Monday 30 November 2009

Vamping it up

As I mentioned recently, I already know what I want for a Live Expansion... I want Sylvania and Drakenhof Castle.

Sylvania is the home of the Vampire Counts, specifically the Von Carsteins, warhammer's classic Dracula style vampires. Being Warhammer they are a bit more aggresive than Bram Stoker's vampire, with world domination and an eternity of night well and truely on the agenda. The land they call home is the classic European vampire setting, dark, decaying, gothic and oh so very atmospheric.

I would want 3 zones. The main countryside outdoors, the crypts and dungeons as a huge underground zone and then  Drakenhof Castle itself as the third area. All of which would be fully RvR enabled and NOT instanced. There would be boss PQs like the Colossus requiring players to work together to activate them, also lairs and other epic feeling events, but all of which would have the risk of enemy players attacking. There would also be lots of RvR themed PQs that would affect movement within the zone itself and add a further tactical element. Bridges to destroy, caves to collapse, that sort of thing.

I would suggest lots of things that could be done communally, not just with 1 group. Perhaps to activate major boss events and special RvR activities. Then the big crunch would be in Drakenhof itself, some kind of hard to reach and hard to win event that would have a positive impact on the faction that manages it. Something that would be worth the effort, but at the same time is not over powered.

The basic concept is full RvR, non-instanced zones that don't lock, are not gated and have loads of fun things to do. A place where all PvE has a risk of PvP attacks, but has rewards that merit the risk for all involved, both those trying the PvE and those attacking them. Everything organised and spread out in such a way that it promotes small group play and limits the effect of zergs.

Not exactly a new concept, but one that will do me I reckon :)

Update: I forgot to pimp Oneshard's WAR video. It does a good job of showing how much better the game runs now and if you've not played WAR before, it certainly gives you an idea of how you can PvP all the way to 40 :)


A week or so ago those nice folks over at WHA invited me to take part in their podcast. Despite copious amounts of Dutch courage and me being a dirty saaaarthen English git, somehow I managed to avoid swearing. I think anyway... Can't check it right now as I have pig pox and am writing this on my phone whilst the bloody coughing fits keep me awake. Anyways here's a link:

Friday 27 November 2009

Complacency beats KF to death with their own shoes

My guild "Kill Frenzy" has always been pretty good in scenarios. In the past when we did regular premades it would normally result in a night of wins, with at absolute worst only a handfull  of competitively fought losses. Order publically respected our groups and I can say without ego bias that we had earnt it. 

Over the last few months we haven't been running premade scenario groups, other than a few random occasions. People got distracted by other games, or alt characters and we pretty much dropped out of the scenario scene.

This week we returned!

And we got our arses kicked really, really badly. You see, we came back thinking we're good, just cobbled some groups together and went out there all confident. On two seperate nights we had 1 healer and 3 lowbies per group, plus there was no synergy in our set ups. Yet we were surprised when we lost in horrific fashion. In other words we got cocky and extremely complacent. Unintentionally we were probably disrepecting our Order enemies and we paid the shameful price. I was bloody livid, at myself mainly for letting us get so damn slack. One doesn't simply walk into Mordor...

I guess sometimes it's easy to forget the red names are other people, people who may be just as good as (or better than) you think you are. Having had this wake up call we've decided from now on with our pre-arranged guild RvR nights we'll only do scenarios with serious groups. Though other times we'll mess about more, but no more 2 random KF groups in one scenario.

There is no place in PvP for complacency, as my sore buttocks can testify to.     

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Thorn wishes Aegis, the colours of space

The idea of a true Warhammer 40,000 MMO is one of those dream games. Travelling the galaxy as Rogue Trader exploring, fighting, trading, just trying to survive… Or perhaps as servants of the Inquisition, scouring the galaxy of heretics, xenos and worse. Or scrubbing about as a Hive Ganger, trying to score big and get out of the damned lower hive. Whatever the details, we’d be paving our own way in the brutal, uncompromising and vast 40k universe. How glorious it would be!

Shame it’s never going to bloody happen. Too many people would want to be sodding space marines or tree hugging pointy-eared space gits. Before you know it, the game would get all superhuman and any real chance of character development is stifled. When the 40k MMO currently in development arrives it’ll be something shooty, where we get to play the uber warriors of different races and don’t have to think too much. Probably something, more like Planetside, which in many ways is no bad thing, but it’s a shame we’ll never get to experience the real 40k “universe”. Within the lore itself Spacemarines, Eldar Aspect Warriors, Necrons and so on are meant to be very rare; the vast majority of imperial citizens would never see them. Obviously they’re all very appealing, full of character, awesome imagery and pew pew lasers, but they lack freedom.

A spacemarine is a spacemarine, is a spacemarine. He has a bolt gun and a knife. Some of them have other guns, but not many of them and at the end of the day it’s all very prescriptive. He doesn’t go where he likes, he has no social life or freedom, he follows orders and that’s it. Aspect Warriors? Just like spacemarines really. They train and they fight as ordered by their Farseers, nothing else. Necrons? They… uhm… stand still for millennia, wake up, shoot things, stand still for millennia, wake up, shoot things…. These characters are fine for a shooty game, but they are no good for an mmoRPG. Players of WAR with it's Warhammer Fantasy setting will know that it also has a selection of dedicated warrior types, but their lifestyles are not as restricted as those in 40k. To allow the RPG element of our characters to flourish we need to have lifestyle choices and WAR gives the RPer in us (no matter how small) at least a chance of player freedom, it wouldn't be so easy with 40k.  Not without butchering the lore and then it stops being Warhammer.

However would enough people be interested in a 40k game where we played character types with more control over their destiny? Bounty hunters, Inquisitors, savants, Arbrites, ex-Imperial Guard veterans, Rogue Traders, hive scum, etc, etc. Would people want to play a 40k MMORPG themed around those type of characters? Or would they just complain about the lack of spacemarines? Sure, I would love to run around blowing up alien scum with a bolt gun, but I’d also like something immersive, something with that sandbox MMO depth and feeling.

I’ve often pondered on a Necromunda themed MMORPG. The hive gangs and noble houses in the upper spires could make perfect player clans, there’s a monstrous range of character class options and the hive city has incredible potential for PvE and PvP. It really could make a unique and compelling sand box game. However the one I’d really love to play would be themed around the Inquisition. A galaxy spanning with different playable factions, something like the Inquisition and various chaos xenos cults. Fighting a secret war across the Imperium, heh I guess it would be the ultimate cops and robbers MMO. But it’s just that lack of damn spacemarines… both ideas are probably too niche for a developer to even consider taking a punt on.

I'm sure I'll like the 40k MMO when it arrives. It's Warhammer and I'm a sucker for that gothic goodness, but I think I'll always have that nagging feeling, it could be so much more. This is the curse of Warhammer, be it 40k or Fantasy.

1.3.3 patch notes are coming soon

I'm not really sure what to expect from it.

It's gonna have the graphic improvements, but other than that...

Will the underdog system be in place?

Big career changes?

Anything global omfg it changes everything?

Monday 23 November 2009

Keeping the faith

Assuming all is actually well with WAR and it has a positive future, I really do think Mythic need to announce something big and exciting if we are to keep the faith.

I've been pondering what I would consider as big and exciting enough...

Third Faction
This is the obvious one, but its also by far the biggest, most difficult and probably least likely. That doesn't stop it being the best thing that could happen to WAR.

Fortress Relic Raids
This could be great, but perhaps it would need a bit of extra spice to satisfy everyone. If the forts go back exactly as they were just with the relic to steal, then it could be seen as a bit of a lazy addition. Whilst it will be a welcome distraction from the campaign mess we have now, I'm not sure how the community would react to this one. Is it enough?

Live Expansion
A second Land of the Dead sized expansion would certainly be a sign of continued growth. There are so many things that could be done, from Sylvania to the Ogre Kingdoms, the Warhammer world is rich in untapped content. But what manner of live expansion would people want? RvR based, PvE or a hybrid? I know what I want, but that's another topic to post about :)

Expansion with new races for the existing factions
Skaven and Lizardmen... New zones to fight in and new careers to play. As much as I would prefer new races in a third faction, I would still be happy with this. And there would be no arguing with it as a statement of Mythic's ongoing commitment to WAR.

It's all good and well Mythic denying the claims of maintenance mode, but for everyone to believe it they need to give us a bit more to go on. The world is an increasingly faithless place (in all respects)...

Mythic! We need a sign.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Open RvR Closed

The Eltharion server is about to go bye bye.

GOA will shortly start transfers away from the last open RvR server in Europe. Eltharion's player base has only Karak Norn and Karak Azgal left to choose from. It’s always a shame to see a server die and WAR has certainly had more than its fair share of server deaths, but this closure brings us to a very unimpressive 2 English speaking European servers. This news raises lots of questions and isn’t exactly the positive news we wanted to hear after all the Mythic lay offs.

Will this be the last transfer?
Is this a consolidation of a stable population?
Or is it only a matter of time before we have 1 European server?
Will the future see us being transferred to US servers?

I don’t know the answers, but let’s just say it’s hard to put a positive spin on this. Mythic really need to announce something big to promote confidence in the game’s long-term prospects. An expansion announcement is about the only thing that would do to be honest. Unless the fortress replacement is bloody amazing, but their last comments about forts gave the shocking impression that they’re undecided on what to do with them…

As for the here and now… I don’t know about Azgal, since my Order alts are on Eltharion, but Norn is still very busy and it will be interesting to see what effect the transferred players will have. I just hope we get more new Destruction than Order. Norn still has both cities being sieged, but Order most definitely has an edge and from recent events it would appear an advantage in active and motivated numbers. It would be tragic if our server had its balance ruined by a mass of Eltharion Order arriving. That would no doubt accelerate us towards a single European server.

Right back when WAR launched we came very close to starting our guild on a oRvR server, but people who were in beta for longer than I were saying the chicken mechanic made oRVR a joke, so we decided not to risk it. A shame really, because over time it seems it was nothing more than scare-mongering. There’s little difference between core and oRvR to be honest (other than levelling), it still has masses of wasted terrain outside of the central RVR lakes due to the lack of objectives or incentive to go there. Anyway it’s a shame it’s going, I had some fun messing around in the lower tiers with my Order alts.

All in all, another bleak few days for WAR.

[ update ] Something I'm wondering after a discussion this evening...
How many active European servers are there in total?

I'm looking at the server list now and I can see:
4 English language
4 German
1 Spanish
3 French
1 Italian

The list is odd, since it includes Karak Eight Peaks which is a dead server having had transfers off it and tbh I thought was already closed, it's certainly marked for death. Obviously it's still got Eltharion on it for now... but in reality it will very shortly be 2 servers only. So how many of those other language servers are actually active? Anyone know?

Thursday 19 November 2009

Colossal Colossus

Couple of days ago I got my first experience of fighting the Colossus in Land of the Dead. In case you’re not familiar with this particular beastie, here’s the low down. When a group successfully clears all 8 bosses in Tomb of the Vulture Lord and the PQ outside is then completed again, it activates a special public quest that has excellent rewards. With a boom the giant statue outside the tomb collapses and its colossal upper torso hits the ground. The statue's crippled remains come alive and is very, very angry. The public quest is to kill it.

It’s quality boss fight and one that I think Mythic have got very right. The boss has a range of abilities and requires certain tactics to fight, however unlike so many boss events in MMOs, it’s arranged in such a way that you can quite quickly work out what you have to do. You probably won’t beat it first time (we didn’t anyway), but unless you are special you will at least learn the fight and be confident for the next time. It’s not even vaguely tank and spank, but there’s no need to search the interweb for obscure tactics. It really is a very well presented fight.

I’m also a big fan of it as a non-instanced, community promoting fight in an RvR enabled zone. It encourages cooperation and provides natural drama. We must have had 60-100 people there, all working together and all bloody paranoid about Order turning up. The fight itself has a 15 minute timer, so we were already a little tense, but when you add the fear of your enemy faction arriving, it really does add a wonderful extra level of tension to the event... It reminded me of the dragons in DAoC or dungeon fighting in UO’s Felucca, albeit more complex boss wise.

This style of PvE event is what I would like to see more of in WAR. There’s no need to instance everything and have us buried away in dungeons. Give us more large scale PvE bosses that feel like big events when they’re activated. Use the PQ contribution system to share out good rewards (read not like the crap on lair bosses), so these events have incentive beyond the first kill. And have them in places where we have to keep our eyes open for enemies. A healthy mix of gaming excitement and paranoia please!

And now I must temper my enthusiasm with a rant...

Do NOT link great events like this to bug ridden bloody dungeons, where clearing it is as much about sodding luck as anything else. I posted the other day about how my return to TotVL was cancelled by bugs, well… the other guild group that went that day ALSO had to stop because of bugs. Third boss was moving with his legs inside the floor, which meant the bomb animation was not visible. Then when they wiped because of this and ran back they found the door to the boss room was locked for half the group and open for the others, so that was the end of that.

When ToTVL came out, for the first few months Kill Frenzy was one of the guilds with the furthest progress (6 boss kills quite early) into ToTVL, but then we stopped going because the bugs were so annoying. Now that we decide it must have had enough time to get sorted out, we find the opposite. It’s very hard to motivate people to go when it’s generally seen as a waste of an evening. The bosses won’t drop Tyrant because of the ridiculous loot rules (I’ve seen 4 pieces drop ever) and it will bug and screw up everything anyway.

Honestly, I have to /salute the guys that are persevering night after night to get it cleared. I can’t log on that much anyway, but even if I could… fair play to you chaps. I’ll happily fight that Colossus though ;)

Monday 16 November 2009

Rorschach you are not

Mmmm Gud hits the nail on the head with the blog post "Maintenance mode? Absolutely incorrect".

But of course the doom callers will say the post Lokax links to is just from some community manager, so what do they know eh? Random forum troll #11678 knows much more, they have secret sources in Mythic, not that they can ever reveal them or give anything to validate their expertise. Oh, you used to work on MMOs? And that one over there is a financial expert? And chugnuts in the corner, a business analyst on Wall Street? Accurate estimates? Yeah we like those!

You know bugger all. Stop making shit up and stating it as fact.

The people stumbling across the interweb screaming "the end is nigh!" are exactly like the people with placards doing the same crap on city streets.

Sunday 15 November 2009

ToVL is STILL a buggy pain in the neck

I'm writing this while waiting for a CSR, but it's been a while so I think I'm stuffed. We wiped at the third boss and now the instance has bugged, the doors in the first room are locked and we can't back in.

It's really, really annoying. The group I'm in with tonight is mainly people that have never been here before. We were showing them how the place worked. Even after all this time, it would seem it still works "badly".

Bit like LV...

Mythic, pls give up on PvE and focus purely on RvR :P

Friday 13 November 2009

Busy busy busy!

Been a bit slow posting this week, sorry ;)

It's all gone a bit mental trying to juggle gaming and real life, so much so that I've had little time to write anything up. Reason for this increased juggling is the quality game releases over the last few weeks. As well as WAR and EVE, I'm playing a lot of Football Manager 2010 and ofc Dragon Age Origins, both of which rock big time.

A few quick words on WAR though. After the EA layoff news, the haters have been out in force. However it's been a real pleasure to see our server staying busy and competitive, with plenty of moments this week where I got to rampage through the enemy and others where my backside was proper battered. IC and Altdorf both being sieged, still far too often, but at least it's not one side dominating.

On a slightly random tangent, I'm switching characters like a mad thing at the moment. Really enjoying Chosen, Choppa, Magus and Shaman. Shammy is my target for my 4th level 40. Everyone needs a level 40 goblin IMHO. Only problem with all these characters is I've not got an uber geared and Renown Ranked character like many folks do. The variety is cool though.

Quick update: There is a new Producer's letter out. It's a bit short, but does have a couple of goodies in it. Graphic updates, including bloom, are on there way. Not high on my priority list, but I do know people that will be very pleased about that. 3 live events over the current patch period, one of which is a new one and probably pirate themed judging by the yaarrrr...

Anyways must go, I've got Dinamo Kiev in the Champions League Quarter Finals to play.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Storm in a tea cup or turd covered fan?

Ok so what we know is:

EA have made 1500 job cuts, some of which (apparently 80) are from Mythic.

Other than that we don't know anything.

Various people who claim to have insider knowledge are saying that it's all of Mythics creative staff gone and the whole studio is now in maintenance mode. That's what they say, but there has been nothing from EA or Mythic to confirm this. They could be right, or it could be the usual shit stirring. Certainly some of the so called experts/insiders/whatever are people recognised as having an axe to grind and they've sniped at WAR with every opportunity, so whilst I'm not writing off what they say, I'm certainly not taking it as gospel either...

In fact be they good or bad, I would recommend not taking any forum "experts", bloggers or anyone stating facts seriously. Speculation and rumour, not a lot else yet.

It boils down to this: We don't know anything and will have to wait for confirmation. Not that it sounds great :P

Sunday 8 November 2009

Friday 6 November 2009

Mythic become attracted to Starbucks

It's waking up to that alluring coffee smell that does it...

You've probably already heard about the city changes, but if not go read this post on the official Mythic forums.

It's a decent sticky plaster fix and makes perfect sense as something they could quickly do. Long term, as Mythic themselves acknowledge in that post, they need to be (and are) doing more, but this works for me now. I liked both those scenarios and I'm very happy about the siege length reduction. Sure it doesn't fix how regular sieges are, but at least they won't be ruining my whole night anymore.

However the thing I like best about this is the simple fact that Mythic are not waiting for the 1.3.3 patch, instead they are promptly implementing much needed changes and in a considered manner. Think back a few months and there is no way we would have seen Mythic do something like this, knowing better they would have ignored player concerns, or at the very least been extremely slow to act on them.

I've stated my concern a few times lately; if the city crap was left for too long it would totally distract from the massive performance improvements in 1.3.2. It's very important that when a patch makes things go tits up that Mythic act fast and don't let the rot set in. Looks like Mythic have realised this too.

GJ chaps.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

The King is dead! Long live the King!

Yesterday Karak Norn witnessed it's first king kill. Well, I say Karak Norn witnessed it, but to be honest that's a somewhat misleading use of words. It was a server first, but it was only witnessed by a very small number of people, since the kill happened at 4:40 AM. :P

As you can no doubt imagine, a lot of negative things have been said about the time it happened. I'm not sure if it was a pre-planned alarm clock raid or just one of those opportune moments that ends up dragging on and on until it's stupid O'clock. Regardless, while it's a shame more people weren't involved and it was undoubtedly easier to do at that time, the thing is people do legitmately play at those times. The morning hours are not just the domain of students poncing of society or workshy life leeching toerags, there are many people doing shift work or playing from timezones that are very different to the servers. They're all allowed to play the game just as much as the rest of us.

Plus some people with more "normal" working hours are just plain mad and will have gone to work after 2 hours sleep... It's not something I would want to do, but I'm getting too old for that nonsense and would probably need to do a Scarface to stay awake. I hope the pixels were worth it you bunch of mentalists ! :D

Aaaaaaaand it's worth saying that Destro have done early morning raids and didn't kill the Order king, so no matter how people may malign Order's kill, they still did it first.

/salute Karak Norn Order

Monday 2 November 2009

Make it stop… please

This city sieging crap is rapidly getting painfully annoying. In my guild we’re mostly adults (at least physically) with 9-5 jobs, so we won’t get back home from work at least until 6pm, then there’s sorting out dinner, getting the kids to bed, pretend to listen to the wife, tell the Chav scum dealing pills outside to shut the feck up, dodge the bottles they throw at you, go back outside with a cricket bat, trade obscenities in the street and leg it before the old bill arrive…uhm… yeah, maybe that’s just where I live :P

Anyway, it means we can’t really arrange to meet up online until about 8pm UK time. Now, this was fine before 1.3.2, but since the patch every single time we’ve arranged a guild event we’ve logged in to find a city siege under way.
I could cope with this when it was occasional, but seriously guys… every time? And of course if we do join in, then everything’s knackered because the siege is already underway. We’ll most likely find all the good competitive instances are full and we’re stuck with either an empty instance, or one where one of the factions has a constant cycle of people quitting due to being outnumbered or bombtarded. Of course we could wait for it to finish, but generally after a city siege it seems half the server log off, too depressed by its monotony to stay on. So we’re proper buggered.

With the real life commitments many of us have, it’s not like logging in earlier is an option and nor should we have to. Please Mythic do something bloody quickly, I’m not sure I can wait for the next patch. It’s already got to the point where rather than logging straight into WAR with me all happy and full of destructive dreams, instead I first log onto ventrilo, ask what’s happening and if it’s a city I’ll probably choose to play Football Manager or EVE instead. Or smash my face repeatedly into the wall, that’s a bit more entertaining tbh.

Dragon Age Origins comes out this week. Now let me see… play epicly awesome new RPG, or get bored and depressed by WAR citycrap? Ooooh tough choice :P

PLLLLLLLLLEAAAAASE MYTHIC! Do something sharpish, because the patch’s negatives are doing a great job of ruining all the positives. Not that this was obvious or anything. Sorry for the sarcastic I told you so, but it was obvious and try playing on Karak Norn these days.. Actually Mythic posting on the EU forums would be a start.

In the meantime… Dragon Age… hmm tempted by a Dwarf, but I always pick them. Hmm.
Oh and FM2010 rocks ;)

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