When to borrow, and when to ignore.

While yesterdays post was done more for humor than anything else, the reaction has brought up an important point I would like to talk about here today. The overall idea that ‘borrowing’ ideas from other MMOs can only be a good thing is a bit misleading, and often results in disaster. There is a massive difference between borrowing an inventory layout and borrowing game focus.

For instance, I don’t think ANYONE would really mind of Mythic ripped the mailing system from WoW and put it into WAR, as only good things can come from that. It’s a simple feature, it should work smoothly, and we should never think about it. Same goes for improving the auction house UI, or chat interface, or general UI customization. All of those are the nice trimming that goes around the MMO core, and for all I care, it might as well be standardized at this point.

Now if Mythic took a look at WoW, and started ‘borrowing’ WoW’s end-game raiding, or even considered throwing in a few raids ‘just for variety’, I don’t think that would sit well with people. Actually if you followed the development of WAR, you probably remember the instant nerd rage that flamed up whenever the mere thought of a raid in WAR was brought up. Even if it was completely optional, MMO veterans can image what would happen to WAR if Mythic decided to toss in a few raid (see Trials of Atlantis in DAoC, something Mythic is still apologizing for).

Which brings me back to yesterdays post; if I was still playing WoW, and I was playing it for it’s strength (PvE), news that development focus has shifted to ‘borrow’ WAR’s RvR model would leave a bad taste in my mouth. In 2004 WoW featured exactly one PvP element, PvP servers. No BGs, no honor, no PvP gear, no rankings, nothing. Day one, ground up, WoW was built for PvE, and clearly it delivered on that promise in spades, and continued to deliver with each patch bringing new raids, more fleshed out questing, and other PvE enhancements.

Slowly (and I mean slowly even by Blizzard standards) PvP was tossed in, first with an ultra-elite ranking system that made raiding look casual, and itemization that while nice, was still far below raid gear. At some point (TBC?), it was decided to shift balance and itemization split 50/50 between raiding and PvP, and WoW was divided into those who hate the honor grind, and those who hate the raid grind. Arena fans complained about imbalance due to raid-function skills, and in turn raiders complained about nerfs related to Arena balance. The entire system was/is a giant clusterfuck of tokens/ranks/honor, and any move made for one side pissed the other side off. Problem was, it rarely pissed people off ENOUGH to quit and go to another MMO, and so Blizzard had zero motivation to actually focus and solve the issue. Why balance shamans/paladins when you can just take the easy way out and give them to both sides, right? Yay ‘hero’ Deathknights and all that…

The point is, sometimes NOT borrowing ideas leads to a better game than trying to be the jack of all trades MMO. PvE in WoW has lost a great deal of what made it great due to Blizzard trying to appeal to PvP fans, and by trying to force a PvE engine to play nice in PvP. In LoTRO, does anyone really care for the PvP? Do people even know it HAS PvP? A game that is almost exclusively focused on story and PvE, and you have to wonder how much development time/money was wasted to include a ‘We have PvP’ bullet point on the back of the box. What if EVE added raiding, would that be viewed as ‘great new content’?

Going forward, I hope Mythic stays away from the ‘me too’ model of patching/updating, and instead remains focused on what makes WAR great, RvR. Yes, clean up the little stuff like the mail system and the auction house, but stay overall focused on RvR and continue to improve that. WoW had great PvE in 2004, and my guess is if they stayed focused, they would still have that same great PvE in 2008, rather than two separate games vying for attention. Here is to hoping we have great RvR in 2012, and not Trials of Atlantis-hammer™!

About SynCaine

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

17 Responses to When to borrow, and when to ignore.

  1. Thallian says:

    I enjoy the pvp in Lotro. But then, its very similar to WAR’s openrvr, just with less siege stuff (though it still has boiling oil and murder holes) Still your right, Adding stuff isn’t ALWYAS good. Very very good point.

  2. AW says:

    Absolutely agree with your blog today and was thinking the same thing. I mean, so WoW ramps up their PvP, but most heavily interested in PvP wouldn’t stay with WoW because they add one more battleground or one more RvR lake.

    I thought, why don’t they put all this effort to develop content that they are good at or something that might actually interest more casual players like 30-40 minute dungeons? (I mention this because I play for about an hour at a time or if I play for more, I can’t usually plan it, so WAR is much better game right now for the casual player — all that can be done in WoW in that time is solo).

  3. spinks says:

    I agree. I’d love to see Blizzard borrowing ideas from WAR and applying them to the awesome PvE that they create. Like, how about PvE-style scenarios with a short 15 min raid encounter that’s fun but tuned for a PUG.

    I know lots of people play WoW’s PvP game but I know many more who hate it with a passion.

  4. It’s weird that people just say rip the mail system off from WoW as if that was the easiest thing to do. We have no idea if WAR even has their mail database set up similarly to WoW. Unless you are fortunate enough to have lured some Blizzard programmers who have intimate knowledge of how their mail system was programmed, Mythic basically has to re-invent the wheel.

    In short, it’s not as easy as it seems.

  5. Graktar says:

    Trials of Atlantis *shudder*. That xpac killed DAoC for me (finally, a true deathblow) as I wasn’t a member of a guild capable of running the raids, and thus incapable of keeping up with the proliferation of uber items in RvR. I managed to pick up a couple of the easier to acquire items, realized I was never going to be able to progress up the mastery path thingy, and quit :p

  6. tenfoldhate says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Throughout the development process, Mythic has quite unapologetically been extremely focused on what WAR is, and perhaps more importantly, what WAR is NOT. Hopefully they remain this focused throughout the lifespan of the game, regardless of trends or subscription rates. WoW over the past couple years reminds me of the midlife-crisis bachelor who grows out a ponytail, slaps on some tight jeans, and buys a sports car to appear “in the know”–only to up looking foolish. Blizzard has the millions upon millions of subs, the millions upon millions of dollars, let’s hope somewhere in there they find room to reestablish some integrity.

  7. syncaine says:

    More than integrity, image how awesome the PvE in WoW would be today if Blizzard had continued to drive and improve it since 2004? WoW over EQ1 in 2004 was a huge leap, but what has changed drastically since 2004 in WoW PvE?

    They could have easily avoided the massive feeling of burnout if they had focused on the core game. Give us those long promised hero classes, not a ‘new class but we call it hero’ deathknight. Give us more class quests, improved and revised old world content, do all that and keep WoW fresh in terms of PvE. Don’t provide improved ways to skip the best content (1-60 old world) and rush into the grind of PvP or raiding.

  8. BryanCampbell says:

    I completely disagree with this post. I would love for WAR to have raids and I would love for WoW to have more PvP, RvR. I agree that you don’t want to spread yourself too thin that if you go in too many directions they dont end up with a good product. But if you have a big enough team and enough money to put a lot of focus and attention to those areas then by all means go for it. Its the lore, story, classes, characters, races, world, the actual content that shouldn’t be copied. Before WAR even came out, I was hoping that WoW would have more focus on PvP, and that I could level through PvP. It makes sense, if I’m level 10 and I kill a level 20 NPC I get experience, if I kill a level 20 Player I should also get experience. In WoW your at war with the other faction, there should be better ways for me to fight them. You say that GUI interfaces can be copied, but I look at PvP, RvR, PvE as interfaces as well. Its the content that shouldn’t be copied.

  9. Jason says:

    “The point is, sometimes NOT borrowing ideas leads to a better game than trying to be the jack of all trades MMO.”

    You have just violated the interwebs for making too much sense and shall be punished accordingly.

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

  10. syncaine says:

    You are also in violation for agreeing with me!

    Such agreement will grind the interwebs to a halt, and we will be forced to go outside, or do work at… work.

  11. Jason says:

    I shudder at the thought, but it’s true!

    Surely this agreement has opened up a class five temporal causality loop or created a rift in the space/time continuum.

    The interwebs is doomed! Dooooomed I tells ya!

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

  12. Rumor Control says:

    You know what’s going to be amusing? When the “WAR’s only about the PvP!” crowd realise that the main reward for all their PvP battles…is unlocking a PvE raid for phat epixx.


  13. Jaggins says:

    I love the PvMP in LOTRO! But then, I mainly PVE and just dip into that for extra spice now and then…

  14. Anonymous says:


    But hasn’t WoW shown that it (trying to do it all) can’t be done very well? And they have how many subscribers how much money? They haven’t been innovative with even their PvE even in the last couple of years. It’s fun yes, but for me looking at WotLK, I can’t imagine going back for more of the same , which it looks like to a large extent. As for PvP, while it may be fun for some, it isn’t well designed at all.

  15. BryanCampbell says:


    If they won’t do a good job, then don’t do it. Of course. I’m saying that its not a bad idea to copy those functionalities if it was done properly and was done well. I thin kthe post was stating that it shouldn’t copy those functionalities period, and that those MMOs should only remain in their scope. That’s how I took it =)

  16. slurms says:

    agreed….fantastic write up and i liked yesterdays as well.

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