How is it going? Let's check Keen's blog for his latest observations:
"On Dark Crag Order has our King on farm status. We’re locked out of the city more than we’re allowed to enter these days."
The situation is so imbalanced that he believes that Order will completely dominate the new contested Land of the Dead zone when it launches.
When in doubt, blame WoW
In fairness, Blizzard did their best to steal Warhammer's launch thunder. I can understand some degree of animosity. However, there does come a point at which blaming WoW for everything, even if it's partially true, becomes somewhat moot.
Case in point, Mythic's Jeff Skalski has an interview with Massively in which he blames World of Warcraft for the fact that keep flipping happened in their game. You see, WoW players aren't like players of real MMORPG's.
"They don't know what EQ was like, they don't know what UO was like, they don't know what MUDs are, so they don't have this broad concept. They just want stuff now and they want to get out quickly. They want instant gratification and they want to be constantly patted on the back with an enthusiastic, "Good job, good job!"
What was the effect of having literally hundreds of thousands of these instant-gratification-obsessed WoW kiddies paying Mythic $50 a piece to try out their carefully designed incentive structure?
"What ended up happening was the players began taking the path of least resistance. Players even went to lengths to avoid one another, and that really confused us. We thought they had bought our game to RvR, but they're avoiding enemies! Then we had things like keep trading and round robin keeps going on...."
After all, no player of any game before World of Warcraft ever looked for shortcuts in the incentive curve. Also, it makes perfect sense for someone trying to design the next great PVP MMORPG never to play a single match of Alterac Valley.
What can be done?
Sniping at WoW aside, Skalski says that the goal of the new Land of the dead is not to replace the game's premiere city sieges. This is a mistake.
As Keen notes, the underpopulated realm on any given server loses access to the basic PVE instances that they need access to in order to obtain gear. On paper, that sounded like a good plan; players should really care about losing their city. The problem is that, in a non-instanced world, there isn't very much the players can do about losing their city. (See my comment on a loading screen tip to the effect of "what are you waiting for, go get your keep back!" from the month when I played the game.) Mythic stated that they did not want to create a situation where the losing side does not have any incentive to log in while their city is under enemy control, but that appears to be precisely what has happened.
All of which gets back to the Land of the Dead. As devs, including Mythic apparently, learn to their peril, players go where the incentives are. The solution, then, is to put the best loot in the contested Land of the Dead. This would encourage the victorious side to focus their efforts on that zone.
With the primary focus shifted elsewhere, Mythic would be free to make the process of actually laying siege to a city far more difficult. Players would still do it occasionally for prestige (much as players attack WoW's faction leaders today), but there wouldn't be as much of a reason to permanently occupy the enemy's city. This, in turn, would allow the outnumbered side less restricted access to the city dungeons, where they can actually gain the gear to compete during an occasional forray into contested territory. Also, use of a contested instance lessens the odd contradiction where the overall point of the RVR endgame is to gain access to a PVE King instance encounter.
Does this defeat the purpose of the whole "impact PVP" city siege model? Partially, yes. But so does having the best players, like Keen, flee their servers until the game is left with a bunch of one-sided zergfests. If you do not provide players with something more entertaining to do than being slaughtered mercilessly by a larger, better geared force, they will quit. Even if we accept the absurd proposition that this situation is Blizzard's fault, fixing it is now Mythic's problem.