WAR’s legacy

Nice interview by Massively with Mark Jacobs. He makes some good points.

WAR’s hype was inexpensive and very effective. The point of hype is to get people interested enough to buy; for WAR, that worked. My only question would be whether the hype would have worked as well with a more measured tone. If ‘bears bears bears’ was not in the game yet, or was not how the game really worked, would a more toned-down video have been just as effective for hype purposes? Or did the hype only work because it was as crazy and outlandish as ‘bears bears bears’?

The whole third-faction, RvR vs PvE focus; obviously I retrospect this was a bad decision. As I point out frequently here, aiming at 300k and getting it is better than aiming for 1m and getting 50k. WAR/SW:TOR and many others aimed at a ‘broad audience’. They appeal to no one enough to retain them. A game like DF:UW only appeals to a tiny subset of the MMO population, but is able to retain that group because for those players, it’s the best game out due to its focus. Why this continues to be a pitfall for others I’m not sure. I get greedy is a powerful thing, but with almost 10 years of examples, it’s pretty crazy that people are still willing to throw money into the fire like that.

Finally, if you look at what WAR brought to the genre, and compare it to SW:TOR or the ‘genre fixing’ GW2, WAR win’s in a landslide in terms of contribution. Public quests, evolving cities, how they did instanced PvP, the Tome of Knowledge, map functionality, etc. Yes, at the end of the day the game did not work enough to succeed, but many of its parts were brilliant and the blueprint going forward. Other than convincing everyone NOT to do voice acting, what did SW:TOR bring? Is there one feature of GW2 that is new and worth copying into another MMO?

About SynCaine

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

24 Responses to WAR’s legacy

  1. mmojuggler says:

    Interesting point. I was going to reply about my favorite features of GW2, but realized one was dropped (secondary profession and ease of switching it) and one was in GW (instant map travel to any previously visited outpost).

    • mmojuggler says:

      Oops hit return too fast. I also really liked the henchmen and heroes system, also from GW but dropped in GW2.

      As far as new GW2 features… I like not having to compete for resource nodes.

      I did not play WAR enough to really comment on its innovations. Sad it didn’t do (isn’t doing) better since it did bring in some new ideas.

  2. spinks says:

    No disagreement here, I enjoyed a lot of things about WAR. It was flawed as a game, but a really high proportion of the innovative things they did really worked. (One of my favourites was the dual target — if you played a healer you could have a separate friendly target and unfriendly target, made it so easy to have classes that could both damage and heal.)

    I think SWTOR and GW2 both had decent amounts of new features, but they didn’t hit the core gameplay innovation in the same way that WAR’s new features did. (ie. I like the SWTOR focus on class based stories, I like the companions — but I won’t care if no other game ever does them,)

  3. I think to count as a “contribution” to the genre, some other game has to have picked up the idea. So public quests, yes. Tome of Knowledge, no.

  4. Ettesiun says:

    Some Features from GW2 – but I am not sure they are knew neither you will consider them good-to-follow features :
    – Everyone can rez
    – skills given by weapon
    – flat progression curve
    – no/small power creep
    – public quest as core design
    – auto down-level for lower zones
    – auto up-level for PvP zones
    – Proportional reward to number of players (= 3x player = 3x rewards)
    – shareable ressource nodes
    – multiple guild

    and from GW :
    – limited buidlable set of skills
    – instant map travel
    – Buy Once Play forever model

    I would be very interested if someone can help me found whose featuret are not new and from what game they are taken.

    • SynCaine says:

      – Everyone can rez – A legit addition to themeparks IMO.
      – skills given by weapon – Many games do this, including UO. You can’t dismount someone with daggers, but you can with a barditch. GW2 just pins you into 5 skills, rather than being a bit flexable.
      – flat progression curve – I’d call this a design mistake for retention, but the curve is so short in GW2 its a non-factor IMO.
      – no/small power creep – They added a new tier of gear in the first month…
      – public quest as core design – Every zone in WAR had multiple PQs, and (IMO) they were better content than GW2 chain-events.
      – auto down-level for lower zones – Pretty sure other MMOs have done this, but I’m not a themepark expert.
      – auto up-level for PvP zones – WAR did this.
      – Proportional reward to number of players (= 3x player = 3x rewards) – Scaling rewards have been done in many MMOs.
      – shareable ressource nodes – In something like GW2, why not. In games like EVE this would be a disaster. I prefer my MMO with an economy, but if its a solo-fest online, not a bad feature.
      – multiple guild – A step back IMO, but again for GW2 why not.

    • spinks says:

      Everyone can res in SWTOR.

    • And everyone can rez in Rift as well. That came in before Storm Legion, but not sure if it pre-dates GW2.

  5. kalex716 says:

    The thing that you are not appreciating is that like the community itself, it is NOT easy to get an entire development team to agree so specifically on a target audience either. This particularly gets exacerbated when you have these big IP’s and teams of hundreds of people involved as well.

    Games are an expression of the people who create them no matter what we think… That many people “injecting” in small ways creates a vanilla experience. It takes a team with a DOGMATIC, and down right Dictatorial design director to convey and control the vision and design strategies to the point where it can in fact be that focused in the end.

    Even more difficult; It can be challenging to work for that type of a visionary. Specially if this person in question doesn’t have a reputation yet the team can get behind and concede to.

  6. bhagpuss says:

    The feature of GW2 that gets quoted most often as the one that should become an industry standard is the “everyone can rez” thing. I’d like to see that carry through.

    Most of the other supposed innovations I have seen in various other MMOs in some form or another, although GW2’s take generally seems to be better-refined and integrated, and certainly no MMO I’ve played before has all of them, or even nearly.

    I don’t think GW2 is “better” because of them but i certainly notice myself missing several of them when I play MMOs that don’t have them. On the other hand, some of them I’m glad to be shot of.

    • kalex716 says:

      The other convention i really liked in this game was, if you are going to use a boring and tired quest convention as your compulsion loop, at least don’t make me run back to turn the damn thing in anymore…

  7. Mekhios says:

    GW2 brought the following positives to the MMO genre:
    – shared quests
    – grouping not required
    – dynamic events
    – incentives to help rather than hinder other players
    – active dodge-based combat with skills keyed to weapons

    WAR was a mess of features of which none particularly worked well.

    Lastly correct me if I am wrong but wasn’t the Darkfall server pretty much dead as of a year ago. It certainly hasn’t retained players like EVE has. I doubt DF:UW will be the saviour people are hoping for.

    • SynCaine says:

      Those things are not unique to GW2, good (dodging), or even a feature.

      And yea, a year after its last update, in year 3, the pop in DF1 was down. Sequels coming ‘soon’ will do that, as will a total lack of dev attention. We’ll see what happens during year 3 of DF:UW.

      • Sjonnar says:

        i have yet to see a single MMO since UO tie skills to weapons other than GW2. for the newer guys who never played UO, that can seem like a new contribution, and it definitely sold me on GW2.

        problem is, they didn’t take it far enough. i was expecting it to take days at least to max out a weapon, and to have multiple skills for each slot that i would have to choose between. instead it was kill ten bears, max pistols. ten more, max rifles. ten more, max shields, done. it was boring.

  8. TheJexster says:

    WAR was the game we thought we wanted, but not the one we deserved back then. I had fun, but it needed 3 way pvp, proper end game, and did get over hyped. I miss the characters, the art, and my choppa, but not enough to ever log in again. Yet another thing Sandboxes do, they always bring me back eventually, the parks, I play and move onto the next one.

  9. SM says:

    War was fun for the first week but then you noticed the flaws — dead zones (everyone already levelled through them), dead rvr, hella long queues for BGs, nasty faction and class imbalances, borked crafting, etc etc. So many of us wanted a wow killer but nothing can live up to those expectations I guess.

  10. Anonymous says:

    WAR was great but just lacked polish..
    the potential was all present.

  11. Machination says:

    Great deal promise, but just didn’t deliver. Hype is deadly. You can’t inflate people’s expectations to unreasonable levels, and then expect them to be satisfied with just the company’s expectations.

  12. sid6.7 says:

    Through Tier 3, WAR was one of the best MMOs (if not my favorite MMO) that I ever played. And then Tier 4 was so completely flawed and horrible it was like playing a whole different game.

    Balance issues, endless Scenario queuing, and unmeaningful RvR aside… the final straw for me was when the whole server showed up for a fight and exactly what you would expect would happen when an entire server population shows up at one spot happened — 100% unplayable and then server crash.

    • Shadow says:

      It’s intentions and goals had no way of being executed with the technology available without significant sacrifices in other areas is my guess.

      Look at EVE, who has probably some of the strongest, and most innovative methods for dealing with large numbers of players in a single location. Huge milestone for them recently with the ~2000 players and no crash, but 4 years ago, people are surprised when 600+ players crashed a server in WAR. Like Jacobs alluded too, their goal was bigger than reality, and the “trust me, this will work” was putting a lot of faith on shaky ground.

  13. Pingback: soresu

  14. Pingback: [General Gaming Links] Events, ‘I quit’ posts, TESO, Wildstar, and more | Welcome to Spinksville!

Comments are closed.