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

Stonewalled or Just Stoned?

I was intrigued to see that you can get titles for being killed by different careers as well as for killing them yourself. As I was playing my Archmage, I was wondering what title a Destruction player might get for being killed by me. Well, not me personally, although I think ‘Plinked by Spinks’ is a title that anyone might be proud of. So I thought, it can’t be that hard to check that.

Enter the sacrificial Witch Elf! I decided it would be easier to get myself killed as a melee class with no armour on so I created a Witch Elf on a random server, queued myself up for Khaine’s Embrace, and got stuck into some quests. I didn’t have to wait long. The scenario popped and we trotted up to the nearest flag point. But it was not Calexis’ destiny to stand about defending a flag, she had a mission! So I set off through the tunnel towards the Dance of Swords and some of my hapless team-mates followed me, probably thinking that because I was moving I must have a plan.

Then there was daylight and … yes! The unmistakeable flutter of Archmagely dresses in the distance. I sprinted forwards and tickled one of them with my daggers of level 1 awesomeness. Five different rainbow beams hit me from different directions, but I died happy, and became ‘The Hexed’.

While I was waiting to release back to the starting point, I thought to myself, “Self, that was too easy.” And then I started to wonder about other similar titles. For example, what do you get if a Runepriest kills you? How do you get a Runepriest to kill you?

And this became my Witch Elf quest: to get myself killed by a Runepriest. This was definitely harder because the ‘run ahead of the zerg’ tactic was more likely to get me killed by a Bright Wizard or Archmage, and there weren’t that many dwarves in Khaine’s Embrace in the first place. So I had to try to pick out any Runepriests in the opposite team and somehow make myself look like a tempting, easy target. But without getting sniped by a non-Runepriest first. That was the difficult part.

But eventually, I managed to lure a lone Runepriest away from the others by enticingly presenting my semi-wounded self in his field of vision and throwing a couple of daggers at him. As you can see in the screenshot, the title is ‘The Stonewalled.’ Are there any titles you’ve done some investigative work for?

Whose breasts are they anyway?

There’s a certain advantage in being a female blogger. It means we can bring you this overview of the breasts in the WAR universe. So, here’s a screenshot of every female char’s breasts – clothed and unclothed (and rank 31, since we’re working with templates at the moment). There’s one from a rank 1 char in there, and I think I left out 1 set of high elf ‘naked’ breasts as the racial unclothed breasts all look pretty similar – showing clothes make all the difference.

Go on, see if you can tell which class each pic is from?

Many thanks to my husband who took all the screenshots while I was out at work and then with our visitors. He managed to capture this screenshot while working on the project – it made me laugh a lot, because the other player is clearly checking out the naked dark elf!

The Shallow Players’ Guide to Warhammer Classes

Order

Empire (Humans)

Witch Hunter: gets the coolest sounding abilities, and fab gear (arbitrary) Be the coolest kid on your street (hawley) Watch out, it’s the new romantics! (spinks)

Bright Wizard: got put off when I blew myself up at rank 2 (arbitrary) got put off when I read the list of spells, it’s all fire fire fire (spinks) Got put off by the ’70s glam rock gear (hawley)

Warrior Priest: like the baldness, like the hammer and robe stuff, but having too much fun hitting to heal (arbitrary) too much hassle to bounce around in melee in PvP and heal and try to use buffs too (spinks) Being righteously furious made me bald. If “angry” is your bag, (s)he’s in it (hawley)

High Elves

He IS more useful than you are!

Is he more useful than you are?

White Lion: elves run funny, didn’t last long, forgot I had a pet (arbitrary) The lion looks fantastic, but I got worried people would decide *it* was more useful than I was (hawley) The axe is pretty badass, but lions were meant to be kille^D^D^D^D free! (spinks)

Swordmaster: looks great, very.. stylish whirly technique – quite liked it (arbitrary) Very tempted, looks great (spinks) Loved the look of the swords and shield, but a bit too… tanky… for me (hawley)

Shadow Warrior: pew-pew ninja, very stylish and mask hides the elfy face (arbitrary) Looks great again, but didn’t grab me (spinks) One I’ll probably “explore” at release, but for now I’m just giggling at the hippy-ninjas (hawley)

Archmage: prettiness in a light-show, preferred it to shaman actually, but elves run funny (arbitrary) Best class in the game! heals! nukes! twirls staff! good robe! (spinks) They run funny because they wear slippers. Slippers! Are all probably evil, with their healy-nukey slipper-wearing ways! (hawley)

Dwarfs

Ironbreaker: What’s not to love about a cute girl dwarf with an axe as big as she is. I have this great weakness for tanking big monsters with teeny characters too (spinks) love ’em, just don’t want to be one! (arbitrary) Best thing to follow and heal (hawley)

Rune Priest: the whole package in a rune-y dress (arbitrary) Solid healer type, didn’t like the hat though. The runes look great. (spinks) Great to hang around with, when feeling furiously righteous (hawley)

Engineer: bang, splat, powiee – nothing like batman (arbitrary) We need bigger guns! (spinks) Most fun you can have with your trousers still on (hawley)

Destruction

Greenskins

Shaman: spent far too long doing /special and /cheer, maybe I should have been healing? (arbitrary) Role-playing opportunities abound. Hard to know where the “clothes” stop, and the shaman begins (hawley) It isn’t easy being green. (spinks)

Squig Herder: Spent too long being eaten by squig (arbitrary) Squigs look fantastic. Like vicious space hoppers (hawley) Loved the squigs, not so big on gobbos (spinks)

Black Orc: huuuuuuge biceps dude, bit of a grunter (arbitrary) Be the “straight man” of the greenskin races. Still impressively wide (hawley) He really looks the part (spinks)

Chaos

Zealot: Kind of sexy in a hunched over way, love the skull, preferred RP (arbitrary) You’re never alone with a skull. Class most likely to tempt me to the dark side(hawley) She’s one of those creepy goths who tells really good horror stories. (spinks)

Magus: omg, I love the disk! I kept making her jump around so that I could see the animation where she landed back on the disk and rebalanced herself. The rest seemed cool too but … it’s all about the disk. I can’t get excited about a demon called a pink horror — maybe I’ll make a spore creature that looks like it though (Spinks) disk, disk, disk, disk – didn’t try any skills, floated a lot (arbitrary) Really fun to chase after (hawley)

Chosen: see a lot of them, was a bit.. male for me (arbitrary) too many of these around already (spinks) The armour looks amazing, but is a bit too kerrazily baroque for my liking (hawley)

Marauder: if I was going to be a chaos-boy, I’d be a marauder, it’s like playing dolls with exchangeable arms (arbitrary) Must get a free “Target Hawley” button. Died to these boys *a lot* (hawley) Arrrgh, naughty tentacles! (spinks)

Dark Elves

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf, wearing first grey drop

Witch Elf: it was awesome, the first grey drop I got was EVEN SKIMPIER than her starting gear. She still has more clothes on than Gisele in this months Arena though… (spinks) Slut! hrrm, where did that witch hunter go again? (arbitrary) Surprisingly distracting in combat. Change video details to “low” when fighting them (hawley)

Sorceress: spell list sounded cool but her skirt just hangs wrong. didn’t like the look (spinks) she looked bored at me, I got annoyed, elves and me just don’t connect (arbitrary) Squishy (hawley)

Disciple of Khaine: I like the look, but she’s under-fed – seriously! no wonder she looks so mad (arbitrary) dual wield, yay! (spinks) Second most likely to tempt me to the dark side. The gear looks amazing, and you won’t catch cold in a breeze (see Witch Elf wardrobe) (hawley)

Addendum: Classes your parents would like

  • White Lion – who doesn’t love a pet cat?
  • Black Orc – he has a plan, and parents always ask what you plan to do with your life
  • Witch Elf – Your dad will play one when your mum’s out. Your mum will play one when your dad’s out
  • Warrior Priest – They’ll bond with the Righteous Fury mechanic on an instinctive level

Know Thine Enemy: Aikau’s Guide to the Sorceress

Aikau, GM of Widespread Panic, and a long-time supporter of this blog has very kindly donated a guide to the sorceress for us to put up for everyone to have a look through. To keep things nice and tidy, I’ve bundled it into a Google Doc, which you can read here.

We really enjoyed reading it, and definitely learned quite a bit about the class from it. Thanks Aikau!

Chipping at the NDA

I love exploring, many of the people I regularly game with love exploring. I’m fairly sure Spinks and Hawley do too. In fact, we’re the kind of players that like to see as much as we can. So we were delighted with the most recent article on Gamespot UK about lairs:

These will be out-of-the-way areas where exceptionally powerful and rare foes hide out of plain sight and guard exceptionally powerful loot.

One of the things I remember reading a long long time ago about Warhammer Online was that there would be all sort of cool places to discover, with puzzle locks and stuff. I’d forgotten about all that until I read this article again and now I’m really excited about it all over again. Continuing on the puzzle theme:

none of the game’s lairs will have any kind of duplicate content or puzzles, so there will be no one-size-fits-all solution to unlock all of them.

It’s nice to see that in an RvR-focussed game, there is still some PvE candy for players to enjoy when they want a different pace. I hope to discover and conquer as many lairs as possible!

In other news, Ten Ton Hammer has a short write-up of Mount Bloodhorn and the Greenskin starter area.  We haven’t been linking to every little bit of news coming out, but this one is well-written, amusing and takes you through some of the things you get to do when first emerging into the game on the Greenskin side.

Meanwhile, Massively continues it’s slightly sterile overview of the elves of WAR. They’re going through the spells/skills you get from 1-5 and then 6-10. I’m not really reading them, because hrrm.. I can generally wait to read spell descriptions (plus yeah, am in the beta as Spinks just pointed out to me, so I don’t need to). However, over at Player vs Developer I was alerted to one comment in a Massively guide that’s a little naughty. It comes in the Archmage 1-5 guide and says:

Just drop a DoT (or two) on every single mob in the PQ area. If there are enough people there, all mobs will die too quickly to even take a swipe at you. With your ability to DoT multiple mobs, your total damage output for the PQ will at or near the top.

Sigh. Please note – they say ‘if there are enough people there’. This may not be the best solo tactic! And this may not hold for every public quest you come across. And hey, don’t forget you can heal too.

Links! Is it links you’re looking for?

The timer is ticking and people are starting to think about their plans for guilds. There are a couple of guilds connected with bloggers (and blog readers), both US based. So check out Casualties of War for a Core RvR based guild, or Keen’s Happy Fun Guyz guild for an Open RvR one.

Twist-It Logic ponders why the majority of people on the Casualties of War forum have a preference for Order, a change from previous polls on other forums.

The Cogworks is thinking up some mottos for the different classes. Wizards and Wenches has a few suggestions also.

Syp@Waaagh discusses how people choose between Core or Open servers, and why there’s so much name-calling involved. Snafzg@The Greenskin is still deciding – or, has decided!

Waaagh also has some suggestions for new WAR bloggers.

Sales Predictions are another big topic. Tobold kicks it off with a guess of between 1-2 million sales this year. /random explains why he goes for the lower bound of 1 million sales. Syncaine guesses higher at 1.5 million. Stropp gives a detailed explanation of why he estimates between 1.5-2.6mil sold by the end of 2008. Fuel for you guys, Paul says there’s been 130k pre-orders (and that the game is going gold next week!)

Elsewhere, Iain C makes us jealous with his notes and pics from Campus Party in Valencia, Spain. I note the availability ot T-shirts, and consider this a moment. I love T-shirts!

And the info continues to trickle in from websites given the opportunity to report before the NDA is lifted. Here’s Massively on the first Dark Elf quest (spoiler alert). And Ten Ton Hammer on Rune Priest masteries (no new info) and the Squig Herder ones (I don’t think this is very new either, sadly). However, Ten Ton Hammer has written a short update on Ekrund, the dwarf starting zone which is more interesting than the class overviews.

Warhammer Herald news – North Americans and the Oceanic people (not from Lost!) can now go enter their codes. It seems not only the CE people there, but also the first 50,000 SE people can get access to the preview weekend, of which we’ve heard a little. I’m wondering if Mythic realises how confused some of this has been, and when we’ll hear from GOA what’s up with our codes and stuff. Ah yes, they do realise it’s confusing!

And talking of news from official sites – if you’re in Europe (well, UK, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden)and you get MTV, you might catch some teasers of the new Warhammer cinematic. Here’s dates and times. Or you can wait until after Leipzig’s Game Convention and see the whole thing!

More on the Simon Parkin/Paul Barnett conversation that we linked to in our last links, less of a war of words now, more an exchange of ideas. Always good to read Paul’s thoughts though.

And, finally, we’ve all read about the Blizzcon ticketing nightmare (too many people wanted tickets, the site couldn’t handle it, it was a bit of a PR mess), well.. wasn’t going to mention it, but Joystiq’s use of the Wrath of the Ticke-Ting deserves a mention!. Oh, and while on the subject of World of Warcraft – was it hacked?

Taking a step back

Spinks suggested that I take a look around the web at more general gaming sites and forums to see what their responses to the big announcements were. Initially I reacted badly, I didn’t even want to think about the stupid announcements until monday when I could have my head straight again.. and I was sure it’d all be ‘WAR sucks, WoW rocks’. But, that’s not quite what I found.

I started over at Kotaku, where I personally go for a lot of general gaming news. Here’s their story on the news. They admit the news is shocking, they say it’s bad news, and they quote Mark Jacobs and they end on ‘all is not lost’. And then I steeled myself and went to check the comments. There’s a really good mix and these are some of my favourites:

I think I would have been more mad if I had leveled one of the cut classes to 40 (max level) just to find out it isn’t fun or useful.

That’s the spirit! If at first you don’t succeed, give up!

The so called wow killer is releasing half a product and expecting to compete?

Mythic is so awesome for always being forthcoming with good and bad changes to the game, and the way they treat the community is top-notch.

Wouldn’t have EA have pushed them to release broken classes and cities in hopes that it would entice poeple, instead of forcing them to do a quality check?.

I haven’t picked ones I agree with necessarily, I’m trying to give an overall picture of the comments. They’re more reasoned than I expected and they come at it without the invested interest we have.

So then I hopped on over to Rock, Paper, Shotgun which I’ve been following for a while and read their story on the cuts. The article takes the approach that it’s just really really hard to come up with a fully-featured polished MMO that goes the world-creating, mass production route and for other studios to take heed. So, hopping on over to the comments, here goes:

Eh. Still looks awesome.

I think Mythic will make an excellent game, but it’s interesting to see the ambition being rolled back so drastically.

I think this is what was happening in WAR – and the fact that they realized that these were, at the moment, superfluous classes that really wouldn’t be fun to play is a very good sign.

I’ve been very positive about WAR, but this has me worried.

I actually kind of more want to play this, now. It’s either a sign that it’s going to poops, or that they’re taking time to do it right. I can’t wait to find out.

Slashdot is more like I expected elsewhere, so I’ll just quote a few to give you the feel for it. I’m sure there are plenty of places around the net that have this kind of reaction..

It seems to me Warhammer is effectively castrating themselves.

Yes, it may be frustrating to people waiting for a Blizzard game, but at least they don’t pull this crap

I do not trust Mythic and especially not Mark Jacobs with my money before I have seen the final product work.

The entire MMO market is saturated right now, with WoW. Those who want to play other MMOs, such as Age of Conan or Warhammer Online will wait indefinitely for one simple reason: they are dissatisfied with Blizzard for one reason or another, and these are the people who are not only just dissatisfied, but will also remain dissatisfied indefinitely.

And that was about all I managed this morning. Did it put things into perspective? Well.. I’m not sure, I’m still formulating my own thoughts really. It was just a nice change to go read comments that weren’t from a Warhammer forum or site (am I allowed to say that? don’t get offended anyone, I love you all!!!). And it gave me a little distance to look at the announcements from.

The sky has not fallen — yet

We wanted to present different points of view on the news yesterday. It’s not that one is right and one is wrong.

So Mark dropped a bombshell on the community yesterday evening and when I went to sleep last night, I already had seen the initial reactions. We’re going through the typical shock that people have when they get bad news. When I saw all the waves of empathy towards those who had planned to play one of the cut classes, it was as if someone had died. Well, no one died. No one’s dog died. Even my annoying cat didn’t die (just kidding!).

Seriously. The game is in beta, that means that things are getting tested and if they don’t work then they either get fixed or cut. And if it looks as though the initial scope was impractical, then the scope gets changed, and that’s what we saw yesterday. So sure, I’m shocked, but it’s still in beta dammit.

What are the alternatives really? Delay, go with something half-arsed, or cut what isn’t working. The last thing I want to see is another delay — it’s been long enough already, we know the game is playable, and it’s in the nature of MMORPGs that content will be added continually through the lifetime of the game. Even if the content that was cut now doesn’t get added later, there will be more and different things instead.

And by the way, what’s with making these announcements in a random interview and comments on random boards? Surely if anything justified a video blog or explanation on the main site, this would be it? I see GOA still haven’t caught up — can you guys not just get a feed from Mythic’s site, then add your own news in underneath??

Changing the Scope

Going to two cities instead of six changes the scope of the war. I don’t know by how much, I haven’t played the game yet, but it takes some choices away from the players. It’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself, letting people focus on one objective will end up with more people working together. But the game feels smaller now and the scope a bit less epic.

I expect to see these cities sometime. But from the comments about rotating in and out of RvR (I guess that means that there will be one objective for the tier 4 campaign, just it may change), it doesn’t sound as though they want us to be able to choose where we attack. That means that no in-game bait and switch tactics with a fake assault to draw out the defenders. It means that the scope of the RvR has gotten smaller.

Effects on the IP

The Warhammer fans that Mythic was hoping to capture want to see their basic orcs and their empire knights. For some people, that’s non-negotiable. But the thing is, there’s no alternative game that provides those. If they want the MMORPG experience with the Warhammer IP and RvR, this is the only option. When people cool down, they’ll just have to decide if it’s a critical for them. I’m not going to try to talk anyone out of this, if it’s a deal breaker then it’s a deal breaker.

I think Mythic will lose some customers over it. But not as many as if they’d gone live with broken classes.

Changing Expectations

For me this is the big thing. To justify cutting this much content, I now expect that game to be pretty spot-on when it gets released. There’s no more goodwill towards the company, no more making allowances for MMORPGs not being perfect when they first go live. If any of the other classes are broken on release, I’ll be wondering what was so bad about these ones that they couldn’t have patched something in.

I feel like we’ve been told that these things have been cut so that the game can be spectacular. It better deliver on that.

MJ comments (Careers)

Ok, the one we’ve been waiting for, MJ on Careers over at the Vault:

Losing some of the 4 careers does not feel great. I wish I could sit here and tell you that we were close to getting them right, that everything was going well with those careers but it wasn’t. The feedback we were getting from our beta testers on the Hammerer was not good and while the feedback on the Choppa was better, it wasn’t great. These weren’t classes that were introduced at the last minute and the Dwarf-Greenskin pairing had been through multiple iterations. What we saw after all our analysis, and that includes player feedback on the boards, player surveys and our metrics tools was that these classes weren’t cutting it. When it came to the Blackguard, well, we weren’t excited about how they were coming along either….

Not sure how long it’s been since these 4 classes were last in beta, and what happens when the mirror for the KotBS is in-game, but the knight hasn’t made it. Anyway, head on over and see what you think.