Richard Prince has written Shadowspear Legacy, a Warhammer Online novel, and plans to publish a chapter per month in the run-up to the game’s release. While this isn’t a sanctioned Games Workshop piece of writing, it’s very nicely done and gives some access to a wider background piece available free and online.
I was trawling the news sites for any info about WAR (something I do so much more regularly now) and I came across this little interview with the games developers. Most of it is stuff I already knew about the game, and it’s a decent little read.. but then I came across this snippet:
“There seems to be a real depth of narrative in Age Of Reckoning that’s perhaps missing from most online games.
It’s a hard role in an MMOG. You constantly fight against the need for narrative, and the push against it by players or designers who don’t think that it’s important. You have to balance out the impact on the game. So what we’ve done is tied it in to the Tome of Knowledge. So we have this great narrative. There’s, I believe, a prologue and 22 chapters for every race. As you move through the game, physically, you’ll get a ‘Tome Unlock’. Boom – you’ve entered chapter three. You open up your Tome and sure enough, there’s all the information about chapter three. All the information about public quests there, about the rewards you can gain in that chapter by gaining influence, and two or three pages of the story behind that chapter, which is cool because it tells the story about the things that are happening around you. You read the story, and then you go do the quests, and it all ties together.
So, you don’t have to read the story. But if you open up the Tome and read a couple of pages each chapter, it really makes it very fulfilling. It ties together so well. We try to keep quest text fairly short, and try to tie it in to the narrative of each chapter, and then if we have a lot of lengthy text we put that in the Tome. We start to tell this story that Warhammer players have previously had to imagine.”
Is it bad I didn’t know about this role of the Tome of Knowledge?
I already thought the Tome was a good idea, but now it’s become central to why I think WAR will hook me right from the start. I love narrative in games, it’s what can set apart a good game from a phenomenal game – and if they can really crack getting a good narrative into an MMORPG, and a narrative I can go and read at a later date when I’m not rushing to find where I’m supposed to be.. then I’ll be in love with it. Hope it turns out exactly as they have described it though, or I’ll be sad 🙂
NB: for other fans of the Tome of Knowledge, Massively have just posted a short interview with some more links and info about it.
Earnest Cavelli writes an opinion piece in Wired’s blog where he rants about how MMORPGs have run out of ideas and are only including more PvP to keep the vocal hardcore fan happy.
What utter toss.
He loses me right at the beginning with the comment: Even long-standing, well-respected games such as space opera MMO EVE Online have shown a renewed interest in the phenomenon. EVE, in case anyone doesn’t know, is and has always been one of the most cut-throat PvP games on the market. The no holds barred nature of 0.0 space AND the ability to opt out from gaming there if you don’t want to PvP is one of the game’s biggest draws. So no surprise really if they’ve decided to focus on PvP for their next expansion.
You only have to look at the popularity of PvP servers in WoW to see that a large proportion of players not only enjoy occasional PvP but like it so much that any associated issues (like being ganked by high levels) don’t put them off.
As a form of endgame, it’s also relatively cheap compared to creating and stocking new dungeons or areas to explore. Players can literally entertain themselves.
I don’t understand why Cavelli thinks that adding better PvP will result in games that only appeal to a tiny minority. The examples he gives of earlier, smaller games LACKED PvP or implemented it very badly (Ultima Online was notorious for this, back in the day). So of course a lot of people who tried it then hated it. But then again, I also don’t understand why he thinks that MMORPGs evolved from online shooters (clue-by-4: They didn’t, they evolved from MUDs.)
PvP, when it’s done well, is terrifically attractive to players in a MMORPG environment. Forming up into a fighting army with a load of friends and heading off to attack an enemy base or just throw yourselves at another zerg is good fun. Fighting other players will always have an edge to it that fighting monsters never can. Especially if you see names you recognise and can rib them about it afterwards in the game or on forums or IRC.
It’s not just the hardcore who PvP. Most players will try it out. And there is definitely scope for improvements in MMORPG PvP and I’m excited to see developers recognise this and try to address it.
Mark Jacobs gives Gamespy an overview of crafting. Highlights include discussion of grinding crafts, goldfarmers, philosophy behind crafting in WAR and more cool stuff about the Tome of Knowledge (at the end, but it’s beginning to fascinate me – we can read each others? Neat!)
Garthlik on the Warhammer Alliance forums posted confirmation that the last High Elf class is the White Lion (as pretty much known throughout the community anyway).
The accompanying article at Gamespot was apparently posted and then taken down, it’s believed that it’ll go live once this month’s newsletter has been mailed out.