234: Casualty of Warhammer

Casualty of Warhammer

The customer service team at EA Mythic had it all - catered lunches, Rock Band-filled break rooms and logo-stamped coffee mugs. But sliding subscription numbers and a slumping economy meant the good times wouldn't last. Jeremy Monken recounts his time as a GM for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

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I remember reading this when it was first published.

Was a really, really sad tale, and one that's probably all too common.

Stop blaming WoW for WAR's failure. The devs didn't listen to the beta-players and were more busy partying and taking breaks for Rock Band than fixing the balance problems.

It took over 2 months in retail to fix problems from open or even closed beta, some of them stayed even later.

Also, economy had nothing to do with that - people didn't stop playing WoW because of it. Maybe they just didn't find the game good enough for $15 a month. I sure didn't.

So is this just a repost of a popular story?

Anyways, I remember reading it. What drew me was the fact that it said something about Warhammer losing HAHA!

The article was great, and I felt sympathy Mr. Monken.

After I played for about a month, I knew the game was going to go downhill. I loved the public quests, but any given area only had one that anyone actually played. There was no player base that wanted to see the story at launch, everyone was just grinding to 40 as fast as possible. Then the low-level zones became barren wastelands. Even the battlegrounds died out -- there was the one in each zone that was "most efficient" and nobody played the others. It was sad because the game was a lot of fun.

edthehyena:
After I played for about a month, I knew the game was going to go downhill. I loved the public quests, but any given area only had one that anyone actually played. There was no player base that wanted to see the story at launch, everyone was just grinding to 40 as fast as possible. Then the low-level zones became barren wastelands. Even the battlegrounds died out -- there was the one in each zone that was "most efficient" and nobody played the others. It was sad because the game was a lot of fun.

Yeah exactly, it's too bad because the game was so awesome...

But its hard to keep interest when you are the only player in your region >.<

I was playing warhammer around this time. A lot of my friends and guildmates had quit the game by December. The fact that the writer worked in Customer Service and cites the reasons for lost membership as "gold farmers, cheaters and WoW's new expansion" really answers a lot of questions for me. It tells me that he either couldn't say the actual reasons for the mass exodus of players due to non-disclosure obligations or that Warhammer CS was clueless. The biggest factors for people I played with deciding to quit were the broken gameplay issues. At the time there was a bug with Dragonwake that made it unable to be controlled by either faction, Serpent's Passage was the only tier 4 battleground that would pop and fortress sieges were so laggy they were unplayable. It was widely perceived by the people I played with that they pushed out a game that wasn't ready for release simply to beat WoW's expansion to market.

I hung in until about April or May of 2009 and though Mythic finally addressed some of the problems at release and interest in Wow's expansion had waned, it was apparent that Warhammer wasn't going to recover. MMOs beware of bad releases.

Warhammer was fun, I think I played it for about a month and a half when it released. The pvp was fun.....that's about it. Yeah the public quests were fun on the rare occasions that there were enough people in the area to do them, but frankly people just didn't do them so all that was left was pvp and questing to level.

I was rather unaware though how fast its player base had declined, I was under the impression it was still going somewhat strong. Is it even still up and running? By the sounds of that article EA laid off a fair chunk of the staff; I don't see how an mmo's upkeep could survive that.

I was one of many people who were on the forums for the Climax version of Warhammer Online. It kept the dark gritty nature of what Warhammer actually is. Then they screwed the pooch so badly it's still in the toilet now crying itself to sleep.

Mythic for me both rescued Warhammer Online and destroyed it in one fell swoop. Firstly the existing community was left to exist in several affiliated forums rather than being grabbed together and drawn into an official forum. Next they made the game look just a little too light and happy (now I understand the limits put on how dark and gritty things can be before it becomes an 18 only release and the profit factor involved in having a kid friendly game etc but it wasn't dark and gritty enough for me [thats right my opinion I may be talking out of my ass but thats my ass and I'll talk out of it if I want to:P])

To add to their list of reasons why I never even bought the game they created a back story that to me made as much sense as Memento and Fight Clubs head messing moments added together.

Their worst crime was to release it before Liche King when it just simply wasn't ready, a work colleague had talked to me at length about how much WoW ruled and I spoke back about Warhammer when he learned of a MMORPG for it he went ahead and pre-ordered it. One week after release(he took time off to play it into the ground) I asked him how it was, by clocking out he'd just about finished telling me all the things he hadn't liked about the game and how he'd gone on to spend 5 of the 7 days playing WoW again.

When a game is so buggy and broken that it forces a hardcore MMORPG fan who was excited at the prospect of a new and interesting MMORPG finds it so frustrating with technical issues that after 2 days he's back on the old one then it had no chance of succeding especially when Liche King was released only 2 months later adding new content to a stable and well polished MMORPG.

Mythic, maybe EA pushed them to release the game. Maybe they thought it needed a bit more spit and polish to work out the technical issues. Whatever the circumstances the result was the same suicide by premature release.

I really did love Warhammer Online. I stuck around for a bit over half a year playing that game. I had a great guild and my skills as the DoT-happiest Engineer did not go unrecognized.

After the guild switched to Destro on a different server the game started to feel worse to me. Magus didn't feel nearly as fun as the Engineer was, so I ended up making a tank (which I loved) but somehow the very basis of this server was wrong. I moved from Pheonix Throne (RP Server, great community) to Black Crag, home of the "Ruin Zerg". It was an Order guild that purportedly had over 1,500 members. Somehow the battle started to get more even as my guild leveled up (We liked to say we were the cause) but Ruin had the ability to summon up all of their characters and crash a server to avoid any major assault we could land of Altdorf. Yes, you heard me right, they would CRASH the server with their numbers. That would either reset whatever fortress take was going on or dishearten us while our numbers trickled back in from the login screen.

After a few more months of that, we all switched to Aion. I didn't enjoy that game much more, I just liked hanging out with my guildmates. I gave up on that, too and went back to console gaming for a while.

*Heavy Sigh* I still remember the good ole' days, though.

Sigh i miss those days of mad PvP also.

If Mythic changed a handful of things it could truely be awesome (WHY DIDNT THEY LISTEN TO MY KEEP IDEAS!!)

trojun:
I was playing warhammer around this time. A lot of my friends and guildmates had quit the game by December. The fact that the writer worked in Customer Service and cites the reasons for lost membership as "gold farmers, cheaters and WoW's new expansion" really answers a lot of questions for me. It tells me that he either couldn't say the actual reasons for the mass exodus of players due to non-disclosure obligations or that Warhammer CS was clueless. The biggest factors for people I played with deciding to quit were the broken gameplay issues. At the time there was a bug with Dragonwake that made it unable to be controlled by either faction, Serpent's Passage was the only tier 4 battleground that would pop and fortress sieges were so laggy they were unplayable. It was widely perceived by the people I played with that they pushed out a game that wasn't ready for release simply to beat WoW's expansion to market.

I hung in until about April or May of 2009 and though Mythic finally addressed some of the problems at release and interest in Wow's expansion had waned, it was apparent that Warhammer wasn't going to recover. MMOs beware of bad releases.

What he said. ^

I am an avid Warhammer/Games Workshop fan, and I was looking forward to this game since I read about the Climax version. I joined and later became a guild leader for this game in spring 2006, was one of the guilds given guild beta (one of the few Order guilds actually,) had a guild of 50 or so people when the game finally launched. We started playing, by November (2 months later) my guild had shrunk to 15 or so consistent players. The core gameplay was broken, almost every server had become heavily one sided (looking back at DAoC, the 3 factions were actually a source of balancing because 2 could ally against a strong enemy), and PvP in tier 4 was laggy, bugged, there was too much ridiculous crowd control.

Basically, Warhammer fucked up because they attempted to appeal to the WoW market, and to the DAoC market, and they failed at both. PvE was lacking compared to WoW, and the PvP wasn't satisfactory for the DAoC players. Instead of creating their niche, they attempted as so many have to be the "WoW destroyer," which just isn't going to happen.

I remember being in a games workshop and one of the workers there boasting that WAR was going to be the WoW killer. That nothing could stand up to it now I wish I could see him again if not just to gloat. Alas it does suck to have to have so many layoff because of launch failer.

It was terrible timing for the release of the game. I remember talking friends into it and getting a group of about 50 players to buy it so we could construct a guild. Then the release dates for WoW: WotLK was open. I lost about thirty of the fifty and the rest called it forfeit.

gilthanan:

I am an avid Warhammer/Games Workshop fan, and I was looking forward to this game since I read about the Climax version. I joined and later became a guild leader for this game in spring 2006, was one of the guilds given guild beta (one of the few Order guilds actually,) had a guild of 50 or so people when the game finally launched. We started playing, by November (2 months later) my guild had shrunk to 15 or so consistent players. The core gameplay was broken, almost every server had become heavily one sided (looking back at DAoC, the 3 factions were actually a source of balancing because 2 could ally against a strong enemy), and PvP in tier 4 was laggy, bugged, there was too much ridiculous crowd control.

Much with you here, especially the aspect of being an avid Games Workshop fan.

Still! the game was close! It could have been better, but it was close to being a WoW Killer, if they had just perfected it, then it would be alive still.

Never bought the game at release, didn't have a good enough internet connection. Now I do, but after reading things like this, I am not so sure anymore.

I use to play it, got boring a bit though. WOW continues leeching off Warhammer and when WAR comes out it is crushed by the Great Leech. Warhammer was a great game but...

I'm just waiting for WARHAMMER 40,000 THE MMORPG

I loved your story man. Great article, well written. Too bad that things went downhill. I used to play WAR too, started in open beta and then played for 3 months or so (1 free month + gamecard). I never even got to level 40 lol, don't ask me why, I don't know.

Things got painful later though, with fortress sieges being impossible to do due to lag and hardware, imbalances in pvp...my squig herder felt ridiculously weak, especially when they changed it so I couldn't kite melee-classes like before...

Had great potential, but I lost interest.

coldalarm:
I remember reading this when it was first published.

Was a really, really sad tale, and one that's probably all too common.

yep

Sci-Fi luver437:
I use to play it, got boring a bit though. WOW continues leeching off Warhammer and when WAR comes out it is crushed by the Great Leech. Warhammer was a great game but...

I'm just waiting for WARHAMMER 40,000 THE MMORPG

Again, stop blaming WoW. People came to WAR for the PvP, PvP sucked after T2, people left the game when they got to 20-30.

creatiwe:

coldalarm:
I remember reading this when it was first published.

Was a really, really sad tale, and one that's probably all too common.

yep

Same here...its a shame really. Something that looks so good, eventually boils down to nothing

Way to paint EA as evil, the only thing responsible for WARs failure was Mythic for creating a poor game. Fact is WAR was a failure in most of its aspects. It wasn't optimized, ran horrible for a 2008 release featuring 2004 graphics. PVE aspect was garbage and nothing but a time sink, even its much praised public quest system was a shambles. RVR was tedious as every siege was identical to the last. The only fun was in the first 20 levels, then the game became a huge grind. Public quest reputation farming for level x8 and pvp the rest of the tier out. They failed to create any sense of a world. Non combat activities was almost non-existent (I've seen F2P MMOs do crafting better).

I actually liked WAR for a while, but after a few weeks it got stale. If Lich King didn't release WAR still would have failed.

Sci-Fi luver437:
I use to play it, got boring a bit though. WOW continues leeching off Warhammer and when WAR comes out it is crushed by the Great Leech. Warhammer was a great game but...

I'm just waiting for WARHAMMER 40,000 THE MMORPG

aren't we all...........aren't we all...............

I played WAR for a few weeks after three months of being release, and I could tell it not only had gone downhill, but it had slammed into the ground and now was melting in the fires of hell.

which is a shame too, it had a few good ideas that hadn't been used in excess in the MMO world, and the premise was awesome also.

Good Ideas, Bad Execution.

I play WoW currently and I played WAR in closed/open beta testing. I even bought the collector's edition of WAR, thinking it was going to be the end of WoW for me. About 4 month launch, I was ready to go back to WoW. WAR's t4 was all Order, on our server, and Destro was so imbalanced that most of us were like, "Screw going to get farmed."

WoW and WAR's Devs ended what could of been a great game. We posted for weeks asking for fixes but after we (Destro) got nerfed again most of us left. There was no point in playing a game that we were just going to get farmed like mobs.

Now, WoW picks through WAR's dead body. WAR had an open LFG system [open parties]. WoW now added the ability to LFG cross-realm with people you've never seen before and I'm sure that's not going to be the only thing WoW loots from WAR's body. It's only a matter of time before we see more.

One a positive note, I do raid end-game in WoW. LoL =P

Small things that matter... Like stupid tokens for Arathi basin WSG and others that could be exchanged for nice stuff. Such a small thing but it got battlegrounds going. In war the only thing you got from such scenarios was renown so it's bluntly obvious that people will go where renown is flowing.
In wow you have a few ways of leveling, few maps where you can go to from where you are. In WAR there was only one path, and I mean literally one frikkin road that was slaloming across the zone. And heaven forbid you would wander off that road even a bit cause you would skip a few chapters as this road was slaloming like crazy. All the freedom was illusionary and the world felt claustrophobic because you constantly felt that you are allowed to go in one direction. And much hated in WoW traveling system actually was making the world coherent, showing how big it is and that is truly a world. You could often see some players below fighting. Another small thing that added to the immersion.

Server stability: (illustrated by a short story)
After a week long campaign, chaos has cornered us. Small war bands of our finest men were fighting a desperate skirmish to slow down the marching war host. Still, our hope was lost as we gathered in our great fortress to finally put a stop to this blight on our lands. Despite of our desperate situation we had to admire our foes. For the entire week they were fighting on all 3 fronts to ensure their victory and open the way to our beloved capitol. Even if they were just sending in masses of their troops, their coordination was admirable. Now only our last and mightiest stronghold was standing in their way. Stronghold that *we* guard. And we will not let them pass any further. Fire will rain upon their heads and they will understand that since the beginning they were doomed to fail here! They will...

Sorry but your connection to the server has been lost.

And the funniest thing is that all the timer on their siege reset and a week of coordinated effort of all major chaos guilds went to NOTHING as all the fronts reseted after the crash. And the same thing happened the SECOND time around. Now if that won't make people unsubscribe, I don't know what will.

Another thing. Isn't that funny that the pinacle of all the pvp in the game was a pve wankfest? THAT was truly pathetic and I have no idea who came up with that. Those 2 things should NOT interfere with each other, not in this way.

PvP in wow was giving some sweet rewards. In warhammer it was weak. Even fortresses were worthless... there was no inclination to defend it as only conquering one would give ANY benefits (and weak ones too). It ended up in people just running around and capping stuff. Where's the fun.

Also, gear was not SUCH a big deal as in wow. As it had it's pluses it also ment that all your raiding and hard work went to nothing as this pesky bastard in shitty gear powned your ass again. With gear you can go as WoW (very importan) or Guild Wars (not important at all - only looks were changing). Warhammer tried to stop somewhere in the middle and that was good for nothing.

Another thing. How the gear looked. Was it nice? YES (mostly)But I got sick of having 3 (!!!) staff skins for my entire leveling process. And my robes were just my old robes with diffrent color or a new gem. After playing for 3 months and being one of the top players on the server I noticed that my gear looks the same as the one I got in starting zone and my power isn't much stronger then when I hit max lvl. Of course renown lvls were making a difference but with scenarios done as they were, gaining renown turned into a tedious grind.

Small mistakes. Lots and lots of small mistakes that, added together, made this game tiring after 3 months. Wow had it's flaws but most importantly it was coherent when it comes to gameplay and simply FUN (even if you were only discovering new, creative ways of ganking people). Also there was a very visible progression as more time was being invested. War was simply too weak to compete. And, mind you, I was playing on a private wow server where most things were broken. And it STILL was more fun than warhammer.

That was a long rant...

The poor rebalanced killed WAR. There was no fine tuning, just a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the next.

Resistance is to low, lets make high resistance unkillable, Single Target Damage now doesn't do enough, lets make 3 bright wizards able to kill the entirety of the enemy team. AoE is unbalanced, lets just cut ranges in half including the DoK's heal radius making the class entirely freakin worthless.

WAR had a great deal of potential, it just needed some fine tuning and instead the Devs took a jackhammer to it.

I was in two guilds for this game both of which died within 2 months of their creation. This was my first paying MMO and I'm sort of depressed i failed. I might take a look back into it to see whats going on. Mabye now its actually a finished game.

And in my Opinion it's mostly EA's fault, The game should have been given 6-8 more months of development.

I didn't play the game nor do I play MMORPG's but from what I heard from my MMORPG friends, WoW basically stole the new and intuitive player vs player environment that WAR created and was hyping... I don't care for WoW for the same reason i don't care for Microsoft, they have a monopoly... and those are bad for the everyday consumer. So, Fuck Blizzard I say.

What's even more pathetic than the story is the fact that the story was originally posted almost a year ago. Is Jeremy Monken STILL so unemployed that he has to try and re-can and re-sell the same tired old story?

Jeremy Monken was a CSR (they don't call them GMs). Big deal. The end. I like how the re-posting author tries to sell a new spin like it's a new story: "Former Mythic Employee Tells The Story" like the original author somehow had a hand in it. No, he didn't. He sat at a computer and answered player appeals. The end. He didn't help design the game. He didn't have a hand in any of the garbage decisions that were made, the politics or the pseudo-nepotism. He was a brand new hire who lasted a handful of months, who was hired after the game was already well past Closed Beta.

Yes it's sad he lost his job through no fault of his own. But this article smacks of elitism, stupidity, arrogance, and crying for attention. This Monken guy was a low-level newbie and not some mover and shaker. Both EA and Mythic's senior management are to blame - and a lot of talented, innocent people are left unemployed.

Well, I played WAR for quite a while. And right from the start I knew something went horribly wrong. As I'm from Europe, our first big "Oh hell no!" came for the announcement that GOA would be hosting WAR in Europe. Many of us had experience with that french pile of crap from the days of DAoC and were worried. Rightfully so. Accessing the beta was a pain. The 3 days of early access never happened. Servers were unstable and laggy. Patches were minor catastrophes, more often than not killing the servers after patching was done. The game had great potential. But it failed to deliver in the time when it was most crucial. And early balancing was totally strange, to say the least.

In the case that anyone who ever wants to publish an MMO in Europe reads this: Stay away from GOA. They are capable of losing direction in a straight hallway. Do not, under any circumstance, no matter what they offer you, do business with them. It will come back to haunt you.

So many reasons, besides a shaky RP community, that killed the game for me.

Very little difference in armor/weapon appearance. Sure you could pay for dyes from vendors or players, or grind them off mobs, but it was unrewarding when high tier items had the same base look as low tier items. All that changed was color. Whoop-de-frickin-do.

Obvious gap between T4 early birds and people who took an hour off once in a while to do other things. It was no fun at all when one side had one small group with the BEST gear, BEST spec, BEST EVERYTHING capable of stopping a warband dead in its tracks simply because they were so insanely powerful from their head start. Some people on the dominating Order side actually took pity and rolled Destro, but even that was barely enough to even the odds as other underdogs rerolled Order just to have a chance at winning something for once.

Fortress Tag. Seriously... It looked like the whole point of T2-T3 was to capture a fortress and immediately leave to capture another one without bothering to defend it as the other guys took it back. Around and around everyone would go until it got late enough for people with lives to go to bed, leaving the dominating Order force to easily lock down a zone. Trying to convince our own forces to do anything productive ended with taunting and insults and generally being ignored for wanting to actually win.

Linear zones. It was so much like Final Fantasy that I had memorized all but the most obscure details of every zone up to T2 from having gone through them all so many times. There was no point even reading the quests since you pretty much could guess that you were being sent to the sides or ahead, as if having the big blotches marking the way wasn't enough. If you wanted something different, you were stuck following some other race's line through the zone and the only sense of progression came when you were high enough level to enter the next tier. Whoop-de-frickin-do.

Funhouse "mirror" classes. Sorceress is not the same as Bright Wizard, DoK is not the same as Warrior priest. No matter what happened, one side was guaranteed to be more devastating than the "Mirror" on the other side and some of them weren't even all that similar to what should have been their mirror. They wanted something more unique than "Generic fighter/rogue/hunter/mage" mix but utterly failed at making the mechanics similar enough to make each side competitive in equal numbers.

I found out after having quit that a friend did at least some Beta testing. They pointed out bugs and glitches and general points where things could be improved. I didn't see them all right away when playing, but he was right... Whatever dev team there was didn't get nearly enough work done to make sure the game was ready for release with just enough WORKING fluff for the avid Warhammer fans.

I seriously home that the teams making DMO takes a lesson from EA/Mythic and take as many months as are needed to straighten as many wrinkles as possible and stress test the heck out of everything because there WILL be a flood of fanbois from all over the place wanting a piece of things.

EDIT: From what little I heard of somewhat recently, the game is down to four servers total, each likely severely unbalanced as everyone piles onto one side for the easy win. I don't even know what the peak population is at, but it can't be all that high if there are only four servers running. Balance is still an issue and will likely remain an issue until the servers are finally unplugged for good.

Apologies if this double posts. The Escapist site has become so slow since this update that posts are getting shot straight into the aether.

I played Warhammer for a good 8 months; so, I lasted longer than most. The things that killed that game were the major gameplay bugs, the broken class balance(which turned into a faction balance issue because of the way the classes between the factions were designed), the lacking end-game, and the sparse population(the game opened with far too many servers, and players were being too thinly distributed among them). There were a lot of great ideas in the game(many of which WoW has since incorporated), but the implementation just failed to allow those ideas to really shine in a cohesive manner.

The PvP in the game was great at the outset, but eventually it became tedious and lacking in motivation. Coupled with the issues of class/faction balance, it could get absolutely frustrating at times. Also, thanks to the very low population on the servers, often times PvP would devolve into what we called "PvDoor". The keep doors took forever to knock down, especially in the early days of the game, and were a serious bottleneck to getting into a keep to attempt to capture it(I discovered a combination of skills on my sorceress that allowed me to cast infinite Pit of Shades with a high crit percentage, like 90%, and almost single-handedly defend a keep because no one could stand at the door long enough to damage it before they died; siege engines did not last long against my Pits). More than 80% of your effort went into just get through the door.

Nowadays, I think most people just play the perpetual free-trial and just fight in the tier 1 battle areas. There are still a number of veterans in the tier 4, but they're so powerful now, a newbie has almost no hope at all against them. You would probably have to grind up to renown rank 70 before setting foot into tier 4 to have any chance against them; otherwise, you'll do be hitting them for like 1-5% of their life on each hit, while they just 1 and 2-shot you.

 

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