Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
 
Good timing

I honestly don't believe that MMORPG companies release their games and expansions strategically to put a spoke in the wheels of the competitors. I think that there is so much internal pressure and factors affecting releases that guesswork on possible competitors release dates rate rather low in the decision making. Every expansion of World of Warcraft has been accused of being released to hinder somebody, but in hindsight they just were released like clockwork every two years, always in the period before Christmas.

But the human brain is wired to find connections where none exist. And thus it is only too easy to consider the Wildstar release date as being carefully planned to be 2 months after the release date of The Elder Scrolls Online, but nearly half a year before the next WoW expansion. If the marketing division of Carbine planned this, they would have hoped for player reactions exactly like this: People getting bored with TESO after the free month, and ready to switch to Wildstar after 2 months.

Now for the record, I have beta tested both games. I prefer the colorful graphics and atmosphere of Wildstar over the subdued tones of The Elder Scrolls Online. And between two rather similar combat systems, I do prefer the Wildstar one for giving much better feedback to the player what is going on. And that is pretty much all that made me choose Wildstar over TESO. I do not consider The Elder Scrolls Online a fundamentally worse game than Wildstar. The flaws it has are mostly shared with the competition. As my tastes developed from high-intensity MMORPG player to low-intensity MMORPG player, the "level up to the cap, then play raids/PvP" model all these games share now feels like "level up to the cap, then stop playing". Both Wildstar and TESO have some horizontal content, but are still vertical games at their core, with a virtual Game Over screen at the level cap.

I can imagine playing The Elder Scrolls Online at some later date. But I'm sure not paying two monthly subscriptions at the same time. How much I can play is limited by my available time, so paying for two games means getting only half the value for my money. And then, as the "I quit TESO" blog posts are rolling in, you can't help but consider that the game will go Free2Play next year.

Comments:
I was curious about why you are playing Wildstar at launch? If you are in a hardocre epeen race, the MMO endgame, then one has to jump on the treadmill ASAP. But if one is going to play 1-3 months in a game, there is a lot to be said for letting the launch queues go away and some bugs to get patched.

If TESO were going b2p/f2p, then wouldn't December, the new date for the console releases, be a fine time?

I think Blizzard really made a mistake to go 14 months without content right during the TESO/WS/Landmark launches. But, IMO, dumber is not having an "annual subscription deal" to capture a lot of people, many of whom won't sub to two games at one.
 
I was curious about why you are playing Wildstar at launch?

I am a member of the same guild since the launch of Everquest 2. I want to play Wildstar at launch because my guild is going to play Wildstar at launch.

P.S. Some people might have problems understanding the concept of playing through the leveling content of a MMORPG with a guild. It's a social thing, not a race to raid status.
 
I had forgotten that; congratulations. My MMO experience is that raiding-as-endgame does not make for a stable experience as people's schedules and progression skills and desires are not sufficiently in sync.
 
Sorry, you can't judge the health of a game by whether Keen and Graev have bailed on it :) We're talking about people who coined the term "three-monther" and then applied it to every game that has released without ever considering if maybe the problem isn't with every single game, it's with themselves.

In this case they only lasted one month... which I'm sure is purely down to the quality of the game and not because they're jumping aboard the next shiny hype train.

Personally, I find Wildstar is a distillation of current trends in MMO design whilst ESO has made a few design decisions that buck some trends. They're going to appeal to different people and I wish both of them well and hope they both serve their chosen target audiences.

On the subject of planned release dates, I suspect you're correct. Anyone who thinks that the delivery date of a major, multi-year development project can be pulled forward or pushed back on a whim as part of some game of "chicken" between marketing departments hasn't worked on any major, multi-year development projects - at least, not on the project management side.
 
"I prefer the colorful graphics and atmosphere of Wildstar over the subdued tones of The Elder Scrolls Online."

I'm actually the reverse. I like ESO's looks a lot, while I found Wildstar to be off-putting. But then, I also found WoW's graphics to be off-putting too, so what do I know?

"And between two rather similar combat systems, I do prefer the Wildstar one for giving much better feedback to the player what is going on."

Other than seeing my own aiming cone in Wildstar, I didn't feel very connected to the combat, but I can say that of any game, and now having seen Wildstar's self-telegraphs, I'll admit to wishin I had them in any game where I'm casting an AE.

"As my tastes developed from high-intensity MMORPG player to low-intensity MMORPG player, the "level up to the cap, then play raids/PvP" model all these games share now feels like "level up to the cap, then stop playing."

I am 100% in agreement here. I got a toon to VR1 in ESO and... went to the Daggerfall Covenant lands. Except I've got alts in DC lands, so why bother doing it in a scaled up version with a "built up" character when I can level through it with a different class and build? Same for any other game for me -- once I hit cap and maybe do the dungeons a couple of times, I'm "done."
 
Oh, you mean Keen's quest for the One True MMO continues? I called that three years ago.

Keen's a bit of a moron. For as obsessed as he is with MMOs he refuses to actually think about them. He's caught in this loop where he No True Scotsmans any MMO that is genuinely innovative and excludes it from the genre because it isn't like WoW, while simultaneously bitching about how all MMOs are the same. When I tried to point the loop out to him, I got told I was thinking too hard.

His solution, such as it is, seems to be go back to the Golden Age of EQ. Oddly, he doesn't play EQ even though he could. Oddly.
 
Keen might be the weathervane, but the lemmings inevitably follow.
 
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