The Secret World launched today, July 3rd. I don’t plan on playing what with Guild Wars 2 around the corner and other reasons. Those reasons being a standing World of Darkness game on Friday nights with my girl and a friend. Though, if i didn’t have a running WoD game, I’d largely view Secret World as a great analog to some of the ideas.
If i do play, it will be after a requisite 3 months. This is the minimum bar for any MMORPG that comes out. This clears several key problems in new MMO properties: The Wave, The Bugs, The Game.
The Wave – Every MMO gets played by a number of people. The question is how fast they digest the content and move on. Ever been to a new restaurant in your area? Even something as rudimentary as Krispy Kreme can draw lines for days on end leaving you with very rare opportunities to visit the new operation. You see the same phenomenon in MMO’s where hundreds or thousands of players will assault the hapless rats gathered at the gates of the newly envisioned castles and will proceed to pick clean the questing fields of their native berries and wolf pelts. If you wait a week, you see less of them.
The longer you wait, the smaller the number of people dwindles to a mere shadow of it’s former chaos. World of Warcraft is a prime example. Even in this day, some ten years after it’s release you’ll find people rolling new characters or progressing through the quest content at their own speed.
The Bugs – Every game, console or PC, suffers from bugs at launch. It’s inevitable. What surprises me is the Beta-Version experience. Many games are left in a semi-unfinished state left for the eager fanbase to discover what game breaking imbalances or bugs ruin the experience.
It almost never rewards a player to pick up an MMO in the first two weeks. My first week with EVE Online was met with frequent crashes. I docked, crash. I undock, crash. I could fly around for minutes or hours without issue, but the moment I touch a station to escape or enter the cold vacuum of space – BOOM – Down goes the client.
The Game – Every game comes out with a laundry list of visions and ideas they hope and hoped to achieve. Almost no MMO achieves the full list. This gets whittled down over time and development, changed from broad strokes to smaller more precise ideas.
In some cases classes get rebuilt, powers redefined, environments revised. Few games do this often, World of Warcraft one of the few that regularly changes how the various classes play and one of my chief arguments against playing for any lengthy period of time.
The Solution – So my solution in all it’s simplicity is merely to wait. I wait roughly 3 months, see what comes down the line. See if a game falters radically, collapsing under the weight of it’s lofty but unmanageable ideals. A significant number of players will pick up a game for it’s included complimentary period, a commitment of purchase but not one of subscription. I’ve done this myself, interested to see how a game pans out but disinterested after the experience. Much like a trial period only significantly more expensive in the case of new games.
So in this endeavor I dodge a horde of new players competing for the same resources, I escape game and character breaking bugs and I get to see what gets added in post-launch. It’s not foolproof. City of Heroes radically altered power structure several months after launch. Enough so that while I like the new changes, I’d rather have not been around before hand.
With all that in mind, I -will- be playing Guild Wars 2 at launch and I welcome anyone who cares to come join me. Send me an email and I’ll coordinate server/guild information.