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Massively: Teh Good, Teh Bad and Teh Iffy

June 7, 2008

So to wrap up a couple dozen (hundred? thousand? I’ve lost track) of the “Massively Goes to WAR” articles, I tuned in to the “Massively Speaking #8” podcast the other day. Michael Zenke, the writer who went to Mythic and did all these articles, gave his thoughts — for good and bad — about the game. Here’s a few salient points I walked away with:

GOOD: Mythic is very warm to the press, very inviting, and goes the extra mile in handing out the info (at least… to Massively!)

GOOD: Mythic’s devs are so incredibly enthusiastic and confident of their material — as we’ve already seen.

GOOD: Huge response to the Engineer and Shaman articles.

BAD: Zenke is concerned that the game might not be ready as fast as Mythic suggests. A lot of the areas seem unfinished, particularly capital cities, which suggests that there’s more work being done than just “iterate and polish”. Only two out of the six capital cities have been shown.

GOOD: The Tome of Knowledge is everything it’s cracked up to be — and blows the LOTRO deed log out of the water.

IFFY: Mythic will not release the game if it’s not 100% finished — even if that means another delay.

GOOD: Zenke says that Warhammer looks like, for him, to beat World of Warcraft hands-down.

BAD: WAR is going to be fighting a huge negative public perception — graphics, pvp, etc.

IFFY: We’re not really sure what the end game PvE looks like.

IFFY: Warhammer’s going to have a fight on its hands as people will certainly compare it to WoW.

What I most want to comment on, in regards to this podcast, comes from the end part, where a WoW Insider writer and another guy ask two critical questions: (1) how can WAR appeal to the person whose primary interest is in PvE, and (2) with Blizzard beefing up its PvP content in Lich King (in addition to arenas and battlegrounds), will PvPers even need to switch over to WAR to get the PvP goodness they’re craving?

The case Mythic has been making for the first question is to say, “Hey, we understand that PvP has a negative stigma in most MMOs for PvE-centric players. And we think that’s because the PvP in those games are done poorly and without a clear-cut purpose. We want to entice you into trying OUR brand of PvP to see how much more tasty it is, and if you want to play the game but don’t want to stress about fighting other players, we will ship with robust PvE content as well.”

The philosophy behind this attitude is one I never thought about much until the Mythic devs compared MMOs to other competitive sports and games. These games are simply more fun with you get to play them with and against other people — no computer AI will ever match the innovation, randomization and wily thinking that a human can. Yet there needs to be rules in place to reward players who play fair, and to punish those who want to ruin the game experience for others.

Mythic will certainly have a challenge on its hands to both differentiate itself from WoW, but also to entice and woo players from WoW into trying something other than the only MMO they’ve ever known.

The second point I have more of a problem with. The guy in the podcast gushed about how exciting and awesome the Lich King content was shaping up to be, and how Blizzard is supposedly doing all these spiffy things with PvP in their new all-PvP war zone. Okay. Listen: I have played WoW for four years now. Four years. It’s a good game, a great game, but not a perfect game. One of its biggest flaws has always been its PvP game — at first, it simply didn’t have much of one. Then they implemented an honor system that required gamers to literally give up their offline lives to viably compete in. Then they threw in the Arena system and shoehorned WoW into an “eSports” category. The PvP game in WoW has been floundering trying to find something fair and fun and balanced, and as a result, has crimped the PvE experience considerably. From class nerfs solely due to their PvP action to overpowered PvP gear that is easier to get than anything from the PvE side, it’s a flawed aspect of the game. I’m sorry, but it IS.

What’s worse is that Blizzard is just blind to how bad their PvP has been, historically, and in countless interviews and blue posts, they just reinforce the viewpoint that the players must just not understand how great their PvP is, and how they’re going to keep on going ahead with it no matter what. It doesn’t matter what Lich King creates for PvP, because it will be built around a crumbling system. When all classes and all specs are not PvP viable, then it’s a failed system. When the emphasis on PvP over PvE in fine tuning the game and class balance is too strong, then it has failed all of the players who sign on solely for PvE.

So I do not see Blizzard’s PvP as a threat to WAR at all. Yes, players may remain with WoW out of ignorance for something they refuse to try, but I think WAR is going to call Blizzard out on that aspect of their game. I don’t want WAR to be a WoW killer, but I want WAR to be a WoW challenger. If WoW challenges Mythic to make the most polished and fun game they can, and Mythic rises to the occasion, then WoW should not be so arrogant as to ignore what’s fun in their game in the pursuit of what is most profitable.

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6 comments

  1. I really hope they have it all in their back pocket. One more slip will hurt them. I do think they have the game mostly done but they are keeping it secret. I don’t see Mythic having people pre-order $80 CE’s around the world and then slipping again. They slipped last time because of player feed back about boring RvR not because the game wasn’t done. I do think we will have it this fall before WoTLK comes out. WoTLK is still in beta.


  2. Warhammer will either have to release this fall or next summer because they’d want to give WotLK a wide berth. EA is big and smart enough to hold WAR until WotLK passes.

    I agree with you that WoW’s PvP is not a threat at all to WAR. The PvP spots in BC that were kind of similar to some of the RvR stuff in WAR were pretty much abandoned a couple of months after release. WoW’s PvE is still a huge threat to WAR because that’s how they got and keep their 10+ million subs.


  3. I agree with you on pvp. I haven’t pvp’d much in any of the other mmos i’ve played, but the pvp was done poorly in them. Wow is a pve game and it does that pretty well, but because of that it will never do pvp well.

    Also, a new banner?! 🙂 I like it!


  4. I agree with much of what you said about WOW. I’ve played it for two years. My problem with WOW is that there is nothing left to do. I find the WOW PVP to be boring and I have no time left to raid. Although WAR may be great, and I certainly have hight hopes for it, I don’t think it will ever be a “bigger” game than WOW. Better, maybe (hopefully) but never bigger. WOW’s PVE is very, very good and that is what the attraction is for a majority of players and casual gamers. WotLK is going to dominate the MMO market for a while after its release. If WAR doesn’t get released in Q4, they might as well take a vacation until Q2, 2009 to let the WotLK machine cool off.


  5. “When all classes and all specs are not PvP viable, then it’s a failed system. When the emphasis on PvP over PvE in fine tuning the game and class balance is too strong, then it has failed all of the players who sign on solely for PvE.”

    GUESS WHAT….


  6. Sugar butt?



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