” I can’t see where the title really benefits GW as a company (outside of cash coming in I guess), but I can’t see that its really hurting them either. Surely they were not the ones pulling the plug.

In any case, this comes with a bit of sadness. My brother and I talked as we were wrapping up LotRO whether or not WAR might be a place to duck into for awhile. But neither of us really saw this coming. I just figured that they would eventually cave into the pressure and go F2P like everyone else.

So I am a bit saddened by the news. As Wilhelm points out, many of us started blogging with WAR and even banded together to form a guild.

So like other shutdowns I’ve endured (Shadowbane, EQOA, CoX), this one has a bit of personal bite to it as well. But unlike those others, I’m determined to do something different this time. I’m going to go back. Yep. I’m going to soil the nostalgia. I’m going to kill it with all the flaws I can find.

I’m going to play so that I can recall vividly how they abandoned the PvE game within 3 months, and how poorly tuned the leveling curves were, and how frustrating it was that even though in the tabletop my elf hero could wield whatever the hell he wanted to, in the MMO I could use only what they told me.

And I may not be doing it alone. If you want in – just say the words.

Either way, when December gets here, the plan is that I won’t feel so bad when the power goes out. I might come to feel vindicated and hope that it never sees the light of day again. I’ll remember why I quit playing and be happy to put this thing to bed.

I wonder…what will the world look like on the day Azeroth or (the real) Norrath goes dark forever? Or even the Three Realms of Camelot, which surely can’t be that far behind. And I wonder, when those days finally come – what will it feel like to know that a realm that not just 300k people – but 12m+ people have played (lived?) in will go dark forever.

Day Two – I Started A Blog Because…

I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to say in the comment box.  Seriously.

 

I started out reading Genda’s Grouchy Gamer and Wilhelm’s Ancient Gaming Noob, along with Ysharros’ Stylish Corpse and West Karana.   And they had such awesome posts and neat things to say, I often wanted to give my own perspective.   I probably would have been a content reader, but for the perfect storm of Warhammer Online:  Age of Reckoning.

 

You see the summer before I started this blog my dad and brother and I had attended a Games Workshop Gameday and had a blast.  And we also won a closed beta account in a drawing that day.  I had done EQOA, passed on Vanguard, and settled into WoW.   I had flirted around with Everquest II and City of Heroes, but nothing serious.   Mostly I was looking for a game that I could convince our little gaming group to go for after I had dropped my WoW sub and refused to go back (not the most sporting of things).   WAR looked like it might be the way to go – my brother and I played tabletop and our third party member was a big Blood Bowl aficionado.

 

My very first posted image and screenshot!

 

The problem was that we never got the beta account (and the contact info GW gave us ended up being bogus), so I had to go looking for a beta key.  And I had never done a game at launch.  One of the reasons I did not dive into EQ2 despite how much I loved it was I felt so far behind.   So armed with a beta key and the opportunity to get into what looked to be the next big MMO at launch was the perfect setup and gave me the perfect reason to start a blog.

 

And I wasn’t the only one.   Lots of us started blogs around that time as I recall  (how many of you started around August of 2008?).  Enough that the Casualties of War guild got off the ground with a band and a ton of members.

 

Turns out I was right, I did have a lot to say.  Here I am nearly five years later and I’m still blabbing on.

The PvE Sandbox; or how PvP is ruining my MMO’s one by one.

Does it exist?  And if so where can I find it?  That mythical game with no PvP.

 

I am reading over at The Ancient Gaming Noob about how Rift is now traveling invariably down the same path that crashed Warhammer and Fallen Earth.  That is, turning your MMORPG into an a  competitive 3rd person whack-a-skill-watch-the-dps-meter-and-create-some-macros paradise.  Granted, Rift is not there yet, because they haven’t, say…changed their entire damage and armor mechanic because it wasn’t good for PvP, or scaled their XP progression primarily around how many matches it would take to cap level.  But its the beginnings of those paths.

 

I’m beginning to wonder if its a foregone conclusion for any MMO that decides to saddle itself with the burden of PvP.  Its like a cancer that eats away at the heart of the game.  I wonder how many developer hours are wasted on balancing and fine tuning classes/skills/macros/3rd party support that could instead be used to generate new content.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-PvP, or World of Tanks would not loom large in my life.  Nor would I have spent as long as I did in EVE.  But the games I play for PvE content always seemed to be subjugated for some bizarre PvP dominance, as it that were the lifeblood of the games players.   And perhaps it is, which leads me, for yet another reason, to ask the question about the PvE sandbox.  Even TOR does not seem immune to its effects, as the earliest indications of patch 1.1.2 indicate.

 

Just for once, I’d like to see some PvP players crying a developer said “no” to their desired changes on the reasoning that it would disrupt the rest of the game world who are playing (::gasp::) an MMO.

How Not To Do an MMO Newsletter

 

So I get the new WAR newsletter in my inbox.  I no longer subscribe, but I always check to see what’s going on with maybe the hopes that the developers will one day remember that they have PvE content in the game (no such luck, btw).  So I open the email and here is the lead story on the newsletter – sent to all current players to inform them and former players to intice them back:

Awesome - links to the store and official forums! What more could I ask for!

Gee, thanks.  That’s about the most boring, technical, non-exciting newsletter one could possibly get.  I wonder how many former players you will win back with that?  New players?  How many existing players are excited by this?  From the looks of things and from reading the article, I can only conclude that anyone who cares hangs out in the official forums, which begs the question – why is this in a newsletter format?

I would think you would use this time and energy on a newsletter for other things, or find a new purpose for the newsletter.  Is it possible that marketing was one of the weak points of WAR and I am only just now recognizing it?  Not the campaign itself, because certainly it was everywhere, but matching what was on the poster to what was under the hood.  More than one Hollywood big budget title has fallen like a slain giant because somebody couldn’t be bothered to put together an accurate (or coherent in some cases) trailer for the movie.

Huh.  Makes me wonder. I also wonder if I spelled “intice” wrong at the beginning of this post.  But I’m too tired to look it up.

Well What Do You Know

I never (ever) thougth that WAR would be the first ones to pick up on something that I, at least, have been kicking and screaming about for at least the last two years publically.   Kudos to you Mythic for being the first to have the light bulb come on.

Our solution is to introduce a new system that will let you set your armor and weapon appearance independently of your armor stats, so that you can look how you want to look and yet keep the statistics that you personally prefer. The goal is to give players the added benefit of having the new armor sets available to them, but the ability to change their appearance if they don’t like the way they look. We also think this will introduce a level of customization that players want to have for their characters.

Having said that – seriously why did it take this long for said bulb to go off?  Pull the camera back a bit folks, sheesh.

The next step – finally convince someone, somewhere (preferably that’s working on a game) that this can go far beyond this.  Tank, DPS, Heal, Control – they are not classes, they are playstyles.   But we force players that wish to play a given playstyle into certain classes.  In other words – character creation and customization is a joke from the word “go.”

Why not let players choose a class – and then determine how they will play that class?  Is there any reason why I can’t play a Mage who Tanks, while my buddy plays a Mage who Heals?  No, there isn’t.  It’s a big wide MMO world out there.  Somebody kick down these doors and lets get the party started, thanks.