Tag Archives: Warhammer Online

Can We Escape From Official Forums?

I spent my writing time last night trying to write something about official gaming forums.

That seems to be the swirling topic of the moment, what with Mark Jacobs saying that Warhammer Online won’t have them, the Stargate Worlds team asking for input on how people see official forums (asked on a forum, so what sort of answers do you think they will get?), and SOE’s drama with EQ2Flames.com, which considered themselves more important than the official forums but have since turned into the official SOE hate/conspiracy theory forums.

After a number of false starts that meandered off in to tales of the early days of Usenet or how I once ran a BBS, I boiled my thoughts down to two statements:

  1. Any official company forum tends to become a cesspool of vitriol, sycophancy, and unrealistic entitlement.
  2. Once there is an official forum, a company tends to use it for almost all game related communication.

So, basically, companies create this horrible place and then make you go there if you want the latest, up to date, accurate information about their game.

That apparently set in stone, the discussion then moves to how to make forums less horrible.

Darren says ban with extreme prejudice, Michael says don’t ban me bro, and Sanya wants to make sure you’re qualified to be running a forum in the first place, all of which strikes me as the classic “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” scenario.

These ideas seem to be more of an adjustment of the ratio of sycophancy to vitriol than signal to noise.

Yes, the community team sees the forums as being about community, which is a messy, noisy concept in and of itself, but I am willing to bet cash money that most people who visit the forums do so in search of information about the game in question. The forum regulars, those who play the forum game, are a minority of the player base.

What needs to happen for those of us who do not live in the forums is some way of extracting the informational gems from the forums to make them more accessible.

Mark Jacobs says he can do this. He can get all of the important game information to the user base via a new and improved version of the Dark Age of Camelot system, the Camelot Herald.

I wish him the best of luck in this.

The Camelot Herald is nice, but it is not enough, so he had better have some big improvements up his sleeve.

Meanwhile, does any game company do a good job of pulling the useful bits out of the forums for those of us who don’t play the forum game? Is there an example that other companies should seek to emulate?

I Want to be a Fanboy!

I have the curse of the cynic.

In my life I have sat through pep rallies, sporting events, concerts, company team-building exercises, prayer meetings, and multi-level marketing seminars with groups of people who have been shouting, cheering, and immersed to the point of being practically overcome by what has been going on.

And there I am, somewhere in the middle, mildly detached from things, wondering in the back of my mind if whatever I am attending is going to end on time, what traffic is going to be like on the way home, and if I should finish off the rest of that pizza in the fridge before I go to bed or if I should save it for tomorrow.

That’s just me.

It isn’t that I despise this passion I see in others. I am quite envious of it.

And isn’t that I have not had passion for things in life myself. That passion just doesn’t come easily, it certainly does not come on command, and it definitely does not show up for anything that requires me to recruit friends and family into a sales network.

Still, I have hope.

I have something of a passion for online gaming, but no real passion right now for any particular game. I want to find a game that sparks my interest and imagination, one that will make me proudly wear the fanboy badge.

But where will I find this game?

I thought Star Trek Online might be it, but that seems to have fallen flat now. Plus I started off annoyed and opposed to some of the general directions the game was taking, and things just got worse from there.

Lord of the Rings Online had a chance. I love the books and two out of the three movies, but as much as I enjoyed the virtual tour of Middle-earth, I found the game itself tepid, something of interest but not passion.

So I found myself wondering last night about which future games might spark some passion in me?

Well, there are the usual suspects.

Age of ConanRobert E. Howard‘s works always left me a bit flat and the whole “M for Mature” thing is lost on me, seeming to be more of a bit of titillation intended to bring in younger gamers rather than keep them away. In the end, I could never really identify with Conan, and now the actor primarily associated with him is the governor of my state, further muddying the mental waters for me.

Warhammer Online – I didn’t like the table top game and, frankly, I dismissed World of Warcraft at first because it looked too much like Warhammer, so I start with a bias against on this game. Besides which, Warhammer seems to be camped by the PvP fanboys, all holding out hope for a mainstream PvP success. While I have wished for a true, immersive PvP experience, Warhammer does not look like it will break the PvP curse of “victory to those with the most free time.”

The Agency – Maybe… but maybe not. I am more of a John Le Carre or Len Deighton fan when it comes to the genre. I enjoyed “Sandbaggers” more than most Bond films. And couldn’t SOE have come up with a better name than “United Nations Intelligence and Tactical Experts?” While the game could be a lot of fun, the whole RMT thing might upset the tea cart.

Huxley – Somehow I do not see Webzen Games as a source of gaming passion.

Stargate Worlds – I do not really know the IP, but it is science fiction, and my moaning about the problems facing a science fiction MMO were drawn from my desire to play a good one. Maybe this one?

There are some possibilities, but no shoe-in candidates.

What else is out there? What else is coming? What might ignite some gaming passion?

I Didn’t Wreck Your Game, Honestly!

Syncaine has something of a rebut to some sentiments expressed in Shut Up We’re Talking #17. He started off by pointing out that for a group talking about PvP, we were pretty PvE oriented.

And he was pretty much right. The cast was an older group and, while I cannot speak for everybody, it was mostly a group influenced heavily at some point by Dungeons and Dragons.

D&D is, of course, all about cooperative PvE (The DM is the environment), so go figure how we all ended up being about PvE.

Again, not speaking for the others, but for me computer role playing games, then MUDs, and now MMOs, were a way to get past the heavy lifting involved with table top role playing games, the throws of the die, the rule checks, the source books, and the need to get three to seven people together in a single room for at least a four hour stretch.

While some of the play flexibility (okay, a lot of the play flexibility) of those days is missing, it still gives me a taste of gaming adventure. And while the greatest amount of fun still seems to require getting five people together for 2-4 hours, at least we can be scattered across the country.

So yes, PvE at the core. That is me, and probably a lot of people like me.

Still I think as a group we had all had some PvP experiences we had enjoyed and none of us are die hard opposed to PvP in general. I even have a post here about how PvP should be the richest play experience available.

And while Syncaine’s article has some good points and some agreement with what we said, as well as some issues with PvE players that are valid, the whole thing lost me with the line, “…you should not force your PvE views on a PvP focused game.” The post then goes on to fret about how the PvE community might “ruin” Warhammer Online.

Not to go full slam on Syncaine, but this is one of my pet peeves.

I shake my head when I see somebody go on about how some other group, PvE’ers in this case, might “ruin the game” by expressing their opinions. (And I have seen this argument pointed at players who like to raid, solo, group, role play, not role play, and so on.)

Let’s face facts. In the end, it is the devs and the company at large creating the game in question which makes that choice. The company can say “no” to people. They often do.

Look at EverQuest. People have been screaming from day one for more solo oriented content. Go to Mobhunter and see what EverQuest Lead Designer Travis “Rashere” McGeathy had to say just a few months back when asked about solo content:

EverQuest is a group-based game, so we don’t specifically design content for soloing.

Holy Crap! In this day and age, in the era of World of Warcraft, when everybody seems to agree that to attract and keep players you need to give them something to do when they cannot find a group, the EverQuest team just says, “No.” Love it or hate it, they have a vision and have pretty much stuck to it for more than eight years now.

And, on the flip side, the team at Origin could have easily decided that Ulitma Online should have been all Felucca and no Trammel, a dark brooding world of danger. If that was the game they wanted to make and you were upset about being ganked every time you stepped out of a safe area, they probably would have told you that perhaps it wasn’t the game for you.

So with Warhammer Online, what it comes down to an essential: Does the team have a vision they believe in and will stick to, and will EA back them up on it?

And, of course, is that vision your PvP dream, my PvE desire, or some third route altogether?

But if it ends up being CareBearHammer Online, make sure you put the blame where it belongs:

On those furries in SecondLife!

On the people who made the game!