Some WAR links and thoughts

There are a couple WAR blog posts that I wanted to comment on, and I figured since I’m referencing more than one, I’d just make it a new post here.

Ravious over at Kill Ten Rats is wondering about the value of a subscription to a PvP MMO. I was interested in this post, because his reasons for not wanting to subscribe to a PvP MMO over a PvE MMO is similar to my reasons for the exact opposite conclusion; I don’t have much interest in subscribing to a mainly PvE MMO right now.

Ravious says:

In PvE MMO games, like Lord of the Rings Online, there is that feeling of the developer updating “further along.”  When Turbine updates the game with a Book update (as opposed to just a balance, optimization, and bug patch) they push the story further down the road.  We get new quests that expand the storytelling of the world, new instances and dungeons, and sometimes even new regions.  There is the value in receiving the content, but I think the bigger value is knowing that over the next big rise there will be more.

Fair enough. I won’t argue that WAR’s PvE rivals LoTRO, or EQ2, or WoW. Instead of feeling like I’m missing out on great PvE, though, I’m happy that WAR is offering me something I can’t get in any of those games; unpredictable gaming on a nightly basis. I guess I’m bored with PvE and the sense of sameness that I get in every PvE game. The setting is different, the stories are different, but the encounters are too predictable for me. I don’t derive much satisfaction from beating PvE challenges. What really gets me excited is knowing a mob of enemy players is out there, and our encounters will be much more unpredictable than anything a PvE situation can provide.

Does that mean Ravious (or anyone else who misses greater PvE options than WAR offers) is wrong? Absolutely not. I’m glad that there are games available that cater to both preferences.

The next post that caught my eye was Scarybooster’s “Hot for WAR“. Scary is praising Mythic for their attention to their game and their efforts to continually improve it. Now, I fully expect someone in the comments over there to say “Blizzard doesn’t have to put in that much work to fix their game because they don’t release a game as broken as WAR!” I don’t think WAR is broken, for the record, but a sarcastic comment like that still has a ring of truth to it.

One of the reasons that I’m happy in Warhammer is precisely because of Mythic’s attention to their product. I think Mythic is a little more ambitious than Blizzard, and I appreciate their type of gameplay. We really can’t get MMO gaming like Mythic makes anywhere else in the genre. Eve is always an exception; they really have a unique environment with lots of opportunity for excellent unpredictable PvP. At the end of the day, Mythic’s RvR design is more exciting to me than the PvE available in LoTRO, EQ2, or WoW, and I appreciate Mythic’s attempts to provide a gaming experience different from other MMOs.

I’m not going to deny that I enjoy different things in an MMO than many other MMO gamers. I don’t like raiding or dungeon crawling very much. It makes me feel constricted, closed in, like my role is very carefully scripted, and varying from what you’re expected to do will lead to failure. Apparently, the way I enjoy PvE is quite different from a lot players who are unhappy with Mythic’s PvE. I happen to enjoy it very much, and I don’t find PvE leveling much different in WAR than the way I played WoW or EQ or LoTRO. I get quests, I run out and do my quests, I get tradeskill supplies while I’m questing, I do some tradeskilling before bed. For my money, I’m just as happy with WAR’s PvE environment as I was in Azeroth or Norrath, and my progress leveling in WAR is faster than it ever was in EQ or WoW or LoTRO.

I think that the blogging community has to start acknowledging that there’s a lot of different ways to enjoy MMOs, and quite a few different experiences available. Just because a game falls into the MMO genre doesn’t mean it’s going to be similar to other MMOs out there, and it’s quite possible that games are going to go far enough down their own game-design path that we end up disliking the final product, despite the fact that they all start off in a very similar manner.

I won’t try to convince people (like Heartless, perhaps, or Pete), that Warhammer is a good game, or a game they should be playing. I think we’re starting to see people with more specific requirements for enjoying an MMO, and people branching off into the games that best meet those requirements. I don’t think each MMO should try to be everything for everyone. I respect that Ravious really likes LoTRO’s books and the PvE it provides, and I think Turbine has done a wonderful job incorporating a story into their PvE group encounters. I completely understand players who love the product Blizzard offers, and the excellent challenges they provide for small group or raid group gameplay. For players who prefer Eve’s universe, or EQ2, or any other game that’s meeting their MMO gaming needs, I say right on. All we have to do is be happy with our game, and let everyone else enjoy theirs.

And for me, there’s no greater thrill in MMO gaming than seeing 20 or 30 realm mates running alongside me through a zone, looking for trouble, seeing a crowd of Destruction headed our way, crashing together like a scene from Braveheart or Lord of the Rings. I love it when a big fight breaks down into 8 or 10 smaller fights, rolling across the green grass of Avelorn, and the ebb and flow of the battle is frantic and unpredictable, ending in glorious triumph or bitter defeat. Keep battles, siege warfare, flanking manuevers from postern doors, tactics barked through Warband or Region channels, dozens of people switching focus and wondering if the defenders will respond in time, staving off an hour-long keep take attempt from a determined foe, or finally breaking through a spirited defense to lay claim to a keep…

That’s what I’ve found in WAR. That’s what keeps me happily moving through PvE, knowing that at any moment, I might have the opportunity for something epic, something magical created out of the efforts of dozens of players.

In DAoC, on the Percival server, it wasn’t uncommon to get smoked by an opposing realm and lie dead in the grass watching them swarm over the objective you had attempted to defend. Instead of opponents laughing at your corpse, though, or dancing on it, or worse (/spit, /slit, etc.), it also wasn’t uncommon to be saluted at or bowed to by the victors.

As much as players on Percival enjoyed their moments of triumph, we all knew that those moments were made possible by the valiant efforts of our opponents. Without skilled and dedicated opponents, the victory would not have been so sweet. Maybe that’s the difference between PvE raiding and RvR for me. When I’ve beaten a dungeon or a boss, I never go home thinking “Man, they put up a hell of a fight, they’re a really good player, or that was a really good tactic”. After a good RvR fight, win or lose, as I sit there grinning at my computer with the adrenaline still pumping through my body, I know there’s someone on the other side of their computer grinning as well. They helped make my fun possible, and I helped with theirs.

I think that’s the essence of Mythic’s RvR for me, and I won’t tire of it any time soon. And for the record, I’m not really a fan of individual PvP. There’s something about running into battle with a group of friends that creates a shared magic I haven’t experienced anywhere else in the MMO world.

If you get that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from big PvE encounters, I respect that. I’m just glad that Mythic gives me a chance to experience that in competition against other players.

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10 Responses

  1. “All we have to do is be happy with our game, and let everyone else enjoy theirs.”

    Pre-friggin-cisely.

    Spot on, sir. Cookie for you, and all that.

    Really, I love both Mythic’s PvP, and Blizzard’s PvE quests and dungeons. Hence, I play both right now. I just wish I didn’t have to. ;)

  2. Thanks for the linkback. =) I agree about the benefits of PvP. For the record, I am a far cry from a carebear. What I am struggling with is internally comparing the value of a PvP MMO subscription versus a PvE MMO subscription.

    If you boil it down to: subscription is merely the cost to play (no bearing on future updates). Then I fully agree with the “play what is fun”-mantra. It’s when you compare the whole package of the service that brought about my internal struggle.

    See ya in WAR. ;)

  3. Now that I can run with the herd in WoW, I’m much more mellow about my issues with Warhammer. It felt very frustrating to have hooked up with this great bunch of people, then find that the game they were all playing just frustrated me 2/3rds of the time I played it (granting that the last 1/3rd of the time was great fun).

    As I said in another comment, 1.1 might change the face of the game for me, and I’m looking forward to trying it out.

  4. Part of what’s whipping so much polemic-dust around is the nownownownownow thing that’s going on. WAR isn’t perfect, that’s for sure, but I have hopes that it will be significantly better in 3, 6 and certainly 12 months.

    For some, however, that just isn’t good enough, and if it’s not good now it’s never going to be good, and even if it is it doesn’t matter. A rant in the hand is worth two in the bush, or something.

    I can understand that, but I do wonder when we stopped seeing our MMOs as evolving entities (usually only half-assedly crafted) and started assuming they should be the polished chrome gestalts that are put out for consoles.

    • That’s a good question, Ysh. I don’t think you’re saying that it’s ok that MMOs start as half-assedly crafted, rather that’s just been the state of quite a few in the past. I don’t think WAR is that bad at all, to be honest. There’s always going to be things to patch, and Mythic has challenges, but this was a pretty damn good launch. I think their biggest stumble might have been adding servers too soon, and spreading out the population…sometimes people are willing to wait in line for a restaurant because the food’s that good. It’s a tough call, though. Long queues might also make you look like you can’t adjust quickly to new customer demands.

      You’re very right about the nownownow bit. I think back to the old days of EQ and DAoC, when we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways for our levels, and I wonder if that’s given me a sense of patience with MMOs. Maybe not; I didn’t have any patience with AoC :) Still, I’d rather find the good in a game, rather than complain about the bad, especially when the company is acknowledging issues they want to address.

      Huffledoom, you’re right, quite a few major allliances moved from Averheim. We should have a good mix of people…see in you RvR!

  5. [...] and to a lesser (comment-level) extent Ysharros have decided I am a poster child for the “I don’t like Warhammer” campaign. Heartless is my co-spokesman in this campaign of wanting fixes nownownownownow and [...]

  6. No, I really did mean that games used to be an evolving thing even when they were launched. I probably shouldn’t have said half-assed and used “unfinished” instead. Point is, there’s a large segment of the player base that thinks an MMO should ship in PERFECT condition which, with an MMO and in my uninformed and unhumble opinion, is almost impossible. MMOs *should* evolve, MMOs *should* be living entities, and I think in creating that kind of thing it’s probably hard to ever get to a product stage that’s perfect. Launchable, yes. Perfect? Not likely.

    I don’t have much patience with poor design, but I do have a lot of patience for good intentions and having to stumble around a bit until you get it right. MMOs are actually evolving, even if some of the mechanics and systems aren’t moving as quickly as we’d like. A lot of the time, I think developers are having to invent the tools first before they can do what they want to do — which may lead to a fair amount of reinventing the wheel, but if they didn’t try to innovate we’d be bitching about that too.

    Basically, I don’t think we can be pleased! ;)

  7. I knew I liked you!! haha. You sing the song of every true RvR’er.

    And the 1.1 changes to keep structures are HUGE in enhancing the effect of a keep assault. A wave of destruction defended a keep in Kadrin Valley last night for 30 minutes, until (funny enough) my 29 Swordmaster hit Hold The Line and managed to run all the way through and double-wack the second keep door. By the time I got back, our entire force was past the inner wall!!

  8. [...] Thoughts, His Words Just had to say, Rick at /random reflects my thoughts exactly on WAR. So well that I gave his link it’s own post! Great write-up [...]

  9. Also, I pray that such respect for opponents as Percival had that you spoke of will soon appear in WAR. I thought days of respect and honor to be long since passed, but we will see!

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