Ok I didn't play the game (might someday be pretty good who knows), but based on some newsbits it seems people who bought the game really didn't buy it, they just bought the key and a free month of beta testing. You still have to download the full game (at 68 mb, this could mean extreme anger for those on a dial up). And I was actually kind of looking forward to this game ...
Wow, this beats U9 and BC3k in my book. and supposedly the game sold WELL in its opening, up arnd 30,000 ppl (buying customers) have been reported of trying to login to there ONE server... my god what a FUBAR!
By Dave Long on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 10:30 am:
I previewed this game for CGM/O and I have no idea if that will ever see the light of day, but the bottom line is that Cornered Rat had a date for shipping, and they met it.
When it works (or worked in the time I had the beta), despite the dated graphic look, this game is actually pretty incredible. It needed another six months of development and a large scale beta test.
By Tom Ohle on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 10:59 am:
They cancelled the open beta because of the potential costs... in retrospect, I think it really would have been worth their while.
By Gordon Berg on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 01:49 pm:
Well, Strat First dictated the terms. WW2OL is already a year late and if they were going to get this on the shelves, they had to do it Strat First's way. Wanting this title to appear on June 6th has obvious marketing overtones, but at the expense of the initial consumer's goodwill?
But I guess that isn't Strat First's concern. They got the profits from the boxed sales and the monthly subscriber fees are where Cornered Rat makes back their money. Since the initial orders from the software buyers were *huge*, Strat First can wash their hands of this now (assuming the majority of those ordered boxes aren't returned right away...I'd be curious to see what the return figures are at EB).
At this point, it's going to take a hardcore community willing to stick with it to where an eventual positive word of mouth gets going that's strong enough to overcome these fatal first impressions.
By Bub (Bub) on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 02:11 pm:
"Strat First can wash their hands of this now"
Potentially they can. But Take Two is still remembered for that cynical BC3K release. They'd be remembered solely for it if Smart would have just shut up at the beginning. He drew the firestorm to him... but I know people who still rightly blame Take Two for that maneuver.
(though, in Take Two's defense, Smart was what? 5-10 years late with that game?)
By doug jones on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 02:31 pm:
So in this scenario strategy first is the evil publisher pushing an unfinished and potentially grand project out of the doors before its ready? They devolop games to so you would think they would have a bit more empathy for this sort of thing. Though I'm probably being incredibly naive.
By Bub (Bub) on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 02:44 pm:
It's a case of putting monetary losses before reputation I think. The true fault lies with the developer for not meeting their deadlines and, probably, bleeding money.
Strat First may not be financially well off so they had to try and recoup the money they spent on WWII Online, but at what cost? Maybe one more precious than money. Grognards aren't forgiving.
Look at it another way, Eidos paid loads more by delaying Daikatana for at least a year, probably more. Yet still Romero and the team couldn't deliver a bug free release and Eidos still looked bad as a result. In retrospect it would have been cheaper had Eidos canceled Daikatana when it had the chance and just swallowed the loss entirely.
Same with Take Two and BC3K.
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 03:31 pm:
Throwing good money after bad. I think this is one reason bad games make it to retail. Shame about WW2OL, but after the SFC2 dynaverse fiasco, I guess I'm not terribly surprised that there are scaling problem.
As for the interface issues, that's another matter entirely. That chat log from Lum's site is hilarious! Can't vouch for the accuracy, but it sounds like the interface is intentionally obfuscated to add *cough* 'realism' to the game.
By Mark Asher on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 04:19 pm:
Strategy First doesn't get any of the monthly revenue from WWII Online. That goes to Cornered Rat and Playnet.
As to who chose to release the game now, hard to say. It wouldn't surprise me if Cornered Rat needed the money. It wouldn't surprise me if Strat First said, "Now or never." It wouldn't surprise me if Playnet said, "Now or never."
By Gordon Berg on Friday, June 8, 2001 - 06:30 pm:
I loved this:
While reading it, I realized I was guilty of what he was asserting: I didn't think the gameplay was any big deal because cumbersome keystrokes and awkward interfaces are a way of life with sim players. Like he said, be it soldier, tank, or plane, they were all "vehicles" I could control, as opposed to the RPG/FPS player who's looking for an online extension or avatar of themselves. My God, mainstream gamers are going to appalled. Were those initial 30,000 copies bought on the first day all hardcore sim types, or a lot of crossovers from the EQ/UO/AC crowd?
By Geo on Saturday, June 9, 2001 - 01:08 am:
It's sad really, I was interested and I washed my hands of MMO games years ago. I think the best bet is to wait for Operation Flashpoint and hope someone WWII mods it. :) (even though it's not MMO or MOMO or whatever it is)
By mtkafka (Mtkafka) on Saturday, June 9, 2001 - 04:13 am:
Yes, Operation Flashpoint is the game, even if its single player. The best game i played so far this year, and i even preordered it from the UK ... the demo was that good.
Now an Opesration Flashpoint massive online game, THAT would be a dream game.
By Gordon Berg on Saturday, June 9, 2001 - 02:49 pm:
In the meantime, there's always Day of Defeat. :)
By Bub (Bub) on Saturday, June 9, 2001 - 06:48 pm:
"In the meantime, there's always Day of Defeat. :)"
You are certainly welcome Gordon. ;-)
By Gordon Berg on Saturday, June 9, 2001 - 09:55 pm:
Although you first told me about it, Andrew, I hadn't bothered to download it (I kept forgetting to get it at work and burn it onto at CD and take home). It was at the insistance of my friend Troy, in California, who reminded me about DoD and mandated I download it right away. I go visit him about twice a year to do nothing but play LAN games with him, so if he says a game has good multiplayer apsects, I listen. :)
By Bub (Bub) on Saturday, June 9, 2001 - 10:32 pm:
and I was all proud of myself and everything....
I still haven't installed it to be honest. I should. When do you play Gordon? I remember UT.
By kazz on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 03:00 am:
As to who chose to release the game now, hard to say. It wouldn't surprise me if Cornered Rat needed the
money. It wouldn't surprise me if Strat First said, "Now or never." "
How likely is that? I haven't noticed any problems with previous games from Strategy First. have I just been lucky, or do they tend to ship fairly solid builds?
By Robert Mayer on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 09:41 am:
Well, Strategy First publishes some games that are internally developed, and some that aren't. I don't know how much they involve themselves in titles like WWII Online that outside houses are actually developing.
Kohan was good and pretty solid on release, but
Timegate in Texas developed it, pretty far from Montreal. Disciples/Disciples II are in-house titles I think. Konung was icky and it was out of house (outhouse? ). Actually, come to think of it, virtually everything else on their schedule is outside developers I think, so a lot depends on how much involvement the company has with developers.
Ultimately, though, their name is on the box....
By Mark Asher on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 11:30 am:
O.R.B., Nexagon, and Zero G are all in-house games at Strategy First.
By Bub (Bub) on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 11:39 am:
I'll always remember them for Clans.
But that was "outhouse" as well. Despite the WWII Online fiasco I still respect Strat First, but I fear for their credibility. Their market share and financial situation can't be strong enough to absorb a lot of ill will from fans.
By Gordon Berg on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 01:05 pm:
Strat First was simply the publisher this time around. All development was done by Cornered Rat. CR would have loved to have shipped later, obviously, but SF didn't give them that choice.
By Robert Mayer on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 01:23 pm:
Well, Strategy First probably didn't give them that choice because, um, it was SF's money being spent, eh? I mean, I will be the first to confess I have no idea who is at "fault" here in letting this game out the door in the shape it was in, but whatever blame there is to go around can plausibly be ladled out in heaping doses all around.
Developers make deals with publishers. Both sides of those deals are important. Sometimes publishers push developers to do things that are injurious to the product. Other times developers fail to do what they promise, resulting in decisions that are injurious to the product.
Too early to tell in this case. Besides, I've seen at least one report of people actually having fun with WWII Online, so perhaps there yet is hope....
Mark: Yeah, forgot about those, though Zero-G Marines actually looks good.
By Mark Asher on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 03:52 pm:
"CR would have loved to have shipped later, obviously, but SF didn't give them that choice."
Gordon, is this what happened? I don't want to cut anyone any slack over this, but for all I know CR needed the cash infusion that the game sales would give them.
By Gordon Berg on Monday, June 11, 2001 - 07:57 pm:
I was told the game sales went to SF and it was the monthly subscription fees that would go to CR. I wasn't told if there were certain percentages of each going to the other or if it was a straight trade, so I don't know how much (if at all) these boxed sales are helping out CR and their cash flow.
I was also told CR had no choice with the release date, and I know CR was stressed over that because they had a pretty good idea what kind of shape their game was in. I'm assuming boxed sales are important to the success of this game in terms of generating a sufficient number subcribers, as opposed to simply downloading it from the 'net, which ironically is what all this turned out to be anyway. 70 MB isn't a patch -- it's the entire game and I've always been puzzled as to why whole new builds have been required as opposed to some sort of, well, patch. Check that, this game would still probably be considered a beta by most standards and you often generate completely new betas and only patch games which are considered final, don't you?
The initial orders placed by software buyers were a very surprising 100,000... but CR obviously didn't think they'd have the kind of difficulties they had with their hardware. Just like Diablo II, you only discover this sort of problem under extreme loads that no limited beta test will reveal. What is irking me is the framerate, though, and I'm sort of surprised its a problem. CR is really good at net code, and there weren't that many framerate problems during the beta test. But I guess the massive loads are taking its toll, because I only average 10 fps at the lower resolution settings, and this is on a 1Gig Athlon with 256 RAM and a Voodoo 5500. In the beta I was getting over 20 fps.
Anyway, all this info about CR comes from CR, so insert appropriate bias filters.
By Mark Asher on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - 12:16 am:
Thanks Gordon. Interesting stuff. I wonder if the attitude that people seem to have about MMOGs, namely that they're always a work in progress, had something to do with the decision to release it early?
By Alan Dunkin on Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - 04:10 pm:
Hey Gordon, nice meeting you at E3 :)
I can't really comment much on WWII Online; it's not entirely related to my division (if you can call it that) and then there are the NDAs -- and even if I could I'm afraid I'd be pummeled if I spilled anything.
Suffice it to say the game was released on June 6. There have been some problems -- not all of which can be attributed to CRS or SFI. The various problems all contributed to make a rather shakey start.
Worse release ever though? I don't think so. But what do I know, I'm somewhat biased.