Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 13, 2008
Altdorf fell for real this time

Via Kill Ten Rats I learn that Altdorf has been conquered for real for the first time. Even Mark Jacobs acknowledged the capture, albeit with a reservation that he still has to check whether any exploits were used. Of course there is the usual discussion whether raids in the small hours of the morning are fair, but Mythic seems to be okay with that. One participant reports the whole thing taking 5 hours from start to finish, against 0 defenders, which should have given Order some time to mount a defence if they hadn't been asleep and offline. I think part of the problem is WAR not having international servers, on international servers there are no times when everyone sleeps.

But what I found more revealing was one comment saying just "slightly over 3 weeks 1-> 40 -> City captured". He meant it as compliment, but to me the phrase pretty much sums up what is wrong. WAR is a huge game, with lots of zones, a great amount of content, and theoretically a large variety of options what to do at any given moment. But there are so many people who skipped all this content, just selected the one option that leveled them up the fastest (scenarios), and after slightly over 3 weeks basically "finished" Warhammer Online. What will they do next? It's unlikely they'll reroll an alt and start playing the game in all tranquility, starting to explore all the other options. There is a serious risk that they'll organize a few more Altdorf raids, until they get bored with that, and realize there is nothing else to look forward to. They fast-forwarded the film, they flipped through the book to read who the killer was on the last page.

That is a collective failure between players who think the only real game is the endgame, and the developers who enable fast leveling and tout their endgame as being the most important part. It is a failure, because it reduces a huge game to a tiny part. People can still grind scenarios for a while until they are renown rank 80, but then even that option disappears. There will be nothing left but trying to take control of the same zones over and over. With Destruction winning most of the time, due to them simply outnumbering Order. How often will players repeat that same exercise before it bores them to death and they leave?

The whole time-scale is wrong. How long is WAR supposed to last? I'm sure EA and Mythic were counting on several years, with EQ and UO still alive after 10 years, and WoW going strong after 4. But while in WoW it famously took one crazy guy only 28 hours to level from 60 to 70 when TBC came out (and there will be another crazy guys doing something similar in WotLK), WoW isn't over at the level cap. Even the best organized guilds took months until they reached the final raid boss, and then Blizzard added more raid dungeons. Mythic isn't going to add tier 5 zones after this, Altdorf / Inevitable City is all there is. Soon somebody is going to kill a king, and then there is nothing left but repeat performances.

Now somebody is going to say that those repeat performances of city sieges is what they want. To which I reply why did Mythic bother developing the rest of the game? If somebody is supposed to play this game for 4 years, but only spend 4 weeks of that leveling to the cap, and the other 3 years and 11 months doing city sieges, then why spend so much money developing the leveling part? For half the budget they could have made a city siege only game, where characters are created directly at the maximum level.

I don't believe that a significant number of players are going to play Warhammer Online city sieges for years. MMO players are notorious for their attention deficit disorder and their love for new, shiny things. After killing the king a couple of times, they'll just leave WAR in search of a new game. And that is a shame, because in their rush to get to that point, they missed a great game. They will have finished WAR, but never really played it. Which isn't only bad from a game design point of view, but also not the greatest business plan.
Like I said a couple of threads down, the MMO genre is permanently broke, because developers cannot code around human nature, and too many people in this hobby tie their self image into in-game accomplishments.

The only thing Mythic can do is add more grind (which is what they all end up doing) and that ends up hurting casual players.

Gee, it feels like I had this conversation almost a decade ago.

Face it folks, if they can't figure it out in ten years, they aren't ever going to figure it out.

I haven't played WAR so I don't know how much there is to play in city sieges but I'm sure Mythic have been thinking that the constantly unique nature of PVP would be enough to keep players from getting bored. Maybe you're right and they're wrong, but they are still adding more cities to siege in the future and probably that is not going to be all.

I can't understand your comment about MMO players having an attention deficit disorder and jumping to new and shiny at all though. Doesn't WOW's continued success contradict that directly? It sure ain't new or shiny anymore and it's the most popular MMO out there. WoW's endgame is not particularly better either because it mostly consists of an endless gear-grind and you don't get to switch the scenery (raid instances) very often.
WoW isn't over at the level cap.

It is if you dont like raids or are a casual player, in a casual guild or even unguilded. I dont think the hardcore players in this Altdorf raiding guild are a good representative of the majority of the playerbase. In PVP repetitiveness is apparently a lesser factor, considering that lots of gamers are essentially playing certain fps games for years on end.

So i dont think the late night raid on Altdorf after 3 weeks says anything about the longevity of War at all tbh.
You are right Tobold. Some people out there that a game is solely defined by it's so called "end-game" and therefore rush towards it. With Warhammer Online they don't realize that the end-game starts with rank1. It's a nice world with many stuff to explore, many enemies to kill.

Being the first to kill the king might be a acclompishment someone wants to get. Is it what the game solely defines? No. Especially when you circumvent enemy resistance by locking fortresses in the night ..this is no sign for understanding what the game is all about. Competition and skill is also defined by the enemy and his skills. ;) such a city siege real? To me not. Do I have a problem with it. No, it's a tactic that i can understand though I don't like it and think that it's just a cheap victory to comfort someones ego.
The analogy with skipping to the end in a book is pretty flawed. Playing a MMO is, normally, a too diverse and hetrogenous experience for comparison with reading a book or watching a movie to be appropriate. If anything a better analogy would be a library or video store with a wide array of books or movies. The player have the option to choose a number of different activities to partake in. Some will try out as many as possible while others will cherry pick their favourite genre and then, when they have finished their limited selection, go and do something entirely unrelated.

Just because one, hardcore, part of the playerbase has gobbled up all available content in one field of play within the game that doesn't mean that the game design is necessarily flawed, just like a library hasn't failed because a sci-fi fan doesn't move on to chick lit when he has read all the sci-fi books in a library. Sure those players might not generate further revenue, and I guess Mythic are looking at how to keep them, but saying that Mythic or the players have done anything flawed just because the game was possible to be played according to the speed players' preference is misguided. You might think the enjoyment is a more leisurely stroll through the game, enjoying the sights, but why should others be forced to adapt to your preference, if the option to cater to both playstyles is there?
Did Altdorf really fell? When I've seen the thread over VNBoards I thought so as well, but Mr Jacobs posted another thread which seems to have drawn a bit less attention but deliver more intel of what happened during that siege.

Check out point 10: "Altdorf was never captured but merely contested."

This comment has been removed by the author.
but they are still adding more cities to siege in the future and probably that is not going to be all.

No they are not. Josh already explained that all the content in the original "6 cities" has been already reused in the 6 fortresses and 2 cities. They aren't putting the other 4 cities in.

There is a lot of tuning left to do. I think 4 hours is a little fast. But OTOH, it's 4 hours with barely any pcs, so maybe that's just about right.
Saying that taking over Altdorf but not killing the king is kinda like saying you killed all the trash mobs in an instance but didn' actually try an take down the boss.
But I think the solution to this problem is Mythic giving an attacking/defending side an big bonus by how well they can play rather then how big their group is, say if 500 Destruction players die throughout the raid then a ton more guards spawn.
I was still able to use the postern door of the outer Reikwald keep even though destro controlled it. Not sure if that is a bug still there.

Also our city still is rank 4 instead of rank 2 or 1, so that didn't work either. I was under the impression even if your emporer didn't fall you still lost a rank.

It did only take about 4 hours. I didn't really think anyone exploited as much as maybe it's still too easy. But then again 4 hours vs npcs only isn't so bad. By the time the scenarios started we had only 33 order of lvl 30+ defending. They did a good job in the one pq they were in. But seriously 33 vs a little over 120 is not going to cut it, they would have gotten the city.

The only unfortunate thing is by the time order has enough players to take their city, they'll decide "oh this was too easy we need to beef up the encounters" heh :)

But that's why I barely play destro anymore and mostly play order.
I really don't want to sound like sour grapes but someone is going to have to explain why so-called serious PVP/RVR players mount an offense when they know few defenders will be online. Isn't that doing PVE??? I thought the purpose was to fight each other not NPCs. As someone who happened to pop online at an uncharacteristic hour of 9-something AM on a Sunday, I posted my thoughts already on my blog.

I was there and the very few of us that knew what was going on, which is a whole other problem, could do very little against an entrenched enemy of that size. MMOs are 24/7 so you can't block times out but the capture has to run across more hours to allow proper defense. I've now read that Mythic was fine with this in DOAC. I hope they'll be fine with that size population as well. Casual or whatever you choose to call people who can't or won't do this stuff in the dead of night, aren't likely to hang around for their stuff to get rolled while they are sleeping.

And ALL levels need a participation mechanic. There should be some way for anyone who is online to defend their city. It's silly that the low people kept asking how can we help??? What can I do??? No one enjoys feeling helpless. Even when people reach cap there will always be new players in a successful game. I don't think there are easy answers or this would have played out differently. Let's see how many cities start falling during the wee hours and the player reactions. This will be interesting to say the least.
The #1 complaint in ALL MMO's?


Why is this?

What If.. I will quote an example from Guild Wars.... You could reach level 20 (end level) within a matter of days, and then the REAL game started?
What if you must progress through trials and tribulations to get to the end of the game (which GW happens to have)
So, people feel they have accomplished that first goal (I hit MAX level) fairly quickly, then they can focus their time on accomplishing the main "Mission" goals of the storyline.
Of course, this is thinking in PvE format...
And maybe that is the crutch. WAR's PvE is weak, and gives no incentives to do it. It has been noted to be quite boring as well.
So, players bypass all that, to get to endgame so fast, and then burn out immediately.
Because there is nothing else to do.
If players want to PvP in GW, they can insta-level and only do that.
And there are multiple ways to do it, not just this one goal like situation as in WAR.

I agree with a previous poster...
The MMO genre is broken since Vanguard, and I think all NEW MMO's need to go back to the drawing board and rethink strategies.
This WoW copycat syndrome is not paying off for anyone.
It's unlikely they'll reroll an alt and start playing the game in all tranquility, starting to explore all the other options.

Maybe some of the harder core players might not take this option, but with the very large number of classes in the game it seems unlikely that a lot of players would not start some up.
I think people who burn through content to endgame only have themselves to blame. I mean, if you're not savoring your journey to max level, what is there left to do in ANY game? Loiter around a city hoping people /inspect your epic gear? The only question I could ask myself when that guy burned his way from 60-70 in a day or two in Burning Crusade was, "To what end?"

As far as WAR specifically goes, Mythic has already made the commitment to add the proposed content that didn't make it into the release in future patches. One would assume this means the classes AND cities that they didn't have time to tweak.

Another thing you're forgetting, is that as an RvR game, city sieges will differ every time because of the human factor. They're not scripted raid encounters as you'd face in your typical PvE dungeon. I mean, I can repeat the same scenarios for hours on end and still be having a great time whereas in a game like WoW for example, 10 minutes of grinding out Furlbog rep and I was so bored I never returned to that zone again.

I'd also imagine that the vast majority of WAR players are still in Tiers 2 and 3, which means there's not a hell of a lot of competition or challenge when these OCD players max out. Should Mythic have made city sieges "harder"? Perhaps but I don't think so--the difficulty or ease will be dictated by your opponents once they get there.
It didn't actually fall, but they got in. And I expect it's only a matter of a week or two at best before it does truly fall.

But I'm not complaining, because I honestly expected the King to go down last week. Averheim has some seriously hardcore Destruction folks on it, who have far outleveled the rest of the server and quickly.

In time, the majority will be 40 and then the two cities will be flip-flopping contested status every night.
As others have pointed out, saying the game is 'flawed' because the top 1% have reached the end game is a bit misguided. No developer plans around that top 1%, as they will always min/max to the cap faster than intended.

Looking at DAoC (the closest comparison), how long did people raid for Relics? Relics that could be taken back and only gave benefits for as long as you held them? To say that once someone has done a city raid they will be done, is like saying once someone saw Rag in WoW, they quit. Did not happen before, unlikely to happen now.
Well a true RvR/PVP guild that is looking for a challenge would have rolled Order by now.

The 3am city raids will always be there but at the same time I don't think anyone is really impressed at someone's ability to set an alarm clock and attack when no one is online.

Show me a guild that has a Destruction arm that has killed the Karl Franz without the aid of an alarm clock and has an Order side that took down Tzarzanek (no idea how to spell that by the way) durring prime time raids and THEN we can talk about who has beat the game.
Perhaps creating a PVP system where skill becomes greater than numbers is the only solution for a franchise like WAR.

The Rock Paper Scissors system is good when you have 1v1 or 2v2, but when you have 50 vs 65, skill becomes less of a factor.

Heres a thought. What if devs decided to make a system where parties have combo attacks that destroy or knockback x amount of players within range. This would have to be made to be incredibly difficult but players looking to be the best of the best would stand a chance against overwhelming odds. Think William Wallace and the Scots vs the English Cavalry in Braveheart. They didn't have superior numbers, but superior strategies.
You're going to have to write a post titled "No really, THIS time Altdorf fell, I promise!" eventually.

Altdorf didn't fall. It went contested, meaning that the Destruction forces owned all the T4 zones leading up to it, captured the T4 order fortress, and were able to ENTER Altdorf and start seiging.

They were there for 5-7 hours, and then got pushed out. They didn't even SEE Karl Franz, much less defeat him.

And it was early, but there WERE player defenders on. Grossly outnumbered, yes, but they were there. It wasn't 300 Destro vs. an empty city of NPCs. They seiged Altdorf and lost. I don't really see how you can call that "Altdorf fell for real"
saying the game is 'flawed' because the top 1% have reached the end game is a bit misguided

I'm not talking 1%, I'm talking 10% to 20%. There were 320 Destruction players involved in that raid on Altdorf. You can't possibly raid a city with just 1% of the server population.
Altdorf didn't fall.

I can only report what I read. Funnily when Mark Jacobs says "congratulations for the first taking of a city", I tend to believe him. I'm naive that way.
I don't see how this is any worse than WoW, especially at release. How much end game content did WoW have at release? Yeah, that's right, pretty much none.

As it is, WoW endgame content only exists for the hardcore raider or mind-burned rep grinder. There is very little "game" at the level cap in WoW, just a whole lot of hamster wheels.

This is no different than a hardcore guild leveling to 60 in WoW and blowing through MC before anything else was released. Oh no, the game is over and everyone is going to quit!


There's one big difference between WoW and WAR's repetitive activities. A greater portion of people who play WAR find WAR's PvP enjoyable for its own sake than people who play WoW. How many people playing WoW do PvP solely for the enjoyment? Once they're at the level cap and have all the gear, how many would keep playing? Precious few, and Blizzard's constant gear additions bear that out.

In contrast, I think I can speak for many WAR players that the RvR is just fun, even without the benefit of the rewards. If I'm rank 40, renown rank 80, with all the best gear I can get, I can still go out and have fun, WHICH IS WHAT GAMES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

At the ultimate endgame, WAR becomes more like a multiplayer FPS which, after all, has no real rewards except personal reputation.
I picked up War, and its a pretty fun game. Not perfect, but fun nonetheless.

I don't think what happened is a flaw in the game. In fact, I'd take it as a showing that War will be popular, although not as much as WoW, which is obvious.

Some people want to be on the cutting edge of a game. They are the people who start raiding a few weeks after the game/expansion comes out. Many people in War wanted to level as fast as possible and actually siege a city. Whether or not they actually "beat" the game doesn't matter. They rushed through and got a taste of the game.

There isn't a reason why I should now consider War to be flawed because of this. I'm taking my sweet time leveling. Got my shaman to 20 a few days ago with a mount, and followed your talisman guide to make some extra money. I've been leveling a disciple and witch elf also for fun.

I guess as a casual, I'm actually playing the game from the start as a casual. Part of me wanted to level as fast as possible in War to see the endgame stuff early, but then I remembered that just as in WoW, endgame is ultimately boring and nothing but grinding. So, I've been taking it slow.

I plan on playing WoTLK and War, but I will definitely be taking my time in both and doing things most people skip over. Hell, I just won the fishing contest (finally) in STV yesterday. Now I can turn into a piranha, even though it is mostly useless. But its fun.

If you find War fun, whether the occasional PQ, or Scenario, then the game is a success. Maybe War won't have the "staying power" (read: Grindfest)that WoW has, but as you've said Tobold, sometimes you dream of a game over screen with MMOs. The game over screen isn't actually visible, but pops up as soon as you dislike logging into the game.
I already thought all those things through Tobold, which is why I predicted what I did here:

see option number 6 for the churn and burn (out) people :D
Guy fails to understand video game or level a character, sees a few people do it and QQ. News at 10.
"I don't see how this is any worse than WoW, especially at release. How much end game content did WoW have at release? Yeah, that's right, pretty much none.

As it is, WoW endgame content only exists for the hardcore raider or mind-burned rep grinder. There is very little "game" at the level cap in WoW, just a whole lot of hamster wheels.

This is no different than a hardcore guild leveling to 60 in WoW and blowing through MC before anything else was released. Oh no, the game is over and everyone is going to quit!


Nobody got to the end of Molten Core a month after release. And even if they could have, most players wouldn't have cared. Beating Rag didn't affect other players....RvR affects everyone.

A month from now, Destruction will own Altdorf and there will be no doubt about it 'falling', because Order won't be getting back in. And all the serious PvP action will take place at 3am.

Regardless of how Order deals with this, by rerolling, quitting or getting better organized, the real action is still going to take place when most people are asleep.

Unless they change the rules, that's your game...enjoy!
I like Warhammer and I play it extremely casual. I think I just hit 17 and I bought it the day after release. Now I'm a hardcore WOW raider. My guild is taking a break after killing KJ (shameless plug). I rahter like having Warhammer to play when I feel like it. It many ways playing it casual is a breath of fresh air. The majority of players are not and have never been hardcore. The hardcore will get tired of it real quick and move on, but the majority wont. It may give mythic enough time to produce new content before the majority are tired of the old. There was a lot of stuff that was planned that didn't make it into the game and they are working to add it in. What was it 5 capital cities and some more classes? (maybe something cool besides the witch hunter for order)
Whenever I see someone question balance on forums (for WoW or WAR) inevitably someone responds with, "It's balanced at level 40, where the real game starts." Which to my mind is completely backwards.

Leveling IS THE GAME. Maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of us.

In WAR I'm taking my time, trying to do every single quest in all the chapters, in all the zones. I'm looking for all the tome unlocks, titles.

But yeah, when I hit 40 I'll siege Altdorf and when it falls I'll probably quit the game. I'll be done. Why is that a bad thing?
Regardless of what's been taken or not, I'm having a great time playing this game. I've had fun solo questing, doing PQs, scenarios, and RvR lake PUGs. The MOST fun that I've had is doing scenarios with a few friends, talking on Ventrilo.

I don't think this game is properly compared to WoW; it's more like someone took WoW and added a bunch of BF2-like components. Rather than looking at it like levelling is the point, I'm just having fun fighting other players (like I would in an FPS like BF2) and periodically, I level, which is a fun bonus.

At the same time, I'm exploring a large world, like WoW, and fighting other players in fun RvR lakes. I do this already in WoW (fighting over world objectives in TBC, which are mostly points, I'll admit), but I think the removal of the corpse run is a huge improvement.

Removing that corpse run also feeds into WAR's strength, that you can do any number of fun things whenever you want: solo, PQ, Scenarios, RvR. I really like the variety and choice in the game, and I really don't know what I'm going to do when WotLK hits. I know I'll pick it up, but how long can I play both?

The nature of the "endgame" or "elder game" should be the focus here. If it's just a set of "hamster wheels", yes, it's a less than fulfilling experience. If it's an RvR framework that winds up perpetually imbalanced, it's also less than fulfilling. An endgame should be as interesting as the rest of the game. It should be dynamic, skill-intensive, and highly polished.

I think the FPS analogy is very apt; at present, the PvP endgame of either WAR or WoW is little removed from a fantasy Counterstrike. Thing is, CS is almost entirely skill-based, where slapping that sort of endgame on a DIKU flavored MMO brings all the level/loot baggage with it, which is inherently imbalancing. Skill (including tactics and strategy) needs to be the key factor in the gameplay, or it will always wind up critically imbalanced.

The "persistent world" RvR is interesting in and of itself, but with an imbalanced level/loot paradigm and imbalanced population, it's not going to live up to its potential. It can't simply because of the underlying structure.
"Altdorf fell for real this time"

Except they never killed the King and got kicked out by the defenders. They contested it.
Well written post, but you again almost completely miss the boat on WAR. For the casual (don't level to 40 in 4 weeks) gamer, this game provides a fantastic pvp environment available from the moment you login. And devs that listen to the players. Previous whines about city sieges and exp issues have already been addressed. Not too much they aren't actively working on and fixing, and we are only a month in. Nope, not returning the hamster wheel.

I agree the underlying balance issue is the only thing that might hold the game back.

Sorry for the second post.
Sorry to throw a few facts into this whirling pile of steaming guesswork but having been part of the raid and spending the 6, yes you read that right, hours it took frm start to finish, i like to think i know what really went on :P

We started at 7am EST, it took us 5 hours to fully capture the dwarven and Empire fortresses. That brings us to mid day. mid day on a Sunday, is it too much to expect some opposition at this time? Sure we started quite early, but it's by now means the 'wee hours of the morning' as some seem to think.

Altdorf did fall, the forces of destruction were not forced out by the defenders at all. The city was contested and Destruction won the right to lock Order out of the city. We did not however go all the way to the king and defeat him, we managed to do one of the city wings and got beaten by the mobs in the bright wizard college. And so the city re-opened to Order.

I myself was a lvl 26 during this raid. Cap level is 40 for thoe uninitiated. It took a lot of us lower level people to capture and hold the lower zones that allowed the campaign to move forward. Less than 1/4 of our raid force was max level, a full warband of 24. The rest were mid 30s and lower, we could have easilly been stopped.

5 hours is a long time, anyone that's played the game and experienced a keep siege knows that if a keep has some defenders, the time to take it nion quadruples if they know what they're doing.

So yes we started early, but there was ample chance for people to come to the defense of their realm. And they just plain didn't. So before we call doom and gloom on the game mechanics, please consider that you have no idea what went into this raid, we planned this for over a week and the organisation of the 300+ players was awesome. It took a lot to get as far as we did and it still wasn't enough.

There's plenty of game left for us to play and now the opposition knows we can do it, they've become much more agressive and are starting to actually play the game rather than grind through the lvls watching the numbers fly by.

This is the most positive thing to happen on our server if you can see past the whiners and doomsayers.
Actually, according to Mark Jacobs Altdorf was contested, but never captured. Read points 8 and 10 for verification.
See eyewitness report by Endless above "The city was contested and Destruction won the right to lock Order out of the city."

If Destruction managed to lock Order out of Altdorf, I think "Altdorf fell" is not a false statement. Nobody ever claimed the Emperor was killed. But Mythic could simply give the Emperor 10 trillion hitpoints and an attack that hits you for 1 million damage, and then he'd never be killed. He is a raid boss, and the power level it takes to kill him is completely arbitrary, and not relevant for the discussion of a PvP battle anyway. Destruction beat Order up to the last point where Order had any influence on the fight. Whether then Destruction failed to kill this or that raid boss doesn't matter. Destruction beat Order in PvP. Point.
That post by Marc Jacobs was from warhammer alliance's forums and was referencing a raid before ours on an entirely different server. As marc himself says it takes time to gather the facts.

Some of the issues he highlighted were patched in and fixed before we started our raid. I expect Marc is still pouting over the details of our raid as well. I'm a little anxious for him to speak up though, i'd like to know if anything was easier or harder than it was supposed to be.
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