Hallowe’en screens..

Our Witching Night, in pictures:

It had to happen eventually

I got a quest to kill a pig. I feel strangely vindicated.

The pig must die

The pig must die

We want to learn!

There’s been a ton of talk about open RvR in Tier 4 of late. Why? Because all us pesky early-adopters are hitting Tier 4 and we write and gripe about the things we do. And I do take the ‘wait-and-see’ approach, especially as there are more and more tentative forays into Tier 4 RvR all the time on our server, and I think it’ll be the same everywhere, though not always at the same timescale. Mythic knows there’s a problem, they’ll do their best to fix it. And people signing up generally want to play an RvR game, not a game of Serpent’s-Passage-till-your-eyes-bleed.

I do have one complaint about Tier 4 and the campaign there though, and I personally believe it’s a valid one. Why didn’t they train us in how it all works at the lower tiers? I mean, we got to understand capture the flag, the various ways and means to capture battlefield objectives and increasingly larger keeps. We got to learn about siege weaponry (love!) and postern doors, and yet, the moment you get into Tier 4 you get a whole new set of things to get your head around if you don’t go and read up everything there is to read across the web on it.

Zones being locked. It’s a bit of a mindfuck, when you’ve not really seen it before. And then the campaign moving elsewhere.. and yet you can still drift around the open RvR areas (I use drift because I have a gyro!), and not see anyone. Yes, it’s locked, but it feels strange, almost eerie. And you still get nice xp for scouting the objectives! And then instinctively knowing all the stages you need to go through to capture a zone or to head for the Inevitable City. I’m not stupid, but it is quite tricky to go from ‘wander anywhere and take whatever keep feels nice’ to being directed for the good of the final campaign. We’ll get there, but I wonder if there was any way to do it differently. And I wonder if that’s some of the reason the spontaneous open RvR isn’t as plentiful in Tier 4 as everyone seems to be reporting it is in Tier 3.

Anyway, just another quick thought from my weekend away from the game.

They call me MISTER Poppet!

Wotcha everyone,

Yes, it’s another part of my ongoing random musing about names.  Particularly on Role-Playing servers, seeing as that is my server type of choice, and at the moment, I’m musing about second names.  Surnames.  This one’s particularly rambly, so you might want to get a brew in and relax.  And enjoy the journey.  Sorry.

So, here I am at level 20.  I get me a horse and a surname.  It’s almost like a coming of age ceremony, similar to your first legal beer, or your provisional driving license.  Just with less fanfare from your parents.

And seeing as I was in Altdorf sorting horse (no, I haven’t named it.  I make it a policy never to name something I might one day eat.  And there’s good eating on a horse) and surname, I decided to do my bit for Altdorf, and finish off some of the quests sitting in my Tome of Knowledge.  No, it wasn’t about clearing some space in there, and it wasn’t about getting some easy cash and quest xp.  No.  Honest.

Booting down doors, taking names.  Investigating corpses floating in rivers, and generally being seconded to the Altdorf Rozzers.  Quite fun, really.  And within I few minutes, I’ve got the line; “They call me MISTER Poppet!” running around in the Movie-In-My-Head(tm).  Lots of fun, really, and as mentioned earlier, the side effect of helping Altdorf out left me with a warm feeling in my tummy.

It was only later that I started checking out other people’s surnames.  Sometimes things are just going too quickly to take note of *any* names, never mind two for the same set of pixels that I’m chasing around a battlefield.  And I’m visually lazy.  I spend a lot of time at work having to be very accurate about what I’m reading, so on my own time I slack.

But every so often, a name registers in my subconscious, and batters through the wall to my… umm… very conscious.  Sometimes it’s a really nice name, one that makes me immediately hate the owner for having a better imagination than me.  Hates them!  Really hates them!  Whilst congratulating them!  And others, I read a name that makes me wince.  Anyone that thinks the name “Shadowbladedeathdancer” is ok for a name, or even worse chose it because “It’s cool” deserves to have their internet rights removed.  I apologise if there actually is a “Shadowbladedeathdancer” out there.  It’s a name I chose at random, and I wasn’t singling you out for scorn.  Even if you deserve it, for having a name like that.  It’s not cool.  It’s not a name.  It’s words stuck together!

In between the two extremes we get the “comedy” names.  Sometimes it’s an innocuous enough name, whose comedy is only released at level 20 with the addition of the surname.  Sometimes not.  Either way, the question of whether or not comedy names are acceptable is not something that will be resolved in this rambling pondering; I first encountered the “issue” of comedy names in a forum post shortly after I started playing Everquest.  It’s going to be going for a long, long while.

The issue here is that, just like World of Warcraft, comedy is a part of the world.  And therefore, part of the lore.  So when the self-appointed Lore-Police start screaming about names, and comedy names at that, they don’t have a leg to stand on.  When the NPCs have comedy names, how can reporting comedy player character names be enforced.  It gets worse; the original Intellectual Property evolved over many years, and there are scary amounts of incidental and obvious humour;  One of the early army lists for 1st edition was called “The Insane Conjurations of the Necromancer Colin”, or some such.  And one of the 2nd edition Regiments of Renown, whose name I cannot remember despite getting all het up about it, was a regiment of sea-elves tasked with guarding ports.  Their usual challenge (in Elven, of course) was “Elo cailor, gotda leit?”  Even when I first read it, I groaned.  [I await anyone who has the original information who can correct my shoddy failing memory.  I was about 15 when I first encountered Warhammer, so it’s been a while since I have seen the original.  If you could correct it, well done.  Not only do you get 25 Hawley-points, but you’ll be making the inner child in me happy for getting some of it’s history back accurately.]

No, you don’t need to ask me, I will happily volunteer the information:  Yes, I am considering starting to greet Elves with that phrase in game.  It’s part of the lore, after all…  I just need the correction/confirmation to arrive, and I’m away.

So when the self-appointed Lore-Police report your comedy name, do you get to report the Van-Rentls of Marienburg for their comedy name?  Yes, another old piece of the world, there.

And I suppose the other question is this;  Do game designers get a “Get out of jail, free” card from what some people might refer to as the “Lore-Wielding Assassins of Joy”?  No, I don’t use that term.  Never.  But the point is that we don’t get to even comment on NPC names, so why do they get to change ours?

Personally, I hate to see an obvious gag name.  With a passion.  But I understand that they are a part of the world, so I turn a blind eye.  Of course, that blind eye means I won’t be healing them and won’t be helping them.  Swings and roundabouts, really.  With a comedy name, you need to be able to duck and weave…  But I respect them enough to not start reaching for the “report” button whenever someone with a comedy name batters me into the ground.  Again.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Attack of the RSS!

It’s quite a task when you go away to come back to thousands and thousands of things in your feed reader. And I’ve literally just started to go through them, because I want to read everything, some of it from blogs I’ve recently added, so I thought I’d make a post for me to link the highlights from the last few days, as I read through them. Stream of consciousness, hello!

Goblin Rampage has some comments on open RvR on Darklands (an Oceanic server), and it’ll mirror others’ experiences quite well. Looks like their Tier 4 is picking up now, just as ours is. Baby steps…

The Inevitable City has a whole bunch of interesting posts, including this one about wanting a feature to play your character phrases at appropriate times (ie. my Rune Priest would never say ‘Hello Handsome’ when I click on her for something). He follows up by listing all the Chaos female and Greenskin phrases.

Quick yay for Esri, published in Massive Gamer Mag!

A campaign I’m willing to get behind (as I know he’ll support tome unlocks for healers. rar!).. Warhammer Tank reminds us of why damage taken is a very important stat. Seriously, I think it does need to be looked at for renown and xp in RvR – and we were all shocked at the Herald hint on how to increase renown as a healer by looking after your dps’ers. Denizens of Xibalba agrees.

Keen made a stand-out post about Tier 4 open RvR. It mirrors how many are feeling. I think his decision to make an alt and keep an eye on it is a good one. We’ve done the same and in one day back home, I’ve done more open RvR than in the two weeks beforehand. Finishing (for me, but not for the warband) in a massive fight in Praag. Normality restored.

Skimming Massively (cos it’s too long to read it all), I see that in an interview with Ten  Ton Hammer Paul Barnett says that if you like dwarfs you possibly look like one. I admit it, I do! Ardua from Echoes of Nonsense.. doesn’t!

Onto Waaagh. Lots, of course. All good. Just read it. One I wish I’d read straight away – the 50 small attractions of WAR.

Now really, I went and read everything and it’s taken me quite some time. I wish I could link to every post I read and thought ‘hrrm, good point’, but then this post would become crazy! So this is just a quick run-through, and something I’ll perhaps do again every so often. We do read everything we can when not in-game, at work or actually being made to do nasty Real Life(TM) things.

Thanks to every member of the WAR community, or the general blogging or gaming community that fills my downtime with interesting content, that I simply couldn’t get elsewhere.

October Newsletter hits

Brief highlights again, as I just got home from work and want to play 🙂

  • Heavy Metal event advertised, Nov 18th-Dec 2nd in Europe (so place your bets for launch of 1.1 here), scenario called Reikland Factory – open to all levels, all tiers and doesn’t contribute to campaign. 10% bonus to renown for playing it. Basic influence gives a trophy, advanced gives a cloak, elite gives access to the two new classes a full week early.
  • Overviews of Knight of the Blazing Sun and Blackguard
  • Witching Night announced – now till Nov 4th (has a couple of mask photos)
  • Advert for Red Alert 3 and Kossar’s Helm
  • Mark Jacobs’ State of the Game (for those who don’t know it already)
  • Concept Art – Order Epic Armour, Greenskin NPCs
  • Paul and Adam Gershowitz podcasts on Knight of the Blazing Sun and Blackguard
  • Paul’s videophone blog
  • Grab Bag (as previously reported)
  • “WAR Europe is the place to go for the most up-to-date news regarding your favorite (sic) game and ours – Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning!” (I had to quote this, as I’m still laughing)
  • Developer Profile: James Casey (Content Design Lead)
  • Blackguard and KotBS wallpapers
  • Community Spotlight – Warhammer Movies
  • Ads for Empire in Chaos (Warhammer Online novel) and joint DAoC/WAR subs for Europe

Big November Event! Daily quests, new scenario, preview of new classes!

Arrgh, as usual, just after we wrote some other post Mythic make a big announcement! *shakes fist at timezones*

So, we have an announcement about the November Live Event, dubbed “Heavy Metal”.

When the Heavy Metal live event begins on November 17th, players who log into WAR will see a new tab in the Tome of Knowledge. Clicking on this tab will open the Live Events page, where each day we’ll place a new daily task. Completing these daily tasks earns influence, just like you’d earn in a public quest. There are rewards for Basic, Advanced and Elite influence, culminating in the ultimate prize: the chance to play WAR’s new classes a full week before they’re released to the public! This last reward won’t be easy to earn, and players who want to get to the Elite level will need to log in each day and complete on the daily event.

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a special live event scenario that will be available to all tiers for the duration. And it grants extra renown to players.

I’m hyped, Mythic sound as though they’d taken out all the stops here! I love daily quests and scenarios. And now it’s going to be harder than ever to decide which game to play in November. Game is very much ON.

Edit: Nov 18th for European players

My love/ hate affair with NPCs

A game world with no NPCs (non-player characters) would be a dull and lifeless place indeed. It isn’t that the NPCs inject a whole lot of life into the surroundings per se, but it helps us suspend disbelief if there are people walking around towns and apparently living in the world. Aside from giving out quests and quest rewards and buying our random junk, they help to flesh out the lore and give players something to compare themselves with. Even if it’s just checking out how the high level NPCs are dressed.

They are also undoubtedly the place where MMOs have utterly failed to offer as good an experience as a pen and paper game. In a tabletop RPG, a game master brings the NPCs to life. Players can talk to them, interact with them, argue with them, trick or be tricked by them, and they let a GM get her amateur acting chops on. Now computer games have their fair share of zany and memorable NPCs and good voice acting goes a long long way to helping with characterisation (Deckard Caine anyone?), but you rarely get that sense of personal interaction. And players in tabletop love interacting with the “A list” NPCs in the campaign, even if just so that they can flip them off. You see the difference immediately with computer games, where players treat NPCs as quest and lootbots.

WAR does a particularly bad job in this respect. The big name NPCs are there alright, standing around and giving out quests while they wait for the other realm to storm the city and kill them. But that’s about the limit of their involvement.The Phoenix King has pretty armour, admittedly (although it doesn’t take any big strides in the ‘High Elves aren’t girly!’ campaign). I haven’t found many quests at all involving specific important NPCs and their personal lore and history.

Other games fare slightly better: LOTRO has some clever interactions with members of the fellowship including a particularly nice single-player quest instance where you get to walk around Rivendell with Frodo and talk to him about his fears. Sure, he talks and then pauses, but everyone I know who played that quest says that they typed back to him to fill in the gaps, even though they knew he was an NPC and wasn’t listening. I was impressed.

WoW mostly has static NPCs but there are a few stunning questlines where you get an actual response out of them (the Thrall greatmother chain, Sylvanas’ singing, the Alliance Onyxia chain — don’t worry if none of this means anything to you by the way). And reading about the zombie invasion event, I was impressed at how they’re laying the grounds for players to have a personal reason to hate the Lich King and trust the alchemist who found the cure to this particular plague.

I can name my least favourite NPC without breaking a sweat though. It’s Ostelle Blackwood, who wanders around High Elf Tier 2/3 asking for seeds. I can always find her to pick up the quests but can I ever find her when I want to give them in? No way.

But I’m not sure if I have a favourite, and that’s a bit sad. A whole world full of lore to work with and none of the NPCs have really come across yet as characters in their own right. I suppose I have to go with Teclis since he’s cool in Giantslayer — but he sure ain’t anything special in WAR.

Do you have any favourite or least favourite NPCs?

Game update 1.04 – let’s take a look

Coming to a US server near you on 29th October, and soon after to Europe, no doubt. Here’s 1.04.

The Witching Night live event has begun! For details, see the Warhammer Online Herald.

We look forward to this! Hope the first live event goes really well and they’re encouraged to do a lot more, not always based on time of year.

With the arrival of 1.0.4 we are now one step closer to offering Character Transfers from low population servers to medium population servers and the final stages of testing have begun…

Random news of something coming up in the next few days, and something a lot of people won’t need. But for those who need/want it, this is great news and pretty fast after launch. And being offered free.

We have added three new guild rewards in the form of dungeon teleport scrolls…Gunbad Teleport Scroll – This reward is unlocked at guild rank 29…Bastion Stair Teleport Scroll – This reward is unlocked at guild rank 32…Lost Vale Teleport Scroll – This reward is unlocked at guild rank 35…

Nice, but weren’t these in the list anyway or am I going mad? And.. by the time our guild is that high rank.. well, let’s just say it’ll be nice for alts! It’s not a bad thing, it’s just one of those things that’ll be nice but not effect too many people as yet.

Once a city has become contested, the attacking realm will now have 6 hours to capture it. If the invaders do not conquer the city in that time, the defenders will be declared victorious and the campaign will reset.

I think, on the whole, this brings a whole new challenge to the city capture which is a Good Thing(TM), but I dread the night we start on this at 11pm! (Only cos I’m old and need  my sleep). Nice tweak though!

Pets set to follow will now path properly to their master, and will no longer teleport instantly to their master’s side. Fixed an issue that was causing pets to stop attacking their current target and return to their master’s side…

White Lions rejoice? We’ll find out soon. But improving pets is never a bad thing, it’s really just getting them to where they needed to be on launch.

Fixed an issue that could sometimes cause trainer icons not to appear on the minimaps.

The successful capture of an enemy battlefield objective now rewards the capturing players with experience.

Finally! We’ve been musing that this would be a Good Thing(TM) for a while. Getting people out of scenarios needs to reward them with the things they get in a scenario in other ways. I see lots more fights at Battlefield Objectives, again, a good move!

In response to player feedback, the amount of renown earned from healing players has been increased slightly.

Hurrah! Well, we say that cos we’re all healers. But in reality it took a bit of a hit, players proved it, the games company listened to actual player feedback (along with the odd whine, let’s not fool ourselves). It’s a good change because it again shows that Mythic is willing to change things if they’re a bit ‘off’. And that real feedback actually can make a difference. So, next time you have an issue with something, or a great idea. Don’t just blog it or talk about it, use the ‘submit feedback’ button!

Tier 4 zones now require fewer scenario victory points to be captured.  The mechanics of capturing a zone have not changed however.  Zones which have no scenario opposition can still be captured if players join the queue for scenarios based on that Zone.  Victory points towards zone control will be granted if a realm has enough players in the queue to launch the scenario and the other realm doesn’t.  If players in those queues join a launched scenario or leave the queue, the victory points towards zone control will be forfeit.

In other words, using “Join All” to queue for all available scenarios is still the fastest way to get into a scenario, but joining the scenarios in a specific zone will have the greatest impact on control of that zone, and by extension the greatest impact on the campaign in that pairing.

Now… I would say something about this particularly. But I think Ark does it perfectly. This change, while being made for the best of intentions sounds a bit weird to me. Will see how it plays out before final judgement.

Archmage: Balance Essence: The damage of this ability has been increased.

Archmages rejoice!

The minimum number of players required to launch scenarios in Praag, Dragonwake and Thunder Mountain has been equalized to ensure even population distribution between all scenarios available when the campaign is in its default state.

Can we have this through all scenarios? We did Grovod Caverns and Serpent’s Passage with at least a 4 person disparity in numbers and they were no fun like that at all!

There’s also the usual small fixes and tweaks, so for the full story, go check out the Warhammer Herald and read through all the bits down to the bottom, I tried to stick to the ones that will effect people the most, and it’s already a hefty post!

Witching Night!

This is what you can expect to find in game this Halloween.

Four new PQs, one for each tier. They will be located in the open RvR areas and will reset much more slowly than regular PQs.

Ghosts roaming the battlefields – they’re not hostile to players but there might be special rewards from kil^D^D^Dsending them to their eternal rest.

Witches and Cultists will be gathering also. Again, players who can release the trapped spirits of the dead from them can claim special rewards.

Rewards including: titles, new cloaks, new masks, trinkets and potions. All for use by any level.