Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
WAR beta closes down

Via Foton's AFK Gamer blog I got the news that the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning beta is closing down tomorrow for a least 2 months. Which is terrible news for the 3 guys EA Mythic actually invited to the beta, from 448,000 applicants. :) Honestly, they either have the best enforced NDA ever, or they only invited a very small number of people. I know only one WAR beta player, and he isn't playing, because the game crashes his computer every 10 minutes.

As much as I am looking forward to playing WAR, hopefully in an open beta before release, I get a sneaking suspicion that the Q1 2008 release date is too optimistic, and WAR will be delayed until later in 2008. You don't shut down a beta for two months if you are close to release.
Still jaded about the fact they didn't toss you an invite, eh?
Well, the few comments I've read by people who have played the beta are, let's say, muted in their enthusiasm, so maybe they have decided that a lot of work is needed.
It is notable that there is a complete lack of any real information on the beta coming out. Which simply would not happen if there was a large amount of people playing it.

And I would have to agree that shutting down the beta doesn't sound like a getting close to release move.

Hopefully they are trying to get the game right to be the contender that so many people want. It just won't be soon.
I be stunned if they released before next Summer. Maybe they don't want to go up against the next WoW expansion.

Can we really blame them?
Well what I know is that the game is quite far from being enjoyable, basic functionnalities/quests in newbie zones are there but the game lacks a learning curve, there are for example far too much progression path (in terms of ability to buy) to take at low level, it's overwhelming and the end result of your choices are not immediately noticeable...
Granted I haven't seen for the moment the PvP system working but I just tested the 4-5 first levels and, from a PvE point of view the game is horrible (especially compared to the state of WoW even at early beta stage)... Given that PvE is not the point of the game I can understand that but then I fail to see the relevancy of making you grind through horrible quests, the first levels are essential if they want to make the game a success and for the moment it sucks plain and simple.
They probably have a few more people in the beta. However, they probably need a good amount of work on the game, why would this game take much less time than other big titles to develop?
It was a bit more than 2 years ago Mythic announced that they had aquired the license to make an MMOG for the Warhammer universe. They could of course have started a bit before that, but I would not assume they had made a huge amount of work on it before they actually got the license.

Compare to Age of Conan which Funcom has been working on since at least 2003, people spent 5 years working on Vanguard, Tabula Rasa is probably close to 4 years even if not including the time before they started from scratch etc etc.

Of course development times need to become shorter and tools and previous experience may help here, but the demands on the state of the games at release are also increasing.

They have a good hype machine running, but why would anyone expect the time to release to be much shorter than other similar games?
It seems like you can have a pretty suckalicious game, and still collect some seriously good data on the underlying mechanics. And why spend your time supporting a beta that's given you the info you need? Some poor sysadmin had to keep those DBs fed and watered, I imagine, so why not go to single server, or even single user, mode and fix things without having to worry about people.

That said, it does sound like later, rather than earlier, 2008 at this rate.
They have a good hype machine running, but why would anyone expect the time to release to be much shorter than other similar games?

Because they said so? You can't blame people for believing the release date they received in an official newsletter from EA Mythic.
It is not the first time someone is too optimistic about dates when the project is finished, not just the first estimated date, but multiple dates.

We are eternal optimists, both those working on developing the software and those waiting in anticipation for it.

Especially if one tries to do something new/innovative the estimates will probably be off since people do not have all the knowledge that doing old stuff again would give. At least if they let the inner optimist have its way.
I have a friend who is in and he said that at most there was 50 people on the server at night, guess they kept the numbers down just to get the glaringly obvious bugs out the way first.
Tobold may not be in, but WAR betas aren't exactly rare. I'm in the beta and so is one of my friends. I didn't do anything special other than register on their website and got tossed an invite pretty soon after they opened up for closed beta testing.

It seems like when they said closed beta, they meant it, rather than running it as an open show.

- Sveral
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