July 12, 2008

Incomplete, Content


Prior to the Lord of the Rings movies launching, back during filming, word leaked out that the core story was being altered to include a love story between Arogorn and Arwen. Nerd rage ensued, as this was blasphemy to the Lord of the Rings faithful. Peter Jackson, director of the trilogy, eventually made the decision to cut most of the love story that had been added to the script, because it wasn't working out. The love story remained part of the movie, but no where near as involved as it was originally scripted. Guess what, no one screamed that the films were "incomplete". Actually, most people would agree that they were pretty damn good movies, even with just a third of the love story included.

Fast forward to this week's announcements from Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR). People are screaming that what is being left on the cutting room floor will now make the end product "incomplete". Really? Just like the Lord of the Rings movies were left incomplete in the wake of a major plot theme being cut? Peter Jackson had a great saying for the pre-release fans: "Don't worry, it'll be in the Collector's Edition DVDs!". Same as Mark Jacobs saying; "Folks, we'll work on it, and if we get it right, we'll put it in."

Fortunately for WAR fans, an MMO has far more luxury to add in major additions later down the line. However, like movies, MMOs have to come out of the gates swinging to capture an audience before another movie does. There are plenty of people looking for a new movie this year and they will only be satisfied by a movie that makes it to the credits.


It really enrages me to hear people claim that 2/6 of WAR's content will now be missing, so I want to take a few moments to talk about content.

Starting off, capital cities in WAR will be broken down into five different stages and grow with the playerbase. Yes, cities in WAR will level. A major point to this argument is that each new city level will increase the amount of content available to players of BOTH realms, because once captured, enemies gain access to that content as well. In reality, there will actually be ten different capital cities worth of content to explore in WAR. With the announcements, Mythic clarified that they will be adding even more content to the cities now that there is only two, on top of polishing what was already there. How that message is being translated into a loss of 2/6 of the games content is beyond me.

World of Warcraft's guild system is nothing more than a chat channel and a members panel. WAR's guild system will have forty levels, guild standards, a shared guild tavern, guild-claimable keeps, in-game guild calendars, and both of the items mentioned for WoW.

WoW has nine player classes. WAR will have twenty. The "classes are just mirrors of each other in WAR" argument falls flat. If classes were simply mirrors, none of them would be getting cut from release. WAR's classes will have similarities, but all will be unique within themselves, with their own flavor.

WoW's player skill system has three paths available per class, as will WARs. However, in WAR players will be able to gain additional skills from the Tome of Knowledge and Realm vs. Realm ranks.

Oh, and WAR will have the Tome of Knowledge, which Blizzard is trying to match with an achievement system in Wrath of the Lich King. However, we've seen the Tome of Knowledge and it houses ten times the potential of an achievement system being tacked onto an aging game.

WoW has Arena rankings, which followed a failed and abandoned Honor Rank system. WAR will have eighty planned levels of RvR ranks. a system Mythic has perfected over a decade of game development.

WoW has four PvP battlegrounds. WAR will have some as well, rumored to be several more than that available in WoW.

WAR has a Campaign System, culminating in a Capital City siege and capture phase. WoW will have one zone in Wrath of Lich King designed to be an open world siege.

I could go on and continue this vane argument, but what I'm trying to get at, is that we should be standing here and asking if WoW is "complete", because by the measuring stick being leveled at WAR, it sure the hell isn't. It isn't even close. Of course that can't be possible for the Holy Grail of MMOs, so the measuring stick is obviously flawed. I actually agree with that assessment, because the measuring stick is broken. However, as broken as it is, it will be used to measure WAR while WoW sits idly by, immune to the same criticism.

If WAR pulls off what has been SHOWN already, it will be launching on a content platform far more diverse and unified than anything offered by WoW. It will take time to grow that content in quantity, but that is fine when Mythic sticks to quality first. In the end, that approach to quality will keep players interested, just as it has kept players interested in WoW for four years.

What these cuts for WAR tell me is that Mythic is dedicated to sticking to what works and making sure it s done as best as possible, just as Blizzard does. Last I checked, that worked out pretty damn well for Blizzard.