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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:

  1. Good for Mythic — they made a hard call, it’s for the best, we support them, rah rah!
  2. 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.
  3. Weighing fates — better cuts now than another delay, weigh the pros and cons of today.
  4. 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.
  5. Conspiracy nutters and trolls — forget these people.
  6. The hurt, crushed and disappointed — a vast majority, having favorite classes taken away, feeling like the game will release “lesser” somehow.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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21 comments

  1. Syp,

    Great post. I share your sentiment so far as sympathy for those who took the hit hard. I’m a software dev and I’m aware of how much work goes into making even just “small” tools. A game is easily 100x the work (which is why dev teams get big). And an MMO? The sheer amount of code behind one, when you consider not only the client but the server farms, the databases, the web components…is enormous. I understand very well why the devs are down today. I have been a part of teams that said “We can get this done”, and then we couldn’t. That was for a tool. For Mythic, its for an epic piece of their livelihood. It’s something they all really enjoy and love. And they know that, on some level, they let not only themselves down, but many fans.

    I will stay on the boat, and do my best to keep people psyched. The only thing I’m really concerned about is a porcupine infection. I fear those aren’t treatable, and I don’t want anything spiky and ambulatory growing on me. Really, I don’t.

    Is it cute?


  2. Great post. Mythic knows WAR has a very strong community and that we are passionate about the game, and I believe that they are doing this for our benefit but it still sucks. The cities are not so bad as Mythic will surely ad in plenty more content in its place but the classes is a shock for many people. I would hope that a few months after launch Mythic will be able to add the stuff back in, but who knows? One can only hope.
    I think, in the end, people just want to see the game for themselves, I know I do. Its hard to keep up your speculative hopes for so long, and through so much. I sure hope Mythic know what they’re doing.


  3. I just posted a similar thought.

    In mine I brought up how no MMO launch ever has been a complete launch, even WOW, who at the last with no warning changed their beloved Paladin class to the gimp it had been for so long.

    Mythic is doing a good thing here, it is just going to take some longer to see that.


  4. High five, Syp, and I agree with you totally. This news has been a big shock, and I feel for those folks whose classes got cut. The next few weeks/months will be interesting. I’m anxious to see what happens at E3 and once the NDA drops.

    I live close to the Mythic HQ, and there’s been a dark cloud rumbling over their office all day. πŸ˜‰ I think this has been just as hard on them as it’s been on us. But… I also believe that WAR still has the potential to be an awesome game if Mythic plays their cards right. The game isn’t over yet. πŸ˜‰


  5. Plenty to chew on in that post. Yea, the announcements have gotten us all on the edge I guess, after all it’s not small things they decided to remove.

    I’m definitely a #2 on your list, I think most people are just overreacting. Yea it sucks that they cut out stuff, but it’s way better than delivering failure. I really, really want something fun to play, and I have to bash the fanboy on my shoulder all the time not to stand up and announce WAR as the second coming of christ.

    Also, I don’t think Mythic are that much to blame for hyping up “the announcements”. They did a interview with MMORPG.com who got plenty of scoops in it, and THEY decided to get some hype by cutting the interview in parts and promising three big announcements. Afterwards Mythic had to come on forums and dose the the hype-flames. I guess they should have gone out with the bad news themselves, not giving the scoop to some site that just wanted publicity.

    Argh, I’m tired. Lot of stuff have been going on, and it’s 4am where I live πŸ˜›


  6. Sorry to hear this is impacting you so strongly. Not sure my comments will help, but my intention is that they will.

    So Mythic has told us these features are cut, now, months before release. I know it isn’t good news, but at least potential purchasers have the information they need to make a decision about whether the game is right for them or not.

    As exhibit A, I offer Age of Conan, another game I was anticipating an awful lot. It was only after Funcom had my money that it became apparent how much of the game had been cut.

    Granted this may be damning with faint praise, but it would’ve been a lot worse if these features were ‘stealth removed’ and folks didn’t learn they weren’t in there until after purchasing.

    I guess my suggestion would be, if the classes that were removed are really important to you, just don’t get the game at launch. Wait to see if they get added later. Waiting is often a good thing anyway with an MMO. You end up playing a more polished project.

    Personally, I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition this morning, hours before I heard this news. Typical. πŸ™‚ But my order stands. DAOC was one of my favorite MMOs and I’m excited to see what Mythic delivers this time around.


  7. Nice Article. I completely agree with you that we, as a community, should step back before making judgements, but for the product as a whole that was horrible news at this time. Say 6 months ago Mark Jacobs said I don’t think we’ll launch with this here content, but I assure you it will be patched in pronto, people would say ok, thats good, the game will atleast be polished on launch. The rest won’t even care because they will have jumped on after that statement came out, with only the expectations of a great game that will have content patched into it soon after release. But this close to launch, (only a few more months people!) to have a negative announcement this BIG come out when the devs probably knew they Probably couldn’t squirt out 4 more cities by release? That’s not good. I’m hurt. I’m now worried about the game more than I’ve ever been. I just hope the game will release how the devs envisioned the game to, and not a pound less.


  8. 2 of the 4 cut were going to be mains. I’m alt-o-holic. 6 cities 4 cut makes sense, the population per server would been spread to thin and less interactive with each other. I think it would take weeks to take a city and that would frustrate people. But, I don’t know for sure because 1. I haven’t played the game. 2. There is no way of knowing how many servers and how many people will buy the game. 3. I will never know if I don’t try. 4. Like Syp said… It is a game. It suppose to be fun.
    They make a sucky game they are FIRED. We just go back to WoW and complain about how broken a billion dollar plus a year game sucks so bad and we cant stop talking about it.


  9. I thought MMORPG had some of it embargoed by Mythic? I think it was poorly done there, and did feel like we’d been all hyped up for bad news. I didn’t really pay attention to guild beta opening, cos hey.. we knew that was happening anyway.

    I’m numb at the moment though, and I agree I need a bit of a cooling off period before it really sinks in.


  10. […] and expressing differing levels of disbelief, disappointment and (from some) disgust. And like Syp I feel it’s better left a few days to mull before making any really comments about […]


  11. Yeah It sucks to have not as much stuff as launch but as Mytic say themselves id rather have a little less but well polised game as opposed to a game like AoC which has alot of half finished content.

    And lets face it if they can get the core game really tight before launch itll mean they’ll be able to devote their development to new content all the sooner rather than “bug fixing”, which means itll feel more like a game that works with alot of cool stuff to look forward, to rather than a broken game that has alot of stuff that holds “potential” but you cant really see it through all the bugs ^^


  12. 2 Things

    1. Good business decision by Mythic honestly. Better to have a few pissed off people now then an army of Choppas, Hammerers, Knights, Black Guards, Orcs, Dwarves, DElves, and HElves royally pissed that their class/city sucks.

    2. It puts a brake on the hype train (which, lets face it was going a little bit out of control)


  13. Shock (about the news today)and awe (when I am finally going to get to play the game).


  14. Many different feelings come up. Disappointment, anger, fear, uncertainty. I find it hard to not look towards EA, once again, as they have a history of shoving out unfinished games and forcing studios to launch even when not ready.

    For me, the most annoying part, is how they talk about how they have content planned, and working on, for expansions, and yet, the game isn’t even going to launch near what players were expecting.

    How much more will get left out to launch this fall? Is this just the first of many cuts to come?


  15. This just perfectly sums up my feelings on the matter:

    http://cad-comic.com/news.php?i=1680#1680


  16. I think it raises some important questions that need to be answered. Alas I think those questions are exactly the ones that never will be.


  17. I fall into 3 categories (slightly edited):

    Good for Mythic β€” they made a hard call, it’s for the best, we support them, rah rah!

    The poor mods β€” trying to keep a wildfire from raging too out of control.

    Weighing fates β€” Better they cut the stuff that would ruin the launch. Cut the cancer NOW to save the game.


  18. If I wasn’t already crying about all this, I’d shed a tear for such an awesome article! πŸ˜›


  19. I’m pretty much ignoring all WAR forums for a week or so, until people get over it.

    I almost feel confused, because i honestly can’t comprehend why people are so surprised and why they are making such a big deal out of this. As someone who has followed countless MMOs from conception to live, I was already tense with anticipation, just waiting to hear what wouldn’t be making it in time for live. This is a staple of MMO releases, chunks of content and ideas don’t make it in time for release.

    Age of Conan released completely MISSING the entire PVP system of ranks and rewards, and 2 months later it is STILL without it (though it is on the slate for test server soon). To compare, this would be like Warhammer releasing without those 80 renown ranks and renown rewards. Then the fanboys would have a viable excuse to throw a hissy fit.

    People need to calm down, take a breath, and remember the game is in beta and as an MMORPG, it will never truly be finished until the servers shut off for good (to paraphrase Mark Jacobs even)


  20. Good post as always. Have to say that the announcement did come as a shock but I have not reacted as strongly as some. Although it’d probably be a good thing to avoid the car crash that are WAR forums right now I can’t help it… but then I have to fight the desire to post responses to irrational spouting.

    Lots of ifs and buts to consider here really. Main thing I take from it all is IF this has been done to avoid a AoC type fiasco then I’m happy with it.


  21. Well put. Time will tell. I can be patient and wait and see how this plays out before I give them any money.



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