Post ideas that we discarded (so far!)

We don’t write posts on every idea we have. Some of them just wouldn’t work, and we thought we’d share a few of the titles that didn’t make the cut.

  • “What WAR can learn from Mamma Mia/Lost/BSG”
  • “Confessions of a Witch Hunter”
  • “Griefing: A Guide for Beginners”
  • “Dress-Your-Own Paul Barnett”
  • “50 Ways to Leave Your Guild”
  • “Interesting Bugs #1: The Memory Leak”
  • “How to Fake Being Female”
  • “My Personal Book of Grudges”
  • “Train your Child/Pet to Craft”

Living with the NDA

As you can probably guess from the subject line, we’re playing the beta at the moment. (OK, not precisely at this moment, although I may try to write a blog post next time we’re in game and see how long it takes Arb to notice.)

I have a much better understanding now of why some of the other guys in beta have been chafeing at the NDA. I haven’t cancelled my pre-order and I’m looking forwards to playing the game when it goes live, not that kind of frustration. Just that I have to think twice about every post in case I accidentally mention which class I’m enjoying or some other detail which doesn’t quite fall under the restriction of, “There’s a beta. And I’m in it.”

I’m sure you all feel our pain. It’ll be over soon.

But there are some practical issues in guild also. People getting over-excited and needing their posts moderated (I do this, the screwing up on posts bit not the moderation — sorry about that.) Can’t use the guild forums to discuss the beta, even to organise when we’re going to meet up. However, if you check out the latest Guild Highlight from Mythic you will spot a tab labelled Calendar. Without distressing the NDA, I’ll merely comment that since this is /guild/ beta you can judge for yourself what might be under test.

As far as this blog goes, you may have noticed that we’ve been relying more on filler recently. Not that it isn’t all astounding quality and of terrific interest! Just we’re a bit more cautious now about writing WAR specific posts. I’ve also been referring more to examples from other games in what I’ve written recently. There is, by the way, some cool stuff coming up later this week. I mean apart from the July newsletter.

The other reason we’ve been a bit quiet here is that we’re actually playing more. So getting more into the swing of blogging and playing a game, rather than mostly blogging (or chatting about the blog). If you look at things that way, it’s pretty good practice for us 🙂

When the NDA comes down, we will of course share our thoughts. Extensively. And that will likely include information and suggestions that other open beta players might find helpful. We’re not planning to write guides and there are two … no make that three … main reasons for that:

1/ What’s the point in writing a guide where a lot of things might still change before the game goes live? It can’t take long to drop in some extra quests, adjust the levelling curve, or tweak the stats on some loot if Mythic decide to change things. So guides require a certain amount of upkeep.

2/ I’m very much an explorer type, and I’m really not keen to ruin the fun for people of finding things out for themselves. Sure, if the in game instructions are obscure or non-existent then guides are a great idea. But really, anything we can find out in a week or two of playing doesn’t need a guide written about it. I seriously don’t understand why anyone would ever need a guide to level from 1-10.

3/ Other people will be writing awesome guides, drawing maps, and producing amazing WAR related websites. Why reinvent the wheel? We’ll link to the ones we like best, and if we don’t like them we’ll let you know why.

Meanwhile, we’ll be blogging …

GOA website

Edit: Ok, the website maintenance has been postponed, so this is a little defunct!

There’s been a ton of discussion about the GOA website and its use of Flash and how many users would rather it was more like the Mythic one. Community Managers have continued to insist it’s a work in progress, which is good enough for me, to be honest.

Anyway, it’s coming down on Thursday and Friday for maintenance. Will this be when they add the ability to put in beta/early access codes for those of us who pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition? Will it emerge from a cocoon looking completely different? I guess we have to tune in on saturday to find out!

Also, please note the following:

Please note that some of the content on our Newsletter is hosted on our website, hence some Newsletter content will be unavailable during this maintenance.

Now reads to me as if the newsletter will be Thurs or Fri! (let’s get ready for an NDA release?)

NB: yes, ok, after my initial lameness I realised this could refer to old newsletter content. But I’ll keep what I originally wrote, I’d like to think the newsletter will be out before the end of July!

For Dan O’Halloran @ Massively

Dan had a hands on with the WAR beta at Comicon. And he’s riled a few people up by commenting that:

WAR strikes me as WoW mechanics wrapped in different lore plus a couple of new features.

I don’t personally see the issue with a gamer comparing a new game he tries with other games he has played before. Especially since WoW mechanics could also be described as “basic MMO mechanics”.

No, my beef with him is the continued use of the word revirginization. Just stop doing that before the grammar police come round, ‘k?

Links

Ardua gives a cool timeline of Warhammer Online development in his quest to summon up a little patience.

Iain Compton, English Community Manager known to many as IainC (that’s the beauty of pseudonyms, right there!) gives an interview over at MMOhell. It’s a great and insightful interview and we’d just like to note we don’t have his mobile number ;-p

Talking of interviews, there’s quite a few popping up after some weeks of quiet after the big announcements about cities/classes. First Carrie Gouskos shares some thoughts over at Ten Ton Hammer. At the same site, there’s a video interview with Josh Drescher from Comic-Con. In it, you can learn how to get the ‘I Touch Myself’ title. And, of course, now Comic-Con is over, you can read all of Paul’s blogs from it. Warhammer Conflict meanwhile along with partner Anti-Sanctus Chaotica, brings us a video interview with Robert Mull, Community Manager over in the US from Games Day Chicago.

Take a break for breath and go over to the Stratics interview with Josh from Comic-con!

At Develop Online, Paul Barnett reckoned that WAR is ready to ship now. He also has some interesting comments to make about WoW, and why he doesn’t play other online games.

More in Spore related links: the Spore e-card creator.

And Will Wright (Spore’s designer) talks on Level Up about player created content and why it’s so important. They don’t ask him what he thinks about all the dick creatures though.

Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus! Seriously.

Want more first impressions of WAR? Head over to the Trespass’ guild site and read what Ssylken had to say about Game Day Chicago. Ten Ton Hammer also have a report from Chicago’s Games Day.

Want to hang out with trolls, dodging flames and making a name for yourself? Beibhinn has posted an ad over at the Vault boards looking for more moderators, so get over there and apply!

Warhammer Alliance have set up some Roleplaying forums (that’s to discuss it as well as to indulge in it!).

Star Trek Online, it’s official! Star Trek itself doesn’t excite me, but I like a lot of the things that Cryptic did with CoH and it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with.

Alan Moore gives an interview on the craft of writing. If you’re a fan, go read it. He gives great interview!

If I ever write a book on writing it will probably be called Real Men Don’t Use Thesauri

Solo, duo, small group, big group

I’ve talked before about how part of the popularity of MMO’s is that they offer content for lots of different playing styles. This idea of playing style extends to group size. We know solo play is popular — sometimes people just want to hang out but without actually hanging out, and they still want to be able to progress their characters.

WAR has a fantastic lineup of features for solo players. It struck me the first time I read about Public Quests, and from WoW we know that the battleground style of instanced PvP is very friendly toward solo players just hopping in. So there will be plenty of things to do as a soloer if you get bored of questing alone or arguing with random strangers on whatever passes for Barrens chat.

But what about duos? This is a pretty important playing style because it includes all those people who mostly level with their RL partners. I don’t know if devs specifically cater to duos but WoW in particular is very friendly to that style of play. All the epic type quests can be comfortably handled with two players, and it doesn’t much matter which classes they are on. But one of the places where WoW falls down is making it difficult for two players to start the game together if they select different races. LOTRO had a nice solution to this: virtually free travel to any starting town from any other starting town. It’s not even slightly realistic for the setting, but it’s undoubtedly convenient.

I’m sure WAR will be friendly to duos. Anything a player can do solo, a pair can do also but more quickly. I don’t know if there will be epic style quests but there’s no reason why it would be difficult for a duo to jump into a public quest, they don’t sound as if they have numeric limits. But if it isn’t fairly straightforwards for a duo to get together even if they picked different races, expect to hear a lot of complaints. I know people sometimes treat this as whining but truth is, if your main reason for playing a game is to be able to play with one specific person, the game shouldn’t be making it difficult for you. And WAR has a particular issue here because all the classes are race specific, so if one person wants to play an engineer and another an archmage, they don’t have the option to start in the same zone.

If you asked people how long they thought would be acceptable before they could join up, I bet most who planned to play in couples would say under an hour. WoW certainly doesn’t fit that (ask anyone who tried to get from night elf lands to human ones without really knowing the game) and it didn’t hold it back. LOTRO certainly does fit the bill but that alone didn’t make it more popular. So it’s not the only factor, but I think it’d make a lot of people happy if they went with the latter and not the former model.

September 23rd?

So by now you’ll all probably have read the heavy speculation about September 23rd being the release date. It’s been reported all over the place, mainly because the EA site in Singapore gave that date. We’re bound to find out for sure whether this is the plan or not, it’s plausible but there’s still the guild beta and open beta to get through first.. and some time needed for early access (unless Sept 23rd is that date).

I have no amazing insight into whether this will happen or not. I did glance at my work schedule and figure out it’s not the greatest date for me, nor is it the worst. Except it means we need those big announcements of date and subscription cost quite soon.

Which reminds me, just saw this over at Videogamer and thought you all might be interested in GOA’s comment on the release date:

When contacted for comment this morning GOA refused to confirm or deny the release date, but did provide a statement: “Yes we will be announcing a release date extremely soon.”

Anyway, in the meantime, I thought I’d check out what else happened in history on September 23rd!

  • First commercial production of chewing gum
  • Billy the Kid arrested for the first time
  • Nintendo Koppai (later Nintendo) founded in 1889, made a card game
  • Norway and Sweden sign the Karlsbad treary
  • Euripides, Kubla Khan and Augustus Ceasar born
  • Sigmund Freud, Pablo Neruda and Bob Fosse died

Not a bad little list, eh?

In at the beginning

I went to see The Dark Knight last Friday, which was the day it opened here. I’m not going to review it here although it was an awesome film (if you like that sort of thing) and I expect to see Oscars heading that way next year.

Going to see a big film on its opening night is a very different prospect to going at the end of the run or watching it on DVD later. The film itself is the same, but the atmosphere of being in a packed cinema full of excited people, many of whom are in costume? That kind of event only happens on the first weekend.

A MMO is different of course because players interact with each other. Instead of just sitting quietly (or not quietly if you’re the guy who was 2 rows in front of me, but I’m not bitter) enjoying the film together, there’s a more active element involved. But a MMO feels very very different to play when it’s new than when it’s a couple of years old, even though the basic gameplay may be the same. The basic gameplay will even likely be better later on due to improvements and bug fixes.

Despite this, I’m really hooked on trying MMOs when they come out because the playerbase seems friendlier. I always assumed it was because people hadn’t settled yet into their cliques and were more motivated to meet people, if only to figure out who they wanted to hang out with in the endgame. Later on, the experienced players get more hardcore. They’ve finished their learning curve and aren’t finding it fun any more to do things inefficiently . But somehow for me, the really /fun/ part of the games is in the first 6 months. While we’re all learning together.

After that, it settles into a hobby. And while it’s also fun to know that you’re really good at playing the class/game and hone that as much as possible, somehow the sheer childlike play quality fades away.

What is it that appeals to you about being in right at the start, bugs and all?

Introducing.. the Shadow Warrior

Hiding, she watches all! (or is that just posing for the camera? Elves!!!)

Guest post from Comic-Con

A friend of mine’s over at Comic-Con at the moment, and of course, I asked him to look into the Warhammer Online stuff for us (hopefully not too traumatic as he does like MMORPGs!!). This is his first report from the show, and I thought I’d quote it verbatim for you.

Warhammer First Impressions… by a n00b

On behalf of my long time friend arbitrary, I’m proud to report to you live from the show floor of the 2008 Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. On the first day of the con, I went to the Warhammer booth to get my first tastes of WAR. Keep in mind that I knew nothing about Warhammer, neither its lore nor the game. I’m familiar with some MMORPGs, mostly WoW, so I mostly focused on why I would like WAR over the competition. During a quiet lull in the booth, I managed to get a few minutes of one of the reps’ time and barraged him with questions. Also, I’m not equipped with a tape recorder or proper “interview” gear, so please forgive my paraphrasing.

Having been raised on WoW, my first impression was “this looks gorgeous”. I know not everyone uses the crappy animation that WoW has, but this looked very detailed and very smooth. No doubt they had optimized hardware, but even still it looked very good. But looks does not a game make, so I started talking to one of the reps:

My number one complaint with WoW is that endgame is a pissing contest about who has more time to play. What’s endgame like in WAR?
 
You still need to gear up to enjoy endgame, but it won’t be as bad as having to run the same instance 100 times.  There will be 6-man and 24-man instances with a good LFG system that filters for roles.  There will also be public quests.  You also get leveling experience for PvP, so if your play style isn’t about questing, you’ll still find it easy to progress. The best gear will come from a balance of questing, raiding, and PvP.

What are public quests?

There will be numerous public quests that allow you to participate at your schedule. These are quests that go on perpetually in a zone. Anyone can join in and leave. When the quest completes and the loot drops, everyone who participated are notified and are given the chance to roll.

Do the public quests restart? i.e. if I don’t get in on a public quest, can I eventually try it some other time?

The public quests put the zones into different states, which trigger different public quests. It’s possible these will be cycled, but more likely it depends on how people are playing the game. For example, suppose one side is moving to attack the other side’s city. Zone after zone, the attacking side takes over… these are effectively public quests in each of these zones. This effects the people in those zones too. Suppose you’re in the city that gets taken over. You get the option to join the rebellion or get booted out of the city.

I plan on attending the Warhammer session with Paul Barnett and trying to get an interview. I’ll keep you folks posted.