The Why’s of NDAAugust 19, 2008
Probably lost in all the hooey and fireworks of NDA-droppage beta reports, reviews, impressions, stand up comedy acts and 100-page technical dissections of every Warhammer Online skill out there is Mark Jacob’s promised explanation of why the NDA was held up longer than many in the community (inside and outside of the beta) thought necessary. I’ll let you go read it here, and return for some quick thoughts.
Like others, I was a tad critical of the holdup of the NDA drop, so I think it’s only fair to give Jacobs a link to his well-reasoned post and talk about whether or not it helped to hold it back. He gave three primary reasons: seeing how the game functioned after the 4 cities and 4 classes were cut, improving the “sluggish” combat UI, and overall platform and server stability. I and others had speculated that it was due to an auction house system about ready to go in or some other fancy feature, but really, when he lays it out like that… it’s hard to fault the decision.
When I started playing the beta a month ago, I found myself crashing out and getting in not just a few world-breaking bugs — as you’ll see when you read my newbie class impressions. But as the patches kept rolling in, stability did increase, to the point where I’ve had one crash (during a massive RvR match) in the past two weeks. I think the biggest bug I’ve found all week was a misspelled word in a quest dialogue.
The sluggish UI, well, you’re going to be hearing a lot about this. It’s a very valid concern; as one beta tester put it, in a PvP game it’s essential that the controls be as tight and responsive as possible, and WAR did not cut the mustard. Or muster. There was a lot of delayed reactions, animations that went on far past the spell casting bar timer, and just a general “mushiness” when it came to trying to trigger a quick succession of skills in the middle of very heated, unpredictable combat. Although it’s gotten better, the UI has a ways to go until everything “snaps” the way it should — and it’s great to hear they’re not going to settle with 98% approval, but keep on hacking at it.
Another unavoidable problem is that when people move on to a new MMO, they expect it to play and feel like MMOs of the past. It’s weird and a bit sad how we’ve quickly settled into a set-in-stone standard for UI movement, placement and activation in this genre, but when people are forced to learn a different tempo or feel that it lacks the polish and zing of another title, it can very well be a dealbreaker.
All in all, I’ll let any past sarcasm about the NDA holdup fade away — it’s over now (except for poor Europe), those reasons seem pretty solid, and Mythic can’t be faulted for how quickly they’re patching and how well (at least from my perspective) they’re listening to the playerbase.