Friday Night with Señor Syp – Preview Weekend EditionAugust 22, 2008
Heyyy… nice to see you! How youse doing? Get comfy… pull up a chair… let me buy you a fruit cocktail and talk about all that matters in love and WAR.
This Trailer Is Not Yet Rated
With the NDA drop, Mythic officially fired the starter pistol to the publicity race leading up to Warhammer Online’s launch. As nervous as they’ve got to be without the leash of the NDA restraining beta testers from yammering on, they’ve got to love all the free — and overwhelmingly positive — publicity that’s surged down the pike. They’ve got a full month of being in the spotlight, as most major MMOs do when they get to this point, and believe you me, they’re going to milk it for all its worth.
And so will we, to get the extra hits, eh?
Big Brother Blizzard might be feeling the sting of a stolen spotlight, so they finally unveiled the last major weapon in their Lich King arsenal (at least, that we know of): the cinematic trailer. Blizz has always had high production values on all their products in this regard, but a funny little thing happened. The trailer… is kind of dull. It’s a lot of Lord of the Rings narration, ice, and the color blue, but very little goes on during it. Even die-hard WoW fans have expressed disappointment over it.
And they don’t even have the monopoly with that — also this week, Mythic lifted the curtains on the nearly five-minute WAR trailer that’s been rumored about long before you were a baby. I know I’m a pretty staid fanboy at this point, but… c’mon. That trailer is simply breathtakingly cool.
Preview THIS, baby!
We had a couple days of downtime this week, as the beta was taken offline in preparation for today’s start of the three-day Preview Weekend. Tens of thousands of new players were invited in along with the current crop of beta testers to give WAR a whirl — good thing the NDA is down, hm?
This all gives me a good idea of what launch day (and head start day) is going to be like in WAR: hundreds of brand-new characters clogging up the newbie zone, the general chat spiraling out of control with identical questions and heated responses, PQs where you get, like, 1/2 influence per run because of all the people doing it, and general glimpses into what careers might be September’s flavor of the month. Bright Wizards and Chosen, baby!
Actually, I’ve been hearing a lot about how there’s Chosen EVERYwhere on the Destruction side. I guess that could be true, although I’ve seen a lot of everything at this point. I can’t imagine this one tank class being the overwhelming favorite at launch — but then, Warriors dominated WoW, so why not? Just not for me, not right now at least.
Preview weekend this might be for us, but for Mythic, it’s stress test central. They’re introducing more players on these servers than have ever existed before, and since the Herald keeps announcing new servers being brought online almost hourly, I’m guessing it’s going to push them to the limits. How many servers do you suppose Mythic has in stock for WAR? One of WoW’s greatest failings at launch was lacking enough server capacity and numbers, but servers aren’t cheap, and you don’t want to have to buy more than you’ll need.
I don’t want to list all the servers right now, I’m sure someone more bored than I will help you with that, but they all seem to be named after places in Warhammer. I even spied with my little eye an Oceanic server. Why can’t they call it Pacifica? New Zealand and Associates?
You take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and then you have the “I don’t LIKE this!” comments in evaluating WAR. Two of WAR’s biggest features — Public Quests and the Tome of Knowledge — have gotten knocked around in the past few days, which kind of boggles me.
PQ’s have a couple persistent complaints: one, that the higher level PQs take forever to do and even longer to grind out enough influence to top the meter and get the best loot, and two, that the loot bag rolls (which are random) coupled with the contribution scores (which are fixed but reported to be manipulated) are rarely fair to those who put in the most effort into winning.
It’s a loot system that takes a little of column A (your character’s contribution) and column B (a random roll to offset potential manipulation or dps/healing domination), and leaves nobody entirely happy. Personally, I’m just ducky with it. It’s a bit random and a bit predictable, and since I view the influence rewards as what I’m primarily going for with the slot machine loot roll as an occasional bonus, it’s water off my feathery back. Trust me, people would be complaining a LOT more if it was 100% contribution and nothing else — certain careers would simply own PQs, and there would be no end to the fighting, arguing and gimp-calling.
The Tome of Knowledge complaint puzzles me even more. The reasoning behind it goes that some players just don’t care for the achievements, unlocks, lore, expanded quest text and so on, and they’re pretty annoyed that the Tome keeps chiming in all the time (especially during your first few days of play, when you’re racking up new Tome unlocks every other minute or so) with info they don’t want. Personally, I love the Tome. It’s a bit eye-opening to see that there will be three factions in the playerbase: those that love it like I do, those that are ambivalent, and those that are irritated by the popups. I think once you strip away the Tome and lore and flavor text and fluff, you end up with more of the system than the game — you strip away the soul, in other words.
But that’s how some folk want to play, and along those lines, I don’t think it’d hurt Mythic to put in an option to disable the Tome popups, as long as the Tome kept doing its thing anyway. Make them happy, fine. I’ll still pity them, however.
Lots of folk, including half of the blogroll over to the right there (it seems), have been recording and uploading gameplay videos this week. They’re popular, particularly with the “We can’t play yet!” crowd. That’s understandable — it chafes you can’t play yet, or you don’t have the time to explore everything, and watching videos becomes an addicting little pastime.
Personally, I feel they spoil the game, especially pre-launch. Ever since starting to write about WAR, I’ve dug into all sorts of articles, interviews and so on… but I’ve never been too attracted to gameplay videos. Watching clips of someone else playing a game is weird, like watching movies of other people driving before you get your license. It’s not the same thing, and it steals away a bit of that newness, that first time experience doing something. You may want to be spoiled, and that’s your choice, but if you come back a month or so from now feeling like WAR is a little… less… than you’d anticipated, and you don’t know fully why, perhaps it’s because you’re playing something you saw on TV once.
I’m not bashing my fellow bloggers/amateur filmmakers — they’ve put in a lot of thankless time doing these videos for the community, and for some, they’re very much of a godsend. I just want to advise restraint as well… I think there is such a thing as too much information, especially when it’s concerning something you’re anticipating.
That’s all that’s bubbling through my head tonight. Time to log on and test out the Magus a bit more!