Wednesday, August 20, 2008

WAR Isn't Fun

"I’ve already played Warhammer. It was called World of Warcraft." - Richard Bartle
Bartle was right, he did play WAR already, and it was WoW. Just like Bartle, many players will try to play WAR as they do WoW and then wonder why they aren’t playing WoW or state they are sick of playing WoW. That’s fine. No one can force them to change their mind on how to play MMOs.

Unfortunately, Bartle gave validation to many “WAR is just WoW” viewpoints. However, many seem to have missed the part where Dr. Bartle admitted that he played a lot of WoW and had fun doing so. So, if he already played WAR, and it was WoW, then WAR is probably going to be fun to some degree. Bartle was simply burned out.

This brings me to a post at Virgin Worlds where Brent asserts that WAR just isn’t fun. Sadly, Brent uses Dr. Bartle’s quote to defend his position. That doesn’t add up, as WAR has to be fun by Bartle's assertion. Brent's view shows the effect that Bartle’s ill-fated quote has had on those looking for evidence to indict WAR as a failure.

I don’t dislike Brent and I’m not going to start throwing hypocrisy around again. I want to look into why Brent views WAR as a foregone failure. It starts in the recent Virgin Worlds Podcast #127, where Brent spends a lot of time talking about the “next generation” of MMOs and how games coming out currently are “last generation, nothing new to see here, move along please”.

It is evident that Brent is not interested in the current generation of MMO games and it is unlikely he would view any of them as “fun”. I wish Brent would just come out and say that, instead of looking for validation to prop up his opinion in misguided quotes and propaganda.

Unfortunately, Brent makes the argument that Sony Online Entertainment has a slew of upcoming next generation games, while reporting from a SOE-sponsored fan-faire. That absolutely dumbfounds me, because SOE has absolutely no games on tap that we haven’t seen versions of before.

Free Realms is an online world filled with mini-games that runs on micro-transactions.

The Agency is an online, class-based and multi-player shooter with persistent world aspects.

DC Universe Online is a super hero MMO that focuses on action and offers a peak at physics based game play.

None of the listed games offers anything new other than the fact that SOE is putting huge development dollars into them. Puzzle Pirates, released in 2003, does the online game world filled with mini-games and customizable avatars already. Doom, released in 1993, not only invented the first person shooter genre, but took it online as well. Planetside, another SOE game that happens to be a persistent online shooter, has been around since 2003. City of Heroes, a super hero MMO, has been around since 2004. Physics-based games have been all-the-rage for the last few years.

It is absolutely SOE fanboy-ish to argue any of them are next generation. I’m sorry, but that invalidates Brent’s criticism of WAR. Brent likes SOE and despises WAR. He is entitled to that opinion, but he needs to stick to it as an opinion, not try and use it as evidence that WAR "is just another WoW" and therefore will fail.

The gaming industry has shown a complete lack of ability to innovate quickly. Change occurs slowly, over time, from release to release. There is never going to be a mainstream game that suddenly changes the playing field in terms of players and mechanics. Some games, such as WoW, will storm in and take over a genre, but not through innovation.

The next generation is going to come slowly over time and those waiting for it will never find it. Every time they look at a new game, they will see something from the last game and claim that they are going to “sit this one out” in anticipation of the next generation.


  1. Is Brent employed by Sony now? Might as well be

  2. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Why to people need to define this shit? It's a game. Is it fun? Cool. Is it boring? Don't play it. It couldn't be more simple.

  3. Anonymous1:20 PM

    These beset part of Brent’s post was the Fonzie picture. Ok, little harsh on his opinion.

    I guess a player like me only looks forward to an evolution of MMO game play and not a revolution.

    Having not actually played the game I can only say is; what I here about the key concept of public quests, Tome of Knowledge and how RvR and PvE is blended with great looking art style.

    WAR sounds great to me, I look forward to see it this weekend.

  4. Couldn't agree with you more, bud.

    There is nothing next-gen about the lineup coming in the next year from SOE. I love SOE, don't get me wrong. These games have the potential to be good (the only one I'm interested in playing is FreeRealms) but nothing is next gen. Free Realms is taking popular browser based microtransactions based games, and putting it in a client w/ a download and requiring a subscription fee in order to buy things with microtransactions. That's not next gen, that's a step back. (But like I said, I think it will be fun and I'm excited for it.) The other two games don't interest me and are basically same ol' same ol'. Good games? Maybe, but not "next-gen". I'm sick of that buzz phrase.

  5. I agree with Brent that WAR is probably the last traditional fantasty MMO for awhile. You are spot on about the new crop of SoE games.

    Mikejl said it best, "I guess a player like me only looks forward to an evolution of MMO game play and not a revolution".

  6. I think I've said it before here but SO WHAT if a game has elements of previous games?

    Every game can trace its lineage back through other games and other ideas. MMOs are no different. WOW was successful because it took existing elements from other games and improved upon them while adding a few of their own ideas into the mix to make a new product. Everything that has come after WoW is trying to capture the same spark that WoW did, just like everything before WoW was trying to capture the same spark as Everquest...WAR is no exception.

    In all honesty (since I haven't played the game yet). If WAR takes a lot of what made WOW great along with elements of other games and does a decent job of incorporating those things into a new game, then the game is going to be a success.

  7. Anonymous3:04 PM

    I think the real "next-gen" is going to be something like Raph Koster's Metaplace.

    MMO2.0 is probably going to be seen as the mainstreaming of player-created virtual spaces.

    MMO3.0 will be virtual presence. Y'know... them .Hack headsets that cause comas? ;)

  8. As for WAR, I only require that it be a good, solid RvR game that fully invests in the IP.

    For me, any (r)evolutionary features beyond that are just cake. ;)

  9. Anonymous3:40 PM

    The thing about those 3 games is they are being made by SOE.

  10. Anonymous7:58 PM

    /hands Heartless another glass of Mythic koolaid

    /eyeballs his own glass of SOE koolaid


    /takes a swig

  11. Too bad you've missed my storied past with Mythic Brent.

    /em takes WAR koolaid, and likes it.

  12. Anonymous12:46 AM

    "Brent likes SOE and despises WAR. He is entitled to that opinion, but he needs to stick to it as an opinion, not try and use it as evidence that WAR "is just another WoW" and therefore will fail."

    Using an opinion as evidence doesn't make it any less of an opinion. Besides, your guilty of using your opinion (that WAR is good) as evidence that WAR isn't just another WoW and therefore will succeed.

    In the end, however, I will say that MMOs in general are the slowest of the genres to evolve. I believe it has to do with restricting technologies (server capacity/bandwidth) and a more traditional, pen-and-paper style gamer fanbase.

    Meanwhile, other genres seem to making leaps and bounds in progress, providing new and exciting gameplay experiences.

    For example, Mirror's Edge is an upcoming FPS designed aroudn acrobatics and evasive gameplay rather than the standard run-and-gun design.

    Another example is Spore, which takes the simulation/city building genre, couples it social networking, and takes it to the next level.

    You just don't see that kind of advancement in MMOs. Instead, you get things like RvR (another form of PvP), Public Quests (another form of NPC-given/cooperative quests), tweaked combat systems a la AoC, improved visuals, etc.

    I just find it to be a very stagnant genre in terms of ideas and progress.

  13. We are all guilty of having an opinion. I don't feel is use my opinion to say something is right or wrong. I form my opinion, as best as I can, from the facts and information given.

    I argue that WAR is a good game, yes. I think I do well providing what I believe to be evidence to that effect.

    Brent has an opinion: that he is tired of the current Diku-inspired MMO games. He is attempting to use that opinion to show that WAR be "dead on arrival", all while holding an ace up his sleeve to say "look I predicted WAR would be successful".

    Brent's point is not invalid, as I've stated. Brent went as far as to find a post from someone else that illustrates his point much better without the out-of-place references and with proper analogies.

    That is where I will leave it.

  14. A lot of games try to revolutionize and it never seems to work except in the case of eve. Eve is a good game but too slow paced for me. War is not wow. If you say it is you are saying that wow is eq. RVR is why its not the same as wow. Wow completely fails pvp players and favors raiders. Also being as he game no information that couldn't be found as speculation or press releases I doubt he played the game before. A lot of people seem to have waited for NDA to lift so they can bash the game and make it seem that they actually played it. All of these people are pretty easy to spot because they give no information about why the game is bad beyond the stuff that anyone can speculate on. he talks about aoc as having depth and stuff i have to disagree. War will have more depth because i'll actually read the story during my downtime because the tome will track it for me instead of having to read every pointless quest.

  15. I see The Agency as being more than a small step forward for MMOs. You say it's class-based, but the truth is that players can switch classes at the drop of a hat and are regularly encouraged to do so. It sounds to me like players will constantly be switching outfits to adorn new skills. More importantly, The Agency abandons the semi-real-time combat of past MMOs and embraces full FPS-style action. That's huge. That alone will draw in gamers who previously couldn't care less about MMOs.

    I have no doubt that SOE and every other company will continue to base their game models on old MMOs. Generally, MMOs are progressing at a snail's pace. But there is some hope for change.

    I agree Brent and Darren seem to be speaking mainly from a dissatisfaction with MMOs in general. Not everyone's going to like WAR, and I can understand being a bit annoyed when all their friends are excited about something they can't get excited about. But WAR obviously offers more fresh features than just PQs.

    In any case, they might continue to dislike WAR, but I expect the way they talk about it will change somewhat over the next six months.

  16. The Agency is still class based, regardless if you can switch instantly or not.

    We've had online shooters for over a decade.

    Add a virtual lobby to Team Fortress 2 where players can hang out before heading into a "map" and I guarantee you almost already have The Agency.

    Absolutely nothing new, just what we have now repackaged into a different product.

    That doesn't make it a bad game, just not next generation. I'm fine with that.

    I'll evaluate The Agency on its merits as a game when we get access to it. Right now, it looks uninspiring and canned.

  17. Anonymous2:17 PM

    Going against the grain and being argumentative is a great way to get blog hits...

    I think he could have simply reviewed the game by telling us why he didn't think it was fun and leaving out the comparisons vs. the competition because that information is surplus to the real crux of his impressions.


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