Archive for March, 2008

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Velcome! Mu-ha-ha!

March 31, 2008

Welcome to all WoW Insider readers — and remember, it’s okay to play WoW and still be excited about WAR. I am!

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What’s In A Name?

March 31, 2008

In my opinion — which is lengthy and carries the weight of the seven richest kings of the world behind it — the single most important decision that you make when you roll a new character isn’t the class choice, the facial features or what server you are going to call your home. It’s your name, bubba, and if you’re the type who is impatiently trying to get through the creation process just to get in the game, you might make a fatal mistake.

NAME = IDENTITY

Let’s be honest: what your character looks like has little to nothing to do with how players see you as a character/player. Those facial features you spent twenty minutes tweaking with sliders and subtle color shades? Obscured, most likely, or only seen as a handful of pixels to anyone passing by. The rest of you will be covered with an ever-changing suit of armor and weapons, none of which promote a permanent, recognizable image. The only part of your character that stays constant, from the first time you create a character until the moment you delete it or the game shuts down, is its name.

Your name, primarily on your main character, is how all of your friends and guildies address you and think of you. I have friends in WoW who have real names that I know like “Ryan” and “Amy”, but even if I met them in real life I’d probably call them by the character name I’ve gotten to know them as for the past few years. If you pick a crappy name and that character ends up being your most-played toon, you WILL regret it and be stuck with the fruits of your hasty decision.

So names are important. Names are your identity. But what if you’re one of those folks who just blank when staring at an empty “NAME:” field? What if you duct tape electric eels to your body to prove how hardcore you are? WAAAGH! can’t help with the second thing, but we have a few ideas that might help with the first.

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN CHOOSING A NAME

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: some names are common and overused for a reason, so avoid those. No matter how much you might like Drizzit, Elminster, Legolas, Wolverine, Harry Potter, Neo, Sephiroth, or (shudder) Chuck Norris as make-believe friends, nobody cares if you create a twisted variation to join the crowds of other Gandolfs, ChickNorruses and Drizzles out there. It makes other people hate you with a passion reserved for the Zombie Third Reich, and you don’t need that grief before you actually start playing and earning your own reputation.

I’m not saying that literary or video game sources are bad sources for name ideas — just go a path less traveled, eh?

Other Don’ts:

  • Don’t make an offensive name
  • Don’t choose a name that obviously displays your immaturity level (Mr. McFartyPants, I’m looking at you) or need for sex/attention (Ms. Nudely)
  • Don’t name your character after the latest internet fad/meme (which your character will certainly outlive)
  • Don’t name your character after your class (a rogue being Stabbykill, for example)
  • Don’t modify a name that the game’s already said is taken (why do you want to be similar to another player?)
  • Don’t name yourself after a real world celebrity or politician
  • Don’t use weird symbols dredged up from the depths of ASCII that will require me to open my Character Map just to send you a whisper — most countries would legally turn a blind eye if I decided to keelhaul you for doing this
  • In fact, don’t use any symbols or numbers whatsoever, if you’re English speaking — the 26 letters in the alphabet are good enough for anyone
  • Don’t just roll a hamster across the keyboard and accept the random letters as a good pick, and
  • Don’t pick the really cool name I’ve been holding in my hands for the past few months, cradling it like a newborn fledgling hope of a dream. You don’t want to do that to me. No, you don’t.

THE RULE OF THREE/FOUR

Before you do start brainstorming over your new moniker, I’d like to advise you about a little something I call the Rule of Three/Four. The rule is this: no matter what name you pick, people in the game will naturally abbreviate it into three or four letters when they talk to you. (Most of the time, that is; I know some people take delicious sadistic pleasure out of correctly typing out each guildmate’s complete name, even if said name is sixteen letters long and consists mostly of K’s, I’s , X’s and umlauts.)

It’s just a fact of quick game communication — we don’t have the time to fully spell out your name, Melandriatix, every time we need to wing you a /tell. You’re now “Mel”, and you just have to accept it. One way to make this rule work in your favor, of course, is to only create names with three or four letters. Hence, why I picked “Syp” (although my guildies love to rearrange the letters into “spy” for some reason…).

Exception to the rule: If you pick a name that starts with an unusual letter (Q, Y, X or Z, usually), people tend to abbreviate down to just that one letter. Hope you like James Bond, Q!

IDEA #1: PICK A THEME

One of my friends loves to choose names from Norse mythology as a source of her unique character names. I’ve heard of other people going with river names, types of weather, names of previous Popes, and so on. Choosing a theme to revolve all of your future character’s around not only gives you a pre-made list to pick from, but it ties your characters together in a subtle yet mentally tangible way.

IDEA #2: DO VARIATIONS ON THE SAME NAME

This is a boon to guildies that have to put up with you, Mr. or Mrs. Altoholic who has at least 8 characters on the same account. People have a very difficult time remembering who’s who in a guild, particularly if people aren’t good at posting a guild note beside their alt. You might have 50 people in the guild with 5 characters each, and you’re now expected to remember which of the 250 names is what person.

An easy, non-posty way around this is to come up with your main character’s name, then every other character you create has a variation on that name. Suffixes and prefixes are a key to this. I have another friend who starts every character with “Val-” and then a different ending to that word. No matter which toon she’s on, we all know the “Val” name means her, and it plays right into the Rule of Three/Four anyway.

Warning: people tend to get possessive of their naming rights in a guild when they do this sort of thing, and if anyone comes into the guild or creates a character with a similar name, there could be trouble.

IDEA #3: CREATE A PERSISTENT LIST

I’ve been doing this myself for the past few months, because I know that while I rarely have inspirational naming flashes when I go to character creation, I often brainstorm excellent names at odd times. Ergo, I have a notepad file on my computer that I’m always opening and adding a new name if I see a cool word I like or think of a name I’d like to try out in the future. I’m not one of those people who always has to have the same name in every game, so coming up with spiffy names is a great way to prepare for what I might have coming down the pike.

My wife, by the way, will never let me name our children because she’s seen my list. ‘Tis a pity. “Harbinger of Death” would’ve been a great name for my firstborn.

IDEA #4: BABY NAME BOOKS

I work with teens, and a fun question I ask them sometimes is “If you had to give yourself another name that isn’t your current one, what would you pick?” The hypothetical option to rename yourself gives you a sense of ownership and control — you couldn’t pick your own name at birth, obviously, but you do have the option to do so in the future, at least in games!

Take a note from established writers: invest in a few baby name books — or if you’re too cheap, phone books — and spend some quality toilet time leafing through them and highlighting names that appeal to you. They have some crazy names in them thar books, yeah-huh.

IDEA #5: PUNS ARE AWESOME

If I see a character running around with a punny name that makes me groan (in a good way), then they’ve just made my day. Assuming that you’re secure with being ribbed about it and having the joke grow stale by the second week, why not?

IDEA #6: NAME GENERATORS

For the truly hapless, there are hundreds of online name generators to help you out. In addition to spouting you a random name, many of them will let you pick a theme, era or country to narrow down the list of names it comes up with.

I have used generators in the past, although mostly just to get me started on a name. If the generator comes up with a name that has an interesting prefix or suffix, I’ll modify it some and give it my personal twist.

IDEA #7: BLEND TWO WORDS TOGETHER

This can border on pretentious hippie geekiness, but taking two common words and combing them can come up with pleasing results. Moon + Jerky = Moonjerky! Lite + Sneeze = Litesneeze!

IDEA #8: THE BIBLE

It’s not just the message of salvation for millions, but it’s also a great bizarre name generator! Mehujael, meet Arphaxahad and his younger brother Zubudah!

IDEA #9: RESEARCH THE LORE

I’m not as hung up on this as some people, but some are concerned with finding a name that will fit the lore and setting of the game they’re playing. This is trickier, as you have to shy away from currently established names and variations thereof, and have to do some research into the story of the game and how many of the characters of your race are named (what traits they share, etc.).

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Collector’s Edition preview

March 28, 2008

So. This past Wednesday. Two days ago. What’s now become known as “D-Day” — the day the WAR community fell to its knees, all Darth Vader-style, and went “NOOOOOO!” as we heard of the delay. I won’t admit that this news in any way depressed me, because then I’d be saying that a video game that isn’t even out has its claws sunk deep into my psyche and I should just fork over a couple thousand bucks for therapist fees right here and now.

So. D-Day. I’m plodding through it, looking at WAAAGH! and thinking of how I can stretch an exposé on squigs to last for a good five weeks. I don’t think I can, to be honest. My wife calls and we chat a bit, and I try not to cry too hard over the phone, as that is not seemly for a man to do concerning anything that’s non-relationship-related. But then I mention the WAR Collector’s Edition, and in a surprising move of coolness for a non-hardcore gamer, she gives me blessed permission to go ahead and plunk down a hefty chunk of change to secure my copy.

What can I say? It was a sucky day, but this made it suck far less.

I’ve been dying to go through the Collector’s Edition and Pre-Order details according to the website, but this week… man. Been getting slammed with huge WAR news after more huge news. I still have the March newsletter and Ten Ton Hammer’s massive WAR coverage… but one thing at a time.

So. The Collector’s Edition. Cost: $80. According to different official sources, only 50,000 – 60,000 of these puppies will be made, with a few more whipped up for Mythic’s use. You can order them through a local retailer or (as I did) online. The package will be about seven pounds and come in a rather large box. What does this treasure trove contain? Keep on reading!

A Games Workshop Pewter Miniature

I know Warhammer fans pay gobs of money for these things, and while I’ll never be playing tabletop Warhammer due to most of my budget going towards “gas” and perhaps “food” these days, it’s a cool addition to get an orc figure with a little goblin riding shotgun on his shoulder. However: “Assembly and painting required”. Ugh. Excuse me? I don’t have those microscopic paintbrushes! So unless I want to tie-dye mine, it’s gonna remain silver.

An Original Graphic Novel, aka “Comic Book”

It’s a 128-page full-color graphic novel, with six stories (one for each race) telling of the events leading up to the game. Actually, this’ll be nice as a prologue to playing the game, and I always need more material for quality toilet-time reading. Once I’m done with it, however, I’m sure I’ll probably never pick it up again. Same goes for the

The Art of Warhammer Online Book

Some folks go ga-ga for art books, and I guess if you’re picking up a CE you might be one of those people. I am not. Art in a book never feels right to me — art should be framed. If they could make it so the pages could come out and I could use them to wallpaper my nursery, then so much the better. 224 full-color pages for your light perusal.

In-Game Item: The Libram of Insight

Now here’s what I’m talking about! For me, CE’s are about two things: getting into the game early, and getting cool little in-game bonuses that wouldn’t be available otherwise. This Libram is pretty nifty: it gives your character a +10% XP bump for an hour (usable three times only), which will be nice for those slow leveling patches. I hope this will be available to every character I create.

In-Game Content: Quests, Rewards & Titles

These are all connnected: when you log in for the first time, your tome of knowledge will have one (or more) of twelve exclusive quests awaiting you, depending on your racial pick. Each quest has a unique reward and grats you a unique title. I really like this, because it’ll last me longer than most CE bonuses — every time I make a new character on a race I’ve never played before, hey, new quests! For instance, a dwarf quest will grant you a bottomless mug of ale (with a bit of a hangover).

In-Game Character Creation: 12 Unique Heads

Even better than quests are 12 heads available at character creation (one for each race/gender, presumably) — two of the heads I reposted to the right there. I love this! Having more choices during character creation is always, ALWAYS a good thing.

The Game Itself

But… y’know, we have an art book, so who’s going to have time to play?

Pre-Order Bonus: Access Into The Open Beta

Mythic’s idea of the Open Beta isn’t “open to all”, but rather “NDA is lifted”. We’re obviously not at that stage yet, and unless I can’t resist temptation, I won’t be doing beta for fear of ruining my virgin WAR experience at launch. Still, it’s a nice option to have.

Pre-Order Bonus: Live Game Head Start

There she is, in all her beauty: “live game head start”. More and more MMOs are doing this these days, and it’s a wonderful thing — get a jump on the horde of other players, grab the names you want for your account, and experience the newbie zones before a mob of newbies descends. It’s been confirmed that this head start is more than just one day, although we have no idea how long. I really liked LOTRO’s head start, in which we got two weeks (I think) to get our characters going, but we were level capped. It helped to spread out the players a bit and relieve congestion on launch day.

Pre-Order Bonus: In-Game Items

Finally, there’s a couple more in-game items from the pre-order: a “portable camp” (neat!) and a ring that does some additional damage per hit. The ring is nice, but I assume not that nice and will be replaced early on in the game. The camp, however, might be a great little RP thing: fun to take your home with you everywhere you travel.

That’s it! So is my $87 well-spent? I think so, but in a half of a year, I guess I’ll know for sure!

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Da Newz – Delay, CE & March Newsletter

March 26, 2008

Beta Ticker: 624,388

Without a doubt, this has been the busiest news week concerning WAR since I started WAAAGH!… um… two weeks ago. If it continues at this pace, as current trends predict, I might as well hire on a full staff of forty Fozzy Bears to cover the press. I just need the tomatoes to pay them with.

The big news starting off is, surprisingly enough, not the Collector’s Edition, but the aforementioned delay in WAR’s release until “autumn”. Expect to see that word — “autumn” — used about a billion times between now and then as people speculate on the release. Remember, Nmutua is Autumn backwards. I’ve already discussed the delay at length as has Mark Jacobs, so if you need more perspectives, shall I call on my color-challenged friend Mr. Greenskin or my navy buddy Commander Keen or Doc Heartless? I think I shall.

Update: GameSpy scored an interview as well as WarCry with Mark with yet more questions about the delay. Read at your heart’s peril.

After licking your wounds over that announcement, at least there’s a silver lining or two to this whole bloody mess: the Big, Mega, Super-Duper, Spectacular, Peachy Keen announcement of the Collector’s Edition and the Pre-Order over on the main site. Although I promised to talk about it today, there’s really so much here that it warrants its own special article (so stay tuned!).

If that wasn’t enough, the March WAR Newsletter is either here or on its way, depending on your sources. You can get your fill here or here or here (or just sign up to get the newsletter delivered to your inbox already!). Do you have a question about guilds that you want answered by a WAR dev? Only-WAR.com is taking all comers in an effort to cull a few good queries for a future newsletter!

To keep things more succinct than last week, here’s a roundup of other notable WAR news:

  • The Grouchy Gamer scored an exclusive interview on March 13 with WAR’s Community Coordinator, James Nichols. James reports that the WAR beta (and non-beta) community has been “awesome”, discusses how they’ve been doing the “Focus Betas”, the high number of beta applicants, learning about Warhammer lore, and various aspects of his job.
  • Play has a nice WAR preview – nothing too new, but well-written and a good briefing for those not in the WAR know.
  • The Europe Press Site Event has drawn out a lot of new info, and WHA forums are there to summarize it all for you. What caught my eye? If you’re a really exceptional player, your home city might erect a statue of you!
  • Ten Ton Hammer has a good FAQ on Keeps and Sieges.
  • Keen and Graev’s Goblannoyed #0 – get in while the getting is good!
  • I’m never gonna give you up, I’m never gonna let you down.
  • Warhammer Vault posted a classy High Elf wallpaper for you to enjoy.
  • Two new Dev Diaries to digest! In “The Writing of WAR”, Matt Daniels discusses how a character’s backstory is layered, how they incorporate the lore, and how they make backstories relevant to all the races. Destin Bales munches through “The Pre-Production Process”, where an astounding 10,000 pages of content goes through various stages to make it in the game.
  • 16 new screencaps at WorthPlaying!
  • West Karana muses “What can beta leaks tell us about upcoming games?”
  • Mark Jacobs confirmed that there will be NO lifetime subscription (such as a one-time fee to play as long as the game is alive) for WAR.
  • Greenskin’s Forum Watch for the week!
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Digesting The Delay

March 26, 2008

Before we do anything else, let’s hear what Mark Jacobs has to say over at the Warhammer Alliance Forums. Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back (…i have months of spare time now…).

Massively had a post about the delay as well.

To summarize what Mark and others have said about the new delay:

  • The official quote is that WAR was delayed to “Invest additional time and effort in implementation and polish to make WAR great.
  • “Fall 2008″ is the only launch date they’re comfortable in saying at this point.
  • This is not an early April Fool’s joke (I checked).
  • WAR will simultaneously release in NA and Europe.
  • EA is “sad but supportive” toward the decision.
  • No game-breaking reason for the delay, just more time to polish and balance to make a great game. No huge changes needed.
  • Open Beta and the drop of the NDA have been pushed back as well. They hope to do more beta invites.
  • They’d “rather have fans pissed at them now than pissed at them when they released the game”.

Shoving aside emotions, crushed expectations and the elephanty question of “Well, NOW what do I do with my summer?”, it has to be said that if they really and truly need the extra time for more balancing and polish to make a better game, then so be it. It should be done. If this delay means the difference between a good game that won’t really rack up the numbers and contribute to the long-term success of WAR, and a great game that just sucks us all in for a good long while, then that is a smart move.

Mark made the point that WAR’s development time has been relatively short for this industry; they only really started working on the game in 2005, and a three-year cycle is almost the norm for a AAA MMO title. It’s easy to forget that World of Warcraft continually pushed back its expected release window until everything was as polished as they could get it before release — and people were going just as nuts then as they are over WAR now.

It’s also to be said that Mark in particular and Mythic in general get huge doses of respect for being up front about the delay (particularly before everyone started plunking down cash for the CE) and for keeping communication about the delay flowing in the forums.

However… I can’t just shake this off without venting a bit of frustration and concern. Yeah, this bites. It bites hard. Nobody likes to see a delay of a game they’re anticipating, and WAR’s multiple delays at this point seem particularly stinging. What stings me the most is the timing of this announcement: today, of all days, WAR enthusiasts were waking up all excited about the promised “big announcement” of the CE. Instead, it felt like a slap in the face for the first thing to be announced is the delay. A delay on any other day would suck; today it hurt even worse. I asked Mark about this on the forums and he defended the release of this information today due to being able to spread the news further and wider through a public announcement, but I disagree strongly. You simply do NOT build up fan expectations about good news and then turn around and dish out stinky pudding. As mature and honorable their intentions, Mythic did stumble today — make no mistake about it.

Two other major concerns that now arise is the possible flood of disappointed WARites into Age of Conan (a move I’m considering, at least to tide me over) and the very real possibility that WAR’s new autumn release will bump right up against its biggest competitor: WoW’s Wrath of the Lich King. Not to mention LOTRO’s expansion that’s also due this fall.

In any case, the decision is made, and whether we like it or not, that’s how it’s gonna be. So… what now? As for WAAAGH!, I’ll be continuing to bring you updates, news and articles as they occur, but I am worried about the huge chunk of time between now and then — and what to fill it with (don’t worry, I’ll think of something).

As for gaming, I’m having to readjust my perspective this morning. My original plan was to mostly diddle around in WoW with my level 70’s until WAR’s release. With WAR’s delay and the assumed long stretch of time between now and WoW’s next expansion, I’m really going to need something more substantial — whether that be May’s release of AoC or Mass Effect, going back to CoH for an action fix or what have you. I don’t know.

I know that this has overshadowed the other big news of the day (the Collector’s Edition), so I assure you that once I get back on my anti-depressants and pick myself up off the floor, we’ll be covering that soon. Like, tomorrow!

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Color Me Crushed

March 26, 2008

I guess this is what I get for being overly excited:

Warhammer Online is delayed until the fall.

Well… crap.

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To Beta Or Not To Beta, That Is The Question

March 25, 2008

With the expected announcement of the Collector’s Edition tomorrow and the pre-order offer to get a foot in the door of the beta, a lot more future WARions will have to ask themselves: do I really, REALLY want to get into the beta, especially if the chance is sitting right before me?

For many people and certain species of hummingbirds, the answer is “What are you KIDDING? Of COURSE yes!” They hunger, they can’t wait, their patience is finite and the sweet nector of gameplay is an irresistible siren’s song.

I am planning on preorder the CE for sure at this point, if only to get a jump start on the live servers right before the release. However, I’ve had to struggle with the temptation of joining in with the Open Beta before release. As much as I really do want to get playing WAR, you do make some sacrifices by joining up with the Beta Squad (formerly BetaMax):

1. Any characters you make and grow attached to have a very limited lifespan — I hate making characters I know will be wiped. I’ve been in the Mythos beta for months and have a hard time playing it, not because it’s dull (it certainly isn’t!) but because I loathe losing a character I’ve poured time and effort into.

2. You forfeit the innocence of your first day live server WAR experience for something that’s, in my opinion, lesser. You won’t be playing a final build, you will be taking away some of the elements that make the first real day such a rush, and what information you may have gained will be just as easily attainable after the game comes out.

I’ve been in my share of betas, and I’ve always regretted that I caved in and joined the WoW open beta a few weeks before launch. My first day in the beta was magical for many reasons, but like sampling the forbidden fruits of carnality before you say “I do!” at the altar, I robbed the main event of its full impact.

So, barring another lapse into temptation, I’m going to elect to remain outside of the beta and just wait for the early jump onto the live servers (whoops… almost typed “liver servers”, which might be higher in iron but lesser in gameplay). While I’ll have to wait until then to write about my first-hand experiences in WAR, I think it’ll be okay — there’s more than plenty to jaw about between now and then.

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