Monday 29 June 2009
A general note before I go off though, things would be working a LOT better IF GUILD CHAT BLOODY WORKED in LotD. Seriously guys, you hot fixed various little things and left that still broken? Sort that out pls :) Okies now I've got that shouty bit out of the way, onwards...
Has LotD delivered the RvR heaven we were promised?
No. In fact make that a resounding no, with a daemonic reverb effect and 100ft flaming letters. So far LotD has proven to be primarily a PvE experience with small bursts of RvR thrown in. Alongside that it has drained the tier 4 zones of players and I can no longer log in and RvR whenever I want. This is bad, really, really bad. Previously WAR was an RvR game with PvE as an alternative option, right now on my server it’s a PvE game with some RvR now and again.
If you are not currently subscribed to WAR then you might wondering how this expansion has basically stopped RvR, seeing as the key selling point for it was a thriller of a RvR zone. Basically what happens is… Order are in Land of the Dead, Destruction are on their own in the normal tier 4 zones. Destruction has to PvE lock zones to gain access to LotD. Due to the fact there’s very few (if any) Order to fight, this can take an hour or so. This also means you spend most of your time doing nothing, once you’ve claimed the Battle Objectives and Keeps you’re left just watching timers tick down. You can’t get any skirmish or scenario points, as there are no players to fight. Then when Destruction gets access to LotD they all rush over, quickly purge any Order that can be found and are then left with PvE in LotD. Order that got purged are then back in tier 4, it’s now their turn to PvE the zone locks and Destruction are PvEing. Annnnnd repeat…
This isn’t purely the design of LotD’s fault, it contributes of course, but more than anything it boils down to what players are choosing to do. Our greed for flashy new loot and something new wins through. People are choosing to be in Land of the Dead instances or buried away somewhere else PvEing amongst the desert sands. A lot of people are staying in Tomb of the Vulture Lord trying to beat it. They could of course decide to stay in tier 4 and fight each other, but whilst LotD is all new and shiney this hasn’t been happening and it won’t stop 'till people get enough.
On the positive side there are signs that this is changing, Tier4 RvR is on the increase, but it needs to improve fast. Big name players are quitting, guilds are dying and even within my own guild I’m seeing people getting very negative about LotD. And it’s fair enough, most of us play WAR for RvR, if we wanted PvE we’d go elsewhere. The big question is will enough players decide to kick start the RvR campaign themselves, or will Mythic have to respond with something off the wall?
Is the RvR in Land of the Dead any good?
Yes. The RvR doesn’t last long because after being killed if you release it’s only the controlling side that will respawn within Land of the Dead. The other side respawns in their home city and are locked out. It’s all gone too soon. However the fighting within LotD can be great, particularly inside invaded instances. I remember the time we trapped some poor group of Order against a huge skeletal boss, then slowly cut them apart and another classic moment where I was alone against 5 Order as we desperately tried to shove each other into the swinging axe trap, the rest of my group stuck on the otherside could only try and keep me healed and cheer me on over ventrilo (it ended badly for me :P ).
There’s also been some very cool group/warband scale skirmishing. My guild tends to keep away from the zerg and this has led to some great run ins against Order doing the same thing. Seriously if you wanna be startin’ somethin’ then you need to get away from the zerg and hunt down people across the zone, it’s much more fun.
What about the Public Quests?
There’s a few that aint so hot, for example the jar collecting ones are dull, the carrion one is rather glitchy and the roaming PQ Ricci’s Raiders is a bloody myth, but the majority of them are a huge improvement over all the PQs we’ve seen in WAR so far. I’ve not got the names of them in front of me now, but I’ve quite enjoyed most and there’s several I really like. The one down south with the huge skeletal giant surrounded by scaffolding is very cool, as is the Simon Says combination game outside the Tomb of the Vulture Lord, though if you’ve got idiots there you can’t win. In general the PQs are well thought out, engaging and make mob grinding (which essentially is all that MMO PvE ever is) enjoyable.
Lairs worth a visit?
It would seem so. Instanced lairs are the right way to go, I hope Mythic consider reviewing all other Lairs and making them instanced too. I’ve only done 2 so far and as such I can’t comment too much, though feedback I’ve heard has been very positive. From what I’ve seen myself so far I’ve been impressed with their design and think Mythic are on the right track with lairs here, but I’ve not been at all pleased with the buggy boss in the Tomb of the Sun. A one mob dungeon should not be bugged, this makes me want to scream.
So how was the Tomb of the Vulture Lord?
It’s great. This is the big instanced dungeon where Tyrant armour drops, the place with the infamous traps, enemy player invasions and difficult new bosses. I’m not going to say too much and spoil it for people, but from my experiences in there so far it has some excellent boss events and brilliant atmosphere. I love the traps; I’ve not had so much fun being frustrated by something in ages. Not since the wife decided to… uhm, in fact I’ll not go there.
It does need a bit of work with invading, there seem to be a few bugs with the invasion PQ ending and the loot appearing at all, plus there can be a lot of waiting around if the enemy poke their head in and then just leave. Also for people that are more into PvE, with the invasions you may end up saying just leave me alone.
Land of the Dead is atmospheric, has great graphics and has made some big steps forward with WAR’s PvE. It brings us good new instances, easily accessible loot and a wide range of things to do. However it hasn’t yet revolutionised RvR and instead is having a negative effect on PvP across my (and other’s) server, but I’m hoping that will not be a long term issue. It seems like players are already filtering back to tier 4 for some more reliable fighting, but “seems” is not enough, it must happen. LotD should be a sideline, not the main game. The tier 4 campaign and the RvR within is the core of this game, if you’re out in tier 4 looking for a fight, then you need to know that you are not alone and that you can get a PvP fight when you want.
LotD is cool, but I don’t think it’s gone to plan for Mythic. It’s black or white really, we need regular and reliable RvR back or people’s copies of WAR will just go in the closet. But instead of it being down to Mythic to fix, perhaps this time its us as players that need to sort it. Time for us all to look at the man in the mirror.
Saturday 27 June 2009
At the moment the oRvR and scenario scene in vanilla Tier 4 zones has almost totally dried up. Zones are being locked without any enemy to kill, they're all off hitting skeletons. No surprise there, people were always going to want to spend time in Land of the Dead when it came out, there's a load of cool things to go see.
But how long until the novelty wears off?
Until it does, it looks like the vanilla Tier 4 campaign will remain a predominantly PvE experience and Land of the Dead has already proven to be as much (if not more) about PvE as it is PvP. Short dramatic bursts of PvP followed by PvE.
When undefended cities' star ratings plumment and players realise they're not gaining much renown in LotD, will they be naturally drawn back to fighting in the RvR lakes of Tier 4? I hope so, otherwise the current back and forth access to LotD could prove to be more of a hinderance to RvR than a reason for it. It will probably be a while before we see how this will work out, but should LotD prove to prevent RvR, then Mythic may have to consider leaving the gates open.
A fully RvR enabled zone, with constant access available. Masses of fighting whenever you want! No more tumbleweed tiers! Sounds great eh?
Ahhh... but then would that mean the PvE content would become utterly impossible due to constant attacks by the enemy? Would we have one giant clusterfuck of every player in one zone? Oh bugger...
It's all very easy for us bloggers and forum posters to criticise Mythic and come up with our own amazing solutions (something I'm obviously guilty of), but in reality evolving a live RvR themed MMO game to find that perfect balance between PvP and PvE must be a total nightmare. Maybe our ideas would work, but maybe they'd do even more damage and we're too naive to realise.
Not that knowing that will stop us thinking we know best. Just like when watching the football... I know that we should be playing a 4-4-2, why can't that twat of a manager see it? It's obvious.
Friday 26 June 2009
Purge was great fun.
PQs were cool.
Level of gear dropping for me was meh (cos of my existing gear).
Guild chat not working bug is ridiculous. How did that get in???
Tomb of the Vulture Lord was awesome. Didn't get that far, but my group loved what we saw.
Can't wait for more! Time for work alas :P
Thursday 25 June 2009
All taken from this "Breath of fresh air or Mantainence mode?" thread at The Vault
If by maintenance mode you mean a full production staff and pushing forward with great improvements and new content...
Guys, it's still business as normal (a statement I'm sure I'll get torn apart for...do your worst ) in our offices. We are not being put on the back burner, we are still developing WAR and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
In short, we're doing science and we're still alive!
Said it once and I'll say it again...
There is no magic way to reallocate resources from creating new content to fixing bugs, improving server stability and other items which are hot button issues. Anyone who says the opposite has never worked in a MMO Game studio.
Bug fixes and things like Combat and Careers and RvR endgame are all still very important too us, and making them better and more enjoyable is part of "business as usual". The teams working on these aspects of WAR are working night and day to improve upon these areas, just as our content team is constantly at work designing new Live Events, Quests, Public Quests and even more goodies for the players in the coming months.
Please keep your eyes out for the producers letter (part III) tomorrow then. Jeff's top 5 list in part II (Electric Boogaloo) was a primer for that letter.
Not saying that his letter is going to be the OMGTHISANSWERSEVERYTHINGIEVERWANTEDTOKNOW but it will address many concerns and give a good idea of where we're heading in the coming months.
Edit: We're still Mythic Entertainment, an Electronic Arts Studio, as we have been. I've posted this elsewhere, but we're not "merging". We are still a completely separate entity within EA, just as Bioware is, simply now grouped under the same MMO/RPG grouping and reporting to one person, collectively.
So perhaps not going to turn everything upside down. Looking forward to see this part III letter and what we've got coming up in the future.
Wednesday 24 June 2009
Bioware games are polished, classy affairs. This is what WAR needs.
Here's a copy of the announcement:
Today we have important news to share with the community. EA is restructuring its RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic and BioWare. This newly formed team will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Ray becomes Group General Manager of the new RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare’s other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Ray.
BioWare’s studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Ray. Mark Jacobs, current General Manager of Mythic will leave EA on June 23, 2009. We thank Mark for his contributions at Mythic and wish him the very best going forward. Mark played a major part in the success of Mythic with his contribution as General Manager and Lead Designer of WAR.
Mythic retains a strong team led by Rob who co-founded Mythic in 1995. Rob played a critical role in the development of Dark Age of Camelot. In his previous role as COO, he was responsible for all day-to-day management of the studio including all development, operations and support. Please join us in celebrating the union of these two award-winning studios.
With the top man being from Bioware, could this mean WAR gets the injection of quality it needs? Mark Jacobs is an MMO legend and Bioware aren't exactly experts at MMOs, so big shoes to fill. No pressure guys, no pressure :P
Ok I'd described this as a merger, but it seem Mythic are being quick to point out that this is not the case and in fact the 2 studios remain seperate entities, just within one corporate group/portfolio/whatever type thing. Loads of posts stating this, but I'll just link this one at WHA.
Tuesday 23 June 2009
It’s been interesting and I’ve done pretty well I think, at least in the fights where I wasn’t ganked by 3+ players. That happens a lot (no shock there) and it’s proven difficult to get many fights where it doesn’t turn into Bootae vs the world. I’m not complaining, this is WAR after all and not some Queensberry rules boxing match. You have to accept the enemy has as much right to gank you, as you do to solo them, but I’m starting to see why duelling is proving popular. If for whatever reason you do want to go mano-a-mano, you’re reliant on the enemy’s goodwill and accepting your challenge, which outside of the duelling scene is not overly likely.
What do you lot think?
Sunday 21 June 2009
We only got to do the Bright Wizard College because the instance I was in had too many lowbies or twats agroing everything at random and refusing to listen to the poor souls trying to organise everyone. I have to admit it was all new to me, so of course I didn't instantly do the right thing, but I sure as hell made certain I didn't do the things we were being told not to. Eventually we got the boss down, but it took ages and there was no way we could do anything else in the instance. Time was up. And therein lies the first issue.
You're in an instance with fairly high gear requirements, a boss fight that has to be done exactly right, with mobs that hit like trains and you've got a time limit. But you also have a load of random players in there that are not anywhere near geared for it, are too low level and have no intention of paying attention to those people who actually know what they're doing. Had the instance been full of alliance or guild members, then we'd have done it no problem at all, but finding 48 guild/alliance members at 1am after a Saturday night in the pub is not so easy... Not that getting to Altdorf stage 2 earlier is often an option either. It takes time to get the zone locks, forts and then Altdorf past stage 1, so there's always a good chance it will be a late one before you get near stage 2.
Which means we're often going to be stuck with twats screwing up the instance. Lets not forget that's what this is, a PvE raid instance. From past MMOs we're used to doing PvE raids with full guilds warbands, which means you get a certain level of professionalism, focus and communication. In the past this results in a (mostly) fun experience and the challenge being to beat the mobs. And that's what WAR needs to do. Make Altdorf/IC a consistently fun experience, not the random clusterfuck it so often is where your problem to resolve is the players on your side. If this is a PvE event, it needs to be more controlled.
That was the first problem. The second one I didn't experience, but I know hundreds of people did last night and I'm sure it must be annoying... Question! What do Order do when we're on Altdorf stage 2? Answer! Bugger all.
There's nothing for them to do, there is no RvR left. All us destro are busy PvEing in closed instances, closed instances that are the end of the RvR campaign. Odd eh?
I think perhaps Mythic need to either accept that the city sieges are PvE events or have a serious re-think on how cities work. If they remain as PvE raids, then it only furthers the Warcraft comparisons, which is not a good thing. When it comes to PvP, WAR humbles WoW's lame excuse for player combat, but when it comes to PvE whilst WAR has the potential to match WoW, it instead falls way short due to quality control. On a patch day WoW's PvE instances are more polished than WARs are months after being released, just look at Lost Vale for crying out loud.
If WAR's end game is going to have prominent PvE raiding, then those PvE raids should be treated with the polish, features and care that they deserve. I honestly don't mind if WAR mixes in PvE raiding to its campaign, it could be a refreshing change of pace, but and it's a BIG but, it needs to be bloody good PvE raiding, or why would I not just go do Crusaders' Coliseum instead?
Thursday 18 June 2009
Wednesday 17 June 2009
I'd recommend watching it in high quality, to do so just follow this link and click HQ.
Tuesday 16 June 2009
...we've already begun assembling focus groups from guild leaders to solo players. We're asking what makes you tick and what you want to see next. The feedback we gather from these groups, the forums, blogs and those of you we play with everyday in-game is very important to us and helps to shape the game every day. I thank everyone who’s taken the time to talk to us – it really is appreciated!
Based heavily on that feedback, our current “Top 5” areas that we are giving significant attention to are:
1) Addressing concerns related to Crowd Control and Area of Effect abilities.
2) Continuing to improve client and server stability and performance.
3) Strengthening and improving the Tier 4 experience.
4) Improving server population distribution – both in terms of overall population and realm balance.
5) Improving itemization and the overall distribution of “carrots” (rewards) throughout the game.
I would say that is exactly right. It goes to show that they are listening and actually do acknowledge the game's problem areas. If they back up that acknowledgement with action, then the future of WAR looks very positive.
And then of course the big news. 1.3 is live in the US! Hopefully us Euros will only be the usual 24 hours behind. I can't wait to get stuck in :)
For my fellow Euro gamers, make sure you check out the pre-patch download GOA are providing. Should save us all some hassle on patch day.
Monday 15 June 2009
I think Chosen are probably the best looking tank class ever. Mythic totally nailed the classic Gamesworkshop chaos style. There's loads of things I love about WAR, but one of my absolute faves is the customisable armour and the way that you can always make sure you have a themed look. None of that clown vomit mixed armour that other games often chuck over us.
Come on you bloggers, show us what you got...
Friday 12 June 2009
Sure there's loads of situations where you want to be using a shield and there's also plenty of decent specs you can go with, but most of the time (and with the right gear) you'd be better off with a variant of the cookie cutter Dread/Discord mastery spec.
Other than in Fortress or large keep battles (where every extra bit of survivability counts), we're just not really encouraged to use a shield. Unlike the other tanks, Chosen have no abilities that effect block and only have 2 things that even relate to block. Those being an aura with a heal proc on blocks and a tactic that boosts your parry if you block. The Corrupting Retribution aura is so poor it's barely worth having on your action bar, it is truely terrible. The Mixed Defenses tactic is good, but it's boosting parry, not block. Since parry only effects melee, it does not compare with abilities that increase block. Other tank classes all have ways of increasing block chance, which dramatically increases their survivability. Chosen do not have any.
We do however have ways of increasing our parry rate. Supression, a standard trainable ability has a mere 10 sec cooldown and increases our parry rate by 25% for 15 seconds. Also Chosen with great weapons can get very high crit rates, 30+% is easy to reach and with that spec it means you'll be reducing everyone with 30fts damage by 25% with every crit. Since that effect lasts 10 seconds and you'll crit multiple times within that 10 seconds, it's effectively a constant debuff. By stacking strength you can hit very hard for a tank, but you're still able to stack enough toughness and wounds to be difficult to kill. You are squishier of course, by not using a shield you probably missing around 30% block which reduces a lot of damage, but it is nowhere near as bad as people think. With 700-1000 toughness, decent armour value, resists and our parry buffs, a Chosen with a great weapon can still be a tough cookie indeed. BTW you don't need a shield to use the guard ability either.
As such in a lot of situations you might be missing the 30% or so block on frontal attacks, but you've gained a 25% damage reduction on everyone nearby and you're doing a LOT more damage. In this age of bomb groups, that's pretty damn effective.
So why did I only sort of agree?
Maybe I'm a mentalist, but it's a bit dull with a great weapon. Sure you get to see some big numbers, get to actually kill players, are not ignored by enemies, apply an awesome debuff and are generally a very effective uber killing bastard, but... (lol but he says :P ) I like having some of the other abilities that you can't get with a great weapon spec. Things like the silences from Tzeentch reflection (hitting that and hold the line for 85% disrupt and silencing anyone you disrupt is nice...), the stun from Downfall and of course Hold the line. It feels more sort of tanky, if you know what I mean. The problem is at heart we know it's just not as good. I think this is why I change between great weapon and shield specs every single week, like the littlest hobo I just can't settle down.
Perhaps we're meant to be great weapon tanks. After all, Chosen is the only tank without a block buffing ability and our most powerfull damage reducing ability is reliant on critical hits and is from the Dread (great weapon) mastery. Maybe Mythic are telling us something...
Tuesday 9 June 2009
And recently instead of a letter from the General Manager, we got one from the Developer, written by Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer...
Anyone know why Mark's gone silent?
Abducted by aliens?
Pulled into the Ultima Underworld?
Being tortured by an angry Edam cheese?
Or did all those forum nerd raging twats with their incessant barrage of personal attacks drive him to say enough already?
Saturday 6 June 2009
I’ve posted before about the problems with Forts and what could be done to improve them, but with this latest change and other recent issues with forts, it’s time to talk about them again.
The population caps were first introduced to stop the zones crashing. Prior to this going live, a reliable (but lame) defensive tactic was to flood the fortress with players of any level and crash the zone. Of course even without purposefully trying to achieve this, zone crashes were extremely probable on almost every fortress attack. The introduction of the level limit (37+) and the population caps (limiting how many players could get into a fort zone) dramatically reduced the frequency of zone crashes, though it didn’t eradicate them by any means. Thankfully the 10-second delay lagfest of the past was gone, but busy fortress attacks remained far from lag free and their playability was debateable. As such whilst things got better, they still hadn’t actually become good enough. Unfortunately the population cap also introduced us to some new problems, problems that this latest hot fix is likely to make worse.
When trying to lock a zone prior to a Fortress, lots of people will camp on the very edge of the zone so that they can be sure of claiming one of the limited spaces before the cap is reached. Likewise some people on the defending side will not bother trying to stop the zone lock and will just camp inside the Fort, which of course stops other players on the defensive side getting in. You could of course argue that both are valid strategies if you want to launch a quick attack or a solid defence. Alas, with conqueror crests, loot and renown up for grabs, it’s an argument that in some cases isn’t always convincing. Then of course there’s the argument that you want your best guilds/alliance in the defence/attack, but however correct that might be it just leads to accusations of elitism and forum shit-storms. Plus there’s no guarantee it won’t be them getting shut out anyway. End result is always a truckload of people being left out with little to do for a while.
The other big problem is it’s delivered a steaming box of apathy, something that I myself have suffered from. Why bother going to a fortress? We probably won’t all get in and our warband will get split up. Which if you’re a guild that likes to play together, well, that buggers things up good and proper. If you do get inside what do you get? A laggy, dull experience that is nothing more than a keep with a bigger wall. Ok so what about the loot? With the game having been out 10 months or so it seems most of us have at the very least full Sentinel, so Conqueror is just a novelty for a lot of people. And that lot of geared up people are often the ones you want in the fight...
Yea gawds you negative git Bootae! What about the renown?!?!
I can get more renown from 1 scenario in 15mins. Or a whopping 2 scenarios if they’re bad ones. Check out this screenshot from a friends scenario:
Ok that’s an extreme example and I’ve not seen renown that high before, but I regularly see 3-6k, for a mere 15 minutes work. Add that and the previous together and we see that fighting in a Fortress is a bloody uneconomical way of progressing with your character.
Of course if you don’t take Forts you don’t get to siege Cities, but it’s an issue of motivation there. Do you want to spend up to an hour not having fun in a fort with the only carrot being that IF you win, you’ve now got to go through the whole crap again (and the zone locks before hand) and still could fail at the end of that? I sure as hell don’t. I think like most people, I don’t mind losing in a game as long as the game itself is enjoyable.
So what has lowering the population cap done? Well, it HAS made fortresses more playable. I’m now running with full spell effects on and for once it’s actually just about playable, but (as I’ve already seen today) people just aren’t bothered. Yes it will run better but we’re now less likely to get in, the rewards are mediocre and it’s still AoE hell, so why not just let someone else go through the tedium? And what about when Land of the Dead arrives, will anyone attack a defended fort again?
Attacking a fortress is just a waste of time.
Update: I've been on 2 fort takes today where the attackers were outnumbered by the defenders, despite there being plenty of Destruction around. People just aren't interested in Forts.
The last attack was a total classic. We were hitting the inner door when one of our guys on comms says something like "uhm, look behind us, everyone is running away". I turn and... yup, after basically just looking at the door everyone simply left. It wasn't even a wipe, people just couldn't be arsed with it. I don't blame them either.
Thursday 4 June 2009
Sensible move, should have been done that way in the first place instead of one monster patch. Unfortunately now that we've all been built up to having some freedom from AoE of Doom, a lot of people are going to be feeling rather let down. Hopefully people will be distracted enough by Land of the Dead, but I'd advise Mythic to get their tin hats on! I can smell the forum rage quitters from here...
Edit: I've heard that some of the AoE changes WILL be going in with 1.3. I've not yet found any official post confirming this, but I'll link soon as (or if...) I find one. In the meantime, here's a pyramid and cool sky effects..
Wednesday 3 June 2009
Other than looking pretty in a blurry ash covered kinda of way, what is the point of it? We can't go up there at all and it just puts further emphasis on the limited movement options in Thunder Mountain. It's just a GIANT waste of space in the middle of the zone.
Wouldn't it be better if we could fight up the mountain itself? Chuck an objective of some potent form up there and have us scrapping up winding paths to reach the summit. Then we could battle around the rim of the volcano, with extra tension added by the fiery pool of lava death below...
Or is there a good reason to keep massive chunks of terrain you can't enter?
How many other zones suffer from this?