Wednesday, July 30, 2008

War is not Perfect and WoW doesn't know everything

Warhammer has so many interesting ideas that I must say I'm getting excited as September gets closer. Just today I noticed Tobold did a post on the game's open grouping system and how it might encourage players to team up more often. Of course he's careful to remark that the system's usefulness depends on how quest items and experience are divided between group members. Grouping will still remain unpopular if Mythic makes the boneheaded mistake of making soloing better for gaining experience and completing quests. Even a good idea can be ruined by bad implementation. Warhammer is the new guy, but just because he has a clean slate doesn't mean he's perfect.

What I'm trying to say is that Warhammer is not the MMO messiah by virtue of being unreleased. I highly suspect that it will have the best PvP experience in a MMO, but it's impossible to know that at the moment. Even the people in beta don't know, since the experience between live and beta could be quite different. Things always change when people are involved and the more people, the quicker the change. Some of the PvP content could work differently when subjected to things like population imbalances or bot programs. That's not to say those will be an issue for Warhammer. In fact I believe they are using faction based queues to control server population and hired Punkbuster to prevent bots. Still I'm sure we can expect one or two things to pop up which will surprise everyone.

The other side of this argument is that World of Warcraft is not the best MMO by virtue of it being the most popular. There are parts of the game that many players will agree were implemented very poorly. I'm looking at you, honor ranking system. Also World of Warcraft often has a lot of criticism directed at it by older gamers who have more experience in the MMO genre. This probably lends some weight to the argument that it mostly polished established gameplay mechanics instead of revolutionizing anything. That's not to say releasing with polished content wasn't an accomplishment. Just look at all the buggy MMO launches last year to get an idea how hard of a goal it is. Still its ridiculous to portray Blizzard as a game design guru simply because they have the money to delay games while the polish them to a bright shine.

The truth is that neither game is perfect and they are a lot more alike on the surface then fanboys on either side are willing to admit. I get the difference between RvR and PvE treadmills, but it still doesn't change the fact that the first thing people see is orcs and humans fighting each other. I guess the real problem is that the fans might be taking their cues from the developers. I'm pretty sure that Mythic and Blizzard are dueling with release dates by leaking information to game retailers. It's actually kind of childish and I don't see why they can't just reach an agreement. Have EA's lawyers call up Activision's lawyers and get us a solid schedule for god's sake. I thought I might reading too much into the release dates and then I hear a nice story about Paul Barnett saying Warhammer is basically ready to ship now if they wanted.

Arggg, I'm just going to ignore the release date fencing for now and plan on playing Spore in September.


Heartless_ said...

I'm with you on the plan to play Spore in September :P

Also, I have been very much at the forefront to point out that WAR shares a good bit with WoW, as WoW shares a good bit with its predecessors (MUDs more than EQ). I very strongly believe that WoW-haters that are looking at WAR to save them will be disapointed to find that fact out.

I also hear you saying that WoW gets criticized, but not near the level that WAR is getting slammed. Something changes in the WotLK beta and it just gets reported. Something changes in WAR beta and OMFG the world is ending.

Unfortunately, the measuring stick is WoW and for a lot of those people arguing, that measuring stick is perfect.

Anonymous said...

They cannot call each other and agree on release days. That would violate anti-trust law. As in, it's illegal.

Sithlet said...

Paul Barnett's quote was taken out of context:

I'd answer the same way to such a stupidly phrased question.

Relmstein said...

I did wonder about anti-trust laws and I guess agreements on product release dates could fall under the collusion of cartels section.

It's funny since anti-trust laws are supposed to prevent agreements between companies that would lower competition in the market. Thus a contract not to release both games at the same time looks like something designed to prevent competition.

However, anyone whose familar with the MMO market though knows that if Blizzard can greatly reduce the intial subscription base of Warhammer then they hurt their chances to compete in the long run with World of Warcraft. Best way to hurt initial subscriptions for Warhammer, release Wrath of the Lich King as soon as possible afterwards.

Regis said...

Nah, WAR will probably not be perfect, but I think it will nail many points that WoW failed or ignored. And WoW is trying too much to be good at all aspects of the game - PvE, PvP etc. They are pretty good on the PvE by now, but they have always been bad at PvP.

In WotLK they will add a outdoor zone entirely dedicated to PvP, but from my previous experience on their efforts on that area, I'm fairly certain it will fail. And it will definitely not be able to rival WAR in PvP, which I guess will snag quite many people from WoW who are more for PvP than PvE.

As for release dates, both games definitely want the other one to fail, so they can get the bigger cut of subscribers. As Age of Conan showed, there is a big need for something new and fresh right now, and WAR is in a perfect spot to fill it. They will most likely release their game months before WotLK, which is probably why Blizzard has dropped the NDA and starting Open Beta even though that the game is far from ready - they just need the publicity to counter WAR.

Relmstein said...

I thought it was supicious that I could only find a small portion of the Paul Barnett interview at most sites. Still I find it hard to believe that the one man marketing machine could be tricked into saying anything.

Eric said...

Soloing is important. Granted groups should allow for benefits, but in WoW I soloed 95% of the time, rarely did instance and was motivated to reach the lvl cap so I could do what I came PVP.

It appears that in WAR I can PVP on may way to cap. That if very intriguing.

And Honor Ranking. OMG. Do I have to play 80 hours a week to succeed? Sheesh.

From what I hear the interface will work similarly to WoW. This is the correct decision. Its much easier to learn the interface when its familiar to what you have been doing. Sorta like all driving on the right side of the road.

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