I’m oh so tired…

It’s 6am. I woke at 5:30am. I went to bed at midnight, a bit awake for bed, but knowing I had to go. Because I have work today and need to leave the house at 7:30am to get there.

So why so tired?

Well.. first I signed up to a raid with my LotRO guild so I’d get a bit of practice in before Moria. It was fun, I didn’t get anyone killed and people were really nice and generous to have me along feeling a bit out of it. That finished at 10pm.

Now, when I last left WAR, Order on our side was fighting in Chaos Wastes, trying to flip it after a Herculean effort to flip Praag the day/night before. So I decided to pop on after LotRO and see what the status was. They were still fighting in Chaos Wastes (it started around 11am, just for reference), and there was a keep to be taken. So on I popped and joined one of the two warbands that were in the area. We took the southern keep, then a battlefield objective. Then our warband decided to go do some PQs to help with the zone flippage, leaving the others to re-capture any lost BOs on the way.

Off we went to the PQs. Did 1, then did another, then started on the first again. As we were reaching the end of stage 1 – the zone flipped. Not seen that before, but it was pretty cool, and people did genuinely cheer (even on Teamspeak – hang on, that was me!).

And the next thing we knew, I was learning the way to The Maw. We had 1 hour to try and capture it. First door, pretty easy. Second door, lots of problems getting a ram up, but we got it down. Didn’t see any defenders at all for that part and got a bit worried for poor ol’ Destruction. But seriously, we knew they were out there as we’d seen them valiantly fighting just moments before. We started off with the larger numbers and managed to get up some of the stairs intact, but we had problems with people having the right ward gear (unsurprisingly) and hey, it was our first attempt – so we were a bit all over the place.

We managed to make the fight last most of the hour, if not all of it, I stopped looking at the timer I have to admit. There were multiple waves of champion mobs that hit hard. Destruction had at least as many defenders as we had attackers by the end of it – which made for a pretty epic fight. There was lag, there were complete slowdowns, confusion, insanity and madness. But we were all along for the ride, and we all know it’s now going to happen again, on both sides.

As I left for bed, Order were off to try and defend Praag from the onslaught. One of the things about having that kind of fight, is you know all those players are on and spoiling for action. And a friday night – so noone has work the next day. Except me. Boo.

In other news, I notice Massively linked to my blog post that was pretty cynical about GOA at some point last night. So I thought I’d clarify – I think the odd bit of rhetoric can get action and make things change. I think if players shout loud enough things will get better there. I know GOA’s intention is not to stiff us and make us write such things. We now have a Realm War page (albeit in beta, but I’m guessing that’s because they wanted to get it out asap instead of stalling more – good work! I think we’d rather have it like this than not at all), we are having server transfers, communication has been a lot better – including Magnus stopping in at Ark’s Ark to comment on the Makaisson server transfer issue.

I’ve just seen it improve before and then go bad again. But I am hopeful that this may be the start of something good GOA-wise.

I’m also shattered because the RvR is so engaging I couldn’t just let it lie and not log on last night, and then I just couldn’t go to bed!

Poor work – they haven’t seen me this sleepy since I was killing a Balrog, and now they’ll all have to hear about The Maw.

Quick house-keeping

Have done a quick run through the Blogroll and taken out any not updated for a month or who have said they won’t be blogging anymore.

If you want to be added, drop me a note here and I’ll do another run-through!

Also, if you blog about Warhammer – please add an RSS feed. I want to be able to read all the posts every day, but on days I work a lot, it’s not so easy to remember to go and open stuff up. And which are in the reader and which aren’t. So you’ll save me (and almost certainly others) time and make the posts more open to being followed. It’s a good thing, and easy to do!

Lie back and link for England

Welcome to Denizens of Xibalba, Cathbadh’s Warhammer Adventure and Spell Damage!

The UK launches its first National Videogame Archive. About time!!! Hrrm, wonder if they want some of my old games…

Virtual Worlds Forum event postponed due to a shooting at the venue. And talking about virtual worlds, both Sony and Microsoft are planning on launching them, Second Life style for their respective consoles.

World of Warcraft praised for educational value – by nature, they mean all MMOs here, they just used WoW as an example. In similar news, the Church says games can be a positive influence!!!

Spore expansion due out in November. It’s called “Cute and Creepy Parts Pack”, digitalspy say they don’t know what’s in it but I think I can guess. Don’t want to be cynical about money-making, but an expansion.. ALREADY?

Tigole posts more about Blizzard’s upcoming plans for WoW PvP: Including the ability to queue from anywhere and earn xp via battlegrounds. That didn’t take long. There have been a lot of blog comments about this — Syp thinks competition is great for gamers, syncaine wonders if borrowing too many ideas can water down the core of a game.

Congrats to The Greenskin for a year of blogging! Inspirational!

Save da Runts lists 10 tips from a tank to the healers.

Gamasutra has an in-depth community analysis of Warhammer Online. The writer has been checking out forums to see how the community is evolving post-launch.

Ever felt awkward about admitting to your non-gamer friends that you spend the evenings playing games? The Brainy Gamer has been thinking about whether our culture has a taboo about adults playing frivolous games.

We expect to have more Blizzcon links next week, but here’s one to start. Diablo III will be playable (presumably as a demo) at Blizzcon. And they announce one of the other classes: the wizard. Oh, it has frost nova and magic missile, be still my beating heart. Sorceress fans should be pleased. Here’s the trailer.

Elitist Jerks have an amusing thread on how to think of a good guild name. Also lots of thoughts there on how to reach a consensus with your guild and what your guild name says about you. I love the idea of naming them like Iain M Banks’ ships, wish I’d thought of that. “Of course I still love you” would be an ace guildname. (GCU Arbitrary – no comment, they found where I steal usernames from – arbitrary!)

Yer Links Look Lank!

We’d mostly like to welcome Stunty Stomper to the WAR blogging community, except he wants to stomp some of us.. nice site though.

New podcast alert!! Destruction Dolls brings a female perspective to the WAR-specific podcasts and is pretty damn awesome. Except for being Destruction, naturally. Go check out the first episode, either through the website or via iTunes and then go leave some feedback.

Destruction Dolls also introduced us to another new blog, detailing the journey one player is making from WoW to WAR. A lot of players will be in this position so it’s definitely worth checking out. And hell, it’s a great blog even if you stopped playing WoW a long time ago, or never played it.

And one more site to mention, even though it’s small right now. Someone has set up Euro-Hammer as a focus for European Warhammer Online. Might be tricky to capture people’s attentions right now, but worth watching.

Casualties of WAR is, in case you’ve not heard of it, a US guild formed by a bunch of WAR bloggers, general MMO bloggers and others interested. Now we in Europe get the prospect of a guild from Rock, Paper, Shotgun – one of our fave gaming sites. Sounds pretty cool, since they all seem like decent people. They’re deciding on Order or Destruction right now. Maybe this is a way guilds will be created in the future – take an already formed community and use it as the basis of a guild.

Spore link time: Famous people create Spore creatures. Pick a celeb, see the charity they selected and vote on whether you like their creature or not.

Antispore.com, real or spoof? Nah, it’s not for real of course. By far the funniest thing about it was that no one was sure

In the wake of ‘Toboldgate‘, we thought this post from Sanya@Eating Bees was interesting. She’s speaking from the PR point of view as to what they expect from a reporter after getting a freebie. (In case anyone is interested, we welcome our freebie overlords. Please send us free stuff for doing what we were going to do anyway!). As for the whole controversy, more like a dull soap opera.

Justin Webb is blogging the run-up to launch day over at Ten Ton Hammer. TTH deserve a hearty congrats for the excellent series of exclusive blogs they’ve managed to get on the site. I’ve loved every single one.

Jeff Palumbo@The Escapist posts about My Life as a Tank. What’s the thrill of getting beaten up while 24 other people look on and cheer? We admire that he added ‘maslows hierarchy of needs’ to the tag list on that post.

Mamma Mia fans will want to catch Singstar ABBA when it comes out later this year.

GameCyte discusses the Psychology of Achievements in games.

Girls and programming, something that should go together I’m sure we’d all agree. So let’s take a moment to celebrate Storytelling Alice – “a programming environment designed to motivate a broad spectrum of middle school students (particularly girls) to learn to program computers through creating short 3D animated movies.” Might go play with it myself.

And .. has the large hadron collider destroyed the world yet? If not, check out this LHC-cam.

Why blog?

It may not have escaped some people’s notice that I’ve been a bit down recently. Some of it is the lull in play, though I’ve managed to get in some LotRO with friends. Some of it is the evil that is real life – let’s not talk about that one, and some of it is just general grump. We all have that in us.

And it’s made me a bit quieter than normal. This morning, I’m contemplative. I remember that only a few days ago I emailed back my answers to The Order of Destruction about blogging and Warhammer. And it reminded me of something I wanted to say. Right now, days before open beta, not long before the headstart and the launch.

By the time the game launches, Book of Grudges will be 4 months old. It’s been quite a time for us.

And I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s stopped by, commented, linked to us, emailed and made us feel part of the community. I’d name specific names, but really there are too many, and that’s pretty astounding in and of itself. It’s definitely been a novel and enjoyable experience for all of us (I’ll include Hawley in this, even though he’s a relative newcomer, I know he’s pretty blown away by it all).

And that’s not why we started blogging. But it’s why we continue to.

I guess I’m really taking a moment out of my grump to say:

We love you guys, and thanks!

Links-a-matosis

Want to start writing about Warhammer? If so, Regis from Wizards and Wenches is running a blog competition you should check out.

Hammer of WAR is a new community site, set up by husband and wife team and looking to establish itself through some interesting columns and a set of forums. JoBildo has said he’s going to be a columnist so it’s definitely worth watching.

Also new to the community is Forums of WAR, a dedicated series of server forums. Obviously it’s a bit quiet so far!

And check out WAAAGH! Hammer also, a very professional looking blog.

Stuck for a name? Here’s a pretty cool resource for Warhammer Fantasy RP names.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun return to their series of conversations with Paul Barnett. This time it covers his top 5 MMOs – which aren’t  MMOs and they discuss more than 5 games, but he likes Elite so it’s cool with us.  (Spinks: Did I ever mention that I got to Elite on the Atari ST version?) Also at the same site, you can watch 3 trailers for Deathspank. Go – watch them.

Scientific American discusses why people like stories in The Secrets of Storytelling. It’s not something you necessarily expect a scientific magazine to come out with, but it’s fascinating stuff.

The latest guild highlight looks at the taverns provided and includes lots of useful info I never tried to explore in the beta – such as where you can fly to from the tavern and what you can buy at reduced price. The EU guild in the spotlight this time is Unleashed. The US featured guild is even more hardcore.

Over at The Consumerist, there’s a cautionary tale about trying to change your postal address on a Collector’s Edition pre-order. Apparently EA do not make this simple, or even possible. NB: this is a US story.

Obviously, there’s been a lot about PAX in the interwebs this past week, but the panel I enjoyed reading about most was How to get your Girlfriend into Gaming. Maybe you could do like Bernie Ping and hack her favourite game so it proposes to her (arbitrary: seriously, I love Bejeweled so I’m impressed!)

On Warhammer-related PAX news, stop by Jeff’s Ten Ton Hammer blog and read all the Q&As cos they’re really informative and definitely added to the whole thing.

Waaagh: the Podcast has a home over at GAX and is available on iTunes. Episode 2 includes a long chat with Brent from Virgin Worlds about his recent Warhammer Online comments. Really enjoyed it. And talking of podcasts No Prisoners, No Mercy has a special Warhammer Online broadcast out and Shut Up, We’re Talking does a pretty nice overview of the game also.

In other news, if you’ve been wondering where all the local cats and mice have been recently, it’s probably because they’ve also been gearing up for the relase of Warhammer Online, with some pretty tasty epics…

Newsletter on its way, honest guv!

Some of my friends have had theirs, mine hasn’t arrived yet, but in the meantime you can read some bits of it over at GOA’s site.

  • More on capital cities with Jeff Skalski, RvR Team Lead, in a handy podcast
  • Scenarios 101: Episode 7 (covering two tier 4 scenarios from the Greenskin vs Dwarf areas)
  • Raglek’s beta journal
  • Meet the team: Magnus K (Community Manager) and Gary Astleford (sole writer on the Elf team)
  • and the fun one – Paul’s video phone blog (I’ve seen a couple of them and laughed!)

More as I get around to reading through it and receiving my own copy of it.

Waiting.. patiently?

Where is the newsletter???!

I’m normally a fairly chilled person, and I do write blog posts, I really do. But since last week we’ve kind of been saying ‘well, let’s wait till the newsletter and then write some stuff’. And I know they only said early this week, but I’ve been up too long already (woken by hungry cats, not anxiety about the newsletter!), so I’m sitting here.. thinking of things to write, and then coming back to – ‘but where’s the newsletter’.

It reminds me a bit of having a permanent excuse to not do something. Like, ‘I’ll go cycling when the weather is nicer’ when you live where I do. (another excuse that is well-used by me).

So instead of the newsletter, here’s some things that have been on my mind lately that have nothing to do with the beta. Yay.

The Road to War game (yes, the site is currently down, but you can go read about it and see a screenshot from it over at Keen and Graev’s). It’s no surprise to some of you that one of our discarded posts related to things Warhammer Online could learn from certain cult TV shows. I think perhaps this bit of viral marketing is one thing they share in common. At the same time as I play the Road to War game (and no, not playing until I hear about whether there is or isn’t a European alternative, though I suspect I know the answer to this already), I can also be recruited by the Dharma Initiative.

Lost has run a few successful ARGs (alternate reality games) in between seasons with mixed success. The first was a bit fiddly and only really scored with the hard-core fans who then were a bit annoyed at some of the pay-off. The second was the search for Flight 815 and worked quite well because it included mini-games and then used footage that was later incorporated into episode 1 of season 4 of the show. And now we’re being recruited for Dharma between seasons 4 and 5. It’s a fun way to spend the hiatus – a time when fans can be lost or retained.

So, back to the Road to War. It’s a good idea to keep up and build interest in the game in a viral manner (lest we forget, that’s what viral marketing is about). But, everyone taking part should remember that this is (as far as I know), Mythic’s first pass at such a big enterprise. And trust me, this kind of game is a big deal to pull off successfully. Turbine has done something similar with the Mines of Moria, but on a smaller scale – I played it for a week or two, but then went back to my normal stuff.

There will be exploits, the site will go down, there will be people who complain about the rewards – but through all of that, it’s a learning experience, it’s the games company finding a new way to connect with fans and interested parties and you can guarantee there will be more things like it, each learning from the last.

What else?

I’m as confused as anyone about release dates, pre-order stuff and everything. I seriously have no answers. I suggest waiting for the official releases and making Dress-Your-Own Paul Barnett dolls. I found making mine very zen. Now trying to decide whether to take it to Games Day with me! Also, do as Wrenn suggests and go check out the excellent Warhammer Online community out there. We’ve not really even been a part of it that long, and we feel very welcomed by everyone in it. So thanks to all for that.

But most of all:

Where is my newsletter???!

Ask away!

We’re taking part in a bit of a fansite/community event! Wrenn from Warhammer Conflict got a bunch of us together the other night to have a bit of a chat and Snafzg from The Greenskin suggested that we could all work together on answering questions once the NDA drops.

So what’s going to happen is this. A bunch of sites/blogs/community places will take questions. Feel free to add any you have to comments here. The questions will then get compiled into a big list and placed on a neutral site and once the NDA is dead and buried reps from different fansites will go answer the questions. It’ll hopefully save on lots of duplication and effort, but also should end up providing much better answers.

So – fire away and leave any questions you have here and we’ll submit them to this endeavour. Remember though that the NDA is still in place, and very much so right now. So don’t comment on questions asked, and please don’t answer them! Also, there’s no need to duplicate questions on different sites, if you asked them already elsewhere, that’s cool too.

Do RP servers have better communities?

I was intrigued by the discussion on the last Chaoscast about how to find a good server. The guys all took it as read that RP (roleplaying) servers have better communities, and I was wondering if that was true.

It’s a tricky thing for me to talk about, since (as Arbitrary reminded me) we’ve always played on RP servers, and will do that again with WAR. So mostly what I have to compare with is posts from forums and talking to friends on other servers. But, just for the record, the reasons I pick RP servers are:

  1. I find the atmosphere more immersive
  2. I really like the idea of players organising their own events, and RP servers/guilds are more open to this
  3. I’m not big on leet speak and I find more people who feel the same on RP servers
  4. I like the idea of RP, I don’t mean cybering and in-depth character arcs, just wandering around cities pretending that we’re from that world.
  5. I like being on a server where people don’t mock RPers

Note I didn’t say that I did RP a lot. I don’t particularly. I just like the atmosphere. And what I have found is that it’s easy to find other people who play the same way I do, and like the same kind of RP atmosphere. I do like the communities that build up, and roleplayers tend to be sociable and cooperative. They also tend to get a more mature crowd (again, means I have more in common with people) and more women. (The downside of this is that you can get crazy amounts of drama in RP guilds — “But your character wouldn’t have done that!!!” is not an issue you’d have on a regular server.)

BUT do they have better communities? Truth is, I don’t know. It depends how you define ‘better.’ A free-for-all PvP server can have a very tight-knit community, success there depends on having guilds and alliances you can trust to watch your back. But these servers aren’t as friendly to solo or casual play. Being tight-knit can mean cliquey and unwelcoming to newbies, but that really depends on individual players.

So I’m thinking: how would you measure server community?

  1. Survey. Ask players on the server if they are having fun. And ask questions designed to see how much they are socialising (Are you in a guild? How old is your guild? Do you feel that you have made friends here? etc.)
  2. Public events. How many public events do players organise? This can mean anything from a RP picnic with storytelling to a public raid. The only requirement is that it’s open to all-comers. To show if the community is welcoming and active, even to people who mostly solo or play very casually.
  3. How often do guilds fail?
  4. How many alliances are there? How many guilds are involved in these alliances?
  5. How long does it take a new player to find and join a guild that suits them? (Assuming that they wanted to.)
  6. How many level-capped players know each other? Do people recognise the names of all the guilds?
  7. How active is RvR/ PvP between the two sides? Is it evenly matched? If not, does the lower pop side still win fairly often?
  8. How much do players on opposing factions communicate with each other, on forums or IRC? Do people feel that they know their enemies and recognise their names?

Just looking at these points, it’s clear to me that Public Quests could change everything. But we just don’t know yet how people will use them. Will they use them as a game provided tool for socialising? Will they try to game them and shut out people who they don’t know? (Is that even possible?)

I like RP servers, because I find that the communities are better for ME, which at the end of the day is the only metric that matters 🙂 But I’ve always thought they were quite a minority interest, which is why I was surprised to hear Syp, Snafzg and Keen discussing them as if it was common knowledge. And also surprised that in a recent thread on Warhammer Alliance a lot of people did say that they’d want to play on a RP server. Maybe they’re getting more popular? Or just among old school MMORPG players who are looking for a certain type of community?