Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's not you, it's... actually no, it is you.

As I have been progressing through Tier 4 in Warhammer and participating in some of the "end-game" battles for Keeps, I have slowly been coming to a disturbing conclusion:

Warhammer peaked for me back in Tier 3.

At the moment, Tier 4 definitely feels like a grind. On the surface, it's the PQs, PvE quests and Scenarios that I am finding tiresome. But if I look a bit beneath the surface, I think what is REALLY bothering me is that now that I am catching glimpses of the "end-game" I am finding it lame and unfufilling.

MMOs and the "end-game"
MMO bloggers and forum posters both talk a lot about the "end-game" of an MMO. We write about how long it takes to get to end-game and the quality of the "end-game" but we never really talk about why the "end-game" is important to us. An outside observer might even ask why MMOs even need to have an end-game?

The secret MMO players don't want to admit to is that we like to get "hooked" by a game. Whether you are playing a video game, watching a movie or reading a book -- we all love to become so enthralled with our entertainment that it gives us a sense of "being there" in the moment.

In fact, I would argue that, almost by definition, all entertainment is a form of escapism which allows us to immerse ourselves in diversions away from unpleasant realities.

Of course, the problem with reading a good book or watching a good movie is that eventually it ends. But MMOs are different.

Instead of an MMO ending, it just transitions us to something else. A new game that is only playable by people who have finished the original game. A game that allows us to continue what was started (albeit at a much slower pace).

It's like finishing a great book and instead of being sad the book is over, discovering that author wrote another trilogy about the same characters.

The true success of an MMO isn't measured by innovative gameplay but by the number of subscribers and longevity of their subscription. We write and talk about how we want to see all this nifty innovation but what we really want is something that is just fun to play over and over and over again.

My take on WAR "end-game"
In almost every way, the game you play at Tier 1 is the same game that you play at Tier 4. Oh sure, there is MORE of it, but the fundamentals of the gameplay are exactly the same. You can PvP in either open world RvR (oRvR) objectives or through Scenarios.

I'll ignore concerns about population balance and such in oRvR for the moment. I've been fortunate enough to land on a server where oRvR was not a ghost town. In fact, it's quite the opposite in Tier 4 in the evenings. There are certainly issues here, but let's presume for a moment that it's not the game breaker.

Scenarios are fun (and rewarding) but they lack much in the way of purpose beyond leveling Career and Renown Ranks. They might contribute to Zone control, but the result of a single Scenario win is not noticeable. Heck, the result of a dozen wins doesn't even seem noticable.

oRvR is noticeable. Taking keeps, and battle objectives is clearly shown on the zone map and is obvious. So OK -- the zone is controlled. And...? There is still no real purpose to any of it and certainly little in the way of personal rewards or sense of achievements.

In theory, if one side is really dominant over the other side, then they can attack a City and all this cool stuff happens. But uh.. the problem with that logic is that it means one side needs to get trounced. So either you a) have no opposition and can assault a City with little opposition, or b) you have good opposition and end up in some stalemate unable to get to the City "end-game".

So in reality, the only options left to you in Tier 4 are the same exact ones that are open to you at Tier 3. You can do Scenarios or you can attack/defend Keeps and Battlefield Objectives. Don't get me wrong, these are fun enough but they lack purpose.

I don't know what the solution is, but all I can say is that Mythic really needs to do something in order to make this "end-game" feel more meaningful. Or maybe it just would have felt more meaningful if Tier2 and Tier3 didn't have keeps too.

Crashes to Desktop
I crash at least once every hour of gameplay. With load-times and such, it can take me 5 to 6 minutes to load the game back up. If it happens during a PQ, I lose all my contribution points. if it happens during a Scenario, I am no longer in it when I log back in.

I would call these crashes "livable" but highly frustrating. Ironically, I had less of them in beta and a couple of weeks after launch.

Up until now, I have adopted a "well, it just launched" attitude to the crashes. But with the next major game update on it's way, I just don't think they are as focused on improving that part of the game.

Temporarily canceling Warhammer
My next billing cycle was 11/17 and I made the decision to play Wrath instead of WAR for a bit until they address some of these issues.

This is not a goodbye forever thing, just a goodbye for now thing. It's not a bad breakup, just a maybe we should start seeing other people breakup.

WAR is a good game, an innovative game, and a fun game. It's just not a game I feel like playing over and over and over at the moment.

I'll likely be posting some comparison thoughts between Wrath and WAR over the next few days. I have some good/bad thoughts about both games. And since I swore up and down I wouldn't play Wrath, perhaps I should mention start by talking about that first.


Anonymous said...

Oddly enough todays patch addressed some CTD and mass RvR lag. The 1.06 patch has the other combat engine improvements. Did you get a chance to check them out on the test server?

I think T4 is going to come down to guilds and alliances working together to progress the campaign. I don't think random people running around the T4 zones is going to get much done.

sid67 said...

That's good news. Part of the reason I am quitting now is so that they can work out issues before my tolerance has been completely burned out.

I still believe that T4 content needs to be more meaningful. On my server, the T4 issues isn't for lack of organization. There is plenty of action going on if you are in the loop (which I am/was).

A City capture might be meaningful, but as I wrote in the post, your basically looking at a stalemate if your opponent is worthwhile adversary. And if he's not worthwhile, then how exactly do you measure any meaningful victory?

Winning in such a fashion because your opponent is grossly inferior (by numbers or organization) isn't much of a victory and certainly not a meaningful one.

Maybe the solution is to make it a bit more time consuming to capture a keep, but once captured -- it stays locked for 20 hours.

That would certainly put a lot more pressure and meaning on capturing/defending a keep.

martha said...
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