Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On Dark Millenium Online, a Warhammer 40k MMORPG

Games, esp MMOs have to be focused. Of course, this is based on the tabletop wargame. Everything GW puts out from licensed console games, to licensed MMOs to novels, to everything else GW makes a pound from: it's geared towards selling toy soldiers and the Warhammer game(s). Like it or not, that's what the bottom line on the quarterly stock report says.

Now to make it an electronic game, some concessions need to be made. It's a guarantee that it will not match up bit for bit with the tabletop game or the decades of lore. There's just no way to make a game that broad within the financial constraints given. There will be compromise and that is something people will complain about.

It's a forgone conclusion that you cannot, and will not make everyone happy with a licensed game. No way around it. It's axiomatic. The best they can do is make a fun game that gets the overall vibe right that is internally consistent.

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning did this. It picked a level of closeness to the lore and stuck with it. It went high on requirements which makes it beautiful...but buggy. Overall it is a gorgeous game that gets the overall feel of Warhammer right, within the confines of the never ending war theme that is present in the tabletop wargame. They stated from the get-go that WAR was not a WOW-killer. Apples to Oranges. While they made "classes" which is almost imperative, the classes are tuned to the lore in a fairly balanced way, yet completely different from the perfectly tuned and overly gamey WOW way: it has a unique Warhammer taste that doesn't require the classes to be pigeon-holed the same way as other MMOs. For good or ill, that's the way it is. The goal was to retain as much of the Warhammer flavor as possible.

Dark Millennium Online will do many of the same things. My fear is that it'll go cheap on development and be half-assed. While EA-Mythic may have been top-dollar, they put out a gorgeous product and have a dedication to making sure WAR is as good as it can be. Going cheap, means there will be less quality. There will be bugs. WoW has them: always has...but they pour a ton of cash in to making it smooth running.

The one thing WoW has for it is Blizzard. That is a cash cow if there ever was one. WoW isn't the prettiest game, but it is smooth as a babies butt. It's largely the same ol same ol as far as gameplay: when you get down to it MMOs and all electronic games to a certain degree come with the same nuts and bolts. Go to A. Get quest from B. Do C. Get D, gain XP and loot, improve character. Lather rinse repeat. WoW has this finely tuned. Every character fits neatly defined roles. Very neat and clean. It's internally consistent. It works.

WAR is similar except the roles are a bit looser and a focus on RvR. WoW has better crafting/ grinding for materials. PvE is PvE. Whatever name you slap on it, it's more or less the same. PvP in WoW isn't as fine tuned. In WAR PvP is very different, and takes a different mindset. More like a FPS game where you assault a beach head, die, rez and come back. The difference is that it is nicely balanced in WAR between the tiers.

Anyhow, Dark Millennium Online, will make concessions and compromises in order to fit the MMO paradigm, and people will be disappointed. Same thing as watching a movie based on a book or comic, it's never the same. It will be based on war. Constant battle. There will be classes built around killing stuff. There won't be scribes to play. The classes will be approximated in to certain roles, and I have no idea how close they'll follow the lore. The closer they follow the lore, the happier GW fans will be, but long-term MMO fans won't get it.

Warhammer is awesome. I love it. But in playing WAR, I've learned something: if you keep the game as close to the lore as possible, people won't understand it, won't subscribe en masse. It'll be a small niche. If you dumb it down to cater to the masses, you'll get more subscribers, but alienate the Warhammer fans. Either way, compromises will need to be made. It's down to where you draw that line. Amongst Warhammer fans, I expect everyone wants the line to be close as possible to the GW lore. I think most of the folks here will be very disappointed in the game.

A fine example of this is Dawn of War. I love the game, but by a very narrow margin is it even remotely Warhammer 40k. It's a RTS with a 40k skin. I'm cool with that, but a lot of folks aren't. I foresee Dark Millennium Online going much the same way.

Am I going to play it. Hell yeah. But I'll go in to it with eyes open, expecting a 40k flavored MMO...not Warhammer 40k in MMO form. To do otherwise is just asking to be disappointed. I figure as long as they get the overall vibe right (as I feel WAR has done) it'll be cool and ultimately I'll end up dropping even more $ on minis...again.


Sirh0213 said...

I saw the trailer for DMO and, for some reason, I just wasn't feeling it. I don't see how/why someone would choose to be an Imperial Guardsman over being a Space Marine. Mechanicus, that makes sense, but a Guardsman (assuming the class exists).

I've been following the development of Star Wars: The Old Republic. They get around the issue of Trooper vs Jedi by making the trooper an above-average, elite dude who can take on a Jedi/Sith (as seen in the latest trailer, "Hope", which, by the way, is AWESOME).

I will probably not play this game. However, the other game being worked on, "Space Marine" (for console): Oh yeah, I'll play that!

Jeff said...

They'll likely have the Space Marine as a "tank" class, Mechanicus as a melee or ranged DPS. Inquisition as a stealth/ DPS. I dunno. I can see where they're going and a way to make it kind of cool, but I can be pretty certain it'll piss off a lot of the existing fanbase.

I've been keeping an eye on TOR as well, and I know BIOWARE and LUCASARTS will put together something that is very beautiful and works nicely. That's a powerhouse of cash pushing this.

For DMO I believe in THQ, but who is Vigil Games?

Space Marine, I'm anxiously awaiting that!

Anonymous said...

Its as easy as this:
Space marine: Melee/ Ranged tank and agro control

Mechanicus: Debuff and heals

Imperial guard: DPS

Inqiz: CC and Nukeage