Art mirrors life

I and both my sisters went to check out Rank 4 Altdorf this morning, we’re all awake disgustingly early so  mornings are a good time to find all 3 of us in one place. Altdorf was that place. Our first stop was the library, cheered by the idea that we could now open the doors that said Altdorf had to be rank 4 for them to open. Inside we found a book, with a quest.. to find more books. Now, I’m a trained librarian. This appeals to me. The Altdorf Library has shocking organisation however, so it took a while to find the volumes requested. I was a little too happy that I found them before my sisters did. Library pride was satisfied.

Then we went to do the steamtank PQ I remembered from beta. Spinks is an trained engineer (albeit not THAT kind of engineer), so we got a kick from doing an engineer-y quest so soon after the library quests which matched my qualifications and work.

My other sister is a Social Worker. Harder to match in-game perhaps. But since we needed to go to the Blowhole anyway, we started the Bar-room Brawl PQ, just so I could joke that dealing with drunken ruffians who got into fights over a pint of beer was obviously the Social Work quest – a bit of outreach. This one was definitely more of a stretch, but we left – amused that we’d almost managed to match our real-life studies with in-game quests. (That being said, maybe providing food for under-nourished ogres is more Social Work – we did that too!)

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The Joy of Trez

Wotcha everyone,

Trez. It’s all shiny, and sparkly, and makes us face unspeakable odds, for just the chance of getting it.

Warhammer Online is no exception to the rule that online games must offer shiny trez. However, it does handle it slightly differently to the accepted norm.

And those exceptions were obvious from the start. NPCs were doling out quests, but they weren’t offering a choice of items that were seemingly picked at random from out of the ether. I didn’t get a choice of light, medium or heavy armour, with a variety of bonuses focused in the general direction of one or more classes. No. My Warrior Priest got offered some Warrior Priest armour, as worn by fashion conscious Warrior Priests. And very much in a “take it or leave it” fashion. So I took it.

It didn’t even strike me as odd that I didn’t get a choice, though. Maybe it was the shininess of getting in the beta, or the bewilderment of a brand new game, but I only started wondering at the restricted choice a long while later.

And then realised that it wasn’t restricted. Pretty much all of the time, I have a choice of Quest Rewards, Influence Rewards, and Renown Rewards. These are guaranteed, put the work in and get the item, items. I can check them out ahead of time, and decide which I would prefer. And on top of that, there are random Trez drops, from mobs and Public Quest chests.

Quite often, from Influence rewards for example, I’d get a choice of *what* item I’d like. Boots or gloves, Cassock or Warhammer, that sort of thing. But they were always from the Warrior Priest wardrobe.

I like that. I don’t have to worry about ending up wearing the epnymous World of Warcraft “Clown Suit”. I get really cool outfits, because the outfits are designed with my class in mind. Not for everyone’s class. So I’ll *always* look like a Warrior Priest. And if I’m not a fan of the outfit, I can dye many of them. It’s not just the stats that are important to me. It’s the looks.

I also love the way that random monstie drops can be any quality, at any level. From grey, through to epic, from level 1 onwards. It’s brave, but great. And the drop rate was far more generous than in other games I’ve seen; maybe this was because it was the beta, but I felt the drop rate was good enough to mean that characters got to play with nice items whilst levelling, rather than just at maximum level.

Cheers,
Hawley.

{Spinks: I agree! I never understood why NPCs in some games were so keen to offer me gear that I obviously can’t use. In fact, I don’t really like the idea of drops at all. I don’t ask my games to be hyper-realistic but why exactly would a pig be carrying(?) a mage’s staff ? And wouldn’t I be more keen to find out about its hapless former owner than grab it and run? The PQ influence system and renown gear vendors were pretty much tailor made for people like me. It’s great. I do the fun things I was going to do anyway and eventually I get to go buy some nice gear which is tailor-made for my class and all matches. And best of all? I don’t feel forced to rely on random drops.

There is one problem though. Despite all this, I have a love/hate relationship with cool random drops. I love it when I win them and I hate it when I lose them! But I can be quite happy with the occasional green/blue/purple that I can use or send to my guild or sell, as long as I don’t feel that I NEED that drop to do the stuff I want to do. So I’m pretty happy with WAR’s loot system, at least from what I’ve seen in beta.}

Stage 1 – Insert Title Here

Wotcha everyone,

Public Quests. Warhammer Online’s big new toy.

When I first heard about them, I wasn’t that impressed. Despite Paul Barnett’s enthusiastic podcast about them, they just seemed to be a messy combination of outdoor instance and raid-size grouping. Even worse, it sounded like you wouldn’t even be able to solo them. You’d most likely be pugging it.

I hate pugs.

I first got involved in a Public Quest in Nordland, with a couple of guildmates. We were exploring the area, found the location, and in the grandest traditions of Beta Testing, got involved in one to see if it needed fixing, rather than thinking it would be fun.

Three complete circuits later, we decided to see if we could find another. I was hooked…

It’s not even innovative, when you think about it. Kill an absurdly high number of regular mobs, interact with certain items, and tank-and-spank bosses. How can can something so simple be so fun?

Well, they’re relaxing, for a start. Because you don’t need a fully balanced group of 6 people to start one, you don’t start with the hassle of finding a group. And people who log on later can just join in – they don’t have to sit outside and wait for their mates to come out of the instance. You can just bob in and out, as you feel like.

Even if you’re playing solo, it’s easy enough to get involved. Open groups make life so much easier. If there are people already at a Public Quest, just check if there’s an open group. If there is, just join it, say; “Hello” (or “Wotcha”, if you’re me), and get stuck in. No worries, no messing. And most often, at the end someone will ask if everyone fancies repeating the quest, or finding another. More often than not, the ad-hoc group will stay together and do more Public Quests. That’s almost obscene. I’ve never been in a pug in other games that has continued past the original stated objective…

They’re also a fun way of achieving a number of things at once. Your Influence rises as you do them. So does your XP. And if you do the right Public Quests, so does your Renown. So instead of having to grind them in three separate places, you can grind them all at the same time. It doesn’t remove the grind element, but it masks it surprisingly well. Quite often, the local Kill Collector will reward you for kills you make as well. Bonus!

There’s also the Trez element. Each of the mobs drops cash, and items. Including chances of rarer items. And when your Influence reaches one of three thresholds, you get to go and choose an item from the appropriate NPC. And at the successful resolution of the Public Quest, you get to find out how much you contributed, which can give you a bonus to a 1-1000 roll, to see if you get one of a random selection of Trez bags. Trez! Fantastic!

I really like the contribution list. The server takes the amount of damage you’ve done, the amount of healing you’ve done, and then awards extra points for doing specific things the Public Quest wants you to do. It puts that information through a formula, to get a points total. That then gets you your position in the chart. Get high enough, and you get a bonus to your roll. It can seem a bit random at times, with the odd bug, but it’s great fun for me seeing where I came. And unlike damage meters and suchlike, it doesn’t rely on being close enough to the person with the meter. And maybe it’s because at the moment we’re all part of Beta Gang, but I’ve not seen anyone complained at for being low down the listing. It’s not a punitive thing. There has been humour involved, but it’s been good natured, and normally people deciding the server is broken, no way could they have been so low… But they make me want to see if next time, I can get closer to the top. They make me want to play better, smarter, and get the most out of my class. In a good way.

The trez at the end is a lovely bonus. You’re guaranteed the Influence items as long as you get enough influence, and they’re good items. So anything else is gravy, really. There’s some lovely gravy, though. From the first Public Quest you do, there’s the chance of purple items. Willing yourself a good roll can be almost as addictive as wanting to get higher in the chart, especially when you can see a purple bag in the trez options.

Will I continue to be an active participant in Public Quests at launch? Yes, yes I will. Maybe in 6 months I shall scream at the thought of having to do “the same” Public Quests, but that’s just the same sort of fatigue that makes me think certain instances in World of Warcraft were designed by the devil. Everything can lose it’s charm, if done enough times.

But until then, Public Quests are my group PvE activity of choice in Warhammer Online.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Hints and Tips for New Beta Testers

These are little and sometimes embarrassing questions that were frequently asked by us, our friends and guildmates or by other beta testers on the chat channels and beta bboards. They mostly deal with small things, things other people think are blindingly obvious – so we list them here so you can learn the kind of things we did!

Q. Can you res in combat?

A. Yes.

Q. How do I make my group closed (open is the default)?

A. Click on a party member, go to party options and toggle the ‘open’ tag. If you open the commands list via the chat window (right-click on chat tab, select commands list) you’ll see the toggle for always opening closed groups – but think about it, because open groups are sociable and we’ve enjoyed them!

Q. How do I get to Altdorf/Inevitable City?

A. The warcamps have flight masters who will automatically have a route available to your capital city of choice, and to warcamps in other racial zones. Select the pairing of the place you want to fly (Empire vs Chaos in this instance) and it’ll show you where you can fly to. To fly to the capitals is quite cheap, but make sure if you’re going straight to a flight master to join friends at rank 1 that you kill enough to give you a little cash first!

Q. Does the Warrior Priest really say “Bollocks!” when s/he gets hit?

A. Yes, clearly Sigmar is cool with that.

Q. I have got some renown ranks from PvP? Where’s this gear I can buy?

A. There are sets of weapons/armour you can buy at renown rank 2/4/6/etc. Ranks 2 and 4 have a vendor in the first warcamp for each realm. For higher ranks, you’ll need to find the vendor of the second floor of a keep in the world RvR area. Yes that means your side has to hold at least one keep for you to access them.

Q. Tell me about chat channels?

A. As per WoW, use /1 <message> to access your local area chat. You can create a custom channel by using /channeljoin <channel name> and then getting your friends to use /channeljoin on the same name. These custom channels are not currently persistent (so will disappear after the last person on the channel logs out). Use /channelleave to leave a chat channel.

Q. So what is this chicken business all about?

A. As the chicken expert, I’ll take this one. The zones in Warhammer are divided into tiers from the start at tier 1 to Altdorf/realm keeps at tier 4. You need to be a certain level to access scenarios of the next tier up. For example, at level 12 you are level appropriate for tier 2. If you then go into a lower level tier and flag yourself for RvR, you will turn into a chicken until the flag is gone or you die. It’s to stop griefing. You will automatically be flagged for RvR if you venture into an area with world RvR objectives — these are all clearly marked on the map. If you go into a lower level tier and don’t flag yourself (eg. to help a guildie with public quests or somesuch) then you’re fine. Naughty guildmates will try to tempt you into lower level RvR areas, so they can laugh at the chicken.

Q. How do I know I’m in a Public Quest? How do I find them?

A. You can filter their display on your map. Open your map (use ‘m’) and there’s a range of things you can toggle on or off, public quests are one of these and they display as little chests. You’ll know you’ve entered one as you get some text flashing up and it leaves the current objective on your screen. They won’t show up on the map until you have discovered them by wandering into the area though.

Q. Is there an easy way to track my influence in an area?

A green bar to the right of your mini-map shows you your influence in the current area. When it reaches each bar you can get an influence award. If you click on the green bar, it will open up your Tome of Knowledge and with some more information about the storyline and rewards.

Q. In-game mail?

Mailboxes are often at warcamps, so try looking there first. After that, Altdorf or the Inevitable City! You can send money and/or items to other players, or to your alts.

Q. How do I take screenshots?

A. Shift+PrtScr (or just PrtScr). The screenshots end up in a directory directly under the Warhammer directory which is called ‘screenshots’. Shift+Z turns off the UI so you can get a clean shot.

Q. Can I turn off my hideous skullcap/conehead hat?

A. Why, yes you can. It may not be as obvious as in other games, but go to your character screen and by the hat should be a little tickbox. Toggle it to do away with the fashion disaster! It doesn’t always seem to work though, so beware the hats of stickiness!

Q. How do I buy mastery skills?

A. First you buy levels up to the skill you want. Then click on the skill and click on ‘train’. You should then get the skill to use as you will.

Q. How do the career mastery and renown abilities work?

A. Probably the best way to illustrate this is to go to wardb.com. Under the tools tab they have links to a career builder and a renown ability builder for each career. This pretty much mirrors what you will see in game so you can check out the abilities and try a few sample builds to see how the points pan out.

Q. How do I get all the party screens from a scenario team on my screen.

A. As you enter the scenario you’ll see the teams form. Use the tickboxes to get the party info up in the top left hand corner and then drag that to where you want it, click on the next party and do the same. It’s a bit like the WoW raidframes.

Q. How do I join an open group?

A. If someone tells you there’s an open group with X as leader, you can type /join X. Or you can use a little icon below your portrait to search for all open groups in the area and join them via that interface.

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

Massively takes on public quests

Today sees another great article at Massively about public quests. And it sounds as though they aren’t done yet, with more articles in the pipeline about RvR and keep sieges! It’s almost too much to keep up with but fortunately they have an rss feed for their warhammer coverage (you can see we linked to it in the sidebar) to help with that.

Idris also has some RL experience in viral marketing so we’ve put her to work writing an article about Mythic’s marketing and information dissemination for tomorrow.

I’m tremendously excited about public quests.  The main question in my mind is whether they can be gamed. If rewards go to the people who contributed the most damage, surely that’s a bonus to AE classes? Wonder how that will work.

Why we love bar room brawls!

So one of the public quests in Altdorf is going to be a bar room brawl. This is great! After a hard day bashing chaos what every adventurer needs is an evening in town beating up on your allies to chill out. I reckon all the chaos players will grab an order alt to come and check out the bar brawl also, I know I would.

Anyway, we love bar room brawls and here are 5 reasons why:

1/ Everyone has a reason to be there! It’s a bar. There is alcohol. The adventurers can just drop by, in fact it’s the *only entertainment in town on a Saturday night anyway. Come for the booze, stay for the brawl! Who needs character motivation?

2/ Great way to make new friends and break their noses! Public quests are going to throw people together anyhow so why not do it where the alcohol is already laid on?

3/ Loads of great props to use. ‘Course, we don’t know if the public quest is going to let us hit each other over the head with bottles and barstools but wouldn’t it be great if it did?

4/ No need to make an appointment. Bar room brawls can break out at any time and for any reason. Especially when dwarfs are involved. My personal book of potential grudges includes (but is not limited to) : people who wear yellow ties with blue shirts, gold sellers, people who whine about being ganked on PvP servers, Man U supporters, international terrorists. If any of those turn up to the bar I am in, it’s game on!

5/ Mimics the only good scene from the latest Indiana Jones film. You know the one where Indy gets Mutt to start a fight for no reason? We’re so there!

6/ OK, not really a reason but bar room brawls are such a staple of D&D that it takes us right back to our tabletop RP roots.
DM: Your characters meet in a bar. *starts to ramble on with long description*
players: *interrupting* We start a brawl!

*apart from the theatre (did I mention the Altdorf theatre troupe? check out the Massively interview for more about that), and everyone knows that actors practically live in bars when they aren’t onstage anyhow