WAR Planning : Guild Beta, Open Beta, NDA Lift & WAR Release date?

NOTE : this article has originally been released on the 03/30/2008 on JeuxOnLine. But I (Romeo Knight) have decided to translate it into English (on the 05/10/2008) because it is still actuality.

This article is based on interviews, forum discussions, rumors... Is WAR nearly finished and polished? Is the release date still engraved in mud? Can the WAR fans wait for an awesome MMO in 2008? Are precommands launched too early? Are competitors scared of the release date of WAR? Are rumors based on credible informations or fake ones? Is the marketing Buzz around Warhammer Online still operating?

I seriously think that you all are thinking about these questions. Let's try to bring in light into the Chaos.

The investigation can begin! (no, no that is not WAR Buster, at least ;-)

WAR-JOL

The Facts :

Paris Press Tour March 2008 :

Some interviews end of March 2008 :

"Eurogamer: You said yesterday that you would release in fall. The last announced date was Q2. Why the delay of six months or so?

Jeff Hickman : Say "or so" - I know the actual dates and it's not six months. Let's call it three to six months. Why the extra time? It is just what Mark Jacobs, our GM, has always talked about, and just what's been reinforced, especially recently, by EA. We are really, really pushing for quality in our games. We believe very strongly, and John Riccitiello the CEO at EA has really pushed hard on this in the last year since he came online, that getting games out the door quickly, making the quick buck, is not what EA needs to be about. We need to be about quality games, games that build big franchises, games that have future and longevity.

Now, we've always known that. You look at Mythic and we talk that talk. The problem is, as an independent studio, it's very hard to do that. EA came along and they've give us the ability to. They've given us the time and the money and any help that we want, while at the same time leaving us alone.

So we get to the point, really in the past couple of months, where we're looking at our game and it's like, man, it's really coming together, things are looking good, we're feeling good about all the little pieces that we have in place. But: is it as good as it needs to be? Or as good as we want it to be? That's really the key.

And we all feel like we need a little more time. We need more time to polish it. Like, all the content's done. The game is fully playable. Technically, I could launch the game today.

Instead of doing that, we literally are going back through the game - we've actually been through probably the first half of the game already. We're going through every single public quest, making sure it feels just right, making sure it's got the right voice overs, making sure it's got the right polish, making sure that it feels as good as we can possibly make it. We're looking at every quest in the game, we're looking at how the land is set up, all of the content. Everything. And making sure that it feels the way that it needs to feel, and that we want it to feel, so that we can have a slam dunk success when we launch the game.


Romeo Knight : Jeff is insisting on the fact that they should need time to polish the game : from 3 to 6 months, not above. The content of the game is here.

  • Conversation with Mark Jacobs by Only-WAR :

"How many MMOs have come out in 2 years or less?" After thinking a bit, I didn't have an answer. "One. DAoC. 18 Months." So where was he going with this? "Now let me ask you how many MMOs have come out in 3 years or less." Again, the answer was "Only DAOC - the fact is, that the timetable for every major MMO was basically no less than 4 years. And this delay still doesn't put us near the typical timeline. We're still under 4 years. Now if we hit over 4 years and are still delaying, then ok, you might have something to worry about, but that's just not the case".


Romeo Knight : The development of WAR has started in 2005. We are in 2008 : That would be 3 years at the end of 2008. Even if Electronic Arts is financially behind Mythic, it would be hard to believe that the game could be reported one more time at Fall 2008.

  • Mark Jacobs talks about the NDA lift :

"As to NDAs, the rule I've always gone by is my "time before release rule" in order to judge the confidence the publishers have in their new game (doesn't apply to ports or games that are already out in other places). I add a +1 for every week prior to release that the game's NDA has been lifted and come up with a score. If <4, there's a lack of confidence in the product, if you are >8, they really believe in the game. WoW had a great score (the highest I believe) and some of the MMOs that failed, had, as expected, low scores. A score of 4 is just about the minimum you should expect from a MMO publisher."

Romeo Knight : Mark Jacobs estimates that 4 weeks are a minimal time and that 8 weeks are a sign of good quality.

"The open beta for upcoming MMORPG Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning will begin in "the summer", the game's European spokesperson has revealed to VideoGamer.com."

Romeo Knight : Even if the seriousness of this news could be challenged (because no official source & date not known), this information could seem quite credible. In deed, if you have a sharp look on the different interviews and rumours, the things are matching together.

  • (Added : 04/26/08) Mark Jacobs talks about the Open Beta :

"2) As to when, it's pretty safe to say that we are going to follow what has become conventional wisdom within the MMO community to have an OB about a month before launch. It certainly is possible we might extend it by a bit or even shrink it but no decision has been made yet. And since we haven't locked in a date yet other than to say Fall 2008...." ; "c) I expect the NDA will be lifted before OB. Hopefully quite a while before OB. As I've said for years, you can tell how much faith a developer has in its game by when the NDA is lifted."  

Romeo Knight : OB one month before the release date.

Palais d'Altdorf


What we could deduct, is the following planning (Warning : this is only hypothesis, don't take this as it is) :

  • 3 to 4 months of polishment
  • Guild Beta could start from June to July
  • Open beta could run from July to August
  • NDA Lift could start as soon as Open Beta starts
  • Release date could be September or October 2008.

Conclusion

Is the game really advanced so that an open beta can be possible in 3 or 4 months? Several signs might make it possible. The issue of this is in the hands of the Beta testers, who are providing huge feed-backs. As we already saw it, they turned the direction of the game from instanced RvR to more open world RvR with keeps and sieges.

(03/30/2008) Article written by Romeo Knight (Sherlock 'Buster' WAR, Chaos journalist ) - Translated in English on the 05/10/2008.

PS : Polishment covers graphics, Gameplay, scenarios, (public) quests, RvR, landscape tuning, interfaces...

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