What we did in closed beta. And chickens!

As you know, we weren’t in the beta that long, but we managed to level chars to late teens and also try out quite a few alts and stuff. We also played some rank 31 templated characters, which is why you’ll see things jump from Tier 2 to Tier 4 (I’ve abbreviated to T1-4)

I think it’s safe to say we all enjoyed the game and found the characters we’ll be playing as mains. I’ll be twirling a staff as the Rune Priest, Spinks will be looking pretty while creating a light show as an Archmage and Hawley will be both righteous and full of fury as a Warrior Priest. Yes, we all picked healers. It was likely to happen anyway and will in some ways shape what we post about.

We’d be happy, to answer questions on any of these things. And will no doubt be writing more about them later.

Here’s the main things we did, very much summarised and introduced by our chickens:

Spinks

  • Played Archmage, Ironbreaker, Engineer, Warrior Priest, Magus
  • Quested in T1/T2 Elf, T2 Empire
  • Lots of PQs across all areas visited
  • T1 Scenarios (Elf/Empire)
  • T2 Scenarios (Empire)
  • T4 Scenarios (Empire)
  • Did open field RvR, mostly T4 in Praag, but also some T2
  • Helped in keep takes
  • Bought white pony
  • Fell off high things a lot
  • Checked Empire/Elf starting zones for cool tome unlocks

arbitrary

  • Played Rune Priest, Warrior Priest, Witch Hunter, Archmage, Shaman, Zealot, Swordmaster
  • Quested T1 Dwarf/Empire, T2 Dwarf
  • Lots of PQs across all areas visited
  • T1 Scenarios (Dwarf/Empire)
  • T2 Scenarios (Empire)
  • T4 Scenarios (Elf/Empire)
  • Did open field RvR (T1 and T4, mainly for objectives)
  • Bought gyro-harness
  • Fell off everything a lot
  • Checked out Dwarf starting area for cool tome unlocks

Hawley

  • Played Warrior Priest, Archmage, Engineer and Witch Hunter
  • Quested T1/T2 Empire, T1 Elf, and T1 Dwarf
  • Lots of PQs across all areas
  • T1 Scenarios (Empire/Elf)
  • T2 Scenarios (Empire/Elf)
  • Tier 1 and Tier 4 Open RvR. Did a lot of keep defense in T4
  • Bought brown horse. Put brown horse on diet
  • Usually fell off high things whilst filling in feedback forms
  • Was slow to realise the potential of the Tome of Knowledge
  • Got lost a lot, especially in caves

Guild

  • Formed guild
  • Got to rank 8.5, nearly to banner design! (they there was a wipe for T4 testing)
  • Chaos night – all made rank 1 Chaos chars and went to do PQs
  • Tested calendar
  • Tested player notes

Ding dong! The Witch is… umm… temporarily indisposed?

Wotcha everyone,

It’s just gone 9pm, and here I am feeling somewhat confused.  Because I can get a tad obsessive, and because I’ve been waiting for the NDA release, I’ve been sat watching the various boards to see when the NDA was lifted.  I have some particularly geeky hobbies that will allow me to be productive whilst still pressing F5 every so often.

Imagine my joy when, about 8:40ish this evening, the Mythic website was updated with the news that “Ding dong, the witch is dead”.

Then, just as I’m chatting to Arbitrary, and we’re ready to publish, we find out that we’re possibly breaking the NDA.  Yes, the Wicked Witch of the NDA had stopped melting, and got better.

“As of now, the Non Disclosure portions of our Beta Testing Agreement is now officially lifted.”

had become:

“As of now, the Non Disclosure portions of our North American Beta Testing Agreement is now officially lifted.”

So I’m left wondering what has gone on here.  I’m wondering why, in this day of the interwebnet, where information respects no borders, we have a lifting of an NDA in one region, yet not another.  Why is it necessary that the words “North” and “America” be added?  Are Mythic not allowed to release the EU beta testers from the NDA?  And whilst I respect the employees of GOA, and wish them happy restfulness during their evenings and weekends off, surely it’s possible in this day and age to have a news release ready to go, that one man with a pda phone can fire off in two shakes of a duck’s tail?  I’ve seen it done with my own two eyes, so I know it’s possible.

We’ve been sat here checking our postings to make sure we’re not breaking the NDA.  We’ve chosen not to play fast and loose with the NDA, and we’ve been careful not to break it accidentally.  So to have this happen at the last minute is more than a little frustrating.  It’s only because we were double-checking the situation that we spotted it in time.

I have no problem waiting for tomorrow morning to publish our Beta opinions.  And I’m sure I shall look back on this a week from now and wince at my pettiness.  But I really, really hope that this is the last time we get a situation like this.

Cheers,
Hawley.

How to annoy people

 Folks,

The NDA portion our North American Beta Testing Agreement has been lifted. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Europe’s NDA will be officially lifted tomorrow.

Mark

I really (of course) have nothing more to say. You can go read it over at the Vault boards.

Yes, I could have pretended not to have read this and posted our stuff anyway, but what the hell, you all have enough to read tonight. I wasn’t happy when Mythic dropped GOA in it by announcing additional benefits for US CE pre-orders. I’m not ecstatic by the way this has been handled. Especially as the original announcement on the Herald didn’t mention North America specifically.

But I’ll live.  And Spinks and Hawley will be posting stuff tomorrow, as I’ll be having a pleasant day at work without any use of F5 whatsoever.

Open beta site opens – NDA drops tomorrow

The Warhammer Herald has now been updated with the official news of the 7th Sept open beta. And the open beta page is now available.

This information is valid only for North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.

But I hope we will see this on the GOA site soon.

Meanwhile, over at The Vault boards, Mark Jacobs has stopped by to give an update on all manner of open beta stuff, but more importantly he includes the big news – the NDA drops tomorrow morning (or, is expected to!).

Once the NDA is lifted, Mark says he will discuss what the three issues were that held it up – we’re looking forward to that the most I think!

Me and my NDA…

Wotcha everyone,

I do believe that gaming NDAs are the work of the devil. They really are.

I can completely understand why companies want them. They want to protect their intellectual property from any circling industry wolves, whilst also controlling any idiots that declare a game “broken” before it’s even started Closed Beta.

And let’s face it, there are plenty of Internet Heroes who are desperate enough to become famous that they will make such pointless and self-serving declarations. I think they might be the interwebnet version of the plastic blondes who chase footballers…

But that still doesn’t change the fact that I’m labouring under the NDA. I’m allowed to say; “Yes, there is a beta. Yes, I’m in it”. And so what is the next question I’m asked? “Cool! What’s it like?”

And then I’m left looking like an objectionable child, chanting “Nya nya na nah na! I’ve got a secret!”

I’d rather not. Not only does it make me look more like a responsible adult (albeit chanting annoying things about having a secret) but it means that my mates see me as less of the coolly dangerous anti-hero they think I am. It’s bad for my reputation, honest.

It’s also bad for my soul. I really, really want to talk about Warhammer Online. And not so I can look like some Internet Hero, or get all evangelical about it, but so we can discuss it. So the community at large can talk about the bits they like, the bits they hate, and all the bits in between. So we can swap war stories whilst discussing what elements of gameplay work, and what needs improving.

People are naturally inquisitive. Especially when prompted. We get so many teasers from the nice advertising people on official websites, and magazines, and the larger online gaming sites through official leaks that it’s no wonder that places like Beta Leaks exist. But that’s just a reason, not an excuse for me to break an NDA.

Here’s to the NDA dropping.

Cheers,
Hawley.

How we feel about the NDA

Maybe next week...

Maybe next week...

Onto dwarfs!

We’ve had Gamespy give us some overview of their gametime, we’ve had Massively telling us about elves vs dark elves, now we have Ten Ton Hammer weighing in on the dwarfs vs greenskins, starting with an overview of the Engineer class.

I think I’ve spied the marketing plan here! Have a different site report on different aspects – and how better to do that than with some handy ‘get out of NDA free’ cards. I think it’s well-planned, and works quite well. So who gets Empire vs Chaos? We’ll see.

Of course, all the bloggers and forums will be full of much more meaty reports once the NDA is lifted, but think of these more as tasters that give you a little more info than you got before.

Just a quick note

Werit drew my attention to Mark’s latest posts over at Warhammer Alliance which clarify some of what’s going on with the North American and Oceanic customers (CE pre-orders mostly) and their invites to the closed beta.

It reminded me that I should have said something here earlier. While all this is going on, we’re making a concerted effort to mostly report on the European side of things. It’s getting a little confusing now and there’s a whole bunch of blogs and forums that have a more North American focus, so it’s easier for us to stick to EU news on the stages of beta.

But, interesting snippets for me included:

The new Oceanic Beta and the new NA CE Closed Beta servers will be at a different stage of testing than the non-Oceanic servers to allow the Oceanic players to play the Tier 1-3 content while the rest of the Closed Beta testers are currently playing in Tier 4.

We’ve invited about 10K players into our Oceanic Closed Beta regardless of whether they bought a CE or not. We need some volume down there so we invited both Oceanic CE buyers and non-CE buyers.

10 Things We Want from Post-NDA Writeups

Kudos to the guys at Gamespy for giving us a really fun beta writeup this week. I was thinking while reading that it covered a lot of the points I like to see in a ‘what I did in beta’ report. I know we’ll be talking more about this when the NDA goes down but because I’m selfish, I just wanted to let everyone else in beta know what we wanna see!

(By the way, one of the really surreal things I found on Gamespy while I was poking around for the WAR beta writeup link was a guide for things to do in WoW at level 60. That’s practically a museum piece right there. Including the link for posterity.)

1. Was it fun

Did you have fun playing? Doing what in particular? Was it fun right from the start or did it grow on you? At a very basic level, if a game isn’t mostly fun then it has failed.

Were you able to find a character class that was fun for you, and what made it so fun? Did you like the class/es that you expected to like? Did you stick mostly to one side (ie. Order/Destruction) and if so, why?

2. What irritated you?

NDA will be down, you can be honest. Was there anything that irritated or frustrated you about the game? Give details! Do you think it’s mostly a beta issue or will we see it in live too? Did you find any workarounds?

3. What makes this game different?

In this case, we know what the selling points of WAR are. The public quests, the tome of knowledge, the RvR, the Warhammer setting. So, beta testers, just how cool are those things in the game right now? How did the rest of the beta testers take to them? What worked, and what were any issues? Was there anything else that really made you sit up and think ‘ok, this is new and different‘?

4. What makes this game the same?

What did you see that reminded you of existing games? It’s fine to compare WAR with WoW, for example. How was the UI? Did you find it easy to use because of similarity to games you played before?

Did the similarities make you feel positive about WAR or did it not compare well?

5. Did you try anything nuts?

I can tell you now that the first thing I do in an online game is to take a dive off something high and see what happens. Did you try anything silly or crazy? How about with your guild (if you have one)?

Give us some funny stories! Preferably with screenshots.

6. What is the core of the game like?

Do you think that the game is basically sound? What sort of activities did you do in a typical session?

When I talk about the core of the game, what I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to compare a new MMO to games that have been out for over a year and had a lot of content added to them. A MMO at release will always have less content than that. But the core mechanics and gameplay won’t change hugely over time. WoW was always loot dependent and had fast-moving combat with lots of tuned 5 man instances. LOTRO always made good use of instancing for storytelling and didn’t have a standard healing class. CoH always let you beat up lots of mooks at a time, relied on generated mission instances, and had a superb character generator.

What’s core to the gameplay here? Does it play well? Will it still be engaging when more content is added?

7. What do you think the biggest issues are going to be?

I can name a couple without troubling the NDA at all. But what were the biggest issues you encountered in beta, and do you think they’ll be present later too? I don’t mean what things were frustrating, I mean what actual design issues did you encounter?

8. What wasn’t there?

Name some functionality that wasn’t in the game yet but should be in there when the game goes live. In WoW, there were some placeholders in the beta (remember Captain Placeholder? We do!). Is there anything like that in WAR at the moment. What were you unable to test that should be present later?

9. So what was the beta experience like?

We know that beta communities tend to be more experienced and friendlier than live ones, mostly due to being picked for experience and willingness to actually beta test. What was it like being in beta? Were people cooperative? Was your beta server community friendly and interested in testing things together? What content did you actually get to test? The gamespy crew commented on getting level 31 templates. Did you do that too?

How were Mythic/GOA about taking feedback? Were the servers stable? What were the downloaders like?

10. Did you find any good bugs?

Do you have any particularly funny bugs to report? Any feedback that you are especially proud of? Feel free to include screenshots. We’ll be laughing at these a year from now.

How about exploits? Did anyone find anything potentially game breaking?

11. Send us chocolate!

<insert fluff text with barely disguised plea for chocolate, or ice cream>

Re: Europe

Iain C has stopped by Freddyshouse and Warhammer Alliance to clarify where GOA and the EU stand on Mark’s announcements over at the Vault yesterday:

I don’t know yet what the situation for the EU will be regarding this. To be honest this announcement was a surprise to us as well and so we’ll need to talk to Mythic, our other partners and our various internal teams to see what is possible under the circumstances. The timetable we were working to appears to have changed dramatically so we’ll need to re-evaluate a lot of things and look at where our resources are at the moment. It’s Mythic’s prerogative to change things – in fact there have been many changes prior to this that we’ve worked through together – we just need to see if it’s possible to adapt our plans to bring things back into line again. As always our intention will be to try and give the same opportunities to European fans as Mythic give to NA fans but we need to see if it is possible to shuffle our timetable to match given the fact that everything is pretty much committed at the moment to gearing up for launch.

I expect we’ll be able to announce what we will be doing for the European fans within the next few days. 

And from Mark in the same thread:

Folks,

I’ve made a slight change to my announcement so it’s clear that I’m talking about North America (for the time being). We are working with GOA and will have an announcement to make regarding the European beta and OB in the coming days. As somebody has already noted, the US and the EU betas were already a little different. I *hope* that our European CE customers will get all the same additional benefits that our North American CE customers get. 

Which just confirms what Iain says above. That GOA were a bit caught out by this and now have to see what’s possible for us here in Europe. It also says to me that Mythic don’t exactly have Europe in mind when they come out with certain things. The idea of a timetable changing dramatically also makes me worry a little for GOA! Timing can affect so many things, from staffing levels to marketing campaigns, and when dates change.. it can be hard to get everything as stable and good as you were aiming for.

I know there’s bound to be some fans that give GOA grief for not having the exact same scheme (if it turns out impossible to do), but in this case, it looks to me like they got a bit of a raw deal and PR hiccough. Will definitely be interesting to see what they can pull out the bag at short notice though!!