Warhammer Online: A Change in Gaming?


It was not long ago where the only way to play a multiplayer game was to invite your friends over and have them grab the second remote to the Super Nintendo. Times have clearly changed.

The Internet allows people to play any game against each other from anywhere in the world, and since the advent of MMORPGs, now games involve teaming up and fighting an unlimited supply of quests together, in lands that seem to never end with the amount of content that groups can accomplish.

But even with those games like World of Warcraft (WoW) and other MMORPGs, there really isn’t the “need” to play with others. People do it, but groups are really optional, and people only join those groups with the intention of having fun with their friends or picking up the one gamer chick that logged on.

A Change Coming?

A new game, scheduled to be released this month, hopes to change that. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning – one of the first games expected to actually compete with WoW, is rumored to finally be one of the first MMORPGs that not only encourages groups but requires them.

In Warhammer Online, there are supposed to be a significant number of quests and goals that you simply cannot beat on your own. Without a group you will find yourself constantly dying. And so, if you don’t have a number of friends that want to log in every day, you are going to have to team up with other Warhammer Online gamers and form groups with them that you can keep or disband at your leisure.

Is this a good idea on Warhammer Online’s part to make this group aspect such an integral part of the game? That remains to be seen. But at least we can see that the evolution of gaming continues to try to turn gaming into a community, rather than simply a hobby. It will be interesting to see if other games that follow Warhammer Online will try to continue that trend.

Discuss this and other Warhammer Online topics at The Warhammer Guide where you will be able to expect the most detailed, well rounded approach to the game when it first launches, and will find the only guides that promise detailed leveling strategies, gold making options, and class details from day 1.

Um...is this propaganda? Cause all you have to do is say so. At this site we really want to *discuss* things, not advertise them. If you're looking for a place to make money, you've come to the wrong site.

It was assigned to the "Plugs" category.

To be honest, Gamegrene is hobbling along: article submission is nearly non-existent, and various gaming blog aggregators of late have moved centralized "good content" to the cloud; quite opposite of Gamegrene's original intention from waayYY back in 2000.

Well, I totally wouldn't mind this if it was more like...discussion-y, you know? Like more about whether this is a good or a bad thing, whether this would "solve" a lot of the problems people here commonly think of with MMOs or something. I'm totally cool with that. It just sounds like a paid advertisement.

As for what else you're saying...sorry! Abjectly humbled, I will now go make more articles and submit them.

"It just sounds like a paid advertisement." - as far as I know, Gamegrene received no money ;)

Well, I didn't say you did...it just sounds like one. Less advertising, more discussion.

So, for the requested discussion, will the requirement of groups serve to foster more group interaction and potentially "actual" role-play, or will it simply mean "Get folks together to kill stuff," still? Is the group mentality one which will work to increase character development, or does it become simply a way to kill bigger stuff?


Jerk. lol

Well, since we're on the topic, I think it'll simply mean more killing things, just in a group environment. It could go someways to help foster roleplaying, as it certainly is easier to roleplay in a group than by yourself, but only those who really make an effort roleplay will do so.

A step in the right direction, but certainly not a panacea.

It's "kinda" a plug. GameGrene was doing me a favor, because I needed to get that link out there for a friend. They got no money for it. I tried to make it sound more article-y, but it's somewhat hard.

By the way, I have to thank GameGrene immensely for posting this BUT, in my defense, I did not write the final paragraph which is probably the most salesy part :). I was just okay with a link somewhere. but it looks like GameGreme gave me a pretty sweet plug, so I'm cool with that too. (So don't be mad at GameGrene either, please).

RE: The discussion -

I don't think it has to do with more role play per se - what it does do is make the game a necessary social tool. If you can't kill enemies on your own, then you are going to have to either play with friends or make new ones.

Really, it makes the game a forced social experience, not a loner experience - turning the game into something that people do together rather than lock themselves up to do alone.

Also, as far as the role playing aspect, the game is going to divide experience/items/everything you win based on how much effort you put in. So if I attack only once, and - say - Morbus attacks 20 times, he (she?) is going to get 20/21's of the pot, even though we "played as a team."

So if you do not hit very hard because you chose a weaker character, but you have good healing spells, the only way to get an equal reward is to use your healing spells to the best of your ability.

Hopefully that's what you're asking and my response makes sense.

It does indeed make sense, though based on your comment I must assume that there is a device in place to keep track of non-combat assistance. If so, then that's more of a step towards "role-" rather than "roll-playing," and thus a good thing.

Am I correct in that interpretation, that there is such a device?

Don't worry, WarOnline, I'm not mad or anything, and it'd take a lot to get mad at gamegrene (I love this site!). That final paragraph is very sales-y, though. But, don't worry, because what I wanted was to discuss this new development, and I'm getting what I wanted. So I'm okay.

I'm agreeing with Folgha, here, in that, it is indeed a step, particularly concerning the division of the spoils, but, like I said previously, it is no panacea. I have to be honest here and state straight out that I am no fan of MMOs, but I have my reasons. I am not an old codger bemoaning the "youngins" and their technology. In fact, I am one of the techno-addled youngins. I don't like MMOs because they focus way too much on what I consider to be the worst aspects of roleplaying games, that being killing things and taking their stuff, and gloss over what I like best, like character development and storyline. While Warhammer Online definitely helps things along by forcing the group interaction, thus helping to facilitate roleplay, it certianly doesn't bring it in there full-force. But then, that brings in the big discussion on how much the game, any game, itself influences roleplaying and how much just the group does that. I have doubts as to whether MMOs will ever emphasize the "role"playing or continue to do what has been profitable so far, and addict people to meaning "victories" in the form of killing cyber creatures and collecting cyber loot.

I've been playing the beta, and started with the Collector's Edition Head Start last night. In short, however, I don't think it's really going to change anything. WAR is broken up into four tiers of rankplay, and it's been stated that Tier 1 is "20% PvP, 80% PvE" (ie., you can probably solo most of it, as I've been doing) whereas Tier 4 is "80% PvP, 20% PvE". I've not gotten to Tier 4, so I can't really state anything unequivocally, but Tier 4 is the "endgame" (roughly speaking - that's level 40 in regular ranks, but there's 80 levels worth of Renown to get). And, in most MMORPGS, you /always/ need groups to handle the endgame. The endgame of WoW is raiding, raiding, raiding - mostly PvE, but mostly constrained to your own guild or friends. The endgame of WAR, PvE or not, will mean you're gaming in groups (even if the group is a simple as "the party I got shafted with for this RvR scenario"). And, with Guilds getting their own levels (with each level unlocking something beneficial to the guild), the endgame is looking pretty much like WoW, regardless if its PvE or PvP.

Also, as far as the role playing aspect, the game is going to divide experience/items/everything you win based on how much effort you put in. So if I attack only once, and - say - Morbus attacks 20 times, he (she?) is going to get 20/21's of the pot, even though we "played as a team."

The first time you really see this is in RvR scenarios (where your proximity to other party members also helps determine how much you reap of their efforts), but also in the Public Quests. It's not always as awesome as it sounds though - for example, last night I was in a PQ with 20 people, and ranked 4th in effort (earning me +300 to my loot roll). I got a shitty roll, and ended up 22nd, meaning I got nothing whatsoever.

Tzuriel notes:

"But then, that brings in the big discussion on how much the game, any game, itself influences roleplaying and how much just the group does that. I have doubts as to whether MMOs will ever emphasize the "role"playing or continue to do what has been profitable so far, and addict people to meaning "victories" in the form of killing cyber creatures and collecting cyber loot."

The attitude commented upon seems to pervade the current D&D edition more than in past editions, so much so that many of the people at my FLGS have remarked that D&D4E is "WoW paper-and-pencil," almost always derisively (the one exception being a hardened console/MMORPG gamer). I think, thus, that the issue of game influence goes even beyond the intra-game; D&D seems to be responding to MMORPG, and in the past, other games have tended to follow D&D (admittedly at various degrees of removal). My worry, then, is that the dynamic Tzuriel shows will spread further.

I think the rise to supremacy of the hunt-kill-loot-repeat- dynamic in the gaming world is symptomatic of a wider social malaise - that of pandering to people's baser instincts in order to sell stuff. In past ages, munchkinism was a phase that people went through on the road to roleplay enlightenment, encouraged by more experienced players and the game designers themselves to aspire to higher things. But today's profit-led game makers have realised that you can make more money by tossing such scruples out the window and pandering to the munchkins. It's easy to see parallels of this in the evolution of various other media during the past quarter-century.

I think you've really hit on something there, gherkin. I am an avid movie lover, but I find less and less satisfaction with movies nowadays. I'm still not sure what it is that's missing, but it's a problem that comes up even in sequels to older classics, like the recent Indiana Jones movie. The few movies that have an substance are so ridiculously depressing as to take away all their meaning and point. I find more and more that in order to come upon a truly stellar movie, I have to delve into independent projects, projects that are willing to take up serious issues in a new light and try new things and actually say something worthwhile and meaningful. No where is this worse, though, than in books. Recent hits like Harry Potter and Twilight have completely upended the publishing industry, where every publisher is looking for the next big children's hit in what was already sickly industry. Now it's almost dead. Breaking into it is nearly impossible, and many a great book never sees the self because all they want anymore is Harry Potter - something they can make movies off of and build into a mega-million franchise. I enjoyed the Harry Potter series, but it is undeniably without substance, with it's deepest issues being the power of friendship (something regularly discussed in Saturday morning cartoons). Luckily, we still have some authors bringing deeply needed modern classics, authors like Cormac McCarthy, who's books are truly feasts of brilliant writing and deep thought. Even more distressing, however, is the fact that independent publishers and book stores are being killed off by corporate bigwigs like Barnes and Noble, despite their superior service and selection. At least over here in America, things have reached a strange dichotomy, where the best and the worse are strageling each other.

Call me a pessimist, but it looks like, for the public at least, the worst are winning.

Of course, there are some areas where we all come together in agreement. But that's getting farther and farther, and we keep on getting more and more meaningless "entertainment." Art, with a capital A, is so much more than that.

And here I have to thank WarOnline for facilitating this very interesting discussion which has gotten quite out of control. Thank you.

It's not just in entertainment that we see the general lowering of the level of thought, insight, and complexity. I teach at the collegiate level, everything from freshmen up through senior-level undergraduates, and I am saddened with each year at the lower and lower level of proficiency. The students enter each year capable of less than the previous class.

I'm waiting for the bottom to fall out, myself.

I think it's a societal problem. A lot of people just say the new generation is stupider and leave it at that, but I don't think that's it. In fact, if you look at IQ test scores (granted these are the best measurements, but they'll do for my point), they've gone up since when they first came in. People act according to how you treat them, and everybody treats kids nowadays like they couldn't tell up from down. There is no drive to succeed, no push for excellence in thought. It's just do your job and move on. Leave thinking to the white boy on the hill (I am one of those, unfortunately).

People create stupider and stupider books, movies, tv shows, etc., because they think everybody's stupid nowadays. If we created smart media, people would become smarter to catch up to it. But that takes more effort than stupid stuff. So the stupid stuff keeps getting made.

Besides, people are no longer taught how to think in school's - they're taught how to take glorified proficiency tests, how to spew meaningless information out on paper. Our society is addicted to information. We know a lot, or can know a lot, and think that makes us wise. That attitude is infectious in today's youth. We owe cultural influences that are out of control, and role models who don't care what they teach out children.

The problem is, though, that it IS systemic; even when students do run into instructors--and I like to think that I am one of them--who require that they perform and work with them to aid that performance, they have been largely inured to the potential of it. There is much incentive for laziness, and little for work--and we are inherently lazy creatures.

Yes, people are progressively lowering the standards of production...but they are doing so because they are ALLOWED to do so, and too many of us have somehow become more concerned with 1) avoiding lawsuits and 2) not making people feel bad about themselves than about them achieving.

Sony tried requiring groups for a good chunk of content when they released EverQuest 2. It was not THE thing that made that game unpleasant, but it didn't help. They have since changed their design to add a fair amount of solo accessible content. If WAR has managed to iron out the rest of the game, requiring groups may not be as onerous as it sounds. But, if there are other problems it will just add that bit of straw to break the camel's back. Time will tell.

You've got a serious point there, Folgha. The thing about it is that it doesn't all go to one problem at source, there are many problems, and to reverse this trend we have to attack all those problems. And that is very difficult, obviously.

I don't think we are inherently lazy creatures, but that's beside the point.

There is no doubt that our society glorifies doing nothing. In some ways, we owe this to the big people nowadays. Look at our current president. He got there doing nothing. Many musicians ended up the same way. The thing is, that's only have the story. Mr. Bush is gonna be doing a living hell for quite sometime now, I believe. And rock musicians...well, they drop like flies. Those that do pull out go through a great deal of pain and trouble. People only want to here the nice story. And the younger generations (which, again, I am a member of) act like the world owes them a nice life. Well, that ain't the way the world works. We think we can do whatever we want.

Forced grouping is a bad, bad thing.

In principle it (forced grouping) sounds like a good idea - get more people to play together, encourage friendships, etc. But surely in the long term, it will put people off purely through becoming like a commitment or a chore.

Think about it - you and your friends are heavily into Warhammer Online at a given time of year, you all have fun for a few months, then some of you get bored of it. What if just one or two people are still interested, but everyone else isn't, with little hope of new friends appearing who will be interested? You're left with lonely players who've built up their characters, gotten into the game and the game world but can't play effectively because their allies have gone off to play Second Life (or D&D!)

Online gaming IS inherently lonely; if you have real-life friends who are also into it that's great, but for the majority online games assume a certain level of hermit-ness in the mindset of the player. We're essentially together in our solitude.