Contribute to change

Want to change the GOA website?

What started as a smallish petition created by Penlin over at Freddyshouse has become somewhat bigger, leading Magnus to comment on the thread:

I’ve passed this petition along to people within GOA and we’ll be following it. Not that it’s really needed – we’re keenly aware of the general perception of our webpage as it is.

Obviously, Community Management have compiled many reports on this topic and we’ve continuously worked for a change. Events have recently taken a turn for the better and I’ve gained renewed hope for a real change. There’s really nothing conclusive I can share on this at the moment but I certainly will as soon as I’m in liberty to do so.

Do know that this is something close to my heart and we’re pulling all the strings we can here. 

So while our fellows in the US are voting on somewhat more serious matters, let’s see if we can amass some votes for getting rid of the war-europe annoying Flash! Use your vote wisely, all.

Keep yourself busy

EA tests new marketing by offering £20k of free petrol at a petrol station in North London to celebrate the launch of Mercenaries 2. Chaos ensues at the petrol station involved – locals whine. Gets reported in The Telegraph’s motoring section. It got a lot of news space, the game was mentioned in each. Free petrol was limited to £40 per car (the game costs £27-£40 depending on platform).  Gets called a smart campaign. We agree – but have spent many happy minutes contemplating a similar-style campaign for WAR where Marble Arch is turned into the Gates of Ekrund and tourists fight Londoners!

Hurrah, Spore finally got released. Cue more Spore articles! While we’re waiting for the sporn to take over the universe and me to figure out the tribal phase, here’s an interview with Will Wright about the launch. And here’s a cute article about the world’s tiniest billboard – advertising Spore, of course.

How to break into the Industry! Any Industry!

US Politics has been in the news a lot over here this week.  Seems there’s some election going on in the US. Not sure who to vote for? Luckily, the Edge has examined the candidates’ gaming credentials. Meanwhile, Daniel O’Brien at cuts to the chase because there’s only one issue he thinks Sarah Palin must address.

Tobold is one of our favourite bloggers, and he notes for the record that Mythic (US) have given him a free WAR account. Yay for freebies, and congrats Tobold! I find this amusing because like us, he’s planning to play in the EU anyway because of timezone issues. Naturally, other bloggers have reacted in a variety of ways. Wall of Text wants to know how he can get freebies, and Syp ponders the ethics of freebies/pay for bloggers.

Thanks to PixiePalace for finding this picture of a badass female warrior in fantasy-style heavy armour. She’s right in that it’s quite difficult to find images like that which aren’t showing a lot of skin.

Would friendly fire work in an MMO? I know the people I play with, so am glad there is no friendly fire!

Killed in a Smiling Accident mourns the loss of some secret classes, last seen in the super secret alpha stage of the game; the Scion of Slaanesh, the Dwarf Beer Master, the Orc Negotiator, the High Elf Conscientious Objector, the Dark Elf Emolator, and the Human Bloggerer (thankfully not quite extinct yet.) Kept us smiling, for sure.

Keen and Syp weigh in with thoughts about the chicken mechanic staying on the open-RvR servers. It’s an interesting debate, and apparently Mythic are now surveying feelings on it, via the preview weekend+ players.


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…

Balance? I don’t need no steenking bal … arrrrgh!

Wotcha everyone,

Every so often, real-life permitting, myself and a group of mates meet up to play boardgames.  Normally, we play long but involving games, that we don’t finish properly because we’re too slow and social to play fast enough.  Needless to say, fun is still had.

Tonight, we shall be playing one of our shorter, lighter games.  One of those on offer, and my personal favourite “light” game, is Pitch-Car.  For those that don’t want to follow the link, it’s like Subbuteo, but with racing cars on a track.  Obviously thought up by a genius.

Almost everyone I know who has tried it has approached the table with trepidation, come away thinking it’s a work of genius, and desperate to have another race.  It has inspired moments of envy, of awe, of sheer hilarity.  There have been times I have laughed so much I had to be reminded to breathe.

So tonight, we shall flick little wooden disks around a wooden race track, until the muscles of our flicking fingers are stiff and sore, and our nails are bruised and painy.  It’s a great game, and what’s more, because it’s just a set of identical disks with everyone racing on the same track, it’s perfectly balanced.  It’s all about the skill of the player.

Ah, “Balance”.  The Holy Grail of Gaming.  Why can’t games be balanced.  It’s simple enough, surely?  Just make everyone equal in terms of power, and that way everyone has fun.

I hate “Balance”.  If I had my way, it would be an un-word.  One with no rational meaning.  Because, in gaming terms, it has no meaning, no relevance.  Even those little wooden discs with stylised racing cars printed on them aren’t equal.  Some spin more than others.  Some are more stable.  They’re painted different colours, and that will make a difference.  We’ve played this game *a lot*.  We know, otherwise we wouldn’t have our favourite cars…

You can’t bring balance into a game which has different classes, with differing roles, skills, and the ability to use items.  That way lies madness.  Trust me, I know.  All you can do is try to make each way of playing fun, and if anything pops up as way over-powered, try to lower the power without screwing everything else over.

Besides, these are Massively Multiplayer Online games.  Not just Multiplayer.  Massively Multiplayer.  We don’t log on and take part in a series of one-on-one duels.  We form brute squads.  Warbands.  Zergs!  How can they be regulated, to ensure that each rabble has the right number and mix of characters, to ensure balance between sides?

And what about ourselves?  If I think my opponent isn’t as experienced a player as I am, should I play a bit dumber to give him a chance?  If his connection isn’t as good, should I pretend to have lag?  Should I force my pc to slowdown because he doesn’t spend most of his income on his gaming rig?

Balance.  Pah!  I remember my epiphany, when I suddenly realised that lack of balance actually made for more game than the sterile, turgid, stalemate that balance leads to.  Games were suddenly so much more fun.  I stopped caring that the other guy might have better equipment, or that his nuke did more damage than the Death Star.  I played harder, used my noggin, became a little more ruthless.  It’s not like I could do anything about the imbalance anyway.  And the returns were worth it.

Those desperate defences, the sweeping victories, the hard-won but fleeting wins.  I live for those moments.  Nobody dreams of a draw, they dream of bigger, better, more.

So I’m not worried about what the server population will be at release.  I’m not worried that They will have the uber classes, and Us will be made of fail.

I *am* worried that someone might attempt to grab my red and gold car this evening though.  She’s the best car on the track…


moar links!!!111!!!!

The Brainy Gamer wonders why industry keeps making so many shoot-em-up games.

Mark Jacobs comments on current plans for server types. Open RvR servers will be present as well as Core.

Classy Gamer explores the decision to remove some of the tanking classes from the game and pleas for their return.

Ten Ton Hammer talks to Erik Mogensen, Licensing and Acquisitions Manager for Games Workshop about the future of tabletop gaming in an MMO world, and Warhammer in particular.

Iain C, Community Manager for WAR in Europe ponders whether MMOs are more like massively single player games these days and looks at the importance of soloing as well as group play.

Keen’s interview with Mark Jacobs can be read in full over at the Vault.

So the Mythos Beta has been shut down. Not really a surprise, but it was a fun little game and we hope it returns someday.

At The Vault, RagingMarauder has a thread for people to make their predictions for launch. I see lots of predictions of people taking a day off sick! And Linuxx has some good advice on that:

never waste a sick day on a never is worth it…maybe in a day or so after launch then get sick.

Coffee-lovers check out Oliver Shwaner-Albrights New York Times coffee blog. In an interview on the Mr and Mrs Smith blog, he discusses where to get the best coffee in London.

Massively’s latest articles on Warhammer Online are all grouped together here. They include articles about UI customisation, open groupings and RvR.

Josh Drescher mentions the upcoming appearance at Comic-con, while Paul Barnett goes a step further and lists a few events he has on his schedule, including Comic-con, Develop Brighton and PAX. We’re, meanwhile, still preparing for our trip to Games Day UK!

At Warhammer Conflict, they have a Focus Discussion: Solution to Gold Farmers

Another week, another set of guild highlights on both official pages, and features profiled guilds and some info about guild advancement. Here’s a link to the EU one.

Finding a voice

Before I started playing Lord of the Rings Online, I’d never spoken on in-game chat or Teamspeak or Ventrilo. I raided a little in World of Warcraft and I’d logged on to a Teamspeak server before, but I’d never plucked up the courage to actually talk to other gamers using my actual voice, not just typing back and forth, which I do a lot ;p

Then, with Lord of the Rings Online, my guild had a Teamspeak server set up by one of the members, and the game has in-game chat as part of it too. We joined a few mixed guild raids through Helegrod, using in-game chat, and we used Teamspeak for our own instance or raid runs. When it came to the crunch I had to make the decision to actually speak for the first time. And I did it. And it wasn’t too scary, though it was a bit of a worry. I had to learn all the added things, like how to set up push-to-talk on the various systems, and not to use the same push-to-talk key for both systems. And I think my guildmates will now happily tell everyone I’ve not stopped talking yet!

It is a pretty big hurdle, the revelation of your real voice. You can’t hide much there. We quickly discovered who were the female gamers (we have quite a lot of them actually), but it’s that kind of revelation that I think puts many people off. Some women are naturally cautious about revealing they’re really female, and I can understand why when people do get harassed in-game over such things. But hey, I’m in a mature and sensible guild and we’ve not had trouble with that kind of thing.

Anyway, my use of Teamspeak has grown as I’ve gamed. I’ll now happily talk to anyone about pretty much anything. And I’ll also keep in-game chat on as default, especially when in the Monster Play area. There’s a definite advantage in the PvP areas, because of coordination and also those with better computers can warn in advance of an enemy attack. It also helps us find out as soon as possible when a stealther has spotted the enemy and exactly where they are. Coordination is really the key though, and even if you can’t talk back, being able to listen in is really valuable if voice chat is being used.

It’s taken my friendships forward in Lord of the Rings Online, to the stage where we’ll chat on Teamspeak even if we’re not all in-game, and everyone from the guild can come join us. It’s always particularly useful to me when there’s something big to get my head around, like the recent announcements about cut classes. I popped into Teamspeak and we talked about it for ages, it was good to have a bit of a rant before I came back to the blog and had to start writing about it. And to hear some other opinions before I formed my own.

So I expect we’ll use it a lot in Warhammer. I think we’ve said as much in our guild charter (as much as that’s a work in progress). Some to help our gameplay and some to just chatter and pass along news about new games, films, TV shows or whatever the hot topic of the day is. We’ll use it to coordinate any groups we run, or any actions we take. Of course, with no in-game voice it’ll be interesting to see what servers get used on Teamspeak and Ventrilo and how that gets organised. That’ll be something for each server and realm to sort out as each guild is bound to have their own, maybe we’ll start seeing alliance servers and even open realm servers (though I don’t know how expensive that gets).

It’s not as easy for everyone, I know. My sister (non-Spinks) finds it hard to use voice chat programmes as much as I do. Because her partner tends to sit in the same room and isn’t a gamer! He naturally expects her to be able to talk to him – and she likes to game with the TV on. Other people don’t have mikes, or have other influences that mean they can’t be chatting all the time. So I do understand that not everyone can have the happy relationship I do with Teamspeak and my friends.  

But, I’d definitely recommend people try it. It does make coordination in-game easier, we can all speak and listen faster than we can type and it offers that advantage, even if you can only listen in. I found that the first half hour of talking was scary, but after that I kind of got over my own self-consciousness. So, if you’ve never used it for similar reasons.. go for it.

It’s linktime again!

There’s a new blog on the block which is all about the Archmages, and is fittingly called Archmagery. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one, cos after all, we love Order and it’s great to have some more class-specific content.

Kieron Gillen continues his series of discussions with Paul Barnett over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, this time concentrating on why Paul doesn’t go to GDC.

Warhammer Alliance have posted an interview with Art Director Greg Grimsby.

And the latest edition of Frontline is out (link is to a .pdf). This edition has a dwarf theme with articles on “Jetpacks for Dummies” and a dwarf report from the front.

The official US Warhammer Online site published episode 6 of Scenarios 101, a look at the Gates of Ekrund and Mourkain Temple.

You know you love statistics – so head over here and add your own statistics so bloggers have something to write about in the future!

The MTV Multiplayer blog examines the recent furore about female characters doing less damage than male ones in Age of Conan, checks out what people are saying at other sites/blogs and notices there are some players out there who would welcome such gender differences in game (if female chars were better at sewing and cooking). No comment.

Josh Drescher talks about his summer travel plans. They include E3, Comic Con, Games Convention (Leipzig) and PAX. Bah, if only we could make it to Leipzig – but if anyone’s planning on going and wants to let us know all about it, no problem-o! Not sure if that means he won’t be at Games Day UK, since it’s strictly not in the summer, but am sure we’ll hear more soon who’s attending.

Josh also mentions he’ll be blogging E3 for TenTonHammer, so that should be fun to read, and something to keep an eye out for.

Games Radar takes a look at some Wikipedia statistics, comparing computer game mentions with their real life counterparts for example, Call of Duty vs World War 2. Kind of amusing, not very surprising though.

Warhammer Vault has posted its July competition – write a back story for your character and submit it by July 28th for the chance to win two weeks’ VIP status on the boards and a title of your own choosing (within certain limits, of course).

Paul Barnett shares some thoughts about the beta over at CVG.

Develop, a site for gaming professionals, talks about the Game Localisation Round Table that took place in May. It touches on issues surrounding localisation of games and there was a speaker from EA there. Most interesting to us was a comment about how cultural and linguistic bugs, caused by translation could effect immersion for players.

A shortish preview of Warhammer Online has been published over at TGR.

And to end as we started, another new Warhammer blog takes to the stage called Boathammer: Age of Bloggening – looks like a promising start, so check it out.

Reading (from) between the lines

First and foremost, say a big hello to Justin Webb, Senior Designer for WAR – who joins our blogroll today! There’s plenty of cool stuff to look through here, so go stop by and check it out.

Guild Wars 2 won’t be entering beta this year.

Check out the latest installment of the Podcast of Reckoning, with Josh Drescher as guest co-host

Massively posted an interesting introduction to MMO etiquette for new players which made us smile and is actuially also quite useful!

The BBFC responds to EA claims that a rating system would delay the release of games. Unsurprisingly, they call such claims rubbish (we’re summarising for you!)

HMV’s Head of Games claims that Games are the new Rock and Roll. There’s clearly a lot of politics going on here after all the stories we’ve had recently about the game industry in the UK not getting enough graduates, then the call for new ratings and the industry response of “Oh noes, the sky is falling!”, and now one of the big retailers weighing in. I wonder if they’re after pressuring for more government subsidies for the gaming industry in the UK.

TenTonHammer continues their series of articles on WAR with a look at a possible launch clash of the titans – Wrath of the Lich King vs Warhammer Online. It’s a topic close to all our hearts, though it’s seeming more likely that we’ll be playing Warhammer Online first *fingers crossed*. War Noob and Bloghammer are also discussing the potential clash at the moment.

The Warhammer Online Vault brings us some awesome dwarf wallpaper (I’m using it on my PC at the moment)

And finally, to celebrate the fact we’ve just had Canada Day, a fun little survey reported in Joystiq shows that one in five Canadian men have gamed in the nude.

Release date/s

Massively notes that now has a teaser splash page, possibly in the run-up to the Blizzard Invitational event that’s coming up shortly. Speculation is that Blizz might announce beta and/or release date for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft.

Which got me thinking about release dates for Warhammer Online. There’s been plenty of speculation on forums that it’ll be 22nd-28th September. IGN’s recently updated page of US release dates has Warhammer Online’s release date as Sept 23rd. And these all seem quite feasible with what people are saying about gameplay and with the time left before launch. But, I also wouldn’t be too worried or surprised if it’s a bit later than that.

There’s a chance that Lich King, Warhammer Online, and Mines of Moria will be out around the same time. In the next month or two I imagine we’ll know the order of release. Some will fear it, others embrace it. One thing’s for sure though, it’ll stimulate quite a lot of forum traffic.

Europeans are known for their appreciation of everyday life…

[Disclaimer: this isn’t really anything to do with Warhammer Online at all, just saw it and felt the need to make a quick comment and to share it with all of you, whether Euro or US!]

Across the pond, consumers prefer racing and soccer games to blockbuster action, adventure and first-person shooter games that are the staple of the U.S. diet. Indeed, Europeans view such games as “evil,” says Cevat Yerli, chief executive of Crytek, a German game developer that specializes in first-person shooters.

Can you tell where this is going? And this wasn’t even said by some really obscure source. Nope, these are pretty much the opening words from a blog piece on about the European console game market and European gamers. Yes, they lump us all in together and comment that:

Europeans like short, so-called casual games, rather than the long, epic tales that keep gamers pounding on their consoles for hours at a stretch. Casual games also fit the European lifestyle better: People can play these short games on trains and subways on their way to work.

The first thing to note is that the article is about console gaming. It takes the top 10 games in terms of sales figures across the UK, France and Germany and extrapolates what they mean for the whole European gaming market. For the record, the 2007 top ten was apparently:

  1. Brain Training
  2. FIFA 2008
  3. Wii Play
  4. Pro Evolution Soccer 2008
  5. New Super Mario Bros
  6. Need for Speed Pro Street
  7. Assassins Creed
  8. Call of Duty 4
  9. Big Brain Academy
  10. The Simpsons Game

Wii Play makes the list despite an apparent market share of 7% for the Wii, though they do mention it was probably for the free controller (we’re canny consumers, at least!). Assassins Creed apparently only made no.9 on the US list, but, and you’ll like this…

One guess is that the game takes place in the Holy Land during the Crusades–a bit of history more relevant to Europeans than to Americans

Come on, that’s actually quite funny! But didn’t mean it to be. It’s also impressive because it manages to insult both Europeans and Americans (as spinks put it to me just now ‘who isn’t interested in assassins, Templars and Crusaders???!’)

The article concludes that much of Europe is an untapped market that likes different games and has older consoles that our US counterparts. Probably true. It highlights that mainstream titles tend to sell well, but uses the same data to indicate some sort of dislike of other games.

I was a little surprised by the extrapolations included, maybe because I expected more of I was also surprised not to see any mention at all of PC games, not even in passing. The console market may be bigger, but it’s never the whole picture.

I actually laughed when I read the initial blog, I laughed at The Guardian reaction to the blog. And then I almost fell off my chair at the bit about Assassins Creed, so I thought I’d share.