Strange happenings

It’s been a strange old week, full of all sorts of nonsense at home and at work. Not been around all that much in WAR, but enough to become interim guild leader. It’s happened for a few reasons, but I was happy to take it on and keep the title warm until someone else steps up for it. But logging in and looking at myself as guild leader makes me feel a bit.. responsible. I even went through the list and promoted everyone to member and to alliance member status – something I could have done as an officer, of course.

Then, I feel like I should be writing motivational motds, but always default to the practical or chocolate-based.

I also missed the start of the Heavy Metal event because of work and the Mines of Moria. I’m doing overtime this week, so it’s come at a bad time for me – plus, there’s a hell of a lot to do before I head off for two weeks’ holiday (more on that nearer the time!).

But I hear Reikland Factory is good fun, I hope to try it out myself very soon. Maybe even tonight though I usually play nothing on thursdays. I’d still like to give it a shot!

Other than general admin and motd coolness, is there anything else I should consider during my brief inter-regnum? I think my job is just to hold the title – but think what fun I COULD have?!

Advertisement

Find us in-game

Spinks is Lin the Archmage

Arbitrary is Kaja the Rune Priest

Hawley is Hawley the slacker Warrior Priest

We’re in the Insult to Injury guild on Burlok EU RP server. And you are welcome to bug us, send us treats, kill us horribly… as takes your fancy.

I’ve only mentioned our main chars here, as we’re still working out alts and stuff, but anyway I imagine we’ll mostly start by writing about our mains.

We’ve set up a Book of Grudges chat channel and we hope to arrange some server events through this.

Initial thoughts and stuff

So, we’ve had the game for a few days now, all our headstart people have been in since Monday, and we await the influx on Thursday. Here’s a few points on how it’s been:

GOA’s done a good job

There was a slight delay to the Collectors Edition Headstart, a couple of hours. Standard Edition headstart went well with people getting in smoothly. Queues haven’t been horrible (we’ve had none, but we’re Order and Core-RP), just haven’t seen too many complaints. And everyone who got an email back from a GM was very happy with it. Just Thursday to go and signs are positive! Also, there is nothing about it in the gaming news – which means it’s going well. (Obviously there are stories that the game is launching, but strictly they’re focusing on Thursday).

EA problems with keys an exercise in why to order elsewhere

I really feel for people who went with EAStore, because hey, it’s EA and they promised all sorts of goodies and for a while they were the only Standard Edition seller (soon joined by Direct 2 Drive) who said they were offering the headstart. Sending out the wrong keys was a cock-up, I hope everyone is in now and it wasn’t too painful. Having problems with manufacturing so that not all CEs have been sent out on time isn’t great either. On another note, looks like Play.com has some CE copies left. (This may be out-of-date when you get to read it).

Standard Edition Headstart

Because of Games Day, I started playing a few hours before the Standard Edition people came online. I was out of the starting area and at the first Dwarf PQ. Had to ask in-guild for some help finishing it and someone headed back to help (yay, guild). By the time we got to Stage 3 it became apparent the Standard Edition had come online as suddenly a whole gang of people entered the PQ, meaning we stormed it. Was a great sight and feeling. So enjoy that today America!

Guild

We have a separate post coming with names, screenshots, guild details – just making sure of Hawley’s first. But quickly, would just like to pause for a moment to say the guild is great. We’ve done a few things together and lots of things in smaller groups. Chat levels high, as is excitement. The guild is full of people we haven’t yet met, and Teamspeak is full of unfamiliar voices, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun learning about and meeting them all.

The Game

The game remains insanely fun, with a few collywobbles as I realised this character isn’t getting deleted so I better take it a bit more seriously. Scenarios have been plentiful (more so at night), open groups have invited me along, rather than waiting for me to invite myself, have done a bit of exploring in the mornings – but I intend to do more. I’m not sure why, but it feels better than either beta. I have a suspicion it’s the number of players and general level of excitement. Good stuff!

There were tears, but there were also a couple of laughs

Yesterday our guild got formed. For Order characters we found (what we believe) to be the best way to do this fast. Get your 6 people grouped up and get 50 brass each to fly to Altdorf – Flight Masters are at the War Camps. In Altdorf, head to Market Square and pick up the quest to go visit famous locales (Bright Wizard College, Docks, Temple of Sigmar, Emperor’s Palace). Hand in, get 25 silver each. Head to Guild Registrar and make the guild (it costs 50 silver).

Now, we were quite excited about all this, despite woes about the entire guild not being around to share the moment. So excited that we decided to give everyone invite power, so we could grab people as soon as they got in. We quickly found ourselves logging in on top of one another and going invite-crazy.

So crazy that a couple of people got invited purely cos the character names they picked matched up with forum names of our guild members. Oops. Cue much hilarity on Teamspeak as we mocked ourselves for being quite so silly.

The ‘new’ people took it really well, went to check out our guild forums, said they were cool with just being in the guild during the open beta phase. But we spent the rest of the evening laughing about it!

So, beware the perils of inviting people purely on their character name choice (we’ve now instituted a little more security to our inviting too, you need to know the ‘sekrit word’)

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…

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!

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

Form Rabble!

Wotcha everyone,

Massively Multiplayer.  They’re the two cool buzzwords that some marketing bloke probably thought up to make a new style of gaming appear more cool.  Multiplayer was fine for a couple of clans hitting each other repeatedly in a First Person Shooter, but this was a few thousand geeks hitting a continent…  “Massively” fit the bill.

Yet for all the Massively, Guild support has been pretty low.  A name that goes above your head, and a chat channel.  The very basic of what’s needed to stop you having to *shudder* find Pick Up Groups.  Dark Age of Camelot introduced cloaks, which really did look flash when you’ve formed Rabble (most modern armies may not use the Rabble formation, but it works for gamers).  World of Warcraft brought tabards to the table.  Lord of the Rings brought… Guildhouses, to put tables in.  And the decaying parts of mobs and bosses.

But those are fripperies.  It was still a chat channel, and a name.

If we wanted more organisation, it was up to us to sort it out, and to do it outside the game.  Egroups, websites, forums, whatever floats your boat, really.

And then Mythic come along, and throw everything in the air.  I’ve been following the guild highlights series of articles, and I’ve really been enthused.  Which is a rare feeling for me.  I’m not an easily enthused person.  But by making the guild more of an entity within the game, they’ve opened up something for people to work towards, that isn’t just their own character.  A guild is now a group project, something that grows with the guild members into something you can have pride about.

It’s also an organisational dream.  Just the addition of a calendar makes life so much easier it’s unbelievable.  I know a lot of people that don’t like going on forums.  They want to get on and play, without the hassle of having to log into a forum, to then wade through post after post, to find out what’s going on.  The calendar will just cut through that like a knife through a hot buttered goblin.

And then there’s the latest preview – Standards.  I think it’s fabulous that we can have Standard Bearers.  Not only are they a wonderful way of projecting your guild into the game, so that your guild makes a difference in game, but they are a fitting part of the whole Warhammer “thing”.  Little units of figures have standards.  And now little units of avatars can have Standards.  When someone shouts “Form Rabble!”, you’ll know what to form around.  Fantastic!

But there is a little part of me that has “the fear”.  And I quote:

There are over 600 Emblem choices, over 45 color choices, and over 750 Pattern/Shape combinations, for an astounding selection of over 46 million combinations to choose from! And don’t forget that you can also choose from 4 poles to hold your banner up!

I commend you, Mythic.  Giving players that amount of choice is staggering, really it is.  The last thing I’d want is for a choice of 5 banners, because that would mean me constantly “rabbling up” to the wrong standard (I’m easily confused by pretty pictures).  But the part of me that has the fear is the bit that wonders if by having “over 46 million combinations”, you’re opening us up to “over 46 million tiny little hells”…

Guilds may be a place for like-minded individuals to get together and play an online game, but if everyone was like-minded to that extent, we’d be clones.  And guilds would be extra-ordinarily boring places to play.  So, because cloning is generally frowned up when applied to human beings (It said so on the news, somewhere.  Ruined my day, it did), everyone is going to have their own idea as to what makes a “good” standard, and what they can’t live with.  So, what are we left with?  From good experience, I know that when a committee makes a decision, it’s generally the most bland, most boring, and most offensive to everyone, equally.

And it generally takes 2 months of pain…

Cheers,
Hawley.

Links! Is it links you’re looking for?

The timer is ticking and people are starting to think about their plans for guilds. There are a couple of guilds connected with bloggers (and blog readers), both US based. So check out Casualties of War for a Core RvR based guild, or Keen’s Happy Fun Guyz guild for an Open RvR one.

Twist-It Logic ponders why the majority of people on the Casualties of War forum have a preference for Order, a change from previous polls on other forums.

The Cogworks is thinking up some mottos for the different classes. Wizards and Wenches has a few suggestions also.

Syp@Waaagh discusses how people choose between Core or Open servers, and why there’s so much name-calling involved. Snafzg@The Greenskin is still deciding – or, has decided!

Waaagh also has some suggestions for new WAR bloggers.

Sales Predictions are another big topic. Tobold kicks it off with a guess of between 1-2 million sales this year. /random explains why he goes for the lower bound of 1 million sales. Syncaine guesses higher at 1.5 million. Stropp gives a detailed explanation of why he estimates between 1.5-2.6mil sold by the end of 2008. Fuel for you guys, Paul says there’s been 130k pre-orders (and that the game is going gold next week!)

Elsewhere, Iain C makes us jealous with his notes and pics from Campus Party in Valencia, Spain. I note the availability ot T-shirts, and consider this a moment. I love T-shirts!

And the info continues to trickle in from websites given the opportunity to report before the NDA is lifted. Here’s Massively on the first Dark Elf quest (spoiler alert). And Ten Ton Hammer on Rune Priest masteries (no new info) and the Squig Herder ones (I don’t think this is very new either, sadly). However, Ten Ton Hammer has written a short update on Ekrund, the dwarf starting zone which is more interesting than the class overviews.

Warhammer Herald news – North Americans and the Oceanic people (not from Lost!) can now go enter their codes. It seems not only the CE people there, but also the first 50,000 SE people can get access to the preview weekend, of which we’ve heard a little. I’m wondering if Mythic realises how confused some of this has been, and when we’ll hear from GOA what’s up with our codes and stuff. Ah yes, they do realise it’s confusing!

And talking of news from official sites – if you’re in Europe (well, UK, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden)and you get MTV, you might catch some teasers of the new Warhammer cinematic. Here’s dates and times. Or you can wait until after Leipzig’s Game Convention and see the whole thing!

More on the Simon Parkin/Paul Barnett conversation that we linked to in our last links, less of a war of words now, more an exchange of ideas. Always good to read Paul’s thoughts though.

And, finally, we’ve all read about the Blizzcon ticketing nightmare (too many people wanted tickets, the site couldn’t handle it, it was a bit of a PR mess), well.. wasn’t going to mention it, but Joystiq’s use of the Wrath of the Ticke-Ting deserves a mention!. Oh, and while on the subject of World of Warcraft – was it hacked?

To all the friends I leave behind…

Partly due to all the announcements last week, we’ve started discussing Warhammer on my WoW guild boards. Before that I’d been a bit cautious of raising the topic because people can be sensitive to ‘poaching.’ I hate that phrase in MMORPGs. You can’t poach a player, they aren’t sheep. They decide for themselves what they’d be happier doing. And if someone decides that they’d be happier in a different guild (or game) for whatever reason, there’s no point angsting about whether or not they were poached.

Anyhow, reactions among my friends are a mixed bag. A lot of people are planning on trying the game for different reasons:

  1. Some are longtime Warhammer fans who have been sharing stories about their old armies
  2. Some like to try every new MMORPG
  3. Some are intrigued as to what I’m so hyped about
  4. Some are old DaoC players
  5. Some are burned out and aware that the next WoW expansion may not be out for months, and that there’s no new content planned until then.

Quite a few plan on playing purely as a stopgap. Others have no interest at all.

But we’re all aware that our friendly guild and friendly guild alliance will not be the same after a new popular MMORPG comes out. Maybe everyone will be back in WoW when they release Wrath of the Lich King, certainly the ‘stayers’ are vocal about that. They think this is a temporary glitch. My guild are a mature bunch so we don’t get much gloating about “doom and gloom” announcements, although you could find that in other forums from current WoW players.

MMORPGs do compete with each other for players. Right down to the individual level, most of us don’t have time to devote attention to more than one of them. And the games themselves encourage and reward focus and time spent. (Honorary mention to CoH here which is a pretty good game as a second MMORPG should you want one, it’s very easy to hop in and play with other people who will not stress over your gear or experience. Also its double xp weekend this week.) So in a sense, if I post something upbeat about WAR on guild forums, I am trying to lure people away.

I’m not trying to break up my guild. It won’t break up, it’s very stable and can survive a few people jumping ship. Just I’m bored with WoW and excited to try WAR and I want to share that with my online MMO gaming friends…. who happen to be in my WoW guild. I’ve had a few people message me in game saying that they’re excited too and discussing what classes we all want to play, but saying that they prefer not to post on the boards. So we all tread carefully around each other, trying to be sensitive to everyone’s concerns about change. Who will be leaving? Who won’t? Who will be back inside a couple of months?

But still, like a lot of people who will be trying the game, I’m hoping to find a new online home. For a year or two at least. And that means that the next few months are a slow, quiet goodbye to people I have been playing with online for a couple of years. No one admits this yet, but it’s hard to stay in touch with people when all you had in common was that you played the same game, unless you became very close friends in real life.