Long time coming

I’ve been neglecting my blogs, and as I’ve just compiled some links for Nerf the Cat later in the week, here’s the WAR-related ones I’ve been checking out amongst others:

Werit summarises info from the Land of the Dead video, neatly and succintly and it gave me just enough of a taster to go watch the video, since I’m a little distrustful of marketing at the moment! It’s nearly June too…

I’ll really miss the colourful and sensible diagrams and dots from Breakfast at WAR, so here’s Pancakez’ view on the old chestnut of Rock, Paper, Scissors. It’s plainly awesome.

Frustration at the endgame continues with Bootae’s comments on his recent experiences at trying to get into a city siege and what happened. I have to say, I’m still not tempted to try city sieges, I enjoy the early tiers too much these days.

Before WAR launched, there was speculation about population balances and what would happen when one side was frankly overpowered. Werit returns to look at what’s happened on his server, Averheim and it seems players do prefer to be overpowered. Perhaps not surprising, but still somehow revealing.

Podcasts, podcasts – Stonetroll Certified and Warhammer Alliance have new podcasts out, both worthy of being in your list. (OK, so due to twitter I know the WHA one is due out very soon, but keep an eye on their site, it’ll be worth it and has a special guest!)

Snafzg, over at The Greenskin, shows us exactly how and why his blog hit 1 million views with an awesome screenshot of Destruction standing in an orderly queue for a Live Event kill task. I ‘awwed’ at them. So cute, and so far from being chaotic, eh?

There’s no getting out of this one, the decrease in WAR blogs, highlighted by Blame the Healer. At some point soon, I’ll also be moving my main blogging over to my ‘catch-all’ blog, but I’ll still be peppering it with WAR posts and speculations… for me it’s just too hard to keep two blogs going with any sort of quality control!

Bootae provides my favourite headline for a while, raising the issues of how the game could possibly spread players out across zones to avoid 10+ warbands all going after the same goals. I still think bringing in the other Cities would have helped with this somewhat, but truthfully we as players often choose easy kills/keep takes over the more disputed ones, so it’s definitely one of WAR’s problems. He also touches on the recent Winds of Change controversy, which has been picked up by many many blogs, and which I read in quiet disbelief. Snafzg sums it up on Massively, Skar also keeps me up-to-date, and Roo gives the subsequent nerdrage it’s own made-up word. Awesome.

On a lighter and more impressive note, Gaarawarr continues his insane PQ trawl which makes for a fantastic read. I wish I’d thought of it! This time he’s at the home of the elves (ok, so now I’m glad I didn’t think of it…)

And back to The Greenskin for my final link of the day. Snafzg has decided to start a semi-regular column about what he’d do if he were Mark Jacobs. It’s a useful call for constructive criticism and an interesting read. The first article covers gear grinding, something close to all our hearts.

Phew, sorry for the wordiness, it’s been a while I know. There’s a lot of great stuff still being done in WAR and written about WAR, so keep an eye on it all! Later this week I’ll be back to discuss more about the London get-together where me & Spinks hope we get to meet many of you and take lots of photos!

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The BoGgies! (well, Honest Scrap Awards)

Book of Grudges has been lucky enough to have received two awards lately from other bloggers and now we’re ready to spread the love!honest_scrap1

Regis over at Wizards & Wenches gave us a Sticky Keyboard award, because we know he loves all the cute animals (and prints them out and puts them on his wall!). Honestly, it means a lot Regis, don’t pay attention to my humour.

And then, Bootae’s Bloody Blog gave us an award too! Out of the blue and very humbling, and always surprised but happy by attention to the blood splatter!

Now, these awards come with some stipulations and it’s my turn to carry them out:

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

So, I give you my 7 picks for a BoGgy Award:

Stylish Corpse – started with WAR, quickly moved on to be an entertaining read covering any number of MMOs from the very charming Ysharros. If you don’t read it, you should. And then follow her on Twitter!

Spinksville – Book of Grudges would be nothing without Spinks, who agreed to come on board and write a blog with me after I had a particular daft idea one day. She gave BoG most of it’s great content, I think we can all agree.

Syp’s new project – Bio Break – because I would have nominated Waaagh, for all the reasons I made in my post about Waaagh closing. Syp was a massive help when we started blogging and has continued to support the community intensely. Think Mythic should have sent him more presents, so this award will have to do (just wipe off the blood splatter).

Gaming Granny – Esri is another of us female bloggers, one who shares our love for cute animals pictures and that can’t be overlooked. She used to be in charge of the White Lion blog, but has moved on to more general topics here, and again, always worth reading.

Josh Drescher – to get back on topic, he has the most updated and bloglike of the WAR ‘pros’ blogs (Sorry Paul, I hate Myspace and don’t love video blogging though I appreciate it spawns greatness). And for that, he gets an award.

Adventures in Figuring out MMO Design – Iain C, for again, giving us a huge amount of help and support in the early days of the blog and when you could. Also because although this blog isn’t updated all that often,when it is, it’s always interesting and thought provoking.

Killed in a Smiling Accident – they get the award for being purely awesome. Great guys, great blog, always makes me smile (if not laugh!) and I boggle at their ability to entertain while still making some really valid points. If you don’t read it, you should get in trouble.

I have a lot more I could have awarded, and 7 is quite hard, but anyway, there’s my choices as of today at 6:30am. An also-ran would probably be May Contain Gamers, which is Codemasters’ blog and shows everything I think a gaming company blog should be!

So that was just a delaying tactic and now you need 10 facts about me.

  1. I hate cheese (unless it’s toasted nearly to death or doesn’t taste of cheese – ie. Philadelphia). I know, people think this makes me weird
  2. I had a female rat called Elvis who was one of the BEST pets ever
  3. I was once HM Treasury’s webmaster
  4. I lived in Gainesville, FL for two years with my husband, before returning to the UK
  5. I want an Aibo really badly, and can no longer explain why (since I now have cats who would prob be scared of said Aibo). Damn you Sony for stopping making them!
  6. I’m a middle sister, though I swear I don’t have middle child syndrome/complex – really!
  7. My hair has been purple, green, red, blonde, I’ve had a mohawk and I’ve been a skinhead 4 times. None since I reached 30, but I always threaten to go skinhead again
  8. I intend to get another tattoo before the year ends. I currently have blue daisies around my ankle, but I’ve just found a new design I like… so now it’s all about getting over being a slacker
  9. I was nearly expelled from a primary school. It never went past the stage of being asked to leave, because I did. And my parents found me a much better school anyway! So nyeh!
  10. I went to New College, Oxford and did a degree in English Language and Literature. I’m not very proud of this, I’m adding it because it’s prob the most shocking fact about me I can think of as I’m not the type and discuss it very rarely

Syp moves on

The biggest name in  WAR blogging is leaving behind his Waaagh blog and moving to a more general gaming blog at Bio Break. I know how he feels on any number of levels and wish him all the best in his new blog, which I always enjoy reading anyway!)

Really, I know from experience it’s not easy to close a blog, especially one that has a bit of a name for itself. And I know the draw to talk about more than one game, which is specifically why Spinks moved to Spinksville and I mostly moved to Nerf the Cat (but bizarrely Book of Grudges came back for the Age of Blogging month and hasn’t quite died again.. yet!).

Syp has always been a great supporter of blogs, blogging and the community. When he left us one of our first comments, we were really touched that someone so big had found our little experiment. And his support helped us to keep going, so while Waaagh will be missed, I look forward to continuing to read his work over at Bio Break.

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!

The Hype was Right!

I was reading with interest the to and fro of posts between Michael@MMO Nation and Syp@Waaagh about the WAR ‘backlash’ that they see among bloggers at the moment.

They’re on the wrong track here. There is no backlash. What we’re seeing (to my mind) is that people have mostly played the game, enjoyed it (or parts at least), and are now prioritising their gameplaying time because of other games that are available. I don’t really have any links to people being unreasonably bitter about their unreasonable expectations not being met, just writers being honest about what they liked or didn’t and why they’re moving on.

The hype and backlash cycle is part of the huge PR circle of life. But backlash itself means something more specific than just whining about having your expectations reset. It’s to do with a kneejerk reaction to something that is popular. Or when the media builds up some celebrity or book/game/programme and then turns on it viciously, encouraging people to enjoy the spectacle of a good clean lynching. Maybe with a side-helping of Schadenfreude Pie. And this is what I haven’t seen. I don’t see a lot of people trashing the game completely because it broke their fragile little hearts.

And this is because no one lied to us in the hype.

I love hype

We’re all fans here. We’re not haters. We love hype. For myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the leadup to the WAR launch. I loved the Massively posts and the interviews and the monthly grab bags. I loved the discussions and being able to write about why we were excited and what we were looking forwards to. And the thing about Mythic’s hype machine that still impresses me is that for the most part, the parts of the game we most enjoyed are the same parts that they were hyping.

They told us about Public Quests, Scenarios, Open RvR, the Tome of Knowledge, the cool class mechanics, different zones to explore from level 1 to 40 for each race, being able to level in PvP or PvE, and the extensive Warhammer Lore and when we played the game, these were the things we loved too! I don’t feel at all that I was misled.

Some of the tuning has been slightly off. They have introduced other things that were never hyped (armour sets arrrgh) and maybe we did or didn’t like those so much but the core of the game is a rock solid play experience that is exactly what we were promised. Open RvR is genuinely fun in a way that no other game since DaoC has been able to pull off — we’ll see how WoW’s version plays out over the next month or so when more people have levelled in Wrath but I see it devolving into organised groups trashing PUGS, like everything else in WoW. WAR has managed the endgame impossibility of getting people to play together, which is a sadly rare experience in MMOs. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Open RvR raids for that reason.

It’s a core that Mythic can and will build on. Later on today, the Heavy Metal event starts on EU servers (GOA willing) and with it a temporary new scenario and the introduction of short-term daily quests with the chance to get a look at two new classes. And that’s only a couple of months into the live game. Imagine what it could be like in a year or two’s time.

That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to play it continuously for the next two years. I believe that it’s the nature of MMOs now that a lot of players have limited appetite for the grind. So we’ll see much more of the playstyle of people playing new content for awhile and then moving on to another game which just put out a content patch or an expansion. I really think that some people will gravitate towards being fixed on one game but a lot of others will keep max level characters in more than one, and pick them up as the content becomes available.

There is a question about how player communities can adapt to this. It’s not very comfortable for guilds to have large segments of the population drifting off for months at a time and then coming back and expecting to be involved with things — but guilds and games will both have to work out ways to handle it.

But there’s still no need to be a hater. Mythic put out a good game. It’s flawed in some ways that weren’t apparent in beta (I wrote a post a few months back that I can’t be bothered to look up about things that can’t be tested in a beta, we’re seeing them come back to roost now). Hype is fun and it’s perfectly fine to get caught up in the enthusiasm. Just don’t … hate yourself for it later!

Linking on up

Russel Chalmier writes one of my favourite Dev Diaries so far. This is about the development of the Reikland Factory event scenario that is only going to be available during the Heavy Metal event in a couple  of weeks time. It’s very cool. He discusses how they decided to theme the scenario, background and setting, concept and prototype, and there’s lots of artwork. As a scenario fan, I’m still awed that we get an event scenario.

There is a Witching Night hotfix — the reward chests for the event PQ will now spawn in your warcamp and stay for 10 minutes. This is to address the problem of the other team camping the chest so that people couldn’t get to their rewards. (I have to compare how quickly Mythic addressed this issue with Blizzard’s complete lack of hotfix for people zombifying quest NPCs/ auctioneers/ etc).

Initial feedback on the US server transfers is very positive. Sounds as though they’re going smoothly and people are enjoying their new high population servers.

Lots of bloggers are deciding whether or not they’re having enough fun in WAR to keep writing about it/ playing it. I’m not linking to all the goodbye posts but we enjoyed reading all of your writing, will keep following the blogs if you keep writing, and think it’s very sensible not to play if you aren’t having fun.

Syncaine has a theory that all MMOs from here on in will need to plan for an influx of bored WoW players who will leave after the first month. I wouldn’t put the bloggers all in that camp but he has a good point.

I hear they’re having some kind of election in the US next week? And it seems like only yesterday they held the last one. If you’re interested in such things Bruce Schneier is hosting an election night thread at Making Light with chat, analysis, competitions. Sounds kind of fun actually.

Gamers in London totally fail to break the record for most DS players in the same room. The Guinness Book of Records is seriously losing it.

In the category of “Bizarre Civil Rights”, a Japanese man wants to marry a cartoon character. He doesn’t say which one.

The Brainy Gamer has some thoughts about how people identify with their characters in computer games and why roleplaying is so important.

Gamasutra has an interview with the lead writer for Star Wars: The Old Republic (Bioware’s upcoming MMO if you managed to somehow miss that announcement last week).

And if you haven’t yet had your fix of Halloween creepy stories , Weird Tales is letting people download a complete free issue.

NaNoWriMo starts today. Good luck to any budding speed novelists.

A talented bunch

We don’t talk too much about the guild here, it’s nice to give it a little privacy. But, there is one aspect I wanted to touch on, and that’s to give a quick shout-out to all the talented bloggers/web types we have in the guild with us. So, without further ado, here’s a list of some of them:

Snark and Fury – TV, comics, reviews, general snarkiness. It’s a great read (I’ve actually re-read the Merlin post a few times).

Warhammer Geek – Now, you may have heard of this site – I certainly hope so. News, Forums, Wiki as well as the ever-popular parodies and podcasts.

Construed – A ‘critique of modern entertainment’ this includes videogame reviews, as well as a useful WAR diary that I’m learning from.

Killed in a Smiling Accident – Better at humour than us, this blog covers a ton of stuff but is recently quite WAR-focussed. Worth checking out, I’d be surprised if it didn’t raise a smile in all.

R1ft Gaming – Covers games in general as well as Age of Conan and Warhammer Online more specifically. Also loving the ‘rants’ section.