Posts Tagged ‘Warhammer Online’

Fixing What Isn’t Broken

Monday, January 4th, 2010

You know an MMO is in decline when they get rid of their dwarf-tossing and replace it with painfully pedantic beginner quests. Case in point: Warhammer Online.

WAR has always suffered from putting all of its eggs into one PvP basket. Their “public quests” – cooperative PvE encounters – are a great idea in theory, but they are a complete failure if the player population is too low to support them. (For more information on how Public Quests work, watch this video.) Mythic didn’t take into account the fact that as a game ages, players move out of the lower level maps, creating population imbalances on the server. This means that all of those exciting beginner and mid-level Public Quests are as empty as a Greenskin’s head.

Mythic’s answer to this problem was to redesign the starter area. Initially, each race had their own beginner quests that were tailored to their specific racial histories within the overall storyline. These quests were fun, informative, and even involved some dwarf-tossing. The redesigned beginner area lumps everyone together doing generic we’re-at-war-so-go-kill-stuff quests, and involves tutorials so simplistic that a 10 year-old would be offended.

Sadly, I don’t think Mythic was seeing the bigger picture, and was attempting to fix something that wasn’t really broken. Yes, player population densities do shift, but the game would have maintained its population and attracted new players if they had addressed the lack of content and uninspired quests at the mid-levels. When my first character, an Empire Witch Hunter, got to level 20 the available quests became sparse and the quest rewards were often two and three levels above her. Nothing kills player enthusiasm quicker than receiving rewards that you can’t even use!

The irony of the situation is that although the combined beginner areas may give the illusion of player density, they have done nothing to improve the mid-level PvE areas. I logged into my level 32 Bright Wizard, who was last standing in Eataine – a Tier 4 area appropriate for her level.

The entire map was deserted.

The Virtual Glass Ceiling

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I’m well known among my friends for being a feminist. I’m quick to point out a gender stereotype or inequality wherever I encounter it. And I champion equal rights with a gusto that borders on fanaticism.

Unfortunately, my chosen hobby/addiction has a LOT of catching-up to do in this particular area, and no place is this more evident than in Mythic Entertainment’s Warhammer Online.

Based upon Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy setting, Warhammer Online contains the usual fantasy races of Dwarf, Human and Elves, along with Greenskins (Orcs & Goblins), Chaos (a demi-human race), and Dark Elves (regular Elves who shop at Hot Topic).

The game has a total of 24 different classes to choose from – which would be groovy, except for the fact that 4 of these classes are gender-specific, with 3 of the 4 being available to male characters only.

Really? Seriously? Even in my fantasy games I can’t have gender-neutrality?

[insert grumbling and fist-shaking]

I’m not the first to complain about this, and there has been much speculation as to why Mythic Entertainment chose to make these class exclusions. My best guess is that Mythic assumed that their audience (primarily male) would not be interested in playing some of the ‘uglier’ classes as a female character and wanted to conserve art resources by excluding them.

Regardless of the reason, in retaliation for this obvious virtual injustice I decided to create the most effeminate, girly Chaos Marauder possible, named Peony. I insisted upon dyeing every piece of Peony’s armor PINK and would tell anyone who asked (and even some who didn’t) that Peony preferred to watch Oprah and arrange flowers, but had agreed to fight in the war because someone had stolen her entire Pink Pony collection.

Take THAT, Mythic Entertainment! Hell hath no fury like a Peony without her pony. (Or a girl gamer without a proper female Chaos Marauder.)