Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
A WAR for old men?

In the open Sunday thread Phantasmagoria linked to an "old guy's" review of WAR and asks: "Does WAR aim for the more mature player? (and if so, is this a viable business strategy)."

Turns out the "old guy" has exactly my age, 43, which is old in internet terms, but would be considered middle-aged generally. It is a generation which grew up with the early video games, and many of us never totally stopped playing. And it is totally possible that we "old guys" have a preference for slower games. Not only are your reaction times slower at 40 than they are at 20. But also the games we grew up were often slower, because the technology wasn't advanced enough for real-time combat. I played a lot of turn-based strategy and role-playing games, the RTS and action RPG genres came much later.

So this old guy says in his review how much he enjoys that WAR combat isn't so fast, and that this is especially enjoyable in PvP. I agree. It is great that in WAR PvP the combat isn't already decided the moment that mage casts his first spell and takes off half of your health with a single crit. No wonder crit resistance is considered to be the most important PvP stat in WoW. In WAR I can be hit from behind, turn around, and still fight back. Twitchy gameplay just doesn't do anything for you in WAR, even melee fighters have a 5-yard range, so getting out of their range before they can hit you is nearly impossible. In the big keep battle I participated in I rarely saw anyone doing silly jumping around, because people quickly realized it just doesn't help you at all. And I like that. Combat in a MMORPG shouldn't be about who can mash buttons faster, because that would be inherently unfair to people with a slower connection. Combat should be about keeping a cool head under pressure, and being able to quickly decide which is the best button to press in any given situation, having tactical choices to make. I enjoy PvP much more in WAR than I do in WoW, and the slower speed of it contributes greatly to that.

But I don't think that this enjoyment will be limited to just older players. Yes, older players have more money, and they tend to be more loyal to the games they play. I just don't think Mythic particularly targeted us with WAR. Even if the Warhammer license is 25 years old, most current players are younger. And while slower, more tactical combat takes a bit to get used to, especially if you played Age of Conan before WAR, I think everyone can enjoy it. In the end it gives you more satisfaction of having played your class well, instead of the frustration of having been stunlocked or surprised without being able to fight back. And as the only way to kill somebody quickly is to cooperate with other players from your side, WAR RvR becomes less of a solo affair and more about playing together with others.

Of course there is a risk for Mythic that the ADD kids won't like WAR as much as they like faster games. But frankly, as an old man, I won't miss those less mature kids if they decide to not stick around. The community might end up being better and more mature as a whole if those who are upset that they can't gank others without them having a chance to fight back leave.
Do you think part of it might be developers getting older too? I mean if you look at some of the guys from Mythic, I'd put a lot of them in the late 30s early 40s age range also. So it may be that they're making the kind of games they like to play too.
I'm an old man too (51) and will definitely be trying WAR, I like the sound of more thoughtful combat.

I love the MMO genre but often have trouble finding the right buddies in-game. Too many people are rushing about, ignoring the lore, power-levelling and various other immersion-destroying activities. A game with a playerbase of reflective old farts would be the right game for me I think :)
We will probably have to wait for the WOTLK release for the playerbase to be more mature...
How is the WoW: WotLK going to be anymore mature than it is now? The immature barrens kiddies and ADD bunny hopping elf rogues aren't more than a couple years older and 'wiser'.

The question here is whether WAR's player demographics will be older, and whether their actions will be that of more mature players or if we'll be looking at your usual mix of MMO gamers.
I think he meant that when WotLOLk comes out, all the kidz will leave WAR, thus making its playerbase more mature.

Exactly Dr.
Im 27, so I'm getting up there in age. Prior to WoW I was playing counter strike: sorce. I've been playing online FPS since Quake. WoW seemed more like a turn based role playing game at first. Now that I'm a very experienced WoW player I'd say WoW is kind of in between. I wouldn't call it a reflex based, or even a "twitch" game. You still have time to think about what skills your gonna use, and what your stratgy will be. Use vent to coordinate team work.

If I PvP with my pally there is absoulely no twitching involved. If I PvP with my rogue....there is still isn't any twitching. I have plenty of time to use any skill. It isn't like you can miss a hitting a skill unless the game causes a miss.

The thing with PvP is you need to stay calm to stay level headed. When I first started getting world PvP action my heart rate would rise just from seeing red. Perhaps this is where the perception of fast pased combat in WoW is coming from?

With all that said I'm still gonna try WAR out, and even if the combat is slower the game still looks fantastic. Damn blizz for releasing a content patch soon......prolly right when WAR comes out.
awww...this news is not what i was hoping to hear. i was liking the idea of the WOW kiddies leaving for WAR and not coming back.
However much you try to rationalize it, those "twitchy" players are just plain good at competitive gaming. It's the same in every other genre. Because it's not just their speed that gives them advantage, but being a fast player also means that you're able to memorize and execute strategies/tactics with little thought - muscle memory. If they couldn't do that then they wouldn't be fast. When you run up against a good player in WoW you dismiss them as "twitchy", but I guarantee you that same player will still smash you in WAR.

You're just not good enough to be competitive (and who said that was bad?).

Not that I mind slow gameplay - that's why I prefer PvE in WoW ... I don't play RPG's to be competitive. Which is why I find the whole PvP thing in a gear/level based game to be ridiculous. You can never have balance thus skill plays a much smaller role.

But you can't dismiss good players as being "twitchy" - they'll beat you every time no matter how you try to rationalize it.
I think theres two distinctions here: 'Twitchy' combat is when you need faster reactions, quicker hand-eye coordination, faster turning and aiming, strafing. There is also 'slower' pvp where you don't die from 2 or 3 hits.

Sounds like WAR is 'slower' as described in the latter.

I also didnt like WoW pvp when it went basically: Sheep, big crit, quick spell, dead. Sounds like WAR will be better.
I am 45. I prefer some activity now.
AoC showed me that more twitchy styled games were more fun.
I had to use some skill, and as such, I was more "exhilarated" playing it than WoW, LOTRO, or EQ2, etc.

It also killed all the slow games for me. Every time I see a WAR video I cringe.
Guild Wars has been a fix for me for now, and DDO is getting a revamp, which has a real time combat feel, and of course Chronicles of Spellborn looks like great fun.

You other "Old Guys" can have your slow mo combat...hehe
(PS: For some reason I keep getting told I look 30, so maybe this playing twitchy games pays off.
Play twitch games get chicks
War's combat is slow and the UI/controls/animations are sluggish. One reason I've always like WoW is because it almost feels like a console game. Could just be my computer, but it felt too much like EQ2 or something. Love the graphics and the depth, but if it is based on pvp the combat needs way more polish
Age-wise we can shake hands Tobold..:) I dont think Mythic specifically aimed for the "more mature" market. The implementation of their concept of pvp and the experience they wanted to offer just led to slower combat, with more tactical options. So more the consequence of the design then a choice made on its own.
Matt said: But you can't dismiss good players as being "twitchy" - they'll beat you every time no matter how you try to rationalize it.
The trouble is that "twitchy" and "good" are only the same thing for certain classes of game, namely those where success is dominated by reaction time rather than other factors, such as tactics or teamwork. Slower paced games change that balance, so that thinkers and planners improve compared to those relying on muscle memory.

Putting it more succinctly: being good at snap doesn't make you good at bridge!
I am 43 myself and from a combat perspective I do like titles that maybe could be considered a bit faster, e.g. City of Heroes/Villains, Guild Wars, Age of Conan, Tabula Rasa.

I will certainly get my ass kicked by muscle memory players, but I would not play PvP to actually be competitive - it would just be one of many activities.

Reaction times may be slower with age, but besides that I do not think one can generalize much about what type of game play our age group prefer.
Of all the WAR posts I have read over the last few days, this is the first one that has actually built up my desire for this game.

I am not trying to "hate on" WAR, I am just saying that I am currently playing many MMOs that I am reluctant to leave so I NEED WAR to stand out somehow. This more deliberate pace to PvP combat makes me very curious to try it out. I would LOVE to have skill and teamwork play more of a role in deciding the winner than reflexes and reaction time do.
I don't really think WoW is that twitchy, at least as compared with FPS games. Reaction time can play a role, but if you're reasonably geared (resilience gear) for PVP, it should take a few hits to bring you down.

I totally agree with Rob, however, that WAR's slower pace may provide more strategy and teamwork. I don't like the fact that in WoW, you don't totally have to rely on healers and other crowd control, etc. to win a flag or take a tower. I'd like for there to be more strategy involved, and it looks like WAR may provide more of that...
WoW is pseudo-twitch, meaning that it feels twitchy but it’s really not. The GCD in particular is a very non-twitch mechanic. It’s not twitch if you have 1.5 to 2 seconds to make a decision about the spell you will cast. Targeting in WoW is also not twitch because it can be done by alt-tabbing, clicking a unit frame or clicking the mob/player itself. Twitch games (like FPS) get that name because you are constantly making tiny little twitch adjusts to focus your fire on a target.

That being said, WoW sometimes plays more like Insta-Gib than WAR because one or two powerful attacks can bring you from full to practically no health in a matter or moments. I think people here are confusing the idea of insta-death with twitch. It doesn’t make it twitch because you can one-shot something, it makes it insta-gib.

All twitch-type play in WoW comes from position – either keeping yourself in/out of melee range or line of sighting a caster. That part of the game is no different in WAR than it is in WoW. In fact, position is actual MORE important in WAR because of collision detection.

However, taking away the insta-gib nature of the fight provides a little bit more time to adjust to your opponent. Casters can also think more tacticly about placement using other players as walls.
I'm also 43, it's a good age!

I feel pretty comfortable with twitch play. I think I'm well above average without being truly awesome.

Where twitch comes into play in WoW is not bunny-hopping but countering. For example a Paladin heals, a Shaman Earth shocks but just at that moment the Paladin reacts to cancel his heal, leaving the shaman's shocks on cooldown and leaving the Paladin free to heal for 6 seconds. When it first happens it's generally experience/better understanding of the game mechanics. But once you get to better levels of pvp the paladin knows that the shaman will be expecting a fake, the shaman knows that the paladin knows and it really all comes down to reflex.

To give another example, there's a huge difference in how fast people cancel fears. A really good twitch rogue will clos or wotf a fear without missing an autoattack, a slow player may go running off 40 yards before he manages to press the button.

I expect there will be this kind of gameplay in WAR, I certainly hope so since reacting to other people's moves is a pretty exciting part of pvp because it combines reflexes and game knowledge and anticipation.

One point I would make too. In this and some other of your posts Tobold you talk about how quickly WOW coombat is over. Once people get fully geared the game actually changes very radically. Fights between people in full pvp gear are long, they have gained much more survivability relative to their damage output.

This can make reading the blog a bit odd. Essentially it's as if you were writing WAR is more fun than WOW because in WAR you live for ages (just like you do in WOW past 400 resilience). In other words, it kinda sounds like the gameplay is actually pretty similar.

The corollary to that is also something to bear in mind. Just because WAR combat is slow now does not mean it will still be slow once people max out and optimise. In AOC for example at level 80 you could suddenly triple your damage by gem-stacking leading to tanks one-shotting other classes. I hope WAR is a bit better designed numerically than AOC where they really didn't seem to understand numbers at all but you never know.
If you have a reaction time even halfway decent, its really not that big of a deal in WoW.

Just not. It's 1.5 seconds between abilities. Its not fast twitch unless you are a sloth. Play WoW for a month, then go play a FPS game. You will get shredded because you will have slowed down to hitting a button every 1.5s.

Its 1) knowing every class well 2) knowing how to respond and 3) just having lots of practice. Its the patience to keep going when you're getting your ass handed to you that is the real problem. The fast twitch thing is because when you're fighting a good pvper, he's seen your bag of tricks a thousand times before (and that's conservative). A guy who doesn't pvp, doesn't have pvp gear, he's going to get flat out owned. He's like a fat guy who goes to the gym once a month expecting to compete in track and field.

WoW didn't track this, but in Call of Duty 4 I died 10,000 times before I felt like I was on the ball. Just takes time. It's probably not that your reaction time is too slow, as much as you have a job and do something besides play WoW and work at Gamestop for 30 hours a week.
Essentially it's as if you were writing WAR is more fun than WOW because in WAR you live for ages (just like you do in WOW past 400 resilience). In other words, it kinda sounds like the gameplay is actually pretty similar.

I play a 425 resil Rogue in arena and I’ll concede that survivability (particularly among healers) in 2s and even 3s slows down WoW PvP considerably. I would go so far as to say that in 1:1 setting it’s comparable, with an edge to WoW being slower if a healer is involved. In 2s, the relative “speed” is almost comparable to WoW but two DPS focusing on a single target will still bring kill it much more quickly than in WAR. The really noticeable difference however, is in bigger groups. Large groups fighting against each other have a lot more survivability. Focus DPS on a Tanks that is basically a moving wall (collision detection) and he isn’t going to die easily even with several people targeting him.

If I had to pin my finger on it, I guess I would say that the biggest difference between WoW PvP (even with lots of resil) and WAR PvP is the amount of burst damage. WoW PvP is all built around burst damage. The gear is itemized to provide critical strikes (and mitigate damage from them). The whole goal is to get some burst damage off and then CC the healer/enemy CC at the critical moment that allows you to burst them the rest of the way down.

A lot of Arena matches in WoW also end up being about mana. Run the other team out of mana, and they can’t heal/dps. In WAR, all classes use an Action Point mechanic that is replenished at a regular rate similar to a Rogue’s energy bar.

Resilience really is a stat that makes an unbelievable difference in WoW. It’s what seperates the haves from the have nots. For most classes, even a T6 geared player doesn’t stand a chance against a 4/5 Brutal player with S3 weapons. I suspect Renown Rank in WAR will accomplish a similar effect in WAR. The more RR you acquire through PvP, the better your stats/abilities (and equipment).
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