Posts Tagged ‘world of warcraft’

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Massively: Teh Good, Teh Bad and Teh Iffy

June 7, 2008

So to wrap up a couple dozen (hundred? thousand? I’ve lost track) of the “Massively Goes to WAR” articles, I tuned in to the “Massively Speaking #8” podcast the other day. Michael Zenke, the writer who went to Mythic and did all these articles, gave his thoughts — for good and bad — about the game. Here’s a few salient points I walked away with:

GOOD: Mythic is very warm to the press, very inviting, and goes the extra mile in handing out the info (at least… to Massively!)

GOOD: Mythic’s devs are so incredibly enthusiastic and confident of their material — as we’ve already seen.

GOOD: Huge response to the Engineer and Shaman articles.

BAD: Zenke is concerned that the game might not be ready as fast as Mythic suggests. A lot of the areas seem unfinished, particularly capital cities, which suggests that there’s more work being done than just “iterate and polish”. Only two out of the six capital cities have been shown.

GOOD: The Tome of Knowledge is everything it’s cracked up to be — and blows the LOTRO deed log out of the water.

IFFY: Mythic will not release the game if it’s not 100% finished — even if that means another delay.

GOOD: Zenke says that Warhammer looks like, for him, to beat World of Warcraft hands-down.

BAD: WAR is going to be fighting a huge negative public perception — graphics, pvp, etc.

IFFY: We’re not really sure what the end game PvE looks like.

IFFY: Warhammer’s going to have a fight on its hands as people will certainly compare it to WoW.

What I most want to comment on, in regards to this podcast, comes from the end part, where a WoW Insider writer and another guy ask two critical questions: (1) how can WAR appeal to the person whose primary interest is in PvE, and (2) with Blizzard beefing up its PvP content in Lich King (in addition to arenas and battlegrounds), will PvPers even need to switch over to WAR to get the PvP goodness they’re craving?

The case Mythic has been making for the first question is to say, “Hey, we understand that PvP has a negative stigma in most MMOs for PvE-centric players. And we think that’s because the PvP in those games are done poorly and without a clear-cut purpose. We want to entice you into trying OUR brand of PvP to see how much more tasty it is, and if you want to play the game but don’t want to stress about fighting other players, we will ship with robust PvE content as well.”

The philosophy behind this attitude is one I never thought about much until the Mythic devs compared MMOs to other competitive sports and games. These games are simply more fun with you get to play them with and against other people — no computer AI will ever match the innovation, randomization and wily thinking that a human can. Yet there needs to be rules in place to reward players who play fair, and to punish those who want to ruin the game experience for others.

Mythic will certainly have a challenge on its hands to both differentiate itself from WoW, but also to entice and woo players from WoW into trying something other than the only MMO they’ve ever known.

The second point I have more of a problem with. The guy in the podcast gushed about how exciting and awesome the Lich King content was shaping up to be, and how Blizzard is supposedly doing all these spiffy things with PvP in their new all-PvP war zone. Okay. Listen: I have played WoW for four years now. Four years. It’s a good game, a great game, but not a perfect game. One of its biggest flaws has always been its PvP game — at first, it simply didn’t have much of one. Then they implemented an honor system that required gamers to literally give up their offline lives to viably compete in. Then they threw in the Arena system and shoehorned WoW into an “eSports” category. The PvP game in WoW has been floundering trying to find something fair and fun and balanced, and as a result, has crimped the PvE experience considerably. From class nerfs solely due to their PvP action to overpowered PvP gear that is easier to get than anything from the PvE side, it’s a flawed aspect of the game. I’m sorry, but it IS.

What’s worse is that Blizzard is just blind to how bad their PvP has been, historically, and in countless interviews and blue posts, they just reinforce the viewpoint that the players must just not understand how great their PvP is, and how they’re going to keep on going ahead with it no matter what. It doesn’t matter what Lich King creates for PvP, because it will be built around a crumbling system. When all classes and all specs are not PvP viable, then it’s a failed system. When the emphasis on PvP over PvE in fine tuning the game and class balance is too strong, then it has failed all of the players who sign on solely for PvE.

So I do not see Blizzard’s PvP as a threat to WAR at all. Yes, players may remain with WoW out of ignorance for something they refuse to try, but I think WAR is going to call Blizzard out on that aspect of their game. I don’t want WAR to be a WoW killer, but I want WAR to be a WoW challenger. If WoW challenges Mythic to make the most polished and fun game they can, and Mythic rises to the occasion, then WoW should not be so arrogant as to ignore what’s fun in their game in the pursuit of what is most profitable.

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Da Newz – May 15

May 15, 2008

Beta Ticker: 692,706 (+7,821 from last week)

Quote of the Week:The best way to look at it is that Warhammer is Batman.” ~ Josh Drescher

Story of the Week: Oddly enough, the biggest story about WAR this week wasn’t about WAR at all — but instead, the blitz of World of Warcraft expansion info that was suddenly thrown all over the place. Many Warhammer fans are nervously chewing their nails at the shift in spotlight (and unrestrained speculation about the supposed fall head-to-head battle of the two titles), but Massively actually thinks WoW is a positive factor in the future success of WAR. In any case, a clash between these two titles looks to happen this fall, as Vivendi confirmed that Wrath is “anticipated to be released in the second half of 2008.”

In other news:

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Fanboys

April 15, 2008

Last night as I was playing The MMO That Shall Not Be Named, I was catching up on some various podcasts and happened to be listening to an episode of WoW Radio’s Gnome SPEED Considered. In it, the podcasters were jawing back and forth about the current 2.4 patch and the upcoming WoW expansion — and as they were talking, they were doing some pretty strange things. Depending on the moment, they were either condemning Blizzard for the gear reset or praising them, growing bored with the content or excited about it, and (most hilarious to me) worried about WAR and dismissing WAR’s arrival on the MMO scene.

Now, I have no illusions that hardcore WoW players will stick with their game of choice, even if WAR happens to be truly excellent. Nobody expects WAR to topple Warcraft and replace it as king. WoW skews to the more generic, jack-of-all-trades MMO approach, and WAR leans to the more niche, with RvR in its pocket.

But to hear these guys talking, you’d think WAR, at worst, will be a very minor speed bump in the road to Blizzard’s worldwide domination. “The question isn’t whether people will leave to try Warhammer,” one guy was saying, “But how soon they’ll be crawling back to Warcraft.” They go on to belittle WAR as a PvP-only game that caters to the hardcore PKers out there, and that’s when I hit the stop button on the player.

Ugh.

This, to me, is blind arrogance, the hallmark of a die hard fanboy. I know you and I haven’t known each other long, but hopefully you’ve figured out that I’m not above trying different games, looking hard at flaws in games I do like, and trying to strive for a balanced view when it comes to these things. As much as I’ve played and genuinely liked WoW over the past four years, I have to say that to dismiss WAR as an upcoming credible, viable force in the MMO market is plain stupid. Last year, LOTRO came out and seized a serious chunk of players, many from the WoW folds — perhaps the most players joining up with a new AAA-title MMO since WoW itself released. And I’m pretty sure a lot of those players haven’t yet wanted to “crawl back” to Mother Warcraft’s teats.

It’s now a year later, and we’re closing in on a year and a half since the last WoW expansion. For all of the acclaim of their once-every-four-months patches, Blizzard is simply not releasing new content fast enough, and people are growing bored and restless. There’s a general malaise surrounding Lich King; yeah, a lot of people want to try it because it’s new content, but it’s not innovative, from what we can tell. With two hefty titles coming out in the next six months, WoW players have a choice between more of the same, or a brand new bite.

Make no mistake — even with an expansion, WoW will take a subscriber hit this year. There’s a decent chance Conan might be a sleeper hit, and a better chance that a fully polished and intensely fun Warhammer could do far better than anyone expects, even Mythic. What a lot of people are banking on is that this will be the year of the changing of the guard: one shall rise, one shall fall (in subscriber numbers).

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Velcome! Mu-ha-ha!

March 31, 2008

Welcome to all WoW Insider readers — and remember, it’s okay to play WoW and still be excited about WAR. I am!