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Does WoW Influence Warhammer Online? 69

Posted by Zonk
from the many-ways dept.
OGX writes "While old school geeks & gamers know that Warhammer predated Warcraft, there are many MMORPG fanatics these days that don't know the history of both franchises, and comment that Warhammer Online resembles World of Warcraft. OGX has an article about this very question with some input from Mark Jacobs (Studio GM EA Mythic, VP EA)." From the article: "This history factors heavily in the present situation wherein the Warhammer Online game looks, to many, to be a descendant of the success of World of Warcraft in a market filled with many games trying to be just that. It's easy to see how this confusion would arise, and I asked Mark Jacobs, Studio GM EA Mythic, VP Electronic Arts, to share his thoughts about the situation." Warhammer may have influenced WoW, but WHO's interface still looks like a WoW rip-off to me.
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Does WoW Influence Warhammer Online?

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  • by cjb909 (838363) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @10:14AM (#15999473)
    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/04/10 [penny-arcade.com] So no, I didn't RTA, and I don't know much about either WoW or Warhammer. But the comic fits!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zevon 2000 (593515)
      This is one of the best PA comics, and it basically does sum up the entire article, doesn't it? Cartoon is worth 1000 words and all.
  • It is pretty stupid for Warhammer Online to even be considered. Warhammer 40000 is about twice as popular as Warhammer, and will not be a direct, very similar competitor to the most successful MMORPG in the history of Earth. It is rumoured that Blizzard even tried to do a deal with Games Workshop to get Warhammer IP for Warcraft, but were declined as GW thought they could do it themselves. Blizzard now make more money from WoW in a month than GW make per year (in turnover, by profits it is an even more ridi
    • by twl1973 (877541)
      It was explained that originally they were thinking about Warhammer 40K but the studio already had an online space game in semi-development so they went the Warhammer Fantasy route. The online space game was axed and at that time the development of Warhammer Fantasy was too far ahead to just pull the plug.
      • That bummed me out too. When I first saw Warhammer I thought 40000 and was stoked. Then I found out it's just another fantasy based game /yawn...

        WTB a good scfi-ish mmorpg...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GundamFan (848341)
          I am with you... EVE is probably the closest we have... and yet the learning curve is soo steep and the diffrence between haves and have nots is so great... it is impossible to get into without becoming and staying a small time thug, something I won't do.
          • I tried Eve and it was okay. I wanted to be able to get out on stations and planets and walk around and do stuff that way. And you're right about the huge divide between the haves and have nots.

            Outside of all it's launch issues, AO was probably the best scifi mmo to date. I didn't like how it's combat worked (it felt disconnected), but the world was large and the tech was cool (implants, computers, weapons, etc...)
            • by GundamFan (848341)
              I tried AO and frankly it wasn't for me... I guess I had trouble with the fact that it is a standard Fantasy MMO with a thin Sci-Fi coating or at least that is how it felt to me.

              I would like to see a MMO that is not an EQ clone or a WoW clone with a unique engaging Sci-Fi story (it doesn't have to be wierd... just not a carbon copy), but I don't think anyone would take the chance right now with WoW messing up the market.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Wind_Walker (83965)
                There's a lot of problems with a Sci-Fi MMORPG. Here's a few off the top of my head:
                • Mobs: Who can you fight in a futuristic society? Not dragons or Firelords or giant mutant spiders, but people (maybe with a few cyborgs thrown in too). Not that exciting
                • Weapons: Guns. Lots of guns. Guns which are small, not that much fun to wield (from a MMORPG standpoint) and
                • Fights: Think about a gunfight. There's a lot of ducking for cover, poking your head out, firing a few times, and then repeating. Not ex
                • by svip (678490)

                  * Mobs: Who can you fight in a futuristic society? Not dragons or Firelords or giant mutant spiders, but people (maybe with a few cyborgs thrown in too). Not that exciting

                  The Warhammer 40K setting has a plethora of alien races and other nasties.

                  * Weapons: Guns. Lots of guns. Guns which are small, not that much fun to wield (from a MMORPG standpoint) and

                  "Small" is the worst word you could ever use to describe the Warhammer 40K weapons. Try "oversized".

                  * Fights: Think about a gunfight. There's a lot o

                  • by svip (678490)

                    * Fights: Think about a gunfight. There's a lot of ducking for cover, poking your head out, firing a few times, and then repeating. Not exactly conducive to a MMORPG environment.

                    Oops, somehow snipped out my reply to this. It has been done before and can be done again hopefully better.

                  • Would a Warhammer 40k licensed MMORPG work? Sure. But it would still feel like an EQ/WoW clone with some Sci-Fi elements thrown on top of it, which is what I was trying to address with my previous post. Would I play a WH40k MMORPG? Sure. But it, just like the license it's based on, would just be a Sci-Fi wrapper over a primarily Fantasy base.
                • I don't see how guns are any different than shooting fireballs or using bows and arrows in the fantasy based MMOs.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Sparr0 (451780)
                  Planetside is free. It works like a Korean MMO. You can actually access the entire game at no charge, but you have to pay if you want to get to the top of MULTIPLE specialties at the same time.
                • Uh, so why not make a 3rd person shooter MMORPG? Is it really all that different from what we've got now with "turn based" FPS games?

                  You could nix the projectile pathfinding woes (and aimbots) pretty easily by simply having 'autoaim' by default. Basically, the aiming system used by third-person shooter games like GTA: the person controls the movement, target equisition, and when to fire, making it seem like you've got finite control, but the actual attack communication is pretty much just "player X attacks
  • Payback? (Score:3, Informative)

    by FinchWorld (845331) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @10:16AM (#15999485) Homepage
    If I recall currectly, the orginal warcraft games were heavily influences by warhammer (Failed to get the rights to use the "Warhammer" from games-workshop I believe). So as far as characters, fiction etc. No. As for the interface, likely. But then again, if it works why change it? (Law suit isn't the answer:P)
    • It all started as... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fallen Kell (165468) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:39PM (#16000600)
      Ok guys for those that do not know. What became the "Warcraft" and "Starcraft" series both started as "concepts" and "demo" versions that they sent to Games Workstop for a computerized version of the Warhammer and Warhammer40000 game systems. GW said no because they felt that they could do either a better job or for some other reason (possibly the whole, we didn't make it thus don't like it mentality). Blizard felt that they had a good thing going, so they changed some things around slightly and still continued creating/developing the games under the new name of "Warcraft" and "Starcraft". And so you have it, the reason they seem similar is because the whole idea of the warcraft and starcraft games to begin with was to be the computer versions of Warhammer and Warhammer40000.
  • Missing Link? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bateleur (814657) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @10:17AM (#15999490)
    Interesting that the timeline in the article doesn't mention Dungeons and Dragons.

    Given that Games Workshop was at one time the sole importer of D&D into the UK (prior to the design of Warhammer) I think I'd be quite confident in alleging they were influenced by it.
    • The story seems predominantly interested in the artistic flavor of Warhammer vs. Warcraft. Since D&D doesn't really have a cohesive and distinctive artistic style (at least, not one that can be confused with Warhammer or Warcraft) that's kind of irrelevent.

      What they're talking about is the stylized, oversized weapons and armor. Take the huge, rounded shoulder guards of Warhammer vs. Warcraft (also in Starcraft vs. Warhammer 40K) as just one example of what they're talking about.

      -stormin
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bateleur (814657)
        I see what you're saying, but that doesn't really apply to the timeline. After all, they talk about Tolkien and "European Mythology". The huge shoulder pads and art style weren't much in evidence there. Both are in fact a side effect of the fact that GW's games were designed for use with Citadel's 25mm fantasy miniature range. They featured a lot of huge weapons and armour plates because they look great at that scale.

        And in fact the first Citadel miniatures to feature this style as we know it today were C
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Wylfing (144940)

      Interesting that the timeline in the article doesn't mention Dungeons and Dragons. Given that Games Workshop was at one time the sole importer of D&D into the UK (prior to the design of Warhammer) I think I'd be quite confident in alleging they were influenced by it.

      Warhammer was very certainly influenced by D&D. The origin of Warhammer is that they wanted to cheaply clone Chainmail [wikipedia.org].

    • Re:Missing Link? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Shaper_pmp (825142) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:38PM (#16000592)
      More than that, GW are widely reknowned by their own employees and fans as serial IP-copiers.

      Many races have been blatantly ripped off from film or TV, with the original Genestealers [wikipedia.org] (confirmed repeatedly by insiders as "borrowed" from Alien) being only the most egregious. Throughout the 80s and early 90s they ripped off ideas from all and sundry, then slowly modified and retconned them over time to hide their origins somewhat.

      However, the worst case has simply has to be Space Marine "power armour" - the original idea for power armour was taken more or less verbatim from the Robert A. Heinlein novel "Starship Troopers" - design, function, the lot.

      In ST (the book) the mobile infantry wear strength-enhancing "powered armour" suits, giving them a fighting chance against enemy combatants. In the film, the mobile infantry are essentially cannon fodder, diving headlong into combat wearing little more than a glorified bodywarmer.

      The reason for this (I have had on good authority, from several ex-staff members) is because during the preliminary work on the film Starship Troopers, GW got wind of the development. They decided that the idea of "powered armour" was a little too close to their "power armour", and threatened to sue the film-makers unless they removed all reference to powered armour from the film.

      Yep - that's right. They copied the idea almost verbatim from the book, then asserted ownership and threatened legal action when someone tried to use the source material in the (licenced) film.

      This last point is directly from an ex-staff member, who was on socialising terms with the GW high-ups at the time and afterwards.

      GW are many things, but original they ain't.
      • But your highlighting of "powered" armor reminded me of something that I wanted to share. When I first read Starship Troopers, I misread the first mention of powered armor as "powdered armor" -- you know, just add water. I thought it was an interesting concept, but I wasn't quite sure what the point was. Of course, I figured it out by the time they actually started using the stuff. Personally, though, I want one of Ringo's Armored Combat Suits. :)
      • Shakespeare wrote one truly original story in his whole life (A Midsummer Night's Dream), but he is still regarded as the best English-language playwright and poet. It wouldn't have mattered if R&J was based on Pyramus and Thisbie instead - it still would've been Shakespeare's words and stagecraft that made it great. With this in the back of my mind, I think it's kind of stupid and shallow to say that Warhammer and Warcraft are anything alike because of The Warp vs. The Twisting Nether or Chaos vs. The

        • by Shilkanni (803384)

          I totally agree and I think there's nothing wrong with derivative works. GW blatantly ripped off a lot of other concepts (Alien, Starship Troopers, Tolkein) and I didn't mind this at all, they took other people's ideas and weaved it together into their own universe to make decent wargame-lite settings. I think they took other peoples stuff, made it their own and took it somewhere else, and this is very different to blatant plagiarism. It sounds like Blizzard did the same.

          It's pretty horrible if they truly

  • by Drachemorder (549870) <brandon&christiangaming,org> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @10:20AM (#15999510) Homepage
    No. Everyone knows that game designers never, ever, borrow ideas from other games.

    Here's your sign.
  • by Achoi77 (669484) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @10:21AM (#15999520)
    That's an embarassing statement if a _journalist_ writing articles for the gaming industry is that ignorant.

    I've always figured that everybody knew that Blizzard 'stole' ideas from GW. My, how times have changed.

    • by doobydoo (998781)
      I agree. Maybe Im just old, all of 33yrs, but 17 yrs ago we used to play warcraft with paper and dice. It was called Warhammer. When we played with a keyboard, it was called MUDS. I played and still own Warcraft 1, and 2, and all WoW is, is an upgrade of Everquest, and WAR is an upgrade of WoW, with 10 more yrs or so, of history and followers.
  • oh dear god I hope not.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would say that if you're creating a MMO game today and you're not heavily influenced by what WoW did right (and also paying close attention to what has gone wrong with WoW) you're going to produce a very unpopular product. WoW was the first MMO game that created an experience where anyone could play to the level cap and have a lot of fun doing it; there was tons of content that anyone could complete and very little of the game required you to group (or, in particular, be in the perfect group; my least fav
  • Of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wind_Walker (83965) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @10:25AM (#15999557) Homepage Journal
    Yes. Next question?

    At this point, the MMORPG market is basically WoW with a few outliers. I'm sure I'll get some EVE Online heat for that comment, but it's true. For much of the population, "MMORPG" is defined to be "World of Warcraft" the same way RTSes were defined by Starcraft. Blizzard has a knack for taking what's great in all its competition, putting it in one spot, and polishing it to a mirror shine. It's what they do.

    Game developers aren't stupid. They see the phenomenal success of WoW and know that if they want to compete they have to provide at least the same level of play as their competitor (to get the former WoWers like me) and hopefully surpass their competitor (to get current WoWers). So, WAR takes the UI from WoW and probably steals a few of its other features to ease the transition until they get you hooked.

    WAR is hoping provide a PvP alternative to WoW, which primarily focuses on PvE. Even low-level WAR quests involve some form of competition with the opposing faction. One preview I read had a Giant who you would either (a) get drunk to help fight for you against the other faction, or (b) destroy the first faction's alcohol to prevent the giant from getting drunk and thus fighting against you. And that was a newbie quest.

    I'm hoping that the WAR team (BTW, that's their preferred acronym, for "Warhammer: Age of Reckoning") delivers on its promises. Give me WoW with a heavy focus on PvP and Realm-vs-Realm and they'll get my money for a few months.
    • I don't see why you'd get heat from EVE players. While massive success is always everyone's goal, EVE Online has enjoyed a slow, steady success, as well as a retention of players who enjoy the game's overall "hardcore" style of gameplay.

      Of course EVE's infrastructure would probably implode if a monstrous jump in new players occurred, but that's a different story. :)
      • Every single MMORPG article on Slashdot inevitably gets a slew of EVE players who chime in with their advocacy of their chosen game. I think it's great that the playerbase is active and gets the word out about their games, but when I was lumping them in with the "outliers" I figured that I would get a few snide comments about how great their game is, how much it's grown, and how easy it is to try it out for their trial period. I tried EVE for a while and disliked the mechanics and the lack of a real "goal
        • "I tried EVE for a while and disliked the mechanics and the lack of a real "goal" so maybe I'm a bit biased."

          I can understand the disliking of mechanics of EVE, but what kind of real "goal" does WoW have (or any MMORPG for that matter)?
          • Well, in WoW, you had many long and short term goals. Short term you had a ridiculous amount of quests and dungeons you could do, all of which gave the game a short-term focus. I would talk with my co-workers about what quests or dungeons we would be facing that night in our adventures. Long-term you have reaching the level cap, getting better gear, etc. all of which tied into the short-term goals (finish this quest so I can get more XP so I can get to the level cap, etc). Even if WoW didn't have a goal
            • I think that the quest system is one of the big draws for WoW for casual gamers like myself. I can log on in the evening, after dinner, play for a few hours and come away with a feeling of accomplishment, and still get enough sleep so that I can work the following day. Blizzard has done a lot right with WoW, and one of those things is allowing casual gamers to enjoy the game. I've tried a bunch of different MMORPG's, this one stuck because I didn't have to sink my life into it, just to be able to do an
            • by aafiske (243836)
              Well, I wouldn't say you're correct, but not because there are goals you're missing. The goal isn't bank. There is no goal.

              One of the Eve devs put it exellently. Eve and WoW/clones are different types of games, at root. It's the sandbox compared to the amusement park. One isn't inherently better than the other, but they have their own advantages, and their own appeals. A lot of people who like one will get rapidly bored with the other.

              It's fine to point out various advantages, and when someone comes along c
            • by Taevin (850923) *
              *DISCLAIMER* I'm not trying to mock you and I don't think you have to agree with me about EVE, I'm just trying to show how similar the two are (actually most MMORPGs are very similar).

              Well, in EVE, you had many long and short term goals. Short term you had a ridiculous amount of agent missions and complexes you could do, all of which gave the game a short-term focus. I would talk with my co-workers about what missions or complexes we would be facing that night in our adventures. Long-term you have max
          • by MBGMorden (803437)
            I can understand the disliking of mechanics of EVE, but what kind of real "goal" does WoW have (or any MMORPG for that matter)?

            Obtaining phat lewt.

            Seriously. As a group techies tend to be all about inrecmentally making something better and better. The hardware guys upgrade their systems on cyles measured in weeks when everyone else keeps a computer for years. It doesn't matter than it's goint to cost $400 for an extra 100Mhz. It's better. The software guys who just like to tinker will go through making
      • by Taevin (850923) *
        Indeed, I fear for CCP and Tranquility if the game ever exploded in popularity. I imagine they'd have to upgrade the cluster so much that it would make the current Tranquility look like a child's toy!

        Oh, and I love your comics :)
    • by lewp (95638)
      Indeed. WoW, for whatever problems it has with a lack of decent PvP and server instability, is an amazing game. Any new MMO that comes out is either going to have to be equally amazing in its own right, which will be hard given the talent Blizzard has and the extremely long time they had to work on the game; or should really just steal as many ideas as possible from WoW and fix the problems.

      WAR appears to be taking that route, and I'll definitely drop my WoW account to play it if it can deliver what it's pr
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Blizzard has a knack for taking what's great in all its competition, putting it in one spot, and polishing it to a mirror shine. It's what they do.

      I don't think WOW is that good of a game. I think what Blizzard did best was leverage their existing fan base and get them to try an mmo. Personally, I was bored with WoW after 3 months and quit (as did my friends who I started playing with). Keep in mind that we all played DAoC for at least 3 years, so we weren't new to mmos either.
      • Well, they must be doing something right because they have something like 6 million subscriptions. I'm interested in why you got bored with WoW. Coming from 3+ years of DAoC, I have a feeling it was because of the heavy focus on PvE and minimal PvP aspect of WoW. I also notice that you didn't say WoW was a bad game, just that you got bored. It really is a great game IMHO. I just got tired of the endgame politics, which is why I eventually quit (after 6 months of Beta and 1.5+ years of Retail)
        • I'm not saying WoW is a bad game. It was pretty fun while I leveled then PvPed some. It's hard to put my finger on it, but I never really felt connected to my WoW characters like I did to the ones in daoc. The exploration and danger aspect really never came together for me in WoW. Maybe it was the carebearing or perhaps it was the lack of good PvP in WoW when I played it. The feeling while PvPing (either solor or 8 man) in DAoC, is a hard thing to match.

          In in the end I don't think WoW is this revolutio
          • Of course WoW isn't revolutionary. No Blizzard games are. Blizzard takes a genre, picks the best parts of all the other games in that genre, removes the worst parts, polishes it up and then sells it to gamers. Blizzard is not about innovation, it's about polish. For the record, I played EQ for 2ish years, WoW for about 1.5 years, and tried (either during Beta or for the first free month) DAoC, SWG, Matrix Online, Planetside and EVE.

            Every MMORPG from here on out will be compared to WoW and will have s
  • Does anyone really care? They're all too busy playing, surely...
  • Fuck you Zonk. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BJH (11355)
    Warcraft is quite obviously a ripoff of Warhammer. Similarity of interface in one particular game is nothing in comparison to what Blizzard have done to Games Workshop.
    • Does it matter?

      What is suspicious is that just when WoW became popular, GW decided that there needs to be a Warhammer Fantasy (the version noone gives a damn about) MMORPG that takes its MMO implementation mostly from WoW (WH wasn't an MMORPG so Bliz could hardly have stolen those parts from WH). I mean, why not WH40k? Everyone would love that, if just for the change of setting from the MMO-standard Tolkienesque (Tolkien invented Orcs, the mythological figure is the Ogre) to futuristic. After all, they canc
  • by Wylfing (144940) <brian&wylfing,net> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @10:51AM (#15999738) Homepage Journal

    All three major Blizzard properties are rip-offs of someone else's ideas. Diablo was a rip of Rogue (and all Rogue-alikes everywhere); Warcarft was a rip of Warhammer; and Starcraft was a rip of Warhammer 40,000.

    Big deal, I say. It's not like Games Workshop didn't draw on others' ideas too -- Moorcock and Herbert being prime examples. A messianic god emporer? Gosh, where could that have come from [dunenovels.com]? This is the way it's supposed to work. Inspiration breeds inspiration. It's not so much "your" idea as it is your little twist on all the ideas you've absorbed from other people. You don't "own" it, because the person you got your ideas from didn't "own" theirs either. This stuff's not supposed to be locked down and inaccessible. If it was, we'd never have got Warhammer or WoW or any of the rest of it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by nsanders (208050)
      Actually, Blizzard didn't create Diablo, they purchased it. Blizzard North, was the original creator of Diablo, and before they were purchased by Blizzard they were called Condor. So you can't really blame Blizzard for any rip-offs on that game.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blizzard_North [wikipedia.org]

    • Let someone else innovate, avert the risk and then evaluate the best of their efforts and offer a more refined product.
    • by bogjobber (880402)
      Warhammer also ripped off Lord of the Rings in a major way. I can't remember exact references (its been about 8 years since I played), but a huge amount of the names of characters and places are more or less directly taken from LotR. Also, the general geography of the original game bears a striking resemblance to that of Middle Earth.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Warhammer's and the LotR's geography both strongly resemble Europe's geography.

        Damn; Tolkien ripped off reality!
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        Of course. WH is using Orcs. That's a huge Tolkien ripoff right there.
  • Incoming 'truthiness' reference in 3.. 2.. 1..
  • the most sincere form of flattery; considering how many times companies have tried to copy blizzard, wizards of the coast, warhammer, etc, it simply offers proof that the object of imitation is the epitomy of achievement (at the time) for what it aims to do.

    i applaud blizzard for most of what they have done, but i also appreciate the original for what it offered; where would the copy/copies be (or would they even be?) without the original(s)?

    my hat is off to you inventors of great themes/systems/ideas/eng

  • It's going to be almost impossible for any future MMO to be successful while not borrowing ideas from WoW. It has become the template for success in the MMO market. With 6 million+ subscribers, they must be doing something right.

    The real ironic part is that most of the original Warcraft lore was almost blatantly lifted from Warhammer all those years ago.
  • What is a generation in gamers? 2yrs? 5yrs? The question of Warhammer(remember minis and dice kids?) riding on the wake of Warcraft(the "Sims" of wargaming) is stupid, for a lack of a better term. Everyone seems to talk of Wow, as if Blizzard started it all, but they would almost certainly be putting out games like Warcraft 1, and 2, if it wasnt for Everquest! They just improved on an idea that was already there. So, I say its about time Games Workshop stepped up, and "put in their 25yrs worth of XPs",
  • ALL games borrow from each other just like every single form of media ever invented by humans. Who the hell cares if your Warcraft is "better" or "more original" than Warhammer, or vice versa? I think a certain man named J.R.R. Tolkien might have something to say about that... well, if he were still around.

    Seriously - who the hell has time to even think up this crap?
  • by Avatar8 (748465)
    I cannot believe the day has come that I must admit to something I never thought would happen: I agree with what the EA exec said.

    ALL fantasy (books, film, TV, table games, RPGs, video games, MMOs, etc. ad infinitum) "borrow" from the root sources: mythos.

    I don't know the truth and I doubt it will ever be revealed, but it sounds like Blizzard offered Games Workshop a video game to evolve their tabletop game and GW declined. Blizzard therefore changed the content enough to make it original by legel term

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