Fool me once, shame on you

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

That’s the new approach I’m taking as I watch Warhammer Online’s development unfold. Taken at face value it sounds very simple, but it’s quite easy to be swept up into innocently believing one little thing will or will not be in the game for the cascade effect to begin. I bought into the “no stealth” and “no capture the flag” information and have been quite set on believing it to be true for over a year now. When beta leaks were surfacing that stealth was in the game I had trouble believing it to be true. I tried to rationalize that it could be nothing more than a shadowmeld type skill or some hide in place ability. When Paul Barnett spoke about there being no “capturing of flags” in the Gamespot preview videos I believed him. Ironically in that very same video players were capturing a flag… but anyway.

At this point I have to believe that anything is possible in Warhammer Online. The last High Elf class could be a pink bunny with laserbeam eyes and exploding hobbit pets. I wouldn’t be surprised. Open RvR could be done away with completely and I wouldn’t be surprised. The game could be sold to Blizzard and I wouldn’t be surprised. The /face and /stuck abilities could be in the game, even though they have been sworn off my Mark Jacobs himself, and I would not be the slightest bit surprised. Yes, I’m being extremely radical with these examples but I’m trying to illustrate a point. What can we believe and what can’t we?

Partial communication between developers and their prospective players is already the standard practice. See: NDA. But I’m having a hard time buying into the idea that a blanket statement can be made, such as “no stealth”, and later be written completely off by stating “As far as sneaking stuff in, well, if us testing a system qualifies as that than anything we beta test would also fall into that category as well wouldn’t it?”. It raises the question as to whether or not anything a dev says can or should be trusted.   If I’m told a game is being developed with no stealth, and I believe that, is it fair that later on stealth is added to the game under the clever guise of semantics? “Oh it’s not WoW or DAOC stealth, that’s what we meant!”.   Before anyone posts a comment telling me “it’s their game they can do what they want” let me save you the time.  I know this.  But the underlying issue here is a valid one.

I’ve always been one to play with the hand I’m dealt.  I can roll with the punches.  So where do I stand on the stealth and CTF issues?

Stealth – According to the information that has been released, stealth is a non-issue.  It drains action points while activated allowing for only short bursts of stealth (30 seconds) at a time.  From what has been reported from the videos there are no huge damage attacks out of stealth for squishies to worry about.  Stealth is for the Witch Hunter and Witch elf to close the distance.

Again, I’m not worried about this implementation or the mechanics surrounding it.  It does indeed sound different from WoW and DAOC stealth.  But, for my thoughts on the seemingly underhanded means of getting it into the game… see above.

CTF – I really never cared about this from the beginning.  If people want to play CTF they can go right ahead.  I am personally not interested in it at all.  I had my fix of MMO CTF in WoW.  No, it doesn’t fit the lore.  Yes, it could have been designed better.  “Capture your enemies commander!” or “Rescue your captive friends!”.  Those all could have been better implementations.

If my enemies or allies want to spend their hours capturing flags then I bid them good hunting.  However, I will be out in the open world capturing your keeps, sieging your cities, and participating in true RvR.

Anyone want to play a little game of ‘Guess Which Bomb They’ll Drop Next’?  I’m sticking with my guess of exploding Hobbits.

  • I don’t pay attention to stuff like articles on what might or might not be. Hell, I don’t pay attention to anything the official sources put out.
    I wait for the game to come out, buy it and try it.
    Not a revolutionary idea, but still..

  • I don’t pay attention to the articles either. But when the GM/VP of the company making the game says something, I tend to listen and believe… well, until now. 😛

    And all things considered I think Mark Jacobs is staying true to the intent of his word on this. If he meant no stealth like WOW/DAOC when he generalized stealth then I commend him for making a stealth system that is different. I think everyone who is bothered by the issue though would appreciate more than partial communication in the future.

  • If you want my honest guess at what is next, I would expect PvP only in special instances and a heavier PvE focus until the endgame.

  • My apologies for the stupid question, but what does the “/face” command do in certain games?

    [I love Google, but I haven’t figured out how to search for /face and not get facebook.]

  • /face keeps you facing your opponent. Makes it hard for people to get a flanking attack on you. /stick makes you autofollow your target. Together, it makes it very hard for your opponent to shake you off or come at you from an unexpected direction.

  • @Tipa

    That would be a massive, game crushing, deal breaking bomb. While I share your cynicism, I don’t believe they’ll go that far.


    I also heard about Murderball that they’re planning on designing Battlegrounds (scenarios, whatever) around. “Hold onto the item for 5 mins and win!” Better and ‘out of the box’ ideas are only a small step away. There is no need to fall into the same old, tired, cliches, even with things as little as game objectives. Even something as simple as ‘Capture the Intelligence’ in Team Fortress 2. Extremely small diffrence but it keeps you in the mindset of the game and doesn’t break immersion. Its MUCH easier to swallow that way. Its the little things that really make a game shine and in this case, its so easy! Capture the enemies relics (multi-flag CTF) would be a much more fitting and easy subsitution.

    If I had to wager a guess at what bomb they could drop next…I believe they’ll have dancing, more focus on PvE leveling instead of PvP, and lack an indepth sieging system.

    I guess I have no faith.

  • WoW has had three and a half years of training people to expect less and less from their games. WAR won’t want to scare the WoW players off with gameplay they are not used to.

    Mark my words.

  • They seem to cover their butts by saying things like “This is beta and our original vision of things might change if they don’t seem to be working out well in practice.” Unfortunately, they don’t cover their butts well by shouting out absolute statements of things that will not be in the game. Beta can work the other way around. They might think something has no place in WAR only to find out it is necessary or complimentary after tester recommendation.

    Take solace in that the current group of testers is probably representative of the greater sum of fans wishing they were testers. All viewpoints are covered and Mythic is getting pretty well-rounded feedback. If the majority of testers want something in, it’s probably for the better, and vice versa if they want something out.

    A flag in a battleground is really no different from a technical standpoint than a keep in DAOC. The keep is more immersive from a role-playing point of view but the goal of capturing and defending it is still the same. The important part is that it provides an impetus for conflict; another reason to slaughter your enemy.

  • This stuff doesn’t bother me. Even if they had full-on WoW-like stealth, I probably wouldn’t like it but it wouldn’t be a deal breaker. If they increase the amount of PvE, that’s fine with me too. The only deal-breaker in an MMO for me is no endgame. Even though I quite like Tabula Rasa and CoX, I just couldn’t play those games. I can’t stand leveling, and if that’s what the game’s all about (level a toon up, then when you get to the top… do it again?!) then I’m out.

  • Away with you carebear Tipa, away!

    The whole stealth/no stealth is nothing more than bad PR work. If they had never made the “we will never have stealth” comment, having some stealth announced now would be a non factor.

    In the end, all that matters is they deliver a quality PvP MMO. If its a good game, the details will fall into place anyway.

  • Lol, you’re sounding a little hysterical, Keen. Yes, it’s kind of bad form to pronounce “we’ll have no stealth in our game” and months later go “we’ll have no REAL stealth in our game, just this other little system that sounds exactly like stealth, but isn’t. Honest.”

    But really, WAR is a game in DEVELOPMENT. If developers refused to make gameplay changes in response to testing and ongoing development, the game would cease to progress and we’d end up with a broken POS game for sure. Witch Hunters and Witch Elves weren’t working and needed a new mechanic to make them better. Yes, broad pronouncements like ‘no stealth!’ are a stupid thing to say during early development of an online product, but re-evaluating your stance at a later date is not a criminal act.

    Hopefully WAR will handle their press better going forward, but there are no broken promises here. No contracts were signed in blood that the game would develop solely within the scope originally proposed, and not grow in any way during the progressions through alpha, beta, and release. Hey, they also said there’d be no keeps, but I didn’t see any hysteria about them changing their minds on that 😉

  • @Graktar: I’m about as far from hysterical as one can get. If Railith’s prediction above were to come true THEN you would see the hysterical side. 😛

    I know it’s development. I’ve been around the MMO block a few dozen times. 😉 You and I are actually saying the same things. Bad form = check. Broken promises = sorta check. Things change = check.

  • I was under the impression that Mythic never stated specifically, “No Stealth”. I thought they said, “No stealth as you know it in DAOC or WoW” Because to me, thats a much different thing. I’m not trying to be a fanboi but I don’t think they implemented broad spectrum changes. I think the overall scope of the game is still what it was and I’m happy with that. I’ll take the small victories lol.

  • I personally don’t pay much attention to what anyone from a random Gamestop employee to the Lead Dev says about particular details of a game until it’s in at least open beta.

    Even then, you have to take things with a grain of salt, especially where MMOs are concerned. For example, anyone remember “No nerfs!” when CoH was in development? If by “no nerfs” they meant “massive nerfs nearly every patch for the first two years” well then yeah, I guess what they said was accurate.

    I do pay attention to the broad focus of games that are in development. However, as for the rest I stopped following previews and closed beta impressions back in the N64/ PSone days (back when I first started following games on the web). I’d rather judge what actually materializes than get excited about something that may or may not ever come into existence, or may turn out to be very different from what was promised early on.

  • @Tarvold: Mark Jacobs and others did say, or at the very very least clearly imply, that there was going to be no stealth in WAR. It wasn’t until recently that they said “No stealth as you know it in DAoC or WoW”.

    But, even with this new stealth, I agree that the overall scope of the game remains unaffected.

  • I don’t see why we cant play ‘gnome ball’ in warcraft||warhammer or capture the kobold, where he bites you as you run him down the field…

  • The bottom line is you don’t know what has (and does) go on behind the scenes. Even when a game is released and a journalist/fan asks the “so how close is this to your original vision” you don’t know how truthful the answer will be (although may I suggest it will read something very close to “well of course things have changed along the way, that’s game development, but we’re all really proud of what we achieved and are confident the whole player community will love the game at release, and even more as it develops”).

    Bottom line is that as games players we are SO much closer to the people that make our ‘products’ than in most areas of consumer life. I’ve never had much of a statement from the guy who designed my kettle, or my car (and I paid a lot of money for that), nor do I really have that much info from the holiday company when I book my skiing trip… you get the drift. Sure games companies screw up here and there (in the fans eyes) but on the whole its great to have the kind of closeness to games developments that we now get. Admit it, it all adds to the fun, and you wouldn’t have a blog without it 😉

  • What’s disappointed me about the game, more so than the stealth issue, is the inclusion of Capture the Flag and Murderball. What’s next? Arenas for cash and prizes?
    For a game that’s supposed to be sticking very close to the IP, I don’t see how those two things fit in to the Warhammer universe at all. Maybe I just haven’t read enough of the books. /sarcasm off
    As much as I hate to even think about it, I’m afraid Tipa had a good point above about how they won’t want to alienate too many current WoW players by making WAR too “hardcore” by sticking to the IP. The Warhammer universe is dark and bloody and nasty. Very, VERY far away from the Warcraft universe in my opinion. So maybe I’ll be proven wrong when I think that the suits down at the EA corporate office would butcher an IP as much as they could if it meant squeezing a few more bucks out of it. Regardless of the intentions of Mark Jacobs or anyone else, you know it all comes down to the almighty green. If you think I’m being a bit cynical, do a Google search for “Star Wars Galaxies” and start reading. 🙂

  • @Keen: Im only asking you this because i want a professional answer and i hope you can give me that.

    Right so im not knocking the game i barely know anything about it which is why im asking what the appeal of this game is, as much as i dont want to say it’s a replica of WoW (because that would be like the narrow minded view of a 12 year old) as far as graphics are concerned i dont see much of a difference. I got quickly and easily bored watching some dual wielding healer kill some kind of lizard.

    Personally im going for AoC despite the apparant accuracy of your critisms which made the game look worse than i thought it was. Im still stubbed though on how WAR is beating it according to what im hearing.

  • WAR’s graphics are a step up from WoW. They are similar in that they feel very fantasyesque, but when you look close and actually play the game at a convention you’ll see that they are more gritty, grungy, and borderline realistic for the Warhammer setting. It’s much closer to DAOC’s style than WoW’s.

    As for gameplay I can’t really comment on that since I am not in the beta. I can however comment on the ideals of the game’s RvR (PvP) and say that they are top notch and a far cry better from AoC’ — completely my opinion though.

  • Yea i know what you mean, the graphics to me looked like LotRO textures but in a WoW style, not my cup of tea both ways.

    But which game are you going for?

  • I will 100% garunteed be playing Warhammer Online. When it was originally scheduled to release at the same time as AoC I made the decision to skip AoC altogether. Now that there will be 6 months or so between the games I’m playing AoC and then either dropping it for WAR or playing both.