More freaks than elves, what happened to the NE Huntard kiddies?

During the Warhammer Online beta, each poll showed Destruction being more popular than Order, sometimes vastly more popular. These numbers were always taken with a grain of salt, with the common response of “it’s beta, the casuals don’t play beta, and the hardcore like evil”. We all thought once the game went live and the casuals arrived, Order would see a spike in popularity from all the Alliance players jumping from WoW to WAR. We are still waiting for the kids bus to drop them off…

In a somewhat unexpected development, Destruction dominates most servers in total population, and this has created some very notable problems. Scenario queues are quite long for Destro players, server queues generally only affect Destro players, and Order gets dominated in open world RvR, with Destroction holding control of most areas 90% of the time.

Now the big question for both sides is whether the casuals who will play Order are still coming, or is this just a rare case of the majority picking the bad guys? Warhammer has had a phenomenal launch, and the total number of players is sure to continue to rise, even with the ‘ten of the same’ expansion coming in November, but I’m not convinced those new players will pick Order over Destruction in any amount larger than beta or first week players did.

If we assume new players will follow the current trend, and go more towards Destro than Order, what can Mythic do to remedy the situation? Clearly in the long run, WAR needs both sides more or less even for the overarching conflict to work, and Mythic can’t just let the current imbalance persist. I’m not saying make any drastic changes right now, as the dust of launch is still settling, but in the coming months something needs to be done.

The first and most obvious change is adding back the previously cut classes. Empire missing a tank is killing them, and who would not love to play a psycho melee dps dwarf? The Dark Elves will get a flimsy elf tank, and the Greenskins will get… well ok most likely a badass melee dps orc that will own, but still… If those added classes are slightly overpowered in favor of Order… well that should help the population balance right? You can always nerf stick them later once things settle down.

The other option would be to offer in-game bonuses to under populated Order servers. Perhaps each new character would start with one of those bonus xp books with three charges, or some kind of underdog title/trophy/tome unlock. History has shown it does not take much to influence MMO players (see every game with pointless fluff that people chase for hours/days), and a small bonus might be the tipping factor for someone deciding to roll Order or Destro.

It’s an issue that I’m sure Mythic is monitoring closely, and I would be very surprised if they don’t already have a plan. Lets just hope they roll it out before all the weakling Order players pack up and go back to Power Ranger land. Oh and if you are thinking of playing WAR, roll Order on Thorgrim so CoW can beat you up. We might even blog about your epic fail!

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in MMO design, PvP, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to More freaks than elves, what happened to the NE Huntard kiddies?

  1. Sifo says:

    The writing was on the wall… there were over 60k people in the beta. That’s a better sample than any Presidential Poll. We chose Order just for that reason – so we’d have a challenge.

  2. Twanni says:

    One word: Trollslayers!

  3. Grimjakk says:

    They could address it on multiple fronts:
    – scenarios
    The original plan (as I understood it) was that scenarios would be the primary mover of the conquest bar, but that they backed off on that when they added DAOC style keep sieges back in. On lopsided servers, it seems completely appropriate to move back toward the more balanced scenarios as the main campaign driver.

    – XP bonuses
    Straightforward exp and rp bonuses might not help shift populations much… I’m not sure they really helped in DAOC… but they will help the underdog realm level faster and thus put up a better fight – man for man – until the level cap is reached.

    – Drop bonuses
    This might actually work better at shifting populations. Add in a modifier to global drops for the underdogs. Better quality gear will translate to tougher fighters- even at the level cap. And, those that love chasing the pretty purple gear might be willing to change servers for that. ;)

  4. Thallian says:

    great suggestions grimjakk. I’d just like to add this: make the Elves look better. they are hideous. I am sure the shallow kiddies who play night elves in WoW agree. :P

  5. Chris F says:

    I covered it generally in an old blog post of the 4 issues we will face at launch, and this balance was one of them – and I agree it has some to do with the cut classes. (It was pre-launce, my ‘Nyuk post)

    I think xp/rp bonuses will tip the scales a tiny bit, on those not in organized guilds. “Everyone” wants the “easy” way to max level, and if it is well known you get a 15% increase accross the board that will sway those who are already tired of the long queue’s on destruction side.

    Scenarios still seem to be the big mover of the conquest bar – go take a keep and it barely moves. Same as for scenarios, however. Curious as to the breakdown, but the way it seems is that a keep capture is worth 5 scenario wins tops. So hard to track though.

    So far (I play order) we are doing great in scenarios, and so far no one is really defending keeps – because it is much more rewarding to let it get captured, then take it back (and get a gold loot bag) – that of course is another problem. In the open field RVR I have done (10+ keep captures) none of them have been defended – so so far, haven’t seen the imbalance an issue in T2 glorious goodness.

  6. p@tsh@t says:

    Thallian’s right. The Elves are do overs. We wanted Glorfindel and got Garfinkel. Steven Tyler wouldn’t roll one.

    The good thing is the Destro boys are paralyzed when they see an Elf Swordmaster charging their healers… paralyzed with laughter unfortunately, but hey, a win’s a win.

  7. Yeebo says:

    The lack of Empire tanks is really killing us. Alliance doesn’t have a tank class that is particularly popular. On destruction you can count on close to half the players in any given scenario being tanks in a human or greenskin scenario, and it makes a huge difference. There are so many tanks that they bleed over into the dark elf scenarios, leading to the Elf/ Dark Elf matchups being the most balanced scenarios (in my exprience).

    Empire needs their tank class, and it needs to be just as over the top cool as a Black Orc or Chosen. It can’t be another bland generic tank like the Ironbreaker, or something as pansy looking as a Swordmaster. I also think Dwarven hammerer should be dropped in altogether favor of Slayer.

  8. mandrill says:

    I’d have to say that I have also noticed that Order has it a bit tougher in both open RvR and the scenarios. I play on Eltharion[EU] (soon shifitng to Tiranoc due to queue issues) and have found that the most balanced scenarios are the dwarf ones.

    That being said there are still issues. There is a huge lack of tanks on the order side and this issue definitely needs to be addressed. When all you’ve got on your side are dwarven engineers and runepriests going up against Black Orcs and goblin shamen, then unless your communication is very good on the order side and the desties are all n00bs who haven’t a clue then you’re toast.

    I reckon that once mythic have a decent amount of data under their belts (and they will be collecting it by the barrel-load) they’ll be able to tweak the balance so that it evens things up abit.

  9. Ar says:

    If that is the case casual players will most likely:
    1.) Join Destruction
    2.) Server hopping hoping to find a fair RvR or bigger Order population (if any)
    3.) Not RvR and PvE instead
    4.) Don’t enjoy playing WAR
    5.) Left WAR

    The point, cause and consequence pf being a casual player is that you will never EVER beat the hardcore gamers. Whether it is because of time restriction or otherwise just don’t like playing as much, casual mostly want to feel the ENJOYMENT and FUN of playing the game, as opposed to hardcore gamers who are mostly have developed aim, goals and objectives for their toons.

    Obviously this kind of imbalance will WASTE their time as losing in RvR means progressing slower, ganked more often by hardcore guild/warbands leads to slower levelling. All of these will have a reverse effect for the hardcore gamers they will progress sooner, queue faster and level faster. In the beginning this will look fine and will go for a while,
    BUT in the long run the “bullied” casuals will start to go away, and what the hardcore player thought was fun also gone with them. Slowly piece by piece and then it’s that time of the year again to complain in forum and fight it all over again with the DEVs/Community. Also nost casual players don’t participate in forums they just read what harcore players have to say,( though it is true that the number of casual gamers participating in gaming forums are on the increase atm)

    Also I noticed that since WOW-BC the casuals are starting to go for Destruction side as well because of concern of being killed in PvE by band of hordes, becuase of the negative labelling by the community and because of they start to enjoy being on the evil side.

    Fame? Glory? Money? Epics? Mounts? Bragging rights? whatever it is casuals already know they cannot get there (as much as the hardcores) therefore the only reason they will play is just to socialize in the game, play around, exploration, see something funny, get a decent armor/weapon, do stupid things, have mindless RvR, etc. All of which will definitely not possible in this imbalanced RvR except the latter.

    Furthermore, without them the flow of the economy in the game would not be as swell as if they are in, without them there would be longer queues for RvRs, there would practically be no one to kill easily while exploring the world. Without them one side of the mmo world would be missing and therefore less enjoyment for the hardcores as well.

    Remember casual gamers are already not(or cannot) spending much of their time for the game, imagine gaining nothing meaningful(or even being annoyed) in their SPARE time. If they are a decent gamer (being frequent player but not a hardcore) they will most likely go running to a single player game or fast paced short round games like First Person Shooters where they can just leave at any time and have not imbalance nor pressure(much) to “level up”.

    This imbalance is definitely there, I can feel it I can see it. I too hope they figure out how to fix it

  10. Ari says:

    Even before the game came out we could see this imbalance in ALL the polls. And yes the imbalance is fast killing the game. Without cool characters the Order side will not attract players. Also the people leaving WoW for WAR have gotten used to the idea that the Evil faction will have better racials and dominate and so many coming to WAR are going to the Evil faction.

    Of course this is only looking at the matter from my perspective and there are many different reasons for the population imbalance, but regardless the problem is there and it is fast progressing and gearing Destro players compared to Order players and so the casuals are going to go Destro in this game and so destroying the population balance even further.

    The problem is fast getting worse and worse and if it isn’t fast corrected the remaining Order will either go Destro or leave the game..

    One solution would be to give the underdog side a buff what would change in strength compared to how much more players in % are online in that tier on the opposing faction compared to the underdog side.

  11. Raquel says:

    One of the things that’s leading people to chose Destruction over order, is that a lot of the players have played WoW for a long time, and most WoW players, at least in Europe, have played as Alliance.

    Visually speaking, Order and Alliance are very similar, while Destruction provides a different alternative for the people tired of that visual, while still allowing players to have a non-ugly character, since there are humans and elves on that side also.

    I’m playing as Destruction and will probably also level one Order character to 40. However, playing on the more ‘evil’ side instead of what would be a ‘revamp’ of the four years of WoW experience would make me tired of the game pretty fast.

    On a related matter, Mythic introduced server cloning to help people with the huge queues, but it will end up not helping much, imo. Order usually has very small queues so they probably won’t change server, so if the Destruction players who hate the queues do swap to the clone servers, they’ll find themselves playing on a server with low population (as most Destro will realize what I’m about to say next and won’t move), and were there’s hardly any people on the opposing faction, so the PvP part of this PvP MMO that is WAR will be ruined for them. even the PQs will be hard to do because there will be no one to do them with, so PvE is also affected.

    A better solution for the queue issues would be using clusters. Sure, it would make it so that there’s an even bigger number difference between Order and Destruction, because most of the people stuck in queues are Destruction, but slightly longer PvP queues (I’ve only had to wait 5-10 minutes on prime time to enter PvP) would be a lot more acceptable than the lack of people to play with.

    They should just add some cooler fluff to the order, and possibly better looking classes, that don’t feel so much as ‘more of the same’. Even if they are the same mechanics-wise, the visual part being different is the main thing.

  12. Maedhrosam says:

    I really do not see the imbanlance in open-world RvR. In my experience, zone and keep control is usually Order in the Dwarf/Greenskin zones, Destro in the Elf zones, and contested in the Empire/Chaos zones. I play Order on Badlands btw, usually around 12am est.

  13. AW says:

    I think the reintroducing new class issue is a bit worn. Chosen and Black Orcs will still look way cooler to a certain group of people as far as tanks go, and when you introduce another class on one side, the other side gets one, too. Neither destruction mdps appeals to me, but an orc choppa — that’d be something I’d like to try (I’m currently a SM). An armored male dark elf will certainly appeal to players as well.

    I think the issue of balance needs to be solved differently, with some of the solutions mentioned above, like the incentives given for the lower side. It will be a bit as still need to see how things shake out.

    I also think they may need to institute a soft cap once things settle down post launch, where there are only as many of one side allowed to log in as the other (or at least not to the point where it is completely lopsided), while the rest sit in a que. I know, not completely appealing but it will have the effect of pushing people to the less populated side. This is an RvR game after all and one side should push the other out so completely that it destroys the game. I thought that they did something like this in beta but could understand once the initial waves of people populate the servers.

  14. AW says:

    Ick on my last two sentences…

    Meant to say one side should not be pushing the other out ……and that I could understand if they wait until the initial waves of people populate the servers to institute a soft cap.

  15. syncaine says:

    They actually have a cap system in place already, but I think it does not kick in soon enough. It allows a realm to get into low/med population, and only when it hits high does it seem to kick in.

  16. Supersmart says:

    Hey good job trying to talk about the inbalance of the 2 factions then saying the weaklings play order. thatll balance it out. Baddie Bias.

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