Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gamersinfo WAR preview

Some time ago a site called GamersInfo found out that I was writing about games, without me telling them so, and started sending me regular newsletters. There is no way to unsubscribe, so technically the newsletter is spam. But of course I mind well targeted spam about subjects I'm interested in a lot less than the normal sort. So if I find the occasional interesting article there, I'm willing to link to them. Among a lot of other stuff they have an interesting preview of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.

Now I'm not, as some people believe, in the WAR beta. Yet. Well, I'm banging on their door hoping they let me in one day, to be more exact, having applied for the Euro beta and not received any response. Due to the perverse logic of blogging and NDAs that means that currently I'm free to talk as much as I want about WAR, and only inviting me to the beta will shut me up. Now, there's a good reason to send me a beta invite if there ever was one. :)

So let me quote something from the GamersInfo article: "One of the things that amused Paul to no small end was the fact that back "in the day" – a while ago, at least – some people (I get the impression it was "marketing people" but they didn't specifically say that) were afraid that no one would want to play races like the Greenskins. They were too ugly!

The beta launched two weeks ago – stable and fun (according to them – they haven't let me in yet!). Greenskins initially outnumbered dwarves 2 to 1! (That population, according to Jeff Hickman, has stabilized down to about 1.2 to 1 now.) Of course, the dwarves were owning the greenskins all day at Games Day, but at the Games Day in Atlanta, GA, it had been the opposite."

Of course that "nobody wants to play the bad guys" fear is a direct reference to World of Warcraft. But whether orcs outnumber dwarves or dwarves outnumber orcs doesn't really matter. The problem is the same: PvP (or RvR) balance.

Most WoW PvP balance discussion focuses on whether one class is better than another class. This matters when you do PvP duels, or arenas and battlegrounds where the number of players on each side is the same. In RvR it doesn't matter whether a warlock is stronger than a rogue, because he sure isn't stronger than two rogues, and fights between equal numbers of players are exceedingly rare. RvR raids get organized at 3 am in the morning, and if your guild raid ends up somewhere which is actually defended, there is a chance that the raid group decides to go elsewhere. And with classes being more or less balanced, the winner is always the side bringing more people to the battle. So if one side simply is more popular and has more players in total, they have a significant advantage. I don't know what races will be more or less popular in Warhammer Online, but I'm pretty sure the numbers will never be evenly balanced. That will cause a lot of howling and complaining on the game forums.

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