Archive for July, 2008


WAR Comes In First!

July 31, 2008

Maybe! Sort of! Yes, dear readers, it’s time for more Mindful Speculation coupled with Dirty Facts!

Just a quick note, really: as one of the big concerns of Warhammer Online fans is that World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King might release head-to-head with our beloved title, it’s of slight relief that Blizzard’s CEO has announced Lich King’s lauch date as Q4 2008 (i.e. October to December).

Now, assuming (and that is dangerous), that the many, many, many rumors and posts and leaked dates regarding WAR’s launch remains true, WAR will be seeing a launch in mid- to late-September, giving the title at least a week or two head start over Lich King — if not more. I guess that’s good, right? Or will players hold off buying WAR knowing that Lich King is right around the corner?


Da Bloody Twenty: July 31

July 31, 2008

Da Bloody Twenty is a new feature that’s replacing Da Newz, for reasons I’ve explained earlier. Each week, I’ll be compiling a list of the top 20 posts, features, comics, podcasts and news items put out by EA Mythic and the WAR community. Join me now for the countdown:


Welcome to the Community – Vale’s Views, Gordo’s Gaming Blog and Echoes of Nonsense!


“Tobold, WAR and PvP” @ /random – A great piece on how exactly non-PvPers can be convinced to give this style of play a try.


“Look at Games Day Chicago 2008” @ TTH – It will blow your mind. And that’ll make a very gooey mess.


Warhammer vs. Lich King preorders @ – See how the numbers stack up between the two heavy-hitters (last I checked, WAR was beating Lich King 74-26%).


Warhammer Hands-On Impressions @ Eurogamer – “These men mean business, and their game is coming together beautifully. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a contender.”


“The State of WHA” @ Warhammer Alliance – WHA is an awesome Warhammer site, and this post about their future project just heaps on the crazy good stuff.


“I don’t think the investors give a sh*t about our quality.” ~ John Riccitiello, Electronic Arts’ CEO.


“All Quiet on the WARstern Front” @ Boathammer – The shocking truth revealed! The cake isn’t a lie, but Paul B is!


“Tome of Knowledge interview with Carrie Gouskos” (Part 2 and Part 3) @ TTH – Really, I just cannot get enough info about this feature!


“Game Breaking Things” @ Wizards and Wenches – What do you absolutely need in an MMO?


“Why Warhammer Online Needs To Get Its Tanks Back” @ Classy Gamer – Tanks for nothing, Mythic. Tanks a lot.


“Bob Mull video interview” @ Warhammer Conflict – I like how he’s basically asked, “Why is Paul Barnett on so many drugs?”


“Guild Highlights: User Interface” @ Warhammer Herald – The tools guilds will use to dominate the landscape. And make pie.


“What is it about MMO designers and pigs?” @ Book of Grudges – I have only one thing to say: PIIIIIIIIIGS INNNNNNNN WAAAAAAAAAAR! (thank you Muppets!)


“Inside the Realm War” @ TTH – Scott Stricklin spills the beans and tells Marty McFly that he’s a slacker.


“Interview with Paul Barnett” @ Tobold – The key question — boxers or sunglasses? — goes unanswered.


Warhammer System Requirements @ Warhammer Herald – Looks pretty decent, although not as forgiving as WoW.


“The WHA Waaagh: Business Casual” @ Warhammer Alliance – And no, I’m not just mentioning this because I got a shout-out, it’s a great piece.


“Massively Goes Back To WAR” @ Massively – Six articles. No holds barred.


Keen’s E3 WAR Report – He’s one lucky duck. An exhausted duck, but lucky still. With follow-ups: One, Two, and Three. Plus, an interview with Mark Jacobs.


Glorious Clarification

July 31, 2008

Mark Jacobs popped on by the VN boards to comment on the numerous floating rumors, speculation and scuttlebutt (I do so love that word) surrounding Paul’s quote at Videogaming 247 and the release dates being floated around:


LOL. No, we’re not finished, wish we were. We’ve still got a lot of work and testing left to do before we’re ready to ship. One of the things that a lot of the writers lately have been saying is that they are rather surprised at how polished and deep the game feels and how, in comparison to some other MMORPGs at launch, how stable and playable the game is already. I think that’s what Paul might have been referring to, if that quote was accurate, as he knows full well that we really couldn’t ship the game today. Believe me, if I thought the game was ready to go out the door now I would be the first one to scream “Ship it” at the top of my lungs, take the studio out for a nice celebration and then prepare for the always interesting launch day.

As to when we are going to ship, well, we’re still on target for our release date. happy

FYI, just spoke to Paul and, as expected, Paul was not only misquoted but the interview does not reflect what Paul said to this guy nor the context in which Paul’s answers were delivered. Here’s a great example, Paul was asked directly by the writer, “If EA put a gun to your head, could you ship it today?” Paul’s response was “If we had to, yes” which is the answer that any developer would give to that question and as the history of MMORPGs have shown, including DAoC shipping when it did because we almost out of money, when you have to ship, you ship. So, “If we had to, yes” became “WAR is finished, could ship today.”

Sadly, this stuff happens all the time.


So there you have it. Warhammer Online’s doing great, but not quite out of the Woods of Testing quite yet. It’s interesting to note that there definitely is a solid release date they’re shooting for, and that they’re getting satisfied with the level of polish that’s in the game.


WAR System Requirements!

July 30, 2008

Check it out, from the Herald:

A computer of some sort.  Preferably the kind that has those giant old data chips that look like robotic centipedes ready to burrow under your flesh.

462 megs of video ram.  No, not 461, and God help you if you get 463.

A 64 oz. mug of your favorite carbonated, caffeinated beverage.  Trust us, you’re going to want to stay up a few nights at first.

A husband or wife decoy, in the event you’re married.

Kryptonite.  We don’t know why, but you can’t hit level 40 without it.

The soul of a six-year-old Brazilian boy (but only if you have the Collector’s Edition).

An Atari 2600 joystick for optimal control.


Wow, awesome!  No sweat!


New Car Smell

July 30, 2008

There’s a singular joy in newness that is hard to express and impossible to recapture: your first kiss, when you unpack a brand-new computer, the first day of school, or the first time you step into a new MMO. Many people fall in love with those moments and spend the rest of their lives fruitlessly pursuing or trying to recreate them. I’m more of a realist — I know the moment’s going to go away, so I just try to make it last as long as possible.

As an experienced MMO player, that can be difficult. Even if it’s a brand-new game to us, we still know enough about the genre to run down a preordained checklist and hit the ground running. Check UI… make sure hotkeys are correctly bound… jump a few times… speed through opening quests to get out of the newbie zone… start pushing hard to get up in levels and gears in order to keep pace with everyone else. We do that, and what little newness there was to be enjoyed is suddenly cast aside, forever.

Not me, not this time. Even in beta, I’m holding back from experiencing a lot of things, and when release finally hits, you won’t find me at level 10 immediately. I’m going to be the guy soaking in the quest text, exploring menu options, poking around newbie zones, and seeing what the Tome has to say about everything. I love the new car smell of a MMO, and since we’re all going to be level 40 eventually, why rush the first day?

Unfortunately, some people won’t have a choice but to rush and spoil a bit of the newness — here I’m talking about guilds. In LOTRO, I signed up with a large guild that was organized like a football team on Superbowl day to get in the game, kill fast to get the cash, and rush to a major city in order to form the guild proper. The poor officers couldn’t enjoy the luxury of first day madness because they had a Duty to perform. And even after the guild was formed, the rest of the day was spent signing up guildmate after guildmate until it was launch day plus two and the officers could finally, you know, play the game.

Since then, I’ve had the mindset that all MMOs should let guilds organize and form from the main menu, much like the character creation screen. There’s real excuse to make a handful of people jump through hoops and ruin their first day experience just trying to pull a guild together. I don’t know how it’ll be in WAR — it might be a lot easier than I think, but it’s still going to be major stress on tons of GMs and officers who want to solidify power and structure before spending any time on themselves.

As the day approaches, I’d encourage you to resist the urge to join the surging pack of speedy levelers, like the main mob of a marathon. Level 40 will be there, whether you hit it in a month or in a year, but your first day… man, it’s something you’ll always look back on wistfully and wish you could experience just one more time.


Late Night with your host, Señor Syp

July 29, 2008

Wow, wasn’t the band great folks? Let’s give them a hand!


Well, it’s late… 10:23pm is late for some people, I guess. My computer is busy downloading something, something that I’m not allowed to say because if I do they’ll take my children and enslave them in the bowels of Mythic HQ. And I don’t even have children!

So I’m bored. Let’s take a quick look at what’s stirring the pot in the Warhammer Online community, eh?

Gamestop’s gotten very specific with their pre-order ship date AND the server opening time, which is all kinds of odd. Do MMO companies give out the exact hour they’re going to open a server to all stores? In any case, now the pee-stained pre-launch anxiety crowd has another faction to go with. September 18 vs. September 23: five days and a lifetime of strife between them!

Really, I might report on this, but I can’t find myself caring as much as to the exact day of WAR’s launch. That might be because I’m sitting comfy in beta, but I think it’s because I’ve gotten to a calm, zen-like place in my mind that says, “What will be, will be.” When it launches, it launches. How well it’s received, how good it’s reviewed, will be. Whether gamers can get over the whole WAR-v-WOW argument to just game, I don’t care. I might blog on it and look forward to playing it, but my life doesn’t begin when WAR starts, and it’s a bit silly for me to place undue emphasis on that event.

But it will be a cool day, no doubt about that. And we shall all celebrate, except for Chrono Chaos, which is already cruising with their computers in December 2009, enjoying the expansion, Warhammer Online: The Divine Secrets of the Snafzg Sisterhood.

Looking for a few good rants to spice up the nightlife? Massively seems a pretty popular choice for insane blogger catalyst these days — both Heartless Gamer and Keen got them a bee in their bonnet about a couple of choice quotes. Right or wrong, I think they both point to the same perceived problem: reckless, off the cuff reporting coupled with snap opinions. You know, just like the kind you see on this blog every day.

Let’s go poke around in the steamy underbelly of Warhammer Alliance’s forums, always a good place to find well-balanced, reasoned howls into the night sky. “Top 10 Greatest Features of WAR” is a nice read, although a bit presumptuous in parts — “free burial services” isn’t mentioned. There’s of course dozens and dozens of polls on WHA; poll-making is like crack to forumites, it’s very hard to get them to stop once they ask what class you’re planning on playing. For the 153rd time.

Eh, enough of forums. I’m just not a forum guy, to my great shame. Let’s see what Google says when I punch in “Warhammer Online” into their blog search. Huh, Paul Barnett’s gone on record saying WAR is pretty much finished and ready to ship, although I’m sure we could twist that quote a bit for sensationalist press:


That quote and the whole September 23rd date is taking up most of the search results. Booooring. Wake me up when Josh Drescher gets arrested by a pretend police officer or something.

Random thought of the day: why does “Magic the Gathering” end up being one of the top three search terms that sends people to WAAAGH!?

One day I will overthrow The-WAAAGH and take over the top “waaagh” search entry on Google, oh yes I will! MUWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Okay, that’s all from me tonight folks! Stay tuned for the Late Late Show, starring Werit and his amazing Chipmunks of Doom!


Bored? Here’s Three Quests For You:

July 29, 2008

1. I’m closing down the WAAAGH! Photo Contest in a couple more days — so get in your last-minute pictures soon!

2. Do you have listener questions for the next recording of Chaos Cast? Then throw them into the comments section here and await your turn at glory!

3. The Greenskin is accepting any and all beta questions to answer once the NDA drops — head on over and add to the pile!


The Guild Swiss Army Knife

July 29, 2008

Did you ever get a Swiss army knife as a kid? It was perhaps one of my greatest pleasures, to receive one of these doohickies during a summer vacation to Florida. I was salivating over getting one of these multi-purpose knives for months (The Simpsons had an episode where Bart shared my envy, and then they ended up abandoned at sea) — you got a little of everything in one neat package. Three blades, saw, scissors, toothpick, corkscrew (because a lot of kids need to open wine), an awl (candidate for most useless tool ever), screwdriver and so on. My delight in finally getting the knife ended about ten minutes later when my mom took it away after my brother said I threatened him with the corkscrew.

I did, but really — how much damage can I do with a corkscrew in a limited time frame?

We’ve been hearing just awesome things about the Swiss army knife of guild tools that Mythic is handing each and every band of brothers that strides into WAR and needs a strong drink of wine. Acquaint yourself with the features on the Herald and in this post (with follow-up commentary on OoD), then head on back here.

While these tools, this array of blades and saws and awls, might seem pretty common-sense to your average person, the shameful part is that most other MMOs don’t have all these. Perhaps they just have a blade, or a couple other useful appendages, but that’s it. It’s like MMOs acknowledge that guilds are a necessary evil and then the devs do the bare minimum to get them organized before abandoning guild features to the Stygian abyss.

WoW is a perfect example of this — the world’s most popular MMO, and it arms guilds with almost nothing in terms of tools and organizational features. The basic game lets you form a guild, organize ranks, access a guild bank, and have a message of the day. Um… whee. It’s so bad that modders have done a thriving business providing what should be standard tools — like guild calendars! — into that damning gap.

I’m not planning on running a guild in WAR, but I will be part of one, and potential guild leaders have to be just wiggling all over in delight when they read this sort of stuff. Let’s go down the list, shall we?

  • Guild Levels – Through guild experience (GXP), members can help to level up their guild from 1 to 40, just like a player! Each level comes with new rewards that benefit the guild entire.
  • Guild Experience Points – GXP is earned by doing pretty much what you’ll already be doing: fighting, questing, scenarioing, PQing and so on. You can even get GXP bonuses by holding battlefield objectives. Obviously, this system of guild leveling seems to favor large guilds (more players should = more GXP coming in), but Mythic says “not necessarily.”
  • Message of the Day – The first thing any guildie should read when logging in, and a standard feature in many MMOs.
  • Guild Rewards – Tactics, standards, standard tactics, cloaks, heraldry, guild vault, guild auctions, trophy slot and trophies, Tome unlocks, tactic points. These are the sort of things that will get a guild excited to advance together, as a group entire!
  • Guild News – Find out what’s happened since you last logged in: guildies leveling up, the guild leveling up, guild events, people joining and leaving, etc.
  • Guild Website/E-Mail – Good stuff to know.
  • About Us – A great place to put your guild mission statement, along with any other vital info (like vent login stuff).
  • Guild Calendar – The lynchpin of organized guild events. Want to throw together a Keep raid group? Perhaps a dungeon run or a silly mass chicken parade? Here you go. It’ll allow for guildies to sign up for various events and to see what you’ve done in the past.
  • Roster – The roster shows the entire crew of your guild: name, rank/career, title and status. Good way to get a quick overview of who’s who, and who’s online
  • Alliance – The alliance bottom tab works similar to the roster, only in this case it shows the other guilds you’ve allied with. Alliances are key for the survival of small guilds in a big guild world — you can keep the guild as exclusive as you like, but when you need a larger body of people to help put on an event, you can contact your alliance guilds for support!
  • Standard – We’ve heard a lot about heraldry and standards over the past couple months, and this is the tab that lets the guild master fiddle with the look and colors of the banner you plant on the field (along with your cloaks). Each heraldry will be unique and lock out any other guild from making the same one.
  • Admin – The final big bucket o’ tools that guild leaders and officers can use to do various functions, such as set up permissions, title names, calendar events and so on.

I feel these features give players even more incentive to be part of a guild, which is definitely a good thing in the WAR environment. Even if it’s just a handful of friends with you, guilds are still worth forming and leveling up!


Brotik Did It (points fingers)

July 28, 2008

Pre-NDA drop, pre-launch, it’s just to irresistible to avoid every rumor on the market, now isn’t it? Brotik brought my attention to a possible (probable) forgery of a timeline between now and release — according to an unnamed “inside source” — but it’s just plausible enough to invoke pleasurable speculation. And I’ve been gone a week, darn it! I deserve to fling caution to the wind and have it come back and slap me silly!

So here’s the post I read:

Guild Beta Starting July 7th (was close… a few days off)

Guild Beta Ends July 27th

Open Beta Patcher opens July 30th
Open Beta Servers open August 1st at noon

When Open beta launches, they start printing the hardcopies – anything not in the game when it hits open beta will be patched in.

Open Beta goes until August 18th

Beta Officially Ends, Servers are wiped clean, final polishes server side are done, initial patches are put into place.

September 8th, head start begins, first shipment of games goes out

September 22nd, Official Launch Date

Now when I say this is “probably not” what’s going to happen, I’m saying that there’s safe enough odds on this being fudged all the way through as to being a delectable death trap for diabetics. While I’m sure some of the higher ups in Mythic have a timetable and set dates, they’re not dumb, and they’re not going to release 100% of that info to the entire staff and hope against hope that there won’t be a silly leak… like the one we supposedly read and believed here.

Yet it’s worthy of examination, because if the much-repeated September 23rd launch date is in fact true, a LOT needs to happen between now and then — so much that the two months-minus span of time between now and then will seem like a whirlwind.

What’s on the list? Well, guild beta has to end at some point, or at least the current phase it’s in. The NDA drop will happen in advance of the Open Beta, most likely, and the OB will need to start far enough in advance to launch as to be useful to Mythic. Then there’s the head start program, WAR going gold and producing the physical copies to ship, and then launch.

If you look at the rumored timeline above, all of that fits (if it just squeaks in) by the time September 23 hits. Yet this week is very telling in whether there’s any veracity to this “leak” or not — if the NDA doesn’t drop and Open Beta doesn’t hit by this weekend, we’ll know that we can disgard this info safely. And I have a suspicion that the NDA will drop at least two weeks before OB, but who knows?

As I said, mindless speculation is a lark, and it makes room in your noggin for cupcakes.


Syp’s Prime Law of Blogging (and writing online in general)

July 28, 2008

It goes like this:

“The longer and the more you write, the greater the odds are that people will grow to disagree, then dislike, then turn on you like a pack of vampire manatees.”

This isn’t going to be a cynical post or anything aimed at the Warhammer Online community (including bloggers and site owners) — if anything, everyone’s been super-nice (okelydokely!) and there’s a great sense of comradeship and honor and pinky swears we haven’t seen since Peggle first came out and turned us all into brown-robed cult followers.

It’s just a thought I have. From experience, the more you write online, and the longer you’ve been writing, the odds start stacking against your favor of having people like/agree/support you. You’re bound to eventually say something that will tick everyone off, as long as you keep on writing. It will happen. Honeymoon periods wear off, and the internet at large (and I don’t mean YOU in particular, you’re a lovely human being) is not a patient beast on the best of days.

And nobody likes being slammed for something you write, or to have people rip you apart just for the fun of taking you down a notch. Sometimes criticism or disagreement is deserved and appropriate, sometimes it’s just cruel.

So why should I, you and any other WAR writer out there bother with it all? Get out before you jump the shark completely?

We should do it for the passion. Some will say, “You write to please yourself, first and foremost”, but that isn’t really true, is it? If it was, why aren’t we just penning it in a paper diary or a private Word document? We want to share our ideas, we enjoy crafting fun sentences that start to fall apart after the third prepositional phrase, we thrill to the fact that people read this and perhaps care about our perspective — as we do in turn for others.

I write because I can’t not write — if it wasn’t WAR, it would be something else. Heck, it is something else, if you consider all my other projects. And after doing 11 years of movie reviews for Mutant Reviewers, I’ve seen the highs of being lauded for verve and wit, and the lows of people regarding you as used up as a three-day-old tissue after a bout of the flu. I didn’t start doing WAAAGH! because I ever thought I’d be the best darned WAR blogger out there (and I know I’m not — there are simply spectacular bloggers out on the WAR scene that deserve your attention and readership), or because I craved the spotlight and applause so much as to prostitute myself through words just to get the attention.

I write, and others write, knowing that we’ll have our ups and downs, and that more and more people will disagree and boo you. But I also write, and others write, knowing that we just love doing this too much to stop. If I’m not the center of attention, then I’m okay with that — actually, it’s a nice thought to know that someone more deserving is.

And, for the record, I’m okay with you not agreeing with me.  I’ve never had a problem with that, as long as the disagreer in question wasn’t rude or obnoxious about it.  In fact, sometimes the best dialogue comes from a comment or post that takes the opposing view or calls me out on a flaw in my thinking.  A lot of these posts just come straight from the hip (I type with a series of Elvis Presley-style hip shimmies), and I often look back a week or month later wondering if that was me writing, or perhaps a homeless Civil War vet named Packer who caught a ride on the Chrono Chaos train and was learning the joys of instant non-movable type.

I just wanted to encourage other WAR bloggers and journalists out there to write for the right reasons (yay! pun!) and not from a flawed sense of eternal celebrity glory.

That is all.