Thursday 30 December 2010


Thanks to a mixture of Xmas stuff and me currently having proper flu (I'm writing this slowly on an iPhone while stuck in bed) I've had absolutely no gaming time so far during the Xmas holidays. Disappointing because I'm bored shitless and very curious to see how my home server of Karak Norn is ticking along, what with the likes of the Rift beta, Cataclysm and so on. Also I've seen a few people from the less populated US servers talking about having transferred to Norn, so I wonder how close this has taken us to a 24hour active server?

I don't know what is happening to those less populated US servers, Iron Rock for example, but it doesn't sound like they're getting the new lease 
of life people had hoped for. Perhaps the jumping ship to Badlands situation that people were banging on about just went too far for it to be redeemed by anything. Maybe that's not such a bad thing though, with WAR being a population reliant game, perhaps it will be better for everyone if they are on the busy servers and we all said to hell with the quiet ones. Paid versus free transfers becomes questionable with that thinking mind you.

Reading my server forum has been rather depressing of late with a lot of quitting threads appearing. Though I asked about and apparently the server is as busy as ever, so it maybe that those quitting post are only representative of certain types of players and cliques quitting rather than anything too severe. Or it could be the sky falling of course. Forums are certainly not a reflection of a MMO's population in any real sense, so it's hard to judge and particularly so when I can't log on myself. Anyways /salute to all those moving elsewhere, hopefully we'll see your return when other greener pastures turn out to be only richer in PvE...

Anyways with people returning from holidays soonish, it would be lovely if Mythic could give us a nice nugget of spicy future news.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Oh what to do...

I find myself in a funny place with WAR right now, kind of uncertain what I want to be doing. I hit 80 on my Chosen a while back and probably the sensible thing to do is to focus purely on him, but I feel distracted and somewhat uninspired. Not with the Chosen itself, but with the whole 80-100 bit. It's a long grind with no upgrades or change between now and the new armour set at 90. I think I may be more motivated by pixel progression than I had realised; perhaps I have got used to having those carrots within comfortable reach.

Combine that with those 20 further RRs being all in the same surroundings and situations... alas it has led to logging in with my Chosen feeling a little flat. I think this is probably the biggest issue for me with the lack of Chosen motivation, more so than the pixel progression really, the campaign changes have been a start, but seriously not the great inspirational revitalisation we need to avoid a stagnant sensation. And to be honest I would say it's only fighting in new surroundings that can provide that, be it entirely new areas, the repurposing of the T4 side zones, or (my personal fave) making T4 fully RvR enabled and with purpose.

I'm not sure what else to say, as quite simply that's what the game needs right now. No doubt a huge task, even if done one pairing at a time and probably beyond reality to consider, but I don't care. That's what I want and IMHO what WAR needs.

In the meantime I need to decide on which alt is my next focus...

Thursday 16 December 2010

The 1.4 Honeymoon is over

Sorry Mythic, I aint holding back on this one and I don’t think I can be accused of being negative, just utterly realistic to the situation a great many of us are finding ourselves in right now…

I said recently how 1.4 had some issues but also had a lot of potential. The 1.4 patch has had a fair bit of time to bed in now and I still stand by that previous statement, but I think it’s fair to say that those issues have become considerably bigger. As ever there are many little things that need sorting out, but there are two big killer issues: Zerg lag and repetition.

As soon as a keep hits rank 4 the game turns into a horrible laggy clusterfuck of zergdom. Everyone piles into the keep being attacked, funnel defences are set up, morale bomb counters are used and hundreds (and hundreds!) of players fight over a single doorway, since Rat Ogres and bombers are irrelevant in large scale fights. The game turns into a slideshow, people start crashing to character select, abilities stop working and the doom and gloom begins. So you either decide to forget the attack/defence and change zone, or you face a slow inevitable collapse as people get bored of playing a game that now runs in a frame by frame manner not unlike a comic book. First your DoKs log off because soul essence no longer recharges and they can’t do anything, then a few other people log off out of frustration and at worst then the zone crashes and everyone decides screw it lets do something else.

Other than thr zone crash (which isn't exactly rare), the rest happens pretty much every other night, in fact sometimes much more regularly and it’s getting really bloody old. This patch was meant to disperse the zerg, but it hasn’t, instead it has dramatically intensified it. Prior to a 4 star keep, when the focus is on the Battle Objectives, I love the game. On Norn we get lots of people roaming around and there’s something for everyone. However, unless it’s a quiet time of day when a keep hits 4 stars, it’s then time to consider logging off or (heaven forbid) going AFK. I don’t want to slag the game off and I always try to be as fair as possible, but there’s no two ways about it, this really bloody sucks. What really grates as well is that prior to the keep attacks I’m quite often having a great time and thinking how much of an improvement the new resource system is, only to have my happiness shattered by the zerg crap it leads to.

Then we have the repetition issue. Thanquol’s Incursion is too small, not very interesting and a huge disappointment all round. Regardless of the tunnels and things in the dungeon, it has proven to be effectively a single chamber with a boss in the middle and probably no enemies to fight inside. If there are enemies you can bet your bottom dollar that one of the sides will outnumber the other at least 4 to 1, which is just a boring and frustrating experience for all. As such this new dungeon barely registers as something to do. I can not tell you how much of an epic disappointment Thanquol’s Incursion has proven to be. It looks quite cool, the bosses look great, but why are there no other Skaven inside? Why are these rat infested tunnels, not actually rat infested? What is the point of all the tunnels? It needs a lot of work.

And as for playable Skaven… Gutter Runner and Warlock Engineer are brilliant fun, but in such limited numbers that you don’t often get to play them. The Rat Ogre is dull, ineffectual in lag, dies very easily and throwing people on walls is pointless in large scale. The Packmaster is beyond rubbish and absolutely poo to play. As such playable Skaven and the new dungeon just hasn’t freshened things up enough, it still feels too samey.

Which means we’ve got another bunch of Renown Ranks to grind through on our way to 100, but in exactly the same zones as before, with nothing new to look at and a worse than ever zerg problem. I’m sorry guys, but it’s just dull. We desperately need new content, something that makes the game feel fresh and give people that sense of wonder and excitement that comes with new toys in a MMO. Look at the other MMOs around, level cap increases are accompanied by new things to do and most importantly new things to look at. That’s what keeps things fresh and helps mask the nature of the grind.

Mythic are tight on time and resources, we know that, we understand, but most people playing the game couldn’t give two turds about that and that’s quite a fair viewpoint really. Development issues ares just not their problem. They want to enjoy the game they are paying for. Yet we have an extension of the last 2 years grind and when we look around we see the temptations of other games… WoW has a monstrous new expansion, Star Trek Online has proper new content added regularly, Age of Conan has a full expansion, Lord of the Rings Online plus Pirates of the Burning Sea have gone free to play, Guild Wars 2 is on the horizon, DC Universe Online is getting some good reports, etc, etc. There are loads of MMO things to tempt us right now, and I’m still in bloody Dragonwake.

Look at the side zones Cinderfall, West Praag, etc. Notice NOBODY playing there, now notice how cool the zones actually are, and consider what an epic waste of space, time and effort they are. Take them, make the RvR enabled, turn some of the keeps and buildings into objectives, etc. Perhaps even keep some of the PQ’s and relate winning them to resource gathering. Yes I know it’s easy for me to say and there’s probably a massive amount of work involved, but seriously folks we desperately need fresh feeling surroundings. Hell, I know I always say it, but make everything RvR enabled and give the PQ’s some kind of resource related impact.

I don’t know which of the two issues is the easiest to fix, but I do know that a combination of zerg lag and repetition will do nothing to help WAR’s future. There are lots and lots of rumblings of discontent right now.

Fix it please.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Woah that went live quick

Mythic didn't waste any time with the DoK/WP nerf/change going live. Forums are going to assplode right about... well... they have been for days.

It will be very interesting to see what the reality of this change is. My money is on the decent guilds and players adapting very quickly and not a great deal changing in the grand scheme of things, other than perhaps cloth healers getting a bit more popular. I suspect that those suggesting that the rampant AoE of doom will melt things quicker have a point, but meh, it's not like it was particularly slow before.

Any time that people get nerfed the forums go ape-shit, more often than not it proves to be players crying purely out of self interest, sometimes not of course, but until this gets played with on live we won't know how justified all the QQ has been. I'll be most intrigued to see on Karak Norn what impact (if any) it has on warband composition for the big name guilds.

Hotfix details below:


The following Hot Fixes were implemented during today's maintenance:

General Changes and Bug Fixes
•The Keg’s End Live Event has begun and lasts until January 4th, 2011!
Combat and Careers

Disciple of Khaine
•Khaine’s Embrace: The base healing value of this ability has been reduced and its cooldown has been removed.
•Khaine’s Vigor: The base healing value of this ability has been increased and its duration has been reduced.

•Chaotic Attunement: Fixed an issue which prevented this Tactic ability from reducing the Action Point cost of summoning abilities.
Warrior Priest
•Pious Restoration: The base healing value of this ability has been increased and its duration has been reduced.
•Touch of the Divine: The base healing value of this ability has been reduced and its cooldown has been removed.

Realm vs. Realm
Open RvR
•Rate Ogre: This unit’s survivability has been increased.
•Gutter Run: This Gutter Runner ability will no longer stack with other run speed buffs.

Monday 13 December 2010

DoK and WP nerfing

Thought I would chime in with my take on the whole DoK and WP nerf and the subsequent EMO RAGE AAAAGGGHHHH on every forum, chat channel and so on.

It's really quite simple. They need nerfing and the fact that so many guilds base their entire warband healing on them says it all. However, they also need their melée healing as a viable alternative to spamming group heal when in warbands, or any situation where a true healer is required. Melée healing should be viable, end of story.

Give and take, that's what is needed.

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Having impact as a player below RR80

One of the things I’ve been experimenting a bit with lately was comparing the impact of a couple of my alts versus my RR80 Chosen. I was thinking about this as I’ve quite often seen people say that characters below RR80 are now useless because of the huge gear and renown ability gulf. I think that in reality “useless” is far too strong a word and whilst they are obviously less effective, that doesn’t mean players can’t use for them in beneficial ways, particularly in a group/warband setting. Before I move on though, I will say that soloing will often not work out very well against all those high RR players. I solo roam on all my lowbie alts because I’m a glutton for punishment and I like to learn new characters in as brutal a fashion as possible, I’m not expecting to win fights, I’m learning how to survive them… If you ding 40 and start solo roaming expecting to compete with your server’s RR80+ solo roaming heroes, then unless you’re bloody awesome (or your server is crap) you’re going to end up frustrated.

Having said all of that, I really do think Mythic should urgently look at improving the armour sets below 80. I know it’s not a quick thing for them to do, but why leave it as a frustration for new players playing catch up? Now that the RvR Pack has given us high RR players some new carrots to chase, some serious thought should be given to making those below us not feel too far behind. The best way of doing that is levelling out the gear gulf a little.

Anyways, back on topic obviously better gear makes everything easier and life will be tough, but you are not useless. At low RR it’s all about being a team player, which leads me to...

The main preconception you need to throw away is the idea that being useful is defined by the number of kills you get or your personal result on scenario scoreboards. It’s not. That kind of thinking is just leaning towards the solo mindset and is asking for trouble when you’re a low renown ranked player. It’s all about the overall performance of your group and contributing to it. So if your character is lacking in damage or healing output compared with high RR players, how do you contribute?

It’s all about the decent application of buffs, debuffs and crowd control. A great many players regardless of their renown rank will build their character about being as killy as possible; they are obsessed with personal glory. Quite often they won’t concentrate on those abilities that benefit their group more than them. So why not help them get that glory by improving their potency or survivability and as a result earn a share of their renown?

Rather than go through every class I’ll just give a few examples of the sort of thing I mean.

Chopa Fasta!
It lasts 20 seconds and reduces cooldowns on your groups abilities by 5 seconds. This is incredibly potent when combined with the right abilities from other careers that with a no cooldown buff become spammable for 20 seconds.

Can’t Stop Da Chop combined with No More Helpin’
50% Debuffs for both incoming and outgoing healing. These can be used to effectively shuts down an enemy healer or ensure the groups target dies. You can even mix in Tired Already? To make life worse for them by adding 5 seconds to their ability cooldowns.

Git To Da Choppa and Wot’s Da Rush
One ability that pulls enemies in and another that AoE snares them, both a pain in the arse for the enemy and can compliment your warband’s AoE nukers.

As a lowbie Choppa you cannot compete DPS wise with the high RR players, but applying those abilities at the right time can have a massive impact.

Black Orc
Save Da Runts (Guard)
Forget killing, make yourself as tough to be killed as possible, put your guard on the right group mate (who depends on what is required), stick to them like glue and keep them alive. Now if we combine this with your other abilities to buff, debuff and crowd control the enemy…

AoE that reduces enemy damage by 30% for up to 15 seconds.

Big Slash, Down Ya Go and Where You Going?
AoE knockback, a knockdown and an AoE root provide excellent crowd control if used at the right times.

Shut yer Face
Silence that Bright Wizard or Rune Priest, stop them casting and watch them die.

Saving Me Hide
Reduces incoming magic damage by 20% on your whole group. It might only last 4 seconds, but it can be kept active quite easily.

Not in Da Face!
Like the Choppa ability “Tired Already?” this increases enemy cooldowns by 5 seconds. It also gives your group the unstoppable buff for 4 seconds making them immune to pretty much everything.

Hold the Line!
Massively increased disrupt chance to mess up enemy spells and it buffs your allies dodge and disrupt.

These are just a few examples of abilities that can have great impact regardless of what armour you are wearing. Every career has things like this. So I would suggest for any new 40, put aside concerns about your damage output and look at how you can support those around you. Being an effective teamplayer can make you of great value to your guild, regardless of your rank.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Latest WAR hotfixes

Interesting change to hardy concession. Unkillable healers have to make a choice it seems, so I think I like it.

Renown tactics? I guess those empty slots have a purpose again, though not very soon. Unless you're either unemployed, a student blag artist or a complete bloody mentalist.

General Changes and Bug Fixes

•Fixed an issue where passive bonuses from items would not properly reapply after a player died while under the affects of a Play as Skaven buff.
•The Bonus to Renown granted by the purchase of the RvR Pack for Renown Ranks 1-10 has been slightly increased.

Combat and Careers

Renown Abilities
•PLEASE NOTE: As a result of the changes being implemented during today’s maintenance, all players have had the Career Mastery and Renown Ability Points refunded. Please be sure to visit the Career and Renown trainers upon logging in.
•Hardy Concession: This Renown Ability will now reduce outgoing healing.
•New Renown Tactics are now available at Renown Ranks 90 and 100. These new Renown Tactics may be purchased through your Career Trainer in the Career Abilities Window upon reaching Renown Ranks 90 and 100.
◦Augment Vigor: Grants additional Wounds to the player and is available for purchase from your Career Trainer at Renown Rank 100.
◦Empowered Mastery: Grants 1 Mastery Level to Mastery Path 1 and is available for purchase from your Career Trainer at Renown Rank 90.
◦Eternal Mastery: Grants 1 Mastery Level to Mastery Path 2 and is available for purchase from your Career Trainer at Renown Rank 90.
◦Infinite Mastery: Grants 1 Mastery Level to Mastery Path 3 and is available for purchase from your Career Trainer at Renown Rank 90.

Sunday 5 December 2010

A spot on DoK - WP post

Can be found here. It's a most excellent guest post by @AndyBursh.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Thoughts on WAR 1.4, RvR Packs and Campaign

So I figured it’s about time I wrote down some thoughts on how I’m finding WAR since 1.4 went live. Regular readers will be expecting this, but for those new to my special strain of bollocks… I warn you now I may ramble a little bit and I doubt it will be my shortest post ever… Oh and in this post I am just going to talk a little bit about the RvR pack and then concentrate on the campaign changes. Career balance, Skaven and the new dungeon/scenario/instance thing I’ll save for another time.
If I was to sum up the impact of the 1.4 patch quickly it would be to say: It has in many ways been a big improvement, has shown massive potential, but has introduced new problems and is far from the finished article. Overall though it’s a positive step and if Mythic play it right, it bodes well for the future.
The RvR Packs
Increased renown gain rate below 81 and more renown ranks are great. New mounts, dyes, cosmetic items and so on are also all great. The lack of content compared with traditional expansions is a disappointment and I think anyone denying that is fooling themselves. It’s not something to be hugely negative about, but it’s most certainly not ideal. However the cost was low and doesn’t offend me.
One thing that needs stressing mind you is that I don’t for a second consider the RvR Packs as optional. Technically they are, but practically they are 100% not optional. As such I can totally understand why some of my friends are very annoyed about it, particularly those who have been long time MMO gamers. If you look at DAoC for example, you never paid just for more renown ranks, you paid for very large amounts of content being added. WAR hasn’t done that, instead it’s made you pay purely to remain competitive in the future (as people hit 90-100), but has given you a small amount of new content and a campaign system revamp free.
Do I find myself annoyed by it? No. Am I happy with it? I think “Pleasantly ambivalent” would describe my feelings on the matter. I like WAR and still enjoy playing, I like the people I’ve had the chance to communicate with at Mythic and in general I like the gamer community WAR has. So if paying a few quid extra as a one off helps the game progress, then I really don’t mind.
Do I want a proper full blown expansion to be released? Of course I do, but if Mythic deliver on this new content every 6 months thing properly, then actually maybe I would rather have that. But the key word was “properly”, it needs to be decent chunks of content and not just a new scenario or things that feel lightweight. And don’t be late.
The Campaign
The new system is a vast improvement in a general sense. The keeps, siege weapons and battle objectives have more importance, the campaign feels more dynamic and there is normally more for you to do at any one point in time. Groups and warbands seem to be roaming the zone much more than before and for a lot of the time it does spread people across the zone. Of course it’s not all roses.
I asked at the Q&A if keeps would degrade in rank if people stopped gathering resources, Mythic answered no and I worried my little head about it. Alas, exactly what I thought this would mean has happened. When the keeps both get to rank 4-5 the battle objectives lost ALL meaning and relevance and we were back to 2 huge zergs lagging the shit out of the whole zone. Thankfully Mythic have started to address this with the latest hotfix where if one side has the AAO underdog buff then every time their resource carrier delivers the resources it repairs their keep door.
It’s not a proper zerg fix, but is something Mythic should build on, the resources and battle objectives should be considered as a keeps supply lines and ideally they should keep some purpose at all times. This will encourage people to spread around all time, because if you have both keeps at rank 5 and both sides with even numbers (like last night for example) you just get everyone at keeps and the zerg battle again.
Big keep battles are fun. HUGE keep battles are a trial, test everyone’s patience and give credence to the negative accusations regarding WAR’s performance. Accusations that are unfair in one sense, as 300 vs 300 in one area will lag to hell in almost any game, but because of that most games don’t set us up for 300 vs 300 fights in such a small areas. By encouraging those situations WAR is just asking for trouble. Also my server has been VERY busy, so much so that it has been impossible to avoid zergs almost every night. To many of us this has highlighted that the RvR zones are too small. Once again I would suggest Mythic consider expanding the RvR into the utterly wasted PvE areas and think about utilising them towards those keep supply lines.
Siege Weapons and Keeps
Siege weapons are much improved, but not enough and there’s a related problem for keep takes. Oil is fine, single target cannons are fine, but the AoE cannons(etc) are utter crap and can’t be used in enough numbers for those being targeted to care much about them. Aerial bombers are a good addition and when several of them combine their bombs they can dish out some real hurt. Unfortunately though the changes to sieges has caused a problem for melee careers, particularly tanks; as a Chosen player at keep sieges I have regularly found myself with absolutely nothing to do.
With most keep battles involving hundreds of players, an awful lot of the time you will find the ram is fully manned, all siege weapons are being used, the aerial bombers are taken and Skaven are either not available or are already being used. And it’s all too common when Skaven are available to find no Rat Ogres left for our warband, due to random twats running around in the arse end of no where with them. So if the defenders stay inside the walls, it leaves me with absolutely nothing to do. And I mean quite literally nothing... In fact one night I just started alt tabbing to play Football Manager during keep takes. To sort this out I would suggest that either we need an increase in the numbers of siege weapons and Skaven, or my preferred choice… give us ladders.
Melee DPS careers can (sometimes) sneak through the postern doors, ranged careers can attack people on the walls, healers are obviously busy healing, but tanks are left on a limb. So I would suggest giving tanks a career ability that allows them to construct a ladder to climb the walls. Give it a reasonable cooldown or slow build time and maybe to balance things out for defenders their tanks could use the same ability to destroy ladders. This would mean much more action across the entire walls and the battles would be far more like those classic sieges you see in the films, with warriors guarding the walls. I think it would add a great extra dimension to the battle and most importantly stop tanks (and on occasion all melee) being bored shitless for a lot of keep battles.
Having said all of that about me finding keeps boring when attacking, the thing is when I have had things to do it has been MUCH more fun than the old days of RvDoor. Being thrown onto the walls, dropping bombs on the defenders and so on has added things to do. It’s just a shame those things are only available or viable in small scale sieges.
One of the things about keeps that has caused much debate is the defenders respawning in the keep. Prior to launch there was a concern that this would make well defended keeps impossible to take and we’d never see a city siege again, but as the MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of city sieges since 1.4 has clearly demonstrated that wasn’t true. Though it has certainly made it impossible to stop defenders getting into a keep and taken away the strategic element of preventing reinforcements. Which is a shame, but is another thing that could be replaced by improving the relevance of battle objectives as supply lines regardless of a keeps rank. So instead of assigning a warband to worry about reinforcements, you could have them attacking the enemy supply lines and effectively starving the defenders out. New defenders joining the zone then have to decide whether to reinforce the keep itself or protect those supply lines.
But while respawning in the keep isn’t ideal in some ways, it has been great fun as a defender. We’ve had some great times sallying forth to counter attack, without having to worry about a quick dumping to the warcamp miles away. It has made active and aggressive defences much more viable and enjoyable experiences. With a group of KF the other day I had some awesome fights in Chaos Wastes against Crimson and Champion of the Gods, as we battled around the rear postern door. Great fun. Also sieges where there is an aggressive defending force are much more fun for both attackers and defenders, as it gives everyone something to do. Unfortunately not all fights are like this.
It seems to me that Mythic have gone in the right direction with 1.4, but they need to do a lot of refinement and tweaking for it to reach its potential and be something everyone enjoys all the time. With the other game releases over the next few months it will be very important for Mythic to continue regular hotfixing, updating and tweaking the game, whilst keeping the communication levels up. They’ve picked the ball up, it’s now all about not dropping it.

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