Aug 20 2010

In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future There Is Only DKP

It shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you who know my background that I have been very interested in the forthcoming game Dark Millenium: Online – the Warhammer 40k MMO being developed by THQ. While it’s true that the game is some way out and it’s far too early to jump to conclusions just yet, the message from Danny Bilson, Core Games Director (who has done most of the press stuff so far) has been somewhat incoherent.

Take for example this interview from Computer and Video Games on July 1st:

Speaking at E3 this month, Bilson said that the Vigil-developed online game is “very friendly to the WoW player” and even he as a WoW fanatic will be switching games.

“Have you seen it? The movie? I think it speaks for itself,” Bilson told CVG. “I’m a diehard MMO player myself – going back to EverQuest. I’ve spent lots of time in WoW. As a WoW fanatic, I’m going to go right to 40K as soon as it comes out. It’s very friendly to the WoW player.”

“The brand is fantastic – it’s so deep and so wonderful,” he said. “There’s just so much for us to play with. There’s more vehicles in our thing [than WoW], the combat’s completely different; you can get four guys in a tank and go.

“[40K] is stunning. It’s going to be a masterpiece. It’s been in development for three-and-a-half years already. It’s got two more to go. Look at it.” Go on then: Look at it.

“It’s sensational. I believe within the next six months we’re going to be showing playable sections of the game, not just a movie.” According to the THQ exec, the online game only needs to poach “a million” World of WarCraft players to be successful.

“They’ve got 14 million players! Gimme a million and I’m good! We’re real good at a million, right?” He added: “We don’t need everybody to migrate. We just need some of them – and I’m full confident we’re going to get them.

Two things that strikes me about that interview. Firstly I’m gong to be generous to him and assume that the ‘we only need a million players’ line was just playful banter that he didn’t actually mean. The history of such claims for other games is an unhappy one. Secondly, I couldn’t help but notice that he mentioned WoW a lot more than he mentioned his own product. Which is an unusual marketing tactic by any standards. I thought this was a one-off and perhaps reflected a certain single-mindedness on the journalist – I certainly remember talking about WAR to press who were basically only interested in framing the interview in terms of how that game stacked up to WoW. This week however at the Gamescom in Cologne, Mr Bilson was at it again, this time talking to Eurogamer.

Eurogamer: I’ve been excited about the Warhammer 40K MMO for a long time. When will it be out?

Danny Bilson: A couple more years. It really is about two years out.

Look, there is an 800 pound gorilla out there called World of Warcraft, which is a fantastic MMO that’s going to get updated with Cataclysm soon and drive a lot of people including myself back into it.

I’m a big MMO fan and player. I’ve played EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, City of Heroes, I’ve got a few level 80 characters in WOW. Now, imagine that the people making Dark Millennium Online are all a bunch of guys like me, who love WOW and the expansions it’s had along the way.

We all say to ourselves, ‘We’re not going to get all the WOW players to move to 40K.’ 40K has its own unique coolness and edge. And that edge and glorious gore is not going to appeal to everybody. It appeals to you and I.

But what I know about our 40K game is that if you’ve played WOW you’ll be able to pick up and play this instantly, and you’ll find all these things that feel like upgrades, in a way.

Wait.  WoW again? Sure I guess it’s a reference point for the industry and he’s certainly right to describe it as the ‘800 pound gorilla’ of the scene but really, could you, y’know, talk a bit about 40k online rather than WoW for a change?

It has a lot of the same qualities of WOW in terms of ease of use and how the interface is. I want to say that if you play WOW, you’ll be able to jump into Dark Millennium Online really easy.

But you won’t be able to be a Space Marine right away, because that’s a very unique class, if you know the universe. The road there is a great road, and they are in the game.

WoW once again. Man can this guy stop talking about the competition. Seriously Activision Blizzard can afford their own PR guys and.. hold on for just one moment. Run that past me again.

But you won’t be able to be a Space Marine right away, because that’s a very unique class, if you know the universe.

In a Warhammer 40k game ‘you won’t be able to be a Space Marine’ straight away? What the hell? The single most iconic thing about the IP, the poster-child for the entire setting, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when you say Warhammer 40k isn’t going to be playable at launch?

Scott Jennings said it best so I’ll just point you at his rant here.

Dear THQ, please don’t make this suck. Also please stop talking about WoW and tell us about your game instead.

May 7 2009

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye

The drama du jour is served up by the combination of Darkfall (srs bzns PvP MMO) and (mostly solid games news site). I’d imagine if you’re reading this that you are already likely acquainted with the affair but for those of you who may have missed it, the summary goes as follows:

  • Eurogamer review Darkfall and give it a very unflattering review.
  • Darkfall devs complain publicly about the quality of the review on their forum. Highlights of the complaint are that, according to their logs, the reviewer only spent 2 hours playing the game and most of that was in character creation.
  • Eurogamer responds, standing by their reviewer and his review but offer to re-review it with a different staff member.
  • Darkfall comes right back with another post in which they’re very clear that they don’t want insinuate that Eurogamer are lying but this is somewhat disingenuous as they all but state outright that they believe this to be the case.
  • Finally, the whole event comes to a (temporary?) close when the Darkfall devs categorically refuse a re-review from Eurogamer. Their rationale seems to be a little patchy however, they claim they don’t want the game to be re-reviewed because the old review will stay up until the new review is complete, but of course if the game isn’t re-reviewed then the old review will stand regardless. It’s a puzzle.

The review, is of course very hostile and is apparently factually inaccurate in some areas, what’s interesting is that none of the meatier criticisms of the game are unique to this article. Tasos rails that the reviewer didn’t give it a fair shake of the stick and was clearly biased against the game, but there are no new things being said in this article that haven’t already been pointed out by other reviewers. While Tasos and the Darkfall fans are complaining about the minutiae, the takeaway from the article is hard to dispute. Is it accurate? Possibly not. Does it accurately convey Mr Zitron’s feelings about the game? Very probably.

Anyway, I don’t really want to talk about Darkfall particularly but rather the relationship between the gaming press and the industry they cover.

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