Links labours lost

The Economist reckons that Google’s Lively was a flop. I know I haven’t been back to it after the first excitement of playing with virtual lava lamps, there are easier ways to chat. Bruce Everiss also comments on this and discusses other ways Google could extend its business model.

The sixth guild highlights is now up on the GOA site and discusses keep taking, it also highlights the Humberton Blackguard, another guild we know of from our Dark Age of Camelot time.

It may not have escaped your notice this week that there’s some small controversy about Mythic not crediting developers that no longer work for them. The complaint was made anonymously by an ex-Mythic developer that had put in some work on Warhammer Online. The International Games Developers Association call this ‘disrespectful’. Mark Jacobs spoke to MTV Multiplayer and had the following to say:

If you really think that we’re doing something wrong, at least have the balls to stand up and go ‘Hi, my name is so-and-so…[Leaving the person out of the credits] could be a mistake. I’m not saying it’s not happening. I just don’t know who the heck this person is. So come out, stop hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and the legal shield of ‘I’m going to sue EA.’

Scott over at the Broken Toys blog adds that it’s not him. Apparently he’s been asked a lot!

Kotaku points out some of the vagaries of multi-million dollar AI systems. If you happen to be shopping in a Target (US store) and you wanted to buy World of Warcraft but find they’ve sold out, you’ll apparently be pointed to Paws & Claws Pet Vet as an alternative!

Did you miss the Spore links? We did, here’s some more news about it. Spore is out for the iPod.

New iPhone comes loaded with pictures of the girl who made it. Who knew that working on a factory line could be such fun?

Blogger xntrek writes an open letter to Mythic from Gamenesty International about the end of the closed beta.

Dev blogs – Justin Webb has posted a bunch of vids from Leipzig on his blog. Go watch them; WAR tattoos, Leipzig ladies, T-shirt delivery (did I mention I love free T-shirts!?) and Warhammer Online winning the Best Online Game title. Iain C also posts about Leipzig and mentions T -shirts all too teasingly – check out his pics from the event – they’re really good. And Josh says something about PAX, something about it being the last time WAR gets shown off before the launch.. hrrm, forgetting Games Day UK, obviously but I’ll forgive him. Oh look, Jeff Hickman said the same at the start of his exclusive PAX blogs for Ten Ton Hammer. As if it’s not bad enough that the CE headstart starts during Games Day UK!

Massively also have been talking to Mythic at PAX about the content of the next patch with lots of new features for the open beta (auction houses, graphical improvements, pathing fixes etc). They’re planning to breadcrumb their interview over several articles as per usual so keep checking back.

Mark Jacobs stops by Warhammer Alliance to give an update on the work they’re doing post-preview weekend.

Steve Jobs is still alive (cue song) despite Bloomberg publishing his obituary. Oops.

And finally, a last minute welcome to Warhammer Tank, a blog devoted to.. well, you guess!

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Is it a healer? Is it a nuker? No, it’s an Archmage!!

Glittery Archmage

Glittery Archmage

When I first read about the Archmage and her casting mechanic that was designed to make it easy for her to switch between healing and damage dealing, I thought this might be the class for me. About a minute and a half after creating my first Archmage in beta, I knew I had found my main.

I’m a committed role switcher. I love my alts. And I love my classes that can fill more than one role in a group, even if it means respecs or hanging onto spare sets of gear. And I love my healers that can nuke/ or nukers that can heal. Its great if, like me, you also have friends who play healers. Because I can say, ‘Hey, no worries, you heal this one and I’ll nuke instead.’ Options are good, mkay?

I’m going to expand more on that later but first, check out the robe and staff? Granted, it isn’t punk but doesn’t she look great? (Arbitrary and Hawley will confirm that I uploaded loads of shots of my archmage looking various degrees of ultra-awesome and won’t stop talking about it!)

There is a downside to being a glorious glittery healer with very obvious spell animations. Can you guess what it– urrrgh *gets stormed by band of Chosen and Marauders* Yup, get ready to be public enemy numero uno whenever you zone into a scenario, and I must be some kind of sucker because I LOVE that. I am always drawn to powerful but flimsy support classes who are high priority PvP targets. Staying up, keeping out of harm’s way, and delivering awesome healing, dps, and debuffs to help my realm mates is a real challenge. Although being an easy kill, the Archmage is fairly well designed as a PvP healer. She has a good mix of instant cast HoTs and DoTs, and an instant shield which can all be cast on the run, and longer cast time more powerful spells for when there is a tank or tree to hide behind.

More on that mechanic …

So the idea is that every time you cast a heal, you build up a point of Tranquility to a maximum of 5 points, which will bolster your next dps spell (if it is an instant DoT then it will tick for more damage, if it is a slow cast, it will cast more quickly). And every time you cast a damage spell, you build up a point of Force which helps your next heal in the same way.

2 points of High Magic

2 points of Tranquility

See, this is a screenshot after I’d just cast 2 HoTs on myself. On my hotbar you can see that the abilities that will benefit from the Tranquility are blazing with excitement, so you can’t miss them. As soon as you cast a spell, all the spells of the other type will light up and the flames blaze higher the more points of Force or Tranquility that you build up.

I love it. I hate seeing the fires blazing for too long without being used so it’s very natural to find ways to throw out a DoT after every few heals. And what’s even better? Some of those DoTs are also debuffs or lifedrains so even while doing damage you can still be doing some support.

So: healer who nukes or nuker who heals? I did a lot of healing regardless and the healing offered by an Archmage is great. She’s the best single target healer on the Order side, and has a group heal too. It’s not as good or as fancy as group heals that the Warrior Priest or Runepriest get but it does the job, and this is one of the things I love about the Archmage. Her healing is definitely good enough for any situation I was able to find. I tried a nuking spec too and loved that (there’s a very fun AE knockback in the Asuryan tree) — her strength here is in her DoTs, and the channelled single target damage. But the class is strongest when you do a bit of both and I find it fun to keep an eye on both my team and the enemy and figure out where I can help best.

More about lifetap

Champion the Wondermage!

Champion the Wondermage!

As an Archmage, you can spec for a variety of different spells (although not all at the same time). There’s a DoT which reduces healing received by the target by 50% that you can pretty much keep up the whole time (it lasts 9s and has a 10s cooldown). There’s a ranged AE nuke/knockback which is good fun. There’s an awesome looking AE buff/debuff at the top of the Vaul tree that I need to try sometime. And … a lifetap nuke.

Now everyone has some kind of spell that they just adore in every game. For me, it’s the lifedrain and manadrain. I love those spells that annoy the enemy and help me or my mates at the same time. And they work very very well with the offensive/defensive target system in Warhammer. You won’t outheal a zerg on your own using these lifetaps but they’re just a tool that I love having, even if it ain’t all that powerful. (I’d love to see Balance Essence get a boost of some kind, but it’s fun for me anyhow.)

For Sigmar! For the Empire!

Wotcha everyone,

I have a sneaking suspicion that when Mythic first started to put the Warrior Priest together, they circulated a mugshot of my ugly face, and told everyone; “Make the class for this guy”.

Because they did.

I’ve always liked healers. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve played a lot of characters over many different games. But there’s something about playing a healer that calls to me. I think it’s because my first ever MMO character – an Everquest Shaman – showed me the joys of playing a class that could not only heal itself, but could heal others too. Knowing I could influence other people’s gaming through heals and buffs somehow made it *more* online, *more* massively, than a dps role, or a tank role. It meant I could influence other players, and therefore the world.

So here we are at Warhammer Online. I’ve more or less grown up with Warhammer, in one form or another. I remember during one boring chemistry lesson (sorry, Mr Judson) a mate first telling me all about Warhammer. I played the battle-game, and I was there when the role-playing game was released, as well as the science fiction version. I’ve also played the pc games, so coming to the MMO seems like a natural progression.

I decided to check out what classes were available. After all, what can one do when the game hasn’t even started taking applications for the Closed Beta? I needed a fix… So, here I am checking out classes. And of course, the first thing I do is check out the healers. Order or Destruction didn’t matter – that choice would most probably revolve around whom I would be playing with – so I checked them all.

My criteria were simple.

1) Must look cool.
2) Must be able to heal.
3) Forget “cool” – must look *really* cool.

And I found the Warrior Priest. A dangerous looking bald guy with heavy armour and a big stick.

Okay, the armour isn’t going to be as heavy as the Chosen’s plate, and the big stick won’t do as much damage as the Witch Hunter’s blade, and anyone can be bald. But I’m not playing the numbers, I’m following the cool looking avatar around the world, and if I don’t think he looks good, I won’t follow him for long.

Then there’s the mechanic. “Righteous Fury”. Even the name sounds cool. I build up Righteous Fury slowly between fights, in a walking ball of rage sort of way. And in combat, I build it up at speed by whacking my enemies, well, Righteously, with my big stick. I then use the Righteous Fury to heal my comrades.

So, for the first time in a long time (since my very short and disappointing time as a Cleric in Everquest 2), I get to play an honest-to-goodness front line healer. Even Lord of the RIngs Online didn’t let me do that with a Minstrel, and World of Warcraft seemed to have convinced the world that healers should wear tissue-paper based “armour”, stand at the back and shut up.

But would my rather brutal looking walking ball of rage stand up in combat?

Thanks to the Closed Beta, I got to find out. And I found out that he did. He did! My joy was released upon the world! I started kissing babies, I helped little old ladies across the road, I danced through fields of lavendar hand in hand with my bald-headed avatar… Ok, might be going a bit too far, there. But I was happy to note that I could go toe-to-toe in the front lines, and not go the way of the dodo inside ten seconds. I could last minutes. Which, in a PvP fight, is like saying “forever”. And whilst I was fighting, I was healing. How cool is that!

There are, however, a number of important caveats.

I had to learn how to play a Warrior Priest. Which I found refreshing. You don’t get a big direct heal to get you out of trouble. You get a big heal over time, and a few other “support” heals. They’re all small, and they’re there to supplement your heal over time, not replace it.

You will not be a healing powerhouse. At least, not at first. You can’t sit at the back and heal without a bit of practice. And knowing how to use your heals to their best effect will take time and effort to find out exactly what they do, and how they do it.

You will not be a damage powerhouse. That big stick looks scary, and the animations tend to be at just the right height to show your hammer smacking some misbegotten heretic in the face (in a remarkably satisfying way). But you’re like a tank, with none of the aggro-generation/survival skills. Your melee capabilities are mainly there to get you all Righteously Furious, not to turn the tide of a battle with your ‘leet dps’.

You are not a one-man army. You will still fold like a cheap suit when there’s a small gang of Destruction-based nastiness all over you. If you go toe-to-toe with someone, the fight will last a loooooong time. And against another healer, it could end up being more of a career than a fight.

Having said all that, I can’t think of a healer I’ve enjoyed this much for ages. I’m not even saying I’m any good at playing one, here. But I love the way that the melee capabilities mean I’m not easy meat for prowling dps, and the healing means I can play a role I really enjoy. At the same time, I get the fun of figuring out how best to play the class, without it feeling like I’ve just changed skins from my last online healer class.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Confessions of a Cheerleader

I love my Rune Priest. It really does feel like Mythic managed to make a class that hit all the things I like about playing a healer. I get to buff, I get to heal, I even get to do a little damage and hit things with a big staff. Sometimes I twirl my staff and it’s all glowy and pretty. Then I feel like a proper cheerleader! Save the cheerleader…

No, I’m not going to write about why I personally love the Rune Priest. Accept it, I just do. I get to be short, stout, with big braids I’d never have in real life. I get to hit things, to buff things, to zap things and well.. to heal – which is all I ever really wanted from a class. Even the rune dress/robe (when you first get one) is pretty damn cute. I hate dresses, but I would even wear one of those in real life. Not the skullcap though, it ruined my whole braidy look. Bah!

I played one to rank 17 and then one at rank 31 in beta, and both times I just felt at home with the class. It has a nice mix of heals (HoT, fast low heal, longer big heal, bouncy heal), some decent damage (including a couple of AE spells), cool rune buffs and some nice utility bits and pieces, such as an AE knockback which is hilarious in RvR and useful in PvE.

Nothing I discovered in beta changed my mind once I fell in love with the class. It’s perfect for me. I can stand where I want and either concentrate on healing, or add to the overall damage the group is doing. I can berate and nag my groupmates to use the runes I put on them – hrrm, you need an explanation? Ok, think of a rune as a buff with a trigger-able aspect. So I can buff your Strength and Intellect and then every so often, if you click on the buff, you get to do some extra free dps that doesn’t cost Action Points. Master Runes, which are gained via masteries are ground runes, which have an AE effect – I found them pretty useful and used the healing one when me ad my over-powered group were bopping skaven on the heads in the Altdorf sewers, meant I could join in the fight while the pulsing rune kept my group topped up! (of course, if we hadn’t have been so over-powered I would have needed to do some additional healing)

I also mentioned the bouncy heal back at my basic run-down. It’s quite cute. You heal someone and then the heal bounces around healing others nearby. It’s not the most useful heal in the Rune Priest arsenal, but it’s one that I was excited to get and read the description of. Because it was a bit different, not just a single heal or normal group heal. Both of which the Rune Priest has too.

Should you make one?

No idea! Do you like being a dwarf with a neat gyro-harness and dangling legs, and some nifty staff-twirling animations? Then it might be for you. It’s a healer sans mechanic, which means it may be seen by some as a little bit less interesting, but I didn’t find myself bored with it (and I have been bored by healing classes, honest – that’s why I usually play a hybrid).

We’re not as sparkly-pretty as the Archmage, nor can we do their damage. We’re not as furiously righteous as the baldies Warrior Priests, but when it comes to being short, round, and bouncing along the ground – we have it covered.

The class will, by now, already have many guides to it. I’m sure they’ll dissect the masteries and skills quite adequately – if you like numbers and have crunchy teeth, then you’ll happily pour over them and will be able to feed back some info to me. I’m terrible with numbers and I get a little funny about reading descriptions too closely.

I’m happy to answer any questions I can about my time as a Rune Priest, but I really did try and save some things for retail – including detailed opinions on every skill and mastery, until I’ve really played with them a lot.

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

Review of Warhammer Online Beta

(NB. It is midnight here and I just got back from meeting friends to find that EU NDA is lifted. I’d like to take a moment to thank whoever it was at GOA who was up late updating the website so we could go ahead and post this. And hope you enjoy reading it.)

[Updates from the end of Open Beta added as underlined comments in brackets, 13 Sept ’08]

WAR is everywhere

The Age of Reckoning is at hand! It’s time to pick your side and join the fray! And with that, we’re off. It’s been terrific fun and that, more than anything else, is why the game succeeds.

And if there’s one thing I learned from playing the beta, it is that a lot of other beta testers have been waiting years for a new MMO which integrates RvR (Mythic’s more sociable version of PvP) and PvE because people were taking part in both aspects very enthusiastically. Although on the surface, it shares many facets of gameplay in common with other MMOs, the social aspects feel like a breath of fresh air. What really makes this game stand out for me are the clever mechanics which nudge people into playing together without any of the awkwardness of looking for groups or standing around for hours hoping to find some action.

RvR is provided via scenarios (small instanced mini-games, like battlegrounds in WoW) and world objectives. It’s very easy to find some action in world PvP because the map will mark where battles occurred in the last 5 minutes. Or you could just ask on the zone chat or join an open group in world RvR and check where they are. It’s easy for lower level players (assuming they are in the level range for the tier) to get involved because as soon as you enter an RvR area, everyone gets bolstered (or lowered) to the same effective level for the purposes of being able to hit things and how much health you have. So it is more effective to have higher levels because they’ll have better gear and skills but it’s not instant death if you aren’t.

The PvE side of the game is dominated by the Public Quest system (remember I said you’d love it?) which makes it easy for players to work together on a smallscale raid boss with a storyline attached; we all got quite addicted. Add to this the intuitive open group system and it becomes so simple to check which PQs the open groups are at, head over there, and join in. And it would not be unusual if the group was fun for people to suggest moving on to other PQs or heading off to RvR. The groups didn’t always disband after a single quest. Aside from the random PQ rewards, you also gain influence from taking part that you can eventually turn in to a reputation-style vendor for gear. This, coupled with the renown gear you can earn in RvR (which covers a full set of gear, including weapons and trinkets), means that you never have to rely on random drops while levelling. There is always something you can work towards reliably from either PvE or PvP.

Most of the other questlines that we found are very solo friendly. In general they are good, but lack the polish of WoW. There isn’t so much emphasis on ‘you are the HERO and this is your story’ that you get from single player games or many MMOs. Some zones we liked more than others but the feel of the Warhammer setting is very true. Although quest givers are marked with a green book above their head, they don’t all appear on the minimap which means that there are some perks for explorers who like to go searching. The other innovative side to questing is that when you accept a quest, a red area will appear on your map showing you roughly where you need to go. This struck a good balance between making quests into a pointless snooze-fest while still making sure that the directions were good enough that you didn’t go wildly wrong. So questing was generally fast and non-frustrating.

We didn’t test any PvE instances, it’s something I hope to do before the end of beta. It is mostly because the first instance is at around rank 20 and a lot of the guild didn’t level that much in beta.

[Ahaa, I did go through part of the Altdorf sewers when we were grossly over-powered for it. Was quite small and fun though, and the atmosphere in the sewers was great – don’t think it was itemised at the time though – arbitrary]

I also should mention the Tome of Knowledge, which is just astounding. You’ll be earning unlocks from the moment you zone into the game and talk to the first questgiver. Each new tome entry has a few paragraphs of ‘in character’ prose for you to read, and may have maps and other descriptions also. The Tome itself also contains your quest log, lists of titles and achievements you already have, and lots of other information too. It’s absolutely integrated into the game. And the other thing I loved (and this is great for explorers) is that there are some tome unlocks that are based on items or places that you can find. Massively wrote about one tome unlock like this which they found in the High Elf starting area. There are lots more, if you can find them.

Is it ready to release? We found some bugs, sure, but the game itself is as stable as any beta I have ever played. I can compare it easily to WoW or LOTRO in that respect, which both had very stable betas by the time they got to release.

The game isn’t flawless; in particular we still don’t know what the answer will be to population balance issues, and performance in largescale battles hasn’t been good. With regard to that latter point, I hear via forums that we should not read that there’s a patch already on some of the US beta servers that solves many performance issues so I’d hold judgement on that until we get to see it ourselves.

[OK, as of the end of open beta, performance in largescale battles has been dramatically improved. There was definitely some lag but the game was playable. It’s better than anything else I’ve seen in that kind of situation. We also have some idea now of how the population balance will work out. There are separate caps and queues on each server for Order and Destruction. This does mean that if your side is ‘full’ then you may need to queue before you can log on.]

Now, I did (foolishly) make a list of ten points I wanted to see from reviews so it would be churlish not to cover them.

1. Was it fun?

YES. We had a lot of fun, particularly with the phase of the beta test where we started from level 1. Part of this is just the sheer joy of having a whole new game to explore, and being able to play with friends I haven’t seen online for months. But the game made it easy for us to play together and find fun things to do which benefitted all our characters. It was also easy, as I have said, to hop into a group in PvE, RvR, and a scenario, and fight alongside other people who you might not know without everyone annoying everyone else.

There’s nothing especially revolutionary in the classes but we all were able to find ones that we really liked, so they’re doing something right! And that helps a lot with the fun aspect.

2. What irritated us?

The most irritating thing I found in the beginning was trying to figure out how to get to the other race’s starting areas (or to Altdorf) so we could group up. It is not currently intuitive or obvious. What you actually have to do is find your way the first warcamp in your racial area and locate a flight master, but the warcamps are not well marked until after you have found them.

[Yup, still an issue. But now people have great websites up with maps on them which makes this a bit easier.]

It was also a bit irritating that some of the scenarios were never up. People congregated in the Empire v Chaos zone and I never saw any of the Elf T2 or T4 scenarios played at all. Of course, this did mean that it was easy to find A scenario, if you hopped over to EvC. Just some zones ended up quite deserted.

[Not true in Open Beta when there were more people around. EvC was still the busiest scenario in tier 1 but I think that’s mostly because people liked it better. I was able to play all of the others without too much of a wait. I think in live with its greater populations, this will be less of an issue.]

I was also sad that there wasn’t a dual wield class for Order, at least Destruction has the Disciple. (I don’t count the Witch Hunter because sword + gun isn’t really the same.)

Couldn’t name the War Lion. That made me very sad, and I hope they change it before the game goes live.

[Both me and my husband (and Hawley) got to play the T4 Elf scenario and loved it, I played the T1 Dwarf one a couple of times, but in general all the action in beta was EvC. Possibly had to do with the comparatively low server population – arbitrary]

[As of Open Beta, you can now change the War Lion’s name (the command is /petname <name>. This made us very happy, at the cost of seeing lots of … very creative pet naming. The War Lion also changes appearance more from level to level with different colours of coat and stripes. There’s even extra some randomness so two pets are less likely to look the same.]

3.What makes this game different?

I think Mythic have really delivered on all the things they hyped. Public Quests, lots of open world RvR with objectives, Tome of Knowledge, the Warhammer setting. Just to delve more into the setting, the look and feel of the game is spot on. We discussed our various ponies and gyroharness and everyone agreed that they didn’t want the choice of different mount colours because the standard ones just … worked. You will end up feeling like part of a larger army, wearing similar styles of armour. You will feel as though if you rode into battle alongside a bunch of people of the same race, it would feel like a warhammer army on the march.

I also really liked having both a defensive and offensive target. As a healer, it was a very nice touch.

I also really liked the idea of levelling up the guild and getting in game rewards for it. This isn’t especially new to this game, since EQ2 and LOTRO (among others I am sure) have similar features. The living city intrigued us a lot also.

Oh and I totally loved my magus and its disk! I won’t be playing it as a main but … I just loved the disk.

4. What makes this game the same?

The UI looks and feels like Warcraft when you first see it. This makes the game very easy to pick up. Aside from that, most of the standard tropes of the genre are there. It isn’t revolutionary. Class design is fun and has some neat tweaks but goes with the same tank/melee/support/ranged that we’ve seen many times before. Quests are … quests. You’ll end up doing deliveries, killing 10 mobs-of-the-day, finding items that kind of glow a bit to help you out, and so on. I think they’ve done a good job on all of these things but there isn’t much new there.

[Should just add, if you have a quest that asks you to collect 10 foozle ears, every foozle will drop an ear. Also there is a separate item bag for quest items, so they don’t take up room in your main bag.]

I think the game does compare well to other MMOs, but it doesn’t have the gonzo polish of WoW. I do think that if people are willing to give it a chance, it will win them over. But you have to stop comparing constantly to other games and enjoy it for itself. Whether people will do this, I don’t know. I think the warhammer fans will be happy though.

5. Did you try anything nuts?

The high elves start on top of a cliff so naturally the first thing I did was to jump off. I failed totally to die because I landed in the sea, though. I announced to my guild that you couldn’t die from falling, and then they all proved me wrong.

So I totally failed at jumping off cliffs 🙂

[I would never nor have ever tried anything nuts – arbitrary. Honest!]

6. What is the core of the game like?

The core of the game is all about giving you lots of options for finding people and doing things in groups without being overly beholden to them or spending hours in LFG. It’s fun and it works. A typical session might involve logging on, checking if your guild was busy and if you could join them, if not decide if you feel like PvE or RvR and checking the open group list locally to see what is going on. Or join a scenario queue and get on with some quests in the meantime. It’s also very easy to start your own open group so if you are in a mood for keep taking and no-one is doing any, just announce in the local channel what you plan to do and people will probably start joining.

I think it’s a solid model, it works, and it’s fun. And I can see that it would be easy enough for Mythic to add more content later without altering the core of the game.

As to how the game actually plays, it’s balanced to avoid insta-kills in RvR. There were some complaints that it took too long to kill people but in a largescale fight this really means that there’s a bit more tolerance for people to get involved without constantly dying. I thought that aspect was tuned well, and made the RvR experience rather less ‘omg I’m dead again’ for people who hadn’t done it much before.

Combat is fine, not as responsive as WoW and classes don’t have as wide a mix of abilities but I tried casters, healers, and melee and I didn’t feel any major issues with basic gameplay. You will notice the lack of long crowd control as a basic design decision.

7. What are the biggest issues?

Funnily enough, I didn’t find any issues in the actual game that concerned me. But population balance is going to be a big deal. In beta, Order was outnumbered and as a result Destruction held most of the keeps for most of the time. This wasn’t especially demoralising since we were able to take some back, but knowing always that we’d never be able to hold them for long takes some of the fun out of it.

And as I said above, some zones were quite empty and some scenarios rarely ever ran. I’m not sure how much of an issue this really is. If you give players choices, they are likely to have preferences. But it is worth noting.

Healers in particular are quickly singled out and have very few defenses other than healing themselves. I think this will be less of an issue once players learn how to work better with collision detection and tanks.

[Getting used to collision detection is bizarre, the number of times I swore blind it was someone else’s fault I’d run into them was kind of amusing, to my husband anyway! I think there’s something for everyone, but the traditional concerns relating to RvR will always apply; lag and balance – arbitrary]

8. What wasn’t there yet?

Auction House and Banks. The only tradeskill (apart from the gathering skills and cultivation) was Apothecary. Trophies don’t show up on your character although you can equip them (edited to add: have had reports that this has changed, I haven’t had a chance to grab any trophies since we got the level 31 templates to check yet.)

[OK, many changes here since Open Beta, as you’d hope. Auction House and Banks are now in the game. Trophies do show up but you need to have an item of the correct type equipped to do this. For example, if you have a shoulder trophy, it won’t show up unless you have shoulders equipped.

Crafting is now in but not especially polished. It’s fun for what it is, but I expect to see some tweaks later. Butchery and Scavenging are easy gathering skills to earn some extra cash, especially Scavenging since most things you kill are humanoid. Magical Salvaging needs you to destroy green items, although they have added extra salvaging drops too. Cultivating needs you to sow seeds (which drop a lot) and add water and nutrients, but you can do this while wandering around and doing other stuff. I found it quite relaxing. Of the crafting skills, Apothecary makes potions – they all seem moderately useful. You have to figure out the recipes but its easy to experiment. Talisman Making makes short duration (several hours) tokens that you can add to socketed gear, it seems the most difficult at the moment.]

9. What was the beta experience like?

I actually have written a separate post about that. It’ll go up later 😉 Generally positive though. And zergy. I feel that Mythic have been quite responsive to feedback.

10. Did you find any good bugs?

Nothing spectacular. Some graphical glitches. Quests not lining up nicely in the quest tracker, etc.

I know someone found a levelling bug because it was one of the few things that got moderated off the forums. There was some issue with Bright Wizards/Sorcereresses which meant that some of their abilities did too much damage. We did keep getting drops for the cut classes, which was quite funny. And I found a quest which gave a reward that was unusable by any class in that zone. I also found a PQ in which the last stage was bugged to be way too easy — we reported it after we’d all maxed out influence (err, I mean we repeated it three times to make sure it was replicable and then reported it).

[Hrrm, mine mostly related to naked dwarfs. Is that a problem? Found some interface stuff, but not really anything too much of the game itself – arbitrary]

[Mythic have been very responsive to bug reports. Each patch that came out in beta fixed a lot of bugs and although there are still some graphical glitches, they’ve been very quick to fix major issues. There has also been some class rebalancing but nothing major.]

Some answers

Iain C has stopped by the Only-War forums to answer some of their compiled questions. It’s quite a long post, so am not going to quote it all here, but here’s a couple as a taster:

4. Will eu get the same amount of time in open beta as the us?

Yes

18. When can we expect a EU Herald?

There won’t be one specifically. Our www.war-europe.com site combines the features of the Herald and the marketing site. All the community news and info will be available on the one EU site.

You can see the same set of answers over at the Warhammer Alliance thread. We’ll try to keep on top of all the answers coming out from GOA, but will probably pick a few to highlight and give links – a lot’s been asked!