Archive for November, 2008

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Poll: Merge or Remain?

November 30, 2008
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Oh My RvR!

November 30, 2008

I know I’m pretty late to the party with the Open RvR announcements that Mark made last week — blame a great week away from it all in the sunny lands of Washington D.C. (lookit me, I’m palling around with Lincoln!) — but I’m back, and it’s time to tackle the leftovers of this news story.

As I said previous, Mythic’s newly stated priority on oRvR signifies a big shift in the game’s focus, putting a bulk of their chips into the hat they think will bring them the most fame, glory and subscriber numbers.  Time will tell on this — right now, my oRvR experience has been limited to joining roving bands of renown seekers who bounce from Keep to BO to BO to Keep, taking any that are undefended and avoiding actual conflict with enemy players.  That’s Boring and Pointless in my book, and I’ve shied away from oRvR until something changes.  Perhaps this will be the lure back into the RvR lakes of legend.

RvR Influence System – We’re getting this with 1.1, and while there are no specifics to it past a comparison to the PQ Influence system (so let’s assume an INF bar and tiered rewards), it does give us a measurable goal to shoot for while we dither around in PvP combat.  I’m interested in just how many tiers there will be, how many rewards, will the rewards rotate, will you max out a bar and be done with the tier, etc.  Lots of questions, but a really good addition.

Increased oRvR Visibility and Traveling – This is a catch-all for a number of features to get players aware of the oRvR conflict and get them there pronto: a second bind point, campaign HUD, and tier-wide messaging.  None of this is “sexy”, per se, but necessary — kind of more bricks and mortar to the foundation of the RvR program.  My only concern: does more increased travel equal an increasingly devalued sense of the world’s scope?  We’re already bouncing around the place with binds and scenarios and near-instant flight-points between zones — will we forever lose the sense of the world of Warhammer as an actual place with size versus a series of instanced maps?

RvR Incentives – Past the influence system, there will be a number of other goodies.  Daily RvR quests – definitely.  People like to be rewarded for what they’re doing already, kind of a two birds with one stone thing.  Keep Quests have me wondering if they’re going to go beyond “today’s quest is to take [named] Keep” that everyone will be gunning for — are they going to introduce scripted or variable elements to keep taking?

Keep Ownership Incentives – This is a no-brainer from how often we’ve been hearing about it — people need incentive to not only take keeps, but try to hold and defend them.  Giving guilds goodies… that’s a very positive thing.

Fame System – Another item that, y’know, sounds good, but I need more details or hands-on experience before making any sort of judgment.  But it does sound like Mythic’s going to be expanding the amount of player-set goals they can shoot for, and that might make folks actively look for combat instead of shy away from it.

This quote is the most catching, however:

It’s really as simple as this, oRvR should be a major focus for leveling, item gain, etc. in WAR. Some of the systems are already in place and in Tier 4, oRvR is alive and well. On other Tiers, however, oRvR is not being engaged in as often as we had hoped when we launched WAR. Our goal is to ensure that oRvR is the place where players can level the fastest, get the best items and overall, have a great time while doing it. It is supposed to be riskier, more challenging but ultimately, more rewarding than any other place within WAR.

People love to quote Mark Jacobs because he likes to say huge and sweeping things like this, that may or may not come back to bite him, or may or may not be a huge success.  This is Mythic drawing a line in the sand and saying, “PQs?  PvE Quests?  Scenarios?  All well and good, but oRvR is where you should be playing.  It’s the place that’ll be the most rewarding in all ways, and it’s where we want to funnel the bulk of our player base into.”  Perhaps some gamers might balk at this, viewing it as a deliberate limiting of their game time options (while they can do whatever they like in a game, players invariably head toward the most rewarding experience for the least effort/time involved).  But this is the most dynamic, variable element of WAR — player-versus-player combat — and I can’t fault them for wanting this to be the crown jewel that sparkles more than the rest.

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GameSpy Continues The Love

November 29, 2008

gamespy(I’m sure it’s not because this feature was sponsored by Warhammer Online or anything… right!)

I just thought this was a cool excerpt from GameSpy’s Holiday Buyer’s Guide:

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

World of Warcraft finally has some decent competition. We here at GameSpy have steadily played quite a bit of WoW since it came out in 2004, but Warhammer Online finally stole away some of our thralldom. It’s easy to see why. Warhammer borrows liberally from the undisputed market leader, but advances many ideas a few steps further. Foremost amongst these is PvP. In Warhammer, it’s the way you’re meant to play, and the execution is brilliant.

I played WoW for four years, and I feel that the majority of the time I spent was essentially a preamble to PvP. Warhammer Online helped me to realize this by putting this crucial aspect of the game at its front and center. As a PvP gamer, I previously had to quest, level, and partake of every other aspect of the “grind” in order to graduate into the experience I was after to begin with. If you’re anything like me, then WAR is probably for you. — Miguel

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Return to the Promised Land

November 26, 2008

Because a lot of fret and worry has been spilled over the number of WAR players who (supposedly) returned to WoW for the expansion pack — including, it seems, the formerly WAR-only Casualties of WAR guild/blogger social network — I’ve tried to stay aware of what’s been going on over there in Blizzardtown. As far as I can tell, a majority of people are giving the following two reports:

  1. Wrath of the Lich King is very well-done, interesting, pretty and caters well to the casual player.
  2. And it’s very, very quick.

“Quick” not as in “someone hit level 80 within a day of launch”, which is the sort of insane goal that’s expected from hardcore geeks, but “quick” as in “the bulk of the pre-launch level 70s are now, or shortly hereafter will be, level 80.” The Burning Crusade wasn’t anywhere near this speedy with its population ascent — trust me, I was there.  It remains to be seen how much of the new end game Blizzard’s rolled out will retain the current crop of players, but this lightning-fast chow down of the new content gives me a gut feeling that after another month or two, gamers are going to get restless once more. Including and especially the ones who returned from WoW from WAR.

I mention this because this is a narrow time window that may be a blessing in disguise for Mythic. They have a few months of being able to blame Wrath of the Lich King for subscriber drops before the onus falls fully on them — and they have a few months before the famous game-hopping crowd could be searching once more, possibly looking to give WAR a second chance.

If WAR beefs up, shores up its weaknesses, incorporates the new tank classes, gets the ball rolling on serious oRvR fun, improves game performance, and really ups their PR — EA should be throwing a lot more muscle behind this property than I’ve witnessed — then, sure, it could be a second, “soft” launch of WAR, one to fully convince players that the title’s on the way up in the world, and is so much more worth playing now than ever before.

Of course, that’s a lot of “if’s”, including the presumption that WoW-WAR gamers will get bored with Lich King in that time period. In any case, the public profile of Lich King should die down enough to let the other MMOs regain their voice and slice of the journalistic pie — and that might just be the right time to begin trumpeting WAR anew.

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Shh… my wife’s asleep!

November 25, 2008

So I guess it’s okay to log onto the internet during vacation, y’know, just this once.  See what e-mail I’ve gotten (I need to enlarge my spleen why?).  Check up on the news (I think there was a presidential election or something, either Pinky or the Brain won).  Google Reader?  Hmm… 675 new posts…

/glance at wife, who is currently hogging all seven pillows in our hotel room.  Yeah, I guess I have time.

Read read read scan scan scan.

Reminded once again that Book of Grudges has hung up its hat, and I feel tremendously sad.  Happy, indeed, for what they gave to the community and that the reason they’re leaving is to play more WAR, not to abandon it.  If you haven’t paid your respects yet, now’s a good a time as any.  I remember when they started blogging in these 5-times-a-day microposts, and since developed into a WAR blog powerhouse.

Read read read your blog, read it down the stream…

Guess there’s nothing else major to… oh, wait, apparently contribution is a total sham.  And Santa Claus is actually your mom and dad.  And the tooth fairy is your creepy Uncle Ernie.  If this is false, Mythic needs NEEDS to prove so and reassure us with healthy numbers that our contribution is anything but a random number generator.  If it’s true, well, Mythic needs NEEDS to own up to the fact and fix it, ASAP.  Like, before 1.06.  If they stay silent, they’ve just lost a huge chunk of respect from their customers.  I’ll check back in on this when I return home.

Oh, and I guess there was a little matter of State of the Game II: The Quickening, which everyone’s already dissected, and it’s a little too late in the day for me to start doing so myself.

However.

If I may.

Since this is a pretty bold proclamation that Mythic’s evaluated their strengths and weaknesses and is throwing the bulk of their chips into Open RvR as their primary priority, then I will quietly mourn the malnourished PvE content and ask for the following as PvE consolation prizes:

One: PQs are still a great idea — you just need to make them more playable once more.  Make all of them as simple to max out the INF bar as it was in the first chapter (c’mon, the influence loot isn’t that awesome anyway).  Give people incentive to “catch them all!” by rewarding players who complete all of the stages of all of the PQs in their pairing, and then all of the PQs in all three pairings.  And fix contribution, if it indeed be borked.

Two: Reduce mob strength, hit points and XP earned from killing them — and vastly increase their numbers.  Populate your world and make me feel like a hero by wading through dozens of mobs, hacking through them left and right, without wasting time pulling them one by one, slowly watching a HP bar go down.

Three: Speed up leveling.  Seriously.  I know some people claim that WAR is silly fast to level, but that’s not my experience, and I don’t see a lot of that around me, either.  Leveling in beta was fun because it was quick and it encouraged you to try out all sorts of alts.  As it stands, I don’t want to make an alt in WAR, ever, because of the hefty time commitment it takes to getting one to 40.  Ranking up to 40 should be quick — get me in the end game!  Encourage me to try out one of the other many careers you’ve designed!

Four: Unveil at least the majority of the Tome unlocks so that I can be better informed as to fun goals I want to set and achieve in PvE.  Make the Tome work more for me, not against me.

Five: Give me a good reason — give me lots of good reasons — why I should want to bind in a capital city and actually use it on a daily basis, instead as a tourist attraction.

Six: Evaluate and uptweak crafting in a big way.  Realize that in trying to protect your game’s economy from gold sellers you’ve become an overprotective parent who never lets their kid have any fun at all.  Give us ways to attain or make stuff worth buying and selling on the AH.

And although this isn’t a PvE thing so much as a game-wide thing, I have to agree with Heartless here — for the love of all that is holy, your number one priority should be fixing the hitching, lag, stuttering and generally poor graphical performance of massive combat.  For some reason, Reikland factory has been a near-slideshow for me, which apparently hits some players and not others (it could be a NVidia card problem, I dunno).  My card and computer can handle maxed-out settings on Fallout 3 with no problem.  I shouldn’t have to learn to live with this, and we should be hearing more about what Mythic’s doing to fix these severe issues instead of vague “game client running more smoothly” nonsense that we get in patch notes.

But, yeah, there’s some good stuff to be excited about in this new state of the game, and I’m cool with Mythic choosing oRvR to be their primary game focus.  It’s what can really set them apart (already does, to some extent) and provide unlimited end game combat that has insane variety and replayability.  This news isn’t going anywhere, so when I get back we’ll have a fireside chat or something and we’ll see what this will do to WAR at large.

Until then, I need to get to bed.  I have to fight to get a pillow back, and that’s a scenario that I’m already behind in.

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Behave Yourselves

November 22, 2008

I’m taking the next week off blogging, work, school and the internet to take my wife on a much-deserved vacation away from it all.  Fret not — I shall return, more hearty and hale for the undertaking.

In the meanwhile, avail yourselves of all of the Warhammer Online links on the right-hand side there — there are literally tons, metric tons of great WAR blogs, and I expect you to get addicted to the huge variety of voice and opinion out there.

Take care, keep up the good fight, and until a week from now, may you find your own very special sand castle.

sand-castle

And then claim it!

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Any Publicity is Good Publicity, Right? Right?

November 22, 2008

I thought I was the only one who found the recent Warhammer Vault article “Kid kills family because he is unable to dye cloak, Warhammer to blame” in poor taste, until I read a pretty harsh condemnation of that title on Ark’s Ark.

It’s an arresting title because it sounds like an actual news item, one of those ridiculously overused “games kill people” news items that the media loves to latch onto.  However, it’s just a rant about the author’s frustration with the limitations of the dye system — nobody was killed or anything.

Ark makes a very valid point — humorous intent or no, feeds everywhere will rebroadcast that title and some people won’t read past those words before passing along this information as actual fact.  The internet a breeding ground of rumors small and big, and if a lie gets told often enough it eventually is accepted as truth.

This may very well be nothing, a blip before readers move on.  But the danger of extremely bad PR for Warhammer Online is present, especially if a larger media outlet picks up on the title and runs with it without fact-checking anything.  Recently, World of Warcraft’s expansion launch received some ugly PR when a kid in Netherlands collapsed while playing a marathon session — a small blip in a sea of millions of players, but this is the sort of thing that grabs headlines.

The Vault may be backing up this article title as it wonts, but I would hope that common sense would reign over stupidity in this case.  It’s a bad title, it could give the game unnecessarily bad PR, and they should change it.