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2nd look at WAR’s cutbacks

Yesterday was … interesting to say the least. I had expected the announcement to be nothing more than a release date or information regarding one of the beta phases. I had even given thought to an additional feature being added into the game at the 11th hour. Given the source of the impending announcements (mmorpg.com) I had zero expectations for such a huge game altering announcement. But, it is what it is. I posted my thoughts on the announcements yesterday only minutes after reading them. Today I want to post my gathered thoughts on the issues and include statements from Mark Jacobs where he answers my questions directly.

Punkbuster

I want to get Punkbuster out of the way first because this is adding something to the game instead of taking away. Mark Jacob’s posted several topics on the WARVault yesterday addressing the various issues. In his Punkbuster thread he answered the following questions that I had:

Keen: “How will the update process for Punkbuster work with a mmorpg? Will it be integrated into your updater so that when the game is patches punkbuster receives an update?”

Mark Jacobs: “Yes”

Keen: “Punkbuster often has hiccups and problems where it detects a false positive or error when there isn’t one. These problems are caused by everything from random Windows Vista issues to a player having programs running in the background like AOL Instant Messenger. Will players be at risk of being punished for false positives?”

Mark Jacobs: “No”

He wasn’t his usual wordy self but I’ll give the guy a break given the massive amount of strain he was under yesterday. These two questions are the most important to me. Anyone who has ever used Punkbuster knows that it can be a PITA. It’s annoying to upgrade, annoying to manage when a server admin, and annoying when it seems to hate you with a mind of its own. I hate having to manually update Punkbuster when a game updates. It always brings with it a slew of problems. Hearing that the punkbuster update process will be tied into Mythic’s patcher reassures me slightly that I will not have to worry about that so much. Hopefully the patcher integration will keep punkbuster in check.

My next PB concern comes from the fact that I have had past troubles with PB giving me false positives. I’ve been kicked and even banned from some FPS servers because PB thinks I’m hacking or having a program running when in reality all I have open is something like xfire or Trillian. Heck, it didn’t even like Vista for a few days when I upgraded. Although my problems are all sorted out now, and were in a timely fashion when I had them, this leaves me with concerns that if PB detects a false positive that my account will be suspended in WAR until a time that it can be reviewed. Well, according to MJ players will not be punished for false positives. The details of that are unknown due to the vastly unspecific meaning of the word “no”.

Ultimately I do not care if PB is in WAR. Mark Jacobs came right out and said that if it does not work out then he has no trouble getting rid of it. And really, we know how good they are at getting rid of stuff that isn’t working out…

Consolidating Capital Cities

I’m never a fan of consolidating content. If you know me at all you know that I desire options, choices, and diversity. Having the capital cities reduced from 6 to 2 is pretty nasty.  But what is the alternative?  Releasing them in an unfinished state?  That’s not any better than cutting them from the game; in fact, it’s worse.  Mythic took the lesser of two evils here and in doing so saved themselves from having a release like Age of Conan’s.  As I explained this past week in a blog entry, I do not like games being released before they are ready.  Had Mythic released the game with these unfinished cities then I would have been upset.  Now the worst emotions I face are disappointment for the content I won’t get to see for a while like the Greenskin capital.

There is an upside, I suppose, to all of this.  Mythic is really pushing the fact that by consolidating the capital cities they are actually doing us a favor.  Apparently if there were 6 capital cities then the players would have felt too spread out.  I’m not sure that I agree but I can definitely see how cutting back the cities will make these two enormously popular focal points for … everything.  This also changes the mechanics of the game though.  Now instead of working through a battlefront to take the city at the end your realm must take 2/3 of the battlefronts to expose a capital city.  It’s actually harder to siege a city now.  I see that as the biggest plus of all.

Career cutbacks

This one hurts the most.  I’m actually confused more than anything as to why these classes didn’t work out.  The Blackguard is a mirror of the Ironbreaker and the KotBS is a mirror of the Chosen.  So their mirrors could make it into the game and work just fine but they can’t – that means the mechanic behind them works so something else must have gone wrong…  I won’t try to understand that one.  Then there’s the Choppa and Hammerer.  These two are mirrors of each other so having them removed makes slightly more sense.  One could assume the mechanic here wasn’t working properly.

After the initial disappointment of these classing being MIA wears off I’m left with concern.  Having two tanks removed but their mirrors remaining leaves balancing issues unanswered.  The Chaos will have a tank in their battlefronts early on but the Empire won’t.  The High elves will have a tank but the Dark elves won’t.  This will only be a slight problem in the beginning until players spread themselves out, but I’m looking longterm.  Tanks counter melee DPS and melee DPS counters magic.  This means that magic dps will have two less classes to worry about.  Yes, complete speculation to even worry about this right now but balance in-game is something I pay very close attention to in a RvR game.

Mark Jacobs answered some of my questions in his Careers post here on the WARVault:

Keen: This inevitably raises the question of class balance. Do you feel that the loss of these classes deals a serious blow to the balance of the game? (Feel free to explain what must be changed to ensure balance)

Mark Jacobs:No. Jeff and I had yet again another conversation about this subject this morning and the team doesn’t think so. Just in case, I’ve asked them to have a backup plan to their backup plan. happy As to what we must do, I’ll be happy to talk about if we need to do that. We won’t release an unbalanced game.”

Keen: “What is being done to ensure races that are missing tanks will be capable of sustaining themselves, especially in the lower tiers, without a tank?”

Mark Jacobs: “We believe that between the careers that are currently in the game and the mastery lines, that the races who just lost a pure tank will be fine. If not, we’ll deal with it accordingly.”

I think what we’ll end up seeing is some adjusting to the mastery lines of the classes still in the game.  I think that perhaps melee dps in the game will receive added benefit against ranged magic dps and tanks in the game will receive adjustments to counter the removed melee dps.  I really hope Mythic pays close attention to the balance issues this whole fiasco brings into play.  It could turn out to be a nasty side effect to simply removing classes because they aren’t up to snuff.

Taking it all in

Once again, here is how I see it.  The game is still in development and changes are often made.  These changes are huge changes to be made months before release but at least Mythic came out and told us about it and had the balls to cut something from the game instead of pushing into release like many other games with the BS plan to “fix it with a patch”.

Am I angry? No.  Am I disappointed? Yes.  In the end we’re still going to receive a finished product and hopefully avoid much of the problems that would have arisen with the alternative.

I will say one thing though.  The content that IS in the game needs to be, as Mark Jacobs put it, “fabulous”.  I’ll be holding them to that one and I hope they expect nothing less.

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Hirokana - July 12, 2008

I will repeat myself because you may have not seen my comment on the previous entry. Can you answer me what you think of these guessing?

“And this is my guessing on reasoning:

Classes:
Choppa/Hammerer : No basic mechanic. They didn’t know what mechanic could this berzerkerz have although it was great on paper.
Black Guard: Grudge is excellent but obviously Hate was good only on paper.
KotBS: Shouts problem maybe, also IMO this class sucks in Empire, I would make a Knight but of diffrent Order (One of Ulric maybe?)”

Reconsidering once again:

Choppa/Hammerer: Thinking again – Being a berzerker with two weapon chopping people around = not fun? (as Mark said). I guess they were too under or overpowered. Also can be problems with 3 masteries for a meele class like that (3 new roles?)
Black Guard: Definetly that’s why. Ironbreaker stays because his grudge mechanic is good for tanking and protecting. Hate may semmed making a black guard more dpsing and not making him fun to play AS a tank. Having poor tank is like having no tank.
KotBS: Mastery lines! Chosen is given a magical powers from tzeentch so we have Disord. But a knight? Of course he could have given powers by goddes but apparently it was unable to match with lore. Also Chosen auras are always lasting and one aura at a time and … I’m not sure what but there was something sucking about shout mechanic. Despite the fact that I don’t like Myrmidians :).

What do you think keen?

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Hirokana: I can only speculate because I have never beta tested the game.

Choppa/Hammerer: There’s no way that they were cut because they were not “fun”. As you say, what isn’t fun about having two weapons and cutting people to shreds? I would guess that they were left to the last minute and put aside and put aside until the last minute when it became too much of a pain to develop their mechanic properly.

Black guard: This is essentially a mirror of the Ironbreaker. If the Ironbreaker’s grudge mechanic works then the Hate mechanic should work because for all intents and purposes it’s the same mechanic with a different name. Perhaps the hiccups occurred in applying the mechanic to the class’ abilities where he almost had an identity crisis of being a tank or a DPS. *shrug*

KotBS: Again, I bet he was just left to the last minute and the Mastery lines did him in. Not much you can do with a Knight, I suppose. It would have taken a lot of effort to develop this into a “fun” class with a true identity.

Jeremy T - July 12, 2008

In the end we’re still going to receive a finished product and hopefully avoid much of the problems that would have arisen with the alternative.
I think it’s premature to make the assumption that the game will be a “finished product” on release.

If anything, the announcement here has proven that Mythic is having some major problems getting the game out the door. Maybe those problems are contained within the content that they’re dropping, and the rest of the game will be swell – but I’m not going to take Mythic’s word on that. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

My statement is based off Mark Jacobs’ where he says that they’re cutting what they can’t get right. If they’re cutting what is unfinished and not ready for launch, then what’s left is the stuff that IS ready and finished for launch. He’s also implied that the stuff in the game must be “fabulous” – not good, not great, but “fabulous”. I’m taking his word for it right now because so far they’re being very forthcoming even to their own detriment.

Kyyneva - July 12, 2008

The 2 remaining cities are supposed to be the reel deel. Somehow I get the feeling those will be just like the usual capital cities instead of these best ever in any MMO.. :/

unwise - July 12, 2008

I’m actually most puzzled about the exclusion of the KotBS. Surely it can’t be that difficult to create a Chosen mirror with the AoE debuffs replaced with AoE buffs?

I almost suspect that one of either the KotBS or the Blackguard was ready to go, but in the interests of balance one had to be held back because the other wasn’t ready.

Danath - July 12, 2008

By the way, yes, I would play a “boring”, class, I have played a melee tank and spank kind of character since The Realm, im oldschool. I dont care if its boring or broken… that will result in the natural way, low numbers of it, but better than it NOT existing, plus chances are high it will get fixed, I dont like their earlier mention that these classes might NEVER get put in, again, doesnt deter me… but definatly bothers me.

I was never expecting the game to be perfectly balanced, that would be silly, I merely expect no single class or 2 classes to be able to dominate everyone, it still doesnt make sense why they were removed, mythic might be trying to overpolish the game by removing content, and I think thats a nono, remember, with losing the cities we also lose ALOT Of public quests related to them!

Romble - July 12, 2008

Keen I am tired of statements like this

“Releasing them in an unfinished state? That’s not any better than cutting them from the game; in fact, it’s worse. Mythic took the lesser of two evils here and in doing so [b]saved themselves from having a release[/b] like Age of Conan’s. ”

I am not a fanboi of AOC(quit last week myself) but the game has a ton of good things about it. There have been far far worse launches than AOC and they are doing quite well enough with subs etc. You are comparing apples to oranges and speculating. Stop drinking so much mythic coolaid and be more objective.

So far Mythic has followed the exact same path as AOC. Hyped their game beyond belief(moreso than AOC did with their megaphone Paul Barnett), now are making cuts (same as AOC), promise everyone it’s for the good for the game (Same as AOC), say they need to polish (i hate this word) and promise it will go out when completely ready.. (again like AOC)

So when they launch and you finally get to play this game then come back here and tell us how they “saved themselves from having a release like Age of Conan’s.” then it’s more viable. Right now they are just following the typical line of all other MMO’s.

I have faith in the game and hope it is as great as they say but I am a realist and not drinking all their coolaid with extra crystals. Please keep that in mind when your writing your blogs.

thanks

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Romble: You wrong Romble, sorry. Mythic has not followed the exact same path as AoC. Funcom didn’t even hint to us that several of their features and even DX10 would not be in at release until AFTER the game was released. Mythic is telling us not only months in advance but right before a major event like E3.

AoC did not have a bad launch – they had a bad game at launch.

I believed Funcom – albeit with incredible hesitation – and preordered the game even against my better judgement. Turns out I was right about them all along. I’m believing Mythic. We’ll see what happens. If the game turns out contrary to what they’ve promised you better believe I’ll come right out and call them on it.

I am a realist as well. Right now what I see appears to be real. A company with a game still in development had to make some cuts to make their game up to their standards. How this impacts the product in the end will be apparent to us at release. They’re promising “fabulous”. I see no reason not to believe them at this time.

Romble - July 12, 2008

Keen what I am saying here is you cannot use blanket statements like they saved themselves from a release like xxx game because it has not happened yet. You are trumpeting false predictions you cannot make at this time. Even Mark Jacobs would not say this and hence shows your bias towards this game.

Bubbaquimby - July 12, 2008

My problem is that this changes the game a lot. Yes it was about Destruction vs Order but it also was about race vs race. There were race only guilds and I don’t think those are possible now (maybe they never really were but people thought it was). Also I was looking forward to take back my race’s enemies capital. Now it’s fight to get the one capital. I don’t think they will ever have the three fronts now, which always seemed cool. I imagine eventually the other capitals will come it but is seems now that people will just be used to the Empire and Chaos being the main cities. Unless they go with that rotating thing.

As for classes, I doubt we will ever see them again. If they aren’t up to snuff now, they probably never will be. Maybe they will make new ones, maybe not. It’s not a race vs race while fighting for a realm. It’s not truly a realm vs realm game. I am kind of sad about that.

I doubt I will get this game at release, probably wait awhile for them to get their shit together. Who knows maybe by than AoC will be as good or better a game.

I still wish they stood by their “it’s ready, when it’s ready” statement. Even if that meant more delays. But I guess they figure they can’t wait till after Wrath to launch. Even though after six months people will be bored of WoW again and looking for something else.

SwS - July 12, 2008

@Romble
I have to agree. How is this any different than AoC in the overall scheme of things? Because they said they wouldn’t be able to make it for launch a few months before?

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make up for having an incomplete game. That’s an assumption based off everything they spouted about Capital cities and RvR.

AoC’s product was incomplete. WAR looks like it will be incomplete at launch. If you really want this trend to stop, you have to stop defending games because ‘they had the balls to’ announce it. The bottom line is, the game should be delayed until it’s finished.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Romble: So I can listen to what they are promising, weigh the facts in my head, and make a call on it – or – I can immediately expect the worst of them regardless of their actions.

I like my way better, sorry.

I can’t see the future. I can only see what is happening here and now and predict, based on experience in this industry, what we will see at launch.

Mythic has opened up and said very candidly that features/mechanics/content they were shooting for just don’t cut it and must be removed. They are being forthcoming with the problems and letting us in on the development process of the game. They could do what most other companies do and fail to address the issues until post launch. THAT is the “standard” method of developing and releasing a game – and it’s just horrible. At least now the prospective players have information they can use to decide if they want to get the game or not.

The steps that Mythic are taking now lead directly to avoiding a launch like AoC (and many other games) had.

@Bubbaquimby: That’s fair enough. You’ve taken the information and made a valid judgment call. The only thing I disagree with is your assessment that it isn’t a RvR game anymore. The only thing that has changed is two races are lacking a class in their matchup. (DE vs HE and Emp vs Chaos // the Dwarf/Greenskin is matched evenly). Taking capital cities down to 1 city doesn’t change the fact that it’s RvR because RvR existed before capital city sieges were ever conceived by Mythic. There are still keeps in every battlefront and that sort of thing.

@Sws: This is where the fine line is drawn. The game has not released yet. It’s still in beta and development. If removing things from the game because they do not work properly will lead to a better game then I argue that it makes the game more complete than it does incomplete.

FACT: AoC launched WITH features that were not finished.
FACT: WAR will launch WITHOUT features that were not finished because they took them out.

There is a difference there.

And I agree that delaying a game is always a good thing. It’s done when it’s done (Blizzard’s Motto). But that’s not happening. [/insert realist] The next best thing is to remove the stuff that won’t work and won’t be finished before it gets into the game’s release build.

SwS - July 12, 2008

@Keen
I’m well aware it’s in beta still, however I’m also well aware of the major hype machine Mythic has created. Telling me I will be waring against my rival race and taking over their capital city. On one had I can see the point that it’s in beta, on the other.. don’t market things you are not sure of. Thus it comes to many people (myself included obviously) believing the game will be incomplete.

Your ‘facts’ about WAR releasing without any incomplete features is also an assumption. I would also argue that only 2 capital cities is an incomplete feature.

However, I don’t want to continue posting on this because generally I like your blog and don’t want to retort to a back and forth.

Romble - July 12, 2008

“FACT: AoC launched WITH features that were not finished.
FACT: WAR will launch WITHOUT features that were not finished because they took them out.”

Keen once again you are a bit blinded. Who can say if FACT 1 does not also hold true for Mythic at launch? DO you know if living guild and banner systems will be working fully as intended and promised by launch? No. I will bet you they will be released somewhat buggy and incomplete and will be patched post launch. Why am I willing to bet that because that is the pattern of the industry and Mythic is following the same path.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

That fact was aimed directly at these announced cutbacks. It is a fact. I obviously have no idea if other unfinished features will make it into launch. None of us can speculate one way or the other on that.

You can’t call 2 capital cities an incomplete feature when the game has not launched yet. See where I’m trying to come from?

It sucks, believe me I’m right there with you, that the game is launching with 2 capital cities and short 4 classes. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. But that doesn’t make the game any less complete. Mythic is making the game and if they say the game is more complete with 2 cities than 6 then that’s their call to make. We can disagree, dislike, or whatever about their decision but in the end if they are designing the game then THEY release the final list of features that the game will have and put it into a release build.

Does that make any sense?

Syp - July 12, 2008

Great to squeeze some more details out of Mark and Co. They have to know they’re going to have to cough up a lot more info in the weeks to come, and that they just made an already wired group of fans even more so.

End of the world? Nah. It’s a game. It will be what it will be.

Kyyneva - July 12, 2008

I would have been thankful if AoC would have told about their unfinished things and cancelled them straight away. Like non-working and clearly unthought items, lagfest untested siege battles, broken guild cities, missing content after level 50, etc.

Openedge1 - July 12, 2008

@Keen
I think we discussed this before…
Several issues applied to AoC’s launch

1. Pushed out thanks to investors. Not an excuse mind you, but something that we need to look at.
This could have been fixed by doing what Mythic just did.
But, they didn’t because..
2. They thought enough content existed to keep players going.

They did say what…250 hours of gameplay? Which would have given them enough time to work out some problems.
But, of course thanks to exploits (left in by themselves), no QA (due to that money thing above…probably let people go before hand, which lead to the exploits as well), and the hardcore player who could give a crap about the story (bypass it all) and raced to the end.

There we have it, a game that comes off half finished. Then the rush to complete everything by Funcom was intermingled with the issues…
It all went to hell.

All I can say is Mythic hopefully took the right path this time. But, I also said “hardcore” will ruin it again.
There will be those who feel the need to get to endgame, and it really makes me wonder what is there.

Kill 500 greenskins for your “Achievement”.

That is the kind of gameplay I envision!

Bowman - July 12, 2008

Full game: all key features are in and accounted for
Broken game: key features don’t work out
Incomplete game: key features missing
Unfinished game: content is a work in progress
Finished game: content is final

State of WAR at release:

WAR will be a ‘full game’. It won’t be ‘broken’. It won’t be incomplete. It will be, like every good MMORPG, an ‘unfinished game’. Content will be added throughout its lifetime. A finished MMORPG is a MMORPG, that closed its servers.

No worries. Mythic will launch a ‘full game’ with a large quantity of high quality content and a lot more to come. Mythic is confident, that WAR is ready for a successful release this fall. So am I.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

Interesting way of putting it Bowman. I’ll have to agree and inject my hope that the content will be “done” enough to give the players a “complete mmorpg experience” (aka leveling 1-40 without ever getting that feeling of “ugh, this doesn’t feel right — like we all got from LOTRO around level 30).

I may borrow that explanation, btw. I like it!

Bowman - July 12, 2008

Evidence to a rocksolid release client:

-Current ‘Beta 3’ aka ‘Guild Beta’ client has everything proposed included. Every zone. Every scenario. Every capital city (since 4 are shelved ’til post-launch). Every class (since 4 are scrapped or shelved ’til post-launch).

They truly are in a stage of finishing touches. Polishing. Polishing. Polishing. And then some. NDA will drop very soon. Several months before launch. WARs qualities will speak for itself. I’m sure of it.

Sorcielle - July 12, 2008

I am not going to take up the AOC vs. WAR conversation, though I do wish you had a little less bias on your part Keen, AOC is not the spawn of Satan.

My biggest disappointment is the reshifting focus of the capital cities. The thought that they may only have one battlefront siege open at a time, and rotate the new pairings in leaves me sick and in disbelief. THIS IS THEIR END GAME! WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN HYPING! I was so looking forward to the fact that: maybe order was losing on 2 fronts in an imbalanced server, but was still focusing all their efforts on the third front to sack a city. It seems like more fun, more dynamics, and more content/loot are in play this way. Now if you get on a lopsided server you may see the endgame content only once every 3 to 4 months…. BOOOORRRINNGGGG!

I can understand not adding the cities if they are not up to snuff at release. I applaud them for making the necessary cuts to get this out the door (and I really believe now we will see an early fall launch). But if this fundemental end game mechanic is changed for the long-term, I just don’t see how this game is going to be much fun.

I also wish they would just mirror some of the other tanks mechanics, and at least have the Knights and Blackgaurd in the game – from a Warhammer IP point of view…. HUGE BLOW. HUGE!

cries

mutantmagnet - July 12, 2008

“saved themselves from having a release like Age of Conan’s”

You mean Mythic has designed their zones so all races concentrated on one or two zones won’t lag the game or cause the server to crash?

In addition to this point I’ll just repost some of what I said before in a condensed form.

Classes being lost don’t matter as much now because cities are gone. Players will gravitate to two of the three possible realms because only one seriously needs to be defended/attacked.

I wish they tried going for 4 cities but I’ve suspected their ideas to level up cities was a recent development and as a result they were in no position to really offer more than 2 within their time constraints.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Sorcielle: I think you misunderstood what Mark was saying. ALL the battlefronts will always be open. The keeps in all will be there for the taking. However, there just won’t be a capital city at the end of each. Instead there will be 1 capital city that all 3 per side tie into. Controlling 2 of the 3 gives you access to sieging the capital city.

The rotating he was talking about was that one week it might be the chaos city, the next the greenskin, etc, once the other cities make it into the game. Purely the cities being rotated. The battlefronts won’t be rotated – all pairings will always be open. That would blow beyond blow if they weren’t. That would send me over the edge. 😉

@Mutantmagnet: Touche. Hopefully the instancing of the capital cities during a siege will help the lag issue.

Bowman - July 12, 2008

How do the cut cities cut game features? That’s just uneducated, inflammatory BS. All capital city gameplay will be in at release.

-Capital City Sieges
-Capital City Warfare
-Contested Capital City PQ and Quests
-King encounters
-Capital City Sacking

Every of this gameplay features have been in a focus test already and will be tested more in the future. They already work and are being polished further.

Sorcielle - July 12, 2008

@Keen – I do understand you on this. But I am not happy!

Before it seemed that each tier was independent.. so if the Dark Elves had taken tier 4 all the way to the High Elves final keep – they would be on the doorstep to sack their city REGARDLESS of the push-pull in the other two fronts. Now you have to control 2 fronts, or the predominance of the entire game content just to get a shot at one city. 🙁 This is a huge cutback in available content and really deters from the fundemental race pairings they have so carefully constructed. I no longer can be an elite dark elf if I CHOOSE to, I am thrown in with everyone else. This puts a huge strain on the developed story line.

Now if the reality is that at launch it is just funner to only have one objective… I can deal. And if to showcase the new cities in the first 6 months they rotate them in… I can deal… But if this becomes the lasting paradigm… WHAT A WASTE! This is what set this game apart from WoW for me, otherwise the play mechanic is so damn similar – I will only hope that maybe TCOS pulls a dark horse miracle or something.

Don’t get me wrong – I will play this game love/hate it regardless.. but I really hope this isn’t the beginning of the end of my little dream.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Sorcielle: You can still be an elite dark elf and do all the dark elf stuff you want – except go to the city, heh. (I know, it sucks). And yeah, I guess you’ll also be relying on people in the other battlefronts to pull their weight now – but that could be a good thing. It means that there will be a lot of activity in all the battlefronts since 2 must be taken now.

And remember, the “end-game” isn’t all about taking the city. The keeps for ME are the biggest part of the RvR game because they are where the core of the every day combat will occur.

Toothy - July 12, 2008

Keen: You are claiming that WAR has avoided this or that compared to AoC when in fact WAR has not been released yet. I find that absurd. In your comments you keep up this insanity.

Look, the future of WAR just got a lot more troubling. I only heard bad news so far. Be realistic and admit it. It does not mean that the game will suck, but it does mean that there are some clouds on the blue sky and we all need to be a little more cautious in believing the hype.

Teaming up with Punkbuster is very troubling. The answer “No” that you seem to take comfort in is extremely troubling. What’s he gonna say? Yes? Unless he has a detailed explanation on just how exactly they going to ensure that PB will not ban people left and right, you can safely assume major PITA with PB.

You know the saying: Fool me once shame on you … etc.

TheRemedy - July 12, 2008

It’s one thing to be optimistic about a game, another to blindly follow and be their marketing team for them. Also your inability to drop the AoC thing is borderline obsessive. It’s a game not an ex-girlfriend that cheated on you.

hawkie007 - July 12, 2008

@Toothy: Couldn’t agree more with you about PB (although I think it is clear that PB will not ban you automatically in WAR but that doesn’t mean you wont be booted from the game due to communication failures just as you are choosing loot lol and come back to find it’s not there). FPS players know what the score is with regards to PB.

Oh and can you imagine the size of the team of investigators needed to review all of PBs “suspected violations”? lol seriously? PB itself cannot tell what violations are legitimate so how about customer service or whoever who would unfamiliar with the technical aspects of the product? You could quite easily end up on a ban list and have to buy another copy of the game if that is the case.

In all of the thousands of posts since the announcement where is there even ONE post that says PB is a great bit of software? There isn’t one because it isn’t. The best review of PB you will get is a “works fine for me”. It doesn’t work for everyone and it doesn’t stop determined cheaters either as is well documented all over the internet.

I hope Mythic switch it on ASAP in beta, half of the testers keep getting comms failures and exceptions and can’t play thus temporarily crippling the beta. The End result being Mythic say “bugger it” and switch it off and forget about it (and go make their own anti-cheat software or get a system that works).

Ian - July 12, 2008

I really hope they lift the NDA in a couple weeks like Mark Jacobs mentioned at Warhammer Alliance. So many things to say… :S

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Toothy: You have either not read anything I’ve said or you have chosen to ignore everything except a few lines out of context. I can’t help you, sorry.

@TheRemedy: We learn by never forgetting the mistakes of the past. To ignore them would be blind ignorance. I have no intention of being their marketing team. I am however smart enough to see a good thing when it kicks me in the teeth. Mythic being forthcoming with this information now is better than them keeping it a secret. We now know that the game has changed and can either choose to support it or ditch it. I’m on-board with the changes and will see how they pull it off at release.

That does not change my disappointment or confusion about the changes – I find them as troubling and unfortunate as anyone.

Sorcielle - July 12, 2008

Hehe, actually agreeing with you on this one Keen. The way Gaute Godager and the Funcom developers consistently misdirect the player base is enough to DRIVE one crazy. I swear half the fun of the game is to figure out the ‘secret’ patch notes. I think they will be working for the secret service soon enough.

Jacobs is going out of his way to be direct and give us the cold hard truth. – “5) As to the future of these careers, I would love to say that they will be put into the game at some point but I can’t. We will continue to look at them and if we feel we can make them great, then we will put them into the game. If we can’t, then we will put in other classes to take their place.”

The one nice thing about WAR is is does lend itself more easily to the addition of singularly distinct classes.

I am less worried about PB, if it is a fail I do they think they will pull the plug, also it ‘sounds’ like PB is going to be customizing for Warhammer, not vice versa.. so I would think we can throw out some of people’s bad experiences. If it is too intrusive, this would be enough for me not to play this game.. with so many of us feeling this way, I think Mythic Entertainment gets it – at least on this issue.

If the keeps and scenarios or fun.. I will live! 🙂

Sorcielle - July 12, 2008

In a posting mood today… looking at the new modified career chart – does everyone think we can safely say that the WP (order) and DoK (chaos) will now have a tanking mastery path? They would fall nicely into the race void created by the cuts. Or am I just making stuff up to keep my mind tidy?

Also – going to be interesting to see how many folks bite the bullet and play a female avatar in the witch elf.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

It’s very possible Sorcielle. That’s part of what I was thinking as well when I said that there will have to be some adjustments to the class mastery paths. The lack of tanks is really only a problem when you look at the early levels – probably tiers 1 and 2. WP’s could probably tank pretty well at low levels. I’ve always seen them as a “Paladin” anyway. I’m not so sure about DoK’s… maybe. It would probably be a mistake to give them tankish mastery paths though. The disparity of tanks won’t last once people spread themselves out.

I’m more concerned about who will counter the casters now that melee dps are out. 😛 The thought of Bright Wizards suddenly scares the snotling out of me.

Aaron - July 12, 2008

I’m a little dubious about Mark’s response to your question about class balance, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt until I play it.

After a day to consider Mythic’s move, here are my thoughts.

SwS - July 12, 2008

@Keen #16
It makes perfect sense, however the fault lies with Mythic for hyping this up way too much, when they were unsure of all their cities making it into the game.

@Bowman #26
How are cities NOT features? You can’t be that naive. Look at all the promoting Mythic has done of ‘living’ cities, heck, look in the article about this news. Not an exact quote, “Our cities will be fabulous, the best 2 cities in any mmo”.

The first feature it cuts: Not being able to ransack your rival race capital, no, actually it affects the whole RvR now, because you need to capture the whole thing inorder to ransack the human/chaos city.

Cities the way Mythic has portrayed them are indeed features, anyone who says otherwise is just naive and trying to be Mythic’s shining white knight.

Ruur - July 12, 2008

@Keen
Wow, what kind of crap are you writing. Do you seriously…haha just kidding. Nice objective post, thanks for that. Top of the crop these last two days. I bet you have a ton of new questions for Mythic and I expect you to grill them a bit harder at E3 as yesterday is over for them. gogo <3

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Sws: Totally agree that Mythic did hype the cities a bit much. That’s probably what caused them to say to themselves “Crap, look what we promised. That ain’t happenin’ 6 times over… better make it 2!”

@Ruur: You had me going there for a second. 😉 Thanks for the kind words. I will most definitely have a list of questions for them at E3. 😀

Blackwings - July 12, 2008

@SWS and Keen – yep to much hype.

@Mythic – Open mouth; insert foot

Rog - July 12, 2008

Honestly, I think all the rants (by Keen and others both previously and currently) about not accepting unfinished games was a mistake.

Hell, I think it’s contradictory. What Mythic is doing here is exactly the process to try to provide the kind of so-called polish that Blizzard delivers, by cutting away what isn’t ready or doesn’t work.

Frankly and very bluntly, they’re doing what they need to do. They need to release. If anyone of you has another $10 million or so plus a time machine, feel free to give them what they need for another delay.

When you’re following game development, expect it to be a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. It’s cool to watch the process, but truth be told, all that matters is whether you enjoy the game once it’s out.

Not all of the features you’ve heard about will make it in. Enjoy what they do have rather than disappointing yourself over hype.

Don’t dig a hole of unreasonable expectations for yourself, you’ll never have much fun that way.

Rog - July 12, 2008

@Keen: Yeah I agree too on the good post comment, it sounds reasonable to adjust your expectations.

As much as it’s fun to get wrapped up in the anticipation of these games, I find myself hoping that BioWare keeps their MMO hush until it’s ready to go out the door. The hype backlashes are getting nasty IMHO.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Rog: I do want to point out that I’m not contradicting myself. I posted this on another blog but I’ll paste it here.

What would have happened if Mythic left the unfinished and unpolished cities in the game? What would have happened if they left the broken classes in the game? The answer is the game would have been unfinished and broken. They would have done what Funcom did by releasing something hoping the patch it later.

Since WAR is still in development, anything they remove now and disclose as not being in the release build does not count against them. This is a game being developed here. Look at any game being developed and there are things being added and chucked all the time. That’s what the beta process is for!

So Mythic feels 6 cities can not possibly be done in time nor would they be up to the standards Mythic wants for their game. They cut back to 2 and maintain that level of quality, polish, and completion.

Mythic removes 4 classes that they simply can’t get ‘right’. Removing them now avoids the atrocious problems caused by broken classes and balancing broken classes post-release.

WAR WOULD HAVE BEEN underdeveloped and unfinished if they launched with these things still in the game.

This doesn’t mean WAR can’t still launch as unfinished or underdeveloped – it just won’t be for THESE reasons.

I’m disheartened by the decision to cut parts of the game out but I understand why. It’s important to understand why – if you don’t, then I can see how this would be very frustrating.

Games in beta… what a rollercoaster indeed. 🙂

Steve - July 12, 2008

“Mythic removes 4 classes that they simply can’t get ‘right’. Removing them now avoids the atrocious problems caused by broken classes and balancing broken classes post-release.” – This kind of thing worries me, alot. The Choppa and Hammerer for example were some of the first careers to have been announced and have both been extensively Beta tested. It completely baffles me that they now decide to axe them both from the release when there are other careers like the White Lion that have not even got near a Beta tester yet. If they’ve failed so badly to get those two right up until now, especially given the feedback from the testing, I’d love to see the state of some of the newer classes when they release.

“I’m disheartened by the decision to cut parts of the game out but I understand why. It’s important to understand why -if you don’t, then I can see how this would be very frustrating.”

Me too, and I really admired Mythic for postponing the original release date, having played the Beta it was pretty clear it wasn’t going to be ready. Fair enough really, there was quite alot of talk about wanting to make sure they could fully realise the vision of the game, more layers of “polish” etc etc. All sounded very reasonable. Now they’re not delaying anymore and cutting out ALOT of content that is far from complete or apparently impossible to “get right”. To me this is very worrying indeed and I see little reason for them to release it with so much missing as opposed to just postponing the launch again, unless of course they’re getting pressured into hitting the September release. Anyway I’ve certainly lose alot of faith in them.

Rant over.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

@Steve: I worry too. I think they are perhaps being pressured into a release or they’ve just decided it’s time. Either way, it’s undeniably the most “ideal” option to delay the game. Looks like that option is out though making this the second best choice for dealing with borked content.

In regards to the Hammerer and Choppa being tested extensively, I had heard that these classes have not been tested since before the servers came down in October of 2007. That would mean they have not been tested lately by the public – probably internally. I really, really wish I had been in beta to see these classes in action before they were pulled so that I could understand Mythic’s reasoning.

Rog - July 12, 2008

@Keen: I don’t think you’re contradictory in your anticipation of WAR versus your dislike of AoC. Since dropping AoC you’ve been pretty consistent about that.

But Mythic isn’t the bastion of honesty and bravery for announcing cuts– Funcom did that too when they cut PvE city invasions, merged classes and delayed drunken brawling.

The content just cut seems awfully close to the same stuff Mythic said last April that they needed another year for. The rest of the game just needed a coat of polish, blah blah. Oh and that’s why they sold to EA, for polish, not because they ran over budget. *cough*

Now I don’t believe for a second that they’ve twiddled their thumbs for an entire year, obviously they weren’t completely circumspect on the state of their development. The screenshots and videos look a lot different over the past year too, they’ve moved forward quite a bit.

I’m not trying to slam Mythic. They work for a public company and they have to hedge what they say. If you take every one of these companies to task for that, you won’t have any left standing.

Keen
Keen - July 12, 2008

True, Funcom did disclose those things. However they still took the “let’s launch and leave the buggy/unfinished stuff in” approach for so many other things. If Mythic launches cleanly then we’ll know the trust was well placed. If they pull a Funcom we’ll know to grab the rope and have us a good ole lynchin’!

The rest of your post I can’t disagree with at all. Makes no sense to me either. They delayed a year to make their game better by adding all these capital cities and RvR and such… but then take a ton out. *shrug* I got nothin’ for you there. The only explanation I can think of is Mark’s statement that delaying the game would make it overall better. Perhaps they did a lot of work on other stuff that we know nothing about.

Links « Book of Grudges - July 12, 2008

[…] we’re grateful to all of you for letting us know that we’re not alone in how we feel. Keen takes a balanced view, as does Syp@Waaagh with some reservations. Matt at MMOGnation is disappointed and wonders if EA […]

stompfoot - July 13, 2008

did ‘Fabulous’ replace the word ‘polish’, because everyone worked out ‘polish’ meant ‘broken and needing to be fixed’.

I think the re-badging of EA Mythic to Mythic is a bad omen. And the shift from ‘release when it’s done’, to ‘release half finished before Lich King’ also looks bad, obviously EA aren’t willing to continue financing this and they want a product on the shelves now.

I was always worried when Crafting wasn’t mentioned until recently (and only 2 crafts at that). The question is what else will be missing? Mounts, zone travel system (ie: flight points).

I wouldn’t be giving them points for being ‘upfront’ about this, it’s very late news if they are in fact planning for a September release, and announcing cuts after the started taking pre-orders….

This could easily be another AoC launch

Keen
Keen - July 13, 2008

@Stompfoot: True, it could easily be another AoC launch. That is always possible. However, I think that since they are being upfront with such enormous cutbacks it’s worth trusting them until they prove untrustworthy with WAR.

stompfoot - July 13, 2008

was looking forward to playing an Orc Choppa too 🙁

Bowman - July 13, 2008

@ stompfoot

The old brand ‘EAMythic’ makes ‘developed by Mythic’ games more of an ‘EA brand’ game. They don’t want to build EA as game brand, EA is the corporate, not the developer team.

EA wants to build ‘Mythic Entertainment’ as a brand. EA wants, what Mythic stands for/will stand for. EA wants ‘the Mythic vibe’ intact. EA wants ‘rockstar’ developers. EA wants the brand ‘Mythic Entertainment’ to sell games. EA wants the glory, that is ‘Warhammer Online : Age of Reckoning’, to build the ‘Mythic Entertainment’ brand.

Mythic, as a brand, isn’t as strong yet, as for example Bioware. ‘Warhammer Online’ is their first ‘high profile’ game. If the game is as good, as my perception of it is, ‘Mythic Entertainment’ as a developer and as a brand will grow a lot in value. They will earn a tremendous amount of respect, if they get ‘WAR’ right.

Bioware too has joined the EA ‘corporation’. As many other developers have lately. I am sure, Bioware wasn’t ‘forced’ to sell to EA. ‘Nor did EA want to buy a ‘sellout’ shell of bioware. EA not only wanted the ‘brand’ bioware, EA wants the people, who made bioware, what it is today. So EA had to sell its’ corporate culture to the Bioware leadership and staff. They had to believe in EAs vision of a common future, or they wouldn’t have joined the corporation.

To get that done, EA has to be ‘hands off’ as much as possible. EA gives the leadership and the staff, what they want in return, to stay onboard. EA takes the finacial risk. EA lets them most of their liberties, most likely even more, than they had as indipendent developers. All they want in return is, that they keep on doing, what they’re doing, with EA in the picture.

I believe EA has grown up a lot. It has learned, what to give, in order to get, what it wants to take. Thus the current EA is for the win. EA wins. The developers win. We win.

I like EA. I dislike people, who don’t. You guys live in the past. Get over it. Open your eyes. EA is a grown up now. EA wants to win. In order to win, it helps others to win their own way. That’s how I see the current EA. It deserves more respect, than many are willing to give.

stompfoot - July 13, 2008

@Bowman

You bring Fanbio-ism to feverish new level:
‘I like EA. I dislike people, who don’t’…. that’s just creepy.

I don’t think I actually said anything bad about EA, they are just a company, companies are there to make money.

A premature Warhammer release doesn’t sound very ‘Hands off’ to me. It sounds like EA has a very tight grip on the decision making. (4 missing classes and 4 missing cities is a premature launch)

The AoC (big mess that it is) sales has demonstrated how big the MMO hole is atm, and I’m sure EA want to capitalize on that.

If Mythic really did have control over the situation, I believe they would have postponed the launch until it was ready.

Keen
Keen - July 13, 2008

@Stompfoot: Unless it wasn’t EA’s decision at all to release now and Mythic decided the release date and the cut of the content all on their own. I don’t think we can count that out as a possibility given Mark Jacobs’ statements that EA has been really letting them do their own thing.

Bowman - July 14, 2008

@ stompfoot

All Mythic announced was their release plan. Because a part of this plan, namely the postponed capital cities and classes, fall short of the vision Mythic proposed, they had to get this out of the way.

As soon as the NDA drops, Mythic and EA can start to build up buzz for the game, without having to hide a skeleton in the closet.

It’s ‘Mythic Entertainment’, namely Mark Jacobs and the rest of the leadership, who believe WAR is ready for release this fall. I have followed WAR closely in beta. All betaleaks indicate this to be true.

I believe in Mark Jacobs words, that releasing the capital cities in the now proposed manner; first delivering two capital cities, as fun and fleshed out as possible; then using the ‘live capital cities’ feedback to improve the content and gameplay of the next pair of capital cities and ‘thus delivering a better game in the end.

The cut classes hurt. It’s more of cut, than a release plan, I agree with that. We will see, what they will make out of the gap left by this cut, post-release.

As soon as the NDA drops, we are sure to see lots more of what actually is in the game, than otherwise. I very much believe its more than enough to blow our minds.

WoW: the last blockbuster MMO? « Dark London - July 15, 2008

[…] Or maybe Mythic’s decision to cut some content will actual benefit the launch of the game as Keen points out on K&G’s blog as long as the content they do provide is […]

Da Newz - July 17 « Waaagh! A Warhammer Online Blog - July 17, 2008

[…] Tobold, Book of Grudges (part 2 and part 3), Scribbles, Overly Positive, Nazgum, Th-WAR-ted, Keen pt 2, Greenskin pt 2, West Karana, Classy Gamer pt 2, Massively pt 2, Cicadymn, Vid, Bloghammer, MMORPG […]

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