Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Warhammer: Casual but not User Friendly atm

I've noticed that several bloggers are impressed with the speed that Mythic has reacted to complaints and bugs. Their recent patch is very solid and it addresses a variety of issues that I've seen brought up. In particular I was glad to see that it's now impossible to roll need on items that you cannot use on your current character. The open grouping system in Warhammer is great, but it means that you're often grouping with complete strangers. No one seems to trust anyone in these situations and I saw a lot of people simply rolling "Need" all the time. Scenarios could get really ugly especially when a blue item for a class dropped and someone who couldn't use it won the roll. I was hoping for scenarios to eventually use a loot system more in line with the public quests, but this is still a good fix.

I also noticed another fix involving scenarios which allows you to queue up for all of the ones in the same tier at once. It's just a quick time saving change to the game, but then again Mythic really needs all the help they can get in that area. There seems to be a lot of time wasting mechanisms build into the game at the moment that need to be polished out. Right from the start, the process for logging into Warhammer is unwieldy and requires you to watch multiple logo screens and then click on a EULA agreement. I've got my fingers crossed that Mythic eventually takes that out of the game. Also I was sadden to see that the mail system still requires a ridiculous amount of clicks to take an item from the mailbox. I'm trying to work on my cultivating skill at the moment and my friends are sending me all the seeds they find. It's very tedious to extract them from the mailbox.

The quest tracking system is another feature which is still unfriendly compared to other games out there. I probably find it annoying just because I tend to quest more then I do scenarios. Still, I think I should be able to abandon a quest or simply turn off the tracking feature from the quest tracking window on my screen. Instead I'm constantly referred back to the Tome of Knowledge which covers up the majority of my screen and magically summons an enemy player out of nowhere. It reminds me a lot of the early days of Everquest where casters were forced to look at their spell book if they wanted to meditate and regain mana. It's very annoying especially since from what I've seen of their scripting and customizable UI windows it's an easy fix. In fact I'm pretty sure someone has an add-on out there at the moment that does just that. However, as popular as add-ons are in MMOs I'm sure a lot of people don't like using them. I hated with a passion having to update mine in World of Warcraft after every patch.

Also I realize now that as much as I disliked the official World of Warcraft forums they did give me a place to sniff around about future changes. I feel the fan forums of Warhammer are more of a one way street for information. Mythic can get an idea about our opinions on the game, but we really have no idea what they are planning. The announcements they do drop throughout the different fan forums tend to be short term news updates. I'm not sure such a lopsided communication channel can support a large MMO community. As Lum the Mad mentions the Warhammer Alliance is the primary fan forum site, but it seems to have a low amount of traffic for such a large game. I think its because a lot of casual players have no idea which fan forums are actually checked by Mythic. It's all rather confusing and since they have no assurance their voice will be heard they simply decide not to bother.

Luckily, for Warhammer none of the things that makes their game non-user friendly are that hard to change. In fact, I expect a lot to be fixed within the next couple months. If you're worried that this is too long and it will give Wrath of the Lich King an advantage then I wouldn't worry too much. While Blizzard has had four years to polish its UI and game mechanics to be extremely user friendly, they still can't compete with some of the class design that Mythic has implemented. Warhammer's classes are just better suited for PvP and Blizzard can't rework theirs without alienating a lot of players. Blizzard is looking into a dual spec system, but it won't be out until after the expansion. Plus as some bloggers like Rohan have pointed out, the dual spec system could easily backfire. Warhammer needs very little time to bring its UI up to par and I don't see WoW stealing many PvP fans back in that time. Then again it remains to be seen just how much of the current Warhammer population are PvE fans trying out new content.


Bill G said...

Try the Curse updater for your WAR mods. I'm pretty happy with it.

Relmstein said...

I might have to do that. Curse also runs the site, right?

Thallian said...

Great points Relmstein. I have some home they will still come out sitting pretty. Provided they make the game as inviting and easy to use as possible.

Anonymous said...

I'm still adamant that I prefer no forums to the troll-invested anger-mongering mess ala Blizzard or Funcom forums.

From my perspective, the problem is that Mythic has taken the one-way street of information as an excuse to withhold information and stick to their talking points like politicians.

Oddly, you see more posts around from Mark Jacobs, Paul Barnett and other Mythic alumni than you ever did from Jeff Kaplan, Rob Pardo, etc..

Anonymous said...

how is Warhammer in PVP compared to WOW? i'm getting frustrated with how Blizzard is biased on other classes. balance in class skills/talents in WOW, i'm afraid is far from being balanced. some are really too OP.

try for example a mage's nova. that is something really annoying for melee types, since they can spam it a lot. now in the recent patch, i heard they (mages) were getting +1 to all resistance for every level. that's like 70 all. not to mention the druid buff. if something like this should be given, it should be for melee classes since resistance to ice,fire shadow magic is something melees should have against casters.

IMO, all classes should be balanced when it comes to PVP (on a 1v1 perspective, though Arena is about team play). but how can your teammate work when your class is facing a class he is so weak against? there is just no excuse to it (imbalance). and w/ balance is where skills come in. how to out manuever the other class so you win.

my 2 cents.. .

Openedge1 said...

Isn't it funny how the MMO forums match our current political race?

Bill G said...

Yes, and are part of the same operation AFAIK.

Anonymous said...

You touched on many of the things we are frustrated with, leaving out only the performance problems on the client (that actually got worse with 1.2, bizarre!). 1.3 seems a little better, but there's still a huge need for improvement.

I am pleased that Mythic seems to be working on fixing at least some of these issues fairly quickly.

One thing they did that you did not mention is adding "region" chat this week. This was a terrible oversight in beta - you had no way to talk to people region-wide so it was very hard to coordinate keep defense. Heck Altdorf was contested on my server last week and most of the people in the city had no idea it was happening, until the city had fallen and we were kicked out (for 24 hours!). So kudos to Mythic for setting up better communication.

On the subject of the login screens - it's worse even than you described. Not only are there too many splash screens and the EULA to click every time, but I play on Volkmar. Every second or third time I play the game, the client tries to force me to another server. (This, even though I can see that my Volkmar characters are in the background behind all the prompts!). I have to decline it, then it will try again to send me to the underpopulated server, which I decline a second time. At that point I am given a warning screen that Volkmar is high population, which I have to accept. Only then do I get my character selection screen.

Since Volkmar is the only place I have characters, and one of them is a pretty high level, trying to force me to play somewhere else and requiring me to click through 6-8 screens is mainly just ticking me off.

As far as the forums thing, I share your annoyance on this. I have given up going to any player forums because Mythic is inconsistent about where they post information. If they picked one fan site and always used that one and ONLY that one, it would be okay. But since they scattershot information all over the place, it's impossible to keep up with what they are posting and where it is- or whether it's even official, or somebody faking it.

In fact whenever somebody in my guild comes across a Mythic post somewhere and links it on our forums, there's at least two pages of people asking "is it legit?" before we even get to what's in the post itself.

I can understand that Mythic does not want to pay a fleet of people to moderate official forums. But they need to stop posting on fan sites and start putting ALL game info on their own website only, so players have a one-stop place to go find out what's going on. When Jacobs posts some long thing about Altdorf falling, for example. Or info about the mail system redo. Or whatever - I'm not going to go surf a bunch of fan sites to find out what's going on with the game.

What I would do if I were them is set up a read-only forum with a few subcategories for important news. Set one up for server status, planned maintenance outages, one for patch notices, and so on. At least people could find the info and know it was for real.

Right now their approach is mildly annoying but tolerable.... when I reach end game and some of this stuff starts to matter and make a difference about whether my alliance can succeed at its goals, I'll probably get much more annoyed with it than I am now. :)