Friday, 29 January 2010

Mauraders gimped? That would be a no then...

Thanks to Moonthief for not adding and for recording this video of Biggsie getting caught up in a 4v1.

Oh if you get offended by rude words, turn the sound down.


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

How often should city sieges take place?

It’s a question that doesn’t have a definitive answer. I shall now demonstrate this badly through the medium of dubious generalisations and a load of stereotypical bollocks.

Ipwn Orderz wants his sovereign armour and all those lovely orange pixels. It will demonstrate how uber and superior he is. And damn you all, he wants it now, he deserves it and he has put bloody master looter on to prove it... But just in case of problems, worry not, he has an alarm clock ready and waiting. In the meantime, he’s just spotted some Order carebear noob called Nailsinyourface, time to get facejumping and spamming /puke. I is win!
Ipwn is quite happy to have city sieges as regularly as possible. Mythic should get rid of that stupid lock out.

Aragun Alucard doesn’t really care about loot; in fact he’s got more than a slight whiff of the roleplayer about him. Ipwner thinks he smells of beards and sandals, though Aragun wonders how that cretin can smell anything over the stench of stale Lynx deodorant and baked beans. Aragun wants city sieges to be momentous occasions, something rare and unusual that provides epic tales of in-game heroics and last stands. Aragun thinks city sieges once a month sounds about right, ideally served with mead.

Nailsinyourface likes to fight players and sometimes he might visit a dungeon. He’s not that fussed about loot, it’s handy to have, but he knows he’ll get it in time. He just wants to have a nice fight, a few smokes and perhaps a can of Stella Artois or four... Hell, maybe he could try out some halfhearted RPing for some escapism, he’ll just have to bind a button for walk/run toggle and say thee and thou a lot right? If Nailsinyourface is lucky it might even provide some peace from the trouble and strife and her incessant talking. And who in the blue hell is this facerolling twat jumping on my face?
As for city sieges? Well, the campaign is just something to provide some variety, so as long as they’re not every day or anything… Couple of times a week at most seems fair.

Whatever Mythic do (or don't), they’re going to get grief from someone.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Tomb of the Vulture Lord haunted?

It would seem so.

Yesterday whilst enjoying what started as a smooth run through the Tomb of the Vulture Lord, we got invaded 3 times in a row. Each invasion pretty much within seconds of the previous one ending. This would normally be fine, we'd get a scrap and some entertainment out of it, however the annoying thing was each time there was nobody actually invading the dungeon... Every invasion we searched the entire dungeon, but found nobody. Which meant because the timer insists on running for the entire 30mins each invasion (despite there being nobody in there), we had an hour and half wasted...

Then near the end of the third invasion our Sorcerer disconnected and when he logged back in he was inbetween the door outside the instance and the portal. Where he found an AFK Runepriest... Coincidence?
Perhaps, but I wonder was this guy invading our instance solo, then immediately leaving and sitting AFK waiting and hoping we wipe on a boss? Coming back after 30 minutes to repeat it over and over? Would the game mail the loot if we had wiped with him outside the instance? I don't know, but it was certainly strange to be invaded like clockwork 3 times in a row, by nobody... Something wasn't right whatever.


Saturday, 23 January 2010

Lair of the MissedOpportunityThatCanEasilyBeSortedOut Beastie

Tonight I logged in to WAR and shock bloody horror, omfg I can’t believe it, there was…. A city siege!
/sarcasm off

It was the Inevitable City under siege, which isn’t exactly tempting to take part in anymore. Most people will have gathered full Invader long ago, and we’ve done the same city fight many, maaaaaaany times before, so it’s not providing much in the way of entertainment or pixel rewards. Also having arrived after the start, it means I could either join a warband already inside, queue hoping to get into a decent competitive instance (and then of course run out of time), or join solo and instantly get a spot in one of the instances everyone is quitting because of uber Order bombgroups/whatever maiming everyone. Plus, thanks to the Underdog system you’re actually better off NOT defending your city, as there’s no downside to it being captured and you’ll actually get a benefit in the form of underdog points, which then make it easier for people to go farm their PvE Sovereign at stupid o’clock in the morning. Screw everything to do with this tbh. As you can probably tell, I’m not bothering with cities at the moment.

Aaaaaanyways, I was relieved and slightly bemused to discover a couple of guild groups doing a tour of the game’s Lairs. It’s something we’ve not done in a looooooooong time, like 8 months or something… I like the basic concept of WAR’s Lairs, I really, really do, but the implementation is flawed. The reason people only visit them once in a blue moon is that other than to get tome unlocks or simply have a butchers, there’s absolutely no reason to do any Lairs outside Land of the Dead. The loot drops are utter crap and the fights aren’t exactly challenging. It’s a real shame because many of the Lairs are really well designed graphically, with things like hidden caves, demonic prisons and Super Mario style jumping puzzles.

The frustrating thing is it wouldn’t take much for Lairs to be much more desirable places to visit. Mythic could make the loot actually relevant, rather than mere vendor trash, which would help but surely it wouldn’t be hard to spice them up with rewards that have some character. Special Awesome looking trophies, posh cloaks, funky titles and decent pocket items.

Before WAR's launch when hearing about the "Lairs", I had images of loads of classic Onyxia style fights. Awesome PvE moments that would complement the RvR. That was my favourite thing about WoW, the Onyxia instance. I bloody loved the whole concept of Onyxia's Lair, a dark and smoky cavern with just 2 or 3 trash pulls and then a huuuuuuge dragon to fight. Unfortunately what we got in WAR just doesn’t come close and now would be almost impossible to attain, but perhaps with a little tinkering WAR’s Lairs could still be something we might actually do more than, well… more than once a sodding year.

Friday, 22 January 2010

STO - final thoughts from the beta

Man… this game is rough around the edges. The latest patch has smoothed things out a lot, but there’s still this kind of general rough feeling, particularly around the instancing. Some times its very straight forward, others it’s just sodding cranky. A friend and I had an absolutely mare getting into the same instanced mission the other day, even when we were grouped, it was just not quite working. Though when we did get in, it was great fun double-teaming in our spaceships.
After level 10 the missions have got better (including the ground combat) and I’ve enjoyed the storylines. It’s the same old MMO style, kill this, collect that, talk to him, etc, but it’s dressed up in a decent fashion and I’ve not found it too grindy. I’m finding it quite relaxing and enjoyable as a PvE game, there’s more to it than meets the eye, at least once you get a bit further in anyway. I particularly like the way you develop not only your character, but also your bridge officers and ship/s.
I’ve not done much PvP, but what I did felt very meh. If you’re looking for a PvP game, move along, nothing to see here… I say that for now anyway, this might change as new races are added and developed. Though I have to say I find Cryptic’s vagueness about the other playable races very odd. They’ll add content if players want it, apparently. Well duh... just add it.
Over all I still quite like the game, certainly enough to buy it and give it a whirl for a month or two. It just has a certain charm, feels quite relaxed, it looks great and, to me at least, it does feel like Star Trek. Having said all that, I still don’t see it as an MMO. I know technically it is, but it just doesn’t feel like one. Some friends summed it up very well the other day:
“It’s like playing a single player game, but where your mates can play with you.”
“Reminds me of multiplayer Neverwinter Nights.”
I think this non-MMO feeling is partly down to the gameplay, but also heavily related to the god-awful chat sytem Cryptic insist on and the over reliance on instancing. Yet as I’ll mainly be playing the game solo, I quite simply don’t care. Being an unsociable bastard I will probably only talk to friends on my WAR guild’s ventrilo anyway.
Hmmm I don’t think I’ve said anything particularly different to my previous comments on STO, in fact the extra time on the beta has just consolidated my first impressions. So in final summary: STO is a pleasant secondary soloing MMO, but don’t expect it to take over from your WAR, WoW, etc. Don’t set your expectations too high and you’ll have fun.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

When testing on a live server, keep your disinfectant handy.

With the vast majority of fixes or changes to software it would be bloody mental to test them on a live server. The potential to crash your live system, destroy data, etc, is very real. At work right now I’m involved in a major software upgrade and there’s not a thing we’re going to allow on live that hasn’t been fully explored and rigorously tested. However not everything is like that. MMOs are strange beasts and allow their users a lot of personal freedom. As an MMO gamer you’re not always obliged to follow the rules and your personal taste will define how you play. As such there are some things you just can’t fully explore in a test server environment, because you can’t predict with 100% accuracy how the live gaming population will react and Public Test Servers do not in any way reflect the reality of a live server. The upcoming campaign changes in WAR’s 1.3.4 patch are a prime example of this problem.
When an under siege city is captured and the king is attackable, the campaign will in future “unlock” and the openRvR zones become available again. This means the defending faction could attempt a counter attack, or the attackers could even try to consolidate their position and push once more towards the already under siege city.
Mythic are perfectly able to test the mechanics of this change on their internal test servers. They can make sure when that city locks, the campaign then unlocks and everything works correctly. The problem is they can’t discover on a test server, be it public or internal, what us players will decide to do when this change hits live. Just like any of us thinking about this change, Mythic can take an educated guess at how we’ll react, but they can’t know for sure.
If Inevitable City is captured:
Will all Destruction stay in to defend?
Would some or ALL of the Destruction defenders counter attack?
Will Order all push for the King, or will some go back out and push the oRvR zones instead?
If one faction starts pushing the oRvR zones, will the other faction react or not?
There are all kinds of possibilities and combinations of the above, some of which could lead to people choosing to do the much frowned upon RvE (RvE=Realm vs Environment, hitting mobs to progress the Realm vs Realm campaign) and with it bring a decrease in actual player fighting, where as other situations would supply an increase in players fighting in oRvR. There’s only one way to find out what we will get and that’s to put it on a live server, sit back and watch the drama unfold.
I’m all for this kind of experimenting; it mixes things up and could lead to massive improvements. There is however a “but” of J-LO proportions, so here goes… BUT! If things don’t work out well, they must be dealt with quickly. Sticking rigidly to a patch timeline and leaving us with a shit situation for a month or two is unacceptable. It will drive existing players away and turn new players off. Mythic need to communicate regularly, keeping us informed and react promptly to problems. This time Mythic got away with the mess that removing forts put us in, more by luck than judgement to be honest. If the next batch of changes ruin the campaign further and it’s not remedied quickly, then it will fester like a batch of Nurgle’s finest pox.
As ever with WAR, it’s a delicate time. Many of us are very positive about the upcoming experiment on our live servers, but many others are decrying the removal of content (even if those scenarios are crap) and the potential for RvE. I know this change is the first stage of a range of planned campaign changes, it’s preparation for the following patch, but please Mythic… remember those fortresses. Removing the Fortresses and not replacing them was proven to be a poor decision, which was only emphasised by the lack of information on their future and the MONTHS of city ping pong we’ve had to put up with since, with no sign or word of a solution.
Mythic, please don’t make the same mistake twice. Keep talking, keep us feeling involved and if something goes smelly, get the disinfectant quick this time. Nurgle’s rot is a bugger to shift once it sets in.
Also as an aside and while I’ve got you here, this patch preview has prompted a lot of community grumbling about a lack of proper new content. Don’t give the maintenance mode crew any more ammunition please, you might want to announce something solid sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

New weapon currency is not just from scenarios

Thanks to a mysterious vistior leaving a comment on my last post, I've been made aware that Mythic have replied with a bit more info in yesterydays 1.3.4 post. Mythic post can be found here, which says:

Some of the Scenario currency will be obtainable for characters who are Rank 40 during Keep capture/defense as well as successfully winning both Stage 1 & 2 within a city's Contested state. While the bulk of it will be obtained within Scenario play, you are also gaining it for participating in certan ORvR activities.

Please keep in mind that this design is expansive and malleable. Due to Scenarios introducing the "new shiny" - we fully expect to see a drop in ORvR participation at first but then balance itself out. The rewards (ones being released with this patch as well as planned rewards in the future) have been carefully crafted to complement, not overshadow, those obtainable in ORvR.

As Andy has mentioned - he has brought up the premade situation to us on a number of occassions. While we are investigating means to provide a more balanced play experience for everyone, it's not a situation with a simple solution. We definitely hear your complaints and are looking into it, however.

In regards to the feedback about the cities and campaign - we have a large scale plan for the cities we hope to get into the patch following v1.3.4. The adjustment being released with this patch is a dependency for this plan. It has never been our intent to reset the campaign after a city's Contested state, dust off our hands, and leave it at that. We're not prepared to go into the specifics regarding the details of the plan just quite yet, though.

And by the sounds of it big city changes in the following patch... Interesting times.

Back on the loot thing, if the idea generally is to have armour drop from oRvR and weapons from scenarios, that's no bad thing IMHO.

WAR 1.3.4 patch preview

Original post can be found here.

At this point the plan is to have 1.3.4 on PTS by the first week of February or (at the latest) early the second week of February. Patch notes, of course, will accompany the opening of Warpstone.
Not long to wait and with the following changes... I'm looking forward to it :)

We will be introducing an entire new line of weapons earned via RvR (this is the "feature players have been asking for"). These weapons will be purchasable via a vendor and will not be bought using medallions or crests, instead utilizing an entirely new currency system earned via Scenario gameplay from tiers 1-4. More information about these new items and how they're earned will be forthcoming in a Dev Diary with Developer Sean Bosshardt.
And from later in the thread:
The weapons will vary in quality, some being "much" better than LV weapons.
This sounds most excellent. New targets for people to aim for and something to further promote scenario play.

Speaking of Scenarios...
We are completely reworking the current structure of Scenarios by removing some of the less popular and streamlining the tiering of Scenarios. There will be more details upcoming in a Dev Diary from Content/RvR Lead Mike Wyatt next month.
OI! Thunder Valley! You heard the man, now bugger off.
Streamlining the tiering...? Presume this means level 40 only scenarios, but who knows.

Also reading further there was this confirmation on no PuG vs Premade changes:
To address premades vs PUGs:
We are not planning to make separate brackets for premades vs PUG's right now. We understand the concerns, however we have never denied that organized groups have an advantage over more disorganized, or PUG, groups.

And then we get onto the Campaign.
The last tidbit is a change to the way that the campaign functions. Starting with 1.3.4, once a Contested City flips into the Captured state (otherwise called "Stage 2") the Open RvR Campaign will now restart, leaving the realm sieging their enemies city with a tough decision: Stay in the city, possibly defeating your opponent's King, or retreat back to the open field to defend your realm?
Ooooh... I like this one. Will it slow down the constant city sieging? Maybe, but regardless it will mean that those of us bored of cities can do something else. It could actually make it worse with RvE madness exploding, but it's well worth a try out on live servers tbh, you just cant test this on PTS.

Bare in mind this is a 1.3.X patch. It's not a 1.4, or other such major patch. It's one of the little ones and not a serious content patch, but in theory it could be a really good one.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Ehhh? What's all this happy stuff about?

Of late there has been a distinct lack of WAR grumbling affecting my gaming time.  For someone who is now I guess classed as a long time WAR player this is a unique and novel experience. I don’t know if this phenomenon is limited to the circles I move in, since I can only guess what the ambiance is like in other guilds or on other servers, but at the moment Kill Frenzy is a rather contented place.
But why this ridiculous happiness in an allegedly “failed” game? Damn you Boots why?
1) Mythic have made huge improvements to the game. Particularly performance. I now run the game with fairly high settings and full spell effects on at all times. Be it small scale skirmishes or big battles, the games is now much more able to cope and runs pretty well. Yes there are still times when the lag kicks in badly, but the number of players it takes to do this is much higher than in the past. And to be honest, I can understand it lagging when 350 enemies attack a keep with 150 defenders. I’ve yet to see any MMO cope with that, other than EVE, but then EVE has the advantage of space and bugger all graphics and landscape to deal with.
Also in other areas Mythic have delivered a lot of good work. The game is feeling more polished and has developed its character with subtle little things here and there. Character balance still isn’t perfect (name a game where it is), but it’s probably the best it’s ever been and as a result we’re starting to see more of the “gimped” classes on the battlefield.
That said, AoE is still far too powerful and still needs toning down. Though it is at a point where it’s no longer the dominating factor in small scale fighting. AoE remains a serious issue in large scale fighting, since it hits that instant death critical mass of Wizards/Sorcs. A warband of 24 Bright Wizards would be unstoppable. :P However, since we do far more small scale fighting than zergy stuff, I think it’s a bit less noticeable for us a lot of the time.
2) The campaign is knackered. It swings back and forth from PvE farming Altdorf and the Inevitable City like a metronome out of its mind on Columbian marching powder. If metronomes had minds, and could snort class A drugs, and had a form of income to pay for the habit… uhm… random… aaaaanyway, the campaign has lost all meaning or value and is dissolving any care or realm pride. It is utterly ruined and needs serious changes. So why the hell am I listing it as one of the reasons why we’re happy?
Because we got to the point a while back where we quite simply don’t care about the campaign at all. Not even bloody vaguely. If you pay attention to it you will just get annoyed, so we don’t. We log on, we fight people, and we have fun. Sure, if people in our alliance that do care about the campaign need help, then we’ll help them straight away, that’s what alliances are for after all, but we don’t actually care about the campaign, just the fun and the fighting. If the campaign provides some fun, yay, bonus! But if the enemy kills our king, why care? It doesn’t mean anything; there is no real downside or any ramifications. It is utterly irrelevant. The sooner you stop caring, the sooner you enjoy your game time and just get on with smacking things in the face. A strange situation perhaps, but the fighting in WAR is really, really good... it's just that the framework around it is dodgy.
Of course this is not an ideal situation in the long term. Mythic really must fix the campaign. BOTH Altdorf and Inevitable City twice every day is insane. Hardly an epic campaign, more like some Unreal bloody Tournament map. For now though, ignore the campaign, focus on the fighting and enjoy. We certainly are ;)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Supporting the Blorcs

Saw this linked from Lokax's Mmmmm Gud blog and I have to agree, enough with the bloody ickle Blorcs.

Need more big WAAAGH!

Oh and while you're here, make sure you check out Werit's latest post. He's picked out a selection of WAR community gossip, including the news that 1.3.4 is due on the PTS next month (probably).

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Star Trek Online - thoughts from the open beta

First off, the big 2 questions for me after trying out a new MMO…

Q) Is this a game that could compete with WAR for my “main MMO” title?
A) Definitely not.

Q) Is it interesting enough to be a secondary MMO, something to dabble with in my spare non-WAR time?
A) Yes.

I've been intrigued by Star Trek Online for a while. I'm no Trekkie, but I don't mind watching the TV shows and films, plus it's just one of those classic shows that people around my age grew up with. So while I don't speak Klingon or any of that madness, like most people I do know what the game's universe should feel like. Which is one of the things you instantly notice with STO, the Star Trek atmosphere is spot on. The classic Star Trek visual style has translated to Cryptic’s cartoony style very well, but the thing that’s really got me is the sound effects and music, both of which are great. Cryptic have nailed the Star Trek feel and for some people this will no doubt make up for the game’s shortcomings.

Like any Cryptic game the character creation system is second to none, no shock there, but you can also customise your ships. Had it allowed people to make ships that didn't fit the ST canon, it would have been a recipe for disaster, but thankfully it works fine and whatever you create will look just right.

Unlike EVE, you actually do get to properly control your ship, which if you compare them as space themed MMORPGs is one big score for STO. But comparisons between the games are unfair. EVE is a brilliant, incredibly deep and bloody harsh sandbox, the spiritual successor to Ultima Online in many ways, where as STO is a much more accessible, heavily instanced, PvE Carebear MMORPG. Which I say not as a criticism, just as a fact, the two games are apples and oranges. It’s like comparing Ultima Online (pre-Trammel) and World of Warcraft. Comparisons are pointless.

STO's space combat is a lot of fun and has a bit more to it than you may think. I like the whole balancing act of managing your shields, the switching power levels and positioning your ship correctly. Hell, I just like the damn sound of phasers. It's a lot of fun, extremely atmospheric and enough to make me want to log in, for now.

Ground missions are not so hot. They're not exactly bad, just a little dull at times and suffer from feeling very clunky. Characters don't move very smoothly and coming from WAR (which runs very well now) it was like walking through treacle. Also gun based combat seriously shows off the limitations of the traditional MMO NPC's AI. It's not so bad in a sword and sorcery game when NPCs run at you blindly waving swords, but it looks stupid when they still do it with a laser gun... On the positive side, the landscapes look great and so far have been very varied in appearance. I really hope the variety continues throughout the game. I’ve heard that the ground missions get a lot better once you get to the first big promotion (which is also where you get your first major ship upgrade), however I’m not convinced. One cool thing is you can solo ground missions and instead of other players you can take your bridge crew. That is a quality move.

Another thing I really do like is the way the "quest" text is presented. It's just the right amount of info and for the first time EVER I have actually read everything. The storylines flow nicely as you switch back and forth between your ship and various away team missions, be they planetside or inside other spaceships.

Another Cryptic thing, which I still don't like, is all the instancing. It negatively affects a players feeling of immersion into the game world. Thankfully in STO the whole going to warp thing combined with the game's ambiance limits this as an annoyance. I don’t like it, but I can live with it.

Character and ship progression shows a great deal of potential. The concept of not only managing your character’s skills, but also your bridge officers, is very interesting. There also appears to be a wide range of equipment upgrades for both your characters and your ships. To be honest though it's too early to judge how it will pan out at higher levels, certainly there’s potential.

Like Champions Online it’s a game that looks interesting short term, but I’m not convinced about it long term. I suspect it’s going to be another Cryptic grind fest. Even so, I will be buying it. Despite many annoyances (some of which I’ve not mentioned to save wall of texting too far…) I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the storylines. So I am going to play it, but primarily as a single player game and probably only occasionally group up. At the end of the day it will cost the same as buying a new single player game and having almost finished Company of Heroes, I need a new single player game :P

Monday, 11 January 2010

2+4= no more WARpong

As we all know, WAR's campaign is totally FUBAR. Bouncing back and forth like a demented game of ping pong. It needs sorting out, but how?

How about adding the missing cities?

Here's the (not exactly new) idea...
I'm not sure if it would need it, but it might be wise to review how quickly zones can be locked. Perhaps slowing them down again... Anyway, when you do lock a racial pairing, you get the relevant city siege; so Empire/Chaos gives you Altdorf/IC. However it doesn't lock the other pairings anymore. You can still do their scenarios, push for zone locks and even start a siege on another pairing's cities at the same time.

Which in theory would mean players would have more choice both as individuals choosing how they play the game and strategically as a faction. As Destruction do you dare commit everyone to sieging Altdorf and leave the Orc and Dark Elf lands unprotected? Do Order get everyone on the defensive or could they counterstrike from the Elf lands? Add a proper downside to your king/s being killed and all of a sudden the multiple city campaign gets a bit tense...

Oh and it would also be something huge to announce, bring in major new content to relieve boredom, provide new PvE instance opportunities, different RvR sieges AND this is all using content Mythic had already started making anyway.

Potential you think?

Friday, 8 January 2010

Renown Rank means what exactly?

Bugger all really...

Often you’ll see people touting renown rank as evidence of how good or bad a player is, but that’s just total bollocks. The only definite thing that Renown Rank means is that a character has more renown points to spend on abilities. To a certain extent you could say it also shows that the character has done lot of PvP, but it does not demonstrate how that time relates to the characters /played times and as such bares no relation to how successful (or not) they were in PvP.

Sure you could compare a character’s /played to their renown rank to give an idea how quickly they progressed through the renown ranks. Certainly a low /played time and a high renown rank would seem to indicate the character has won a lot of scenarios and killed a lot of high renown players, but it’s not perfect and unfortunately it falls apart for high /played times because it can’t demonstrate what the character was actually doing during that /played time. If someone does a mixture of PvP and PvE, it could well be that they’re /played is high, with the time inflated by all that dungeon crawling, yet their renown rank is relatively low despite the fact they’re actually God’s gift to PvP gaming. Likewise for a low /played character with high renown rank, for a start they could have just leeched in a solid scenario group and renown gains today are massively increased from the first year or so of WAR.

So what else can renown rank be compared against to indicate player quality? Killing Blows, player death/kill ratio, damage totals? Meh, all of them can be picked apart. It just doesn’t work; there is no definitive relation between renown rank and the quality of the player. It’s just a number that goes up the more you play within a particular aspect of the game. Of the enemy characters that I know drop royal crests (and therefore are very high renown ranked), there are some I consider free renown, they’re just not that good. Where as there are other up and coming characters that have proven themselves to be really bloody dangerous.

In which case, how do you recognise someone as a good player?

It’s not because their names are listed on Mythic/GOA’s rankings, it’s not because someone is a famous epeen forum troll, nor is it because they have a blog. In fact it’s nothing to do with someone being part of WAR’s extended community or having a large number associated to their character. The clue was in the word recognise. The good players are those you recognise from the battlefield, the ones you’ve learned to respect from fighting in-game. The names people cry out on ventrilo, the names you see at a start of a scenario that mean you’ve got to be on top form. It’s the player that consistently kills multiple enemies solo, it’s the Archmage that just won’t fucking die, or that sneaky Engineer git kiting like a shooty pimp through the streets of Praag.

It’s the same with guild rank, a big number doesn’t mean they’re good, just that they have put the time in to get it. Again what matters are the guild names you learn to recognise as decent opponents from the battlefield, those enemies that can really lay the smacketh down. They might be blob style bombers, melee trains, small scale skrimishers or scenario whores, whatever… they’re the good at what they do and earn a reputation, perhaps even grudging respect (normally hidden by the flames :P ).

Unfortunately that’s just not possible for Mythic to record in a nice numerical format.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

It is all in your head mate

The tabletop version of Warhammer has rules for what it describes as psychology; things like fear, terror, panic, frenzy and stupidity. Rules designed to make the game’s units act like real people. Before Warhammer Online was launched, I remember seeing people debating if these rules would somehow be included in the game. The thing is they didn’t need to be coded into the game, simply because the in game characters have real life players controlling them. You’ll get to see the classic Warhammer psychology rules in action almost every day…

More than anything in WAR I’d say numbers cause fear. Often you’ll see the following scenario take place; warband A strolls around a corner and discovers a horde of enemy sitting there, the warband become hesitant, unwilling to commit, perhaps the odd person starts backing off. Battle commences and with confidence low, even if the numbers weren't actually that different, it’s a foregone conclusion.

This one you see all the time. 2 zergs are fighting, bombing away. Everyone is comfortable in their bombtastic scrap. Then a premade guild group/warband arrives and charges the enemy in the flank or rear, panic starts as players run in random directions, healers die and within seconds one zerg falls apart.

We saw a classic example of this recently. We had 2 groups of Kill Frenzy fighting at the south keep in Praag, alongside us was at least one warband of PUGs, probably two. The enemy keep was claimed and defended by a big reputation enemy guild. They’re very good and are known for always moving round in a large and strong warband, but they also make the most of psychological warfare outside of the game, with people dedicated to inflating their reputation on forums. And it works too, some people just crap their pants on seeing their guild name. So, back to the keep… The inner keep door breaks, but instead of a static defence, the Order charge out of the door; I think 3 groups to a warband of the aforementioned guild, backed up by a couple of other groups from other solid Order guilds.

Other than my 2 groups of Kill Frenzy, every other Destruction simply turned tail and ran. Utterly terrified they routed before they’d even been hit. It went from Destruction outnumbering the enemy 2-1, to my poor 2 groups being left alone facing at least double our number, which obviously didn’t go so well. To add further insult to injury I could see the Destruction so desperate to escape that a bunch got stuck in the outer doorway, their pixels doomed to a bombtastic death.

This one I’ll claim for me… If like KF you normally run with 1-2 groups in oRvR you will often end up facing greater numbers. In those situations running will achieve bugger all and if our pixels get killed, well... we don't care about that. We’ll just charge in and see how many we can kill before we die, proper frenzied troops style. Sure we’ll give the enemy some renown, but we’ll get some ourselves and most importantly it will be more fun than running :P Of course if we’ve got back up somewhere or something, then we’ll attempt a tactical withdrawl, but otherwise I'm all for shouting WAAAGH and feeling the frenzy! :P

Alas this one you’ll see all too often. It would make a huge bloody wall of text just describing what I saw yesterday. :P So I’ll just pick one moment… A destruction player put a king keg down on our spawn point barricade in Altdorf, which stopped people getting out of the spawn. I’ll assume it was stupidity, rather than a dirty cross-realming tart.

If I recall correctly the tabletop game has other psychology rules; stubborn, unbreakable and so on. All of which you’ll see in WAR. And you know, that’s the beauty of PvP based MMOs and particularly WAR, you don’t need to code in things to make your enemy react like real people. PvE is all good and well, but you just can't beat oRvR style PvP.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Now that the season of good will is done...

... it's time to get back to the WAR. And the big question; what will the new year of WAR bring us?

The death and final failure of WAR that the haters predict with such filthy pleasure?

Perhaps it will be the year where the optimists among us get all smug after Mythic makes bold and wise moves that revitalise WAR and subscription numbers fly up?

Or it just potters along with a relatively stable sub base, with Mythic doing just enough to keep people here...?

I'm feeling confident today (tomorrow maybe a different matter :P ), I think Mythic are going to deliver. Like the Phoenix from the flames WAR will rise again, covered in glory as Mythic announce an awesome expansion, enhance the overall campaign, make decent RvR city sieges and provide a better mix of small scale roaming and zerg PvP. Everything will be uber, everything will be perfect. WAR will finally live up to it's potential. Yes! Mythic, glory awaits!

Or maybe I need to lay off the Chianti, throw away my pipe and comfy slippers, forget the whole optimistic lark and wallow in misery...

PS - I was a bit out of it over Christmas, so apologies for the delay... a belated Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all my readers and fellow Bloggers!

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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.