Quantum of Linkage

First up, this month’s WAR grab bag from Mythic. This one is a winner, it discusses zone control in detail and how zones become locked at Tier 4. They also list all the renown rank titles for every race (holy crap, these things go up to rank 100??) and have some screenshots of female Knights of the Burning Sun and Blackguards just to prove that yes, Mythic have found artists who can draw kickass female fighters in plate. Oddly enough, while male Swordmasters ARGUABLY look a bit girly, the female Blackguards look like male impersonators. And if you want to try one early, they confirm that the Heavy Metal daily quests will be soloable, quick, and available to characters at any rank.

Mark Jacobs stops by the Vault boards to update on the Public Test Server and point out some more tweaks being made (for tweaks, read buffs/nerfs depending on your archetype). Also says the PTS due to go live this weekend, update mentioned at A Wall of Text, which alerted me to it.

This is an old (but interesting) article I found on Gamasutra about design issues with hybrid classes.

Wendy Despain talks about video games that bark (a bark is the slang for the words that an NPC says randomly when you click on it.)

In the category of ‘I couldn’t make this shit up’, the US army wants to try out its AI in MMOs. As if Barrens Chat (old WoW dino joke) wasn’t bad enough.

Gary Gygax’s favourite Christian charity refuses donation from GenCon because of its association with D&D. Here’s a cartoon about it.

If you can’t beat it, tax it! China is going to impose a tax on virtual goods income (ie. gold farming, among other things).

That last link reminded me of a cool story about Michael Faraday, who explained the importance of electricity to the prime minister of the day with the insightful comment, “One day, sir, you may tax it.” Read it and other stories about famous scientists here.

Just in time for the Christmas rush, Square-Enix open a European random stuff store. So now you can have those plastic models of Sephiroth and Vincent Valentine to do funky fangirl things with at last. And if your fanfic is good enough, you might even get a job with them!

Here’s a WoW link in preparation for the expansion next week: Jame’s Guide to Death Knight Levelling (55-61). This is for people who want to do it the most efficient way possible.

Bit late for the US elections but here are a couple of links:

A funky typographic summary of this US election campaign. (nb. site is safe for work but the URL isn’t, go figure).

And another interesting typographic fact, last Wednesday was only the fourth time that the New York Times has used a 96 pt font for the front page.

Campaign gossip, courtesy of Newsweek and the Huffington Post. This one made me laugh though:

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for the Democratic primary debates, Obama was recorded saying, “I don’t consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, ‘You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.’ So when Brian Williams is asking me about what’s a personal thing that you’ve done [that’s green], and I say, you know, ‘Well, I planted a bunch of trees.’ And he says, ‘I’m talking about personal.’ What I’m thinking in my head is, ‘Well, the truth is, Brian, we can’t solve global warming because I f—ing changed light bulbs in my house. It’s because of something collective’.”

Vote for your favourite US election candidate in Spore.

For everyone who is enjoying seeing their opponents (political or otherwise) weeping sweet sweet tears, this is John Scalzi’s recipe for Schadenfreude Pie

Advertisements

Witching Night Post-Mortem

So, Witching Night is over now, the Winds of Shyish have blown cold and all we have left to remember it by is a couple of exquisitely rendered masks and several internet whine threads.

I think it was a great success with a few caveats. The genius of the event was only having it last for a few days. That’s long enough for people to poke around and investigate, fight randomly while doing so, work out an optimum strategy that takes a lot of fun out of the event, initiate whine mode and then … presto, it’s gone again. With the bonus of playing for pure fluff (masks, cloaks and titles) and not anything that would actually affect gameplay. Business back to usual until the next one. In many ways it’s the perfect PvP game style of event – I’m excited that Mythic were able to try it out when the game’s still so new and looking forwards to seeing what they have learned from it.

The way the event ran for us (mostly going with Tier 4 because it’s what I saw myself): On the first day, there was a lot of Open World RvR around the PQ areas. People were curious and wanted to go and see what it was all about. I heard lots of comments on guild and chat about how much people were enjoying all the mass RvR. There was some chest camping by whichever side had lost the PQ which meant that the winning team couldn’t pick up their rewards. On the second day, there will still lots of Open RvR going on even when the PQ wasn’t up, plus the warbands were more active in Objective and Keep Taking also. But by this time, people had worked out the mechanics of the event in larger numbers so teams were more cautious about where they fought, and giving kills to the enemy. By the third day it was much quieter. People still occasionally checked on the PQ area but the constant mass battles were over. However it was the weekend so there was plenty of Open RvR going on in its place. By the fourth day, people were mostly bored of it.

The cauldrons were quite tough to find in PvE so I think a lot of people who would have happily ground out influence there weren’t able to do so. Having said that, we found a couple and it does reward the explorer types with some pretty fluff if they’re willing to spend a few hours grinding.

Suggested Improvements

I think the RvR PQ would work better if each side had resources to fight over (aka the Lighthouse in Nordenwatch) and got points/ influence for the longer they were able to hold it, or items to gather in the PQ area. It will never be exciting to stand around in one place wondering if anything is going to happen but if you could get some influence for doing it, there is more of an incentive.

Open RvR by its nature always favours the more populated side. There is pretty much no counter to this other than special event scenarios which are fun (and I’m very much looking forwards to the Reikland Steamtank Factory) but miss the point. However, having one of the PQs in a keep (which possibly could change randomly) would encourage people to focus on that. And keep defense is one of the places where an outnumbered side can hold their own.

More PvE cauldrons or having them more thematically placed with better clues as to where to find them (ie. in graveyards? In ruins? Just something to give the less lucky explorers some pointers) would have kept people less frustrated who really did want the cool masks.

The PQ and PvE event itself wasn’t overly-exciting, but the geek in me enjoyed seeing the influence guy in Altdorf in his full Amethyst Order regalia. More story would be nice next time.

But for now, I think the event was a qualified success. Mythic hotfixed the PQ reward chest fairly quickly (so hopefully have learned from that), we did get a lot more Open RvR while the event was running until people got very cagey about giving kills, the masks are simply gorgeous, and  I think that as long as it’s only for a short time and with fluff rewards, letting people figure out how to ‘game’ an event is not the worst thing in the world.

Mostly, I had fun and now I want to see more!

[arbitrary: event extended in Europe to 5th November but the above points still stand!]

Hallowe’en screens..

Our Witching Night, in pictures:

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

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.

Grab Bag and Other Links

Let’s start with the grab bag. This is a regular Q&A session on the Herald. In this edition, there’s some discussion of high level armour sets which include sets obtainable from both PvE and PvP. The highest tiers of all come from PQs in city sieges and don’t even think about attempting to slaughter the opposition’s NPC leader unless you are well kitted out. The Greenskin sees this as a WoWesque gear treadmill but I remember how hard I had to work to get my warrior geared for heroics and am just glad that I can do the vast majority of WAR endgame without any special effort at all. The Archmage in the picture has a better looking robe than mine, I have robe envy. But doubt I’ll ever see that one.

The grab bag tip is:

If you’re a healer and you want to make the most of earning Renown, heal those around you who seem to be doing the most damage. The system encourages grouping with others and/or keeping the top killers alive, so if you do so, your healing Renown will flow!

Edited to add: One word can make a difference in a statement. It’s important for healers to group, and to heal everyone in your group, not just the damage dealers. Of course we never intended to suggest ignoring everyone else!

It’s a sound tip on how to currently max your renown as a healer. You will get more renown if you focus on healing the damage dealers. Of course, your team is more likely to actually win if you heal other people too … like that friendly tank who is guarding you and punting witch elves away.


Gamepolitics reports that a women in Japan has been taken to court for ‘killing’ the avatar of a guy who jilted her. It sounds as though this is a hacking charge, and nothing to do with the character being someone’s property.

And on the same site, reports of a Japanese diet website where you can subscribe to get regularly nagged about your weight by a virtual wife. Or you could just … actually get married and be nagged by a real one.

Apparently the new Puzzle Quest AI doesn’t cheat. I didn’t personally think that the old one did!

The big MMO news this week is that Bioware have announced that they are working on a Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. Gamespot have an article summing up the main points of this week’s press releases. Rock Paper Scissors sum up my reactions too: companions sound cool, how much single player do we want in MMOs, and when did Star Wars stop being about the films? If you want to keep up with the Star Wars news, you can sign up for the newsletter here. And in case anyone was in any doubt, Bioware have said explicitly that they have WoW firmly in their sights.

Massively have an interview with some of the SW:TOR designers. They’ve split it up into several parts/ articles so that they can comment on specific pieces.

In WoW, there’s a big zombie event going on at the moment as a precursor to the upcoming expansion.

Witching Night in the Old World

There’s a new Dev Diary up on the Herald and Mark Davies (associate producer) gives out a few hints about what to expect in game this Halloween …

In the skirmish areas around the entire world during the Halloween holiday, there will be boss monsters lurking for players to kill.  They’ll have cool loot on them, of course, so players from both sides will want to take them down.  I’m sure Order and Destruction will play nicely with each other and share equally with each other for the spoils of the fight – yeah right!  What else would you expect from a Warhammer holiday?  Trick-or-treating?  Nah!  Beating people over the head?  Oh yeah!

I love in game holidays, I’ve always found them good fun and it helps give the feeling of a living world. Problem is, sometimes a game’s designers’ wish to provide fun holidays ruins any sense of immersion because the holiday has nothing at all to do with the game world. WoW is a bad benchmark because it’s such a gonzo game that anything goes, but an Olympic holiday? Really? And LOTRO had a holiday that involved dressing  up as a pirate? Don’t remember Tolkien mentioning that one.

Sounds to me as though the WAR devs are very aware of this and will be going forwards with it as well. Also, juicy monsties and trez hanging around in the open world RvR areas? Oh, you can bet there’s going to be some head smashing this Halloween …