Dark Days

October 30, 2008

If it’s not the tanking economy, the depressing election or Hannah Montana, then it’s the ominous tides of black pessimism that’s seemingly descended upon the Warhammer community — especially if you keep tabs on as many blogs as I do (and forums, but hey, forums don’t count, unless you want to feel slightly superior about yourself in comparison to the blathering trolls that lurk at those depths). Everywhere you go, it seems, the Voice of Doom is booming loud and clear: “Warhammer is in trouuuuuuble.” Hey, when Heartless_Gamer, Mr. Self-Proclaimed Warhammer Fanboy #1, announces as such, it must be true, right?

Of course, if it weren’t for the MMO community, the Voice of Doom would be on much harder times. I’ve seen the VoD come and go so many times for so many games that it no longer has true weight with me. Players, myself included, are like easily-frightened schools of fish, willing to go with the crowd and turn at a moment’s notice or the mere inkling of danger. So it takes a discerning eye and a steady heartbeat to sift the meaningless panic from the meaningful signs. Is Warhammer in trouble?

On several points, most are agreed. Warhammer had an incredibly stable launch, world-wide, no less. It got many good reviews, several great ones. People widely applauded features as “meaningful” open world RvR, PQs, the Tome and living guilds. Mythic is proving itself quick to act on key issues and work hard to fine-tune the game.

Yet there’s been a growing discord of worry over population imbalance, character imbalance and — especially now — RvR imbalance, in that most people seem to be heavily favoring scenarios over open world RvR for their PvP fix.  There are bugs, features and abilities not working properly.  Some people are disquieted over things they can’t exactly put their finger on — like combat not “clicking” as well as it should, or the world being a bit too lifeless or empty in parts — but it keeps them from feeling comfortable in their decision.  And some of it can simply be chalked up to MMO culture shock, the unrest that comes from assuming features from past, familiar MMOs would be in this title and from having to adapt to a new system.

I’m not here to say that WAR is perfect, or that your feelings on the subject are any less important than my own.  But I think that doomsaying is a popular MMO pastime in these communities, and it’s taught me a few lessons from observation and personal experience:

  1. Game devs, on the whole, DO listen to their players (who are, after all, their paying customers) and over enough time do act on the feedback and concerns that players have.  Mark, Paul and the rest of Mythic’s whizkids aren’t sitting back in their chairs counting up cash right now, as evidenced by the amount of patches, events and upcoming content that’s been announced.
  2. As a result of constant development and refinement, MMOs get much, much better over time.  Yeah, there are stumbles you can point to, but nobody can doubt that World of Warcraft 2008 is a far superior game than World of Warcraft 2004 post-launch.  Or, heck, even Ultima Online over 10 years later.  The game we see at launch is actually the WORST version of the game that we’ll probably ever see.
  3. Sometimes you have to shut out the voice of the community when it’s saying something contrary to what you’re experiencing or believe.  If you like your class, great, just don’t let forum posts tell you otherwise.  If you’re really, truly enjoying WAR and feel like it’s on the right path, then by all means just ignore the blogosphere at large.  I think people as a whole are too easily swayed by what the majority (or loud minority) says and thinks, and on the internet that’s rarely positive.
  4. The first couple months post-launch of any MMO title is a rough transition period, to put it kindly.  We’re shifting gears from “Hype” to “Reality”, from “Idealized” to “Actualized”.  People who flood into the game at launch sometimes find it’s the place for them, and others don’t.  After these few months, stability in the community increases because the people playing really want to be there, instead of consisting of a lot of people just trying out the free month.

I’ll be honest with you: WAR isn’t everything I thought it would be.  Some of it is way better, some of it disappoints.  But I do like my experiences in the game, and I’m really excited with how fast and hard Mythic is moving with its updates and content.  There’s a lot of hope for this title and a great future — it hasn’t plateaued yet, and I don’t think it will for quite some time to come.


  1. Damn it though My Chosen looks like a sexy beast, and that’s all that matters to me.

  2. I really wish I could skip reading all of the forums, but I need something to do at work while I am waiting to get home and play Warhammer. I have always, and will always, see most posters on forums as the minority. Look at the total number of posters on most boards, they are a small fraction of the player base. And all of those threads with 2000+ posts in them complaining about the game, how many of them are just the same 5 trolls stirring the pot. I am not saying that the game is perfect but I don’t see 90% of the problems the forum trolls are complaining about. Even with my hourly CTD, which will start to really annoy me in a couple of months. Until then I will chalk it up to growing pains and enjoy the game.

  3. I think the current MMO community in general is too jaded to see beyond the flaws of WAR and see the potential that’s there.

    Coming from an established MMO and moving to a new one is like moving to a new neighborhood or switching schools when you were young. You’re the new kid, you don’t know anyone, you’re not familiar with the school itself, don’t know what activities there are, essentially it’s not going to be fun the first few months.

    Does that mean the school itself sucks? not at all but give it some time to grow, some time for you to get situated, meet some people, etc and you find out things can be great.

    A lot of those coming from other games like WoW will initially go through this transition of being the big man on campus to the new kid. You’ll miss the past experiences, your old guild, your old character, etc… but you forget that when you started that other game, you went through the same thing back then that you’re going through now.

    So people just take the easy way out and go back to what’s familiar and declare the new stuff a failure…

  4. Hey Syp,

    Great post. I am one of those nattering nabobs who worried about the future of this game, despite the many great changes Mythic has been rolling out.

    But let me say that today, I stand corrected. Last night on Wolfenburg – thanks to the Halloween additions – there was the mother of all ORVR battles.

    I stumbled into the Ostland war camp, and saw a flurry of activity like one I’d never seen before. I trudged my Zealot out into the traffic and saw – for the first time in this game – a massive ‘war is everywhere’ situation.

    No less than 70 players were clashing furiously in open RVR. Reinforcements were streaming in as quickly as casualties were being carted out.

    I was throwing heals as furiously as I could, eyes glued to the screen, heart racing – and unable to drag myself away!

    Maybe the most fun I’ve EVER has in video gaming – ever.

    So – I stand corrected. All that great beta RVR action people like you talk about? Well, it’s no longer a legend. It’s finding its way into the game, and I couldn’t be happier.

    The future is bright!

  5. “The game we see at launch is actually the WORST version of the game that we’ll probably ever see.” Except SWG!
    I’m with you again on this one Syp. There will always be “the sky is falling” crowd, but you have to look at the game for you individually. I have been frustrated with some things in WAR as most people have, but I have been delighted with many more.
    I just wish they would shorten the respawn times for the Witching Night! I usually only get and hour or so a night to play, and did not see any of it last night.

  6. Hey Syp, once I got WAR I looked for some blogs and yours was the first to rock up. Nice work dwarfdude. I’ve started a Dwarf Engineer on the Lucan server 2 weeks ago. The only MMO I’ve ever played was The Matrix so I don’t have a strong field of comparison. This game just keeps better for me, last night was the most fun I had so far. I love soloing, but I hooked up with some randoms for 3 PQs and had the best fun. My little easily killed Engineer is very easily killed, but I was still awarded best player 2 out of 3 times – of course, that’s really not important, but it’s nice for the little guy to get some recognition.

    Anyway, VoD doesn’t seem to mirror my funness, if populations die considerably, they can always merge the servers.

  7. My response to Heartless: http://hgamer.blogspot.com/2008/10/epic-fail-mythic.html?showComment=1225415820000#c4964700163987376868

    Keep up the great work!

  8. I am not a self-proclaimed #1 fanboy for WAR. That title was handed to me by others 🙂

    I don’t think this is a transition from hype to reality or any of that nonsense. WAR flat out missed the mark on progression and instanced vs. non-instanced content. The game doesn’t feel massive in the least.

    All the great, and rightly hyped, portions of WAR are in the backseat in favor of stupid instanced scenario grinding.

    Its a simple fact. Mythic hit the 95% of the MMO nail on the head, but the 5% they missed was probably the worst 5% they could of missed outside of a complete technical collapse of the game.

  9. I’ve been pining to come back to War. I’ve not played for about a week and a half, but as I reached T3 – my machine could no longer handle scenarios or large Keep battles.

    Took the wind out of my sails. I’m still paying my sub, and am looking to get back online when I can get some machine upgrades. I’ll be a pretty bummed orc if everything has gone away by the time I get back. I wouldn’t imagine that would happen though.

    There’s plenty about the game that annoys me, bugs here and there that grind a nerve. But even with those things in the end I’ve had nothing but good to say about it when asked. Mythic has worked hard to address issues that have come to light, and I think it’s way too early to count out this game. Even if every other aspect of the game was a massive fail(it’s not), Mythic has done more to win the hearts and minds of it’s customers than I have seen form any other studio. That counts for a lot.

  10. Eh. Seems to me that there will always be a segment of the population that gets more enjoyment out of crying about the game than they do playing it. That’s just the way things are.

    I’m having fun. My friends and guildmates are having fun. The other guilds we run around with are having fun.

    Sorry other people aren’t, but I can’t really help that.

    I decided a long time ago that reading forums actually took a lot of the fun out of a game for me. There is so much negativity in forums (looks at WoWs) that it becomes harder and harder to maintain any sense of joy the longer you read them.

    So, I just stay in game, step in front of people so they trip over me, and then tell epic tales about it with my friends later.

    Fun. 🙂

  11. I’ve seen several MMO launches that missed far more than 5% of that nail, including World of Warcraft. I think it would’ve been very interesting if there had been a huge blog community based around WoW in 2004, what the response would’ve been like in those first few months. “We can’t log on AT ALL to play the game!?!” “Hunters/Warlocks/Druids are completely broken and underpowered!” Game systems were borked left and right, and there wasn’t any sort of solid end game in place. It was a mess — but a glorious mess that they eventually worked out, and the players stuck with it. But man, blogs would’ve had a field day with it. Worst game ever, leaving forever, etc.

    What I’m seeing a lot of doomcrying on in regards to WAR are hardly on the same level of crappy MMO launches in the past, including Age of Conan. The scenario issue is a pretty fixable one, and they’re moving on it. But people are less patient these days and kneejerk right out of MMOs without giving them a proper shakedown, especially when they did build them up to such incredible heights of hype beforehand.

  12. I still feel very strongly that in a game like this, it takes a few months for the community to really come together. I know that over the last week we’ve seen a lot of action in Tier 4 on my server so I’m quite sure that it will happen.

    But it’s been an eye-opener to see how quickly people give up on it. I’m not saying people should play a game that isn’t fun (I’m the first one to say stop playing when that happens) but you can see very vividly how the market has changed.

    I was especially struck by a friend whose girlfriend LOVES PvP who we all thought would be really into WAR. The reason she didn’t even give it a go was because the classes weren’t enough like WoW for her — too dependent on others, not enough crowd control. As a gamer, I find that sad because there’s such a good PvP game in there and she didnt’ even want to try it.

  13. Im enjoying myself now, and overlooking any small faults for the first 6 months. After 6 Months we should know what direction this game is taking.

  14. I have fun playing War and that is the only thing that ultimately matters. I see too many people taking things so serious in these games that they forget they are supposed to be enjoying themselves.

    The ORvR has been extremely sparse, until this witching event came on, and it is really fun. Reminds me of WoW pre BG days, the Taren Mill vs Southside battles.

    The biggest issue for me is there seem to be some really bad memory leaks and after a couple of hours playing I am so laggy I can’t even control my movements.

  15. I’m at number 3 on your list Syp. I’ve avoided the forums like the plague (after playing AoC you can understand why) and it actually helps by there not being official ones I feel I must keep abreast of.

    I’ve got most info from those lovely blogger people and more often than not they contain useful hints and tips as well as generally positive things to say about the game.

    I’m also in a great RP guild with good stories and events and on top of that, have experienced some great highs (and indeed great lows) in RvR.

    I think I’ll keep away from those forums…

  16. I have come from WoW and Eq2 and some other MMO. I enjoyed them all. I can say this thou the lack of action, or the knee jerk reaction to a small few killed it for me.
    Mythic is the 1st company I have dealt with that listen to me the player I feel that, and have seen that with the patches they have put out. Honestly I never seen a MMO put out 2 live events in short order after launch. I really didn’t think we would get a Halloween event at all considering it was a month away, but they pulled it off. Also for the past 2 nights in Troll Country on Phoenix Throne, there have been some really huge PvP battles in the open rvr thanks to this witching night event. With any hope this will show the people who found the scenario side of things that the open RvR is just as fun. With all this I never look at a MMO at launch and think ok this is how it has to be for them to keep me. I wait for at least 6 months to see what goes down. So far with Mythic taking action that is something I have not seen in other companies do. Dark ages of Conan, tanked out on me I enjoyed the beta, but once i got in the game farther down the rabbit hole and nothing was getting done that made me go well sorry but bye bye. Not MMO ever released is going to be perfect. It going to take time to get close, but you’ll never get there because no matter what someone is going to be thinking differently then someone else, and that makes a MMO much harder to produce then say a FPS, or any other genre of a game.

  17. Finally some positivity, I’m with you there are good things and things that need to improve but overall I’m enjoying it. P.S Engineers are cool

  18. All that matters is I am a sexy green faced killar! Also .. I stopped reading forums and blogs of folks who stopped liking WAR.
    Bad forums are MMO mental poison (i.e. AoC).

  19. I totally agree with the fact that the majority of the people simply follow the current to wherever it takes them, and in this case the current is the negative forums and unstoppable complains of people that want everything to work instantly.

    If we look back to when Wow started for instance, and as Syp said it, the game SUCKED at the beginning of its existence. And what happened? people accepted the fact that classes were underpowered, bugs were at each and every corner, and hell, you couldn’t even LOG sometimes! So what difference is it from the things that happened before to the new MMORPGs and WAR?

    I think there are two factors: one is that people are afraid of change. They don’t want to start all over, they don’t want to lose their “reputation” with their “mepwnu gladiator” title, and/or lose some of their friends on the process of transfering to a whole new game. Humans are afraid of change, its a fact, even though they know its for the better, they will try to not shake the ground too much.

    The second factor is simply that since everything is working just fine on the actual MMO they are playing (whichever one it is), they don’t have the tolerance and don’t want to wait time for things to improve in time; they just want things right now and with no problems. Well guess what, that’s not how it is and will never be. Every single game has a life process, from early months of birth to the more developed and complete game, it’s all about changes for the best.

    I am one of the people that are willing to give WAR the time it needs to become the incredible game it promises, and I’m very confident that it will get to it sooner than later.

    Great post Syp, keep it up man your posts are part of my daily reading by now =)

  20. another great post

    oh, and I love WAR. I will not be buying WOTLK. I’m having an amazing time with WAr and will not be leaving.

  21. WAR is now and the Future. WOTLK will just be another WoW GRIND and I’ll have no part in that.

  22. Thank you Syp! I’m so tired of reading all the negative blogs. Yea sure. Stuff I don’t like in the game. I felt that way about WoW too. I’m still having fun.

  23. I also think that there is a feeling of rejection involved in people hating the MMO you’ve chosen to back.

    Think about it…you tell all of your guildies how awesome the beta for WAR is…several of them listen. They buy WAR, and after the first free month they say they hate it (and promptly return to their regularly scheduled raid/rep grind/etc).

    It’s a bad feeling — and if your friends hate it, then the game *must* suck, right?

    It’s hard not to fall into that trap, for sure.

    I agree with Syp. If you like the game, you like the game. Ignoring the masses is a great way to go. Hopefully the people left after the inital exodus will provide a great community for anyone else wanting to try WAR.

  24. Some of todays generation of game players are a spoiled group of complainers that can’t resist trying to show how intelligent they are by degrading and insulting every one in sight.
    Yea, I’m an old guy, been playin games since pong so I appreciate the modern game play.Did you know that early RPG’s were so primitive that if you lost power during the game you had to start back at the beginning. There was only one path thru the game and if you couldn’t get past the ” jump here, spin around, jump off this floating rock to a bug and jump to swing on a vine to fall in a hole to try to fight the stage boss,,,etc” you could not progress in the game.
    What amazes me is the “elite” go to a game site and bitch about the game. The people that love the game go to the site to find out more about how it works, what changes are coming up, and ask fellow players for advice. Do the “know it all’s really think they are making a difference or are constructive in any way!
    Why not write the company, at least they will listen (Mythic will) and if there is some value to the information it will be considered,
    I read all the blogs for WAR and most have a good balance of “concern” for problems that might be hard to address with valauble game analysis and insight that the readers will benefit from.
    No body makes you play, so if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.

  25. I know this will get lost in the mass of comments (damn your popularity, Syp) but a good friend once told me:

    “If you want to enjoy a game, don’t read it’s forums.”

    I’ve found that to be really true. We ARE like a group of stupid frightened fish. Perfect example, I’d “heard” that DoK was really gimpy. that they couldn’t heal for crap and not much damage either. This kept me from wanting to play one. My boyfriend rolled one and in the hands of a skilled player KICKS ARSE with it. I let the opinions of others dictate my opinion before I’d ever tried it for myself. Now I laugh at people who claim DoK is crap, because I know it’s not the class … it’s them. The same is true of so many other things. “The game is dieing!”. Do I think so? Hell no. I played Vangaurd and Saga of Ryzom. I know what a dieing game looks like and this is not it. But if I read it enough, I might start believing it.

    Negativity is contagous and sometimes stepping away from a negative community is the best thing you can do for your enjoyment of a game.

  26. You are definitely right syp when you say this game needs a chance. But wtf just look at the newsletter and the “great” new things mythic wants to implement in the game… its a new scenario with reknown bonus if you play it over the other ones and its a damn new
    pve instance nobody wants at all.
    Sometimes i think mythic hyped themselves so much about WAR that they are blind for the real problems like the rvr system, the huge performance problem and things like not existing low bracket pvp content for people that dont like to zerg 24/7.

  27. […] “Players, myself included, are like easily-frightened schools of fish, willing to go with the … […]

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