Are You Calling Me… Chicken?August 26, 2008
In his latest post at Player vs. Developer (PvD combat is so sweet), Green Armadillo taunted me personally with the news/speculation that Blizzard is ramping up its Wrath of the Lich King profile to try to counter Warhammer’s tsunami of publicity. I am not an oak; I am a weak-willed chicken who has to take the fight whenever Biff Tannen calls me out. Nobody… calls me chicken.
Well, nobody did either [sideways smiley face]. Really, it’s not anything new — we’ve seen this tug-o-war for press mindshare between Blizzard and Mythic ramping up for months now, and it only stands that just as WAR is nipping hard at the heels of Blizzard’s aging buffalo, the beast won’t take it without a few horn swipes of its own.
I actually still keep up a bit with World of Warcraft by subscribing to WoW Insider, but I have to tell you, even if I was still playing, the news about WotLK would leave me cold. They’re once again trying to reinvent/overhaul the entire game, wiping out years of hard-earned progress in exchange for a giant RESET button. If you thought you knew your class, you probably don’t any longer, as new talents and skills and heavy-handed manipulation of the roles have sent several classes into disarray. It’s a game where, for all intents and purposes, Blizzard would much rather forget levels 1-60 and just start every character at 61… and, oh, hey, they’re sort of doing that with the Death Knight.
I remember way back when they first announced the DK and my immediate thought was: ONE new class? And they don’t expect the servers to suddenly become flooded with them? I really feel bad for any current tank classes… but really, this is all indicative of Blizzard’s standard operating proceedure.
One of the greatest things about getting to know Mythic this year is that this is a dev team that isn’t bunkered down inside walls of secrecy, obfuscation and arrogance (although they sometimes have their moments). They’ve just been terrific talking to the community, going above and beyond to communicate when hot button issues pop up, and they’re not taking the Hillary Clinton route of inevitability. They’re a scrappy fighter, a David standing up to Goliath on the battlefield, except that David has his own giant publisher at his back as well.
I’ve read it again and again — people from all MMO backgrounds wish that their previous game’s devs would just talk with them as much as Mythic does. City of Heroes did a terrific job as well, but Funcom? Blizzard? Turbine? Meh. By allowing the playerbase to see a bit of the inner workings at Mythic, the decision making processes, the admission of mistakes or problems, we get the feeling of being invited into an inner circle of trust that isn’t too common in this genre. It’s a huge step toward getting both players and devs on the same side of the fence, instead of separated by miles of mines, barbed wire and exploded chickens.
The “I wanna be on the side of right” part of Syp really hopes that Lich King stumbles in sales, Warhammer does surprisingly awesome, and other MMO titles will realize that Blizzard isn’t infallible or unassailable. But hey, if Lich King does great and WAR does great and life goes on? I’m okay with that too. There’s room enough online for both.