Friday, July 11, 2008

Warhammer chops out The Choppa

The big news today in Warhammer Online land is that they are scaling back on a few features they had planned on release.

First up, there will be a four fewer classes than they originally intended. This isn’t quite as big as deal as it sounds since there are a ton of classes in WAR and they are specific to a particular race. In fact, one of my concerns was actually too many classes, so in a way this might be a good thing. It appears that two of them are Tank types and two are Melee DPS. It sounded from the interview like the decision was made during beta partly as they observed which classes appeared to be getting love and attention from the users. Syncaine points out at Hardcore Casual that since they removed something no one has played, they took away from nothing.

I’m sure a year from now people will be ranting about how upset they are that they “took away my Choppa” but these things happen during testing all the time. If something isn’t working out, it’s better to get rid of it now than allow it to make live and have it suck. After watching countless hours of deleted scenes from movies on DVDs, I have come to the grand conclusion that there is a reason these scenes end up on the cutting room floor. They are edited out to make a better movie. So in similar fashion, I’m not surprised that something in beta test gets edited out of the game and suspect that it might actually be a good thing.

The other big change is really more of a delay. Of the six planned Capital cities, only two of them will be available at launch. The other six will come post-launch and presumably patched into the game. The official reason is that Mythic simply wanted to concentrate on making Capital cities as fun and interesting as possible and didn’t feel they could do all six the justice they deserved by the time they want to release the game. Mark Jacobs at Mythic defends the decision by remarking that cities are more than just “a place for people to hang out, buy stuff and run around making Chuck Norris jokes.” Capital cities play a huge role in the RvR as players literally conduct sieges against the enemy faction.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, because this is obviously disappointing. It’s a real bummer that four of the six races are homeless without a Capital city. I can’t help but think that players interested in a progressive story arc will feel like their story is truncated or out-of-place.

Now that being said, perhaps it’s a good thing. If it means that the product we get at release is more solid, that’s a good thing. If it means that the product gets to the market that much sooner, it’s a good thing. If it means that players have a more unified focus on defending and attacking two cities as they learn how to RvR, perhaps that’s a good thing as well. As Mark also points out, starting with two cities may allow Mythic to learn from the mistakes of early RvR rather than repeat the same mistake six times over because they didn’t know better.

So while I can’t say that I’m happy about learning WAR will be incomplete at launch, I can’t help but be thankful that they are smart enough to recognize that it should be incomplete if they want to provide the best long-term product possible.

One thing I found particularly interesting is that Mark Jacobs regrets over these two decisions is a contrast to mine. Mark says, “I wish we didn’t have to [cut the four classes]. I really do. Unlike the capital cities [which provided a silver lining in the end], I can honestly say that I really wish we didn’t have to cut them out, but it’s better for them to be cut out than to have classes that aren’t great.” Hmm. Is it just me or does that sound eerily like a movie director commenting about a deleted scene that he ‘just loved, but it didn’t fit in the movie’?

No comments: