Call to Arms, pt. 2

Today marks the launch of patch 1.2.1 on the American servers, which means it’ll be heading our way soon. I’ve not written all that much about it, because I’ve found it all a little overwhelming, but I know it heralds some big and important changes.

Keep upgrading should prove an interesting addition that’ll add some flavour to open RvR at higher levels and also provide some incentive for holding a keep for longer. I hope it works as planned, it sounds like some much-needed extra dimensions will be in-game shortly.

The Beyond the Sands live event launches with 1.2.1. I want to kill undead things, so I look forward to it. Goggles, however, will ruin my hair!

There’s a lot of general improvements, to the UI, to combat responsiveness and to the luck factor (somewhat), by the introduction of a token system of medallions for RvR. I really look forward to seeing how many medallions I can earn in an evening of RvR (and yes, I will take my r40 Rune Priest out for this test) and what I can buy for them. And of course, there’s the new Gates of Ekrund ‘arena’  (6v6 ranks 19-24), it sounds cool, but also scares me a bit, because I’m notoriously nervous about my abilities – but I know people really can’t wait for this, and I’m extremely interested in how it goes, I imagine it’ll be a surefire hit and people will always want an alt in these levels to do this (or to halt the xp gain if they could).

And I know all the class tweaks and changes will take some getting used to. But it marks yet another stage of Mythic taking on criticism and comment and working the game to make improvements all the time. And because of that, there’s only really one thing to say…

…bring it on!

(patch notes here)

[Edit: it’s friday for Europe (or today!), hurrah!]

Sneaky Peeky

Just a quick post before I head off for work, Mark Jacobs has given a sneak peek of patch 1.2 over at the Vault boards, which includes the following highlights:

1) Bugs: I’m certainly not going to list 500 bugs/issues here, but the list is rather lengthy and right now bug fixes alone are coming in at about 16 pages of notes.

2) New Careers: Two new careers have been added, the Slayer and the Choppa. For those that got a look at the Choppa during Beta, you’ll see some changes and improvements but the Slayer is all new and ready to take the field for the first time.

3) Combat and Careers Adjustments: Lots and lots of bug fixes, adjustments and tweaks to all careers. This Balance patch focuses on addressing a number of global issues identified by the players that have been affecting the overall feel and balance of the game. This includes items such as Resistance stacking, Disorient effects, and Damage Absorb shields. In addition to these more global changes, we continue to work on each individual career addressing many of the more significant balance concerns and bugs brought up by the community. This includes a focus on the following careers; Witch Elf, Witch Hunter, Chosen, Knight, Black Orc, and Swordmaster.

4) Realm vs Realm: RvR is introducing several great changes including the new Open RvR Rallying Cry, Zone Domination System, and Siege Weapon Improvements and more!

5) Items: Itemization improvements and fixes for Gunbad, Bastion Stair, Lost Vale, Fortress Raid Rewards, City Invasion Rewards, and more!

6) Crafting System Improvements: Overall improvements to the system with Apothecary being the focus of this patch. New ingredients, improved interfaces and more.

7) Public Quests: Easy PQs for Tiers two, three, and four! This completes our first pass at the Easy PQ system and we will continue to review and tweak the system as necessary. As we have already done for Tier One, we have gone through the PQs in each Tier and made sure that at least one per chapter can be completed by 1-3 people.

8. New Live Event: The Bitter Rivals event will be launching with this version as the official kick off for the anticipated introduction of the Slayer and Choppa!

9) New Scenario: The Twisting Tower Scenario will be making a special preview appearance!

10) User Interface: Lots of UI improvements for both old and new systems! These improvements cover everything from crafting to RvR.

11) Mail: Send multiple items attached to each mail! Easily one of our most requested features by the players.

12) Client Stability: Continued improvements to the client in the areas of stability performance and visual quality. Improvements to an MMO’s client, just like the server, are ongoing and these will continue now and in the future to be one of our priorities.

Head over to the Vault and participate in the discussion!

U-Turns Galore in 1.0.4

So  the Heavy Metal patch (1.0.4) is going live without the healer and ironbreaker nerfs that we’d discussed a few days ago.

Mark Jacobs writes about how they’re thinking now about the career updates for future patches (I am now slightly unclear as to which changes will go in which patch but we’ll see when the patch notes go up) which gives some of the reasoning and accounts for feedback and reports from the test realms. A basic summary is:

1. Ironbreaker Grudge mechanics still being tweaked but there will be a much slower loss of grudge per second. This means that the Ironbreaker doesn’t have to stay constantly in combat to be able to use Grudge.

2. Healer HoT changes (nerfed) are being backed out completely but the buffs to the slow heals are staying in. So that’s a decent buff and not a nerf at all.

3. Sorcerer/ BW DoTs will not be benefitting from the general damage increases.

I’m all for testing and all for not being nerfed so hurrah for that. But I still wish I knew why they’d wanted to nerf healers in the first place — was it a basic balance issue that still needs to be addressed (maybe even moreso because of the planned buffs) or just a mistake?

Game developers in general are very bad at explaining why they make specific fixes, possibly because of the torrent of feedback that might ensure. But as a player, I would like very much to know how developers feel about the state of different classes because I’d like to know if my expectations match up with the designers. (If they don’t, it’s a good sign that you are playing the wrong class.)

Some Test Server changes coming sooner rather than later

As we all know, patch 1.05 is still on the Public Test Server, and if you go to any WAR forums, you’ll be sure to read lots of comments about how its affected various classes and archetypes. We’re all mostly interested in our own classes, but still – there were a bunch of interesting changes we have been wishing would be added sooner, rather than languishing on the test server to iron out the wrinkles. Lo and behold, patch 1.04b has been born and is due to go to the US servers today (also the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War, by the way).

It really does have everything in that we’ve been talking about wanting before we get the rest of 1.05, so good call Mythic! (I imagine Europeans will get it on 12th, if usual patterns apply). Anyway, here’s the highlights:

When conquered, Keeps will always provide three gold loot bags and Fortresses will now offer six guaranteed gold loot bags as part of the chest loot.

Rally Masters have been added to all warcamps. Now, players can set their rally point in a warcamp in the same manner as binding in a chapter hub.

To promote population balance among the various scenarios, we have added a feature that reduces the number of times a specific scenario can launch in a short period of time. This will give scenarios which are launched less frequently an opportunity to catch up in the queue population and launch more often.

It also contains the changes to Chaotic Rift/Electromagnet which we look forward to seeing in the variety of scenarios we hope to be able to play now, not just Serpent’s Passage/Tor Anroc/Mourkain Temple/Nordenwatch, depending on your tier.

What will patch 1.05 mean for you

Right then, here’s the 1.05 patch notes. The big thing to note with these is that they are up on the test server, which means that they’re going to get some testing and possibly some tweaking before they go live. So love them or hate them, the sky has not fallen. If they turn out not to have the effect Mythic wanted on the test servers then there will be changes, these are not set in stone. If you have access to a test realm (ie. not in the EU) and are feeling sparky, go test and give feedback.

Having said that, we can certainly read through the patch notes and get an idea of the sorts of changes they want to make and how they see some of the classes and abilities at the moment.

A few bloggers have already summed up changes for classes they play: Regis discusses 1.05 and Warrior Priests, Syp discusses engineers, A Wall of Text talks over the non-class specific changes.

But because you can never have enough summaries, here’s mine!

Healers

Every healer has had their main HoT spell adjusted to do the same amount of healing as it does now, but spread over 24 seconds. So each tick will be ticking for less. This is a sizable healing nerf because the reason people have been getting such high healing numbers in scenarios is by HoTting up their whole team.

Healers have also had their damage adjusted upwards, which should help for soloing and make levelling much less painful.

I’m in two minds about these changes. Casting HoTs blindly on everyone is pretty dull, I much prefer keeping an eye on what’s going on around me and responding to that. On the other hand, dps is outdistancing healing in Tier 4 by quite a lot at the moment. No one thinks healers have too much survivability. So a patch where several classes get more damage and all healers get less healing could tip the balance even further away from support.

I’m hoping that Mythic plan to move towards more fun healing and away from the constant HoTs so we’ll see how these pan out on the test server. I’m very happy about the increased damage though. That was needed. There are also some bug fixes for various classes but that’s the main gist of the healing changes.

Damage Dealing

DoTs are being made more consistent which looks as though it means that most of them get a damage buff. The damage buff in most cases is to do with the spell getting more of an effect gear stats (ie. Int). But there are some spells that simply got a damage increase independent of gear.

All the abilities which reduced heals by more than 50% (affects Marauders and Witch Elves) now are being nerfed to 50% heal reductions.

Wizards and Sorceresses

The main nerfs here are:

  • the fact that root now has a chance to break on damage, so no rooting people and then nuking them down.
  • immunity on root which will leave these classes lower in survivability
  • combustion is slower to build
  • root now available at rank 12, not rank 10. (ie. not in Tier 1)
  • HoTs ticking for less makes it harder for healers to keep these guys up when they’re nuking at full combustion

Other than that, they got a solid damage buff with the DoT improvements. Not quite what people were expecting.

Squig Herders, Engineers, White Lions, Maguses (Magi?)

Lots of ‘this ability now does more damage’ buffs. So more damage across the boards. It looks as though pets are being buffed up as well, at least in their damage capability.

Bow classes now get to autoattack on the run while in their skirmish mode.

Tanks

Poor Ironbreakers, their ability to build up Grudge is being nerfed quite severely. Were they doing too much damage in Tier 4? I don’t know but it seems Mythic thinks so. On the bright side (is there one?) they can now use hammers.

All tanks get their root breaking ability at rank 12.

Guard now only works on players within the tank’s group.

Non Class Specific

  • Ability to set rally points in any warcamp
  • root effects can’t be stacked, and after you get rooted you have a 5s immunity to being rerooted
  • less likely to get the same scenario twice in a row
  • movement reductions etc will no longer stack
  • guaranteed to get 1 gold loot bag on every keep take PQ
  • everyone needs ward gear to fight encounter bosses, not just tanks

Overall

I see a lot more damage buffs across the board, and an across the board healing nerf to go with it. I hope they test this good and proper because it’s quite harsh as a healer in Tier 4 as it is and this isn’t going to help.

I feel bad for the Ironbreakers too.

1.05 – on its way

Mark Jacobs has stopped by the Vault boards to offer a sneak preview of patch 1.05, a seemingly bigger patch than I think any of us expected before 1.1 hits in December. It’s apparently over 17 pages long, and more news will be coming later today – US players will also get a chance to see the changes first on a preview server. I’m not even going to ask if the EU gets the same.. I think we khave a vague idea of the answer. The highlights of Mark’s post mention:

  • Public Test Server (as mentioned above)
  • Morale abilities fixed to show proper timers and fire off at the right times (glorious change, will see though!)
  • Rally points at every warcamp, soon allowing multiple bind points to make travelling to and from the action faster and less annoying (we approve of less annoying)
  • additional gold bag at all keep takes (those classes that do well at keep contribs, be happy!)
  • fixed problems with abilities or animations not firing or ending. Also fixing the ‘ability not ready’ message to synch in with global cooldown and not display if time remaining is less than GCD.
  • more solutions to afks in scenarios – which honestly, we’ve not seen so many of since the last rounds of fixes, but hey, it can never be a bad thing to stop people doing it!

And:

All classes have had some abilities buffed and some abilities have been debuffed a bit. For example, the Squig Herder has gotten 30+ adjustments to its abilities. Out of those 30+ adjustments, the phase “damage has been increased” shows up about 80% of the time. As part of this update, the team has looked at every career in the game and made adjustments. Things such as Electromagnet, Fire Cage and snares/roots in general have drawn particular attention from the team and have had numerous changes/fixes made to them. Of course, where major changes have occurred to the careers a free re-training has been offered. Tomorrow’s notes will detail all of the changes and considering that the career changes are about 14 out of those 17+ pages, I think you can say that we made a whole lot of changes.

So expect many changes, I’ll be interested to read the full notes but wanted to give a quick preview before I head off for a very very long day at work!

MJ also relents enough to give Vault readers a quick preview of what is in store for Electromagnet:


Electromagnet: The cost has been reduced significantly. The cooldown has been increased. The build time has been increased. The ability can no longer be cast on the move. The pull-in maximum number of targets has been decreased and can now be defended against.

There’s also some clarification on the Public Test Server over at Warhammer Alliance – it’ll be up for periods of time only, when big changes need to be tested by as many as possible.

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!

State of the Game

As promised, Mark Jacobs has made his State of the Game ‘address’ over at the Herald, meaning you no longer need use the one over at the R1ft!

Because you should really go and read it all in detail, I’m only going to quote a few highlights:

WAR is doing fabulously.We are one of, if not the, fastest selling MMORPG out of the blocks and we are also one of the most highly rated MMORPGs of all time.While the game is off to a great start, we still have a long way to go before we can declare WAR a major long-term success

I couldn’t leave out a quote that had ‘fabulously’ in, or Hawley would be mad!

Having done that, we can now move on to what we are going to do over the next couple of months, culminating with the release of patch 1.1 later this Fall.

Let’s start with what we know is some truly exciting news. ’m happy to announce that in December, the Black Guard and the Knight of the Blazing Sun will officially be part of WAR. We have very special plans around their appearance and in our next newsletter we will provide full details about that exciting and rather novel event.

Yay, that’s good news, and not entirely unexpected, but now we have a timeframe…

We will continue to enhance WAR’s mail system until it is one of the best mail systems found in any MMORPG.

Ah good, maybe time to get in my suggestion that guild invites should be able to be done via in-game mail!

In 1.1 (and beyond) we will be doing a myriad of things for our RvR players, including improving gear drops, increasing drop rates, and implementing an RvR-influence system to compliment the current PvE-influence system.

Interesting, but will reserve judgement! That said, it’s not like I won’t be RvRing, so it all helps!

Other changes for 1.1 include major additions to the chat system (item linking and more) as well as continued work on our targeting system, including adding Main Assist and Target of Target. n addition to the server balancing methods that have worked so well over the last week, we will also be offering the first server transfers to our players to continue to help even out the server populations…

Yay for main assist, I hope it gets to us before big changes in December. And yay for item linking in chat so I can show off my uber thing of thinginess! (that I got through my RvR influence, of course)!

The Combat and Careers team has spent the last month looking at the changes that they want to make with an eye towards making improvements and buffs, not removing or weakening abilities. I won’t go into details here but the vast majority of careers all have nothing but love coming their way.

Who doesn’t like love?

More tweaks and fixes and another patch

First of all, this is from the US Herald and any dates and stuff relate to US patching. No word on when Europe will get any of this stuff, we’re still waiting for some hotfixes, so maybe we’re being made to wait till it’s all in one package. NOT something we want to do, for the record. We’ve had a few days when the extra xp in Tier 3 & 4 would  have gone down nicely, thank you.

First of all, more bug fixes on their way. I particularly like this one that’s annoyed me for a while:

We corrected an issue that was preventing players from completing the “Battle at Doomfist Crater” quest. 

and these are good too:

  • We fixed an issue that would sometimes cause a player in the Logrin’s Forge scenario to respawn at the enemy spawn point after dying.
  • Players will no longer be able to destroy the postern doors of keeps. This will focus the battle at the keep’s front gate, providing a more fair and balanced experience for both attackers and defenders.
  • After these hotfixes, which are pretty small-fry compared with what’s to come, we move onto more xp tweaks relating to keep capture (once again, ignore the ‘today’ if in Europe):

    Players who capture an RvR keep previously received only renown. As of today, players of the appropriate rank (actual, not bolstered) will also earn an experience bonus for successfully defeating a keep lord.

    As with Public Quests and defeating monsters, the experience awarded for the successful capture of a keep will vary depending on a player’s rank relative to the difficulty of the keep.

    The article goes on to list appropriate levels for the various Tier Keep takes.. useful if you want to know at what level you’ll get the most xp for it. Not sure about that, but we’ll see how it plays out.

    Finally, the Big Stuff ™. The next patch notes. A mixed bag here, and you should definitely visit the Herald to get the full picture, because instead of copying and pasting, we’re only going to list a few:

    We’re pleased to announce the addition of a new regional chat system. This item has been one of our most requested features, and you can find the details below…Region Chat consists of two channels, Region and Region-RvR…

    Needed, not surprised it was most requested. Been needed for a while. Look forward to this. Wonder which area will become ‘Barrens chat’ – place your bets!

    • In order to ensure that the Apothecary skill remains a valuable crafting profession potions will no longer drop as frequently.
    • Seeds for Cultivation will no longer drop as frequently throughout the world.

    If you already levelled cultivation – well done! As for you apothecaries, I expect potions for my vials please 🙂 Especially now.

    Nurglings will no longer continue to make aggressive sounds after they have been killed.

    I love them, but hurray!

    Capturing an enemy standard will now reward the capturing player and his nearby allies with renown.

    Very nice change, making it just cost someone 2g to get a new standard and having some bragging rights, not as good as renown!

    • Renown gained from healing players was granting more renown than intended over long periods of time. Players who heal other players will still earn renown for aiding their friends in combat, but large heals or repeated heal-over-time spells will result in lesser renown gains than before. 
    • While going over the data collected for renown gained by healing, we discovered a few incorrect values that led to players earning far more renown than designed.  To ensure equal renown gains for players regardless of their chosen career and whether they group or not inside scenarios, we have made several adjustments to the way renown is granted from healing other players…

    You should go read all the changes here, especially if you play a healer. And especially if you play one that uses heal-over-time and large heals. I notice there are no changes to the xp earned by soloing dps classes. Not that we don’t welcome this being seen as a problem – just want to see how it plays out and what kind of knock-on effect we get as healers who have never gone solo.  Like how you slipped that one in right at the end of the list though, Mythic!

    Crafters take note: late additions to 1.02 patch notes

    This is mostly of interest to talisman makers and apothecaries.

    • One of the things we’ve been hearing from players is that our Talisman making system was a bit more time-consuming than we wanted it to be.  So, in an effort to make Talisman making more accessible to lower/mid-range crafters, our Items team changed Gold Essence (originally a product of Apothecary) to Gold Dust and added Gold Dust to crafting merchants to eliminate the need for a third crafter to level their skills. Unfortunately, this change was released slightly ahead of schedule and Gold Dust had no sell price. Rather than change everybody’s character, we  decided to leave the change live. However, in order to avoid an impact on our economy, we have made it so that Gold Dust, that had been purchased prior to server restart cannot be sold but it can still be used. This item can still be traded. So, since Gold Dust could previously be bought for no cost, well, you haven’t lost anything.
    • Players who previously had Gold Essence will notice that it has been converted to Gold Dust, which can be used in all recipes that previously required Gold Essence.
    • As a result of this change, Goldweed, which had previously been an ingredient used to create gold dust, has now been converted to a stabilizer for Apothecary. This is a boon to Cultivators, who could not previously create a stabilizer and it will help make tie Cultivation and Apothecary more tightly together.