Archive for May, 2008


My Birthday ‘n Stuff

May 31, 2008

So, yeah, I hit level 32 in life today.  Feels good.  Got new skills: Hair Growth rank 11, Sex Appeal rank 2, Humor rank 117.  Still riding the same mount I purchased at level 28, but it gets good gas mileage, so I’m not complaining.  Seems like I have more quests than usual right now, so I’m going to stick with this zone.  It makes a HUGE difference that the devs allowed me to buy player housing last level.  Just wish the upkeep wasn’t so expensive.  I even have a non-combat pet now: [Weenier Dog].

Some days I can’t believe I’m actually in my 30s — my brain still exists somewhere around 22, and my love of childish things will forever be at 8.  What gives me hope and staves off the depression of aging is that (a) I still get fun toys to play with, toys that are so much more fun than anything I had as a kid, and (b) I know lots of adults in their 40s, 50s, 60s who just love life, have youthful enthusiasm, and don’t let age define them.  I want to be like that.

Might as well do a quick “what I’m playing” recap.  Still doing World of Warcraft, of course; my 70 druid is slowly pecking away at my epic flight form and some epic pvp gear (even though I hate pvp in that game).  My brother gave me a Nintendo DS for my birthday, so I’ve been enjoying a bit of Elite Beat Agents and Professor Layton and the Curious Village.  And last night I picked up Mass Effect for the PC (yay Bioware!), which I’m holding off playing until I install my brand-new video card and soon-to-be-brand-new monitor.

I’m also getting a bike.  Gas is too much.


Squig Express I: First Blood

May 30, 2008

Squigs: half-flesh, half-fungus, and all passion for correspondence! As the Pony Express delivered the mail across great barren distances in the wild, wild west, I too will attempt to bridge the enormous gap between Q and A (15 letters) with the aptly-named Squig express.

Alex asks, “I’ve been trying to find out the level of difficulty the multitude of 6-man dungeons the Devs said they would have for rank 40 characters, and I’ve found a bit of info on that. However, I can’t seem to find info on how expansive these dungeons might be. I’d hope they would have some that take a couple hours, or more, to get through. Have you come across any info on this subject Syp?”

Yay! My first question, and I’m going to be completely unhelpful! I think we’re in the same boat man — I haven’t heard much more than you. I assume 1-3 hours, but I would be glad if they kept them under an hour, had “save points”, winged sections or at least a variety of dungeon run lengths.

On second thought, after looking at your question, you might be trying to trick me. The absence of a comma in your last sentence turns the question into “have you come across any info on this subject Syp?” — as in, what can I tell you about the subject known as “Syp”? Well, Alex, quite a lot. Cursed with Italian genes, I have hair shooting out of every crack and square inch of my body. I like root beer floats, techno remixes of kiddy songs, and my office probably has more toys than most 3rd graders. Does that help?

Snafzg asks, “How do you maintain your dedication to blogging about a game that is still far(ish) away from release? Fame? Fortune? Fun?”

…Says the man who’s been blogging about WAR since October 2007. You tell me, Snoozg, you tell me. As married men, it can’t be for all the chicks, so I think it must be because it helps ward off the insanity of waiting. Or it makes it even worse.

Medrin asks, “Are you gonna announce which server you will play on on release? And as whom? So we can stalk you into the game world.”

“So, Syp, are you now regretting starting a blog?” “Considering that you have me chained up in your freakish hellhole of a basement with mutated monkey slaves, Medrin, I’d have to say, ‘yes’.”

I probably will. We’ll see. Just look for the dead corpse on the ground, possibly softening the long hard march for the enemy army with my spongy mess of flesh.

Idris asks, “If you go squig herder, will you name all your squigs? (I would!)”

If that is an option, most indubitubly! Since WAR only looks to have two pet classes (we’re not going to count Engineer/Magus for this purpose), it’d be a shame if they didn’t allow us that simple pleasure. I love naming pets in other games, especially City of Villains, where my Mastermind had six guys to torment with my bad puns. Alas, poor Ensign Redshirt.

Keen asks, “*cat picture pose* Can I has a beta invite?”

Cats are demons spawned from the sixth level of hell itself, and are thereby barred from applying for the Closed Beta (see “rules and exceptions”).

Tombaugh asks, “Okay mate I’ll take you up on it. Why do you think people compare WAR to WoW when they should be comparing it to DoAC?”

When it comes to RvR, people should most definitely be comparing WAR to DAoC, I agree. That’s the only other game out there that even has RvR. Yet is it really fair to compare WAR to DAoC in all aspects? No offense to the game, but Dark Age is pretty old for an MMO right now, and is showing it. It comes from a time period pre-WoW, where the grind was steeper and stupider, the interface far less refined, and the headache of botched expansions and imbalanced classes roamed freely.

I think people naturally compare new things to the current best thing on the market — at least, subjectively to them. When you date, you don’t keep comparing your new girl or boyfriends to whoever you were seeing for a week in junior high; your standards keep raising. WoW, for better or worse, lifted the MMO bar for most everyone, including other MMO devs. It’s natural to want to compare to see where the new boy might excel.

Idris asks, “Do you have a preference towards a certain server type?”

The good answer here is, “Whatever server my friends are on.” I have two guilds’ worth of friends I’d love to see in WAR, plus a lot of the new friends I’m making in the WAR community. I’ll try not to alienate too many people by saying something stupid like “RP servers are a big honking joke and serve only as bait to keep the weird fringe people from intruding on real servers”, but I shan’t. Probably core ruleset — I’m going to want to quest without being ganked from time to time, and I’ve never enjoyed PvP servers on any other game.

That’s it for this week’s Squig Express — leave a question in the comment section to have answered next Saturday!


Wave of Wikis

May 30, 2008

Okay, answer me this — months before the game is actually released, do we really need so many Warhammer Online wikis?

Let’s count ’em up so far: HammerWiki, MMO Wiki’s Warhammer, Conflict Wiki, Warhammer Geek Wiki, and now WaaagHead is doing a wiki. And I’m pretty sure I’ve missed a couple more.

It’s like we’re on some weird sort of reality TV show where contestants line up and say, “Hi, I’m Bob, and I have a wiki! I think it’s going to be the wikiest wiki of them all!” and by episode three he’s sobbing in a corner, snot dribbling down his nose, whining about how the others “just don’t get me”.

I’m certainly not putting down any of these sites, but the question remains: why do we need so many wikis? Unlike blogs and fan sites, wikis are pretty much one-shot dealies. A central location, people from all over dump info into it, and voila! We as a community are served and satiated. Having so many makes me feel like I’m being pulled between five parents, repeatedly asked who I love more. Having multiple WAR wikis isn’t a wealth of resources for me, personally — it’s a slight annoyance I can’t just go to one place to find it all.

In the end, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be one main wiki for Warhammer, like there is for World of Warcraft and other games. So how do we judge which wiki comes out on top? Sheer content? Slickness of interface? Highest promotion? How many more wikis must be born only to die a shriveled, neglected death months later?

Couldn’t we, as a WAR community, band together to support one wiki and make that the best darned MMO wiki in the world?

I guess I can dream.


Random Thoughts On The May Newsletter

May 30, 2008

White Lion career – Okay, this was a surprise to nobody, as this has been the worst-kept secret for months now (so why did Mythic even try to hide it?). I think Order now has a new top favorite career (along with Witch Hunter), in an already popular racial choice (elves do pretty well, demographically, in other MMOs). It’ll be cool to have a pet that grows alongside of you for the entire game, and pet class lovers (like yours truly) will appreciate the bond this creates. Then again, I hate cats, and WoW is absolutely stuffed with cat-leading hunters. Do we need another class like that? At least the White Lions are melee-oriented, which is a switch from most MMO pet classes (where the player tends to be ranged while the pet tanks).

Paul’s Video Blogs – Does this man not know how to hold a camera straight? “Mike Confesses” is a nice testimony about how the WAR dev team actually likes playing their own game. “Orc Lighting” shows off how nice WAR’s graphics look with proper lighting. “Orc Teeth” gives us a brief glimpse on how people are chosen for beta. But the best is all of them recording cow noises.

Grab Bag #26 – Each capital city boasts three dungeons, two PQs for opposing forces and one raid boss event. Lots more stuff in here about capital cities, but honestly? It’s not the most exciting stuff in the world. We’ve seen a lot about Altdorf and the Inevitable City (Empire/Chaos), but virtually nothing so far on the other four capitals.

Crafting Podcast – Hey is that Mark Jacobs doing a podcast? Wow, I think it is! He’s not the best speaker, but he does seem passionate about crafting. He talks about how other crafting systems require you to make hundreds of junk items to level up (which he hates), and didn’t want it to be recipe-based (which has been overdone). Two crafting professions are confirmed (for now) to be apothecary and talisman making, while the four gathering professions are cultivating, butchering, scavenging, and magical salvaging. You can only have one gathering and one crafting skill at a time. Crafting trainers start showing up in the second chapter.

Cultivating grows weeds and fungi, which feeds into the apothecary skill. You can grow things anywhere from seeds/spores. Weeds and fungi take time to grow, and you can affect the growth speed with soil, water and nutrients. Magical salvaging breaks down an item for its bonus and magical essences (essences are used to make talismans). Scavenging and butchering extract resources from creatures (scavenging = sentient creatures, butchering = dumb beasts). Flies around a corpse tells you if it can be scavenged/butchered.

Apothecary creates potions, lotions and powders. Main ingredients + additional ingredients = experimental effects. Lots of experimentation and variety due to trial and error. Talismans are minor items of power that attach to items.

Above even the White Lion career, this crafting info was the most exciting part of the newsletter. I love the disposal of recipes, and instead the move to encourage players to combine and experiment! Apothecary and cultivating look the most interesting to me at this time, but I’m sure I’ll try them all.

Witch Elf Career Masteries – I know we’re still months from launch, but between now and the NDA drop, I’d really love to see Mythic get a bit more specific with skill, mastery, morale and talent lists. The generalizations (like in this career mastery section) is just too vague for me. Details, people!

Zone Overview/Scenarios 101 – Either Mythic isn’t presenting it the right way, or I’m just not naturally inclined to be excited about these types of articles, I don’t know. Big “pass” for me.

Concept Art: Dark Elf/Dwarf Mounts – Cool, yes. Although I’m a big fan of steampunk, WAR’s dwarfish engineering look doesn’t sit as right with me (as say, World of Warcraft) (heresy!). Still, jet packs!

Beta Journal – Eh.


Da Newz – May 29

May 29, 2008

Beta Ticker: 700.255 (+0 since last week)

Quote of the Week: I would rather hear William Shatner and Roseanne Barr singing a duet while having my fingernails pulled out one by one while sitting in a pool of molten lava than have Mythic’s own Official Forums for WAR. How’s that for clarity?” ~ Mark Jacobs

Story of the Week: White Lion career confirmed. As little of a surprise as it ended up being, the cat is finally out of the bag (heh) on the last High Elf class and the final revealed class of WAR: the White Lion career! GameSpot and Warhammer Alliance jumped the official gun on this by a day or so, but Mythic doesn’t seem too sore, and the official White Lion page is up. Meanwhile, GameSpot has a g-r-r-r-eat White Lion video to watch and a more fleshed-out interview to read.

In Other News:


Career Crunch: Empire Witch Hunter

May 28, 2008

Returning to the Order army, WAAAGH! examines the much-ballyhooed Witch Hunter career as our 24-part series continues.

CAREER: Empire Witch Hunter

BRIEF OVERVIEW: Merciless in their passion and efforts in hunting down Chaos scum wherever it hides, Witch Hunters are quick and lethal fighters who use multiple weapons in rendering their “judgments”.

THINK: A Puritan cross-bred with a Three Musketeer with a strong helping of the Spanish Inquisition.

MOVIE CHARACTER: Judge Dredd — judge, jury and executioner all in one! Also, you could toss in a bit of Van Helsing and Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean if you felt generous.

ABILITIES & MECHANICS: Deals out burst damage with Accusations-Execution combos. Has a limited form of stealth to close distance to target. Uses other witch huntery items (such as holy water or ashes) in combat. Swords and knives are mostly used, with a pistol being the exclamation mark at the end of a long scuffle. Can bless weapons.

MASTERIES: Confession (direct brutal combat with added protection), Inquisition (whittles an enemy down by weakening them), Judgment (surprise/back attacks).

RATE MY INTEREST: 9/10. Witch Hunters are definitely a “rogue-like” class, which tends to draw a lot of cowards and jerks in many games, hence why I took a point off my interest meter. That and the phantom stealth controversy aside, how can I not roll one of these guys? How awesome is it to play a demon-hunting Pilgrim, where you not only get one of the coolest fashion trends in the WAR universe, but you also can fight with both swords AND guns? They look fairly straightforward to play (dps-dps-dps), but in a more satisfying way than I’ve seen in other burst-DPS melee classes. Count me in. It’s a shame that, as of right now, it seems like 95% of Empire players will be Witch Hunters, which will make me feel like I’m at a weird buckle-and-leather strap convention.



Imperial Inquisition – Silex of Warhammer Info

May 27, 2008

One of the elder Warhammer Online sites, Warhammer Info’s been spreading heresy far and wide — and today, that will end! We’ve tied up Silex and asked him very pointed questions as he sits on a very pointed seat.

WAAAGH!: Tell us a bit about yourself — your handle/screen name/real name, age, real life occupation, your previous MMO experience, and your play style.

SILEX: My screen name is silex. I’m 26, and I program COBOL for a living. How hot is that!? Honestly, I’m a little scared that I was contacted as a “community leader” for WAR. God have mercy on that community.

WAAAGH!: What type of social play do you gravitate towards: soloing, participating in small guilds/small groups, or participating in large guilds/large raids?

SILEX: Competitive grouping.

WAAAGH!: What motivated you to get involved with the WAR community and how did you go about doing it?

SILEX: Mythic + RvR = Good times. It’s a recipe for success.

I started out keeping some files filled with ability information turned up at GamesDay events. Figured other people might be interested, so I threw up a website. I lazilly throw in sarcasm and other junk – so far it’s going well. Or at least I haven’t been kicked off the internets yet. That’s a good sign.

WAAAGH!: What are some of the more notable trends you’ve observed in the WAR community since you’ve been active in it?

SILEX: The fanbase is very vocal and not afraid to explode in tears/complaints if we get wind of something we don’t like. Remember cross server scenario queues? How about non-segregated PvE areas? Or the recent “stealth”? …yea…

At the same time, the community is supportive of Mythic when release setbacks and the like popup.

A lot of tough love.

WAAAGH!: Did you play Dark Age of Camelot (or do you still), and what did you like/hate about it?

SILEX: Like – Emain, Glasny, and Weewolves.

Dislike – Mids, Albs, and Finlaiths.

DAOC somehow wrangled me in for 5+ years. No other MMO has come close to even half that. They’ve got the magic formula. Or they lace their game discs with cocaine. It’s definitely something.

WAAAGH!: What PvP experience do you have, and what are your general feelings on it?

SILEX: It is good.

WAAAGH!: What faction (order/chaos) do you plan siding with when the game releases, and why?

SILEX: Chaos will always triumph because good is dumb.

Ultimately, it all depends on what side the guild wants to go. I’d be happy anywhere.

WAAAGH!: What class(es) currently appeal to you the most, and are they similar or different to classes you typically play in other MMOs?

SILEX: Currently planning on the Zealot. It looks fantastic visually and its abilities sound interesting.

I love playing support classes, especially in group based PvP games. You get to observe the battle at a really high level and it always feels like your contribution to the fight makes or breaks things. And there’s the always classic:

“Hey, tank, go charge in there, I’ll keep you healed.”


**20 seconds later**

“Where the hell was my heals?”

“Woops, went AFK.”

WAAAGH!: What features of WAR are you the most excited to experience?

SILEX: Getting a statue of myself built in the city. That is going to be priority one. I’ll just stand around it all day long taking screenshots of myself and shouting to the zone for people to come see how awesome I am. I’ll pay a new player to hand out pamphlets detailing my greatness. Can’t wait.

WAAAGH!: Did you apply for the beta, did you get into the beta, and have you pre-ordered the CE?

SILEX: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Where’s the fourth question in that chain where you ask if I’ve taken work off for launch day?

WAAAGH!: What concerns do you have for WAR’s gameplay and future?

SILEX: Population imbalance, gank group domination in scenarios, and expansions. We’ll see how Mythic plays those cards when we get to them.

WAAAGH!: What will you be doing with your gaming time between now and WAR’s release?

SILEX: Continuing to work on Orbs and hibernating.

The Comparison Curse

May 26, 2008

As the upcoming months start slamming into us like the seasonal typhoons they are, I can guarantee you one thing: we’re going to be hearing a LOT more rhetoric about how Warhammer Online looks (and presumably plays) just like World of Warcraft. Recently, Tobold went so far to say that WAR will be more or less a new coat of paint over the same-old, same-old gameplay, which might indeed help with subscription numbers (since players familiar to WoW would apparently be comfortable in a familiar setting) but will ultimately relegate WAR to the ugly title of a “WoW Clone”.

So let’s sound the trumpets and horns, and scream our battle-cry from the mountaintops right now. Are you with me? Let’s go:


Let’s push aside, for a minute, the fact that Blizzard heavily “sampled” the Warhammer universe when they made Warcraft (because we don’t want to end the world), and instead investigate whether or not the WoW Clone claim is true.

The two biggest comparison points here are the stylized graphics and the core gameplay. Graphically, both titles prefer to avoid the uncanny valley by giving us colorful and stylized, although Warcraft definitely skews more cartoony, whereas Warhammer is striking a balance between realistic proportions and artistic license.  Gameplay, sure, the two titles share a lot: quests, auto attack-plus-special skills, experience, loot, etc, etc.  The fact that these are present do not point to any specific theft on Mythic’s behalf — after all, these have been the staple of MMOs for the past decade, long before WoW took them and polished them to an inch of their life.

I think what most people fear is that WAR will “feel” too similar to WoW and thus be subject to gaming fatigue incurred by that other title.  There’s the rub for Mythic: they want the game to feel familiar and as easy to pick up as other MMO titles, but at the same time they need to incorporate enough unique elements to make their baby stand out from the pack.  I don’t think Mythic even minds the numerous community comparisons between WAR and WoW, because they know it can only help to bring vastly more players into their game than push away.  Their hope is that when people do start playing WAR, they’ll quickly realize the game has a lot more than just a fresh coat of paint.

And I think they have good reason to be confident of that fact.  With the Tome of Knowledge, Realm vs. Realm conflict, Keeps warfare, the Vegas loot system, 24 classes, tactics/morale/mastery character specializations, Capital City captures, and — let us not forget — the eschewing of the /dance emote, WAR stands poised to break from the traditional MMO pack and forage down its own path.  Will it be 100% unique or completely different from WoW?  No — but in today’s MMO landscape, I don’t think any title can claim that unless they’re setting up a title that will present a huge difficulty barrier to the average gamer (such as EVE Online).

Let us remember: WoW was often referred to as an EverQuest clone, back in the day.  What WAR will be, will be.


My First Ten Things I Will Do When I Have Warhammer Online In My Hot Little Hands

May 25, 2008

1. Hoot loudly. Perhaps some appropriate — and manly — chest thumping as well.

2. Get permission from my job, my wife and myself to temporarily disconnect from the world of responsibility (WoR) for a period of no less than 24 hours, just so I can get drunk on that first dose of WAR.

3. Install. Perhaps blog about the installation, knowing that as I do so, no WAR player in the world will care or spare the time to read about a blog post on installing the game. Will that stop me? Read number 4.

4. No, it won’t.

5. Instruct my miniature attack weenier dog to bite, with a vengeance, any soul who dares approach our door. Or barring that, stare at them with luminous deep brown eyes until the visitor is deeply into a “aww whadda cute PUPPY” trance.

6. Bolt my arms to the computer chair so they don’t fly up and hit things in a rage when something — and there’s always something — goes wrong with the installation or first run.

7. Snag all of the names I want to use on the server, including “LeeroyJerky” and “Bubbles”. Actually, all of the Powerpuff Girls, now that I think about it.

8. Have to pee. I get excited, I have to pee. It’s a thing me and my bladder have.

9. Hit “enter world”.

10. Fret that I’ll be out of blogging material from that point onward.


Squig Express – Ask Away!

May 24, 2008

I always like trying new things, like the other day when I purchased a self-heating cup of chicken noodle soup. So let’s try something new with this blog and institute the Squig Express — the time of the show where you get to ask questions, I try to answer them, and the Squig eats the postage.

So ask away in our comments section! Remember: no question is too stupid, big, weird, obscure or slimy — just make sure it’s somehow related to this blog or WAR.  Next Saturday I’ll take the best questions and try my darndest to diagram and answer them.