Remove 2/3rd of the content in WAR, and we might actually have a game.

Warhammer Online has just too much content. I think back to pre-release, and the announcement that Mythic had cut 4 cities, and the player outcry of “oh now we will just be repeating the same city all the time, boring”. Funny how truly off that sentiment was.

For those who played closed beta, and now play the release version of WAR, you know how different the two play. Beta played far close to the ‘vision’ (small v) of Warhammer Online than what we see on most servers today, with the majority of players stuck in scenario loops striving for some magical end-game (hint, it’s basically the same game at Rank 10 as it is at 40), leaving most of the Open RvR and PQs empty, and the overall world feeling far less populated than it really is. In beta players played to experience the best content, release is a treadmill to rank 40.

Now part of that different between beta and release is due to the type of players generally found in beta, who tend to be bigger MMO fans and ‘get’ the genre a bit more. Thanks to WoW, the ultra-casuals far outnumber the hardcore, or even the relative casual fan, and the majority of players now don’t read message boards, follow patch notes, or understand an MMO past what is directly in front of them. At best they might pick up on a flavor of the month through guild chat. As a result, we get the ‘sheep’ mentality in major MMOs today, were the crowd follows whatever path is set for them and is perceived as the easiest and most accessible. (welfare epics in WoW, scenarios in WAR)

And while I’m right there on cursing the ultra-casual for ruining ‘my’ MMO experience, the truth is they do more good than harm. The sheep fund the big budgets of current AAA MMOs, giving us higher production values, more visibility, and overall higher quality games. Until the next new shiny comes along, and MMOs go out of fashion, they are here to stay, so it’s up to the developers to herd the sheep and manage them better than WAR currently has. Mythic made the mistake of thinking fun gameplay would be picked over mindless grind, and as a result we have the current scenario issue. You can’t nerf scenarios directly, because then you risk upsetting the sheep, and instead of altering their style of play, they might just pick up and leave. Instead you have to guide them better, and the less content you have, the easier it is to guide them.

If WAR had just two tiers, instead of four, and only one racial pairing, instead of three, it would be a much better game. Give tier one the same three scenarios it has now, and give tier two a choice of six. Tier one has Keeps, but the smaller variety, and tier two has the bigger Keeps, along with the whole end-game setup. Guide players along a pre-set path, with PQs along the way (increase the number of PQs per chapter, but extend the length of each chapter as well), and make the switch over from tier one to tier two more ‘dramatic’. In essence, tier one is clearly the ‘build up’ tier, and as soon as you are in tier two, you have arrived at the end-game.

This limits the spread of players, while still keeping the overall number down to avoid 300v300 battles at the end. (cool in theory, impossible in practice, see EVE Online fleet combat) And while you have less choices on where to level, how many PQs you can do, and how many zones you can see, considering most players only see one scenario per tier, this won’t really hurt. It should actually INCREASE the amount of content, as more PQs and open RvR should be usable and available to players.

In the end, you can blame the sheep all we want, but unless you are willing to play a niche MMO (which are great in some ways, no knock on those), the sheep are here to stay, and it’s up to the developers to herd them correctly, putting their ultra-casual noses right under the content you want them in. The sheep are lead to ‘greener’ pastures, and the bigger MMO fans get to play the game we envisioned all along.

And in case you feel this post is directed at you, the fact that you are reading an MMO blog disqualifies you from the ultra-casual ranks. Sorry.

31 Responses to Remove 2/3rd of the content in WAR, and we might actually have a game.

  1. Thallian says:

    I love your addendum at the end, lol

  2. Talyn says:

    hint, it’s basically the same game at Rank 10 as it is at 40

    There are no keep sieges at Rank 10 (Tier 1). That’s the main difference, and I thought that was one of the main points of the game. Sorry, the longer this goes on (and my account has been canceled for four days now) the more I’m of the opinion that Scenarios have no place whatsoever in a game that was billed as RvR. I sure don’t read much happening at higher tiers either, even end-game, other than continued Scenario grinding.

    Let’s pretend that Scenarios are FUN rather than simply “the best” way to level. Let’s pretend everyone WANTS to just do Scenarios. On the surface, it seems WAR has simply provided what WoW PvP-ers enjoy (instanced, meaningless e-sport matches) and more of them! But not really, because we have Tiers separating them all with Chicken Mode if we try to go back to a Scenario we really enjoyed. Levels and PvP don’t mix, I don’t know how many times developers are going to have to learn (or apparently NOT learn) this lesson. Mythic could have pulled a Shadowrun and just made a totally Scenario-based game with a graphical “lobby” of a PvE world (arguably, that’s what the sliced-up pie of a world already is) to hang out and do stuff, even some pointless PvE content in between Scenarios.

    Or they could have dropped e-sports from the menu and delivered on their promise that WAR is everywhere…

  3. Bonedead says:

    Blown out of proportion anyone?

    Meh. I don’t know about T4, I just hit 19 this weekend and have played a little over a week.

    Maybe it isn’t the scenarios. Maybe it is the RvR.

    That is what you want to do, right? That is the main complaint here? We aren’t able to RvR all the time (if at all)?

    I tried to take my first keep yesterday with what must’ve been about 18 people total. Yep, 18 people easily beat the door down and work their way up. But, once we aggro the four level 18 champions and the one 22 hero, we are done. That and the 4 Order players defending. We went back and died a few more times, almost made a stand on their “ramparts” (or whatever the ledge around the keep is called).

    Could we have won? Yes, if we were organized. But most of us were just fresh out of a scenario beatin up guards and being joined by passers by.

    At level 11, I could solo the objectives in RvR.

    My point is that I think RvR should be somewhere in between those 2 difficulties.

    Of course no one is going to be RvRing if it is equivalent to a dragon raid in DAoC way back when it was new. People are hitting 40 still. It is not end game yet, RvR has not had time to evolve at all.

    Give it some time, patience! Aren’t you the one who said you have to make the game what you want it to be? You gotta wait for PQs, start the group if you have to. Start the RvR group, don’t have enough for a keep? Objectives. Roam for Arpees. Bring it to life.

    I do kinda feel like it is directed at me, but only because I like Scenarios. I level mostly from quest grinding (which rules thanks to having 3 places to go for the same level ranges), after a while I just do scenarios to raise my renown rank near my rank, I don’t really stop and wait to do PQs (though stopping and waiting does work, because I did it Saturday) heck I don’t even grind influence any more really.

    Why do I like scenarios? I don’t know, because I’ve spent a bunch of time killing fake scripted people, gathering gear, rank; and now I want to match myself up against some people to see how much ass I can kick. PvP is PvP no matter how much lipstick you put on it, either you like it or you don’t. To me the essence of PvP is pitting your hard work against somebody elses and seeing who comes out on top.

    Plus Scenarios have scoreboards, for the proof of pwnage. (lullz get it, its like purchase except better)

    Iunno, I guess what I’m saying is try not to view Scenarios as such a bloodsucking shit and maybe you can focus better on how to bring people to RvR on your own (like PQs).

  4. Talyn says:

    If you enjoy Scenarios more power to you. We’re entitled to our own likes and dislikes. Diversity makes the world go ’round.

    For my own likes, I find Diku-MMO style PvP to be clunky at best. I don’t see the point of spending $15/month for clunky Diku-PvP on small, resetting maps where two evenly-numbered teams battle it out for scoreboard points when Team Fortress 2, Battlefield 2/2142, and any number of shooters does it better and for free.

    I thought RvR and WAR meant epic battles in the world. The *armies* of Order and Destruction battling for control, for territory, for victory. Not the small *teams* of Order and Destruction slugging it out in some arena, the patting each other on the backs saying “good match, shall we do it again?”

  5. syncaine says:

    Yea scenarios would be a none issue if the other RvR happened at an unaffected rate. The reason they are such a hot topic right now is because due to scenarios, the other (and for many, better) aspects of WAR are suffering.

    Scenarios can be fun, but people did not get excited about WAR to play some modified battlegrounds.

  6. Bonedead says:

    Well then why don’t they take a page out of the DAoC book? There wasn’t a BG for players at level 50. Why not have no Scenarios for people Rank 40?

  7. Joggoms says:

    The biggest problems I found with WAR were all related to population issues. Removing content wouldn’t solve population imbalances, but it would get the population that you do have in the game to come together, see that the other guys and girls are there and maybe group up to do some RVR in the area.

    The world always felt empty when I was playing and maybe it wouldn’t have been that way if there was less geography for everyone to cover.

    I hope it improves some day. Seems to me that server consolidation is the only plausible solution at this point though. Obviously, removing content is nice in theory but could never happen.

  8. sid67 says:

    This issues will work themselves out as Mythic figures out how to balance the reward-effort ratio for a lot of these activities. I think a big part of the problem with the emptiness is server size.

    Even the heavily populated servers are much smaller than what is needed. This might be OK at end-game when everyone is crowded into a few areas, but in T2/T3 players are spread too thin with or without scenarios.

  9. syncaine says:

    Which is why you can’t just merge servers, or increase the server cap. If T1-3 is populated, what happens when everyone hits T4 and you get 400 people per side in a Keep battle?

    1: AoE > all
    2: Lag
    3: Lag
    4: Server crash

    That’s basically the story EVE has taught us about uncapped battles. If one side brings 50 people, you better bring 100. And then they call in another 100, and we go round and round until the server/cluster goes down.

  10. JoBildo says:

    Direct players to areas on a weekly basis, much like WoW directs folks to certain Battlegrounds on weekends.

    One week the DvG pairing could be the hotspot, with double renown in all DvG zones, and double XP. Next week it switches.

    With all these areas of content, the game needs some big shiny arrows pointing a way for people to get together outside of their guilds and scenarios. The above proposal, ripped from Potshot, would likely work very well.

    I just wonder how easy it would be to implement.

  11. syncaine says:

    Sure JoBildo, point out the more practical, logical solution.

    No I fully agree with you, they need to do something like that. I’m all for anything that pulls people out of scenarios and directs them into more group content.

  12. sid67 says:

    That’s a damn fine idea, Bildo. I wrote in my blog entry today that they also need to make the normal quests that are located in PQs repeatable. i know i personally don’t do the PQs because i find a gear reward be too transitional. I quickly outlevel a gear reward, i never outlevel XP.

  13. Talyn says:

    JoBildo’s idea would probably work. Each Tier could have a rotation of Scenarios with bonus XP or whatever.

    Or, leave the system as it is but once you play a Scenario it has a cooldown before you can enter it again. Maybe that would be incentive for more players to queue for the others.

  14. Lars says:

    I don’t think its just XP that makes Scenarios more attractive than open world RvR and so on. I think its also the fact you insta-port into them. I wrote on my blog today how I think better open world travel would help alleviate the issue. I know there have been several times when I resisted the call to arms because in the time it would take just to get wherever I needed to go, I could grind four or five scenarios.

  15. Melf_Himself says:

    JoBildo, you’re spot on, that would be a super super easy way to concentrate people so that they would all play together.

    @ Talyn:

    “I don’t see the point of spending $15/month for clunky Diku-PvP on small, resetting maps where two evenly-numbered teams battle it out for scoreboard points when Team Fortress 2, Battlefield 2/2142, and any number of shooters does it better and for free.”

    Play Guild Wars. Much more depth than the shooters, and heaps of fun. Additionally requires a different type of gameplay skill for those that don’t like twitch (more planning out / timing of skill execution).

  16. mbp says:

    Lol Syncaine, as rant’s go this is a classic. Way to insult most of your fellow gamers while still acknowledging that you need them!

    Your request for less content in an mmo reminds me of the folk in EVE who want missions to be abolished or nerfed so they can have more pvp targets to shoot at. The idea is sufficiently off the wall that it just might work but on the other hand you may just frighten off all the carebears and kill the game.

    I am inclined to agree with Melf-Himself though – You really should be playing Guild Wars for game that was designed from the ground up with superb pvp in mind.

  17. syncaine says:

    Yea something about GW just never grabbed me, I can’t really explain it. Looking forward to taking a look at GW2 though.

    And hey, I only insulted those who will never know they have been insulted. Tree in the woods and all that :)

  18. Hudson says:

    The population (how people chose to play), thinly spread servers (way too many), and lack of pve/pvp balance did me in. The clunky interface, buggy animations, poor sound and combat clipping/ warping get old after a while.

    Of all the things i complained about the most in beta, not ONE item was fixed. From graphical glitches to interface problems, they let it go live. From day one i was upset about that.

    Then the people started to vanish. Low levels and PQ’s were dead, no one chatted and cooperated. When you have a small population, way smaller than WoW, why put up so many servers and spread the people out?

  19. Khan says:

    Good ideas here. I was also thinking it could be cool to have no-Scenario weekends: a weekend once a month where the Scenarios closed and there would be extra rewards for Open RvR content. They could give out bonuses to the faction holding the most keeps at the end of it (running from 9AM on Saturday until 9PM on Sunday or something like that). Maybe they could also stick in token drops which you could turn in for fabulous prizes, etc.

    I like Scenarios well enough but I think getting folks out of their scenario ruts by showing them how fun Open RvR is might get them to switch things up in their playing style a bit.

  20. Scott says:

    @Syncaine: GW is great but you have to be open-minded and willing to accept something outside the norm. It isn’t a traditional Diku-MMO at all, despite sharing a few features from them. (For that matter, not an MMO either). But GW PvE != GW PvP. They’re two different monsters entirely. And GW has *the* most competitive and ruthless arena PvP out there, hands-down.

  21. Tesh says:

    GW has the most honest business model, too. Ironic that it’s basically a single player RPG experience with Battle.net-type optional online multiplayer for free.

    I’ve read that designers tend to angle for the “endgame” or the “elder game” as being the core of their design. WoW certainly spends an unholy amount of time on their endgame content compared to a holistic approach. As such, I’ve always wondered:

    Why not just make the whole game the “endgame” and really polish that? Why have the leveling grind at all?

    MMOs are trying to take advantage of what multiplayer really offers, but they keep smushing DIKU single player content in there. Why? The tin foil hat side of me thinks it’s just a way to pad out the subscription addiction and suck more money from people. The designer in me thinks it’s just lazy, catering to expectations because that’s “how it’s always been”.

    GW was designed from the ground up for rock solid PvP as the heart of the game, and it shows. The PvE is good, but you can jump right into “the real game” in WoW lingo. The leveling treadmill is short enough that it’s not an impediment to enjoying the “endgame”, yet long enough and interesting enough to justify paying the box price for what is ultimately a single player RPG with a PvP suite.

    Talyn has the right of it; paying a subscription for what is ultimately largely a single player experience is a fool’s errand. WoW, for example, could easily be a single player game with an Auction House website and an instance (raid) grouping client. It’s a static game. Monetizing it as if it’s a dynamic service is disengenuous at best, especially given the complaints we’ve seen about the dynamic Zombie infestation recently.

    WAR at least tries to harness the multiplayer aspect of online content, but you’re right, it needs to focus on that and channel players to what the designers really want people to play. That will inevitably mean that the game will not be as big as WoW’s PvE collection of casual players. The business model should recognize that and play to the design’s strengths, not dilute their audience catering to players who will inevitably seek out the WoW-like local min/max.

  22. Talyn says:

    Ya know, every so often I hear how “GW is a PvP game with PvE thrown in.” Comparing the amount of PvP content to the amount of PvE… I’d heartily disagree.

    WAR, however… I would totally say that about WAR. The PvE is just barely more interesting than your typical Korean F2P grinder. Barely.

    WAR is an RvR game that somehow got turned into Team Warhammer Fortress, and the PvE content (and world, for that matter) seem very last-minute and tacked-on. Which we so-often accuse MMO’s of doing to their PvP game.

  23. Tesh says:

    Did I give that impression? That’s not what I meant about GW. From what I’ve researched, they started with a solid PvP and then built around that. It makes sense, since PvE content will inevitably be completed at some point. That said, it’s the PvE and business model that got me interested in GW in the first place. Neither the PvE nor PvP feel “tacked on” to me. They aren’t quite an organic whole, but I don’t really want them to be. I don’t mind them feeling like different sides of a coin when the whole coin is well designed.

  24. Solidstate says:

    It’s interesting that you think less content would be good for WAR. I’ve always felt one of WoW’s strong points was the large amount of content.

    Yes, it means players are more spread out and so it’s harder to get groups together for your level/content. But it also means the individual player has a strong feeling that there is always “more stuff to do” and that you’re not repeating yourself.

  25. Tesh says:

    Solid, WAR’s core unique gameplay revolves around multiplayer. Making more solo content would run counter to that, and dilute the game.

  26. Talyn says:

    I’m no longer a WoW player, but does WoW truly feel like there’s a ton of content? Truly?

    Back in the day it did. But then came the first expansion and Blizzard all but ignored all that prior content. Now there’s +XP bonuses during leveling until you’re ready to get to the Outlands for their current game. All that old content is physically there still, but with zero emphasis on it and the +XP bonus, you’re not there long. The same may be true with the Outlands in a month with Lich King arrives. It’ll be a place where players just speed-level on their way to the new shiny game that Blizzard puts all their new effort into. That being the case, is all that content really there? Or is it merely “there?”

  27. syncaine says:

    To take it one step further, even if you WANTED to experience a lot of old Azeroth content at the recommended level, the game makes that impossible with its speed leveling. If you quest too much in one zone, you out-level another. Sure you can roll ANOTHER alt and try to hit all the other content that way, but that’s not much of a solution.

    I never understood why they abandon all that great content either…

  28. [...] Online might have too much content.  But, when Mythic places the candy corn (read: carrots) in the right place to unabashedly lead [...]

  29. [...] Syncaine wrote a good piece lately about how Warhammer would be a better game if there were less content, since that would prevent the population from spreading out so much that RvR suffers.  But he also criticizes the casual player, saying that they have a “sheep mentality,” not sophisticated enough to “get” the game.  In comparison, he says that beta players stuck more to the “vision” of the game, and (apparently) because of their knowledge and expertise, they played the game the way it was intended and didn’t grind scenarios like the current live population does. [...]

  30. [...] on max level fun. WAR’s nice and big world works against it as there is too much space and too few people to fill it. They succeeded in creating a huge, incredible world of different flavors and zones, it really is [...]

  31. Forsee says:

    There will never be another PvP game on the same level as DAoC was. Until origins is released. I hope!

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