Goodbye Honeymoon, Hello MarriageOctober 11, 2008
Just in case any of you were wondering: no, I’m not disillusioned with Warhammer Online; no, I’m not tempted by Wrath of the Lich King; and no, I’m not worried about any negative blogging about WAR right now. In fact, I’m pretty darn okay with it. Here’s why:
It’s safe to say that the time leading up to a MMORPG’s launch is almost critic-proof, unless a company screws up really, really big in the beta process. It’s equally safe to put forth that MMOs receive a nice honeymoon period that usually goes for about a month after launch (coincidentally, the same length of time that encompasses the free play period), unless, of course, a company screws up really, really big in the first couple weeks. Now that we’re seeing the honeymoon wash away, gamers are now seriously evaluating if this is a marriage that they’re comfortable with, or if the glam and glitter of something new kept them from seeing its flaws.
Is it really a surprise that WAR isn’t for everyone? Nope. Mythic was pretty clear that they’d never intended for this to be all things for all gamers, but instead a solid game that appeals to players looking for a certain type of experience. Players who are having a blast in WAR are doing so because they’ve found something that’s connected with them and appeals to them in a way that MMOs hadn’t done for them in the past.
This is the time where the box is shaken and things either fly out or settle down. People will make their choice to keep WAR their MMO home, to leave, or to leave and return at a later date when it’s been worked on enough to meet their standards. It always amazes me how much some people game-hop in the MMO scene, endlessly scouring different titles to find the one game that will finally make them settle down. The ironic thing is, you do this often enough, I don’t think you’ll ever truly be able to find a MMO that keeps your attention for very long no matter what the title offers you. It’s the “grass is greener in the other MMO” theory.
I’m in it for the long haul, and not just because I have a blog or feel like I’m forced into saying this. If I truly was bored or restless with WAR, I’d have no problem ending this blog and leaving for another scene. But here I have a game that offers an incredible variety of gameplay that I’m only starting to tap into, I found a guild that is supportive, hilarious and fun, and I’m incredibly pleased that Mythic isn’t settling for “88% good” but is clearly listening to their players and working on making this great game even better. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more posts that are delighted that:
- Guilds have such a wide range of tools and functions that they’re far more than a dedicated chat box and a LFG interface, but something players can rally around.
- Players wanted more accessibility to scenarios, and Mythic responded by first letting us queue up for them across tier pairings, and more recently, letting us click one button to join every scenario in that tier.
- Mythic is taking a bold and powerful stance against gold spammers, giving the community a glimpse into how many accounts are banned on an almost-daily basis.
- PvE experience is being tweaked up via more XP for quests in tiers 3 and 4, as well as repeatable solo quests.
- They’re putting more of a focus on open world RvR by giving player kills in the RvR lakes 50% more XP.
- Taking measures to balance server populations, such as offering a XP/renown bonus to players who roll on underpopulated sides.
These aren’t small tweaks, they’re pretty fast and major responses to what we’ve been hearing in the community. Yes, there’s definitely a long way to go, but I’ve never experienced a MMO company that’s really listened to what players are asking and then acted on it — without overreacting (we hope!) — as quickly as this. It’s not even one month from launch, and we’re not being asked to wait to a fuzzy future date when things might be fixed — they’re getting fixed now, when we need them.
This is why I’m sticking with Mythic and WAR. They’re not perfect and I definitely won’t shy away from talking about those flaws that need a bit of work so that this relationship between the two of us will become stronger. But as for me and mine, I’m still finding new things to love and appreciate about this title, and that bodes very well for long-term interest.