All Is Lost
Jul 28, 2008 12:09:24

greenskin"...all is lost! Flee, flee!" - Denethor, The Return of the King

Just recently Mark Jacobs, VP of Mythic Entertainment, inc. announced that the developers had decided to cut 4 of the 6 cities originally planned for Warhammer Online in the game under development. The reaction across the internet has been a bit like the insane King Denethor in the movie Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, as he yells to the citizenry of Gondor to flee, telling them "All is lost!" There have been tag lines like "Bombshell: Major Features Cut From Warhammer Online" and "Warhammer Online Loses 66% of Cities" "" touting that a major part of the game has been lost.

First let me say one thing about that: Give it a rest.

This all goes to operate on the same basic principle - nothing has been "lost" from the game at all because it hasn't even been released yet. In the past, there have been players who break an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) who have hurt a game's reputation by talking about problems that occur in closed beta, long before the release of a game. When this happens, people who are just considering playing the game begin to think poorly about it, before the developers even have a chance to solve the problem. Mark Jacobs's announcement has had a similar effect, but has gone way past that point.

Yet who can blame the gaming community for the reaction? If there is a culprit at fault for building up expectations about the release of Warhammer Online to unrealistic proportions it is Mythic Entertainment themselves. In fact Mythic Entertainment has proven their ability to build interest in their game long before its actual or even announced release date. It has reached the point where the blogosphere, forums and mmo gaming community in general has set its hopes for the future squarely on the shoulders of Warhammer Online. Over and over again I have heard gamers claim that they are playing one game or another "until Warhammer comes out."

(Warning to Darren from Commonsense Gamer: I will now use the "P" word...)

The developers at Mythic Entertainment have long since passed the point where Warhammer Online needs to be "polished" when it comes out. So many expectations have been built up around this game that is expected to be "practically perfect" "" a difficult, if not impossible task, for anyone whose name is not "Mary Poppins."

There is an old adage, and a lesson my grandmother taught me, that the developers at Mythic Entertainment should have heeded "" "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." By building their game up, and setting it upon such a high pedestal, Mythic Entertainment created an atmosphere in which they could not hope but to engender such a response to their announcement.

Don't get me wrong.

While the reaction may be a bit overboard in some cases (a bit like dynamiting open a can of beans) I don't think it will have any long term negative affects on the marketability of the game. In fact it might even do the marketability of the game some good. If the announcement lowers the pedestal upon which we have all placed Warhammer Online a bit, perhaps we will not have unrealistic expectations of the game when it is released.

Online time will tell.

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Jul 28, 2008 12:09:24 CST (comments: 10)


Comments:


'Hmmmm...' by Heartless
Submitted on 2008-07-28 13:28:15 CST
Didn't expect you to blame Mythic, because I don't think in any single way have they built WAR up beyond what is expected. No, WoW has already done that. WoW's market presence has dictated exactly how WAR must proceed and Mythic has done a wonderful job. A great job, all the way back to the time you could only get WAR news from a few fan sites.

Also, Mythic went to great lengths to explain how the change in focus is a better end result for the game, something largely ignored by those shouting the loudest. Whats sad is those shouting believe they were promised six cities, but when Mythic tells them that the new two city approach will result in more and better content, they scream bloody murder because in no way can 2 > 6. Mostly hypocritical banter that unfortunately gets discussed by several people that have read nothing more than the outrageous headlines you mention.

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall." is better left talking about WoW, because honestly no one expects WAR to make a dent in WoW. WAR is set up for success, both by a developer and publisher that wants to "get it right". It will be the first game to hopefully "get it right" and put a dent in WoW's armor, enough to show the rest of this industry that they can compete in a market with WoW, instead of running and hiding in the kids game section.



'Missing The Point' by Wilhelm2451
Submitted on 2008-07-28 15:19:03 CST
The problem with your argument Heartless is that it assumes that it is generally accepted fact that the original 6 cities were always going to be worse than the two now set to be delivered.

I don't recall Mark Jacobs or Paul Barnet saying anything about six mediocre cities. They have been banging the drum about how GREAT things will be, and rightly so.

Now that they have taken four away, their argument may be valid that the two remaining will be even better. But we expected all six to be great in the first place. Didn't you? Or did you expect six so-so cities? Can you point me to something from Mythic that said, before the two city announcement, that six cities really wasn't viable and would lead to thin content and we really shouldn't get our hopes up?

I understand their position and agree that it is the right move, but the six cities we expected will always be better than the two we are going to get because we expected them to do a good job. We believed in them and what they said.

And that is where we get to managing expectations, which gets tough when a company has laid down some facts about a game then has to go back and change their plan just a couple months before launch.



'So wrong...' by Heartless
Submitted on 2008-07-28 15:53:20 CST
No Wilhelm, YOU point to something from Mythic that said anything you are claiming in your post, because I am quite sick of your claims to all these promises Mythic magically transmitted into your brain. I would be more than willing to admit my mistake if you can so produce something to show that Mythic promised anything to the WAR faithful. Obviously you missed the "beta is for chucking" speech from Jacobs.

Keep with the facts of the matter, not your expectations that were wrongly inflated by applying current knowledge to old design numbers.



'Think of it like this....' by Dathmar
Submitted on 2008-07-28 16:46:52 CST
There is an advert on TV for a new car in production.
They say in the ad...
"Our car is amazing as it has 6 LCD screens in the headrests...you must buy one"
So you pre-order the car.
2 months before the car is shipped you are told by the manufacturer.
"Our car now only has 2 LCDs due to production problems but these LCDs are far superior to the LCDs we were going to fit - therefore this is better for you the consumer"

Me personally I would think - hang on - I would rather have 6 LCDs of superior quality....weren't the LCDs going to be good quality, were they going to be bad quality ? Aren't you just giving me less of what I expected ?

If they add cities / classes in later - that's fine by me....or add different content that amounts to the same.....but they shouldn't try to make is sound that the consumer is getting a better "deal"

I am not really having a go at Mythic - but I think they should have kept the PR down a little on the whole project.
The videos etc were nice - but you set yourself up for a fall if you cannot deliver....but at least they are being honest and not releasing with missing features (eg AoC)




'Boggle' by Wilhelm2451
Submitted on 2008-07-28 19:24:20 CST
I'm sorry Heartless, I don't understand what you are asking me to prove.

Are you saying they never planned to have six cities? (And that we have always been at war with Eastasia?)

Are you saying that neither Mark Jacobs nor Paul Barnett have ever spoken enthusiastically about WAR? That they have never said it was going to be a great game?

Are you saying that we should not expect the game to be great? That if they say "six cities" we should assume they suck until proven otherwise? Should we assume that the two cities now will suck as well?

I know you're dying for this game and color yourself among the "WAR faithful," but let's cut reality some slack here. The jump from "six cities" and statements and video blogs about how great the game will be to the expectation that those six cities will be great is pretty reasonable.

When it comes down to it, I'm with you on the righteousness of cutting four to get two on a par with how the game has been framed in the minds of the user base. I have said so repeatedly.

I'm just saying that it was not unreasonable the think that, prior to the announcement, that all six cities were going to be at that level of greatness and that any residual disappointment stems in part from how hard Mythic has talked things up.



'le sigh' by Heartless
Submitted on 2008-07-28 21:30:18 CST
@Dathmar

I can play too: you order six gold bars, but due to a problem they can only send you two. However, those two gold bars weigh more than the previous six combined, and thus are worth more.

@Wilhelm

"I'm just saying that it was not unreasonable the think that, prior to the announcement, that all six cities were going to be at that level of greatness and that any residual disappointment stems in part from how hard Mythic has talked things up."

It is not unreasonable, but that is NOT what you are saying. You are saying that the previous six cities were going to be magnificent and up to the level of what they currently are planning. That is a falsehood, stated a thousand times over the past week by Mythic developers.

The cities weren't going to suck. They were going to be capital cities that MMO players were used to, aka just like WoW's capital cities, but that could be captured.

That has changed. Cities will now be immense player hubs full of features, quests, dungeons, guild taverns, instances, city sieges, and content well beyond what was planned originally. With the change to two cities, there will be far more content available than was planned for the previous six combined. All with the caveat that players will be more directed in their efforts as a realm, a better system than being constantly divided among six battlefronts and therefore leaving the top-end of WAR content rarely visited.

You simply are confusing the situation and continually trying to put the NEW capital cities in the old number of six. To you, all that seems to matter is that 2 is not greater than 6 regardless of whether the value of those 2 far outweighs that of the 6.




'Sacking and Pillaging...' by Grimjakk
Submitted on 2008-07-28 22:43:05 CST
If you check out one of the 'casts (I think it was the Living Cities one) Paul talks about how Hickman practically got up on a table and started foaming at the mouth shouting that he wanted plundering and pillaging and burning and all that good stuff in the end-game cities.

So the designers went back to the drawing boards and made it so.

That was the point at which they set themselves up to have to focus on fewer cities. Instead of a DAOC-like keep siege writ large, they now had a much more demanding task building unique end-game content for each city.

And that's why they say that you're getting more content out of the new 2-city design than you would out of the old 6-city one.

I was initially afraid that the endgame would just be some rehashed "capture the relic" scenario, so I'm not all that upset about this news...



'Excellent Anology' by Dathmar
Submitted on 2008-07-29 03:40:25 CST
Heartless - That's a lot better analogy than my one...
..but as all the ladies know size / weight doesn't matter its the quality
;)
I just hope they will be giving us two 24 Carat Gold Cities and not two 9 Carat Gold Cities
...or even worst two Fool's Gold Cities

Regardless I'll still be playing come day 1 - if GOA can do better job than they did with DAoC






'Amazing!' by Wilhelm2451
Submitted on 2008-07-29 13:01:10 CST
Simply amazing Heartless! You can quote me and then tell me what I was saying was not, in fact, what I was saying! Have you considered a career in politics?

Actually Heartless, what you quoted is exactly what I have been trying to say all along and if you have read something else into my words, that is your issue, not mine.




'hmm' by Sente
Submitted on 2008-07-29 13:36:47 CST
"That has changed. Cities will now be immense player hubs full of features, quests, dungeons, guild taverns, instances, city sieges, and content well beyond what was planned originally. "

Heartless, so you are saying that Mythic decided that they had too much time before they would release the game and thus will add a lot of new and previously unplanned content to the game?

Or if they still have the same amount of time as before, and with that time the cities would be at meh/suck level only at release if all 6 were made?

I am not following Warhammer Online, so I have no clue what Mythic has promised or said, but the whole debate around this is rather amusing.

Whatever they have said before and whatever they have said to explain the changes the bottom line is likely that they have a fixed deadline and want to minimize the amount of meh/suck at release.
At the same time I guess they try to include as many features that they want in the game as possible for release, since they probably have the philosophy that you have to have a feature at release if you are going to bother with it.

If they have a fixed an imminent deadline I sure hope they are not trying to introduce a bunch of new things, but if there are existing things that suck it is understandable.




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