Warhammer Online to Shut Down in December September 19, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Warhammer Online.
Tags: Community, Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
And that brings up a good deal of mixed emotions for me.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
- Anjin in Exile – Warhammer Online has its Reckoning
- Ardwulf’s Lair – An Era Ends
- Bio Break – Farewell, WAR
- Blessing of Kings – Warhammer Online Closes
- Contains Moderate Peril – Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning to Close
- Darraxus the Warrior – Warhammer Online Closing
- Hardcore Casual – Someone should say something about WAR
- High Latency Life – The Changer of Ways Has Deemed it So
- Inventory Full – No More WAR
- GamingSF – Warhammer Online to Shut Down
- Harbinger Zero – WAR is Over
- Keen and Graev – Reflecting on WAR
- MMO Fallout – Warhammer Online Shutting Down
- Nosy Gamer – Thoughts on Warhammer Online’s Closing
- Tobold’s Blog – WAR, what was it good for?
- Welshtroll – …the other war is
- Werit – The End of WAR
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?
RuneScape Embraces Nostalgia February 22, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Misc MMOs.
Tags: Dark Age of Camelot, MMO Nostalgia, Nostalgia, RuneScape
RuneScape, a popular (200 million accounts created is their claim to fame metric) browser-based fantasy MMORPG, has decided to farm the nostalgia sector by opening up servers aimed at those who want to relive RuneScape’s past.
Officially called “Old School RuneScape,” the setting will be August 2007 version of RuneScape.
Jagex, the game’s developer, has taken an interesting approach to bringing these servers to the community. They have a poll up to gauge how much interest there is in the servers, with more interest by the player base yielding more focus by the studio itself.
Omali has some condensed details over at MMO Fallout about what happens at given result levels. (There is an update to go along with the final results.) There is also an official FAQ up about the servers.
Interesting to me is that by default… with the likely poll results… is that people interested in playing the classic version of this free-to-play game will have to pay for a subscription. That seems right to me. I don’t think people looking to relive a “classic” experience do so because it might be cheaper.
And that is how SOE has handled things with the Fippy Darkpaw server in the post free to play EverQuest world, making it available only to subscribers.
So RuneScape joins the rather short list of MMOs offering official “old school” versions of their game. I only know of two others. There is SOE with its EverQuest progression servers and Mythic with its past classic Dark Age of Camelot server (and its never to see the light of day Origin server).
And while there will always be arguments about what point in time is the “best” and whether such a server should be stuck in time or move forward, I think this sort of exercise is a good way to reach out and revive interest in your game with a big chunk of your current and former player base.
Of course, this sort of things probably works with some games better than others. World of Warcraft is an obvious target. Few expansions and slow improvement over time gives it a series of identifiable eras. EVE Online, on the other hand… their whole single server approach pretty much precludes such a nostalgia path… plus who wants to go back to the days before “jump to zero?”
What MMOs would you like to see embrace nostalgia? Or does that even have any appeal for you?
Nineteen Years without Raising the Level Cap November 7, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, MMO Design, TorilMUD.
Tags: Dark Age of Camelot, Level Cap
When I started playing TorilMUD… or Sojourn MUD as it was known back then… just after their go-live pwipe, the level cap was 50.
Today, a little more than nineteen years later, the cap for players remains at level 50.
A lot of things have changed. The D&D rule set being modeled has moved from 2.0 (THAC0) to 4.0 (D20 simplification). Races have been added. Classes have been reworked and, in some cases, removed. (A moment to remember lost monks, mercenaries, and berserkers.) Zones have been added at a steady rate over time causing the room count to swell over time.
But in all that time they have never added a single level. Level 50 remains the pinnacle.
Which is odd, when you consider that TorilMUD was such a big influence on EverQuest, which must hold some sort of record for the total number of different expansions they have sold (soon to be 19, plus half a dozen different expansion “roll up” packages), many of which included boosts to the level cap (which started at 50 and will soon reside at 100) or added in alternative level progression mechanics (primarily alternate advancement).
And EverQuest itself is the template on which your typical PvE fantasy MMORPG is based. So clearly EverQuest got its expansion mojo from some other source… like a desire for more box sales.
But how has TorilMUD managed this over the last 19 years?
Awkwardly would be my reaction.
TorilMUD was not one of those MUDs where you got special powers or access upon hitting level 50. You were still a just a player and your only real game option was to conquer content and acquire loot. So the staff had to come up with methods to keep people engaged and playing.
Some of that was done in ways you will recognize, in ways that MMOs with many expansions use when they want to do another expansion but not raise the level cap. They have, as noted above, added new races and reworked classes to make them more viable. (Though nothing has ever made rangers really useful for long.) And they have trimmed back some of the less useful classes. (Mercenaries really were just half-assed warriors with a backstab skill.) They have also added new low level areas to make bringing up an alt a different experience.
But primary way of keeping people playing without raising the level cap has been the carrot and stick approach, which was used quite liberally with players sitting at level 50.
The carrot comes in the form of new content. New zones to run, with new monsters, new themes, new gimmicks (including nakedness), and, of course, shiny new loot. Lots and lots of new loot. Getting that one item with the perfect stats for your character and class was something of an obsession in the game.
There was the stick as well. And it wasn’t so much a stick as the infamous Nerf bat and it was wielded with almost gay abandon, much to the dismay of the players.
In order to keep gear inflation in check, equipment with great stats would almost inevitably be downgraded as new gear came in with new zones. One of the problems with taking a break from the game was coming back and finding some of your best items had been beaten into submission by the Nerf bat.
Sometimes particular enchants or stats would come in for special attention. I remember the war on haste. Items began to creep into the game that with that attribute. Haste is a spell mages could cast on melee classes that would give them extra attacks in combat. But it was a very short duration spell. You had to cast it right before a fight and, of course, you had to have a mage with the spell on hand. But if a melee class had an item that gave him haste all the time, well who needs a mage! So haste items like the emerald longsword and the gray suede boots became a requirement for melee classes.
And then out came the Nerf bat and haste was removed and people were left with items that otherwise were generally fair at best. (I remember trading a pair of gray suede boots for a pile of equipment just about a week before the change went in. I got lucky.)
To this day I remember far more old stats for items that have been hit with the Nerf bat than current stats.
All in all it could be a brutal process, like having a semi-continuous gear reset going on around you. Gear advancement became something of a treadmill. If you stopped moving, you would eventually fall off the back.
So I guess I can see why EverQuest, and World of Warcraft in its turn, went with the “increase the level cap” option. Gear resets still happen. All that great gear you got is still trivialized in one fell swoop. But at least you are getting newer and better stuff as opposed to seeing your old stuff literally turned to junk.
Avoiding level cap increases has only been attempted by a couple of otherwise level-based MMORPGs, like Dark Age of Camelot. And while some have praised them for holding the line, it is tough to tell how successful that approach is commercially with a limited sample set.
Games like Vanguard and Warhammer Online haven’t boosted their level caps, but neither of them were apparently successful enough to warrant any sort of expansion, much less one that included new levels.
Guild Wars also stuck with a level cap of 20, but the business model was clearly one of selling boxes since they also went without a subscription. Guild Wars 2 has the same business model, though one of the lessons they seemed to draw from the original was that they needed more levels. I suppose we will see what that really means for expansions when they get their first follow-on box ready for sale.
Meanwhile, DAoC is pretty quiet these days as I understand it, though I am not sure if 8 years of a static level cap is a big factor in that.
And TorilMUD is still going, but my gear is totally out of date.
TTH Picks the Top Ten PvP MMOs February 13, 2010Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online.
Tags: Age of Conan, Aion, Dark Age of Camelot, darkfall, Guild Wars, Lineage II, Planetside, PvP, Ten Ton Hammer
Lists, especially ranked lists, are always good for some attention.
In that vein, Ten Ton Hammer decided to stir the pot a bit by ranking what they consider to be the Top Ten PvP MMOs.
I’ll spoil the surprise and give you their list ranked top to bottom. You’ll have to go read the article to get the justifications.
- Dark Age of Camelot
- Eve Online
- Warhammer Online
- Lineage 2
- Guild Wars
- Age of Conan
- Lord of the Rings Online
They used the phrase “out there” to describe their selections, by which I assume they mean they are measuring the PvP-ness you can get today from these games, as opposed to when they were at their peak. So no Shadowbane.
That also might explain the lack of Ultima Online on the list.
But if you’re going to exclude UO for its current state of affairs, how do you justify keeping Planetside on the list?
Because We All Love Lists! March 24, 2009Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Misc MMOs, Sony Online Entertainment, Vanguard SOH, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Dark Age of Camelot, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Lineage II, RMT
CHIP is a German language publication, so the reasons behind the ranking of these games (Online-Rollenspiele) are mostly beyond my rusty high school German. But we all understand a top ten list, and their list is:
- Ultima Online
- World of Warcraft
- Guild Wars
- EVE Online
- Warhammer Online
- Lord of the Rings Online
- Lineage II
- Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
- Final Fantasy XI
Very little in the way of radical thought I’d say.
The first three are obvious picks, at least in my view. The most popular game in the genre and the two previous holders of that title, each of which introduced, in their time, many players to the genre.
Guild Wars: Not to knock the game, but if I read the text right, it got that high on the list primarily because it represents the a deviation from the monthly subscription model. I have only played the game for a few hours myself, so I am not the best judge of its strengths, but it seems like it has more going for it than that.
EVE Online: Because it is EVE, the game most unlike anything else on the list. The only science fiction game on the list as well. Where are those science fiction MMORPGs?
Warhammer Online: the current standard bearer for RvR. If we are talking about importance to the genre it might be argued that Dark Age of Camelot ought to be on the list as opposed to Warhammer Online, not as a slight to WAR, but acknowledging that when it comes to RvR, DAoC begat WAR.
Lord of the Rings Online: Makes the list no doubt for being a successful translation of a popular and beloved IP into a successful massive game, a difficult thing to manage. (And before you start, yes, Warhammer is a popular IP, but an order of magnitude less popular than LotR I would wager.)
Lineage II: hugely popular and one of the most recognized Asian PvP MMORPGs in the West.
We’ll skip to the end and Final Fantasy XI, which has popularity, its own look and feel in the genre, and the console aspect to set it apart.
And we’re left with Vanguard.
My German is bad, but it is enough to get “Lots of promise, disappointing execution” out of the write up.
So what makes Vanguard important enough to make the list? As a lesson to others? Wouldn’t Age of Conan be a better lesson to study, or at least a more popular one? Or could it be the whole wide open RMT stance that SOE has taken now that they have let Live Gamer onto all of the Vanguard servers? That is a bit recent, and not mentioned in the write-up, but it will make Vanguard interesting to watch going forward.
Anyway, that is the list. Nine monthly subscription games. Nine fantasy settings. Nine PC-only titles. Nine different publishers. Nine picks that were hardly surprises at all.
Who else belongs on the list? Or who does not?