Tobold's Blog
Thursday, August 21, 2008
 
What's the difference?

Hypothetic story: David Beckham, famous UK "football" (soccer) player, by some terrible mistake gets hired by a American football team. Trainer tells him to have a look around on the field. David goes there thinking that US football must be the same as UK football, and alone on the field he finds nothing to contradict that notion: The ball and goal have a different shape, but it is obviously a game with two teams trying to get the ball through the goal on the other side. He kicks the ball around for some time and feels totally comfortable. Then he goes back out, gives a press conference and says: "I played American football, it was called soccer". Sounds crazy? Well, several otherwise intelligent MMO players just fell into the same trap when comparing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning with World of Warcraft.

The truth is that if you approach WAR with a closed mind and keep to yourself, you *can* play WAR for quite a long time exactly like you would solo WoW: You grab some quests, kill ten foozles, get a reward, level up, advance to the next quest hub, lather, rinse, repeat. But just like David Beckham in our little story, the surprise will pop up as soon as the other players enter the field. World of Warcraft in its current form is a massively single-player online game. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is a massively multi-player online game. The average player in WAR will have far, far more interaction with the other players than somebody creating a new character in WoW nowadays. And in spite all the superficial similarities, the interaction with other players will make WAR play very differently than WoW.

The greatest new feature of WAR is the open group. When you log in and would like to play with others, you simply press the open group button under your character portrait, and you'll see all the open groups in your area, sorted by distance from you. There will be groups just doing quests together, other groups doing public quests, and there will be RvR groups, and the interface will show you what each group is doing, and who is already in the group. Just select one group that suits you, press the join button, and you're in. No need to negotiate for an invite, if the group didn't want you they would have switched group mode to closed. If nobody is around for the activity you want to do, you can just flag yourself as open group, so that others can join you.

If you are still in a WoW mindset, you're probably wondering how that could possibly work. If in WoW you're on a quest to find ten foozle ears, the last thing you want is somebody joining your group unasked, because that would make doing the quest more difficult, as you now would have to kill more foozles, and get less xp for each foozle kill. But WAR did away with that nonsense. You don't even have to click to loot the body in WAR to get quest items, everybody in the group will get a foozle ear on each foozle kill. And combat is slightly different in WAR too: It takes longer to kill a single mob (which is balanced by you needing to kill less of them to advance, so overall speed isn't slower than WoW); with fights taking longer, there is more advantage to doing the fight in a small group. The tank/healer/dps system ensures that the group performs better than the sum of its parts, only that now you aren't penalized for it any more.

It will take some time for people to realize that they could form groups for every quest and be better off. Thus the first groups will form where the advantages of grouping are a lot more obvious: PvP and public quests. WAR makes it easy to find where the action is in open world RvR, again with the open group interface, plus by marking where people are fighting in RvR on the map. And the advantages of grouping with other players for PvP are obvious to anyone, you just don't get very far alone.

Public quests are another interesting way of getting people to play together, because they give two sorts of rewards: Influence point rewards, and the chest with loot that drops from the final stage of each public quest, which is distributed by a "Vegas" system adding your contribution as modifier to a random loot roll. If you are doing public quests solo, you can get the influence points, but it would be impossible for you to kill the final boss alone. Several solo players can take the final boss down, but if they aren't grouped that is bound to be inefficient. If you group you end up getting influence points at the same or slightly higher rate, and you have a much easier time of killing the final boss and getting hold of the extra reward. Most public quests have open groups going all the time, with people coming and going, because every one of them wants to do the same public quest two or three times to max out his influence and get various pieces of the Vegas loot. Public quests are great for xp and getting your character equipped, you can get your first epic as early as level 10. Thus they fulfil the same function as World of Warcraft dungeons, but Warhammer Online public quests are more inclusive by a huge margin.

Open groups in WAR work because in nearly all cases more is better. If the last spot in your public quest open group is taken by yet another dps class and you still have no tank or healer, you just expand the group to a warband (raid group), without getting the stupid WoW penalty that in a raid group you can't earn xp or quest goals any more. In WoW, if you invite somebody into your group who is too low level, not as well equipped, or not playing as well, there is a significant risk that your group will fail to achieve anything, and that everybody gets hurt, so players mistrust each other and put up strict selection criteria to form groups. In WAR some lower level joining your open group is still making the group a little bit stronger, so everyone is welcome. Selection only would make sense if you had a full warband, but usually there aren't that many players around at any given spot. And a full warband will succeed any public quest anyway, even if they are all the same dps class.

Playing together with other people completely changes the feel of a game, in a way which a simple comparison of feature lists can't describe. Heartless nailed it when he said that ultimately Age of Conan is more similar to World of Warcraft than Warhammer Online is. It is just the graphics and combat which make you think at the start that AoC is somehow different, while WAR at first glance looks like WoW. But once you played it a bit longer you'll notice you're soloing your way up to the level cap in AoC just like in WoW, while WAR has a much larger variety of cooperative and competitive player interaction to offer. It is Mythic who are offering the real "next generation" of MMORPGs, the one in which we actually play together and against each other, instead of just soloing online.
Comments:
When we were first in the beta we were very weirded out by the open groups and kept closing our groups so we could just play with friends. Then, we discovered the magic of the open group, just by forgetting to close them a few times. We met new people, we had a great time with them, we all completed what we needed to complete and I made a resolve not to close groups again unless I had a specific reason to.

In looking at the list of commands I also noted you can close them to guild members only, alliance members only, add passwords and do all kinds of funky stuff. I love the idea of some alliance-only open groups!
 
So the next-gen MMO will be multiplayer and not solo ? oups seems we go back to 2001 so...
 
Anon, I think you are misunderstanding Tobold's point. There is a difference between EQ/FFXI style groupings, where everyone sits in town until they get a group because nothing can be done solo and what Tobold is describing -- a system in which you run around and do your solo stuff when you want, but grouping with people is encouraged by game mechanics, both by making grouping more rewarding *and* easier and more seamless than any of our MMOs to date.

I would say that to date, the only MMO that made grouping easy without being a complete requirement was CoX. Looks like Mythic is just raising the bar for fun, easy to get into group content.

And Tobold: if you remember, DAOC had automatic corpse looting as well.
 
As i posted earlier: WAR's most significant USP is the PQ. The more i read about this, the more i believe Mythic may have actually changed the MMO gaming genre: from now on all MMOs will have a PQ mechanism.

As Keen said, the basic idea is so simple and elegant, it makes you wonder nobody came up with it before: a common reaction when confronted with brilliant(-ish) ideas or concepts.

Although i like group dynamics in WOW (5 man dungeons, no raids), im usually inclined to play solo. The hassle of getting a group with all the necessary formalities make it seem more like work then play.

So WARs PQs look pretty much ideal to me. Also the prospect of continuous TM-like clashes is appealing. If WAR can deliver on those aspects, using core gameplay mechanics which will resemble WOWs i'll probably be in WAR instead of WOW..
 
Tobolod - fantastic writeup, thanks!

I've read about the open groups and PS features of WAR on several blogs but the descriptions in those places left more questions than answers, since they didn't give details and didn't compare to the WoW system. Thanks again for this great post!

I have to admit, even though I don't have the time for playing 2 games in parallel, I really am getting jealous of all the new goodies in WAR compare to WoW. Maybe I'll get lucky and the WoW devs will "borrow" the features into WoW ;p
 
Yeah, the PQ's are brilliant, and so are the constant stream of tiny rewards from the Tome of Knowlege.

But I tuly agree that Open Groups and Warbands, in the long run, will be the most influential and most-copied element of WAR's design. I don't think you can overstate the effect they'll have on community in the long run.
 
...because every one of them wants to do the same public quest two or three times to max out his influence and get various pieces of the Vegas loot.

I think a more indepth explanation of this "influence" is needed. If I'm levelling a character and want to maximize my progression content wise, what's the point of rehashing an already completed quest just to increase my chances of getting better loot? Sounds like all Mythic has done is take the "grind" aspect and painted it a different color, perhaps?

Also, I'm intrigued by your mention that a player can acquire Epix™ as eary as level 10. Is this a result of the "influence" mechanic that I ask about above?

Trying to get out of the WoW mindset about loot rewards, where effort is concerned, is a bit difficult at this stage seeing as how I havent played the beta, but I'd be very interested in knowing what the ulitmate motivator will be to keep players engaged in the PvP aspect over the long haul. Is it a matter of loot? Or is it some kind of reputation system/e-peen inflating, ego stroking ranking system?

The beauty of WoW is that it insulates casual players from the ego mechanic that is prevalent within the hardcore subset with the guild and closed grouping system. It'll be real interesting to see how the casual and hardcore worlds will react when they are forced to collide.
 
Very good write up. :) Its the open group system paired with public quests that is primarily drawing me towards WAR. I'm looking forward to being rewarded for grouping even for normal quests, after playing quite some time in WoW.

Nothing sucks more than the feel that you should ditch the people you grouped up with for the "Kill-nasty-elite" quest in order to be able to finish the "Collect-item-with-horrible-drop-rate" quest. (This is mostly referring to the time before quest item drop rates were increased.)

I mean, its called MMO, why should I be better off soloing? Not that soloing should be punished/impossible, I like soloing, but grouping should definately be beneficial?
 
features, features and nice gimmicks.
the point is the combat (=the game) is slow and boring. you don´t have to interact with your opponent. you just "fire" all your skills and see if your opponent dies. you don´t have to adapt to the moves othe people make to survive. for a pvp centered game it´s a joke.
all those grouping features and rvr gimmicks won´t make anyone play this game for long when the core is broken, believe me.
 
I think a more indepth explanation of this "influence" is needed. If I'm levelling a character and want to maximize my progression content wise, what's the point of rehashing an already completed quest just to increase my chances of getting better loot? Sounds like all Mythic has done is take the "grind" aspect and painted it a different color, perhaps? Also, I'm intrigued by your mention that a player can acquire Epix™ as eary as level 10. Is this a result of the "influence" mechanic that I ask about above?"

The epic I got was from coming first in the Vegas loot system of one public quest. The influence system is usually giving you something like a potion for the first step, a green item for the second step, and a blue item for the last step, not sure if higher level PQs also give out epics for influence.

If you want to minmax character development, you'd probably only play PQs in each chapter until you got the guaranteed influence reward of the last step, which is already much better than what you could get from a simple quest reward or loot drop. Whether you win the top Vegas loot while doing so is a matter of luck, and number of participants. More participants make PQs go much faster, but your statistical chance to come first diminishes. Repeating it isn't any more grindy than running the same dungeon in WoW twice because you didn't get the loot drop you wanted.

I'd be very interested in knowing what the ulitmate motivator will be to keep players engaged in the PvP aspect over the long haul.

There are several motivators at work. Besides the normal character level your toon has a "PvP level" called renown, which goes up while you PvP. Renown gives a separate sort of "talent points", with which to buy bonuses which are useful for both PvP and PvE. Renown gives you access to gear, with a vendor selling items which you need a certain minimum renown to wear. And in addition to that doing PvP can be part of normal quests, of public quests, and it adds achievements to the Tome of Knowledge. Which one of these rewards motivates you the strongest is up to you, but I can assure you that if you are into minmaxing, the optimum path to level cap consists of a mix of PvE and PvP, not just one activity grinded over and over.
 
the point is the combat (=the game) is slow and boring. you don´t have to interact with your opponent. you just "fire" all your skills and see if your opponent dies. you don´t have to adapt to the moves othe people make to survive.

Again, you are approaching this with the wrong mindset, the WoW or AoC approach of "PvP is a solo activity". In WAR PvP is very much a group activity. PvP combat is only boring if you don't understand it, and wonder why buttom mashing and jumping around doesn't make you win.

Yes, combat in WAR is slower than in lets say AoC, and it is exactly this which enables one group that plays together in an intelligent fashion to dominate against some unorganized rabble, even if they have the same number of players, classes, and levels. There is no "easy" PvP, one-shot kills, stunlocks, stealth kills, crowd control in WAR. But there is collision control, "taunts" and "detaunts", and a whole lot of tactical options you never saw in WoW or AoC. PvP in WAR is a group activity, and the group that works together best will win. Twitchy solo PvPers won't get anywhere, and that is fine with me.
 
...if you are into minmaxing, the optimum path to level cap consists of a mix of PvE and PvP

I'll definately be getting Warhammer when it comes out due to these types of statements. I'm not the type who can participate in all out PvP(for gear- as is the current WoW model), but I do think that a mix of PvE and PvP will up the bar quite a bit. Of course this all depends on how this is implemented though.

The only reservations I have deals with the last point in my last post. In that I forsee that Open Grouping/Public Quests is going to thrust casual players and hardcore players together into a situation where both will be forced to coexist as a collective whole. This will be interesting to watch as the server population matures and how fast content is consumed in the first few months.
 
I was thinking the very same thing Tobold.

Wow really seems lonely most of the time.
 
"Again, you are approaching this with the wrong mindset, the WoW or AoC approach of "PvP is a solo activity". In WAR PvP is very much a group activity. PvP combat is only boring if you don't understand it, and wonder why buttom mashing and jumping around doesn't make you win."

without being offensive:
i can´t help me, but i think you are one of those people who never really participated in arena pvp at a higher rating than say 1900 rating. and because of that you dislike the pvp system in wow, cause you can´t compete with younger, more skilled people. is that the case ? i thought this many times reading your articles in the last year.
may it be that you like warhammer pvp so much because it´s so dumbed down that you feel strong in there ?
you always put a negative note on "button mashing" and "jumping around", why is that ? it´s part of every game, but is it too fast in wow ?
warhammer pvp is like popcorn cinema. just sit back and watch.

again: no offense, i know many people don´t like competive pvp and that is ok.
now you can continue praising warhammer till it tanks ;)
 
Excellent write up! It is this sort of news that makes me feel very optimistic for WAR. To me MMOs are about community and other players, and any mechanic that encourages more player interaction is a very good thing in my book.
 
you can´t compete with younger, more skilled people

That depends totally on your definition of "skill". WoW, and AoC even more so, have a fast system of PvP, where the ability to mash buttons and jump around fast is important. Fast speed, fast eye-hand-coordination, that is certainly "a skill". But you define it simply as "skill" and dismiss every other possible form which would require different skills.

I find the WAR type of PvP more intellectually engaging. And it *does* require skill, just not the same set of skills that twitchy PvP demands.

So here is right back at you: I think you hate the WAR PvP because you don't have the skills necessary to compete in it.

Other people do have that skill. Believing that WAR will tank because only twitchy PvP is fun PvP is extremely short-sighted. Other people have other types of fun, and there will be a lot of people who like the WAR kind of PvP.
 
"So here is right back at you: I think you hate the WAR PvP because you don't have the skills necessary to compete in it."
it´s your right to backfire, no problem with that :)
and because of the fact that i never saw you play and you don´t know me i will leave it at that, cause it won´t bring anything.

by the way, you missunderstood me.
i didn´t say warhammer will tank because the PVP is not as twitchy as wows. i said it will tank cause the whole engine, meaning combat in general, is clunky and slow. the skills are unbalanced and boring. and because the game, like you said very often, is pvp centered, i picked the pvp comparison.
would i have talked about pve game being boring you would have told me that war is a rvr centered game right ?

anyway, maybe we just like different things, lets leave it at that :)
 
Doesn't sound any different to WoW to me.

Quests = XP and Gear

The mechanics might have changed... but at the end of the day it still seems to be the same game...

David Beckham may have played pigskin... but he didn't drive a Ford F1 vehicle did he.

Face it... it's still a game you are herded through to get from point A to B to C...

Is it really that ground breaking to have open groups?

Ground breaking would have perhaps been to move away from a quest-centric system to gain xp.

I'm still not convinced that it is hugely any different.
 
Tobold: PvP combat is only boring if you don't understand it...

Or it is full of rude impolite snotrags under the age of 15.

It seems more and more clear by these comments... that WoW took the route to PvP centralising their game more and more by the direction War has taken.

PvP is simply (yawn) boring in my book. Having 2 games take this direction is not good.
 
Ground breaking would have perhaps been to move away from a quest-centric system to gain xp.

Replacing it with what instead? If you just remove quests, you don't break ground, you just revert to Everquest. Public quests instead of just private quests is maybe not a huge step forward, but forward it is.

And how much ground-breaking can you do before you simply leave the genre of MMORPGs? Hellgate London or Tabula Rasa certainly were much different from WoW, but then they were already half a shooter game. There must be some features that remain unchanged for a new game to remain in the same genre as a previous game. If you remove the idea of characters going out and fighting monsters for xp and gear, you are removing the very core of what makes a MMORPG.

If you want something ground-breakingly different, why don't you simply buy Spore or any other non-MMORPG?
 
In PVP twitchskills are crucial when implementing tactics in a very fast moving and instantly changing gameworld. Because of the pace, these tactics would be primarely reactive.

A slower world would give the player some room for strategy, including several paths of execution or tactics, which could have more proactive elements.

MMOs probably never give enough time for a comprehensive strategy plan, but i'll take any improvement on twitch-only:)

[of course, the fully scripted and thus totally predictable (raid) pve encounters DO benefit from a clear strategy]

/soapbox
 
A few things I'd like to note:


-MMO's are like evolution. Small, consistant changes.

-WAR sounds amazing with PQ and Open Groups. My only real complaint with WoW is that it takes too long to find a group, and most of my groups fall apart before the run is complete. Being that it takes so long to find a group, it is NEVER worth starting a group for a few quests. Only worth starting a group for a dungeon run, and even then I'm not so sure.

-Based on what I've read on here I'm a little concearned about WAR PvP. I personally like the "twitch" element. Reaction time is crutial for WAR to be a competetive PvP game. For a game centered around PvP it should really have some good PvP. I havn't played it yet so I don't know, but I guess time will tell.

-I'm still really excited about WAR, and WotLK. My fiancee is going to hate me!
 
"Reaction time is crutial for WAR to be a competetive PvP game."

It may be crucial for you, but not everyone.
 
That's great that they've made it so there's a smaller penalty (or no penalty) for grouping up.

However, I have to remain skeptical that most people will leave groups "open" (I saw this in Hellgate just recently).

Inefficiency isn't the only mark against grouping with strangers - I've encountered so many rude, selfish people in groups that it makes me very selective about grouping. Just two recent examples doing daily quests:

1. I'm (slowly) soloing shattered sun quests on my protection paladin. Someone asks to join, so I let them (can only help efficiency-wise on this character). An arcane tome drops and the person says, "I'm scryer, can I have those?" They then whine when I explain that the fair thing to do is random them - really enjoyable experience that.

2. On the same character, a priest joins my group (just the two of us) and just follows me around casting a heal every third or fourth fight. I explain that he can cast his holy damage spells instead because I'm not really taking damage. He says, "I'm holy spec." Uhhh, yeah - so go on auto-follow and stand there with a full mana bar while I take 60 seconds to kill a mob?

Now, I understand that in WAR everyone gets the quest item, but I assume that other loot drops that will be randomed or distributed in some other way - that is always one of the biggest headaches in pick up groups (oh, can I have that? my alt can use it? oh, can I have that gem, I'm a jewelcrafter, etc. etc.).

Maybe people will be better at playing their characters, also, so you won't have to deal as much with inept people. In WoW I would not be exaggerating to say that about 1 in 5 people I've grouped with don't have a clue about their characters (that became even more apparent once you could inspect their talent trees). From what you've written, maybe you won't care as much that they are inept because even an inept person doesn't impair your group. At that point, though, I have to wonder how simplistic the game is? (Even more simplistic than WoW?)

Don't get me wrong - I played EQ for 2 years when it was first released, I've been through painful grinding, death penalties and forced grouping. I've played RvR in DAoC, I've dealt with PVP in UO (ugh). I just have my doubts that there is any magic bullet to make grouping more desirable - remove the mathematical penalties and provide an "idiot" filter and I'm all for open groups. :)
 
If you remove the idea of characters going out and fighting monsters for xp and gear, you are removing the very core of what makes a MMORPG.

That depends on your definition of MMORPG (Or RPG in general). It's certainly possible to imagine a game with no loot or experience that still has you go out and kill things, compete with players to kill things, using various forms of magic and/or physical weapons, while exploring different parts of the world, that is played online with no loot or experience.

(it does seem that tobold is reacting much more strongly to the more game critical comments than usual.)
 
dillon:

You're stretching reality there. Having a game categorized as a RPG tends to imply that there will be levels and you can earn loot by fighting monsters. I mean every RPG I've played on console has followed this trend and it seems only logical that MMO versions would follow the same trend.
 
What? Tobold agrees with me while the rest of the Internet wants my head on a pike.

/em heads off to Texas with a blow torch.
 
I am seeing a lot of hyperbolic statements about the speed of combat being thrown around. It isn't THAT slow folks! It is a tad bit slower, and it NEEDS to be. I have been playing a warrior priest, and if the combat were a tad faster, like in WoW fast, then trying to do my core function, which is healing AND damage would be nigh impossible. I know, I play a Ret Paladin in WoW. The various tactical buffs and debuffs Tobold talks about throughout the other classes are the same way.

I'm 31, so take that for what it is worth on age, speed, and twitchiness etc. I can get a perfect run on Street Fighter III if that says anything about basic motor skill competency, but trying to play my Paladin like I do my Warrior Priest is next to impossible. And that is not all due to spell and skill mechanics. The speed makes a difference.

Sure, reflexes and reaction times are important in WAR, but they are not the MOST important thing, and I suspect that is what is setting some folks off.

If I had any beef with the combat at this time it has more to do with the graphical cues that go along with the use a of a skill. They feel a bit off, but they already tweaked that with a recent update and I am confident that they will hit that magic spot where the visual cues sync perfectly with the button pressing etc.
 
You're stretching reality there. Having a game categorized as a RPG tends to imply that there will be levels and you can earn loot by fighting monsters. I mean every RPG I've played on console has followed this trend and it seems only logical that MMO versions would follow the same trend.

The point of my post is that this is a matter of traditional definition, given the way that different types of games are mixed and matched. Levels and loot to me seem an equivalent to different alien races with different qualities in space empire games, they are included out of tradition more than because it is necessary gameplay wise to have the different competing groups have different qualities.

To get back to tobold's original argument, that removing leveling by quests would make it "not and MMORPG" and "Go play spore or something": What would a game be considered that doesn't have some form of loot or leveling, but still has all the other elements of, say, a fantasy RPG (spells, arrows, melee weapons, types of terrain, races, etc.)? Whether or not it is truly an MMORPG according to someone's definition, MMORPG is the closest category, and features will almost certainly be directly compared between the two. (See the "guild wars isn't a real MMO" arguments for something similar.)
 
Tobold,

I am a bit surprised at your comment about XP and gear being "the very core of what makes a MMORPG". Wasn't it just weeks ago that you proposed a whole game without either of the two?
 
Maybe people will be better at playing their characters, also, so you won't have to deal as much with inept people. In WoW I would not be exaggerating to say that about 1 in 5 people I've grouped with don't have a clue about their characters (that became even more apparent once you could inspect their talent trees). From what you've written, maybe you won't care as much that they are inept because even an inept person doesn't impair your group. At that point, though, I have to wonder how simplistic the game is? (Even more simplistic than WoW?)

My argument has nothing to do with WAR being simplistic, it is actually a tad more complex than WoW. But if I have an open group in a public quest and an inept healer joins that group, doing nothing but casting a healing spell once in a while, he is still helping me, not hurting me. While influence points are shared evenly among group members, the contribution points that determine the bonus for the Vegas loot system depend on how effective each player is in his role. So a bad healer will get a small bonus, and increase the chance that you get the best loot.

In a regular quest, you killing 10 mobs with a bad healer behind you will still be slightly faster than you killing the same 10 mobs alone. You might help him more than he helped you, but why worry about that as long as you advance faster?
 
the speed in gameplay isn´t exactly the speed in which you push buttons.
nor is it just the global cooldown.
what makes an arena match in wow so very fast is, evry char has buttons to counter buttons of your opponent.
the skill system provides speed in pvp.
a system in which both chars just do "their" things without being on the ball all the time, to counter the opponents moves, is slow and boring.

reading through many bloqs and sites, many people are happy with not having "stun locks" "fears" "deathcoils" "counterspells" and the like in warhammer. further more no one shotting (did they even play one arena match ? :P).
they aren´t clever enough to see that those things made wow so much more challenging to play than the other mmorpgs out there.
 
What would a game be considered that doesn't have some form of loot or leveling, but still has all the other elements of, say, a fantasy RPG (spells, arrows, melee weapons, types of terrain, races, etc.)?

Well, it could be a RTS. Warcraft has spells, arrows, melee weapons, types of terrain, races, etc., and isn't an MMO.

I am a bit surprised at your comment about XP and gear being "the very core of what makes a MMORPG". Wasn't it just weeks ago that you proposed a whole game without either of the two?

The game still had quests and loot drops, just that they came in the form of cards. Anyway, I didn't want to suggest that xp and gear are the definition of a MMORPG. But "character development", whether that is with xp, levels, gear, stats, skills, or cards is certainly essential to the definition. Having fantasy elements is not essential to the definition, as CoX and SWG are certainly MMORPGs, but haven't got any spells or elves and orcs. And if somebody wrote an adventure game like Monkey Island in a fantasy world, that too wouldn't be a RPG.
 
a system in which both chars just do "their" things without being on the ball all the time, to counter the opponents moves, is slow and boring.

Agreed. Only WAR isn't like that. WAR has lots of options to counter opponents moves, they are just different than in WoW. For example WAR has a taunt and detaunt system that works in PvP, while taunts don't do anything in WoW PvP. WAR has collision detection, allowing to counter opponents moves by strategic placement, and again WoW is missing that. And just like WoW, WAR has counter measures against various buffs and debuffs.

The difference is that in WAR you have to counter the *action* of the enemy player, while in WoW you can simply prevent a player from doing anything with stun locks, freezes, and fear spells.
 
So far the RvR seems a bit more focused on intelligent desicion making in terms of skill use and positioning with an emphasis on team work as opposed to CC and twitch play that drives so many people from WoW PVP.


It is difficult to base any decisions or opinions around what you are seeing in the beta on the lower level characters as many classes, strategies and tactics probably won't shine until the "endgame."

Overall I really hope the game delivers at launch with all of the people I have talked into playing. Otherwise its going to be one giant bite of humble pie come WotLK.
 
The open group thing sounds very cool to me. Against my better judgment, I'm getting my hopes up for this game.

As romidar mentions above, there are some problems if you approach open groups from a WoW perspective, such as sharing loot and load. But if the designers do a good job, they won't be issues at all.

And, hey, the inclusion of PunkBuster means you will not see any casual tools such as... er... well, you know. The only tools that linger will be extremely hard-core and private. Oughta be interesting.
 
Romidar, (Min + 2x MN)/2 mean anything to you?

I think there is another advantage to even having a bad player in your group.

Having them in your group makes is far more likely that they will get the feedback they need to at least become better grouping players and have a deeper knowledge of their class.

I suspect you will never do away with PUG horror while WOW is still the dominant game but WAR should have a higher level of general competence than any of the current generation of games.
 
This is the first time since NDA drop that I have been influenced to actually TRY Warhammer Online.
All reviews have been lukewarm. But your explanation makes it feel...
Different.
Most people are WAR High and giddy with fanboyism or "OMG, WoW sucks" attitudes.

This sounds fascinating and makes me wonder if this would resolve some issues that EQ2 has done with the Mentor system.
What happens if your friend outlevels you, and then you want to quest together, are you then punished due to his level?

Anyways, thanks for this.
 
Perhaps by encouraging grouping right out of the gates they will be increasing the overall competance of the player base in group play.
 
The Open group mechanic seems wonderful, but I wonder how long it will be until the gold-sellers start abusing it to do gold-spam...
 
@openedge

As far as I know from various bits and pieces I've read. The Chicken mechanic doesn't come into play for PvE quests, so it appears that highers up can easily come down and help out friends with lower content.

That said Im not in the beta and could easily have misunderstood something.
 
can't wait to try it
 
"And combat is slightly different in WAR too: It takes longer to kill a single mob (which is balanced by you needing to kill less of them to advance, so overall speed isn't slower than WoW); with fights taking longer, there is more advantage to doing the fight in a small group. The tank/healer/dps system ensures that the group performs better than the sum of its parts, only that now you aren't penalized for it any more."

If that was part of the reason behind the pacing of combat, then Mythic truly deserves huge kudos for their insight.
 
Well, it could be a RTS. Warcraft has spells, arrows, melee weapons, types of terrain, races, etc., and isn't an MMO.

It may be technically considered one by someone's definition, but you certainly wouldn't take a game where you play as an avatar, working with other people's avatars, shooting spells and arrows off, exploring lands, etc., and suggest that the gameplay style is more similar to starcraft than to MMOs.

The game still had quests and loot drops, just that they came in the form of cards. Anyway, I didn't want to suggest that xp and gear are the definition of a MMORPG. But "character development", whether that is with xp, levels, gear, stats, skills, or cards is certainly essential to the definition. Having fantasy elements is not essential to the definition, as CoX and SWG are certainly MMORPGs, but haven't got any spells or elves and orcs. And if somebody wrote an adventure game like Monkey Island in a fantasy world, that too wouldn't be a RPG.

Like anything with genres, there is enough mixing and matching of features that people's personal opinions of what fits into what type of game will will be slightly different from person to person, and will have some elements of "I know it when I see it".

When you suggested earlier that someone just go buy spore, instead of looking for a slight change to MMOs, you were suggesting that someone play a much different game simply because what they were looking for doesn't exactly fit in with a personal definition. (Also, sticking character progression into a game where it doesn't fit, or isn't needed, just to get it categorized a certain way, is an iffy way to produce games.)
 
The grouping in WAR is utterly fantastic.

The only major problem we found while group questing in beta is that it reduces your financial gain. At one point, we were 3 levels behind on skill training, because of splitting the money and sellable drops with others. That's probably the biggest remaining roadblock to successful grouping remaining.
 
Tobold didn't Raph Koster beat us over the head over the very issue of trying to define MMO. It was on this blog I believe and Koster followed on at his blog. I can't search for it from work, but you may remember it. It will do good to bring it up here if I remember it correctly.
 
In the purest form of gameplay, all MMOs ever created are very, very similar.

I know that WAR is quite different from WoW. It brings high-level concepts, like public quests, a HUGE focus on RvR, Tome of Knowledge... ect.

However, all MMOs ever created are static. Your actions are meaningless on the world itself.

WAR takes a small step towards solving this. Dynamic battles for control of these zones, keeps, and cities provide a nice twist, but the world will always reset and start over again.

WAR steps away from instancing, bringing back many of the 'open-world' concepts of the old days. But it's still not much of a step away from the old days, it's just that now we're back where we started with DAoC, except now we have *polish*.

So in a very broad, theoretical sense, WAR is WoW and the guy was right to say so. But looking at it in a very short term perspective, WAR is completely different. I don't think he was simply ignoring WAR's many unique features. I think he was looking at the genre in the long-term. It really hasn't changed much in all these years. If anything, most MMOs are a step backward from progress.

The fundamentals of MMO gameplay never change. I don't mean combat or mechanics. Those change from MMO to MMO, but the core of these games have never changed. The worlds are persistent, but all of them are also permanent. You, as a player, cannot have any lasting impact on the world. The game world remains the same, as if you had never even played.
 
1) Wow has a gcd of 1.5 seconds. It is not a fast twitch leet game. The average human reacts in .30 seconds or less. You're kidding yourself if you think your a top echelon gamer cause you react @ WoW speeds. The skill in WoW isn't fast twitch. Go try to playing a FPS after you've been playing WoW for 3 months. You'll be a giant noob, I promise. WoW destroys fast twitch ability. Fast reaction time has nothing to do with it; good gear, lots of practice, and a thorough understanding of other classes are what makes a good pvper.

Anyways, I think WoW has really damaged PVP in the opinions of many people because of their horrible, horrible handling of it.

Fresh 70? O, you're fucked. You'll have to spend MONTHS getting your ass handed to you just to have the gear to be OK. And you'll be doing by running the same 4 bgs a thousand times with a bunch of pug asshats. The only time you'll find a premade is the month after they release new gear. What a spectacular way to convince new players that pvp is boring.


Arenas? Good luck climbing if you enjoy playing with your friends (and your friends don't just happen to be the perfect classes for 5v5).

World pvp is a joke.

I think if people had the opportunity to try a PvP system that really worked as a genuinely fun thing to do with friends, many people who think they hate pvp would realize that they just really hate WoW pvp. And by genuinely fun, I mean this: Would you want to do it even if you got nothing out of it?

Cause god bless them, but I cannot comprehend how a person can raid Karazhan 50 times for fun but think RvR is a snoozefest. I look back on my WoW career, and I've realized that the one time I was genuinely having FUN FUN was when me and friends would fight other premades in WSG before they nerfed the rank system. Only time. And I would have done it whether I got gear or not. I can't say that about much else in WoW.
 
WAR is a game. Given the IP it's inevitable that a game will have you fighting enemies (either AI or human) and gaining xp. Given that I accept these basics, and have a casual playstyle that mixes a lot of gametypes, I am thrilled with what I have been hearing about WAR. It sounds like the PQ/OG system fixed the most fundamental problem in WoW, the solo grind that is the backbone if its gameplay. I want to point out that Brent agrees that WAR is well-made for what it is and will shoot to the top of the charts and be a solid #2 within months. I don't think theres much disagreement on this position to be found anywhere post-NDA.

So why is he frustrated? There is a distinct stream of thought in MMO circles that seems to want something that is more worldy than we have seen to date, but still not a non-game like Second Life. (In passing I'll note that a lot of them seem to be futurists who see such a game as a stepping stone to a far more socially powerful Web 3.0.) This group probably got its hopes up a bit too much between the EA $$, the unregulated open RVR, and the shifting battlefronts. I think they want a more persistent, influenceable world with a more organic economic and political structure. Doing something like that with a game like WAR means that either you short PVE and PVP content or the game is going to cost about 2x in a market where WAR and WoW probably cost $80m+ already. None of the big players are going to take a risk like that anytime soon.

It's kind of back to what I see as the eternal issue of MMOs, where more content would fix everything, but it's not profitable to produce, so you're left disguising what you have as best as possible. Hopefully you do it well enough that your game is more fun than watching TV, surfing the web, or playing offline.

I for one would never play a more persistent world game because I am just too busy, but I appreciate the other camp's position. I think EVE's success (growing slowly to 200k now I hear) shows that there is a market for this kind of game. Take some of the basic endgame design decisions of EVE, make it more user-friendly and add real leveling content, slap a fantasy setting on it and I think you have a game that might hold 500k. Which according to my estimates is right of at the borderline for a $100m game to make money. Which brings us back to the fact that it's probably going to take a disappointingly long time to bring such a game to market.
 
Let's put it this way, I always hated grouping and PvP, but in WAR I find myself happily joining open groups and accepting invitations. I have been having a lot of fun doing the PvP and jump into any public quests I can. Hell, yesterday I was one of the tanks in a warband fighting through the Inevitable City, and raiding is something I never enjoyed doing.
 
Before the NDA dropped I suspected WAR will do better than WoW in Asia because it is more team oriented than WoW and the biggest MMOs I've heard about doing the best in asia are team oriented games where guilds number in the hundreds and in China's case thousands and square off each other.

This just helps cement the belief I'm atleast half right.
 
Tobold: Replacing it with what instead? If you just remove quests, you don't break ground, you just revert to Everquest. Public quests instead of just private quests is maybe not a huge step forward, but forward it is.

Why is this a step forward? I would rather quest alone. I want to log on, escape from whatever I am doing and get on with a little escapism. MMORPG’s are not solely about grouping!

In real life I like to get on with most things alone, reading, cooking, watching TV and going to work… If I need to go for a drink or build a generic flat packed piece of furniture I’ll go ‘LFG’ then.

I like the concept of chatting socially in guild chat but playing alone. I don’t want to rely on others to go hand quests in to catch up or have other hassle me to speed up… so why force me into it? I’ll group when I need a hand and not until.

Tobold: If you remove the idea of characters going out and fighting monsters for xp and gear, you are removing the very core of what makes a MMORPG.

Really? How So?

I’m not suggesting the removal of quests or fighting monsters… I’m suggesting that you could unlink the XP mechanics from it. There is nothing core about the two combined at all? If you thing there is, then I can only suggest that you have been trained to think a certain way by the games you play and can’t think outside of that restrictive box.

Here’s a suggestion… why not link XP with game time played. Level one to two takes 10 mins, two to three takes 20 mins and so on till level seventy-nine to eighty equals 790 mins. So why not stand around to level… easy one minute non activity halts xp gain. Then add multipliers… not having died for 10 mins means 0.01% xp speed multiplier, not having died for 2 days means 5.00% speed multiplier. Group multipliers can be added… and so on.

This solves bugs bears… allowing MMORPG’s to be experienced from a content point of view rather than having players skip content to uber level. I’m not an advocate of the above… although I could be with expansion on the concept. The point being a few moments of though and I have come up with a concept that unlinks XP from questing and grinding.

This is a problem… quests are no longer the narrative… rather they are a ‘skip read of quest, wowhead it, get the phat loot and xp, rinse and repeat, ding 70 and want immediate access into Kara’ tool.

How cool would it be to have a class or race chain quest that lasts from 1 to 70 throughout WoW… no xp or loot but grants other quests along the way that may add the xp or loot. A real narrative from start to end. One that can only be done at a given level… so if you skip it… tough luck you cant do the level 34 part at 70 and thus lose the whole chain.

Anyway where in ‘MMORPG’ is rule that killing and grinding is how to progress. I thought more highly of you T.

Tobold: If you want something ground-breakingly different, why don't you simply buy Spore or any other non-MMORPG?

You are a little defensive these days. Am I wrong in wanting a ground breaking MMORPG? You might be happy with mundane PvP or doing as you’re told by a quest giver… I want something less linear, more immersive and above everything else truly world dynamic. You are welcome to your Status Quo.

I think you are wrong about the Open Group thing too.

In the long run this will just turn out to be a glorified global chat channel for unrelated chat. You walk into the open group, likely to have one nasty and mouthy player who dictates what you do, quest your quests and leave without saying a thing.

Oh the fun I can hardly wait.
 
yuripup: Romidar, (Min + 2x MN)/2 mean anything to you?

I should think so - "magic number" for damage in EQ. :-) (Been a while since I dropped by PoN to see if any of the old guard is still around.)

On the general topic - a few others touched on what I was trying to get at; the "pain" of grouping doesn't just have to do with speed of leveling or completing quests. Dealing with loot issues have been a problem in every MMO I've played, even when you're just playing with a group of friends; it just gets worse when you put strangers in the mix. Maybe WAR will improve that area too - I understand the Vegas loot concept, but I'm curious about other loot drops (e.g., does that crappy healer get an equal roll on some random loot drop or does that concept not even make sense in WAR?).
 
(e.g., does that crappy healer get an equal roll on some random loot drop or does that concept not even make sense in WAR?)

It actually would only be a problem if you had both a crappy and a good healer of the same race and class in your group. Random drop gear comes with a class restriction, so for example would be "Runepriest only". As long as you don't have two Runepriests, there is no fight.
 
WAR really is not for everyone. If you really like high end PVE raiding WoW is going to have more and better polished content in WOTLK. If you just want to solo PVE quests, WoW's quests are slightly more polished and its world feels larger. WAR's crafting is not exactly deep either, and its Open RVR isn't really all that worldy. Fans of world simulation games may just want to sit the next few years out.

You are going to have the most fun in this game with a guild or a big group of friends. If you want open dungeon crawls, easy PVE grouping, uninstanced RVR, a great mix of BG's and the ability to level through PVP, this is your game.

The real group that could go either way is going to be the semi-casual Kara level players who maybe do a little arena/BG on the side. I also wonder whether a lot of more hardcore players are going to double-dip, switching back and forth in between content updates in each game.
 
Romidar:

Kailyn of Povar here, though I am Guthammer on Silver Hand in WOW these days.

You still Paladining? And what are you going to do for your paladin fix in WAR?

Imagine bumping into you!

There is the other, good, mitigating factor of lots of grouping.

Reputation means something again. I doubt that anything will ever be as strong as an EQ rep in MMOGs. But too much asshattery and you will find groups excluding you. While leveling/PVPing maybe viable in WAR, they sound far from optima.

Just that social pressure give me hope.
 
We had open grouping in PSO, which is almost 10 years old now.

When you get decent people joining your groups, its great, but as everyone knows, there are a huge number of immature/selfish people playing MMOs, and these are the people you are more likely to end up grouping with on a day to day basis.

Expect to see more and more locked groups, once people have made their friends and/or joined their guilds and found their feet.

I hope I am proved wrong.
 
Vlad: there is no penalty for creating a warparty (i.e. raid party). You get the same xp and can complete quests. Which means that carrying some moron has a rather minimal difference in your gain. It's not like in WoW where you can't operate in 90% of the content in a raid group because it gimps it. So there won't be too much of a problem with adding people even if they aren't at your level; and if they are real bozos, the group leader can still kick them out of the group.
 
I am betting most people who thinks WoW has a good pvp system and gameplay are the same ones who play classes that the system is best for. Warlocks, warriors and rogues are likely the preachers. I am certain most supporters are not Hunters and Shamans. I am sure they would not say WoW pvp with its 4 arenas and 4 battlegrounds is fair and balanced.

Class balance and a grind pvp system are hardly a good system. Not to mention the fact that latency and a more powerful computer are most times more important than this "skill" that has been mentioned.

Want to be good at WoW pvp? Buy an awesome computer, take advantage of latency and resign yourself to doing the same thing over and over until you are geared like a pimp. If you want story immersion, role playing or ever changling content, then WoW PVP is not for you. Grind and repeat! Go get em!
 
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