Category Archives: Warhammer Online

EA Puts a Bullet in Mythic Entertainment

Mythic Entertainment, developers of Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online, joins the ranks of some other famed developers acquired by EA, such as Kesmai, Westwood Studios, and Origin Systems, in being shut down.

MythicLogo

I have, over the years, written my share about various MMOs coming and going, including the demise of Mythic’s own Warhammer Online.  But a studio being zeroed out, at least one that still has an MMO running and being updated, is a tale much more rare.  Of course, given EA’s past actions, the closure of Warhammer Online back in December, and the general revulsion over the nature of the studio’s final project, the despised mobile platform Dungeon Keeper reboot, this move was probably a surprise to few.

Mythic Entertainment is survived by its creation, Dark Age of Camelot, which was announced back in February would be maintained, along with Ultima Online, under contract by an independent studio, Broadsword.

Broadsword!

Broadsword!

Mark Jacobs, the founder of Mythic, has since started up a new studio, City State Entertainment, which just last year funded its Camelot Unchained MMO project through Kickstarter and, more recently, added Brian “Pyschochild” Green to its ranks.  That makes Brian’s We all need Camelot Unchained to Succeed post from last year all the more poetic I suppose.

I hope those left at what remained of Mythic find their way to new opportunities soon.

Addendum: Words from Mark Jacobs about the closure.

Remembering Warhammer Online

Well, today is the day.

As was announced back in September, Warhammer Online is slated to go off-line today.  I gave some thought to returning to the game for one last look, especially when Mythic said they were letting people back in for free.  However, various changes to the account system at EA over the years since I last played rendered my account unusable.  There would be no return to game for me, no joining in the last countdown, no final farewell as a mass of pixels and database entries faded into memory.

So, instead, I thought I would collect together a list of posts from the time frame when I was actually playing the game.

The instance group in Warhammer

The instance group in Warhammer

No speculation.  No beta posts.  Just what I wrote from the time the head start came online to when I let my account lapse.  That totals up to 18 posts in just over two months .

  1. WAR Goes Live! Sept. 14, 2008
  2. WAR Unleashed Sept. 19, 2008
  3. Not Enough Tanks in Nordenwatch Sept. 22, 2008
  4. WAR on Gold Sellers Sept. 23, 2008
  5. Tips About Tips Sept. 29, 2008
  6. Some Tips are Lies Sept. 30, 2008
  7. The Failure of The Surge? Sept. 30, 2008
  8. Dwarf Collector’s Edition Head Oct. 1, 2008
  9. The Instance Group Goes To WAR Oct. 2, 2008
  10. Chicken as Chicken Oct. 4, 2008
  11. Five WAR Quest Log Gripes Oct.  7, 2008
  12. Ride of the Twilight Dandies Oct. 9, 2008
  13. Wanted: Order Players – Bounties Paid Oct. 10, 2008
  14. The Siege of Mandred’s Hold Oct. 16, 2008
  15. New Classes, Alts, and Grinds Oct. 20, 2008
  16. Screw Job in the Altdorf Sewers Oct. 23, 2008
  17. The Storming of Stonetroll Keep Oct. 30, 2008
  18. WAR’s Trumpet Fades Nov. 19, 2008

There are, of course, a lot of other posts here on the blog that mention Warhammer Online.  If you go to the categories list on the side bar, you will see I have 93 posts tagged for the game. They range from predictions to discussion pre-release to the age of recriminations after most fled the game to EA Louse to occasional notes as to what was going on with the game, including an unsuccessful attempt to turn the assets into a MOBA.

There were various attempts to lure people back into the game, from free offers to Mac client support to opening up tier 1 as free to play.  But the magic was gone.  The game lingered only as long as it was contractually required to.  That requirement runs out today and there will be no such game available tomorrow.

And so the game is reduced to memory.  We talked about, argued over, defended, blamed, and went around and around on this game, not because it was what it was, but because it wasn’t what we hoped it would be.

Somewhere along the line in the last five years I managed to lose the directory with screen shots from the game.  After the cut, you will find pretty much all I have left… uploaded to the blog… condensed into a single gallery.

Continue reading

Warhammer Online – The Final WAAAGH is on Us!

I mentioned previously that EA has announced Warhammer Online will be closing down on December 18th of this year.

I did approve of their stance on elves...

What is engraved on that blade?

As part of the run up (or down) to that terminal date, the WAR team has convinced somebody at EA to allow them to let everybody play for free for the last month and a half.  And by “everybody,” they mean everybody who ever had an account in good standing, which I gather meant that you were a paid subscriber.  From the official site:

A Parting Gift
Posted by From the Devs | 2013 Nov 02 04:00 -0400 GMT

Greetings Warhammer players,

Effective immediately we will be turning off the ability to apply one month subscriptions and game time codes to Warhammer Online accounts and removing the ability to open new Warhammer Online accounts.

To give Warhammer Online a proper sendoff we are opening the game to anyone free of charge that has or had an account in good standing starting October 31st, 2013.  We will be adding new NPC’s to the game in order to power up your characters as well as other unique experiences for everyone to enjoy as we say goodbye to Warhammer Online over the next few weeks.  So please join us and help say goodbye to Warhammer Online in one last big WAAAGH!

See you soon!

Warhammer Team

So there it is.  Anybody who played now has the ability to go back for one last look at the game before it closes down for good.

If you can remember your account details.

I have been tempted to go back for a look myself, nostalgia hound that I am, but I cannot for the life of me remember anything about my login or password.  That was five years ago and I am not quite certain what I had for lunch yesterday.

Anyway, if you can remember your account, then enjoy your shot at nostalgia.  Meanwhile, back to my stack of notes from 2008.

Hat tip: Omali at MMO Fallout

Addendum:

I actually figured out my account login fairly quickly and managed to coax the system into sending me a password reset.  After the password reset I was able to log into the account management tab, though I was forced to associate the account with some other EA account that shared the same email address.  Once in I was able to verify that it was, in fact, the correct account.  It had been created in August 2008.  It showed the following features:

All that CE stuff...

All that CE stuff…

And the account showed as active, so everything looked good.  I downloaded the client installer, ran that, and attempted to log in.

And the client refused to accept the very same credentials that logged me into the account management site.

So, if nothing else, the WAR team seems to be successfully replicating some of the 2008 Warhammer Online experience I vaguely remember.  Ah well…

NBI – To All The Guilds I’ve Loved Before…

Doone’s Permanent Floating New Blogger Initiative II has been up and running for a while now.  It has forums and goals and things to do and participants and all that.

Not the official logo

Not the official logo

And while I signed up as some sort of sponsor, I have so far completely failed to anything very sponsorly.

Of course, I was a bit glib the first time around as well.  In part that is because I have trouble swallowing some of the advice people throw out for bloggers.  And, also, because I have trouble taking myself seriously in this regard.  So while I came up with some bits and pieces of things that worked for me, my only real advice is to be the blog you want to read.  If you look at your blog and cannot answer the question, “Would I read this if it was written by some stranger?” then you might be doing it wrong.

Anyway, I thought it was about time to earn my so-called keep as a sponsor .  Doone has a couple of blogging activities for the month, including something called a “Talk Back Challenge” that appears to be an attempt get a few people tackling the same subject.  One of them happens to be about Guilds in MMOs.

Guilds: What For? What functions to guilds serve in games and what kind do you prefer? You can talk about your experiences in guilds, what attracts you to them, and their role in the games you play.

A broad enough topic, which has been taken on over at Casual Aggro, The Cynic Dialogs, and Away From Game.  And now at Inventory Full.

Rather than going about this by describing what I think guilds should be about and such, I thought I would do a bit of research to see what guilds I am still in (or which still influence me since I have left) and try, from that, to derive some indication as to what a guild appears to actually mean to me.

Because this is just a list of guilds with a few comments, I will hide this after a cut so as not to make the front page a mile long.

Continue reading

Warhammer Online to Shut Down in December

And so the announcement has come.  Back in June suspicions were raised when they stopped letting people buy subscription time in six month increments.  But now the hammer… the Warhammer… has fallen.

I’m sure those links to the official site will be dead inside of a year as EA attempts to erase all existence of the game, so here is the simple quote from the site.

Greetings Warhammer Online Subscribers,

We here at Mythic have built an amazing relationship working with Games Workshop creating and running Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning over the last 8 years. Unfortunately, as with all licensing deals they do eventually  come to end and on December 18th, 2013 we will no longer be operating Warhammer Online. As such we will no longer be selling 3 month game time codes or have the ability to auto renew your accounts for 3 months as of September 18th, 2013. If you would like to read some additional thoughts from one of WAR’s Producer please check out http://www.warhammeronline.com/.  From all of us here at Mythic we thank you again for your dedication and support over the last five years.

If you have any questions please feel free contact us via email at support@warhammeronline.com.

Waaagh!

Warhammer Team

And that brings up a good deal of mixed emotions for me.

There was some good in WAR.  It officially went live five years ago today (though there was a five day head-start for pre-orders), and our regular group was primed and ready to go.

I did approve of their stance on elves...

I approved of their stance on elves…

We had some fun battles.  The world looked good.  I feel a bit nostalgic for the place now and again, disappointed that I did not explore it more.  There were some new things, some incremental changes that were picked up by the genre.  Public quests, for example, have found their way into other games.

But there were a lot of things weighing the game down.  In an attempt to be a WoW-beating “all things to all people” it ended up being “just okay” in many ways.  Much time was spent developing an uninspired quest driven PvE game.  Small group instanced content started off bad.  And some of the “innovations” were anything but good, thankfully never seeing the light of day in any other game.  The information in the Tome of Knowledge wasn’t a bad thing, but trying to force disparate information into a single window size/format was surely one of the more misbegotten concepts the game tried to introduce.

Most developers agree, the quest log should be mapped to "L"

And don’t even get me started here…

All of which ended up being a distraction from what should have been the core focus of the game, the keep battles and group PvP that let you fight over control of the world.

Warhammer Online was perhaps the last MMO to be expected to “beat WoW.”  There was a lot of hype and a lot of enthusiasm over how big this game would be.

But not in your lifetime, elf

But not in your lifetime, elf

But subscriptions failed to materialize in the numbers publicly predicted.  It sold (or was that “shipped?”) a million boxes but only ended up with 300K subscribers.  Public statements, like the one from Mark Jacobs about the game being in trouble if they aren’t adding servers after launch, came back to haunt the game.  The war on gold sellers was a bit of public theater with little payoff.  Spin hit epic levels when Mark was out bragging about how great it was that WAR added new classes without charging, seeming to forget that those classes were publicly cut from the launch, so were something we expected to get in the first place.

Mark has learned a few things since then, though maybe not as much as I hope.

Then things went from bad to worse, with billing problems, a free trial that required a credit card, layoffs, the EA Louse revelations, and the long slide into oblivion.

My own time with the game ended a few months after launch, five years ago this coming November.  The instance group had already given up.  For every good Saturday night adventure we had, there were several evenings of no fun.

The instance group in Warhammer

The instance group in Warhammer Online

And now, five years down the road Electronic Arts is finally laying the game to rest, which was only surprising in that it did not happen sooner.  I can only imagine that there were some contractual obligations with Games Workshop that kept the game going for five years, which is clearly implied in the quote at the top of the page.  It sure is a good thing that EA and BioWare learned from these mistakes. *cough*

One of the things I remember most was the sense of focus the blogging community had around Warhammer Online.  It was a big deal.  Lots of blogs were writing about it.  A whole group of blogs came into being because of it.  People who were not playing devoted time to the game.  A guild was formed, Casualties of WAR, to try and bring us all together, though it fell into the usual launch day trap.

Server Full!

Server Full!

And so the whole Warhammer Online event was something of a milestone on the blogger’s path for me, a reminder of another time filled with both good (blogging community coming together) and bad (true believers trying to shout down any criticism of the game).  It had an impact, for better or worse, that we still feel to this day.  Old timers skeptical about the hot new thing that was just announced?  Maybe they remember how that WAR hype paid off.  It was an event that was felt community wide.

In that spirit, I will link out to other blogs that are also pondering Warhammer Online today.  We can go out as we came in.

I will add more as they appear.  And I am sure I will have a bit more to say on the final day.

Meanwhile, I do wonder what this means for Dark Age of Camelot.  There is no license fee for the IP as there is with Warhammer Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic, so the overhead must be lower.  But EA is not good about keeping stuff around once they feel the money has been made.  They like to move on to the next box to sell.  That is clearly the business model they understand.  And when the boxes stop selling, online support is quickly retired.

Likewise, there is Ultima Online.  What is next on the list for EA?

Tidbits from EVE, WAR, and PlanetSide 2

One of thosen informational time stamp post.

New EVE Online Milestone

CCP apparently told Massively (oh, there is an official press release now too) that they passed the 500K subscription mark, which puts them into the range of EverQuest at its peak, just before the launch of World of Warcraft.  Certainly the total players online has been up when I have been logged in, hitting close to 60K during the weekends. (The record is currently 63,170 online at once.)  The longer term numbers show an uptick as well.

Not bad for a game that started off badly.  The game has come a long way in a decade.

Early Raven in Combat

Early Raven in Combat

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much

(Early game pictures from this CCP forum post.)

Also not bad for a studio predicted to go bankrupt… well, by one person at least.

Yeah, I’m not letting that one go yet.  Financial reports do not lie, but people projecting their internal wishes about games they dislike…

Warhammer Online Trail of Tears – MOBA Edition

Meanwhile, the Warhammer Online team cannot seem to catch a break.  While League of Legends roams the internet landscape as possibly the biggest online game ever, and certainly one of the few with what seems like a license to print money, EA/Mythic’s attempt to take Warhammer Online assets to create their own MOBA game, Wrath of Heroes, seems to have fallen flat.

EA has announced that the game, still in beta, is closing up shop because it did not meet its financial goals.  I love how we use the word “beta” in the 21st century.  Oh, and if you spent any money on it… well… no refunds.  How about a couple of drink vouchers and a free month of Warhammer Online?

My own feelings remain mixed on the original game.  There was a lot in it that I liked… but there was also a lot there that turned me away.

Most developers agree, the quest log should be mapped to "L"

And not all of it was this trivial

In the end, I simply stopped logging in about two months after launch, which is the real sign of whether or not a game has grabbed me.  I can kid myself, but I won’t log into a game I am not enjoying.

PlanetSide 2 Bot Thoughts

I haven’t logged into PlanetSide 2 lately, but I still keep an eye on the news.  And one thing that keeps popping up is the proliferation of aimbots, unauthorized add-ons that make sure you are shooting to kill every time you pull the trigger.  This gives the user/cheater a huge advantage in the game.

Smed has been quite vocal about how they are working to fight aimbots, including banning the accounts of anybody caught using one.

But in this war, SOE is fighting without all the tools it once had.  With a free to play game that is free to download, does an account ban keep a player out of the game any longer than it takes him to create a new account and maybe grab an updated version of his aimbot?

How do you fight the aimbot blight under those circumstances?

You cannot just ban IP addresses, as a lot of people do not have a fixed IP address.

You might be able to tag the client so that it won’t log in again if an account using it has been banned.  That would at least make cheaters have to download a fresh copy.  A minor inconvenience for anybody with a faster internet pipe than mine… and most people seem to have faster pipes than min.

In response to all of that, it sounds like SOE might be lawyering up to go after the sites that are creating… and selling… the bots.  Certainly there are EULA and DMCA aspects to exploit as well as making money on an SOE game.

But does that have any real chance of success?  Will that do anything more than slow down the aim-bot menace?

In the end, will SOE just have to include auto-aim, a built-in aim assist… or aimbot… which some console shooters use to overcome the problems of aiming with the analog stick, and just nerf accuracy to simply remove the viability of aimbots in PlanetSide 2?

I know that mouse aiming is the long established norm on the PC platform and can be a skill differentiator.  Should we give that up in order to make teamwork and tactics even more important?

An Indictment of Something…

…and remains one of the top 10 highest Metacritic-rated MMOs.

Mark Jacobs, in reference to Warhammer Online

Mark Jacobs is talking to the press again because he and his new(-ish) company, City State Entertainment, have a new MMO under way; one with some familiar sounding features.

The Emerald City Logo

The Emerald City Logo

Of course, this means he needs to answer the ever present questions around how this new MMO will relate to his two previous ventures, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online.

He is candid, as usual, about how these two past games are influencing his current venture.  And he is up front about the problems with Warhammer Online.  From the interview:

Nobody was more disappointed in WAR than I was. At launch, it had lots of wonderful things in it, but it also had way too many bugs, balance, and leveling issues, and of course, crashes in Tier 4. It was my worst nightmare come true, and as I’ve stated before…

And yet there is that quote at the top.  That really caught my eye.

There is that list of reviews on Metacritic.  Look at them.  There are 18 reviews that gave the game a score of 90 or more, including two that gave it 100.  And since the game has stagnated since, never shipping an expansion, that is what you see when you look at Metacritic for reviews.

It rates higher than any MMO I have played for more than a couple of months, save World of Warcraft… which really brings up the question of how MMOs should be reviewed.  Clearly the ” spent a few hours in beta and read the press release” method leads to erratic results, though sometimes that seems to get it right if the issues are obvious enough… or if the publisher doesn’t have enough advertising clout.

As for the new MMO title and its Kickstarter financing plans, I am currently in the “tell me when it actually ships” column.

Turning the City State Entertainment team from March on Oz, a pretty but pedestrian iOS Plants vs. Zombies knock-off, to a full fledged MMO seems like a pretty big leap to me.  Doubly so when Mark himself describes the group as:

…a small, independent team of very dedicated and hard-working guys and gals, many of whom had never worked in the games industry before.

We shall see.