I joined the WAR closed beta as one of the first players. That's not hubris, it's that excited feeling when you're logging into the beta server and there's six people playing alongside you, two who are clearly employees. Those six or seven on Order (back before /count was disabled. Q: what do you do when people complain that there's a faction imbalance? A: turn off the in-game command that allowed them to see that in the first place) grew into thousands.
And with it the "beta experience" happened. The beta "forums" were a slapdashly installed PHPBB, even with the stock "donate to PHPbb" banner still up, no one seemed to care much. Content, on the other hand, was reigned over with the iron fist of someone truly afraid of their community. Little actual feedback was ever heard from the CMs and Devs, but many threats to terminate beta access if bugs were reported in the wrong format or outside of focus tests that focused on that bug (at which point it was already well known, but beta testers were asked to "confirm" them). Oh, and of course, any kind of meta report, discussion, or well designed theoryhammering of class mechanics was strictly verboten and could lead to banning.
One time I reported a very problematic continuity issue that could bite quite a few Order players in the butt - in the forum thread designated for that Tier. A scant few hours later, I got a PM telling me I was to refrain from posting those issues since they're not current "focus", my post and comments on it ("yea, I got that, too") were deleted, and I was told that I risked a ban if I didn't "follow the rules". The bug was fixed later in live, only after many had run into it.
We went live and I created two characters on Marienbad's Order side. The server was good as dead from day one, yet I soldiered on to 40, we had a nice guild going, and then the server was merged with forced transfers. That killed more than half the guild, many had issues transferring and left, others just re-rolled on Skull Throne or Iron Rock, the two monsters back then.
WAR was fun, all things told. It was immersive, it had a great story, it was well thought out, and the RvR was fun, fun, fun. Crafting? PvE? Forget about it. Which, if you're like me and play in a guild full of adults who take time off to be with family and friends, meant that during those times when less than a full warband was online, our choices were to solo RvR (which meant getting creamed by pre-mades), or to play the same Public Quest over and over. Not to mention, scenarios got REALLY stale, as did keep takes and city sieges, after the 200th time.
It was still fun to RvR, just the lack of change of scenery or actual content at rank 40 started to really get on people's nerves. There was no crafting to be done that hadn't. Questing? Three zones were available that wouldn't "chicken" (turn into a chicken for being in a lower zone as a higher player) on entrance, and those were quested empty and farmed stale.
Bugs existed. Some were fun to look at, the first time, like mobs gliding 200ft in the air, others were annoying. And most everyone at 40 just stood at the Tier 1 RvR lake, botting back and forth, to gain Renown.
Tier 1 and the new /advice channel became overrun by "Endless Trial" players, and for months nothing happened. T1 RvR turned into a slaughterfest of twinked-to-the-max Warrior Priests and Disciples on Endless Trial accounts, while T2 and 3 were deader than a dodo. T4, again, it was all about ten scenarios and keeping a few keeps, something the four big guilds divided amongst themselves.
I cancelled my account when EAMythic started selling levels for real world cash. I just couldn't support that. When I left, the forums were already sluggish, the website almost always inaccessible. Today, I didn't even make it onto them - but if memory serves, a link to this very thread, posted in September last year, is the last thing on the "News" section of the site.
Warhammer always felt like the great game that just became part of a huge portfolio. Left to be, minimal effort to maximize revenue, if it dies so be it, EA won't lose one of it's big hitters, but as long as it brings in a few bucks every month it's allowed to persist.
A good friend who didn't understand why I didn't play more WoW, once asked me what my definition of a game worth playing is. Aside from entertainment, of course, it's the belief that I can go away for a month, come back, and see something new and exciting. And Warhammer, through all the ups and downs, stopped feeling that way when Slayers and Choppas hadn't even been around for that long.
Edited, Jan 25th 2011 3:16am by Hoern