Where Do We Go From Here?July 11, 2008
In my last post, I talked about my initial reactions to the big announcements this week, namely that four capital cities and four classes will be cut from the launch version of the game. Personally, I’m still digesting this all, struggling with very mixed feelings over it, and repeating my mantra, “It’s only a game.”
So let’s shove me aside for a while, and look at us. How are we, the WAR community, doing? I don’t think I’ve seen a day like this since… well, ever. Not even the March delay held this much drama, pathos, debate and emotion as WAR’s own Black Friday, to the point where the positive announcements (guild beta starting, CE possibly selling out, Punkbuster busting punks) are vastly overshadowed by grim news.
Mark Jacobs and the Hard Truth Squad(tm) have swung into action, delivering the news frankly, straight-to-the-point as a doctor might to someone who is about to die from a porcupine infection (see? I still have my humor in these trying times!). Almost every WAR blog out there has offered up their opinion, in one way or another. Warhammer haters are just salivating all over the place with this juicy bit of ammo, ready to attack already defensive-feeling WAR fans and try to pull a few away from the flock. In all honesty, the Mythic team themselves have to be weathering a tough day themselves, which is often hard to see past our own frustrations.
And dare I say, WAR forums have just lit up like you would not believe. I tried keeping up with Warhammer Alliance’s forums, and it got so bad that if I read a page, two or three new pages would spring up. I’m trying to run a garage sale here, I don’t have time to wade through an epic ocean of tears, flames and fury. To sum up what I did read, most everybody falls into one of these responses:
- Good for Mythic — they made a hard call, it’s for the best, we support them, rah rah!
- Let’s not overreact — it sucks, but it isn’t the end of the world, there’s still gobs of content in, there’s a lot of great announcements yet on the horizon, pain now equals success later.
- Weighing fates — better cuts now than another delay, weigh the pros and cons of today.
- Mythic lied — this is promised content removed, this final phase was only for polish not wholesale cuts, Mythic knew about this a while ago but kept it until now.
- Conspiracy nutters and trolls — forget these people.
- The hurt, crushed and disappointed — a vast majority, having favorite classes taken away, feeling like the game will release “lesser” somehow.
- The DOOM sayers — this is indicative as to how WAR is going to fail, has failed, I’m leaving, you guys suck, can I have your gear.
- The poor mods — trying to keep a wildfire from raging too out of control.
Did I miss anyone?
Yeah, it’s only a game, but when someone’s passion and hobby is tied up into something they’ve been anticipating as exciting as Warhammer, it’s not an easy thing to dis someone for being hurt over this. I think the community has a great reason to feel wounded today, as does Mythic themselves. Sure, there are people who might be in a steadfast “them vs. us” mode, but it’s just not that simple. We can make excuses for them and ignore our own disappointment, we can rage at them while envisioning them as a heartless machine, we can just made a wholesale pronouncement — everything is okay, nothing is okay — and move on. We’re seeing people in all the stages of grief, mildly amusing as that thought is, because what we thought we were promised will not be. It will be different. To some, it will be lesser. To many, it is not a sign of stability and polish, but of uncertainty and weakness, no matter how much the devs try to reassure us of their position.
I think a lot of rash things get said and done when people are feeling hurt, and because of that, if I was King of WARtown, I’d declare this weekend a “cool off” holiday, where people have to step back from the topic, cool down a bit, then reapproach it next week with more of a level head. I don’t think that will make things blow over, just that it’ll give us time to think things through rationally and not show ourselves to be so insecure over a video game as to pitch a temper tantrum the second bad news is delivered.
There are a lot of tough questions to be answered in the upcoming future. Did Mythic, indeed, lie to its player base, especially right after Mark Jacobs assured us that they weren’t in the business of covering anything up or make promises they couldn’t keep — then, a mere few days later, announce that some of the most basic, solid promises Mythic has made about the game were going to be broken? Because it’s not like six capital cities and 24 classes were optional possibilities; these were highly-touted, promised features of WAR, on nearly all of the press and literature the company has released.
I had a friend say to me today, “This is the Mythic from five years ago. Really open with the community… but not always honest.”
People are going to be debating for a while now whether it was better for Mythic to cripple WAR to make it out of the door fall 2008 or to delay the whole game for a while more.
How many people did WAR just lose today? How many potential customers are going to shy away from the title altogether vs. how many will remain loyal due to Mythic’s forthrightness?
Why does Mythic keep doing the “big announcement coming tomorrow!” and then that announcement is bad news? Is that cruel to the players, even unwittingly, getting their hopes up like that?
Will, in the end, people grumble but still sign up to play and enjoy the game a lot? Will the first couple content patches get in the goodies that were just stripped away?
Will we ever see these four classes again? The devs have said it’s not assured we will. Will there be new classes? Will it be unbalanced without two tanks or with only two races having four classes?
If the centerpiece of your game is city capture and RvR, how could you possibly dress this cut up as a good thing? Silver lining? Is there one?
Was trust broken or built today between Mythic and the players? I can see it both ways.
What will we be seeing from Mythic in upcoming weeks and months — E3, Mark Jacob’s promised “State of the Game”, Guild Beta, NDA drop, etc?
Are we, too, to blame for raising expectations to almost insane levels, far past any company’s mortal ability to deliver?
That is us. That is our worries, our questions, our concerns. I am truly sorry for people who were anticipating making one of the four cut classes their mains. We can indeed take the “glass half full” view now or in the future, and I think there is evidence and a call for that — 20 classes is nothing to sneeze at, nor is the content that will be released. And if it does release as smoothly as Mythic promises, exceeding expectations, will all be forgiven?
I guess we’ll see.
As for me? I’m going to take my own advice. I’m going to walk away from this issue for the weekend. Breathe some fresh air. Do some chores. Prep for an upcoming trip. Am I going to leave the WAR scene? No, I don’t think so. I think it will still be a good, if not terrific game. I think it’s going to release far later in the year than September/October, but it will come out, and even the more hot-headed of us right now will pony up the dough to try it out. And I think that after today, Mythic is going to be putting even more of their reputation on the line for release. Sink or swim.
The water’s choppy, boys. But we haven’t jumped any sharks yet.