Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fixing the Campaign

Last week, James Casey started up a new discussion thread about the state of the campaign in Warhammer Online.  1.4 brought significant changes to how RvR operates and is a bit of a hot button issue among some WAR players.

From his post:

The question is: “How would you change the campaign as it stands now (post 1.4.0) and why?  What are the pros and cons of this change?”

There are stipulations.

Please don’t just say “bring back 1.3.6”.  That is not an option because it had its own problems, naysayers, etc.  For similar reasons a “classic” server is not really an option.

Please don’t use general broad statements.  I want to know what you think is the problem, how you think it can be fixed and what might happen.  I’ve seen a number of good ideas in other threads, but I wanted to focus the thoughts.

There are a lot of good (and not so good) ideas given by the players in the thread.  We will have to see if any of the feedback results in changes.  Even if they don't use it, this kind of thread at least reminds us that the devs are alive and well.

I did give some feedback in the thread:

1. AAO in the City and in TI.  Reward people who want to stay and fight.  On the downside, they will still have to choose between renown or gear.  Gear might win out, causing more empty instances.

2.  Keep keep respawns.  It at least encourages defenders to fight.  Prior to this, making the trip to defend a keep just wasn't worth the the trouble.  I'd like to see defensive rewards brought back somehow. 

3.  I'd love to see the lakes expanded, but I'm not sure if that would fit into the 1.4 campaign.

To be completely honest,  I don't think the campaign (zone locking/city) can really be fixed.  I've felt for a while that it is a core design flaw of the game.  That's not to say I don't enjoy it, because I do.  It's just something that will always drive players away.

WAR is basically PvP on rails.  You fight here, then here, to get to here for the 'best rewards.'  You're supposed to want to stop the enemy from getting to your city, but if you do that means no gear for you either.  If defenders were not rewarded in cities, then the power gap would just grow larger.  If the sides are balanced, neither will get to the city and it will stagnate.

Don't forget doing the campaign over and over again just gets old.  PvP needs to be more free-form and give players choices.  Sure you may lose a battle to the zerg, but you should be able to go somewhere else.  The on rails nature also makes it difficult to add new areas, since it must somehow fit into the campaign.

Sadly, taking WAR off the rails would probably be a huge effort and the game may be too old (in Internet terms) for that to happen.  There are ways the current campaign can be improved, like expanding the RvR lakes, but again that has to fit into the campaign structure.  I'll continue to have fun though, since I don't concern myself much with the campaign while playing. 

Note:  James did respond to the thread.