Archive for the 'Warhammer' Category

New MMOs need time to shine, or Why Warhammer should have raised their price $10 and included 90 days of free play

October 18th, 2008.

That date marked the end of the free month of gameplay that came with Warhammer Online.

It also marked the time when a lot of Warhammer players decided to quit, including several prominent bloggers who had been posting regularly about their experiences.

“Too many bugs.” “Not exciting enough.”  Whatever the reason, when renewal time came up, they voted with their feet — and their pens keyboards. 

That they came to their decision pretty much exactly a month after the game was released should be no suprise to anyone. 

Mythic also saw the end of free play as a big milestone in the minds of their players.  The day before, on the 17th, Mark Jacobs wrote a long “State of the Game” post highlighting their ongoing work to improve the game and offering a look at significant changes right around the corner.  It was essentially (and very appropriately) a carefully timed sales pitch to keep playing.

But still as soon as that 30 day buzzer went off, players were faced with a big psychological decision to either commit to the game or walk away.

And quite a few looked at what they were doing right then and decided to walk.

Personally, I think that’s a shame.

30 days is simply not enough time for a new MMO to settle in and for players to really get a sense of the game’s long term worth.

Even when a lauch goes well, you can depend on the game going through a lot of changes over the next  several weeks.  The underlying technology — the servers and clients — finally get tested under real-world loads and need to be tweaked.  There will be bugs in the gameplay that have to be fixed and adjustments to players’ abilities made. Servers will be up and down a lot. Fundamental things about the game are going to change.

And then there’s the actual game content and how well you can understand and appreciate it in 30 days. 

After my first month in WOW — pretty much considered the most popular MMO of all time — I think I was somewhere in Stranglethorn Vale, probably killing tigers or running away from pesky apes. I hadn’t seen half the zones in the game, done much with my tradeskills, wasn’t in a guild, and had only been in one instance. It is fair to say I had a limited sense of what the entire game was like. As it was, I decided to keep playing and have been happy with that decision. But I could as easily have been annoyed with where I was in the game at the time or with issues with the WOW servers (it’s easy to forget now but there were some serious issues back then) and quit.

Again, I just don’t see how it serves game companies’ interests to give players of a new MMO only 30 days to fall in love with their game.

Especially when they already know that those 30 days are going to be the least stable, least polished ones their game ever has.

When I purchased my copy of Warhammer, I also purchased a 60-day time card.  (Yeah, there’s probably a psychological message in there somewhere about committment…)

Now I don’t feel any need to rush to judgement about Warhammer and am looking forward to a lot of changes coming soon.

I firmly believe companies like Mythic rolling out a new MMO would be better off raising the price of their product by $10 and throwing in 90 days of free play. 

The revenue lost in monthly subscriptions would be offset by the higher initial cost of the product and I think by higher long term player retention.  It would give the company more time to improve their product and let players make their first subscription decision at a time when the game was more solid and polished. I’d also expect that the more time players invested in their characters, the harder the decision to abandon them.

(The only time this wouldn’t be a good idea is if a game company knows their product is rubbish and just wants to cash in as quickly as possible before their customers start raising a stink.)

Slayer Redux

Apparently, I’m not the only one thinking the Dwarf Slayer might be good addition to Warhammer’s lineup:

Book of Grudges points to interviews with Mark Jacobs hinting that is what’s coming.

JoBildo — of the great Ramblings of JoBildo — is pretty enthused about the idea too, and asks a good question elsewhere:  what’s the best game mechanic for a class whose stated goal is to die in combat?

Clearly they’ll need a spammable talent called “Death Wish.” 🙂

(Oh, and according to a CM quote I saw on MMO Champion, the mohawk is the new black in WOW too– “…the mohawk is now the most popular haircut in Azeroth (if not the most popular, then certainly the most striking).”  Maybe so, but are they using pig grease???)

Warhammer State of the Game: What Order needs

I’m way too late to comment on Mark Jacob’s State of the Game post for Warhammer Online.  Others have already done an excellent job breaking his remarks down.

But I do have one suggestion on how to improve faction balance in the game.    Whether Mythic was proved right in their belief that early adopters would go Destruction and later arrivals would go Order, the fact still seems to be that, overall, Order is underrepresented on every server (EDIT: apparently  there are a couple servers where the population is skewed towards Order — still the trend is definitely the other way).

The addition — or return, depending on how cynical you are — of two tank classes, Black Guard (Destro) and the Knight of the Blazing Sun (Order) will definitely help add much needed tanks to the game. Depending on how many feathers the Knight ends up sporting, it may also give players a bit more reason to roll Order.

If Mythic really wants to boost interest in Order, there’s only one thing to do:

Add in the Dwarf Slayer.

Suicidal, bezerk Slayers sporting mohawks and blue tattoos would instantly raise Order’s coolness rating tenfold.

Just saying.

Slayer fan art by Essi2

Werit: Are Bright Wizards too bright?

Werit put in his two cents on the question of whether Bright Wizards are overpowered.

As someone with a Bright Wizard main, my unbiased opinion is no, they’re not overpowered.

Not all. Really.  (Now move along.  These are not the droids you’re looking for.)

Actually, the little I’ve seen so far is that my Bright Wizard’s damage output is very good but he is the ultimate glass cannon. Now that the Fire Cage ability works reliably, I can cc, kite and blast away.  But I go down immediately if I stay in melee range for any length of time. 

Save Da Runts has a nice series of tips for how to take the shine off Bright Wizards.

The good news is that at least I’ve learned to not blow myself up so often.

The bad news is that I still keep trying to press Blink 🙂

Warhammer Game Update 1.02

So, I was just speculating on Mark Jacob’s comments on future improvements for Warhammer.

 

Now, we have some new info:  the 1.02 patch notes are out on the Warhammer Herald (props to Spinks at Book of Grudges for pointing out its existance and offering his own insights on some of the changes).

 

The change I find most intriguing is this one:

 

In order to promote realm and population balance, some realms on some servers will now award their players with a +20% bonus to renown and experience. This is not a permanent bonus, but rather a temporary incentive to promote balance. Realms currently offering this bonus are marked on the server list with a colored icon; blue for Order and Red for Destruction – Check the Herald for the latest list!

Will it work?  Should be interesting to see.  I know a temporary 20% bonus would definitely NOT be enough to influence my own decision on something that would permanently affect me for the rest of the game like the server or faction I chose. 

 

However, I can see that individuals and/or guilds who are joining the game — or rolling alts — and don’t have a particular preference might be quite happy to grab even a temporary levelling advantage.

 

A couple other quick comments on 1.02 improvements:

 

  • Join all scenarios button — Yay. Wonder if it’ll include all the options of  the addon I just installed.
  • Chat changes — Yay, bug fixes.  Boo, not automatically delivering all the improvements to existing players.  Bigger boo, still no word on the chat changes like item linking.
  • Reduced delay when mailing to alts and guildmates – Yay, speedier mail is great.  Now how about that Auction House?

 

 

Mark Jacobs on Warhammer improvements

Syp at the Waaagh Blog passed along an interesting post Mark Jacobs made on the VN Boards about future improvements to Warhammer

Here the quotes and a couple comments:

1. Open RvR is crucial to this game’s success. If we don’t have enough people doing open RvR, the game will not succeed as much as it could and should. We’re looking at all the data from the servers and if what is being reported here is true (too much emphasis on scenarios), we will certainly look at encouraging people to get involved in oRvR earlier than they may be doing right now. This will not involved nerfing of scenario exp, rp, etc. though.

Comment: Hard to argue with this.  Scenarios seem to be the most efficient way to level, and if everyone is constantly grinding in scenarios then who’s left to do open RvR?  This is a nut WOW never cracked – despite many attempts, organized world PVP there is essentially non-existant.  WAR, whose primary focus is RvR, has to find more ways to encourage open RvR participation, especially at the lower levels (where are lot of RvR lakes are ghostly quiet). Good luck doing this without nerfing scenarios. 

2. We will have an improved chat interface/filters very quickly (hopefully in the next version). As I’ve said before, we really messed up on the presentation of the chat system. It really is quite powerful but too many people just didn’t know what they could do to make their lives easier. That’s our fault and we will correct that. Once I had my chat system set up properly, I was very pleased with the results. So, the next version you will see will have: a) more tabs by default; b) more filters; c) a reminder on how to set things up your way. Further down the road I want to see a chat editor similar to our layout editor. I also sent an idea to the team about a simple slash command (and then a button) to make gold spammer reporting quite easy.

Comment: This one worries me.  I don’t see any of the keywords I was hoping for — item linking, mouse-based shortcuts, new default chat channels.  Instead, I hear him saying they messed on the presentation of the system, that they didn’t explain it well enough, and if we just understood it better we’d be happy.  That sounds a lot like “Our chat system is already great. You just don’t get it.”  While there may be a lot of untapped power in the built-in filters (others have already pointed out to me that it’s easy to filter out NPC chatter, for example) — it doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of simple, widely used chat features missing from WAR.  Mark Jacob’s idea of a slash command and then a button to report a gold spammer still sounds like more steps than I need elsewhere.  Maybe Mythic’s technology simply doesn’t allow for these simple improvements, but I’m sorry to see Jacobs skip blithely past them altogether.

3. I love the core crafting system and we definitely want to add a lot more stuff to it as the game evolves.

Comment: It’s got potential is the nicest thing I can say so far.  I’m glad he has it on his list of things to improve.  Not mentioned here is the flip side of a robust crafting economy — the mail and auction house system, which are both borked badly.

As to what else is coming, well, that would be telling but I guarantee that you’ll like what we are going to do before the year is out and afterward. As I promised before we launched, we are keeping the team on WAR and not moving them on to the expansion pack yet. Launching was only the first step…

Comment: Mythic has been very active with tweaks and bug fixes so far.  I’m glad to hear Mark Jacobs publically stating their initial work isn’t done yet and that more improvements are on the way.  I’m sure he knows that these next few months will make or break WAR in terms of customer retention — and I feel pretty confident that Mythic is going to do everything they possibly can to deliver on their promises to further improve the great game they launched. Color me optimistic.

r1ft Gaming: “Meh” to Warhammer

(Ran across this mentioned on Massively.com)

 Daedren at r1ft Gaming’s take on Warhammer:

To summarize, my thoughts are basically this: Warhammer Online is a mediocre remake of everything we’ve already seen in the industry. It lacks passion, it lacks real creativity, and at the end of the day, it doesn’t provide a unique or memorable experience. Or yeah, something like that.

Can’t say I agree.  Daedren’s real criticisms seem less to do with Warhammer and more to do with the whole MMO genre. 

But it’s definitely a well-crafted article and there are a lot of points that do resonate.  Well worth a read.


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