To the Lighthouse!

There’s one thing Mythic are good at, listening to their players. It doesn’t always mean they can change things at the pace some would like, but they do pay attention. Since the game launched people have been arguing about the interest levels of the endgame, saying that the early levels are more fun (they just are, less skills to deal with etc etc) and waxing on with nostalgia about their days in Nordenwatch (when it was the only T1 scenario to pop).

And so Mythic give us the Nordenwatch Weekend, when all players, all tiers can go participate in Nordenwatch. Go. Play it. You KNOW you want to. I will be (tomorrow, since I work today). It runs through the bank holiday in the UK, so until 9am CEST on Tuesday. It’s great news and just the kind of mini-event that can be run for any scenario at any time. Definitely a good thing. And how much do I want to play Mourkain Temple with my rank 40 Rune Priest? A lot, make it the next one!! (then Tor Anroc, of course!).

We’re all a bit down on WAR at the moment, or the majority are. I have a lot of posts I’ve set to one side to comment on further here. But rather than go through things in order, I’ve stepped up to publicise a mini-event I think will be a ton of fun.

What are you still reading this for? Go grab the Fortress, and for heaven’s sake – fight BY the flag…

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!]

A Joke Post

To all of those surprised the World First(!!!!) capture of Karl Franz hasn’t made Mythic’s homepage or the Herald, I have simply one thing to say:

Mythic hate Europe!

(and yes, I did feel the need to openly say this was comedic in intent, even if it’s a phrase I’ve repeated many many times in seriousness)

NB: You can read GOA’s write-up on the event here, along with some screenshots.

Death (well Capture) of the Emperor

Congrats to the Third Realm Alliance for taking down Karl Franz on Karak Eight Peaks.

For those interested, they’ve posted a pic of the loot here, but more importantly, there’s also a video up:.

And, finally – a picture of the poor old boy captured in the Inevitable City.

Even though I’m an Order gal through and through, am mightily impressed at this awesome European feat, and hope for many more!

WAR Thoughts and Grievances

I’d write about patch 1.2.1 and keep upgrades, but people have written about it a hell of a lot better. I’d write about the Archmage/Shaman changes, but I’m hoping Spinks will contribute her thoughts. So, for one day only, here’s the start of a little whine/rant about Warhammer from someone who’s followed it, loved it and been frustrated with it. I play the game, but a lot less than I once did.

I’m not feeling all that connected with the Warrior Priest, despite the fun of clubbing people on the head and healing with hitting, I did feel a connect with the Rune Priest, so I will be heading back to playing little Kaja in the coming weeks and maybe getting my guild to help me with some of the end content.

So, what’s the whine about?

Well, while I appreciate all the changes WAR is having made to it, the game is changing rapidly, more rapidly than perhaps any other MMO I’ve played , and all as a result of devs listening to the playerbase. But. And it’s a BIG but. Really, the game should have had this stuff earlier and the launch delayed. I don’t mind inclusion of the missing classes, because let’s face it, both sets of class inclusions have given the game a huge PR boost and brought players back. But, the rest of this stuff? WAR is taking on as many good ideas from Dark Age of Camelot as possible, with the keep upgrades, the Darkness Falls-esque upcoming Dungeon and no doubt we’ll have relics-lite soon. With every upgrade I’m happy as a player and frustrated like hell as a commentator. If these devs are so great at game design, why wasn’t some of this stuff in earlier. We’re no longer silly consumers who have little choice in our gaming, we see polished games come elsewhere, and here we have a game that’s seemingly still testing concepts on a wide scale in order to find its identity.

But, it can still be fun, and the changes will enhance gameplay for all. So we should remember the positives. I suppose.

Brief blogging

Again, I’ve been extremely busy at work, so things in WAR have been a bit slow for me over the last couple of days, my Warrior Priest is just teetering on rank 17 and going through Barak Varr, because even when not a dwarf, I like dwarf lands. Have also considered taking Kaja, my Rune Priest out for an airing this week, so who knows, I may go see the Inevitable City!! I might ask some of my new guild to show me a higher level dungeon as well. What can I say? I love the Warrior Priest, but I’m missing my dwarfy!

Anyway, I’ve already done fair list of stuff I’ve read that’s caught my interest, but I also wanted to link to a friend’s new blog, that now has an article on about RvR tactics and short-sightedness, which I really think is worth reading. Although I’d like to think of myself as a good player, I know I’ve fallen into the trap of hitting the nearest target a few times, programmed from years of PvE play, I guess. But since I play with Torvik (the author, and one of my little Slayer buddies), and since I did used to do a fair amount of RvR in DAoC, I know what he’s saying is right – and it’s something I do try and incorporate into my tactics.

Another post I wanted to highlight is from Thulf over at Stunty Stomper and explains how to grab a skeleton pet if you happen to want one. An inventive and amusing post and one that made me smile quite a lot. I loved the screenshots of the pet also. I named it Bob!

Hopefully back with more content soon! First, I have to finish Battlestar Galactica – and then hold a wake. Only some things are more important than gaming, and Battlestar Galactica is one of those things.

Return of the WAR

As I think the majority of readers here knows, I took a bit of a break from WAR and have recently returned to playing more regularly with my little Warrior Priest (who dies a LOT thanks to a sea of Choppas, and contrary to popular belief!). Was talking with Spinks this morning about just how many positive things WAR had going for it, and rather than writing about it on Nerf the Cat, I thought I’d list some of  them here.

Not waiting around for looting (bags, choices, etc)

We were discussing how one of the problems I have with raiding in other games is the stopping and starting for loot, whatever choice of loot distribution the raid uses, and that’s when we realised that WAR really doesn’t have this problem because of the loot bags in PQs, dungeons, oRvR, etc and the way the need/greed system works. It’s so much better to have loot selections on offer, and to also have stuff that’s directly relevant to your class. I don’t think I realised how much I like the system, because previously I’ve focused on just how crappy my rolls have been, or how unfair 1 gold bag per keep used to be, and stuff like that. In the end it allows for some seamless play where looting doesn’t get in the way of the experience. It’s certainly not perfect, but it fits in well with the frenetic pace of  Warhammer Online.

Variety

Ok, a lot of this is due to the Slayers/Choppas and server merges, but for whatever reason, the server feels pretty damn busy at the moment across all tiers. I hear of fortress and city stuff going on via guild chat (merged guild, so new faces to learn and get used to also), while someone also mentioned Tier 3 is very busy and I know for myself that Tier 1 and 2 are. The general number of people and the spread have highlighted the variety of things to do in WAR, and I’m omitting crafting because I don’t feel any urge to do it at all!

But with public quests, scenarios, normal questing, capital city quests – there’s a lot to do to get from A to B, levelwise. Spinks and I spent a good portion of today doing PQs while waiting for scenarios to pop in Tier 2, and once the afternoon kicked in, we barely had time to hand in the scenario quests before another one popped. It was this variety that appealed from the start, and it’s great to see it there and being shown off so nicely. I hope this continues, though I fear it’s inevitable that the action eventually move firmly to Tiers 3 & 4.

Scenarios

In and of themselves, scenarios are great fun. Though, it interesting that people seem to like whichever the latest one is. I know I really enjoyed Reikland Factory and the Twisting Tower, but maybe just because they were new and fresh and after a while the others can get a bit frustratingly samey. But, having said that, something that takes you out of the normal run of the game and transports you into a fun 15-minute mini-game is to be applauded. It’s a bit like the solo instances in LotRO, something I can do that adds to my experience but doesn’t take too long. Of course, scenarios are desperately dependent on other people signing up… so they have a bit of a downside. But overall, still loving them and the concept of them!

Casual Hardcore

One thing that I’m enjoying about my return to WAR in contrast to other games, is that everything is pretty fancy-free and unstressful. If I want to try and get a group together to do something, I can give it a go. If not, I can toddle around doing random quests via red blobs, and just exploring the world and the game. Dying means very little to me, it’s too quick and easy to die when the odds are against you. It might be a pain during a dungeon, but in every other situation, I just shrug, get up and get on with things. The game is quick to pick up and also to put down, so it can be treated as more of a pastime and less of a chore. Of course, if I cared enough about the endgame, the ward armour, completing all the content or collecting every title, I might not feel this way, but at the moment, it’s a perfect game for me to decide on a daily basis if I want to be casual or hardcore or a mix of the two.

Questing

The normal quests are often shrugged off as being a sideshow to the main attraction (the RvR, which we all know and mostly enjoy!). But actually, they’re not half bad at all. The red blobs might make questing fast and easy-ish (location-wise), but the areas have great flavour and interesting storylines to follow through, so that even when blasting through you get a good sense of them. I quite enjoy WAR questing as another fairly unstressy way of enjoying the game.

Anyway, a quick overview of things we were discussing today, and of my very basic feelings after not playing very seriously for a while. Feel free to add others, or disagree at will!

Big Day Today

Here come the Slayers/Choppas! The new classes should be available to those who completed the Bitter Rivals event later today after the servers come down. But that’s not the only reason it’s a big day. There’s also a bunch of server moves happening to help players get to experience better RvR through more targets:

All characters on servers from which we have previously offered transfers will be moved to more lively servers…

…Here’s the full list of automatic transfers
Dragonback Mountains, Mount Silverspear, Sea Of Dreams, Tiranoc and Finuval Plain to Eltharion
Karak Ungor, Clar Karond and Karak-Vlag to Karak-Azgal
Karak-Hirn, Karaz-a-Karak, TorAnroc and Yvresse to Karak-Norn
Zhufbar, Worlds Edge Mountains, Axe Bite Pass, Karag Dron and Karag Orrud to Karak Eight Peaks
Makaisson, Ellyrion and Alarielle to Burlok

It’s quite a big deal and a couple of European bloggers have been talking about their experiences moving from Karak-Hirn to Karak-Norn. The server moves, along with the 10-day free trial available through WAR Europe and the return of players to see the new classes mean we should be getting some stellar play in over the next days and weeks, breathing new life into RvR and PvE (yes, time to get those hard PQs done). It’s quite a big deal to welcome new players to your server, especially when you’re used to the same old names – but give it a go, I intend to on Burlok and I’m not a naturally friendly person ;p! (btw, if you’re coming to Burlok as either Order or Destruction, I’ll be playing Idris the Warrior Priest, feel free to say hi or to kill me and report it here!).

And I know you’re all waiting for stuff about the Dublin trip, so here’s a quick overview:

  • lots of GOA, not so many players – we intend to change this at a London get-together (maybe check 9th May in your calendars…more on that soon)
  • GOA were really friendly, their offices all bright and decorated WAR-style
  • T-shirts rock 🙂
  • So do female Rune Priest birthday presents (thanks to Nic and Magnus for this, it has pride of place away from ALL cats!!!)
  • Go bother Tuffmudda to start the ‘recipes for MMO players’ meme. I reckon we can get at least one recipe out of every WAR blogger

I guess what I took away from it the most is that the individuals at GOA who work with WAR are incredibly enthusiastic and joyful about their work. Many of them are dedicated Warhammer junkies and however much we all love the game and the community, they do too. They just get to see all the other sides of it! And yes, there will be pictures and an interview with Nic and Magnus for quieter days!

I’m feeling all Bitter, and Rivally

So 1.2 hit Europe yesterday and seemingly the patch went fairly smoothly, though there is more maintenance today to apply some stability hotfixes. I don’t mind that so much, mostly because I’m at work today (ah, enlightened self-interest!).

I didn’t get to do much with 1.2 yet, but I did sneak on last night and get to the Twisting Tower. Really, any incident of flying is a good one. I enjoyed it a lot – and I don’t even like ramps. Ok, so I may have thrown some pies instead of actually healing my group, but people were nice enough not to mention it. And then I got down to healing and it was actually a pretty fun session with some decent realm points.

I do hope Mythic continue to bring in some new scenarios, whether part of events or not. It seems a good way of inserting new content fairly seemlessly and changing it out if feedback is bad. I liked the Reikland Factory too, perhaps because it was new and different, but each new scenario builds on the lessons of what’s come before so is also benefitting from a ton of feedback we’re all giving on forums and stuff.

Missed the twitter-fest of codes last night, am sure some of them are apparent on the RSS feeds on the right-hand side here. Is a cool way to use twitter at least, so I approve -despite it being US-only, of course.

Lots of work coming up, so updates might be a bit patchy here! Thanks for continuing to read…

My First Fortress Attempt

A prominent Order guild on my server made the call for our forces to march on Caledor and push to the fortress. It’s exciting to see all these guilds come together and really push a singular goal. The anticipation is exhilarating, and much of the reason I wanted to play MMOs in the first place. This wasn’t my first fortress push, but it was the first that I was able to see it to the end… or so I thought.

When we reached the fortress, it was relatively easy to make our way through the outer and inner doors. What first struck me is the scale of the structure. It’s massive compared to the keeps I’ve been sacking. However, I was disappointed to see that while huge, the layout is relatively the same. In fact, know that I think about it, all the keeps layouts are the same! Did the armies of Warhammer only use pre-manufactured keeps from Germany or something? Next it will be Ikea interiors!

Anyway, after blasting through the doors we made our way up the first flight of stairs. We assembled at the base of the final single staircase as we faced with “The Infamous Tankwall of Doom!” For those of you unfamiliar, defenders of keeps generally form a “U” or actually more like a lazy “J” at the top of the staircase. Then their healers and range dps sit back rain death on the attackers and love bolts to the tankwall. Because of line of sight issues, it is very difficult for the attackers to heal their front line while also attacking the defending tankwall. Tankwalls often lead to stalemates, and I find them very frustrating. While attackers shouldn’t be able to just steamroll over defenders, these situations just aren’t very fun for a video game. Mythic seems to agree and has said they are planning to add additional staircases to keeps and fortresses. However, I’m disappointed to see this most welcome change missing from the 1.2 patch notes.

Finally, the call came, “PUSH!” As I made my way toward the staircase my computer was wheezing like an old man after playing the All Priests Over 75 Indoor Five-a-Side Football Match. There were probably about 100 or so players involved in this fortress battle, but it’s pretty bad still to have 3.3Ghz Core2Duo with 4GB of RAM and a kajillion other leet hardware brought to it’s knees while on the lowest graphical settings! As I stuttered my way over to the staircase without warning something got me, and I was deaded. Unfortunately that was the end of my fortress experience.

There are many negative things I’ve read about fortresses on the forums, and I have always taken that negativity with a grain of salt up until now. Mythic really does need to do something about the performance of their game. They keep saying they are improving it, but something in their engine altogether needs to be striped out and replaced. They need to add more ways for attackers to assault keeps and fortresses. We need destructible walls, ladders, and other siege equipment to make the experience more dynamic. And the biggest issue for me, they need to make these keeps and fortresses more varied. I think they have done an excellent job making each zone varied from one another, but the keeps have fallen short of this. What if keep lords where in a basement instead of the top? What if the structure wasn’t a keep at all, but maybe a holy shrine or a den of vicious beast?

There needs to be more variety in open RvR keeps and fortresses, it must perform well on the average gamer’s computer, and their needs to be more options in battle so that gameplay doesn’t become a repetitive tankwall versus zerg. Otherwise, I think the Warhammer end-game will become boring and stale all too soon for some.