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.

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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?

Being AFK

Everything sounds more fun when you can’t do it. I’ve been away for a few days (I know, no-one noticed!), enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of London and well.. doing some real life things that were both a bit stressy and pleasant when they worked out ok. It’s been so busy I’ve barely had time to notice I’ve not logged onto a computer with the internet for more than 5 mins in a day until right now, monday afternoon. Due home tuesday afternoon.

Travelling with cats brings a whole new meaning to ‘herding cats’ and leading an RvR warband is much easier!

So, did I miss WAR? A little. I missed the people more than anything. But I did have a few pangs of missing my little Rune Priest (last seen struggling to get some quests done without getting too disheartened). But I read in Spinks’ post that Tier 4 has kickstarted on our server. I missed it. I’ll probably miss the next few days/nights of it. But at 33, I figure my healer can get involved as and when I want to.

I made a Warrior Priest, frustrated that in every other game the healer/melee hybrid has been my char of choice. I prefer it so far to the beta version and I’m not sure why. It’s only rank 7 though, and I don’t plan at all to give up my Rune Priest thus far.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about the game, and other games. And I’ve been listening to a lot of WAR podcasts – so expect my views on those sometime soon. And maybe some more thoughtful posts from me than there have been of late.

Am still deciding on a sub. I’m still thinking of 1 month and then 6 months, because of my trip to the US in December, but I might cave and go for 6 months anyway. Either way, I’ll be playing for some time. I’m just adjusting to the knowledge this might be a 3-night a week game for me, rather than my usual fulltime efforts.

What I didn’t do yesterday in game

I wasn’t around too much yesterday because of visiting friends (and sisters!) up in London, so I didn’t take part in a lot of these events myself. But the guild was chatting about them happily when I logged on in the evening to play my Ironbreaker gal for an hour or two before turning in.

1. Tier 4 RvR. Apparently it had gotten quite lively with warbands from both sides raging pitched battles up and down Thunder Mountain. Order eventually retreated after being outnumbered 4:1. I wasn’t there so can’t report in person on what it was actually like but it all sounded quite fun. And all the chatter on the realm boards is about people wanting more of the same. We always thought it would just take a little time for the community to settle out in Tier 4 — I think this is the first sign of a lot more to come. (Thunder Valley wins my award for worst T4 scenario though.)

2. Roleplay. Apparently we had a witch trial and witch burning in Altdorf yesterday. I know some of the guild Witch Hunters went along and got involved and enjoyed it a lot. On the Destruction side, they were organising some big Cult of Slaanesh type RP that we mock because it involved lots of sleazy semi naked elves. But so does everything in Destruction, it seems.

3. Tier 2/3 RvR. Has been very active on our server for weeks. Continued to be active yesterday.

4. Tier 1 RvR. This is the bit I actually did myself! So I was messing around with my little Ironbreaker and doing a quest that led me to a PQ area in Mount Bloodhorn. And there were a couple of other dwarf players there, an Ironbreaker and a Runepriest. So one thing led to another, then a foolish sleazy semi-clad (and flagged) witch elf showed up and took a pop at our healer so we killed it. More people turned up and we moved off to take all the Dwarf Tier 1 objectives as a group with some scenario queueing on the side. There was some light roleplaying.

I like this game 😉

Quicker, easier, more seductive?

Wotcha everyone,

I was scanning the BBC website for news today (as one does), when this article caught my eye.  Take a moment to read it, and then see if you start thinking what I was thinking by the end of it.

Yeah, I was wondering why university libraries make people go all blurry too.

But, after giggling a little along the lines of “Huh!  Students these days, eh?  Not like my day, when universities were called “Workin’ in t’mine”.  Bunch of idle layabouts, if you ask me!”, I started to wonder.   No, not about the blurry people again, but about online gaming.

Yes.  Online gaming and performance enhancing drugs.  Think about it.

Online gaming has become big business; no longer is it the preserve of the geekiest of gamers.  Yes, I remember you taking the piss repeatedly, gaming magazines.  Elves and Orcs weren’t as cool and sexy as Mr Doom Marine and all his FPS chums:  Well, not any more, it seems.  We’re cool, and there are multiple millions of us playing all around the world.

We’re Massively Multiplayer now.  But that doesn’t stop people from trying to be the best.  It’s in human nature to want to strive, to succeed.  The desire to do well, to win, to be the best of the best is strong.  And online gamers are no exception to the rule.

Many players look for something more.  An “edge”.  From the humble addon that either improves a part of the interface, or makes things easier, through macros and mods, all the way to exploits, hacks, cheats, and bots.  No, I’m not implying that all gamers use, or would consider using, the seedier end of that scale.  But the accusations are always being thrown about that exploits are being used by [insert name or group here].  Or worse.

Add gold-buying (well, *someone* has to be buying the gold, otherwise it wouldn’t be financially viable to pay someone to farm all that gold, never mind make a profit on the subscription) and power-levelling “services”, and you get a whole new set of “edges” that people can use.

But cheats and exploits get you banned.  Hacks and bots get you banned, and can also get your pc virused.  And buying gold and levels can have your credit card used to buy various dodgy people new 50″ plasma screens, or your accounts (both bank and game) raided for all your goodies.  The pitfalls are many.

However…  Here comes a pill-sized solution.  Something that will sharpen your smarts, allowing you to do the right thing at the right time.  It will make you more sociable; you can go from follower to leader.  It will make you concentrate better over longer periods, allowing you to raid at the top of your game, all raid.

And it’s cheap.  Could this be the death of the gold-seller?  Why buy gold, when you can pop a pill, and farm all night?  Not only is the pill cheaper, but you get to keep the cool drops, and the xp!  Women will marvel at your staying power, and men will want to be you.  No, wait, that’s a different sort of pill…  But the possibility is that despite the various legitimate attempts at stopping gold-sellers and farmers (Go BanHammer, Go!), we could be looking at their demise coming due to the influx of online pharmacies.

So, here we are.  Little pill, big advantage.  It’s something that I would NEVER, EVER advocate the use of.  I don’t even take paracetamol for a bad headache, so why would I take something that has the potential to fuck me up?  For a game?

But is it the new edge gamers want?  Gamers aren’t above a little light self-medication.  Admit it.  You’ve never played when hopped up on caffeine?  Gamer Coffee can be the stuff of legend, as is Jolt Cola.  And you’ve never downed Red Bull when mid-raid?  Wasn’t taurine, active ingredient of Red Bull, trialled as a combat drug somewhere?  Or is that another of my urban legends?  Is there *that* much of a leap from smart drinks, to smart drugs?

Hmm.  What do you think?

Cheers,
Hawley.

Let’s Talk Archmage Specs

Does this blue match my hair?

One of the great things about reaching the end of Tier 3/start of Tier 4 is that you finally have enough talent points available to start experimenting with abilities/ tactics that you can learn from speccing deep into your career ability trees.

I’m not planning to give a detailed discussion of every single Archmage ability and spec, there are better places to discuss that, but I am going to talk about which way I plan to go and why. An Archmage is a class that can specialise in three different ways: healing, nuking/damage, and debuffing. In practice, damage feels subpar, healing can be excellent if you spec for it, and the debuffs look good but it’s difficult to get a feel for how useful they really are. I think a damage specced archmage can work well, but if the class needs anything, it’s better damage and better AP regeneration while nuking.

In any case, I want to play my Archmage as a healer who has other ways to contribute if healing isn’t needed. So I know that in the endgame, whatever I spec, I plan to mostly heal in PvP.

Isha

There are two really good things about the Isha tree. One is that it improves just about every baseline heal you have, and the other is Funnel Essence. FE is a good, fast, flexible channelled heal (it’s supposed to be channelled, bit bugged right now) that you can break off after one tick if you need to save AP. I have it specced on Lin at the moment and I feel like a really competent healer in scenarios, as far as that’s possible. Since I spend a fair amount of time healing in PvP, this is a big deal for me.

Asuryan

Only one good ability in this tree but it’s a doozy. Cleansing Flare is a ranged AE with knockback. It is brilliant fun, very effective, gives you a good way to defend other healers/nukers, and everyone who has tried it loves it. Unfortunately you need to spec 13 points into a lame tree to get that ability. No one really wants the Asuryan tree to be lame, and even Destruction would probably prefer that it wasn’t (because that would encourage fewer Archmages to heal) but even with a full dps spec, it simply doesn’t make as much difference to our damage as an Isha-spec does to our healing.

It’s particularly sad that none of the Asuryan tactics are very exciting. They look better than they are. I’ve seen dps Archmages played very effectively but this tree needs some help. Having said that, Cleansing Flare is heaps of fun and might be worth the heavy point investment all on its own.

Vaul

The debuff tree is pretty solid. It contains the awesome Scatter the Winds heal debuff at a mere 5 points into the tree. As well as a solid debuff, StW gives you an extra DoT to help while soloing which is a nice bonus. Further up the tree at 9 points in is Law of Age which is an AE toughness debuff. It’s a good spell, and works well when you have some enemies bunched up. Like all debuffs, it’s difficult to really get a feel for quite how effective it is. At 11 points, you can buy the Golden Aura tactic which makes your best DoT affect many targets in an area. I tried this and found it mostly a way of getting better contribution scores in scenarios and PQs – unlike all the other debuffs, you can tell very clearly what this one is doing on scoreboards. Plus there’s a debuff built in. Above this, Mistress of the Marsh is a ground targeted snare/debuff, I didn’t try this one but people seem disappointed in it (probably because enemies in PvP don’t often stand around.

So where does this leave us?

Mostly it leaves me bitterly wishing that I could have all my talent points right now at 32 because it would make levelling a whole lot more fun. As it is, I spend a lot of time in PvP/scenarios and really want to heal well. For the rest, I still need to grind xp out somehow since there often aren’t groups available. At 40 I’ll have enough points to pick up Funnel Essence and still have enough left for Cleansing Flare or Law of Age. Right now I have to choose and it makes me grumpy. The advantage of going with an Isha/Vaul build is that it isn’t adversely affected if you don’t gear for dps – a debuff works the same way regardless of how much int you have on your gear.

If I am not sounding enthused about the tactics available, it’s because at the moment I am happy with the baseline ones. I’m going with the 10% heal crits, 160 AP every time a heal crits, and instant res tactic at the moment and they’re great.

What I will eventually do is pick out some combination of the abilities I most like and see which works best with how I end up playing at rank 40. I won’t personally have a build that doesn’t include Funnel Essence, I like how it rounds the class out for healing. But whether I’ll go deeper into Isha than that I’m not yet sure. So the most likely builds so far are Isha/Asuryan with Cleansing Flare or Isha/Vaul with Law of Age. I’m looking forwards to experimenting!