Sneaky Peeky

Just a quick post before I head off for work, Mark Jacobs has given a sneak peek of patch 1.2 over at the Vault boards, which includes the following highlights:

1) Bugs: I’m certainly not going to list 500 bugs/issues here, but the list is rather lengthy and right now bug fixes alone are coming in at about 16 pages of notes.

2) New Careers: Two new careers have been added, the Slayer and the Choppa. For those that got a look at the Choppa during Beta, you’ll see some changes and improvements but the Slayer is all new and ready to take the field for the first time.

3) Combat and Careers Adjustments: Lots and lots of bug fixes, adjustments and tweaks to all careers. This Balance patch focuses on addressing a number of global issues identified by the players that have been affecting the overall feel and balance of the game. This includes items such as Resistance stacking, Disorient effects, and Damage Absorb shields. In addition to these more global changes, we continue to work on each individual career addressing many of the more significant balance concerns and bugs brought up by the community. This includes a focus on the following careers; Witch Elf, Witch Hunter, Chosen, Knight, Black Orc, and Swordmaster.

4) Realm vs Realm: RvR is introducing several great changes including the new Open RvR Rallying Cry, Zone Domination System, and Siege Weapon Improvements and more!

5) Items: Itemization improvements and fixes for Gunbad, Bastion Stair, Lost Vale, Fortress Raid Rewards, City Invasion Rewards, and more!

6) Crafting System Improvements: Overall improvements to the system with Apothecary being the focus of this patch. New ingredients, improved interfaces and more.

7) Public Quests: Easy PQs for Tiers two, three, and four! This completes our first pass at the Easy PQ system and we will continue to review and tweak the system as necessary. As we have already done for Tier One, we have gone through the PQs in each Tier and made sure that at least one per chapter can be completed by 1-3 people.

8. New Live Event: The Bitter Rivals event will be launching with this version as the official kick off for the anticipated introduction of the Slayer and Choppa!

9) New Scenario: The Twisting Tower Scenario will be making a special preview appearance!

10) User Interface: Lots of UI improvements for both old and new systems! These improvements cover everything from crafting to RvR.

11) Mail: Send multiple items attached to each mail! Easily one of our most requested features by the players.

12) Client Stability: Continued improvements to the client in the areas of stability performance and visual quality. Improvements to an MMO’s client, just like the server, are ongoing and these will continue now and in the future to be one of our priorities.

Head over to the Vault and participate in the discussion!

1.05 – on its way

Mark Jacobs has stopped by the Vault boards to offer a sneak preview of patch 1.05, a seemingly bigger patch than I think any of us expected before 1.1 hits in December. It’s apparently over 17 pages long, and more news will be coming later today – US players will also get a chance to see the changes first on a preview server. I’m not even going to ask if the EU gets the same.. I think we khave a vague idea of the answer. The highlights of Mark’s post mention:

  • Public Test Server (as mentioned above)
  • Morale abilities fixed to show proper timers and fire off at the right times (glorious change, will see though!)
  • Rally points at every warcamp, soon allowing multiple bind points to make travelling to and from the action faster and less annoying (we approve of less annoying)
  • additional gold bag at all keep takes (those classes that do well at keep contribs, be happy!)
  • fixed problems with abilities or animations not firing or ending. Also fixing the ‘ability not ready’ message to synch in with global cooldown and not display if time remaining is less than GCD.
  • more solutions to afks in scenarios – which honestly, we’ve not seen so many of since the last rounds of fixes, but hey, it can never be a bad thing to stop people doing it!

And:

All classes have had some abilities buffed and some abilities have been debuffed a bit. For example, the Squig Herder has gotten 30+ adjustments to its abilities. Out of those 30+ adjustments, the phase “damage has been increased” shows up about 80% of the time. As part of this update, the team has looked at every career in the game and made adjustments. Things such as Electromagnet, Fire Cage and snares/roots in general have drawn particular attention from the team and have had numerous changes/fixes made to them. Of course, where major changes have occurred to the careers a free re-training has been offered. Tomorrow’s notes will detail all of the changes and considering that the career changes are about 14 out of those 17+ pages, I think you can say that we made a whole lot of changes.

So expect many changes, I’ll be interested to read the full notes but wanted to give a quick preview before I head off for a very very long day at work!

MJ also relents enough to give Vault readers a quick preview of what is in store for Electromagnet:


Electromagnet: The cost has been reduced significantly. The cooldown has been increased. The build time has been increased. The ability can no longer be cast on the move. The pull-in maximum number of targets has been decreased and can now be defended against.

There’s also some clarification on the Public Test Server over at Warhammer Alliance – it’ll be up for periods of time only, when big changes need to be tested by as many as possible.

Hello Slayer?

So Eurogamer got an interview with Mark Jacobs where they got to ask a bit more about the Hammerer and Choppa. And one of them ain’t coming back, Mark says:

“I can’t tell you which yet, that’s a surprise. We’re probably going to be replacing one and putting in another class in its place. But we’ll be talking about that in a few months…There will still be four going back in, it just wont be necessarily the same four.” ” 

And from Ten Ton Hammer:

Ten Ton Hammer: What are the next two classes going to be? Are you sticking with the Choppa and Hammerer?

Mark: Let me put it this way, I know what one of them is going to be, and I’m not 100% sure about the second.

Well, speculation was already high that the Hammerer might be replaced by the Slayer class.  Amongst those of us who speculate, of course. As long as Greenskins and Dwarfs get their melee DPS classes at the same time, I think things will be fine. And if Hammerers survive and Choppas mutate into something else, that’s all good too.

Let the guessing games begin!

Renown for healing

Every healer will have noticed this week that renown for healing in scenarios has dropped since the last patch/hotfix. What used to happen was that you got some renown for any healing that you did. What happens now is that you only get renown if you heal someone who recently killed (or was involved in killing) a member of the enemy team.

In practice what I see if I mostly heal is that I get renown that’s roughly on par with what tanks get, which still doesn’t address the issue of dps being way more rewarded but isn’t as actively ‘omg mythic hates healers’ as you might be led to believe.

So the current scheme makes the optimal renown bearing strategy for healers:

  • dps as much as you can
  • get into a group with as many dps as you can and focus on healing them while they kill

It also used to be a bonus for other players to have healers in their group because it helped them earn more renown too. Now it’s better for them to have the minumum of healers in group so that they can stack dps. And hope that some of the other healers in the warband are decent chaps and chapettes who will heal out of group even if they don’t get rewarded from it.

We’re not big on optimal minmax points gaining here, we just want to play our characters and help our team to win in the best way we can. And none of this is going to make a big difference to the way we play. We’ll just be aware that people who follow more optimal strategies, even if they play empirically less well, will get better rewards. kiasa has a great post on why individual performance style rewards never work out – I think it’s truer to say that they work, but rarely as planned.

And in pursuit of that better way, Mark Jacob has a thread up on The Vault discussing the experience he’s had playng a healer this week and asking for feedback on healer issues with renown. Go fish! (He’s playing a warrior priest by the way to try out the playstyle so you could probably give feedback on that too.)

State of the Game

As promised, Mark Jacobs has made his State of the Game ‘address’ over at the Herald, meaning you no longer need use the one over at the R1ft!

Because you should really go and read it all in detail, I’m only going to quote a few highlights:

WAR is doing fabulously.We are one of, if not the, fastest selling MMORPG out of the blocks and we are also one of the most highly rated MMORPGs of all time.While the game is off to a great start, we still have a long way to go before we can declare WAR a major long-term success

I couldn’t leave out a quote that had ‘fabulously’ in, or Hawley would be mad!

Having done that, we can now move on to what we are going to do over the next couple of months, culminating with the release of patch 1.1 later this Fall.

Let’s start with what we know is some truly exciting news. ’m happy to announce that in December, the Black Guard and the Knight of the Blazing Sun will officially be part of WAR. We have very special plans around their appearance and in our next newsletter we will provide full details about that exciting and rather novel event.

Yay, that’s good news, and not entirely unexpected, but now we have a timeframe…

We will continue to enhance WAR’s mail system until it is one of the best mail systems found in any MMORPG.

Ah good, maybe time to get in my suggestion that guild invites should be able to be done via in-game mail!

In 1.1 (and beyond) we will be doing a myriad of things for our RvR players, including improving gear drops, increasing drop rates, and implementing an RvR-influence system to compliment the current PvE-influence system.

Interesting, but will reserve judgement! That said, it’s not like I won’t be RvRing, so it all helps!

Other changes for 1.1 include major additions to the chat system (item linking and more) as well as continued work on our targeting system, including adding Main Assist and Target of Target. n addition to the server balancing methods that have worked so well over the last week, we will also be offering the first server transfers to our players to continue to help even out the server populations…

Yay for main assist, I hope it gets to us before big changes in December. And yay for item linking in chat so I can show off my uber thing of thinginess! (that I got through my RvR influence, of course)!

The Combat and Careers team has spent the last month looking at the changes that they want to make with an eye towards making improvements and buffs, not removing or weakening abilities. I won’t go into details here but the vast majority of careers all have nothing but love coming their way.

Who doesn’t like love?

MJ Followup Interview with Eurogamer

Following Paul Barnett’s comments to Eurogamer earlier this week, Mark Jacob called them for a quick ‘damage control’ interview where he explains that EA is really really good at distributing games and it’s not true at all that they don’t know anything about MMOs. The EA Online Store hasn’t been doing an especially good job on distribution but we’re not inclined to argue the point since our CEs arrived in the post today.

He also discusses the launch, how Mythic expect realm populations to pan out and what sort of plans they have up their sleeves if adjustments need to be made (he mentions the idea of a renown bonus for the weaker side).

He also notes that in the first 24 hours of headstart launch, they received 0.5 pieces of feedback per server. A cynic might wonder if that meant that the feedback system wasn’t working, but actually I know it was because I reported a minor graphics bug and got an email acknowledgement.

He also predicts that it’ll be a few weeks before any capital cities get attacked. It’s a good interview, go follow the link.

Massively interview with Mark Jacobs

Not to be out-done, Massively also have an interview posted today. This one is with Mark Jacobs (Mythic VP and Lead Designer of WAR), and he talks about launch, his hopes for WAR, how DaoC influenced the RvR design in the new game, and his blog.

Crazy Sunday. Where do we go from here?

Yesterday was a disaster for GOA. The Patcher was down; the Authentication front end went down; the Authentication back-end database fell over; the Connection between the front and back-end was dodgy; Communication for most of the day was dire to non-existent. And even if they get it working today, they’ve lost the confidence of most of the fans who were hyped enough about the game to want to try the Open Beta in Europe. It’s not good enough and everyone knows it. The fact that the US side had been running relatively smoothly is only going to make people here feel even more like second class citizens (I hate that phrase but expect to hear it even more now).

It is true that the game servers have been running smoothly in the EU, for those (mostly CB testers) who were able to access them. This is A Good Thing. Just it doesn’t tell us much about how they will run under a higher load. Hopefully we’ll know more about that by the end of the week.

Make no mistake, the people who decide to give EU WAR a miss based on that experience will not mostly be buying US versions. It’s a hassle to do that from here. They’ll just go play something else. Some will let other people be the guinea-pigs for the first couple of months and then decide, others won’t look back. I don’t have the heart for a full-scale rant, like Arbitrary I’m just very disappointed.

WHA also comes out of this very badly indeed. Aside from being hammered into near-oblivion, it became such a hotbed of teh crazy yesterday that even MJ commented on the general level of nerd rage and I think we know where he was reading it from.  I know I’m not going back to WHA unless I have no choice now, Freddyshouse was a relative beacon of civilisation in comparison. And much as I love the guys there, that isn’t a phrase I ever expected to use in anger. I would advise everyone who found WHA to be a madhouse to check out other forums — there are perfectly viable alternatives.

So:

1/ GOA screwed up. Their current latest update from their CEO (see previous post) says that the authentication database issue still isn’t solved. There was a note from the team earlier that they planned to let the DB chunter through the backlog and then close it down for maintenance with a plan to be running again late Monday morning. We’ll see.

2/ If you don’t like the tone of one forum, pick another. News will get around.

3/ Game servers are running fine if you can get authentication sorted out. We will have to see how they run under a heavier load.

4/ There’s a full week of Open Beta left to run. It’s not over until it’s over. If they can fix this and prove that they fixed it, it’s not an unrecoverable situation.

5/ Try primal scream therapy. It’s free.

6/ If you read down to the bottom, you deserve a tip. War Lions can now be named. It’s /petname <name>

Post-Preview

Mark Jacobs has been speaking about the Preview Weekend experience, mostly to disuss the problems that came out of it and what they’re doing to fix them. They include: client crashes, pathing issues, pet responsiveness and global cooldown as well as some other stuff.

In addition, Josh Drescher has taken part in a Q&A over at Warhammer Alliance which answers some recent questions:

  • Auctions houses and final trade skills are planned to go in before release and are being worked on internerally
  • Stability is one of the main things being worked on
  • Performance is more important than the graphics
  • Open RvR ruleset being worked on with the Elder testers, including the chicken mechanic on such servces
  • Estimated wait times for scenarios is being tested now
  • More character customisation options being worked on
  • For launch, there will be around 40 unique trophies per career

How to annoy people

 Folks,

The NDA portion our North American Beta Testing Agreement has been lifted. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Europe’s NDA will be officially lifted tomorrow.

Mark

I really (of course) have nothing more to say. You can go read it over at the Vault boards.

Yes, I could have pretended not to have read this and posted our stuff anyway, but what the hell, you all have enough to read tonight. I wasn’t happy when Mythic dropped GOA in it by announcing additional benefits for US CE pre-orders. I’m not ecstatic by the way this has been handled. Especially as the original announcement on the Herald didn’t mention North America specifically.

But I’ll live.  And Spinks and Hawley will be posting stuff tomorrow, as I’ll be having a pleasant day at work without any use of F5 whatsoever.