Tuesday 31 August 2010

Producer's Letter is out

You can find it here.

I warn you now, if you have been keeping up with the news from the various blogs on my blog roll or the Q&A thread then this letter has nothing new in it. There are a couple of confirmations in it, but nothing new. It is however worth mentioning that only a section of any game's players read forums or blogs, where as this letter goes out to everyone, so its not that much of a shock that it doesn't have anything other than a summary of what those of us that do read everything possible would have already seen. As such it's a solid letter for a mass mailing and I don't fault Mythic at all for not giving anything new in it (wouldn't have complained if they had mind you...), but I'm not going to bother doing my usual letter review as it's rather pointless for this one.

WAR servers are back up

Yay ;)

Mythic's ISP has gone boom, but servers should be back soon

As it says above. Expect EA to be kicking the ISP's arse right now.

Chosen nudged towards using Great Weapons

Chosen got a broad sweep nerf in the 1.3.6 patch. The resist aura took a heavy hit and since almost every attack we use (certainly the ones worth having) all use spirit damage; it works out as far more than a single ability change. At first it seemed really OMFG bad, but it turned out my armour had bugged somehow and after I removed and re-equipped it all my damage went up a bit. However, having sorted my strangely bugged armour and put a load more time in I have discovered to my disappointment that it’s hit my sword and shield Chosen fairly badly.

If you are wearing lots of sovereign, or use a Great Weapon combined with top end gear to purely maximise your DPS then it’s still good, the damage is lower but not that much. But for a non sovereign shield using Chosen it’s lowered the damage just enough to blunt their edge and outside of CC and debuffs make them feel a bit puny. So much so in fact, that despite me being a huge fan of the sword & shield playstyle and the abilities and specs this allows you to use, I too have respecced and adjusted my gear for using Great Weapons. Instantly I’m back to having the same impact that I did without a Great Weapon prior to 1.3.6. Note that I’m not saying I used to hit as hard with S&B as I do now with a Great Weapon, but the damage was high enough before to feel more of a threat than you can now, it’s about overall impact in RvR.

It’s a bit of a shame really. I do think the resist nerf was a good idea, as its effect on everyone else’s damage was too high, it’s just a pity that the cost turned out to be my favourite playstyle being nerfed a step too far. There should have been something to compensate somehow. It does feel like Mythic either didn't quite get this right, or that they actually want us to be using Great Weapons.
Plus on a purely personal level it has ruined my solo roaming ability, at least until I get the hang of having less options and survivability. Still, it could be worse and I have enjoyed the change of playstyle more than I expected. Not gonna kid myself though, if we get a return to having multiple viable spec and gear options, then I’ll be respeccing shield straight away.

In other news... make sure you watch our new KF WAR vid. KILL FRENZY FRIED CHICKEN!

Sunday 29 August 2010

Let's Blorc again

Got a couple more levels on my Black Orc, hitting the heady heights of level 35! I've done a bit of RvR too, obviously at a huge disadvantage, but it's not been entirely fruitless. Mainly because I just played (a slightly psychotic) guard-bot. I've decided I'm going to be stick with the great weapon spec and just smashing things around with no real care for my own safety, because it's fun. Which I guess means I am accidently role-playing a Black Orc correctly.

Here's the look at level 35, mean green killing machine:

Anyways, building up some rest XP again at the moment and I plan on hammering his level up with some champ group farming in the near future. I will probably only level him when I have a full bar of rest XP available, since that's the most efficient when you're juggling as many alts as I am.

It shouldn't be too long before I'll discover if it's joy or pain (I suspect the latter) for a newbie 40 Blorc in the now sovereign dominated Tier 4.

Friday 27 August 2010

Kill Frenzy Fried Chicken (the movie)

Durtbocks has one again rocked the WAR video world. Beware... THE BIRDS!

Link to youtube for higher res

Wednesday 25 August 2010

What are you least and most looking forward to from 1.4 and the RvR Pack?

Now that we are starting to get a picture, albeit a limited one, of what the future of WAR holds… I would like to ask a question:

What are you least and most looking forward to from 1.4 and the RvR Pack?

Prior to the Gamescom/Gamesday Baltimore news I was most excited about the chance of playing Skaven, but afterwards I find myself not that bothered about that at all now. It might be fun, but no matter what Mythic have up their sleeves it will not be what I wanted and for me personally, to stay excited will only lead to disappointment. So unless fresh news comes out to change my mind, I’ve kinda written that off as something to get all hyped about. You may accuse me of being blinkered by the past and I shouldn’t be so limited in my desires for a MMO traditional playable race, but sorry folks, that IS what I wanted. It is ok to not be happy about everything, particularly as blind faith is, well… blind. And not really any different to blind hate.

So as a customer and devoted WAR fan, it is now up to Mythic to convince me that their new idea for Skaven is better than my (and most people’s) preconceived perception of what a true playable MMO race is. I don’t think that’s a harsh or unfair thing to say.

The thing that really has me quivering with thoughts of potential slices of awesome pie (with custard AND a raspberry coulis) is the campaign update and how the new Skaven zone(s?) links into this. We know that victory points and domination are going, we also know that Mythic want to move the campaign away from waithammer and give us something more dynamic, yet easy to understand. I don’t think we’ll move away from zone locking, as I think it was a wording issue when I was told this before and they actually meant domination, which is a shame if so, but there’s still so much potential here. Instead, I suspect we’re going to get something heavily influenced by the new city siege system.

The new city siege is in a way telling a story, a story that is built around the clear objectives that each stage provides. The sappers desperately trying to destroy the defenders siege weaponry, Warlords marching through the city looking to challenge and defeat their rivals. The Emperor Karl Franz and Tchar'zanek nominating their champions for the final battle… it’s all just a bit more melodramatic than the Victory point system before it. So imagine if there were similar things within the campaign itself? NPC warlords leading assaults, defensive/offensive goals that have a tangible effect and objectives that had more purpose than just adding a few points to a scoreboard.

I could be way off the mark with the thoughts above, but I’m rather excited about the potential of a completely revised campaign and what it could mean for WAR. The campaign is the lynch pin of WAR and a complete revision that genuinely improves it would be a monumental change. I can’t wait to see what happens.

How about you?

Monday 23 August 2010

Actually folks things look rather good

If you’ve not already seen Gaarawarr has posted a full transcript of the interview with Mythic that the US bloggers had. There’s not a huge amount of new detail, but there’s a few bits and bobs squeezed out and it’s well worth a read. Thanks to those guys for making the effort to fly out to Baltimore and /salute Gaar for yet another of his tireless transcription posts.

Now then, now then… what to make of the last few days and Mythic’s announcement?

With the announcement style Mythic have cocked up. It has initially done more harm than good, has annoyed a lot of people and given fuel to the WAR haters. It’s worth mentioning here that; just like how haters write off anything positive as being sycophantic fantasy, some people write off anything negative as being just whinging internet pricks. This is unfair. Many people that are currently making negative comments are people that also often make positive ones and they should NOT be simply written off as haters. This weekend the WAR internet community, forums and in-game chat should have been filled with rampant positivity, hype and excitement, but it wasn’t and still isn’t. So regardless of anything, the way this information was released and the no comment spam has proven to be a mistake.

But that’s life. People and businesses make mistakes, shit happens. It doesn’t mean from then on everything will go horribly wrong. Mythic will learn from this and react appropriately.

The thing is, despite the above, we SHOULD and can be excited. The RvR Pack is coming out around December and it looks like we’ve got 1.4 before that, which means over the next 4 months we’re going to be getting a fair few updates and new content.

We are getting a completely revised campaign structure, a large new RvR zone/s that somehow links into the campaign (my money is on a DAoC style tunnel system and underground city linking all the zones), more renown ranks, more armour, more items, Skaven (!) and that’s just what has been mentioned so far. Please don’t assume that’s all we’re getting, we have no idea what else may be coming, yet.

Of course I’m disappointed Skaven aren’t going to be what many of us see as a proper playable race; as in something you can give a name, can level, progress and master the different classes of. Yes it sounds like it’s going to be monster play, which was shite in LotRO, but then remember Mythic have said they don’t think anyone has done anything like how they are implementing Skaven. So maybe it’s just something we can’t yet predict and perhaps it will be good. No matter what, it will be something new and that’s no bad thing.

Also it’s been alluded to that we’ll get RvR pack style content more regularly than expansions in other games. Which would mean while this may not be the same scale as a full expansion, it could well work out we get just as much (if not more) content over time than those other games. Where other games content additions are like burst damage, perhaps Mythic are going for DoTs.

Friday 20 August 2010


Confirmed by Mythic here!


1.3.6 is out the gates and to celebrate the glory of Open RvR we're giving you double the XP and Renown for killing enemy players and monsters. So enjoy the weekend, and the patch and may you find glory on the battlefield!

If you somehow manage to pry yourself away from WAR on Saturday to come to Baltimore Gamesday we look forward to seeing you there, be prepared to get your WAAAGH on!

Have a great weekend from all of us,
- The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Team"

So get out that my friends and reap the rewards!

News is starting to appear and I like what I hear

Ok my lovely readers, we are now starting to get more news filtering out of Gamescom. Werit has a post up that he is updating as more news is discovered; I highly recommend you keep an eye on it. Now, I wasn’t going to write anything until after the weekend, but I’m addicted to blogging now and can’t bloody resist… So at the time of writing, what news is out there and where is my head going with it all?
New RvR zone (possibly multiple), part of the campaign and not like Land of the Dead. The options for this are massive, so I don’t know what to predict, but it can only be a good thing, particularly when you read the next bit…
Campaign completely revised, no more victory points or zone locks! Oh man, you know what I don’t care what this is replaced by, I think I will like it. You may have encountered me recommending all zones are open at once, if this brings that in… Just woah… I will be absolutely delighted and it will be a monumental improvement for WAR’s campaign and gameplay.
New armour set/s. No details yet. I was advised last night that Mythic mentioned recently that Sovereign would remain the best armour in the game, but I don’t have a link to that, anyone know? Assuming that its correct (I trust the judgement of who told me this), then presumably new armour sets will be sideways progression, which is all good in my book. EDIT - just got proved WRONG lol
Sounds like the Realm Ability system, as in what you spend renown rank points on, is being redeveloped.
Skaven will NOT be a normal playable race with four archetypes etc. It’s something that doesn’t exist elsewhere apparently. Hmmm I’m treating this with caution. I really want substantial and well themed Skaven to play, I don’t want re-skinned, or watered down LotRO monster play. As of yet it is hard to know where this is going, but from debate and discussion with fellow bloggers and guildies, I’m thinking the it does sound reasonable as some kind of third faction. Just not in the normal way we’d expect. Whatever it is, I’m hoping it provides substantial and interesting new game play options.
That’s what we know so far. I’m feeling pretty stoked now tbh. The possibility of a true open world campaign more like DAoC’s is just “OMFG I hope that happens duuuuuuude”. Obviously it could work all kinds of different ways, but I don’t like zone locking and have moaned about it as one of WAR’s biggest mistakes before. So whatever happens, I’m all for change in that area. BTW last night a kind and distinguished gentleman suggested some ideas on how the different ways of purchasing the RvR pack’s 3 components could work and not be sucky cheap arse DLC or paying for overpowered. I’ll not go into detail as I don’t want to steal their thunder, but in short… imagine an expansion where you could pay less than full price and only get the parts you were interested in. Worth thinking about. Also this weekend, keep an eye on my blog roll (and of course here) for updates and any news from Gamescom and Gamesday Baltimore. Obviously I won’t be going, bit of a long flight from England, but I’ll be scanning the net for news. BTW I am going to Gamesday UK at the end of September and hopefully will get to talk with Andy, Carrie and the other folks from Mythic there.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Or maybe something good will happen

I feel more positive. Just heard there's gonna be a decent Mythic representation at Gamesday Baltimore and plenty of most excellent bloggers with interviews arranged, whom I trust a shit load more than the gamescom mockery of a sham of a mockery reports.

They will get us better info I'm sure.

Before and after(ish) the news

I’ve started writing this on Tuesday, before the special news from Mythic has been revealed. I figured I’d start this post before and then conclude it afterwards, that way I can write my expectations without being tainted by knowledge of what we’re actually getting. So what do I want from today’s announcements, what would I be happy with and what would be a disappointment?

I want the miracle of a third faction, but I know that can’t happen, so a more rational desire is required. I want new playable races for the existing factions, Skaven and anything from Lizardmen/Bretonnians/Wood Elves. I want a fourth racial pairing, with larger RvR lakes and new PQ variants on battle objectives, like in the new city sieges. I want improved siege warfare and to be further encouraged not to just bloody zerg everything. I want LOTS of new content and the spark of life that brings.

I would be happy with new playable races. Whilst any genuine new content would be a good thing for WAR and a positive sign for the future, if I’m honest with myself I know that anything less than new playable races will be a disappointment. And not just to me, an awful lot of the people I talk to are desperate for this too. I personally know a load of people not playing WAR that are waiting for playable Skaven before they will consider returning to or starting WAR.

AFTER (I think?)
OK time to continue writing this post! I say “I think” above because yesterday and today’s news was in both cases so brief and vague that I still don’t have any real idea what we’re getting. It sounds like Skaven will be playable, but perhaps only as a LotRO style monster race (ugh), or maybe it’s a way of getting a third faction on equal terms with everyone else quickly, but who knows? It could be something great, it could be utter shite. No way of knowing.

Renown rank 100? I’d have preferred to see an alternate advancement system like champion or mastery levels, but I’m not overly fussed either way and it’s good to see a new incentive for RR80s no matter what.

Andy has commented on the bioware forums with a little bit more info, but basically it just says "we're not going to say much else for now". There was one thing that I don't like the sound of:

"We currently plan on offering the RvR Pack with multiple purchase options which we're calling Power, Progression and Personality. I'm not ready to go into details on what exactly that means (yes, evil at work, however I just can't right now) but the focus is to allow you to purchase what you want and build your own experience with the new content."

Hmmm, the problem with saying this backed up with no clarifcation is that it smells like the old "pay more to be better than other people" crap that certain (generally unpopular in the west) MMOs use. This really, really, HUGELY worries me. Is this something that will base RvR balance on the size of your wallet? Will I be basically having to pay extra for patches? Paid for DLC? God no.... I'm struggling to think of anything good that this could mean. Of course it may well not be like that at all, but with this zipped mouth policy what else is there to go on?

I do know that the future of WAR is not what I wanted, but is it something I’ll be happy or disappointed with? I have no clue. I also know that I’m utterly bored with vagueness and uncertainty and I'm completely bloody gobsmacked that they've flown people all the way to Germany to reveal not much and then say we can't tell you anything. It's just so pointless. Unless there's some cunning master plan that I'm just not getting...??? Hopefully more news and real interviews will be revealed over the next few days, but I'm not convinced and as you can probably tell, I really don't like this half-arsed news lark.

Instead of filling me with hype and OMFG buttock quivering excitment, this Gamescom crap has just drained my enthusiasm and I feel a state of apathy and resignation incoming. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone on this.

pfft DLC f*****g w*** bubble ****arse.

edit! Gonna quote Siberwulf from Going Rancid "When you tell the world you have a big announcement to make, and that big announcement turns out to be “we have more info coming!” people generally get irked"

The story from Gamescom so far...

...is feeling far more meh than it probably should be. You can read about it here, but basically all that has been said is on the onrpg site is:

Skaven are involved they will not be implemented as a standard race that players can play from level one. "We want to do something... different with Skaven"

Renown rank 100.

With the RvR pack Bioware Mythic wants to move away from the standard "Release a huge expansion every 2 years." system and wants to adopt a system that allows players to "customize their game experience".

And thats it, no detail at all. Was that really ALL that was said in an interview? Does that actually even count as an "interview"?

It's probably feeling so meh because there's just no meat on the bones. I presume there is more info to come out, but Andy has tweeted that this will be at Baltimore Gamesday. So I'm a bit puzzled. Did Mythic really fly people all the way to Germany for a special announcement that was this brief? Surely there is more to come tomorrow?  Andy's tweet suggests not, but I just find that hard to make sense of.

Regarding the Skaven, I've got ideas about what it could mean, but there seems little point in posting. The anti-climax has drained my enthusiasm. Not that I'm all doom or gloom, it could be very good stuff coming, just got no way of telling and it seems pointless to post anything when we might as well just wait for as Andy says "a little more detailed information will be coming out of #GamesDayBaltimore this weekend"

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Stay on target...

Almost there...

Apparently the WAR news at Gamescom will be coming via interviews, so presumably tomorrow.

In other news, I've just finished patching. Yay for me. Looking forward to trying out the patch, but I'll probably leave it a while before posting too much about it. Short of any OMFG things anyway.

In the meantime, we wait for news.

Oh and watch this video from Mythic! Work it your for yourself why and I don't mean anything to do with 1.3.6 ;)

UPDATE - My night of WAR denied due to emergency maintenance starting at 19:00 UK time. Estimated to last 3 hours. Gonna go play Mount & Blade instead :P

Friday 13 August 2010

FCD the decision

Mythic have just posted their decision regarding friendly collision detection on the official forums. I am very pleased to say they have decided to NOT implement it without  further testing and consideration.

It's moment like this that make me like the new Mythic more than other developers. Not just because they are doing what I personally wanted, but because it clearly shows that they do listen and that they do value more than just the opinions raised in their own office.

Good move Mythic, I am incredibly relieved, pleased and am now returning to the dreamy world of positivity you'd led me into prior to this whole FCD lark appeared. :)

Thursday 12 August 2010

What flavour Chaos?

This post was written in a darkened hotel room using an iPhone, so apologies for any grammar or spelling poo that the lack of a better spell checker provides. ;)

Over the last couple of years something I've often heard people that play tabletop warhammer and WAR say is "why did Mythic choose Tzeentch for Chaos?", normally followed by a statement about why this or that Chaos god would have been better. To find some possible answers we have to consider how you make something playable, enjoyable and attractive, yet stay within the boundaries of the well established (and restrictive) warhammer lore. I imagine that for a computer game designer this must be quite a challenge and at times a great big dollop of frustration. Yet in this case I think Mythic would have quickly realised that they had only 2 viable choices; Chaos Undivided or Tzeentch.

To see why I think this was the case we first need to look at why the other 3 options would (again, I think) have been ruled out. Now what follows in this post is not just about smothering ourselves in Warhammer geekery, but is more about how you pick a product from that geekery that will appeal to people that don't play or care about warhammer tabletop games AND at the same time not piss off the warhammer fans.

The god of rage, murder and violence. He also despises the use of magic, for that is the way of cowards and fairies. His followers are blood crazed psychotics that charge headlong into anyone and anything to claim more skulls for their equally bat shit crazy deity. Hugely popular with Warhammer fans and utterly impossible to make work in the template Mythic had for WAR. How do you make 4 classes that fit the WAR mould of Tank, melée DPS, ranged DPS and healer?

The first two are easy, but the ranged and healer are impossible. Any Khorne class has to be about charging at the enemy faster than Posh Spice runs from food and they most certainly don't heal things. So despite the initial atmosphere and blood crazed amusement, unfortunately it would get dull very fast. It's just too one dimensional having a race of 4 classes with exactly the same playstyle and the lore in this area is not flexible enough for it to be different.

The god of decay, disease and despair. This could work really well if it wasn't for the visual style of players being rotting, disease riddled and maggot infested walking corpses. Everything would be green or brown and look utterly foul, but also rather drab and depressing, which is just not going to appeal to enough people and quite possibly make too many feel a bit queasy. Plus look at the popular imagery for armour in other games, film and TV. Be it curvy or angular, it's always clean lines and well defined shapes. That just isn't an option with Nurgle.

The god of decadence, desire and unrestricted pleasure. Or in other words the god of shagging EVERYTHING... animal, mineral, vegetable, no form of depravity is too low for them. If it exists in material form then it's a viable option for a good rogering. And therein lies the problem, the all too common combination of ignorance and homophobia that is rampant in gaming, or perhaps just in people in a general sense. In my many years of being interested in Warhammer games, far too often I've heard people say something along the lines of "isn't Slaanesh a bit gay?". Which actually no it isn't and it's a little concerning if you really think that (stop reading the Daily Mail, take off the tinfoil hat and try some rational thinking please), but regardless it's far from uncommon to find people saying this. That's something that would get in the way of making this an appealing playable race for the masses. Plus artwork wise it would all be fairly risqué, gothic, murder porn which may not be so great for the advertising guys to work with. Fun times in the design studio mind you...

So for those three options we've got one that would be popular, but boring to play and then the other two wouldn't be that popular outside of existing warhammer fans and would alienate or offend people. Which leaves us with Tzeentch or Undivided.

This really could have gone either way, both are perfectly viable and it must have been a tough call. Undivided is the worship of all 4 chaos gods equally and would have given Mythic the widest range of options, with mastery trees based around different gods and their associated playstyles. But Tzeentch while more limited than the immense freedom of Undivided, it does have quite a few advantages.

Firstly it has a distinctive visual style, which would (and has proved to) be popular. It's one that gives your art team a lot of freedom, but still maintains a clear and instantly recognisable theme. It was also never going to offend anyone.

It doesn't require any restrictions to what type of gameplay you make for it's characters, it easily fit the MMO standard template.

Lore wise it is Tzeentch and his worshippers that tend to organise all the alliances, I'll fated as they maybe. These buggers are the catalyst and manipulators of all things chaos. It just makes sense for them to be running the destruction show.

Also by not going undivided and instead sticking to a one god theme, it leaves the others as options for future playables, PvE and any other options they can think up.

Visual mass appeal, no lore breaking required, wide ranging options for playstyles, less future limitations and of course, last but not least, it meant they got to make Magus on discs. Which obviously just had to be done.

That's what I think anyway.

Wednesday 11 August 2010

A clarification on yesterdays post

A clarification is required! I had some messages late last night from people who had read my last post and were worried I was going to quit WAR if/when 1.3.6 turns off friendly collision detection (now to be known as FCD). Firstly, thanks for the concern, but worry not!

I said I would consider quitting if:

"2 – The PvP combat system becoming too much like World of Warcraft’s trash PvP."
The removal of FCD alone does not do that. It IS a step in that direction, but I think it is highly unlikely that on its own it would be a step too far. Also none of us know what else Mythic have in the pipeline and how the removal of FCD may benefit other things.

So apologies if that sounded like a "AGGH I quit!", it was meant to sound more considered than that and express a more long term concern with the situation. I wrote that post literally as it popped in my head and I didn't edit, just posted. Long before WAR I was known for banging on about how you cant do proper MMO PvP without full collision detection, so it is a big deal for what I want out of WAR. If in the future we end up with WoW PvP then there is no point to playing WAR, since WoW would have the same PvP and the PvE in WoW is far better... But that's only possibly in the future, yet hopefully not!

As people know I'm all for change and improvement in WAR, but I do think this is a change for the worst. I'm not going to be quitting anytime soon though! It's more of a long term concern.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Big post of rambling before going AFK

I’m going to be AFK for a week, which would have meant no posts, but thanks to the glory of iPhone I might be able to sneak in the odd post, but that may prove difficult… Still, worry not my bored at work friends! Just go check my blog roll for more WAR, MMO and other alt-tab work-time reading! ;) In the meantime I figured rather than post on a particular topic, I’d instead ramble about the various WAR related things ticking through my head and see where that takes me.

First of all we have the collision detection drama that I posted about yesterday. For good or ill, this will prove to be what 1.3.6 is remembered for. I saw this post on the WHA forums earlier which tickled me, it’s a quote from a Mythic grab-bag about friendly collision detection. LOL Poor Mythic, but that’s the curse of the internet and that special breed, the MMO gamer… if you say it, it’s never, ever forgotten. I have to say though; I agree with Mythic’s comments in that grab bag and would love to hear exactly why it was a problem then and not now. I say that without sarcasm. No, seriously, something changed their mind and would like to know exactly why.

Long term readers will know that this is not something I would say lightly, as I’m not one to go all emo-rage-quit, but there are 2 things that would make me seriously consider quitting WAR:
1 – WAR going free to play (thankfully ruled out)
2 – The PvP combat system becoming too much like World of Warcraft’s trash PvP.

As of 1.3.6 the jury is out on the second one. I’m unfortunately only little bit hopeful it will work out ok, I’ve got much louder alarm bells going off like crazy. Kiting through friendly targets, weakening of the relevance of terrain and a big step towards Zerghammer are genuine threats with this change. If Zerghammer replaces everything, then everyone will suffer and all of Mythic’s recent progress will be for naught. You may think I’m being overly negative, reading too much into it, but in a year and a half of writing this blog I’ve discovered it’s better not to write off my gut feeling on this sort of thing. Everything I’m hearing is pointing to this going in regardless of anybody’s concerns. Unless it’s for a like a temporary 2 week test on live servers, then I will be staying extremely worried for the future of WAR’s gameplay.

Moving on…

A mini Blorc update. Sorry folks, I got sidetracked… I will be continuing and will be posting about his progress, but I just got utterly absorbed by my Witch Elf. I’m approaching realm rank 50 with her, have got pretty well geared for that level and have become reasonably proficient in kicking arse. Of course I still lots and lots to learn to become “good” with the Witch Elf. It’s also dramatically reduced the time I’ve spent on my Chosen, which I need to address. The Black Orc I figure I’ll pick up again in couple of weeks.

Gamescom, Gamesday Baltimore and the big announcements for the future are fast approaching. Many of us are expecting this to be news on a paid expansion, whereas others are more than a little less optimistic (shock horror). There are all sorts of rumours flying around, but they’re hard to substantiate. For example I’ve heard from a respectable contact with extremely good links into Gamesworkshop that not only is an expansion coming, but it’s been practically ready for a while, but between the GOA split and the big scary Cataclysm approaching, Mythic’s release schedule was buggered. Any truth in it? I’ve no idea! I can’t get any confirmations and it could just have been someone involved pulling our chain. In a couple of weeks hopefully we’ll know the truth.

As an aside to that, something is going on general with Mythic and their games. Mythic have stated that Ultima Online has a big announcement coming. The lead for Dark Age of Camelot is also going to Gamescom and I believe Gamesday too. Hmmm. Speculation can lead you all over the place with this.

Next thought… Having had plenty of time to settle into our new Mythic version of the Karak Norn server I can confidently give a bit of feedback on it. The performance in ORvR is vastly improved. Is this to do with avoiding France Telecom? Having played MMOs for a long time, I wouldn’t be bloody surprised. I’m extremely pleased with the improvements in ORvR and it has been great fun. Alas, its not all good news. The lag spikes everyone gets in Tomb of the Vulture Lord (or any dungeon) when something happens elsewhere in the game world have not gone away with the GOA servers, so its obviously WAR itself at fault. I loathe wiping on a boss purely because everyone’s game froze up for a second or two. Actually I don’t know if this is related or not, but if you want to see some kind of server delay in visual form, just use a knockdown on the cousins on the 7th boss in Vulture Lord and notice how they fall to the floor several paces BEHIND where you and the mob are when you actually hit them. It happens almost every single time.

Finally in not WAR related, yet sort of is, news, I’ve been playing an awful lot of “Mount & Blade: Warband” and am bloody loving it. Once you get past the dodgy presentation, the lack of decent instructions and after you apply the Polished Landscapes add on to update the graphics, it is truly a brilliant game. The single player campaign is far deeper than it at first appeared and the multiplayer is absolutely fantastic. I’ve been in siege battles with 222 people, no lag at all and FULL collision detection. I’m sure for technical reasons that you can’t really compare a hosted battle game and a MMO on performance, but a big part of why this game is so amazingly brilliant is that full collision detection. Last word on that my friends, you don’t know what you had until its gone.

The Kill Frenzy WAR video auteur is making a video of some of the fights we’ve had, I’ll post it ASAP so you can see why I’m gushing about this game.

Anyways that’s me done, I’ll try and keep posting over the next week, but don’t rely on me for news or anything ;)

Monday 9 August 2010

None, uhm.. sorry.. SOME shall pass!

As you’ve no doubt already noticed, the big topic for debate at the moment is Mythic’s decision to remove friendly collision detection in patch 1.3.6. It’s been tested a couple of times on the PTS (Public Test Server) and appears to have been generally well received, particularly as people are quoting a 15% improvement in WAR client performance. 15% may not sound like much, but it is. Seriously folks, that’s a dramatic improvement for software and should not be underestimated. However, it comes at a price, a price that is not yet known.
It’s important to note that enemy collision detection is NOT being removed; it’s only friendly targets you’ll be able to walk through. Which would at first seem fine, after all it is enemy collision detection that allows us to form up shield walls and do the whole “none shall pass!” thing. And we’ve all been annoyed trying to push through a doorway that’s blocked by a blob of idiot/AFK players from our own realm, so combined with the performance improvement you might think that this all sounds great and that it won’t change anything really.
Hmmmm. I’m not so sure, in fact I’m a little worried. Not just because it’s a step towards WoW PvP, which is utter turd, no sir, because this isn’t some small tweak. This is a serious, core gameplay changing, “OMG THEY DID WHAT?” type change.
First off I’m going to on a little tangent. Shield walls, or tank walls as we call them in WAR, haven’t actually worked for a looooooooong time. All a tank wall does at present is provide easy targets for burning down and applying AoE on. I hear on some servers they still do tank walls, but they wouldn’t last 20 seconds on mine. Karak Norn is all about using terrain to create a funnel that the attacking players get, er… funnelled into and AoE melted to death instantly. That’s no ego or server pride statement; I’m not saying our server is better, just that it does work differently here. A friend of mine who was involved recently in a long discussion on Mythic’s vent with people from other servers told me that it came out in discussion that they’re just not using the same amount of AoE as we do. They have much more varied warband set ups, with like only 3 Bright Wizards or Sorcs in a warband (interested to hear comments on this), whereas many warbands on Karak Norn will have 6-8, backed up with guarding tanks, healers and maybe a token other DPS or two... A tank wall can not stand up to that (the stacked PBAoE instant kills), plus even if you’re not running a bomb spec warband/zerg, you can still easily crush tank walls, there’s rift/magnet, etc for one and the easiest thing is you just do a coordinated offensive morale bomb on them. Since morale damage is not mitigated by anything that makes a tank, a... uhm... tank… BOOM! Instantly dead tank wall, job done.
The reason I went on that tangent is people are quoting the use of tank walls in the testing and how they will still work and give outnumbered defenders a chance of holding out. Unfortunately for me this just doesn’t mean anything at all, since tank walls simply do not work. The only defence that gives any protection against a vaguely coordinated zerg is a funnel defence. Funnelling defences work not so much by using enemy collision detection, but more by using a combination of terrain and your enemy’s friendly collision detection. You use a choke point to set up and the enemy can’t all rush through the funnel at once, the friendly detection slows them down and as a result the defenders have time to melt them all with monstrous AoE.
So with friendly collision detection removed, is there any way that an outnumbered defender can stand up to a larger enemy force? Tank walls will continue not to work and with nothing to slow the attackers down, funnels will not work either. It sounds like it will become purely about the numbers you bring and nothing else. You may say that the underdog shouldn’t be able to win, that they should not have any advantages, well sorry but that is utter bollocks. For a start look at history (or just watching 300 will do for history-lite) and secondly the whole point of things like keeps is to provide a defensive advantage when facing larger numbers. An outnumbered, but organised defence should be allowed to make use of terrain to their advantage, but with friendly collision detection removed, what does terrain actually do? That’s the problem, because right now friendly collision detection is just as, if not more, important than enemy.
Against all odds is meant to encourage us to fight when outnumbered, but if there’s zero chance of standing up to larger numbers, will people bother? What about in smaller scale situations and scenarios where enemy players can now at all times freely kite you into their allies? How is that going to work out?
Having said all of this, you may be surprised to hear that I do actually think it should go onto the live servers, albeit with a proviso.
It is a huge performance improvement and with the other changes in 1.3.6 combined with the tricky to predict live environment, maybe things like tank walls will work again. We can all theorycraft to our hearts content about how it will work out, but this is a major change to a core component of the gameplay and as such its hard to reliably predict the outcome. There is a chance that everything will be ok, better even. Alas testing it on the PTS just doesn’t prove anything about the real impact of this change. The only way to know is to test it on the live servers and see how it works out. So I think it should be put onto the live servers, but it is absolutely critical that Mythic are ready to hotfix it out if it does turn the game into an even bigger zerg fest.
You can say what you like, be it for or against, but it boils down to this being a major change to the core of WAR’s combat system. Mythic need to be extremely cautious and must react very, very quickly should the risk versus reward prove not worth it.

Saturday 7 August 2010

Slow few days

I've been slack and not posted for a few days, mainly due to insanely busy RL stuff. Also I think there's a bit of a calm before the storm thing going on. We've got news coming in a 2-3 weeks and I think many of us are waiting to see what that is, rather than speculating further. God knows we've all done enough of that since WAR launched, but soon we'll see who ends up being proved right. One way or another the WAR internet community is going to assplode with chatter soon.

Anyways, I won't be waiting for that to get back to daily posting, normal service will resume very shortly. ;)

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Damage done or damage dumb?

For many people this post is going to be stating the obvious, but having seen people gloating and deriding others recently over scenario scores, I figured I’d have a little chat about it.

Scenario damage scores are funny old things. People often use them to show this class is OP, this one gimped, and this person is amazingly skilled, this one a noob, etc, etc… but really most of the time those damage scores are very misleading. Here are a few examples why this happens:

AoE damage inflates scores hugely, but if nobody actually dies then all that damage doesn’t mean much. If a Sorcerer (or whatever) does nothing but bomb, regardless of whether it was actually sensible or not, then they can have massive damage scores yet not really contributed or played well at all.

A tank can have massive damage scores, but if that tank wasn’t targeted much and doesn’t get killed often, then they will have more active time to be causing damage. That tank could also be causing lots of damage but lacked any real contribution. Alas those big scores are one of the major contributing factors into the widely believed, but essentially flawed, crying about tank DPS.

A Witch Hunter or Witch Elf could have low damage scores when compared with the above, but what if they actually burned people down so quickly that they didn’t need to do more damage than their targets basic hit points? In that case the reality could be that their DPS and effectiveness is much greater than it appears.

Where the scenario scoreboard gets interesting and starts to actually provide some meaning is when you start comparing and combining the different statistics it holds; damage, killing blows, solo kills and healing. Should the Sorcerer mentioned above also have a high number of killing blows, then it is looking more likely that they were impactful. If the other player’s damage was much lower and the Sorcerer’s enemy healer’s scores were high, then it’s pretty bloody certain that Sorcerer was the primary threat.

So be a bit wary of hawking scenario scoreboards based on the damage dealt, because that damage score alone is just a number and not a lot else

Monday 2 August 2010

Opposites attract

I was wondering earlier, if I had started WAR on the opposite faction, what career would I have gone for? Which career would I be considering my main today instead of my Chosen?

There are quite a few Order careers I’m intrigued by; in particular Slayers, White Lions, Shadow Warriors and Warrior Priests, but I just know I would have gone with an Ironbreaker. Nothing to do with how powerful they are or have been, since I wouldn’t have known back at launch anyway, no this would have been purely based on them being grumpy bastards smothered in gromril armour. With beards… and beards are important, both for WHFB dwarves and in real life. Beard+axe (or hammer)+grumpy+gromril=WIN! Yes I choose a career in as shallow a manner as that :P You've got to look at it for a long time, so style and character > all really.

Ages ago I made one on a different server; got a few levels under his rather large belt and then I decided to stop. Too tempting a distraction, too much time required away from my Destruction server. It’s nagging at me still…

What about you folks? If you had started on the opposing side which career would have attracted you?

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