Eurogamer speaks to WAR devs

Paul Barnett and Jeff Hickman, along with ‘an entire pack of Warhammer Online bigwigs’ spoke to Eurogamer yesterday in a live chat, where they gave snippets of information about the game events, the Land of the Dead, the new classes, and future plans for the game. I’ve copied and pasted some of the bits I found most interesting, but good ol’ Eurogamer has put the entire transcript up, so you can go read it in its entirety.

Tomb Kings or The Land of the Dead is a massive zone which is broken up into two parts – The Necropolis and the Tomb of the Vulture Lord.

It is RvR-gated. In other words, each realm must fight for ownership and the dungeon is expected to change hands nightly…

It is full of new and interesting PQs, new lairs, refreshing game mechanics, new rewards and loot and generally awesome new stuff.

Many of the great things from Darkness Falls will be built upon. Tokens, other loot methods, wide level range, and the thrill of your enemy always breathing down your back.

It is accessible from around levels 25 and up. The Tomb of the Vulture Lord is actually a super high level area designed to supplement our end game content after Lost Vale.

So we are working on multiple events as part of the Call to Arms campaign, two of which specifically revolve around eluding to or gaining access to The Land of the Dead.

What you are specifically referring to is our race for access, the main plotline behind the Rise of the Tomb Kings (Live event #3). This event represents a race to first access (limited time exclusive access) to the dungeon. This will be an Order vs. Destruction race for superiority.

CC is definitely something we talk about almost on a daily basis. We will continue to talk and then tweak the abilities to get as close to perfect as we ever can.

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Newsletter is out and about

Got mine last night, but quite late, when I was already considering bed. And the links didn’t ‘exactly’ work. They still don’t, but I went over to the Warhammer US site and pulled up the newsletter page. [Edit: Euro newsletter can be found here, with link to Book of Grudges and mentioning our Dublin get-together!]

It’s as expected, and follows on from the announcement with some more info on all topics.

  • Keep an eye on the  Call to Arms expansion pages for info on the schedule and events, the new classes and the Land of the Dead.
  • There’s a brief overview of both Slayers and Choppas with some artwork.
  • Paul and Josh introduce the new classes in their latest podcast. Hrrm, didn’t I copyright ‘they’re short, they’re round, they bounce along the ground’? Damn, I was pretty close!!
  • More details on the Bitter Rivals event, including the Twisting Tower battleground – but really, we get to /swear at one another. Awesome!
  • Overview of the Valentine’s event – The Night of Murder. Not as interested in this one, so am sticking to the link.
  • Visit WAR at NY Comic Con – if you’re in the US and can make it, it’ll be an awesome event now with ADDED WAR. I love the Big Apple trophy. Seriously. I know it won’t work in Europe, but still… there’s also a sidebar link to upcoming events, including various Games Days.
  • Shorter items about the launch in Russia and the making of the WAR trailer we all loved
  • Scenarios 101 on Temple of Isha and Tor Anroc
  • Concept art of Choppa and Slayer weapons
  • Excerpts from the soundtrack
  • Paul’s videophone blog and his presentation from Korea
  • New gear available at the Mythic store (including the books that came in the collector’s edition!)
  • Fan art, featuring the Choppa v Slayer webcomic from Tome of Knowledge creator (hurrah)
  • The Grab Bag, Meet the Developer, Wallpapers
  • and some other stuff!

My issues with dungeons (so far)

Ok, this is solely based on Gunbad and Bastion Stair which we’re currently half-heartedly working our way through.

Why half-heartedly? Well.. for a few reasons The first wing is almost too straightforward, easy to clear – the boss, wasn’t too bad once we got his schtick (not too hard to grasp!). The second wing, is more tricky – but has some nice little fights in. And I’ve not yet been to the third wing.

The problem? Well, it’s all well and good to have a public dungeon where I can take a warband of guild or alliance mates and crush evil wherever I see it. But, once we get to that instanced boss, we suddenly have to work on making balanced 6-man groups, leaving people out, feeling guilty/bad if one group does it and another doesn’t – and anyone who does it gets a 24-hr lockout. And the game doesn’t detect the 6 (or less) classes taking part and cleverly drop sensible loot for those classes – nope, it’s so far mostly dropped stuff for any class NOT in the group (often one in the other group, who then get different loot). I hate that a fast-paced dungeon romp comes to a crashing halt as bureacracy kicks in.

The only solution we’ve found so far – go as a 6-man group only. But that means I can’t just openly ask guild and alliance if they want to come along – everyone gets influence for the PQs, for example. Each group can tap mobs needed for quests and get some xp that way. But the bosses – it grinds to a halt and then there’s an aura of awkwardness.

And the 24-hr lockout. While I don’t disagree in principle to it (I think it was 30 mins for Gunbad, unless that’s changed), it means that some people are literally going EVERY night for a chance for their loot. I can’t and won’t do that, it’s no fun and it’s no xp after the first tranche of quests are completed.

Don’t get me wrong, I like public dungeons. I like being able to randomly decide I want a break from questing, scenarios and open RvR and that I have an option that can potentially offer me some great rewards. And both Gunbad and Bastion Stair are very atmospherically and graphically pleasing. Gunbad inhabited by Night Goblins, and Bastion Stair dedicated to Khorne with lots of skulls, blood and fire. So I like the occasional trip – they just always seem to leave me feeling a bit down.

Also, the lag caused by the pretty fires in Bastion Stair. Not fun!

I’m hoping people will answer with lots of things they love about the dungeons… so over to you.

Expectations

Quick warning, this may be my first wall of text for a while and it’s very much based on my own personal journey…

I got very down about Tier 4 when I was new to it, my class kind of sucked at soloing from 31-33 (more than normal), and that was a big shock to the system. Plus, I don’t want to have to choose a levelling specline or have to choose gear for various purposes – I’m stubborn like that. And open RvR was quiet, Serpent’s Passage hurts my eyes after the 3rd consecutive run, etc etc. And I read around the place that others were having similar ‘fun’ problems. And then I had an enforced 5-day break. And I thought about it quite a lot, especially when chatting to my sisters and to a WoW gamer I spent some time with.

I got out of my funk. I love the game, I really do. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish open RvR was a bit more perky – but honestly, on our server there is open action in Tier 4 every day. It may not be at the perfect time for me, and some of it might mean taking empty keeps and waiting for defence and then scooting around to try and nudge control in various zones while many want a big fight… but it’s there. And that comforts me.

Then, at 33, my Rune Priest (not specced for Rune of Burning!) got better at soloing. Not great, but good enough for a primary healer. Which satisfies me there. In fact, my biggest concern is finding people to group up with to quest and do PQs (PQs are a bit pointless for influence rewards, but I see them as socialising with some free xp attached!). Even that is changing, I’m changing, I’m asking for help more. And trying to make myself more sociable and willing to help also. It’s a process, neither slow nor fast, but one that depends on mood.

So what really struck me about Warhammer Online while I was away? It’s a very different game to those I’m used to playing (DAoC, WoW, LotRO). And I asked myself the following:

  • How did I play my last MMO? (ie. level fast, solo/grouped, etc)
  • How many hours per day did I grind traits/influence/reputation/gear?
  • How many hours did I raid per week?
  • How many hours did I PvP?

WAR is a totally different kettle of fish for me, and for everyone. There’s a certain levelling ‘grind’ but I say it in inverted commas, cos it’s nothing like the grind I had in other games (I played WoW before they upped the lower level xp, I left before Burning Crusade). I have been known to play 12h straight in Dark Age of Camelot, whether in Caer Sidi or tree groups! All day is and has been pretty common for LotRO. And yet, when I try it in WAR I get a bit edgy and miserable.

Why, then? Well, the best I can do at describing it is that I’m finding WAR a completely different kettle of fish as an MMO. It’s the kind I like to dip in and out of, which is something I’ve never done before. And one of the reasons I’ve never had two MMOs at the same time before now. To me, MMO has always been a bit like a part-time job, occupying all hours to get all the things I want and need for my character while grouping up with friends to complete some fairly hefty challenges, or to just hang out and have some fun. Now we have WAR, where in a few hours I can take two or three keeps, or jump into scenarios while questing. For me, anyway, it’s not a game I want to spend 12h straight – and that’s the big difference.

Since coming back, and recognising this, I’ve been a much happier bunny. I log off when I’m tired or when I want to go watch TV or hang out with the cats or my husband. I play less, but I enjoy it more. I’ve reached rank 35 and renown rank 32 (well, I’m 95% there, and will be by the time this is published). I have titles for taking keeps and for restoring keeps. I am beginning to help people with their quests more and have recently seen Bastion Stair for the first time. All of this has been more fun than a couple of weeks ago, when I hit the Tier 4 doldrums.

I think the game still needs tweaks at the high levels, the influence rewards for PQs are lousy after ch16 and this has led to a desertion – one that makes questing where there are PQs quite tricky. Going back to help lower level characters has giving me a sense that my character is powerful and also, it’s more relaxing than trying to solo stuff. When these guys catch me up, we’ll all group and do ch18+ together. So I’m kind of fixing it myself, and the levelling curve is flattening all-round.

No solution to Serpent’s Passage Syndrome yet but I have faith Mythic will work something out. They’ve been very responsive and let’s face it, they know they have a problem with Tier 4 at the moment, you can’t fail to notice the threads and blog posts about it. But it’s not all down to the game company, we do have our own responsibility to do what’s fun for us.

For me, it’s to dip in and out of PvE, RvR, scenarios and dungeons and not to try and play WAR as if it’s LotRO/DAoC/WoW.

[And, as Syp said in a comment recently ‘great minds think alike’ – it would be remiss of me to leave out a link to Stylish Corpse whose words on the same topic I greatly enjoyed and who I totally agree with!]

Gunbad, good and bad

We’ve been playing a bit in Gunbad, a 3-wing public dungeon in the North-West corner of the Badlands. So once you know where it is, it really doesnt take much to organise a quick group and toddle along. The entrance is an impressive cavern mouth with a red crescent moon above it, signalling the presence of Night Goblins! And a swirly zone-change thingy. Go through that and discover a ton of quests, that cover all three wings of the dungeon.

The easiest wing starts with rank 23 champs, and is the right-hand one. You’ll see spiders, so you’ll know that’s the right one. The middle-ranked wing is off on the left-hand side and starts with rank 25 champs. So taking the middle path gets you to the hardest wing, I think they start at rank 28 champs – my group ran off and I was healing, so I didn’t pay as much attention.

You can do each wing as a warband or as a single group, and each consists of 3 PQs, followed by a boss fight. The PQs can  be fast and furious, especially if you do have a large warband, or there are more than just your group in there. Yes, it’s public, so it could be swarming with groups. We’ve never found it to have more than a couple though. And each PQ is pretty self-contained, usually helps with a quest and has 2-3 stages. They also drop purple, blue and gold bags with more regularity than we’ve seen elsewhere. You work along the influence bar for the zone, and when you get to the first bar of influence, you can go see the first boss, etc. That’s behind an instance swirly thing after the third PQ of the wing. But, be warned, you can’t go in in a warband, it’s a one-group fight.

That’s the good. You can jump straight into Gunbad with just one group, or announce you’re going and get quite a few interested parties and do some dungeon-bashing with nice rewards. The quests give a ton of xp compared to many (I had one quest from Dark Fire Pass just to go to Gunbad that netted me 10k xp), and the influence rewards are very nice too. So even if you don’t win anything at a PQ or boss fight, there’s a good chance of nice gear. And honestly, the PQs are pretty fast and can be redone with persistence points. Set pieces seem to drop from the bosses (not quite done the final boss yet!).

Also,  there’s a chance to work on your ‘kill night goblins’ tome achievements. And if you kill two named goblins in the final wing, you get an item unlock – a dark light for your pocket slot (buyable at city libraries). Can’t remember their names off the top of my head, but they’re on either side of a path and you need them both for a quest anyway!

So that’s the good. It’s a nicely accessible place with some fun PQs, nice loot, good xp and the ability to tromp through with a warband so you don’t have to turn people away. And each wing can be done in around 1.5h (possibly faster in big warband), so there’s no massive time commitment either.

But…

For the behind-instance boss fights you will need to separate out into balanced groups. If you took 10 people through the wing, you now need to discuss which 4 to leave outside. Bit of a bummer, but the lockout is only half an hour, so strictly those 4 people could hang out and then the whole group could burn half an hour doing PQs, reform the instance 6-man and do the boss again for those who missed out the first time. Or that’s the theory, I’ve not had a chance to try it.

Also, if you do go in in a warband, bear in mind that quest mobs (and tome unlock mobs) will need to be tagged by each group separately in order to tick the achievement/quest off. They respawn relatively quickly and is another encouragement to do the nearest PQ twice, but it’d be nice if some of these things did work better in warbands generally.

If there are other groups in there doing PQs, prepare to be a little underwhelmed at the epic-ness of some of the fights. I’ve done the first wing in a lowish level 6-man and in a mid-level warband, I’m sure you can guess which was more challenging! But you can challenge yourself and still find another couple of groups in there, so it’s probably best just to see it as a romp and enjoy the fighting and looting.

Overall, I really enjoy Gunbad. It’s a good way to bring people together and do something fun in PvE that’s also rewarding and a little different. I look forward to the other public dungeons around the place, since I believe they all follow a similar pattern and now we’re knocking on Tier 4 it’s nice to have the odd break from RvR!

Updates upon updates

We don’t talk that much about what we’re doing in-game, we think other bloggers have that pretty well-covered and we’re in that kind of crazy first month of running around madly and trying to fit in work, life, TV and gaming all in one messy pot. I’ll write a little more about how it’s affecting me personally this weekend, I think.

But here’s a quick rundown.

Hawley’s offline (boo!), he’s got himself a fancy new job which meant relocating, and thanks to a certain big company not being very .. good, he’s delayed getting back online. We miss him.

Me and Spinks are still playing Archmage and Rune Priest as our mains and enjoying them, finding ways through the Tier 3 slowdown. Spinks has been organising some guild keep takes/defences, while I’ve been knuckling down and getting to grips with mastery specs. If you can bear angst, I might talk more about that also. We’ve also got alts of various levels that might enter the blog at some point.

Guild is going well, it’s big and we’re currently on closed status, but am sure eventually it’ll open. Getting some more officers for what is likely to be an interesting November. I’ll definitely be spending time on Moria, and obviously Lich King will take some people’s attention away from WAR for awhile. So anyway, that’s behind-the-scenes guild stuff. Generally we’re all pretty happy with the guild I think! We’ve got a great bunch of people and there’s always something going on (often spontaneous, sometimes organised).

We’ve run some small roleplay events, claimed our first keep (thankfully the server reset it before we went bankrupt), a little chicken run to explore some areas, a couple of runs through bits of Gunbad with either groups or warbands and many many sets of PQs and scenario groups. Oh, and we’re part of an Alliance!

Order on our server is getting to know one another, and becoming more organised, we have channels set up to discuss open field RvR and it appears to be effective. There’s a roleplay event set up for saturday for guilds to meet up and chat.

Last night I spoke to Zizlak online too, he moonlighted as Order to come say hi. Though we were in the boss fight of a Gunbad wing, so I think I was a bit lame in my responses. Sorry Ziz!

Infamy, infamy… they all have it infamy

So, it’s a new game and you’ve gone out and found yourself a new guild. But, you don’t know many people and you want to stand out a bit from the crowd?

It’s very easy to go along with guild events and hang out with guild groups when they form.

But the easiest way to stand out and make a name for yourself is to organise things. It’s not an easy job, you’ll need patience, understanding and a touch of ruthlessness. You’ll need to want to put yourself out there for the praise and the criticism. But I can guarantee if you’re the one adding things to the guild calendar and welcoming people as they enter the game, people will know who you are. Additionally, if you’re feeling brave you can create some server events – that one is a bit scarier, and best tested with guild and/or Alliance, but it’s definitely something to consider.

Or you can go hang out on server forums. I can’t say I’ve really picked a server forum yet, I kind of miss having an official one – there’s just too many choices and people from my server will be on all of them, but only as subsets, so it’s like Venn diagram hell there. Eventually, I suppose I’ll take time to look at all of them – but I wish there was one central Burlok server forum where we could hang out.

Anyway, that little ramble aside, let’s get back to organising things. There’s open field RvR – everyone wants that to be going on and keep takes/defences are good fun, even if they can get a little sprawling and open-ended. It’s a good one to organise, especially with an open warband. If you run them regularly, I guarantee server fame. Other events include PQs, scenarios, rambles around the big cities, Praag tourism (for Tier 4 anyway) and dungeons/lairs. But of course many of these are limited a little by number.

You might hate being in charge some nights, you might hate it at first, but it will and does get better. People will mostly listen to you once you establish a sense of being in-control. It’s like anything in life though, you have to reach out and do something to be recognised for it. It might not get you a statue in Altdorf, but it’ll get you the respect of fellow players, and I know which I’d rather have.