Tres Factio Rationalis

Sadly, I’ve never played Dark Age of Camelot. However I feel I know some things about the game from reading forums, listening to guildies who’ve played, and reading gaming blogs. I get the impression that in its day it was cool. Players relate it as the penultimate RvR experience with large zones, destructible keeps, realm pride, and fear of getting ganked as you travel from place to place. Of most importance was the three faction mechanic. Many lament Mythic’s decision to change that winning strategy by going with only two factions in Warhammer Online.

The Warhammer world is expansive in history and lore. One will find numerous races pitted against one another for survival as they go to war. Variety is the spice of life and one has plenty to choose from: Beastmen, Bretonnia, Chaos Dwarfs, Dark Elves, Dogs of War, Dwarfs, Empire, Goblins, High Elves, Khorne, Lizardmen, Nurgle, Ogres, Orcs, Skaven, Slaanesh, Tomb Kings, Tzeentch, Vampire Counts, and Wood Elves. Twenty flipping armies — 20!!!! If you can’t find one that you like in that mix, you have a problem.

Why didn’t Mythic put three factions into WAR from the start? In my opinion, they wanted to leave room to grow. And 14 armies waiting in the wings is ample room to grow!

The hype-train was rolling with much of it being boasts by Mythic’s former frontman Mark Jacobs (with some help from the gaming media and blogs). The guy was a successful games developer now with the bankroll of EA behind him, a content rich IP in his hands, and a burgeoning MMO market waiting for something new … I’m guessing bravado got the best of him. EA was targeting subscription numbers that only WOW enjoys, thinking they had a sure-fire hit that would garner millions of subs and millions of dollars. Out of the gate the game sold over a million copies and had over 800,000 players signed up with subscriptions. Not bad. But then the bottom slowly started to fall out.

The decision to go with two factions has been questioned over and over. And perhaps it was the simplest decision to start with two and expand later. Mythic didn’t think their game would take the turn it did … they probably thought it would grow, grow, grow and expansions would be lined up for years to come. They only used 6 of the 20 armies so just imagine the content that could be added. Not everyone jumped into World War II at once so why would everyone pile on the Age of Reckoning from the get-go?

If I were at Mythic I would’ve had a plan for adding future factions, races, etc. It’s all part of an extended business model to further your product and protect its viability and profitability. Despite the tragic downturn for WAR in early 2009, somewhere in someone’s file drawer or on someone’s hard drive lay a plan for how Mythic intended to expand the game (heck, maybe it’s scribbled on cocktail napkins). It’s good business to plan ahead even if you are unsure when you’ll get to it.

If we’re to believe the slowly growing player population and the profitability Dr. Ray Muzyka spoke of in that GDC interview, then the dust should be off those expansion plans. Only time will tell what, if anything, is coming down the pike. A third faction is the favorite rumor.

Chime in!

Why do you think Mythic opted for two factions over three?

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14 Responses to “Tres Factio Rationalis”

  1. Time and money man. Just waaaay too much content available for them to work with. I think they picked the safest and easiest classes to develop for and tried to stretch it out as long as they possibly could before EA started stomping on balls demanding it be released upon the world. Another year of development and we could have seen a third faction perhaps. The hype was hot and heavy all 2008, I think they released at the breaking point of tension to sell the most boxes possible.

    Unfortunate for us, but at least they made their money. =/

  2. I gotta agree with Grimnir on time. The game needed more time before release, but they did not have it. They did not even finish their original vision of the two armies with a main city for each race. They knew they could not pull off a third faction.

    It will be interesting later though to try and add a third faction. Now, all the classes more or less have mirrors on the other side. Is mythic going to feel forced to continue the mirroring and there-by limiting what options they have?

  3. Yes, the thought of all those capital cities makes me drool. They would’ve been so cool. As for the mirrors … they’ve come a long way to try and make the classes as close as they can. Would innovation be crushed by the players who want balance?

  4. They didn’t want to be coined as DAoC 2.0. If they would have dropped 3 factions, people would have cried 2.0. They wanted to do something different and unfortunatly, it didn’t work out as good on paper. They need to add a third faction soon. There is too much zone flipping and scamming that is ruining the game. Just read http://fightontgeflag.com ‘s latest post. It is a prime example what is happening in WAR. It makes me mad.

    • Do you feel that perception has now changed? I agree with your assessment and have heard that before but now that the game’s been out for 1.5 years, the calls for the third faction and the reminiscing for DAOC seem to have grown. Public sentiment is yearning for DAOC 2.0?

  5. I also think they wanted to not be DAoC 2.0 at the begging, to have more a a campaign feel- the analogy I remember them was more like football/super bowl. My impression is that their initial design was much more scenario/instnace and PvE heavy with a greater appeal to WoW burnouts, but that their testers were almost entirely DAoC players who wanted them to make DAoC 2.0. So you got this scramble to redo orvr zones which were already made within the time/money constraints with keeps etc., at the expense of polish on T4/endgame and the PVE cotnent. And so you ended up with noone being happy. The PVE wasn’t (and still isnt) good enough to attract people who were heavily interested in that, and the orvr ends up being a pale imitation of what DAoC players remember. But its still more or less the best out there right now, mostly I think because DAoC doesn’t have the critical mass anymore to support the orvr those players want.

    I also never played DAoC, but I’m skeptical of how much a 3rd realm would really help. I think you’d still get people sitting at mailboxes and afking and avoiding players. There was an interesting post on the badlands forum from an ex DAoC player, and he made a comment that renown (or the DAoC equivalent) didn’t matter as much as it does in WAR. I think the real or percieved need to have end game gear which requires rr70+ drives a lot of people to pursue renown at all costs, guarding the mailbox and afking in scenarios etc. Maybe if they had tied the gear to player kills directly rather than the PQ/renown requirement approach youd get more gear. That desire for progression is independant of how many realms there are. I think there’s also an issue of missing small-scale orvr in WAR, which is often much more fun. It seems like small groups were more viable against the zerg in DAoC which seems like a plus. On the other hand when you look at how many people complain about the ability of a small number of BWs or sorcs to destroy a pug WB, I kind of wonder if there hasn’t just been a shift in the culture of mmo players as a whole since DAoC came out. Fighting for the sake of fighting with limited character progression may just not be compelling to a large enough player base to support a title like WAR, particularly given the availability now of games like counterstrike and MW2.

    Sorry for the wall o’ text.

  6. Aye, Grimnir is spot on: time and money.

    I did play DAoC until few weeks before the release of ToA. What put my off the game was the amount of players using buffbots. 3 Factions in RvR was glorious though and I was disappointed with WAR not implementing this.

    I don’t like the current factions. My dawi would never stand aside elgi! I’m sure Mythic could have come with something better. I’d love the inclusion of a third faction but if it wasn’t part of the core design, wouldn’t it be too difficult to implement at this stage?

    There is a lot of things that can be done. There is not shortage of ideas but are there enough resources to do them?

    I just have my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

    • Agreed … adding a third faction now would be difficult. Not so much from the graphics, models, and maps but from the mechanic of locking zones, furthering the campaign, and such.

      I intend to write about ideas I have for WAR of which many are probably not feasible but I’m apt to share ideas and who knows … maybe one day we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  7. I for one believe you can’t out wow Wow in the PvE stakes. You’d be on a hiding to nothing and just look silly.

    Yes the 3rd realm can be done, nothing is impossible, but it would be a really aggressive management team who’d be basically putting their balls on the line.

    I’d think we all agree, that going underground would get us the 3rd realm and with a little mucking around with the lore we could build alliances for the underground race.

    Zone control is abit trickier, but having thought on it, I’d beleive it can be done. With the 65% rule still in place, but with opposing realm who took the most of the 65%, gaining the flip. Each zone control bar, having 3 segments. Empire/Destruction/Underground. Still very tricky to get right though and with a whole host of sublte little problems to resolve.

    • Your posts on reconsidering Warhammer’s lore are good ones that make a case for thinking outside the box for the benefit of the game. Mythic has already stretched the lore a bit so why not a bit further?

      There are definitely some miscreants who would side with the Skaven if the opportunity arose.

  8. As to your question about why Mythic skipped the 2 vs 3 factions, here are a couple of them.

    1. DAOC 2.0 negative PR. But if an idea is good, then it’s good. But the balancing in DAOC did cause some gray hairs I’d imagine.
    2. Since Mythic wanted to integrate the ORvR zones into the PvE zone, then a 3rd faction would have made it very hard, without going underground, and going underground would have given us Skaven, which would have left them without a strong addon race for the future.

    • As always, Skar, good points.

      I can understand initially they didn’t want to make WAR into DAOC 2.0 … but now when I read so often players actually kind of wanted that … my hope is they will brush off some of those DAOC things that were good and can somehow incorporate them into WAR.

      Unless … one day there actually will be a DAOC 2.0?

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