Another week, another cruel visit to the supposed innocent. Today, the Imperial Inquisition knocked at the door of Mithan, the sinful soul who wrangles the madness at the VN Warhammer Forums as lead admin.
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.
MITHAN: My “online name” is Mithan and I have gone by that name for almost a decade online. I’ve been playing online games since as far back as 1995, when I got involved in playing Quake online. Being an Ultima fan, I hopped on the Ultima Online bandwagon when that was originally announced and I started posting on the original “UO Vault” at that time too (back in 1996 or so). I was involved in the UO Beta and then played it when it was released for a while, when I switched over to Quake 2 online in 98. Since then, I have played almost every MMO that has been released, from Everquest to DAoC to Asheron’s Call 1 and 2 to Planetside to World of Warcraft to Star Wars Galaxies to Anarchy Online to whatever else. Obviously, many of those games I played for a few months and dumped, but some of them, mainly Asheron’s Call 1, 2 and World of Warcraft, I have played for years on end and been involved in the Communities.
During most of that time, I have been involved in various websites or other projects. Back in 1999, I got a group of people together and we developed the Prisoner’s of War Mod for Quake 3. I was the Project Manager in charge of making sure everybody did what they had to do, plus I designed some levels. When we released it, we released with about 18 Maps and it was ranked in the top 10 Quake 3 Mods for about 9 months. After that was finished in 1999, I pretty much played Asheron’s Call 1 for a few years straight, during which (July of 2001) I took up a Moderating Position on the Thistledown Server Board.
In 2003, I started up http://www.AC2HQ.com as my own website because IGN was too slow to get one done on the Vault, and it quickly became the #1 AC2 fan site on the net. It was a hell of a project covering pretty much everything there was to cover in AC2, however I got bored of the website and I sold the website to IGN, after which (June of 2003), I was offered a Manager Position on the boards (basically a promotion from my existing Moderator position) and I became the Lead Board Administrator a couple months later, where I have remained since.
The first few years of the Admin Position on the VN Boards were hectic and required a lot of on the job learning, generally sucking up on average 40 hours a week, if not more and it was really stressful for a while (getting screamed at by 50 people daily always sucks). However along with some good people, I managed to revamp some processes that were broken and today we run a lot more efficiently and consistantly. Having been able to delegate a lot of my old responsabilities to people I trust and know can do the job, has also meant I can relax.
I’ve also had a few successful Guilds, such as my current WoW Guild called Keepers of the Vault, which had 250 people at its peak and is now at about 150 people. I recently resigned as Guild Master, but am still active in the Guild and will take it to Warhammer Online as a chapter of the guild when the game is released.
I’ve been involved in a few other websites as well, such as http://www.ve3d.com and I had a few of my own news sites in the past. That about sums it up without getting into too many details or covering too many other boring things, incase your already snoring.
WAAAGH!: What type of social play do you gravitate towards: soloing, participating in small guilds/small groups, or participating in large guilds/large raids?
MITHAN: I am very mixed in the types of gameplay I enjoy. Generally speaking, I love soloing because of the freedom it provides. If a game allows me to solo effectively, it means I can do whatever I want, when I want to do it, without being hampered by a group, or as I like to say it, stuck on a hillside waiting for little Johnny the Cleric to go pee. Nothing pisses me off more than people who waste my time, and since gaming is my main form of entertainment these days, I want to maximize my time, not waste it looking for groups or being part of a bad group. Likewise, the same is true in reverse because I like to alt-tab or go AFK many times in a 3 or 4 hour play session and I hate wasting my groups time.
However, groups do have a place for me as well. In World of Warcraft for example, I would do a nightly 5 Man Instance with guild friends of mine, and it was a lot of fun, primarily because I have played with these guys for years. We jump on Ventrillo, pick a 5 man to do and then go hard for an hour or two until we finish the instance and its fun.
I also enjoy doing PVP Raids, because they are generally less structured than PVE Raids. A PVP Raid usually means you can zerg some objective and have a blast doing it with your friends, but a PVE Raid usually requires a bunch of planning, perfect timing, very good play and everybody doing what they are supposed to do, and then you do it over and over and over and over and over again. I find that part boring, even if it is “fun” to be in a group of people. Of course, that is in respect to WoW, I am really hoping that Warhammer Online’s PVP Raiding is a lot more fun and more of a somewhat structured zerg or mob than some well oiled army.
Lastly, I LOVE huge guilds. As I said above, I usually go out soloing for whatever, but while I am out soloing, I love the fact that I am usually chatting with somebody in the guild. Sometimes we will get a party of 5 of us (while each person is out soloing) just to chat privately.
WAAAGH!: What motivated you to get involved with the WAR community and how did you go about doing it?
MITHAN: Being the Lead Admin for the Vault Network Boards, I have to get involved by default, since it is my job to make sure the boards get set up properly, we have the proper rules in place and to make sure it is properly staffed and moderated. Now some of that stuff I delegate, but I still need to over see it and make sure it gets done to my expectations and meets up with IGN’s overall goals. Right now, we are trying hard to make our Warhammer Online boards friendly to new and old alike, while still trying to keep the relatively free speaking atmosphere that the Vault Forums are known for, and that can be one hell of a challenge. I am hoping we can have a fairly vibrant Server Board system for the game, as we did for DAoC and Asheron’s Call, but we want to keep our main boards a little on the friendlier side than they may of been for Warhammer. Anyways, thats part of my job and part of my “inolvement” in the Warhammer Community.
Of course, the boards were only part of the reason. While I have never played the table top game, I have played most of the PC Games that are set in the Warhammer universe (and 40k universe) so that had me interested.
Lastly, learning more and more about the game, seeing the screenshots, reading the previews and yes, being in beta, etc, etc has increased my interest in the game, and since my interest is fairly high, it makes me want to do a little more. For instance, I am now going to do a Warhammer Online Chapter for my Keeper’s Of The Vault WoW Guild, as there are about 20-30 or so people in the guild currently who are thinking about checking out or moving to WAR and want to play with their friends and family, plus I have a lot of other friends who want to play with my own circle of friends.
I’ve also promised the Warhammer Vault Managers that I will try and do some guides or features, which I used to be “known for” in some circles a long time ago. A lot of this of course depends on available time, but overall, I like playing MMO’s and I like to do things that help people who are playing them, which is why I enjoy online forums, moderating and writing guides and such.
WAAAGH!: What are some of the more notable trends you’ve observed in the WAR community since you’ve been active in it?
MITHAN: Due to the way I see the Community, most of the “trends” I observe tend to revolve around moderation.
Generally speaking, most MMO’s start out with Fans of the game having the most interest, and being the only people involved in the Community, and then as it gets nearer to release, other people start to join in and before you know it, the raging masses come in with all their different opinions and the Community radically changes from what it was before. You get the Fan Boys who love everything about the game, to the point of ignoring problems with the game. You get the Haters who hate everything and bitch and whine about everything instead of just doing everybody a favor and leaving to go play a game they do like. You get the guys who are in between, pop into a forum, ask a few questions and then disappear untilt he game comes out. Basically, you get all sorts of people who come into the community at different points, as the buzz and hype builds.
Having seen that, I see two major trends:
1. The buzz has STAYED good. People are positive. Haters are only bitching and whining about little things that will probably get fixed (graphics for example). Mark Jacobs delayed the game 6 months and we didn’t see a mass revolt or deluge of “the sky is falling” threads. Hell, even the underground “NDA leak” buzz is good. The point is, the trend with Warhammer Online is of growing positiveness (if that is a word) and excitement and usually at this point, if the game was going to suck, people start to sense that and the flames start flying and negativity sucks everything down. The last time I saw that happen was for Vanguard, when 4 months before the game came out, negativity was on the rise and interest was on the decline.
2. Growing Interest. The game is gaining a lot of interest as it progresses. We are seeing a lot of new posters come to the boards to get involved in the discussions and that is a good thing for Warhammer Online. Even when playing WoW, I see people in Alterac Valley saying things like “God I cant wait until Warhammer Online comes out and I don’t have to play with you retards anymore!”.
I think there is a growing base of excitement for Warhammer. Everybody wants it to succeed, especially the WoW crowd that is looking for a new fix to move from.
The negative side of this though is that you have higher expectations to meet, which means the game needs to be more polished or you blow your expectations. Hopefully that 6 month delay accomplishes that.
WAAAGH!: Did you play Dark Age of Camelot (or do you still), and what did you like/hate about it?
MITHAN: I played DAoC in its beta and for about 2 months at release. I hated the game.
It felt like Everquest (which I also hated). Basically, I was playing a Warrior/Fighter class to about level 20 or so (I forget as I played it at release). I quit because of the forced group leveling they had in the game at the time, which I found to be rediculous. Basically, I refuse to play a MMO when they designer forces me to sit on a hill with a full group and pull Tigers for hours on end in order to level up. Dropping a hammer on my feet is more fun. That totally killed it for me and it was a bore.
I don’t know if the game is like that now (I hear it isn’t) and maybe I was just playing it wrong, but you know what? It doesn’t matter because that is the experience I had, it sucked and I quit because of it.
However, I have heard awesome things about the Realm vs Realm aspect of the game and sometimes I wish I had stuck it out long enough to get involved in that aspect of the game but it lost me way before that.
WAAAGH!: What PvP experience do you have, and what are your general feelings on it?
I wouldn’t say I have a tonne of PVP experience in MMO’s, but I have a tonne of PVP experience in online games in general. On the MMO side, I was very into PVP in Ultima Online when that game first came out and I loved the total free for all that PVP brought to the table because it added a certain dread and tension to the game that no other game has duplicated for me since. I mean, what other game had it so you could be killed and have all your gear looted off of you? Exactly, none. With the exception of WoW, I have generally stuck to PVE for all the MMO’s I have played. In WoW, I’ve done a few hundred hours of Battlegrounds, but the problem with WoW is that it is too gear dependent and it gets boring fast, since your grinding the same areas over and over and over again, and it lacks true objectives and win conditions.
Now, as far as other online games, I don’t know if you would consider Planetside, Battlefield, Unreal, Team Fortress, Quake, Call of Duty, etc, etc as PVP, but I have probably logged thousands of hours into those types of online pvp games.
Overall, I enjoy PVP, provided it is done right and competitive. However one trend that has happened with most MMO’s is that there are really no consequences to losing anymore, and that takes a little out of it.
WAAAGH!: What faction (order/chaos) do you plan siding with when the game releases, and why?
Chaos, because my brother is forcing me too ;) Actually, he is only part of the reason. After being on the “good” side for almost every MMO to date, we want to do something different so we will be taking on the Chaos side this time.
WAAAGH!: What class(es) currently appeal to you the most, and are they similar or different to classes you typically play in other MMOs?
I always play melee classes in MMO’s, either as a high DPS or Tank class. I just love the in your face combat you get from being a melee.
For Warhammer I am going to probably play (in order of most likely to least) a Witch Elf, Marauder or a Chopper. Since I find the Orc to be repungent, I probably will stick with the Witch Elf, that way I can stare at a nice elf ass all the time. Not that elves turn me on or anything.
WAAAGH!: What features of WAR have you the most excited to experience?
The Realm vs Realm Combat. On paper, it sounds fantastic. On video, it looks fantastic. In beta, it is covered by NDA!
Seriously, this part of the game is what I am the most excited about. I love WoW, but where WoW breaks down for me is in Blizzards push for PVE Raids, which bore the hell out of me. I know that RvR Raids are something that will appeal to me a hell of a lot more, in both excitement, strategy and everything else I get out of a MMO.
The other aspects of Warhammer that excite me are the simple fact that it doesn’t look (to me at least) that Mythic is screwing with ideas and gameplay mechanics that work, just to be different. I know that sounds weird, but too many MMO’s these days try to be drastically different from other MMO’s and only result in coming out with broken mechanics that totally suck. Warhammer has enough new ideas that are evolved from older ideas, tied to an overall PVP Focus, that I am excited for it.
WAAAGH!: Did you apply for the beta, did you get into the beta, and have you pre-ordered the CE?
MITHAN: I applied for the beta, got in the beta, and I have the CE on pre-order.
WAAAGH!: What concerns do you have for WAR’s gameplay and future?
I have many concerns, some of which fall into the trivial, some of which are addressed and some of which are pure speculation, but here they are:
a) I was worried about the game being released early, but that has been addressed with the delay.
b) Going off of the screenshots, I think the graphics still need to be polished and I am implying things like shader effects, texture resolution and lighting effects that are clearly visible in sceenshots. However, some of the latest screenshots seem to be addressing that aspect of the game, so hopefully they are improved over the next 6 months.
c) I am always worried about class balance in these games, just because most MMO Developers seem to over compensate when adding buffs or nerfs.
d) I worry about this game coming out directly across from Return Of the Lich King for WoW, though I do think any lost sales will eventually be realized as people get tired of Lich King.
e) I worry this game may turn into a WoW/EQ style raiding game where groups are required to have 40 different UI-Mods installed, be on Ventrilo and use pinpoint accuracy and tactics to kill stuff.
Overall though, I don’t worry about things that much. I prefer to wait to see what the release looks like and then go from there. Worrying in advance is pointless.
WAAAGH!: What will you be doing with your gaming time between now and WAR’s release?
I am currently playing WoW again, so that uses up some of my time. I also got into the WAR Beta, and have been offering some feedback on the beta, but I don’t want to over play the beta because it will kill the full release for me. I will probably pick up Age of Conan in May and dabble a bit with that in the summer, but overall, I tend to not play much in the summer time unless the weather is bad. On top of the MMO’s, I will play the odd console title here and there (GTA4, MGS4, etc).
And as usual, I will be keeping an eye on the Warhammer Vault Forums ;)