Prompted by Lum doing it, lets review my 2010 predictions and see how I do. I’m not sure when I’m going to do my 2011 predictions, but my guess is sometime next week. I’ve not really thought about 2011, but there certainly should be some major activity and plenty of prediction-fodder. On to last year’s predictions!
Two expansions will be released in 2010, each one bringing something as new and interesting as the first two. Best guess is a major enhancement to the economy/trading that brings DF’s economy closer to EVE-levels, and something that really focuses on improving PvE, perhaps expanding the current dungeons and somehow making them better PvE destinations and PvP hotspots. I’m thinking AV uses the center dungeon as an example and gives each region its own great dungeon, with all the other dungeons serving a distinct purpose (chests, specific mobs).
We only got one expansion, HellFreeze, which was delayed from summer to fall, with the next one currently set for Q1 2011, so no points there. The expansion and other patches did however revamp a lot of PvE, and that was significantly improved in 2010. Dungeons also got updated and have indeed become hotspots with more specific purposes. No go on the economy aside from smaller stuff like rare ore from normal nodes.
PvP itself will continue to be refined and balanced, and the specialization system will continue to get fleshed out. The worry of ‘uber’ toons will subside as many reach a highly competitive level, and overall the time to reach that level is decreased thanks to specialization.
Swing and a miss here. Specializations did not get expanded, although stat gains were altered and the HP formula was changed. The first phase of meditation was added, although for 2010, the path to becoming truly viable is still (debatably) not in great shape. The hybrid character still dominates, and 90% of PvP’ers still all use familiar tactics/methods.
Ships and such ARE more common, warhulks not so much (especially the higher-tier ones, and still no one uses them in actual combat. They are mobile cannon batteries to be brought out after combat to tear down a city/stone). The NA server has still not seen a true world war, although sieging and conflict are very common. The overall population seems to be on the rise, and retention is high, with many of the same names from 2010 looking to be big time players in 2011.
I did stay subscribed for all of 2010, although for a few months I was not very active. The Community Publisher Program continues to fund all of my gaming, and I expect that the release of the next expansion will indeed increase sales to second Ferrari levels.
I hope Mythic is given enough resources to release an expansion, one that brings a third faction to the game and basically saves it from getting AutoAssaulted.
Still no third faction, still no hope for WAR. Things did settle down in terms of tech, but 2010 was a year full of revamps and removals rather than strong additions to push WAR forward. At this point I’ve given up hope for WAR, because while it still DOES have that great base to be a fun casual PvP MMO, it’s been a full year and still Mythic has done nothing to impress me or really improve the game. WAR needs massive changes to core systems, not minor tweaks and updates.
World of Warcraft
Cataclysm will eventually be released
Many will be disappointed that not as much of the old content got a makeover as they expected
50/50. Most like what was changed, but some are disappointed that some zones saw little attention. 2/6 capital cities being updated is laughable, although my prediction that vanilla raids being redone for 85s did not happen (right?).
The ‘new shiny’ of Cataclysm will be shorter lived than WotLK
I believe someone reached the cap in WotLK in just over 24 hours, it took someone 5 to cap in Cata. Many are also reporting already sitting at 85 with their guild, and some bloggers have predicted that the overall life of Cata may be shorter than WotLK. Still too early to fully call this one, but it’s looking correct so far.
Blizzard will be focusing on starting up the hype for their next MMO
One highly-touted feature of Cataclysm will ‘fail’ similar to WotLK’s WinterGrasp
Not the case, or too early to call? I’ve not heard of anything really being a disaster though, and I assume I would have by now?
WoW will be even less of an MMO at the end of 2010 than it was in 2009.
I think I nailed this one. Given how linear the questing in new Azeroth is, and how phasing makes group questing more of a hassle than a bonus, WoW truly is less of an MMO (in terms of being a virtual world and all about playing with thousands) than it was pre-Cata. I’ve seen post-Cata WoW called a great single player RPG by more than one WoW blogger so far. WoW players of course don’t care, but that just further drives the point home that most of them are not MMO players to begin with.
Stuff will be released, the AAA stuff will be flooded with tourists, they will leave after a month, and everyone will be wondering why in 2010 no MMO outside of WoW has a million subs. Some will still cling to the believe that WoW really is just that good and something like it will also get millions of subs, more will accept that the MMO market is just not that big. Those in the second group will find a way to profit, those in the first will be unemployed and asking ‘why’.
I mean more or less this is exactly what happened to Aion (late 2009 release, 2010 fade), Champions, Star Trek, and FFXIV (in record time). The games that aimed lower mostly found their niche (though it is sad to hear Fallen Earth is doing just so so), while big studios are giving out play time, going to the minors (F2P), or cutting staff/costs.
I’ll continue to mix in-game reports from DarkFall with opinion posts about the game itself, plus commenting on whatever happens to be going on in the MMO space.
Overall I think 2010 more or less went this way. As expected no other MMO jumped out to pull me away from Darkfall, and the biggest addition to my gaming time is League of Legends, a non-MMO.
Darkfall aside, I feel 2010 was a down year for the genre as a whole, not only in terms of quality titles, but worthwhile blogging topics. There is only so many times you can write about some AAA-aspiring game failing due to poor basics a month after release, or that upcoming AAA-aspiring game is promising the moon and the stars on a 4th, 5th, or 19th pillar.
Games like EVE kept growing, games like EQ1/UO continued to stay alive, and the post-Wow crop of major titles continued to try and differentiate themselves with unique themepark rides.
Luckily 2010 is coming to a close, and 2011 looks to at least be a whole lot more interesting (and hopefully successful).
I enjoyed 2010 a lot MMOwise, but much of the fun was in revisiting games I’d been playin g for years, which got a new lease of life.
I’m currently in two betas for games launching in early 2011 and it’s no exaggeration to say that they are two of the best betas I’ve ever been in (and I’ve been in a few). I think either of these would be successes if they were released already, so I have very high hopes for them both after a couple or three more months of polish.
Speaking of betas, have you tried Dawntide yet? I’d be very interested to hear your take on it. I just haven’t found the time to do it justice and no-one seems to be talking about it.
I’m guessing one of the betas is Rift, and I’m hoping it’s a more-than-decent themepark. Would be nice to play one with Aria and perhaps Inq.
I have not tried Dawntide. I’ve heard that while it’s interesting, it’s still very rough, and I just don’t have the time to really test anything right now.
A note on WoW linearity: I’d rather have linear levelling (I have severe issues, still, with their current endgame approach, and they refuse to learn from mistakes made in Wrath, but whatever) than have tedious levelling. I tried to play LOTRO (and Rift) again, and whilst they’re both solid MMOs you can see how tired and dull the old questing model is starting to become.
Levelling has never been much of a multiplayer experience anyway in WoW (cue EQ1 players reminiscing about having to group to grind for hours on end,) but the massive has gone out of it somewhat. Although, again, the “massive” in other games has become so stale now that it’s not really worth it
Cataclysm wise, Tol’Barad has been a colossal failure. I’m not sure if it was ever hyped as much as Wintergrasp, but it is pretty much the worst design I have ever seen out of Blizzard.
Once one faction has control, and plays it smart, it is literally impossible to take it back. Out of three bases and three towers, the defending side only has to hold ONE base for something like 20 minutes, while the attacking side has to hold all three bases at once. The towers do nothing except give extra time for the attackers to flail meaninglessly. Because the area only allows a 1:1 ratio for the number of attackers and defenders, the only thing one side have to do to keep it is sit at one base and do nothing else.
Tol Barad is a trainwreck, absolutely. It is a smaller trainwreck than Wintergrasp was back in WOTLK, but not by a whole lot. You simply never lose Tol Barad if you are defending, and you can only win if you are attacking if the other side is made of afkers. This is not an exaggeration.
On trainwrecks, I suspect that the real trainwreck is going to happen in a couple of months – when people finish the current raid set and realize that despite all the proclaimed novelty and all promises of “this, time, really” challenging content, Cata is the same WoW it has ever been where you quickly run out of things to do and spend most of your time waiting between raid tiers and arena seasons.
Cata may be a short theme park ride, but I think it can be pretty staggering how densely Blizzard layered their patented extraordinary production values over the same old theme park mechanics. In Cata there’s a generic collect x widgets quest, except every time you collect the widget, there’s an animation of a goblin lights and rocket and shoots off into the air. I mean sure, underneath it all it’s still the same collect x mechanic, but this kind of attention to detail does make a big difference to the player experience – frankly, it’s *fun* to watch little goblins rocket into space.
Bottom line is, I don’t think we (or other game devs) should discount what Blizzard is doing in Cata, even if it is “same old same old”. Theme parks are all about presenting a experience that is as entertaining and engrossing as possible. Everything is canned, scripted, and staged so you better have pulled out all the stops and put on a good show. Blizzard has the production values, the resources, and the experience to do just that, even with a 5-year-old engine. If you try to beat WoW at its own game you’re just going to fail, because Blizzard will do it better. With rockets.