I know I said I wouldn’t talk about WAR here but this is too cool to share. I’m home sick today but last night we were given a press brief to distribute from today. I hope I’m not pre-empting anything here. The brief is from the EA Mythic studio manager April de Poisson and it’s about the patch system for WAR.
Everyone knows that when an MMO launches the real hard work has only just begun. Despite the fact that typically these games are in development for more than 3 years, there is still a lot to do post launch. Bugs to be corrected, new content to add so that the players don’t run out of things to do and of course balancing. Now this last item is probably the hardest thing about any MMO and that counts double when the MMO has any kind of PvP mechanic in it. We can all think of several games that have massively missed the balance bus and we remember them for just that and not any of the otherwise great features they may have had.
Worse, every single player, developer, community manager and forumite has wildly different views onwhat needs to be done to achieve this mythical balance. Nerf this class? Buff that one? Rework this mechanic? Add utility to here? Strip overpowered abilities from there? It’s all a bit like spinning plates on poles except that the plates are invisible and your hands are tied behind your head. Oh and you have to spin the plates with your ears.
Since Mythic was acquired by EA, they’ve had access to some of the sharpest and slickest coding teams around, people who can put games out on the shelves at a staggering rate and that’s the kind of expertise that EA Mythic are going to put to use on WAR. What will happen is that rather than continue to patch WAR for balance and content, a new version will be shipped every year. This new version will completely remix all the class abilities and power balance so that everyone will have to figure out from scratch what is over and underpowered – and by the time they’ve done that, a new version will be hitting the shelves!
Here are some FAQs
Q: Will there be no patches at all?
A: The only patches will be to fix game stopping bugs. Such bugs include but are not limited to:
- Bugs that prevent you from logging into your account
- Bugs that adversely affect the stability of a user’s PC.
- Bugs that threaten to destabilise reality and cause the End Times to occur.
- Bugs that open rifts to alternate dimensions.
Actually we’re just kidding about that last one. Rifts to alternate dimensions are awesome. They may be filled by hot blue alien chicks and that’s a risk we’re prepared to take frankly.
Q: What will change from each version to the next?
A: Lots of things! The developers will use their expert judgement and a state of the art binary RNG system to determine which features will carry over from one version to the next. Each version will be numbered for easy identification and so that players will always know that they are using the latest (and greatest!) client. So this year you will be playing WAR ’08 and just in time for the busy Christmas season you’ll be excited to get your hands on WAR ’09! Not everything will change of course, large bits of code will be copied and pasted into the next version with only enough differences to justify a new version number and shake up the experience for players. Who said making games was hard?
Q: Will different versions be able to play together?
A: Sadly no. You will always need the latest client. This is for technical financial reasons that are all to do with server architecture, shareholders, platform leveraging and shareholders.
Q: Can you comment on the rumoured console release for WAR?
A: Not at this time but look out for cross platform functionality added in WAR ’11 and ’12! We’re excited to be working with some of the biggest players in the console market – Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and those people who make the’150 retro games on a preloaded console’ things.