Friday, September 18, 2009

A Time for NOT Soloing?

Mythic's Jeff Hickman gave a talk at GDC with a list of things he feels Warhammer did wrong. In the talk, he suggests that making the game too easy for solo PVE was a bad idea because it removed the need, and thus the desire, for players to group. Syp disagrees, arguing that it would have been even worse if the game had broken players with brutal entry level content, and that he found plenty of groups just fine on his own thank you very much. I'm the guy who juggles three separate games for my solo PVE fix, so obviously I'm on Syp's side, right?

Not exactly. My biggest mistake in Warhammer is that I set out to play it as if it was World of Warcraft - solo PVE, with instanced scenarios on the side. I never added anyone to my friend's list and barely joined a guild a week before my time ran out, because I needed access to the guild tavern in order to get RVR reward gear.

The basic solo PVE quests weren't that interesting, but it wasn't really likely that, with dozens of PQ's littering the landscape, you'd happen to find one that people were actually working on beyond T1 (a guild would have helped with this). Open RVR areas were places I snuck into off-hours to try and complete a few quests without being ganked, patting myself on the back for cherry-picking the best rewards. (In my defense, basically none of the other access or reward mechanics around oRVR were actually in place at the time.)

Frankly, Warhammer's biggest problem was that they ran out of money and launched too early. That aside, I think it is somewhat fair to say that the mistake I made was somewhat encouraged by the way they set up the game. If I ever get back into Warhammer, I'm going to be looking for a guild from day one, sticking it out with that Rune Priest/Disciple that I liked (but chickened out of playing, because PUGS didn't do much of a good job of keeping me from being slaughtered), and doing as much RVR as possible. The fact that I happen to prefer solo PVE does NOT mean that EVERY game needs to be solo PVE even if that does not play to its strengths.

Perhaps encouraging community with less-soloable content would not have been enough to cover for the lack of finish. It certainly might have hurt their initial box sales. It's possible, however, that they wouldn't have lost 2/3 of their customers in the first few months (and thereby wouldn't have had to fold so many servers). Of course, they probably went down this road in the first place because they were hoping that making the game as WoW-like as possible would totally let them steal all of WoW's players. That didn't work out too well for them.

1 comment:

Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

I suspect the real issue that Jeff Hickman is trying to communicate is that they didn't put enough emphasis on the game being RvR. I suspect Mythic wanted to get part of the Warcraft audience so they put in the "easy" PvE part to warm those transplants into the game. If that had been their plan, it obviously backfired, as you see in the comments to Syp's post with statements like, "It wasn't too easy, it was just boring and like every other game." RvR, by its nature, requires groups of people, so having content that channels them into not grouping is counter-productive toward preparing people for the main part of the game.

So, reading between the lines a bit, I think Jeff is saying, "if we had focused on making a superb RvR game instead of an RvR game with WoW-like simple PvE content, we would have been better off."