Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow

January 28, 2009

Warhammer Online probably didn’t have the exactly launch Mythic wanted, I think we can agree on that.

First of all, they had to delay four highly anticipated classes and two cities before the game launched. Which means they had to shoehorn in a clunky and not-as-tested Fortress capture 2/3 mechanism before you could attack a City. Which no-one understood. And which makes no sense story-wise.

First of all, it was too easy to attack a City, and then too hard.

Firstly, too many servers were opened – and then there were server transfers, clones, merges, all sorts of things to try and get server figures sensible and what was needed for a bubbling PvP (RvR) game.

Mythic, though,  are unbelievably responsive and very in-touch with the fan community, despite (and perhaps because of) Mark Jacobs’  hatred for official boards. But they’ve also been extremely lucky to have a dedicated community, built on the back of both Dark Age of Camelot, and the cache of being in the vanguard of support. They have been very lucky to  have Warhammer Alliance set up to take up some of the official forums strain (and it probably hasn’t done badly for the site’s owners, either).

And even luckier to have dedicated bloggers such as Syp and Snafzg who have more or less powered the revitalization of the WAR blogosphere by coming up with this January’s Age of Blogging Initiative. At a time when buzz about the game was at an all-time low, a new generation of blogs have cropped up – most of which have had promising starts. And it hasn’t taken long for Paul Barnett to sit up, take notice and support what was obviously an ingenious idea. 

Paul Barnett and Josh Drescher, the ‘big names’, who got us all fired up with their promotional videos before launch, have continued to fire-fight across the fanbase, with cool announcements, snippets across their blogs and twitter, etc etc – all verging on viral marketing and trading in on their personalities and the buzz they’re able to accumulate. It’s a great tactic, all devs should be interested in their fan communities on such a level. But in a way we’re lured in again to the hype machine.

We like viral marketing, clues, little things being sent out to real people from big developers. That’s why viral marketing works. Because it gives us that connection, and I heartily applaud it (that’s as someone who used to work on the outskirts of viral marketing campaigns).

But I do wonder a bit,  is it all the same as the ‘bears, bears, bears’ video that promised us we wouldn’t have to go out and re-kill things for quests that we’d already killed. I don’t want to be caught up in hype again only to have my hopes dashed. I feel wearier about any buzz to do with Warhammer Online than I did a year ago, when I was thick with excitement about the game and what it might mean to me. Now I almost dread tomorrow’s announcement. I really do. And the Valentine’s event. I want it to be everything it promises. But I wanted that this time last year also, and have seen things batter away at my relentless enthusiasm.

And yet I’ll still read the announcement and pick it apart, and listen and read commentary on it from the people out there in the fan community that I respect (and I hope they know who they are), but will it revive Warhammer for more than the short-term?

Time will tell.

The big announcement  means a lot to Mythic, don’t mistake that. People who signed up for 6 months have till May on their subscriptions. I know, cos that’s me!

Which means coincidentally that end of Jan/early Feb would catch the 3-month sub people. Good time for an announcement.  But things have to improve in the game and to attract enough subscribers to not need too many more server transfers/merges. And the changes have to mean more than people coming back for a month to try the new class and then buggering off again.

I want to be impressed. I really do.

(but tomorrow I might tell you how I’m doing in LotRO!)


One comment

  1. I’ll be sticking around no matter what (well almost). For me, just seeing the community involvement, responsiveness, and machine-gun speed at which they have made THE RIGHT changes just indicates to me a developer who not only surpases their competition in terms of quality and production, but also in pesonal enthusiasm.

    That said, I try to not let myself get too twitter-pated with excitement over future announcements. It’s fun to take part in the cloak-and-dagger mystery that they’re releasing to the community, and try to figure out the answer to the clues. That’s it though, it’s fun on it’s own level. I hope the announcement is great, but I’m not going to get bent out of shape with the future of my gaming hanging on it. I enjoy the game very much right now, for what it is. This announcement is highly unlikely to change that.

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