Infamy, infamy… they all have it infamy

So, it’s a new game and you’ve gone out and found yourself a new guild. But, you don’t know many people and you want to stand out a bit from the crowd?

It’s very easy to go along with guild events and hang out with guild groups when they form.

But the easiest way to stand out and make a name for yourself is to organise things. It’s not an easy job, you’ll need patience, understanding and a touch of ruthlessness. You’ll need to want to put yourself out there for the praise and the criticism. But I can guarantee if you’re the one adding things to the guild calendar and welcoming people as they enter the game, people will know who you are. Additionally, if you’re feeling brave you can create some server events – that one is a bit scarier, and best tested with guild and/or Alliance, but it’s definitely something to consider.

Or you can go hang out on server forums. I can’t say I’ve really picked a server forum yet, I kind of miss having an official one – there’s just too many choices and people from my server will be on all of them, but only as subsets, so it’s like Venn diagram hell there. Eventually, I suppose I’ll take time to look at all of them – but I wish there was one central Burlok server forum where we could hang out.

Anyway, that little ramble aside, let’s get back to organising things. There’s open field RvR – everyone wants that to be going on and keep takes/defences are good fun, even if they can get a little sprawling and open-ended. It’s a good one to organise, especially with an open warband. If you run them regularly, I guarantee server fame. Other events include PQs, scenarios, rambles around the big cities, Praag tourism (for Tier 4 anyway) and dungeons/lairs. But of course many of these are limited a little by number.

You might hate being in charge some nights, you might hate it at first, but it will and does get better. People will mostly listen to you once you establish a sense of being in-control. It’s like anything in life though, you have to reach out and do something to be recognised for it. It might not get you a statue in Altdorf, but it’ll get you the respect of fellow players, and I know which I’d rather have.

What’s it like to launch in a recession?

For better or for worse, the world economy is in downturn, with the US and UK particularly hit. And many pundits predict this may be just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, it hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that we seem to be on  the start of a recession, if not worse. Banks are tumbling and the after-effects are being felt throughout our economies. So much for credit default swaps.

And Warhammer Online has just launched. Will the economic problems have a knock-on effect? I suppose we’ll never truly know.

Before my first MMO, I blathered on about how I would *never* pay a monthly fee for a computer game. It seemed so.. unintuitive compared with what had gone on in my life before. Pay for a game I could play for many hours and over and over again if I wanted, or use MUSHes for my RP kick – which were free to play. But then I got hooked to Dark Age of Camelot and began to appreciate that spending under £10/month on something I played for multiple hours each day was actually pretty good financial sense.

I feel the same way now, with WAR’s costs and financial pressure hitting people elsewhere. It’s £9/month for something that will keep you enthralled and entertained (or even hopping mad). That’s 1.5 trips to the cinema at my local. 1 trip if you live in parts of London. Or.. a few pints, 2 packets of cigarettes. And it has no associated costs, other than the existence of a PC good enough to play it, and the cost of the original box. It actually ends up saving money, because my time is tied up when I might want to go out and do other stuff.

However, if I were economising and I looked around at my monthly spends, I imagine that little £9/month would be a tempting target. After all, I have a bunch of games on my computer I’ve never played, or didn’t get very far through. They’d entertain me. It seems to be such an innocuous figure that I could live without, and can be resubbed to at any time. So there is some pressure there.

There’s been quite a few stories about how videogames are recession-proof recently. Historically, apparently, entertainment factors well in times of economic gloom. There was a boom in the cinemas in ’30s America, for example. Seeking Alpha calculates the average non-MMO game represents entertainment value of around 60 cents per hour compared with DVD rental at $2/hour and is thus well-placed to actually withstand any recession. He’s talking about stand-alone games for consoles or PCs, but if I was to calculate my hours played so far in Warhammer Online and extrapolate I can guarantee it would be a much lower figure than 60 cents for an hour’s play.

So, I think there won’t be too much fallout from economic factors just yet. And I’d argue that actually at the start of a recession, if you have a computer that can run it and you like it it’s a good way to spend those entertainment pounds and really, if you do need to look at economising and the subscription comes up in discussion – work out how many hours you spend playing and think what you’d be doing otherwise.

Joint DAoC/WAR subs announced by GOA

Just received this in email:

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.

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…

Mono-game-y?

I’ve had a number of chat with people over the weekend and they’ve all been around a similar topic. For the first time in our lives we’re going to have two MMOs active at one time. For me, it’s LotRO and WAR – and mostly because of LotRO’s lifetime subscription. But always in the background, during my WAR time, I’ll have my LotRO characters waiting for me to breath some life into them – especially when the Moria expansion comes out sometime towards the end of the year.

Others have WoW and Lich King around at the same time as WAR. That’s trickier in some ways because both games need their monthly fee to keep active. At least, after the free month that comes with the game purchase for WAR. So in that case I know at least a couple of people who are letting their WoW accounts come to an end, but not cancelling. The implication being that at some point they will switch from one to the other and probably back again, as required.

Whatever our own personal situations, it does strike me that for the first time I’m not making the choice of giving up one game to play another – and I honestly never thought I’d have two MMOs on the go at the same time. Maybe there’s someone out there with more experience of the time-split and how it can work successfully?

So how about it? Are you mono-game-ous or will you be splitting your time at all? Any tips on how it all works?

The choice that dares not speak its name

We’re all writing a lot about class choice, mastery choice, Destruction vs Order choice, server type choice. These are all relevant and interesting discussions. But over at our guild forums, another choice has cropped up and one that means something quite personal to me, so I thought I’d raise it. The choice not to play Warhammer Online.

First, I don’t imagine any of us in the ‘community’ don’t recognise this is a valid choice. I think we just figure that the people we’re ‘talking’ to have probably already decided to play Warhammer Online.

But, in the wake of the closed beta and the preview weekend (if you happen to be in America), some people will make the choice not to play the game, for all sorts of reasons which I’m not going to comment on – except for the one closest to my heart.

My husband (who may write up some of his beta experiences up for us), will not be playing the game on release. It’s not that he didn’t enjoy it. In fact, it’s the opposite – he really enjoyed his Witch Hunter and Bright Wizard (and Squig Herder). The problem is, he has no limits when it comes to gaming and can happily still play for 24h without coming up for air.

So, in the spirit of keeping his vice in check, he’ll be sticking to non-MMOs in the future. It’s not been an easy choice for either of us, as you might imagine. We like to game together, he got on with my guildmates (who he’d not previously met, since he gave up LotRO for the same reason), but at some point, real life needs to be considered. And he knows he’ll be happier in the long run if he doesn’t pick up Warhammer Online.

A couple of other guildmates have decided not to pick up the game initially. I haven’t asked why because I respect their decision. As I said to them – Warhammer Online isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we.

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…

Cheers,
Hawley.

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.

What’s in a name?

Wotcha everyone,

We’re getting closer and closer to that magical time when we get to create all new characters for a fresh-out-of-the-box online game server.  And in between brews I had a bit of a ponder about what to call my characters.

In real life, we rarely get to name ourselves.  We’re born, and our parents name us.  And with a few exceptions, most of the people I know have kept those names.  Then the interwebnet came along, and thanks to email addresses and forums, we got the opportunity to call ourselves something different, if we chose.  Then online gaming gave us the opportunity to name ourselves as many times as we fancied (unless it was Star Wars Galaxies, where you just got the one opportunity).

Now, I’m no fan of the “comedy” name.  Sometimes I suffer from chronic sense of humour failures, and “comedy” names are one of the best ways to bring them on.  It’s one of the reasons I much prefer Role-Playing servers over the normal variety.  Being able to wander around and not see “Ownzjoo” on his latest killing spree, or “Legololz” bunny-hopping through a raid is surprisingly good for my karmic balance.

It’s not that I’m precious about my gaming, it’s just that naff names ruin my immersion.  So there.  Well, I am precious about my gaming, but not about names.  Honestly, it is the immersion thing.

So, here I am, thinking about names.  I remember once, with Icewind Dale, getting through four characters’ names successfully, before finding myself completely mentally lacking in the name department for a druid.  Casting about the room for inspiration, my eye falls upon a can of fizzily orange drink, and thus Tango the Druid was born.  I wasn’t proud of myself.  And I still had a sixth character to name…

It was at that point that I decided I really needed to sort some names out, for my own sanity, if for no-one else.  Tango could continue his druidic existence in an offline game, but online games get “proper” names.  Other people are going to see them, after all.  So the last thing I want is to have someone see the name that *I chose* and think; “Idiot” (seeing as this is a public blog, I shouldn’t use the term I would normally use.  It’s one of my favourite rude-word-based insults, though.  See if you can guess what it is).  And the interwebnet came to my rescue.  An absurdly fast search found me a site with some Victorian and Edwardian names on it, and thus my naming problems were at an end.

But here’s where the musing hits sticky ground.  When I start a new game, should I keep a name I’ve used before, or should I go for something new?  Without intending to, “Hawley” seems to have become a name for my healers.  It just happened that way.  It’s been used in three separate games now, and I’m wondering if I should continue to use it.

The part of me that wants to be imaginative, and creative, and other things that make me sound all coolly bohemian and end in -ive rebels at “just” using the same old name.  But having said that, I’m growing into the name.  It’s comfortable, like a well-worn pair of slippers.  Or a favoured t-shirt.  Or the jumper you always go to when it’s cold and raining.

I suppose it also helps when moving from one game to another.  Old friends and rivals can see that name, and wonder if it’s you.

Is “Hawley” a Warhammer Online name?  Does it have a certain Empire cachet to it?  Or does it just make my bum look fat?  I shall probably be pondering this until release day, and it’s time to finish off my character by putting in a name, and clicking on “Play”.

But then the fear starts.  What if someone “takes” the name.  Hey, I’m not in the pre-release.  I haven’t got a shiny Collector’s Edition waiting for me, so that leaves me dangling until launch day (plus the time it takes to download the release patch), and it’s not even like I can copyright my favourite names!

Ah well, looks like fate will decide…

Cheers,
Hawley.