Goodbye Warhammer… Hello Aion!

Well, I think I am done with Warhammer.  My hand is still messed up (though improving!), so I can’t play yet, but having not logged in to war for over a month I don’t miss it.  So what better time then now to take a look back at the journey =)

The Early Days
I followed Warhammer Online since the very day it was announced.  In the beginning I was extremely excited, convinced this would be my dream game.  I love PvP, I love Warhammer, I love Orcs and Goblins and I liked a lot of what Mythic did with Dark Age of Camelot.  How could it not be my dream game!?

The first year and a half of Waiting on Warhammer felt like f-o-r-e-v-e-r, but there was little to shake the faith that it would be a game worth waiting for.  I remember my only two real concerns back then were when Mythic announced there would be only two realms, which everyone seemed to be pretty against and I still feel was their single greatest mistake, and that the PvP would be heavily dependent on scenarios, which was also hotly contested on fansites at the time and something I disagreed with (I detest scenarios/instances for PvP).  Still, given all the excitement abound for the game, in no small part due to the great videos by Paul Barnett and the rest of the staff, you couldn’t help but give Mythic the benefit of the doubt and continue with high hopes.

Beta Access!
The second year and a half was much more interesting for me, because I was one of the very first beta testers – 16 months prior to launch!  When I first got in I was ecstatic!  Everything was fun due to the initial rush of trying a game you waited so long for.  I would “oooo” and “aaaah” at everything, even the loading screens, in those first few weeks.  But after that initial excitement wore off and I saw more of the “vision” for Warhammer, I grew more concerned with the game.

The game was still very much in development, so there were the expected bugs, lack of polish and missing features; but I was mostly concerned with their PvP design.  Their concept for PvP seemed bizarre to me for a game being marketed the way it was.  PvP felt so disconnected from the game; the RvR lakes were separated from the PvE environments, and they contained absolutely nothing to do.  I often roamed the RvR lakes in beta only to find them empty; no quests, no mobs, no npcs, no outposts, no shops, no keeps, no mobs – literally nothing!  Unless there was enemy players standing around in that void, you had nothing to do, but as anyone who entered had no reason to stay, they were always empty in beta – it felt broken and wasn’t much fun.

As launch approached things improved a little, with keeps and a few PvP quests added to the RvR lakes, but still no where near what I was hoping for.  By launch my hopes for the game were far down from what they once were; but I still had some hope, perhaps it would improve after launch, and perhaps it would be more fun once I got to play with some friends..

Launch And The First Few Months
The launch of Warhammer Online I can only categorize as a disaster.  Going from 1.2 million boxes sold to only 300k subscribers within 4 months, it’s clear Warhammer Online wasn’t the game many were hoping it would be.  The loss of so many players so quickly I attribute to at least two big mistakes Mythic made.  The first was they did far too many things to make the game world feel empty, launching with too many servers, splitting up players too much between tiers, fronts, instances and scenarios, and not having enough social aspects (remember when chat channels didn’t even work across the whole map you were on?).  The second was their love of scenarios they tried to force on the players, by making them the best path of advancement for your character, sucking more players into instances and simplifying the game world to basically a lobby waiting for a team fortress 2 map to launch; and likely burning out their playerbase quicker as they played the same instanced map over and over.  The plethora of bugs and broken combat didn’t help either.

We had a strong guild going into the game at launch, and recruited quite a few players in the first few months, but our playerbase dwindled far too fast; within about two months our 60 some players from our guild resulted in usually less than 5 online at a time.  It wasn’t just our guild, it happened to everyone.  Mythic started merging servers to try and keep healthy populations, but the retention rate was just too low.

Mythic realized many of their mistakes early, fixing some of the social aspects, and putting less emphasize on scenarios and more on Open RvR by adding more PvP quests and influence gear to the RvR lakes, and enhancing gains from killing players within the lakes.  But by this point they were fighting against their own original design, which was a more scenario style pvp game, and the maps and game design with only two factions just do not support it well enough.

The Final Months of WAR
In my final months of WAR I was actually having a fair amount of fun, but I was seriously fighting the game’s design to accomplish it.  I roamed solo in the RvR lakes looking for solo or small groups of enemies I could attack and hope for a fun fight.  I gained nothing for doing it, would sometimes be critized for not helping “push the campaign”, and often got ran over or chased all over by large zergs, but despite all that it would still be enough fun to still play, though I knew it was never going to be the game I hoped for by this point.

Originally I had hoped Warhammer would be something like WoW’s Alterac Valley, but non-instanced, out in the real world.  Each RvR lake would be this interactive battlefield like Alterac Valley, with mobs you can summon and rescue, quests, buildings to destroy, resources to collect, just tons of things to do; and actual objectives, like capturing a mine that provides gold to your npcs who eventually use it to build a giant battering ram that gets pushed down a road where you must destroy an outpost for it to get past, so it can knock down a gate to a keep that you then invade and sack, which then captures the map; Alterac Valley had real objectives and goals, and I thought Mythic would basically pull that concept into the real world, make each map have unique objectives and goals.  Instead we got empty maps with a few rocks and keeps plopped onto them which had no meaning or purpose, that often flipped or got captured for no apparant reason.

But after playing Warhammer i now realize that isn’t what I want; I hate objective driven, guided PvP where you are expected to work towards a set goal.  What I want is a well designed world with a lot of things to do in it, where you can explore, quest, gather resources, kill bosses, group up and venture into dungeons, fight mobs; just a well-designed immersive world that encourages people to wander through it and be active.  And then I just want that world to be PvP-enabled, with some rewards for doing well at pvp (titles, points, etc.).  I like questing while being on guard for ambushes in a PvP area, I like ambushing groups while solo, I like hunting for prey..

The Approach of Aion
I never really knew about Aion until a few months ago, but after some research into the game and their “Abyss” setup,
I became absolutely stoked to try it.  The Abyss is really exactly what I want to play in, one large pvp-enabled map with the best of everything in it, xp spots, quests, dungeons, flying raid bosses, crafting supplies, artifacts, and even a few keeps.  And the game is built as a vertical world where everyone can fly to add even more variation and tactics to it.  Hawt!

Their PvP setup I absolutely adore.  You gain points for killing players, and lose them when you die; making you actually have to think about who you attack to advance.  And the pvp ranks have limits to them, only 1 person can be the top spot at a time, 3 the rank below, 10 the rank below, etc.  A real ranked pvp system!  You also gain titles, visual enhancements and even gear from pvp.  woot!

Aion is already doing incredibly well everywhere it has launched, and those that have tried it rave about how smooth and polished it is.  Monkeyfish made a nice post with some videos from a beta event recently, and he states “Combat is more involved and engaging than WAR even at this level”.

It seems a lot of Warhammer players are planning to give Aion a go, which is not good news for Mythic.  When Darkfall came out, the amount of players on my server in War felt noticably diminished for a few weeks; and that’s from a small PvP game not even released in North America.  The Phoenix Throne subforums on Warhammer Alliance has an Aion thread with over 600 posts already, and there is over 500 active threads discussing Aion on Warhammer Alliance just within the past month!  Interest in Aion has definitely picked up in the past few months!

So with that, I suppose I shall say “Goodbye Warhammer, thanks for the fun!”; I’ll be shifting my blog to post more about Aion now as it nears release and my hand gets better, and to those going to Aion hopefully I get to see a few of you in game =)

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27 thoughts on “Goodbye Warhammer… Hello Aion!

  1. Nice insight on WAR history.Rest up, heal up, and get ready to strap on your wrist braces in September!AAAAAAaaAAaAaaAAaAAaiiiiiiiiiiiioooooon (*theme song*)… :D

  2. I am also a former WAR player from Phoenix Throne. I,too, am leaving for Aion. It really pains me to say it, because I am/was a Mythic fanboy. I loved the concept of WAR, I loved the company making it and I loved the game world. Somehow, Mythic found a way to kill a great idea and great world and it saddens me to have to watch, what could have been a great game, die.But, on to greener pastures! Nazgum, you were one of the players I most watched on PT, as I also rolled a Shaman, so I am excited to see you head to Aion as well. I am joining a guild with Keen (of keenandgraev.com) called Havok and hopefully we will all wind up on the same Aion server. I have my own Aion blog, located at http://aionicthoughts.wordpress.com . Stop in sometime and say hello!

  3. I'm going to be the Aion wet blanket, as I have done a lot of research into the Abyss.It will be more RvE than WAR ever was. You get Abyss points from killing npcs in the Abyss too. There is no incentive to defend keeps, so keep trading is rampant. The 'winners' get access to PvE content (like WAR). The 3rd faction is just more PvE. It is possible for you to gain the #1 ranking without ever engaging in PvP (not likely but possible).

  4. Naamah,Ah yes we will be likely trying to roll on the same server as Keen, as Snafzg and him are friends, and me and Snafzg are friends =)And thanks for the link to your blog, I've been looking for more aion blogs to add to my reader =) Werit,Aye, PvE rewarding Abyss points is kind of lame, but what I am hoping is, since you have to be in the Abyss still to earn them, which is a PvP flagged area, you can just go prey on those people while they try to do the mobs; and dying in PvP reduces your Abyss points, so perhaps it will somehow work out..The keep trading doesn't bother me, unless the keeps are somehow drastically different than WAR I won't be going within 100 feet of them; I just want the Abyss to be an active zone with people moving around and doing stuff in, unlike the empty RvR lakes in WAR which only had keeps and zergs.

  5. You're right there will be small group PvP. But it will be a small group attacking people engaged in farming npc's. That really isn't pvp to me, as they are fighting npc's. I want the people in the zone to be there to fight players, anything else and you're asking for trouble. I think Aion will be fun for what it is and I plan on getting to 25 to see for myself. I don't think it is the answer a lot of PvP people are looking for though. It is a PvE zone that happens to allow PvP.

  6. hehe I dunno, that's actually kind of what I'm looking forward to..In WAR, with the RvR lakes, because there was no mobs in the lakes, there was no where to really roam and look for players; they were either on a keep or you sat at their warcamp waiting for them to come; the only time WAR really became fun for me was when my side was attacking a keep and I could position myself between it and their wc, and have this nice stream of people coming to fight..It's not that I want to gank people doing mobs, its that I want the zone to have places people want to go to do things like killing mobs, collecting crafting gear, etc. because that gives you places to scope out to look for opponents, and gives you some reason to move about the zone; or it provides you the opportunity to carefully kill mobs while keeping a lookout for gankers, and bait them into attacking you..I just want movement throughout the zone, people doing things; WAR felt so static sometimes, especially if keeps weren't under attack, because there was no reason to be in an RvR lake if for example you owned everything.

  7. I agree the zones can feel pretty dead in WAR. As there is no reason to be there if other players are not.On the other hand, attacking players who are fighting npc's is ganking (at least my definition). Ganking is not something I like to do or have done to me. It really seems that Mythic's original plan may have been the best. Scenarios provide non-zerg action and thats what the game was based on at the start.

  8. I think WAR would have bombed even more if it was 100% scenario based because it would have worsened the fragmented nature of the game, making the rest of it nothing more than a glorified PvE lobby. Then again, maybe not. It wouldn't have suited my tastes — that's for sure. However, I've comments by many stating that scenarios were the only part of WAR they actually liked…Overall, the game is just a piece of crap though from design decisions all the way down to how it was implemented (in one of the buggiest and unpolished ways I've seen in modern MMOs). Compared to what they were hyping it up to be anyway…I doubt Aion will be the saviour to the hundreds of thousands who were turned off by WAR but I'm sure many will find it a happy place. I really like the Abyss concept as well.I really think you do need to have more to PvP than just PvP. As stated in previous comments, the Abyss will mix PvE and crafting with PvP, which just makes everything that much more dynamic. Think STV from WoW. Me likey!Sure, there will be ganking but that doesn't mean you need to be the aggressor. The PvP servers of WoW had their fair share of gankers but there were many with honour as well. Lots of people, myself included, refuse to outright gank someone. We'll wait until you finish the mob first. :P

  9. Nice to see you blogging again , nazgum :)i will be looking forward to see your journey in AION ,i really enjoy the same kind of PvP, you and snafzg are all about , so glad to see you guys have found a new platform to adventure in

  10. @Snafzg: Piece of crap? Come on, that is a bit harsh. I may not like Aion, but you'll never hear me call it crap.I played on a WoW PvP server and hated it. I was in those zones to get exp to level, which was not served by being ganked. The Abyss offers the best PvE exp/rewards, so PvE'rs will go and will be ganked. PvPers who like easy prey will enjoy it quite a bit I'm sure. Sure there will be some good battles between roving gank squads. Most of the action will come from the PvE folks getting jumped. I could be totally wrong and Aion is the best PvP ever. If so Ill be there playing as I am game-neutral.

  11. I'm not predicting Aion will have the best PvP ever — not by a long shot. I think it sounds decent but I won't swallow marketing BS ever again thanks to Mythic/WAR. Only time will tell and I've developed a lot of patience in these past couple years.As for "piece of crap" — I quite honestly think WAR is nothing short of a polished turd based on what they originally hyped it up to be. Yes, you can PvE. Yes, you can craft. Yes, you can RvR. Can you point to a single element of WAR that beats any other MMO hands down? Even now 10 months after release?Considering they were given gobs of money and time to work on it and had DAOC as a basis to work from, WAR was so far below everyone's expectations it hurts. Hurts like taking a huge dump.The only reason I hated WoW's PvP servers is that there was absolutely zero reward for open world PvP. Everything was completely instanced. A few minor tweaks and WoW would have been my ideal PvP game.I guess I can understand why someone would shy away from a PvPvE blend if they weren't raised on it, but I was raised a different way. I played a PK MUD for 6 years. One where if you died to a player, you'd lose PvP ranking and 10% of your XP — it could actually drop you by a level if you were less than 10% to next level. One where you lost 100% of your level (e.g., from 50% to level 25 to 50% to level 24) and all your age bonuses if you died to an NPC. One with full corpse loot, including your coins.It was risky to play in. It was painful to die in. It was also way more thrilling and dynamic than any MMO ever released, short of maybe UO.I realize that isn't for everyone, I'm just trying to let you know where I'm coming from.

  12. I should quickly add the counterpoint positives to that PK MUD as well.- Killing someone got you a very nice chunk of XP (5-20 solo kills was an entire level — depending on your level)- Because of full corpse loot, you could gain gear almost as quickly as you might lose it- The PvP rankings gave players a certain level of notoriety on the server, which made for some very interesting interactions and fights- Escape was relatively easy in the game if you knew what you were doing or got lucky — however, the very skilled players could also anticipate your movements and apply a tracking skill to quickly intercept or hunt you down

  13. Werit, the Abyss points from PvE mobs in the Abyss is so low as to be called miniscule. Trying to "level" off of PvE Abyss points would take forever. You have to PvP to get more points, as thats what generates the most points.Will there be ganking? Yes, there will be. I would compare it to WoW PvP servers in that regard. But, everyone who goes into the Abyss knows beforehand what to expect, its not a surprise. Gank squads tend to be hunted down by other squads fairly quickly and PvP grows from their.As far as WAR being a piece of crap, I would agree….and disagree. There were certainly a lot of good things about WAR; some of the scenarios were insanely fun, Altdorf was one of the coolest game cities I have ever seen, the Warrior Priest was one of the best designed classes I have seen, the Greenskin starting area is still the best starting zone of any race in any MMO and Public Quests could be really cool though overused.But everything else about the game was horribly done. The mail system was the worst of ANY MMO I have ever played that had one, the engine was horrible, Keep design was atrocious, balance was out the window and changed substantially with each patch, combat was slow due to lag, the Open group system (which I loved at first!) was a major contributor to a seemingly disconnected community and to top it all off, even the PvE mobs were buggy and strange. Pull a mob and it would walk backwards to you at times, sometimes it would leash back for no apparent reason.And all that is recent. After nearly a year Mythic can't get simple things like the mail and mob AI working properly? Really?!?I have heard people comment that Aion SHOULD be polished, its been out for almost a year in Asia. I would agree with that, so whats Mythics excuse? It has been out about as long as Aion, yet its nowhere near as polished, stable and working as Aion. There is just no comparison in that regard. I wish it weren't true, I wish I was playing WAR right now because I much prefer that graphic style and storyline. But I am not, its too broken and there are no signs it will fixed in the near future.

  14. I suppose its a matter of taste; personally I played on a PvP server in WoW and loved Stranglethorn Vale; sure you got ganked by stealth 60 rogues occasionally, but the map design was just awesome for fighting and encouraging you to cross paths with enemies while you're leveling..If the Abyss is anything like Stranglethorn Vale, and you also have some meaning to PvP (xp gains, points, titles, etc.), that is basically all I want =)

  15. Oh, God I loved and hated STV. I loved it because of the PvP, I hated because of the millions of stealthed leopards and tigers just waiting to munch on my level 34 ass. On top of that the map was so large and heavily forested you couldn't find your way around.That being said, if you put up a vanilla WoW server I would love to head back to STV!

  16. Hehe, yeah. STV was crazy. It's definitely annoying to be ganked. I think it bothers everyone to a degree. But at the same time, it just feels more thrilling to me to have that kind of risk. I don't want to PvE in safety because it makes PvE all that much more boring imho.

  17. I'm goign to side with Werit on this one. My experiences so far with the game (Aion) have proven it to be an incredibly well polished, and smoothly run PvE game. PvP is going to be a sideshow from what I can tell. The ranking system rewards grind (shocker with a Korean MMO) since only X number of people can have Y rank at a time. I love the way the RvR lakes in WAR are set-up from a perspective standpoint, if you're going into them it's to do PvP. You're not there to kill a bunch of rats, or generic NPC #1572, you're there to put your boot up the enemy's ass, and send him home to mommy.There is not a single game out there right now that does PvP better than WAR, with the exclusion of maybe DAOC (not sure, not playing it). WoWs PvP is crap. Aion's PvP hasn't been explored, but for the most part, doesn't seem nearly as engaging as WARs. EQ2s is decent, and probably what I would say is some of the best outside of Mythic games. CoH/V is terrible considering that most people just let the other side farm, or it's level 50's coming down to lower zones to own face.I totally lost my train of thought as my sister called me and sidetracked me. Anyway, yeah. Aion, it has it's plusses, and I'm glad you are excited about it. And if that's the type of PvP you want, more power to you. For myself, I'm not sold on it's wonder yet. And God knows the Ranger class is a bloody joke, which has me drawing away from the get go

  18. well, perhaps I'm in the minority, but for me PvP is all about fun combat against other players and trying to win fights you perhaps should not be able to; not capturing some pre-defined objective or winning some instanced map. Because of my preference I gain no enjoyment out of zerg vs zerg, it needs to either be solo or small groups engaging, where you can actually see what happened that caused you to win or lose, which is a rare struggle to pull out of WAR's setup.In that sense, I would greatly prefer WoW's PvP over WAR if only gear didn't mean soooo much that it took away all the skill in the game; because the combat and classes in WoW are just so much superior to the combat and classes WAR offers. That and the fact world PvP in WoW is harder to find because its not encouraged or rewarded in any way, so its mostly more rewarding while leveling, in areas such as STV where you'll often cross paths with enemies of similar levels.For Aion, the ranking system is actually one of the big draws for me, and I don't see it working out as a grind at all; perhaps because I've seen it work so well in another game (MUME). The main reason being that you lose points when you die, and you lose more if you die to opponents further down in rank; even though you can get points from PvE, because you can only gain points within the Abyss or Rifts, you must be quite good to get to and stay at the top; because any deaths will drop you a great amount, and players will be gunning for you, knowing you're worth so much points.

  19. Well, this is why it's so great the MMO offerings are expanding. As more games come out, more niches will be catered to. So far, the Abyss seems like my ideal setup. Darkfall seemed appealing as well were it not for all the other major drawbacks of that unpolished game.I only have one concern about the PvP ranking system which comes from an interview I read about the top PvP ranked Ranger on a Korean server who got to such an insane rank that it became too risky to engage in PvP. Basically, he wasn't earning enough per PvP kill because of the rank differential earning system, so he resorted to PvE-grinding to earn the remaining AP he needed to buy some uber-weapon.

  20. @Shadow-warYou are pretty far off base with that. PvP is by NO means a "sideshow" in Aion. Matter of fact, at level cap, it is the main exhibit, in the same way it was in DAoC. Having watched the game at end game and played it on my friends Korean Assassin, I can attest to how important PvP is to Aion's end game. If anything, PvE is the sideshow.The ranking system is basically the old WoW pvp system. I have both fondness and shudders when I think about that. In many ways I miss WoW's old PvP system, in a lot of ways I do not. We will see how that works out in Aion but the ranking system is something they can easily change if needed.The problems with WAR's RvR-lakes are many. For one, they were way too bloody small. It was impossible to avoid the zerg as a small group. Because the Battlefield Objectives were so close to each other, in most cases, it allowed zergs to move around and claim things in quick succession. Small groups got ate up by the zerg. This is not possible in Aion due to the size of the abyss and timers on keeps and other BO's, slowing down the zerg and breaking it up.Secondly, not having anything but PvP into the RvR lakes also encouraged the zerg. Everyone moved in one massive group at all times because, other than that, there was nothing else to do. In Aion there are mobs, quests and other things to do in the Abyss. You see a whole lot more small group battles, solo battles and everything in between in Aion than you do WAR. People go in there to complete quests, grind mobs and take keeps, it keeps the area fresh and allows for battles of various sized, which you did NOT have in WAR.BTW, Shadow-WAR, get that Ranger to 25-30 and you will be glad you did, they become awesome. You are correct, however, the first 15-20 levels are absolute hell.

  21. Given enough time, is it possible I will read a similar post from you on Aion. As I go from blog to blog there's one thing I've learned. Veteran MMOers are impatient. Those who jump on board something pre-launch or early on often get burned out down the line, the game doesn't meet expectations, or in many cases it's not like WoW. WAR isn't even a year old. How long will you give Aion?I anticipate WAR will improve tracking the progress DAOC made. I'm not an MMO vet and actually think MMOs are king of lame compared to most games. I enjoy the social aspect and limited character progression and play WAR for the PvP which despite the often occuring zerg can be a lot of fun. I understand it's a game and enjoy it for it is and don't lament what it is not.I blame WAR's position today on EA. I think we all know they pushed Mythic to release too soon and well … here we are. I will actually take a test drive on Aion myself but will wait a few months for those not serious enough to play tourist and eventually leave … like they all seem to do … because Aion won't be like WoW.I enjoy your blog and keep me up to date on Aion! Maybe I'll see you there!

  22. hehe aye that may be true Krosuss, I'm not having nearly as high of expectations for Aion as I did for Warhammer Online, as there is quite a few elements of Aion I do not like (human only races, anime art style, forced pve, keep focus in pvp area, etc) or am unsure about (how the balaur element will work out, how important gear will be, how rifts will play out, etc); I'm hoping it will be fun but we'll see how long it lasts..But I view Warhammer as basically beyond repair at this point, they made too many terrible decisions at the start (using an old game engine, only having two realms, designing the game as a scenario-based pvp game, designing combat based around their infinitely replenishable action points and a global cooldown, making the end-game goal pve objectives, etc); and I also unfortunately have little faith in their staff at this point, due to the horrific amount of bugs and broken updates that get pushed out.Truthfully the MMO I am most looking forward to is not Aion, but Guild Wars 2; however that is a ways away still, so I am hoping Aion helps to fill that void and provides some entertainment in the meantime =)

  23. I know I'm too late about your post. But still, I want to contribute my own opinion here. Actually, I really enjoy your blog! I'm also one of the few gamers who actually waiting for the aion release. What I really love about aion is its characters customization, flight and its great graphics. I hope we do enjoy the upcoming MMO. Anyway, keep us up to date on aion. ;D

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