Warhammer – Anger and Denial

I seem to have struck a nerve with yesterday’s post, because Syncaine is up today with another post rife with anger and denial.

And he didn’t even wish my wife a happy birthday.

He is back raging against the “WoW Tourists,” only they have now be demoted to “WoW Lemmings.” It seems that they have just destroyed the MMO space in general and his pet game, Warhammer Online, in particular.

Damn those WoW Lemmings for buying nearly one million copies of Warhammer Online!

Damn them for daring to try out a new game!

Damn them for deciding that WoW was more fun and leaving Warhammer!

It is all their fault, not Warhammer’s!  Mythic is right, all you WoW lemmings are wrong!

And right about now I would REALLY HATE IT if a bunch of WoW lemmings went over to that post and gave their opinion on it.  So don’t.

He also throws in a few direct attacks on me, heretic that I apparently am.  For example, he still seems to be especially bitter about me daring to assume that the first group instance in Warhammer Online should be fun and inviting.  What a novel concept, I know, completely out of left field, but I have this wacky idea that if you make a game fun at the start, that actually encourages people to keep playing.

Unfortunately, the first group instance on the Order side of Warhammer Online is the Altdorf Sewers.  It was crap and I defy anybody to say otherwise.

I am also damned for thinking that spending a Saturday night searching for some actual oRvR action is, you know, not that much fun.  He says I have unreasonable expectations in that regard.

Ah well, such is life.

Syncaine seems to be stuck in the first two stages of grieving, denial and anger.

Here is hoping he reaches acceptance some time soon so he can let go of the need to attack others to cover his own grief and get back to writing interesting things about games.

And if this sounds a bit condescending, well… it is.  But I have seen so much of that from Syncaine in comments and posts on the topic that I think he can suck it up.

33 thoughts on “Warhammer – Anger and Denial

  1. Scott

    Must be rough to be a pre-launch fanboy then be stuck with defending it afterwards.

    But hey, AoC and WAR did me the greatest favor: they released me. I could give two shits about upcoming DikuMMORPGs now. I might tour them, I might even make a home in one. But I’m not getting all excited because at the end of the day it’s just another DikuMMO levels and gear treadmill with tab-lock hotbar combat and all the same problems every other DikuMMO has.

    Wondering… if WAR was my home but I leave for a month to check out the new shiny, does that make me a WAR Tourist? A WAR Lemming? Or is every game that is not WoW exempt?


  2. Mallika

    “Must be rough to be a pre-launch fanboy then be stuck with defending it afterwards.”

    Scott, I love you. :)


  3. Van Hemlock

    Last game I was Actively Anticipating in a carnal manner was Atriarch. This was 2001, and it still isn’t out.

    I’m a lot more sanguine about releases nowadays; pick and choose, drift and sample. Probably am a dirty little tourist, thinking about it. Heigh ho.


  4. Mallika

    Van Hemlock, I actually was excited about Atriarch as well … I was quite disappointed as time went on and it seemed to just be vaporware more or less.


  5. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Hudson – All the fun is happening over at Syncaine’s blog so far. Some lemmings showed up before I even got this post off.

    @Van Hemlock – The last time I was really invested with a game coming out was with Diablo II and StarCraft. Hey, both Blizzard titles, imagine that. I scoffed at EverQuest and was badgered by a friend to play it, having passed up beta invites, but once I was in, I was hooked.

    Ironically, I was full of WoW hate having been an EQ->EQ2 player, and WoW was the enemy, and we reveled in its every misstep. And while I actually played it in early 2005 (I wish I had the guild forum post I did about it, it was a classic), I didn’t really enjoy it until early 2006, by which time most of our EQ2 guild was playing it. Such is life.


  6. syncaine

    You admitted the style you and your group tried to force on to WAR did not work, yet now reminding you of that is somehow taking a shot, when instead its a perfectly well documented example of people trying to make MMO X into WoW? The sewers are fine for what they are, a 20 minute PvE break from the rest of the game. Going into it know that, its a good time. Going into it expecting The Deadmines, and you get disappointed, but lets not confuse content with expectations.

    The post was disputing your denial of the MMO tourist population that has been created by WoW, I’m sorry you took that personally. I just found your original post a bit misleading when you bring up EVE is a potential contender to WoW in 2004, or claim that in 2004 WoW brought this amazing product while in 2009 WAR is this flawed dinosaur. We all exaggerate or ignore certain facts to make a point, but that post was a bit over the top, especially since I know you were around back then to remember first hand what was going on.

    At the end of the day, I respect you as a blogger and the few times we have talked, I’ve enjoy it. I made my post because it was too long a thought to leave as a comment. I respect that we disagree on whether WoW hit a perfect storm or not, or how many of the 4-5 million people player WoW are MMO gamers or just tourists. Part of the fun in blogging for me is healthy debate, and I hope in the end you take it as that, and not some personal attack to tear you down.


  7. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    Okay, but don’t let on that we’re just trying to drive traffic to each other’s sites… that will ruin the whole charade… I mean… damn you for not wishing my wife a happy birthday!


  8. syncaine

    I did not want to be a ‘happy birthday’ lemming. (man I could so easily make a ‘plus I told her in person’ joke here, but its not 2004 right?)

    And I still think you are a silly carebear, so no worries about the secret plot to drive traffic and provide lasting content on a Friday for weekend readers.


  9. Changling Bob

    I love the way that everyone who is committed to a ‘failed’ MMO (and really, most of them aren’t, they just aren’t as big as the anomaly that is WoW) really lays into WoW as the reason it isn’t doing as well as it could. Well, yes, if you don’t produce a game that is as good as WoW is now, it won’t get the players.

    And there’s no point comparing WoW at launch to anything else at launch, as WoW isn’t at launch now; it’s had 4 years to improve, and is now the standard everyone else has to aim at to be technically good. This is damn hard, as Blizzard has been fixing things for 4 years, but if you don’t everyone has every right to complain.


  10. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I would not say we tried to “force a WoW play style” on WAR. That assumes there is a “right way” to play WAR, a game that claims to support multiple play styles, in which case it ought to describe said play style on the box.

    I would say, rather, that we, as a group, invested our full play budget into WAR getting the whole group out six Saturday’s running, only to arrive at the conclusion that we weren’t having all that much fun relative to other games we could be playing, including WoW, EQ2, or LOTRO.

    And by the way, the sewers are crap, no matter how you slice it. Seriously, it is a hurdle to farming drops from the boss with no real story or charm to it.


  11. Green Armadillo

    The effect of bored WoW players on server population at a new game’s launch is an issue, and I hope someone comes up with a way of dealing with it at some point.

    That said, I’d love to see anyone who claims that “WoW Tourists/Lemmings” ruined their game sit down and explain what would have happened to their development budget if the studio had walked into the room with the investors and explained that they don’t want, and can’t retain, the subscription dollars of the WoW crowd.


  12. hoof

    I used to think this was one of the few MMO blogs left that was above all this pointless “the game I like is great, the game you like is not” rubbish. Presenting subjective arguments and opinions as facts as to why X is good / bad is all rather pointless and dull, and certainly a waste of my time reading it. One less reader I am afraid.


  13. shadowwar

    I want to get in on the traffic from this too:

    WoW blows, zomg! Argghh!!

    Honestly though, I tend to think more in lines with Syncaine on this one. WoW really is a phenomenon in the genre, and it’s developed a pulp culture status pushing forth it’s own popularity. How many people did we all see that said, “Sure, I’ll try out WAR until WotLK comes out.”

    The bulk of the MMORPG gaming population plays WoW, a very significant portion of that segment that tried WAR went to it with that mind-set, just to see what it was and what it was all about. I doubt there is anyway that a lot of those people could have been retained other than Mark Jacobs felating ever WoW transplant, and maybe not even then.

    I don’t care that a lot of people left WAR other than how it directly affects my game-play on my server. I don’t give a spit if there is only one server, as long as the game sticks around and I can have fun where I play, everything else is immaterial. But believing that the status achieved by WoW is something that another in the genre will reach is being a bit self-deceptive in my opinion. Hence, why I believe that Syncaine calls it a “perfect-storm” and shows the currents and eddies that brought it about.



  14. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @hoof – Ironically, “I Quit” messages are also pointless and dull.

    And if you read into my message any “your game sucks and mine does not” I would have to ask you to re-read it. I am, in fact, trying to refute somebody who is saying that.


  15. syncaine

    Maybe forced is not the right word them. But when you guys log in on Saturday now, you have a plan, usually to run an instance or do a quest chain. This plan fills the allotted amount of time you guys have set out, is always available, and you more or less know what to expect in terms of difficulty and chance for success. You would not enter a heroic instance as fresh 80 for instance and then complain that WoW is unfair because it’s so hard, or enter a raid instance and complain it’s takes too long to get to the boss/end.

    In that regard, I thought the way you guys approached WAR was… unfair? I don’t know the right word for it, other than to say you had preconceived notions on what you wanted based on a previous game, and WAR was simply not set up that way. (hopefully that’s clear, I don’t really know how else to put it)

    By comparison, CoW now has a twice-a-week alt group, and they are having a great time because they go into it each night knowing what they will do, and setting realistic expectations for it. Check oRvR, if empty hit a PQ, if still empty accept scenario, if no scen hit a dungeon, etc. It works for them because they know, going through it a 2nd time now, what to expect. They don’t log on and say “oRvR or bust”.

    All that said, WAR day 1 is not WAR now (but then no MMO is), so to judge it after the 1st month is tough. And with that said, if it did not work for you so much that it was unplayable for you guys in that first month, Mythic failed to capture you. But if you did not have WotLK content calling, or MoM, would you still have moved on after 6 weeks, or given it a bit longer? In 6 months, if you run out of WotLK content, do you still feel WAR will be as unappealing for you 6 as it was at launch?


  16. Yeebo

    WAR has excellent PvP. However, I personally found the PvE to be really uninspired. The zones are functional rather than immersive, and respawn rates and mob density are both too high. It makes solo PvE a real chore, particularly for classes that can’t handle multiple mobs in melee range. The reliance on “red blobs” rather than clear quest instructions to guide you to objectives also irked me (and hammered my immersion). The PvE in WAR is something you tolerate so that you can level, qualify for better gear, and get back to the PvP. It really has the weakest PvE experience by a pretty wide margin of the “high visibility” fantasy MMOs (EQ II, LoTRO, WoW). I’m certain that a large number of the “tourist lemmings” that left WAR in the first month got turned off by the bland grindy PvE.

    On the other hand, it amazes me that anyone really believes that the difference in subs between WoW and WAR is directly in proportion to quality. WoW simply is not ten times better than all the competing products. It’s arguably inferior to number of them when you talk about particular features. For example the PvP experience is shallow and repetitive compared to many MMOs (EVE, WAR, DAoC). The crafting is also shallow and unrewarding compared to a number of MMOs (LoTRO, EQ II, EVE). The lack of housing and appearance slots tabs in a PvE MMO focused on casual gamers also strikes me as slightly insane.

    Well, that should be enough to tick any WAR or WoW fans following these threads. Maybe I’ll go kick some puppies next.


  17. Yeebo

    @Syncaine: I approached the WAR from the standpoint of looking for a nice balance of PvE and PvP. The PvP started great and constantly got better the two months I was in. Unfortunately, any time I had was stuck doing PvE was pretty painful, apart from the odd PQ that had enough folks to be completed (the PQs were brilliant when you could actually do them).

    However, I will allow that expecting the PvE to be as polished as nearly pure PvE games like EQ II, LoTRO, and WoW may well have been an example of someone approaching the game with unfair expectations.


  18. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Syncaine: Okay, but no Bonedead, please. He is yours to keep.

    When we got to week 6, people in the group were saying on Skype that they wanted to play something else. Email the following week covered a number of different possibilities, including EQ2 and LOTRO. So, if it had not been Lich King, it might have been Norrath or Middle-earth or even a non-massive game, but WAR was off the menu.

    If you look at what we ended up doing, we tasted most of the flavors of WAR, but oRvR was the only thing that, as a group, we found worth doing. I was grinding out a PvE character on the side doing quests, and it was certainly on par with doing the same in LOTRO at launch, though a bit more lonely because scenarios seemed to be most people’s cup of tea. I had tier 2 and 3 zones to myself most nights.

    Two things might get me back to playing WAR.

    First, I might get hooked on the lore. That is what drives me to play LOTRO despite the fact that the group also stopped playing that. I really want to see Middle-earth. And I have been rewarded by a game that has had many of the initial rough edges filed down. Me following WAR lore seems unlikely though. I lean more towards 40K.

    Second, people I play with regularly might say, “Hey, let’s give WAR another try!” Unfortunately, most of the people in that category are saying, “Hey, I have too many mmo subscriptions, I need to cut back.”

    So, just guessing, but 2009 looks like WoW, LOTRO, and EVE for me.


  19. Dickie

    I think expecting all the WoW players that tried WAR to stick around is silly. For that matter, expecting anyone that tries a new MMO to stick around is silly. Personally, I’ve purchased 6 different MMOs and only stuck with 2 for any period of time (WoW and WAR).

    People are going to try stuff out and leave for tons of reasons, and I think quality is only part of that equation. My old WoW guild is pretty PvP focused, for some reason, but I couldn’t convince them to try WAR. The ones that did went back to WoW not because they didn’t enjoy their experiences in WAR, but because all their friends and guildies were in WoW.

    I don’t believe that Mythic should be focusing on other MMO players as their target market. I believe they have a very unique product that doesn’t appeal to the typical MMO player, who is most likely acustomed to a highly developed PVE experience with a functional yet not fun PvP experience tacked on. Twitch-oriented gamers would be better served by WAR’s experiences than WoW’s. RPG gamers are probably better served by WoW or LoTRO.

    Basically, I think it comes down to a marketing flaw. If players expected a different experience, it’s probably because the marketing team did not convey the differences quite as well as needed. It’s also because of prior game experience, but that just means that marketing needs to work that much harder to convey their message.


  20. Hudson

    “The effect of bored WoW players on server population at a new game’s launch is an issue, and I hope someone comes up with a way of dealing with it at some point.”

    Sure, ok. Make your game GOOD first of all, and not released in a state of beta garbage and I am sure you will retain those WoW players. So far not ONE MMO has done that.

    Interface responsive: NOPE
    Easy to understand and fast to get into: NOPE
    Runs on all manner of machines: NOPE
    Keeps new subscribers coming in after one month: NOPE (low level areas VACANT after 3-4 weeks)
    Not a buggy, overhyped mess: NOPE
    Hits on all cylinders for all types of player, but maybe not doing one thing too awesome: NOPE (terrible crafting, boring PVE, buggy instances)
    Instances with decent AI, gear drops and pathing: NOPE
    Intelligent MOB AI for the PVE players: NOPE

    Those are all the things I ticked off when I played WAR for 3 weeks. It met none of those. So back I went. Yeah , the RVR is “ok”, but the rest of the game is brutal. I was hyped on it in beta because they gave us a good dose of all its features, but now I realize they handed us only the tip of the iceberg and hid the crud underneath what we could not test.


  21. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I don’t really want this thread to degenerate too far into what is wrong with this game or that. Hoof has a point in that regard, even if his tolerance for it seems extremely low. (I’m allowed to rant and opine now and again!)

    But I do contend, and did so in yesterday’s post, that if a game is compelling enough, it can overcome all of what Hudson listed out. And, furthermore, that for a subset of the initial subscribers, WAR was compelling enough.

    But it is the combo of Mark Jacobs’ comments about how many subscribers WAR needs and the undeniably depressing comparison of 1.2 million boxes sold for 300K subscribers that makes WAR stand out for the moment.


  22. shadowwar

    Keep in mind, that 1.2 million boxes sold wasn’t boxes to players and gamers, it was boxes sold to stores and distributers. The highest number of subscribers we were ever shown was 750k.

    Of course, we know that at some point, more people than that subsribed. What we don’t know is how many of the other 450k boxes sold to distributers have been sold since that figure was released, and how many new subscriptions since that time have been created?


  23. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I didn’t know people were still reporting channel stuffing numbers. I thought that sort of thing was frowned upon, if not unlawful, after the 90’s when so many software companies phonied up their earnings by “shipping” a few pallets of software off-site and claiming the revenue.


  24. Werit

    @Hudson: So much of that is subjective and you are known far and wide for your WoW love. You should add to you list: X amount of years put into game already: NOPE


  25. Richard

    I have to say some of the comments on the thread over at Syncaine’s irritated me. The suggestions that the masses playing WoW aren’t really gamers and just play it because it’s a pop culture fad are both untrue and snobbish. Having played WoW for a year or two in a pretty casual way (belonging to established casual guilds) I don’t I or other casual players are not true gamers because we like accessible well made games. Some gamers just like gaming, just like most serious drivers prefer modern well built cars rather than unreliable and hard to drive ones, other than for novelty or nostalgia.

    Having suspended my WoW account a while ago and considering a return to MMORPGs, I’d been thinking about whether to buy WoW:WotLK or WAR. Simple fact is I’m not going to plonk down muy monthly sub for a game that is less robust and less fun than the alternatives. Currently WAR and AoC don’t appear to meet that threshold. Playing stuff like Fallout 3 and Fable 2 have also decreased my tolerance for a fully formed game.


  26. Stefson

    I think you’re dead on Wilhelm.
    WAR is a nice concept, but very poorly executed. Which is kinda bizare, knowing Mythics background.

    300k subs is okay, but not nearly as much as M.J. or P.B. were aiming for.
    And I’m not sure it’s going to rise any time soon. 2009 is a year of lots of new and shiney toys.

    I’ve cancelled my sub last week, and I’m afraid this time it’s permanent.


  27. Random Poster

    I was in WAR for beta and at launch. Beta was a hell of a lot of fun…but then you had everybody bottlenecked so you had a critical mass of players. You could find PQ’s and oRvR EVERYWHERE in beta. THen the game launched players were spread out, and all that fun went “poof”. My group was left with Scenarios and a hopelessly broken PvE world to level up in to get to the “real” game at level cap. oRvR just didn’t happen the rewards were too low took too long to get so nobody did it pre level cap, they just ground out scenario after scenario (lets not forget that when the game launched most of the time you got the EXACT same scenario over and over and over and over again).

    People can sit here and say WAR is a PvP game first and foremost all they want, but the simple fact of the matter is it has PvE in it, if you didn’t want PvE to be compared ot others..don’t put it in as an afterthought. So we were left to muddle through this…crap…to get to the fun and just about everybody had their fill of it after (what a coincidence) the 6 week mark.

    I’ll admit the announcment of the Slayer and Choppa (I wanted to play a Choppa on release) has me interested again but I most likely won’t be going back as everybody I know is now back in WoW happily killing each other in Wintergrasp and the Battlegrounds.

    WAR had one unique feature to it (if you ignore DAoC) and it failed to deliver on it at launch and it wasn’t the players who caused it. The zones are too spread out, and travel in the game is retarded. They would have been better off with fewer zones, or at the very least a better job of funneling players towards each other, and adding more FP to make it less of a PITA to get to the fight.


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  29. Vince Black

    I started playing WAR because I had grown very tired of WoW after a combination of things but mainly the fact that the BC expansion really turned me off to the game in general. I was excited about war because I really like MMO games and because I am a big Warhammer (Fantasy and 40K) fan.

    Initially I had the same problems that others had when they tried the game… After the 1st month or so it was like a ghost-town on my server. Everywhere I went there was nothing going on I was literally one of maybe 3-4 people in a zone at a time, scenarios would take forever to pop and even the RVR was mainly non-existant. I also felt that things like PvE and the crafting system were very lackluster. Because of this I drifted away from playing and focused on school for the last 3-4 months.

    I never gave up hope though and recently got invigorated to jump back in and try again, this time I did a bit of HW. I found a highly populated server, Dark Crag, and decided that if I was going to give the game a 2nd chance I wanted to really give it a fair shot. I was amazed at the differnece that having a massive amount of people makes. PvPs RvRs, PQs… everything is much better. Also in the past few months I have to hand it to Mythic they have really done a great job with balancing the PvP and adding more content. I say to anyone who was on the fence with WAR try a high pop server for a bit and wait to see if the expansion doesnt add alot more of what you are looking for. I agree that the PvE is still a bit in the lacking department but I understand where the developers are coming from. Build a MMO around the idea of PvP and put PvE in… Otherwise you have the same mess that WoW has where your PvP is a mess of unbalance and twinks…


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