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Author Topic: GDC Austin: Warhammer Online's Biggest Mistakes  (Read 20619 times)
Soln
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on: September 16, 2009, 11:59:18 PM

columba
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Reply #1 on: September 17, 2009, 01:13:08 AM

Here is the interview that reveals the cluelessness.  I apologize if this has been posted.  I could not find it.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=25285
Trippy
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Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 01:14:27 AM

I would agree that the Gamasutra article does take some things out of context. Jeff never said that the three things he talked about where the top 3 problems with the game, which is what the subheading implies. I.e. saying that those three problems "haunted" them for a year doesn't necessarily mean those were the top 3 problems.

On the other hand the statement that an RvR game "suffered immensely" because the early PvE was too easy shows just how out of touch with their own game they continue to be.

Here is the interview that reveals the cluelessness.  I apologize if this has been posted.  I could not find it.
It's the first link in the post above yours.

Arthur_Parker
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Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 05:32:35 AM

Quote
Firstly, keep in mind that the target audience here is industry, not the playerbase. Secondly, also remember, GDC is an industry conference and Gamasutra is an industry site.

Wrong "target audience" sums WAR up.  War is everywhere, go pve.
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Reply #4 on: September 17, 2009, 08:20:45 AM


These are not the droids you are looking for.

Even post-launch, those aren't the three systems I'd have focused on for falling short.

01101010
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Reply #5 on: September 17, 2009, 10:05:02 AM

Here is the interview that reveals the cluelessness.  I apologize if this has been posted.  I could not find it.

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=25285

Not surprising in the least. Even the band on the Titanic kept playing. This is what happens when you censor your player-base - you get fed whatever information you want or are able to actually do something about.

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Reply #6 on: September 17, 2009, 02:36:37 PM

Funny, I would have thought, "Pick the right fucking engine for your game" would have been a good industry protip.  Ohhhhh, I see.

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.
Venkman
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Reply #7 on: September 17, 2009, 04:13:03 PM

Insightful article at Gamasutra, which I mostly found insightful because of how they still seem to miss the mark.

  • They think a problem was not making PvE challenging enough. Because people showed up to waauuggghhhh for PvE?! lolwtf?
  • They didnít give enough reason for people to socialize. LOL. The old "players need downtime" debate. But applied to a PvP game. No, it wasn't the lack of socalization, it was that you spread the players too far apart!
  • They think PQs were a success. I understand the emotional attachment to this concept, about the only truly unique thing in WAR, but jeezus, get off the PvE. The best PvE in the world is only going to remind people of what they miss in WoW.

As they head into their Korean launch, I'll be curious to see how well it goes for them.
Arrrgh
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Reply #8 on: September 17, 2009, 04:55:17 PM

Inability to learn from mistakes is job requirement for MMO devs.
Segoris
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Reply #9 on: September 17, 2009, 05:03:12 PM

Soln
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Reply #10 on: September 17, 2009, 05:36:16 PM

to summarize:

   1. Early PvE Too Easy
   2. No Incentive to Group
   3. Bad Economy

Cynically, I did notice these are 3 things that don't really make them look bad.  The Economy is not under their control; they can't control social behavior, they can only incent people to group more; and they just had a tuning problem with the levelling curve.  Ergo, the problems of WAR had nothing to do with MJ/PaulB/JeffH.

BS

Far more real and honest to say:

   1. we didn't understand the player base
   2. we didn't choose a good technical architecture
   3. we didn't design a credible end game and lifecycle for players

Really, I don't have any patience for Mythic anymore.  They are saying things to cover their jobs with EA/Bioware.
Kail
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Reply #11 on: September 17, 2009, 05:49:33 PM


I gotta agree with Trippy's point that these weren't pointed out as the three main problems which Warhammer has, just that these are the three he decided to talk about that day.

I am a bit annoyed by the dev response, though.  A dev comes out and says "these three things are problems."  The playerbase explodes with cheeto-fueled rage because he didn't mention the "real problems."  Andy walks in and says "he's not saying these are the most important problems, we know what the most important problems are," but still doesn't say what they actually are.

I mean, I have no idea where this game is headed (obvious jokes aside).  Are they buffing healing?  Nerfing Archmages?  Removing stealth?  I have no idea.  I guess they're planning on making changes to stuns at some point, and there are a few ability tweaks for specific classes that I've heard are coming.  But if there are big changes incoming for the game, I don't know what they are.  For a dev to come in and say "Yeah, we've got our finger on the pulse!" when all I'm hearing is some changes for Marauder offhand abilities seems a wee bit disingenuous.

  • They think PQs were a success. I understand the emotional attachment to this concept, about the only truly unique thing in WAR, but jeezus, get off the PvE. The best PvE in the world is only going to remind people of what they miss in WoW.
On the one hand, they seem like a huge waste of a concept.  Epic, world changing (temporarily) quests, players scrambling to react to changing circumstances, no forced grouping, somehow translating to "kill 100 squigs, then kill 10 champion goblins, then a hero orc" is not really a success.  The vast majority of PQs being permanently deserted (because there's nothing to do there unless there's already a half dozen people around, which there won't be, because they're all thinking the same thing as you and avoiding the place).

On the other hand, I do think it's a good idea in theory.  It could work, it's interesting and unique.  It's also one of the few systems which seems to work fairly reliably.  So I can see it as kind of a success.  I'm hoping to see it in WoW: Cataclysm.
Soln
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Reply #12 on: September 17, 2009, 05:52:22 PM

did the PQ's really work ?  or just about zone flipping?  Did they pop enough and predictable?  honest questions
Kail
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Reply #13 on: September 17, 2009, 05:56:11 PM

did the PQ's really work ?  or just about zone flipping?  Did they pop enough and predictable?  honest questions

I never had any problems with them, personally, and I was impressed by how nicely the contribution tracking seemed to work (though it was borked when they tried to port it to Keep Sieges).  The only problems I ran into were regular PvE issues (mob pathing and stuff) and holiday PQs (which are patched pretty quick, in my experience).

edit: clarification: PQs don't 'pop' in the same way scenarios do; they're part of the gameworld.  If you want to do one, you just walk there.  They aren't really populated these days (in the leveling zones, anyway), so they don't get run very often, but when they do, they tend to work, in my experience.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 05:59:40 PM by Kail »
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Reply #14 on: September 17, 2009, 06:15:30 PM

PQs are a good idea. Having 50 billion of them all over the place that spread your players too thin across them is not.

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Reply #15 on: September 17, 2009, 06:25:25 PM

Warhammer Online: Exclusive Interview with Producer, Josh Drescher

Quote
Ten Ton Hammer:
So looking to the future, should we expect anything in terms of a boxed expansion coming anytime soon?

Josh:
If you actually look back through the past 10 years of Mythic's history, with Dark Age of Camelot, we released stuff in retail expansions and we released some live expansions. Philosophically, we look at our products and go, if we're coming back to the well so to speak, and asking for another $50 every 18 months, that becomes a burden on the players that I think, and we've always felt, is somewhat inappropriate. Certainly, a retail expansion is something that is on the table. It's a thing that we could do if we feel that it's appropriate.

At this point in time we're very happy with the live event, live expansion system, giving us the ability to drive new content and significant new content to our players. We've added four new careers, we've added an entirely new geographical region to the game, we've added new scenarios, we've added new dungeons, we've added new systems - all without asking anything above and beyond the initial cost to purchase the game and a subscription. Personally, if I thought we could do that indefinitely, that's the way I would rather move forward anyway.

Curiously, you mentioned a boxed retail expansion and I think if you start to look ahead 5 years from now, the dominance of boxed products at all for this industry is going to have significantly tapered off. People are starting to wise up already that the games we are delivering are actually not products; they are services, and like cable television or internet access, or electricity, water, gas, whatever, that is actually much more attractive to the consumer to not be expected to pay a ton of money up front in order to access what you have to offer and to instead, annuitize that over time by subscriptions or micro transactions, or some other payment model that's a little easier on the consumer and doesn't require them to take a risk by spending $50 on a game they're not sure they're going to like long-term.

I would say that five years from now you won't see retail expansions at all. You'll service expansions and live expansions and you'll see the kinds of things that we're doing now and I'm happy to be at the forefront of that. But yeah. A retail expansion is always a possibility, but for now, we're very happy with the way that we've delivered content to people for the last year.

Josh Interview from August

Quote
IG: Switching gears for a little bit, I'm curious about Mythic's future plans for Warhammer Online- will there be an expansion?

Josh: Oh yeah.  It remains a priority for the studio, and we're working closely with BioWare to see where EA games logo wants to go with it.  Ray Muzyka from BioWare has a very long term plan for the future and we've had to think further into the future because of that.  Most of existence, our studio has been on a shoestring budget so we couldn't think far ahead, but we just finished up a major patch for Warhammer Online and there's a lot of stuff we're thinking about improving and enhancing the gameplay experience and guaranteeing that product lives up to the legacy of the Warhammer franchise.  You should expect an expansion in the near future.

So EA BioWare killed the expansion talk to not "burden" the players?
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Reply #16 on: September 17, 2009, 06:57:58 PM

The biggest mistake was spreading people too broadly across too much area, then running the game on servers that couldn't handle enough people to populate those zones at peak population.

I did not try out WAR for the PvE, I had WoW for that.  I tried it for the PvP, and was horrified to find that Mythic had learned just about nothing from seven years of DAoC.  So I canceled, and continued to play WoW.
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Reply #17 on: September 17, 2009, 07:56:09 PM

Ah, didn't see it in the other thread. Probably worth breaking out anyway since that's like 24, but I'll leave it to my betters to decide on merger-death-kill smiley

A dev comes out and says "these three things are problems."  The playerbase explodes with cheeto-fueled rage because he didn't mention the "real problems."  Andy walks in and says "he's not saying these are the most important problems, we know what the most important problems are," but still doesn't say what they actually are.

Gamasutra editorialized it with the "three biggest mistakes" heading to that section. But even without that, I would have taken them as Mythic thinking these were their three biggest mistakes from the quote "three things have haunted us for a year with Warhammer". You don't say "haunted" unless you really wish things had gone a different way. When put with what they think should have gone differently, people rightly come away with saying "wtf? better PvE?". So you can understand the cheeto-fueled rage.

WAR was filled with good theoretical ideas. And that has always been its biggest problem, above all other individual features. It's a patchwork of disjointed systems each represented far too numerously to do the most important thing the game needed to do: funnel players together. This was obvious even in the very original vision of eight factions vying over four strongholds. Yes, maybe you eventually grow that big (and somehow get much higher capacity servers, or even uniserver it). But you don't start by immediately compartmentalizing players you're trying to keep densely packed enough for the overlarge zones you've created.
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Reply #18 on: September 17, 2009, 11:11:06 PM

did the PQ's really work ?  or just about zone flipping?  Did they pop enough and predictable?  honest questions

PQs were great, if you could get a team to stick around or have enough people do them. Or even knew what the hell you were meant to do. Sometimes an objective might not be that clear, so you could fail the PQ by not being in the right place at the right time, or because you stood over the spawn point for the next wave when it triggered.

So there were about 4 PQs per zone, and you needed the correct number / types of characters to do them and it was (at least in the early days) sometimes very trial and error in completing them successfully. If you could. The boss mob in some PQs could squash teams flat in seconds. Also, because there were so many per zone, they could end up feeling very repetitive.

ChampO has taken the PQ idea and made it work a bit better - only one PQ per zone, fairly rapid repeats and at this point it is fairly easy for a group to form to do it in my experience.

As for zone flipping: it was hidden under an arcane formula that didn't make sense even when players did figure it out. And at the end of the day the best zone defence was not fighting because then you didn't lose so the other team didn't get points.

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Reply #19 on: September 17, 2009, 11:41:30 PM

I don't think its a bad assumption that WAR failed due to crap pvp. A lot of players would have tolerated WAR if the pve was enjoyable. Instead you have all 500k (i don't believe in the 700k figure) running into the brick wall that was the games RVR. Eventually only a handful of players managed to scale that wall and those are the players still playing now, at least till Aion arrives. The vast majority of players didn't leave because of crap pve, they left because of crap pvp, which wouldn't have been much of a problem if the pve game mythic enough time to realize the rvr wasn't fun and fix it. Rather then assume the playerbase needed bells and whistles to get into rvr and totally miss the fact that it just wasn't fun. Even Funcom realized that improving AoC would require fixing the pve first. Which was a good idea considering that like Mythic, Funcom isn't smart enough to figure out what makes their pvp unfun in the first place.
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Reply #20 on: September 18, 2009, 12:52:50 AM

I don't think its a bad assumption that WAR failed due to crap pvp. A lot of players would have tolerated WAR if the pve was enjoyable. Instead you have all 500k (i don't believe in the 700k figure) running into the brick wall that was the games RVR. Eventually only a handful of players managed to scale that wall and those are the players still playing now, at least till Aion arrives. The vast majority of players didn't leave because of crap pve, they left because of crap pvp, which wouldn't have been much of a problem if the pve game mythic enough time to realize the rvr wasn't fun and fix it. Rather then assume the playerbase needed bells and whistles to get into rvr and totally miss the fact that it just wasn't fun. Even Funcom realized that improving AoC would require fixing the pve first. Which was a good idea considering that like Mythic, Funcom isn't smart enough to figure out what makes their pvp unfun in the first place.

I'm sorry I really don't understand what you're saying. Are you suggesting that they should have spent their efforts improving the PvE so as to delay the userbase from reaching the PvP 'endgame' which was at the time crap? If so, I disagree. They should have realized that WAR appealed to DAoC, SB and other PvP players and completely forsaken the PvE and focused 100% on making the PvP better. More XP for open RvR, easier to find fights, better scenario rewards, no PvE cockblocks etc. I cannot understand saying that the game failed because of lousy PvE or even that they should have improved PvE to buy time. WAR was NEVER about the PvE and it's a sign of incompetence (or more likely, WoW envy) that Mythic thought it was. I think on some board somewhere there was even a thread about this.  Ohhhhh, I see.

EDIT: Seriously - I've read your post 3 times now. I have no idea what you're saying. You seem to be saying that we all left cause PvP just wasn't fun but people would've stayed for the PvE if they had of worked on that? Really? Hint: There's already 3 awesome PvE games out there (WoW, LoTRO, EQ2). I don't think that would've made much difference.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2009, 12:57:35 AM by squirrel »

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columba
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Reply #21 on: September 18, 2009, 01:03:02 AM

I think one root cause was the original plan to make this an instanced pvp game.  Late in beta, I understand that Mythic changed to open rvr.  HOwever, someone forgot to check with the technical experts.  As a result, the lag and crashes contributed to the death of the game.  Further, the lame end game looks thrown together late in the process.
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Reply #22 on: September 18, 2009, 01:09:33 AM

WAR failed as soon as it tried to become a hybrid between DAoC and WoW.  I can't describe this in exact terms, but that's what WAR always felt like to me.  I'm sure that my DAoC fanboism is coloring my opinion, but I always enjoyed the sandbox feel of DAoC and hoped that WAR would provide a cleaner version of that.  Instead, I got a game filled with many different xp bars to fill, gear to grind, and RvR that was initially focused on killing NPC's. 

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DLRiley
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Reply #23 on: September 18, 2009, 04:35:18 AM

i really had a long post here but it didn't show up...geez...
« Last Edit: September 18, 2009, 11:17:21 AM by DLRiley »
Typhon
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Reply #24 on: September 18, 2009, 08:04:24 AM

WAR failed as soon as it tried to become a hybrid between DAoC and WoW.  I can't describe this in exact terms, but that's what WAR always felt like to me.  I'm sure that my DAoC fanboism is coloring my opinion, but I always enjoyed the sandbox feel of DAoC and hoped that WAR would provide a cleaner version of that.  Instead, I got a game filled with many different xp bars to fill, gear to grind, and RvR that was initially focused on killing NPC's. 

I got the same feeling.  I think they just kept looking at the WoW money hats with envy and convinced themselves that they could make a great PvE game and a great RvR game.

Then someone had the PQ idea, which is really good, which probably made them feel even more confident about their PvE game.  Too bad they didn't focus more on creating an RvR game where you could PvE if you wanted to, but it wasn't really recommended.

Another thing that bothered me about the PQs is that there is nothing on the map that tells a player what was going on in any particular area at any particular time.  Which is so very odd, because near the end of my stay in DAoC, when new frontiers was just coming out, they seemed to finally grasp that you had to let players know where the hot spots were so they could go join them.  So they created PQs, but forgot to create any mechanism to let players know where they were, or more importantly, if anyone was currently attempting them.  Maybe they've fixed that problem and made quick-grouping with people also doing the PQ easier?  Maybe they've made it so that you don't get credit for the PQ unless you join that group (or create a "PQ group" concept that you can be in at the same time you are in a regular group), and that the PQ itself scales to the size of that group?  Probably not, I'm thinking.  A shame.
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Reply #25 on: September 18, 2009, 09:05:29 AM

If you can't make solo-friendly PvP it will fail (particularly if your goal is to be wildly successful, e.g. WOW).  WOW learned the lesson that other MMOs didn't seem to be able to grasp prior-  people don't want to have to group for everything just because they are playing an online game.

The guy's point about PvE is a little bit valid for Warhammer, in my opinion.  Because you really need fairly sizable groups of people for the PvP action there is a good chance that if you log on during off peak hours that you aren't going to find PvP.  The idea of having an interesting world/game otherwise might have kept people interested longer. 

A huge mistake that I never hear the developers talk about is their insistence on linking everything in the game together.  Gotta run scenarios and quest to do city siege.  Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
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Reply #26 on: September 18, 2009, 09:19:41 AM

The PVE was bland, making it harder wouldn't make it better, besides the PVE instances I saw were very buggy, buggy is hard.  They dropped 4 capital cities shortly before release and currently have zero plans to add them.  I wonder how much work went into those cities, hell they could have launched with just the Dwarf and Orc/Goblin factions present and they might even be in better shape than now.  I believe no retail expansion means EA intends to let this die and everyone involved knows it.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2009, 09:21:48 AM by Arthur_Parker »
Ashamanchill
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Reply #27 on: September 18, 2009, 09:36:02 AM

did the PQ's really work ?  or just about zone flipping?  Did they pop enough and predictable?  honest questions
So there were about 4 PQs per zone, and you needed the correct number / types of characters to do them and it was (at least in the early days) sometimes very trial and error in completing them successfully. If you could. The boss mob in some PQs could squash teams flat in seconds. Also, because there were so many per zone, they could end up feeling very repetitive.

ChampO has taken the PQ idea and made it work a bit better - only one PQ per zone, fairly rapid repeats and at this point it is fairly easy for a group to form to do it in my experience.

You know what the funny thing about this is? Even the failure games learned from Mythic's blunders. The only ones that haven't, are.....

Oh yeah, and there was actually nine PQs in any given zone, three per chapter. Hey PQs are a blast right? SO lets make 27 of them just in the first zones combined!!!!!!

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Reply #28 on: September 18, 2009, 09:49:39 AM

The PVE was bland, making it harder wouldn't make it better, besides the PVE instances I saw were very buggy, buggy is hard.

I think one could say that they should have just done everything better.  Clearly harder doesn't mean better though. 
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Reply #29 on: September 18, 2009, 10:26:45 AM

It wasnt just big things that made WHO tank, many small things that add up are equally annoying.  Yeah their Reknown system sucked, gear system sucked, leveling curve sucked, Keeps and forts sucked(1 ramp wtf), end game sucked, FPS sucked, populations sucked, etc. 

Small things that have irked me over the past while

1)  Getting caught on rocks, trees, sctructures, bridges, etc and stuck on fence posts making me have to port to my bind point
2)  Melee distance and any lag would cause you to fail to hit your target, although your abilities would fire anyhow
3)  Scenario objectives - some of them you spend more time running around then actually killing or getting reknown points.  Friends and I blacklisted Thunder Valley and Logrins forge cause those scenarios are 90% running, 10% killing
4)  Trinkets and pocket items they added into the game that negate other players defensive or offensive abilties or damage:
a) pocket item that absorbs 4000melee dmg
b) pocket item that prevents your opponent from blocking, parrying or dodging your attacks for 15 seconds
c) oathstones which proc a debuf that reduced armor of the target by 1200...and it stacked. 
5)  Borked the entire crafting system so making money through any craft/tradeskill was almost pointless. 
6)  Flying when a scenrio popped caused u to get bugged and not only not enter the scenario but you could re-que and had to log out
7)  Abilities that dont work like knockback...would miss and do nothing 95% of the time

I can add more but almost time for lunch :)
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Reply #30 on: September 18, 2009, 11:44:52 AM

I have to admit the first thing that felt "wrong" was that there were 3 "lands". Personally in my world I would have had maybe one started land for each land but then everyone is funneled intot he same realm. It was fun starting in Ulthuan as a High elf and wandering around the Blighted Isle ( I wanted to go up and say hi to the Sword of Khaine, but the damn thing wasn't actually put into it) becasue of the lore, but after that they could have sent me off to the empire and I would have not complained rather having than the whole of bloody Ulthuan where I saw nobody. I love the high Elf backstory, but even I didn't give a rats ass about wandering through Ulthuan beating up dark elves.

The fact that everyone by themselves seemed to migrate to the Chaos-Empire war shows what a bad idea it was from the very start.

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Reply #31 on: September 18, 2009, 12:19:53 PM

I wish I'd gone to that, I'd have stood up and called bullshit on him. (Him being Hickman).
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Reply #32 on: September 18, 2009, 12:52:39 PM

Oh yeah, and there was actually nine PQs in any given zone, three per chapter. Hey PQs are a blast right? SO lets make 27 of them just in the first zones combined!!!!!!

I'd forgotten the differences between zones, chapters and the like.

The Tome of Knowledge was another really good idea of Mythic's that I think they killed by over-doing it. I like achieving in-game rewards as much as the next guy, but as soon as I see things like "Kill 100 guys with four times more reknown rank than you while you are in chicken form" I realise that it just isn't going to be worth my time.

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Reply #33 on: September 18, 2009, 12:58:18 PM

The tome while a good idea was a major cause of zoning lag.  It would take forever to zone from x to y because the more tome unlocks you got the longer it takes.  If you start a new character its amazing how much faster it is to zone, but my RR77 WH takes FOREVER to load.  They admitted this is the case and said 2 months ago they have a fix already yet here we are...no fix implemented. 
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Reply #34 on: September 18, 2009, 01:13:04 PM

The tome while a good idea was a major cause of zoning lag.  It would take forever to zone from x to y because the more tome unlocks you got the longer it takes.  If you start a new character its amazing how much faster it is to zone, but my RR77 WH takes FOREVER to load.  They admitted this is the case and said 2 months ago they have a fix already yet here we are...no fix implemented. 

I'm split between "They say knowledge is a burden" and "That's just retarded" in response to that.

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