Monday, August 25, 2008

A WAR for old men?

In the open Sunday thread Phantasmagoria linked to an "old guy's" review of WAR and asks: "Does WAR aim for the more mature player? (and if so, is this a viable business strategy)."

Turns out the "old guy" has exactly my age, 43, which is old in internet terms, but would be considered middle-aged generally. It is a generation which grew up with the early video games, and many of us never totally stopped playing. And it is totally possible that we "old guys" have a preference for slower games. Not only are your reaction times slower at 40 than they are at 20. But also the games we grew up were often slower, because the technology wasn't advanced enough for real-time combat. I played a lot of turn-based strategy and role-playing games, the RTS and action RPG genres came much later.

So this old guy says in his review how much he enjoys that WAR combat isn't so fast, and that this is especially enjoyable in PvP. I agree. It is great that in WAR PvP the combat isn't already decided the moment that mage casts his first spell and takes off half of your health with a single crit. No wonder crit resistance is considered to be the most important PvP stat in WoW. In WAR I can be hit from behind, turn around, and still fight back. Twitchy gameplay just doesn't do anything for you in WAR, even melee fighters have a 5-yard range, so getting out of their range before they can hit you is nearly impossible. In the big keep battle I participated in I rarely saw anyone doing silly jumping around, because people quickly realized it just doesn't help you at all. And I like that. Combat in a MMORPG shouldn't be about who can mash buttons faster, because that would be inherently unfair to people with a slower connection. Combat should be about keeping a cool head under pressure, and being able to quickly decide which is the best button to press in any given situation, having tactical choices to make. I enjoy PvP much more in WAR than I do in WoW, and the slower speed of it contributes greatly to that.

But I don't think that this enjoyment will be limited to just older players. Yes, older players have more money, and they tend to be more loyal to the games they play. I just don't think Mythic particularly targeted us with WAR. Even if the Warhammer license is 25 years old, most current players are younger. And while slower, more tactical combat takes a bit to get used to, especially if you played Age of Conan before WAR, I think everyone can enjoy it. In the end it gives you more satisfaction of having played your class well, instead of the frustration of having been stunlocked or surprised without being able to fight back. And as the only way to kill somebody quickly is to cooperate with other players from your side, WAR RvR becomes less of a solo affair and more about playing together with others.

Of course there is a risk for Mythic that the ADD kids won't like WAR as much as they like faster games. But frankly, as an old man, I won't miss those less mature kids if they decide to not stick around. The community might end up being better and more mature as a whole if those who are upset that they can't gank others without them having a chance to fight back leave.

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