Friday, September 18, 2009

Hickman Explains WAR's Mistakes

In a lengthy article over at Gamasutra, Jeff Hickman explains what he feels are the three downfalls of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.
Warhammer's Three Major Mistakes

Despite having a successful MMO in the form of Dark Age of Camelot, Hickman says there were "mistakes we made with Warhammer that we should not have made." He described them as "three things have haunted us for a year with Warhammer," and later acknowledged a lot of effort has been put into dealing with them in patches -- sometimes subtly, as they're fundamental and systemic.
It breaks down to:

1. The game was too easy early on.
2. Since the game was easy, people didn't need to work together and therefore didn't socialize or build communities.
3. The economy of the game was way off.

I will agree with 1 and 3, but I wouldn't lay too much of the game's downfall on those two alone. I think 2 was caused more by how horribly inconsistent the game was instead of the game being too easy. 2 is the symptom, not the cause.

WAR had pockets of greatness, and the article addresses some of the GOOD things about WAR, but overall, those pockets of greatness were not connected in any sensible way. That is why socialization never took off in the game. Nothing ever felt like it was meant to work together. WAR, for the most part, was a series of different games patched together.

I'm done wasting my energy on WAR. The game, at level 40, was laughably bad before I quit. I may return in the future to see what they've done and I'm glad their admitting in public that mistakes were made. I'm very glad they didn't try to blame Wrath of the Lich King again.


  1. Bhagpuss3:36 PM

    I think you hit the nail on the head with "WAR, for the most part, was a series of different games patched together".

    I really liked WAR in many ways, and I still would like to play it. I liked several of the races and classes for their humor, but that seemed to sit ill withthe "gritty world at war" feel.

    I really liked a good deal of the environmental detail, which was some of the best I've seen in any MMO. I spent a lot of time just riding around watching the NPCs intereact, observing the wildlife and poking into all the fascinating buildings and countryside. But absolutely none of that was integrated into any part of the gameplay - it was as if an offline RPG world had been shorn of all player-related content and used as a backdrop.

    I liked the Scenarios, but they seemed almost like a stand-alone game.I was aware that they had, or once had, some connection with world-PvP, but in the hundreds of scenarios I did, I never knew what it was nor heard anyone mention it.

    I liked the crafting. I spent a lot of time working on it. But it was clearly a barely-started afterthought.

    I loved the open-world PvP, when it had no real purpose. The huge running battles in T1 along the seashore, that went on seemingly forever; the skirmishing around the downed baloons in the lead-up to Land of the Dead. But that highly entertaining best of the open-world PvP had no connection at all with the utterly dire keep-running that had huge groups on each side doing all they could to avoid each other as they raced round taking unopposed objevtives for hours every night.

    I was also perhaps odd in finding the PvE in Warhammer quite enjoyable. I would actually have liked a co-operative server as was added to DAOC, so I could have had some characters who concentrated on PvE. I very definitely didn't find it "too easy". I thought it was just about spot on for difficulty.

    I will certainly give WAR another try next time they have a free week or two. There'd have to be a LOT of changes before I paid toplay again, though, and as none of Mr Hickman's top 3 issues were problems for me in the first place, fixing them, even if it could be done at this late stage, would do nothing for me.

  2. You are not odd. I personally loved the PvE of WAR and was horribly shocked when the RvR zones were empty of PvE content. I truly was fooled believing WAR RvR zones were going to be super cool zones with keeps, objectives, PQs, and great PvE.

  3. Saylah4:43 PM

    Pockets of greatness fits the situation. But the gaps in between were just to wide to bridge. I'm with you both on PVE. It was good and interesting, just too much of it for each level and not enough diversity overall. I too expected to be dodging bullets so to spec while scuttling off to do PVE when I wasn't in the mood for PVP. Scenarios were great. I could have consoled myself with crafting if it had been harvesting but farming corpses for items was the biggest grindcraft of all. Probably goes down at as on the worst implementations of a grand idea.

  4. The game may have been easy, but I don't think that forcing players to group would have made any difference for WAR.

    But I do think that more PvE content inside the RvR zones is a great idea. Or, maybe the RvR areas need to be expanded some.


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