Chicken WARs: The Empire clucks back!

Towards the end of the European closed beta a chicken war was launched. Chaos chicken bravely met with Order chicken, and boy.. the feathers really did fly. Because I had a visitor I wasn’t around for it, but as far as I know it was organised via the beta boards. Here’s a screenshot taking by a fellow guild member of ours:


One of the beta testers (Rayuki) also posted a video of the epic battle. Really, you need to watch this one!

(and nothing to do with EU beta, but Josh Drescher is also posting chicken vids!)

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A picture is worth a thousand words


Defending Wilhelm's Fist

A few ranged Order classes find a good vantage point from which to rain down fire and arrows outside the unfortunately named Wilhelm’s Fist in Reikland. Order has been tending to field more healers in beta and you can see a Runepriest in action in this shot (the guy he is healing is another Bright Wizard). I was just standing around on my Archmage trying to line up the screenie and look fabulous.

You can also see that I have set the UI to show health bars over friendly players’ heads. I find this really useful for targeting and healing players who aren’t in my group or warband.

Note to self: If I ever own a castle, I will NOT name it Spinks’ Fist or after any other part of my own anatomy.

You always hurt the ones you love

arbitrary

Out in the Ettenmoors in LotRO as my weaver, there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing the name of someone I know running towards me, and then seeing them killed. We laugh about it when not in PvMP (player vs monster player, as it is in that game). I like to think they get the same buzz out of killing me too.

The same happened on DAoC with RvR. Ok, so it’s not quite the same, because we could only play one realm per server (as WAR will be), but it didn’t take long for a few players to become pretty ‘famous’ in the RvR zones. I always preferred being killed by one of these famous people than by someone I’d never heard of, and in the same vein I got an extra buzz from seeing them brought down.

And that seems the mark of a good, healthily competitive server community. Sure there will be whines on either side, complaints about ganking, zergfests and all the other emotive issues that come hand-in-hand with PvP. But there’s also a chance for some friendly banter on server forums (whichever forum you and your server-mates pick out of the ones that are going to spring up as soon as we get the server names). I hope it goes that way, especially on the server I play on!

Spinks

We were discussing yesterday how much more fun and personal PvP (or RvR) can be when you recognise a lot of the names you see both among your realm mates and the opposing team. Like Arbitrary says, people collect reputations, and it is a buzz to be involved in a fight with one of the top names on the server and their tricked out group. Sure, most of the time you may lose but that one time when you didn’t is the one you will be talking about for a long time. My husband still grins when talking about the time in DaoC when our group managed to surprise and kill one of the top name Hibbie groups on the server and his name went out in the zone-wide kill spam.

In WoW, veteran players will remember that servers used to be like this. You used to only ever see characters from your own server in battlegrounds, and it did give each server a better sense of community. They changed it and allowed cross-server queues and battlegrounds as a fix to realm balance issues. In the ‘old days’ it could take hours (or even days) for some of the battlegrounds to come up, because there just weren’t enough people queueing. These days, your PvP groups will be full of strangers with weird names who you may never see again, but you don’t have to queue very long at all. It changed the feel of battleground PvP immensely and it became a dull impersonal experience that no one really cared about.

Although there are still many questions about population balance that need to be answered, I am sure we won’t be queueing for days to get /some/ PvP action. And there will be a lot of scenarios running, if only because RvR is so engrained into the game (unlike WoW, where a lot of people have no interest) and although not everyone likes the scenario-style mini-game, it is a good way to get a quick fair fight. We’re both looking forwards to killing people we recognise and being killed by them in WAR! How about you?

Physician heal thyself..

I’m not even going to start to link to all the various posts around the place about deciding on a class. It’s between two classes for me so I’ve been taking a look at how I prefer to play. I’ve come out of it unsatisfied because I think I might prefer different styles of gameplay in PvE to PvP. And that’s played holy hell with my class decisions.

When I was first being told about Warhammer Online some of the lure was the idea of the Warrior Priest, a melee/healer hybrid. In DAoC I had many alts but it was the friar that I loved best. In World of Warcraft I had a series of 5 druids from runnning from the alpha test through to one Horde and one Alliance in live, although not all at the same time. In Lord of the Rings Online, my main character is a Captain. So my mains have all been melee/healer hybrids. What’s the dilemma you say? It should be bloody obvious what I’ll play in Warhammer Online, right? Of course right!

But things are rarely that simple.

When I played a friar, I was often swamped in RvR, I didn’t quite ‘get’ PvP in those days and I tended to stand back and heal more than I hit stuff. All my druids (except right at the very end of my playing of WoW) were Restoration and stood at the back and healed. My captain… stands at the back and heals. Except in small groups or soloing/duoing, I’ve mostly preferred the healing to the melee.

And every time I think about the Warrior Priest and how much I love the sound of them, I’m back to that niggling little voice in my head (I think it’s a dwarf) saying ‘Warrior Priests can’t just stand at the back and heal, they need to be in melee’. In PvMP (ie. Monster Play) on LotRO I gave up my warg because I wasn’t enjoying melee in PvMP and switched to a weaver where I could, if I wanted, stand at the back and.. spit poison (it’s like healing, honest!). Maybe melee and me don’t go well in PvP.

Obviously, I’ll be testing both classes out in the open beta, and testing an Archmage also perhaps, although I don’t really like casters.

But what do you do if you recognise you prefer one type of gameplay in PvE and another in PvP? I’m hoping it’s not just me that has this problem, but I fully realise it might be!

Il faut cultiver notre jardin

…as an ordinary player, the question I find myself asking is: How do I end up on a Realm with good community?

Is there anything that ordinary players can do to build good community on Realm?

These quotations are both shamelessly plundered from an interesting email discussion I had recently with someone and I promised to visit the topic and see if I had anything useful to say about it.

I believe that a small number of players can help to shape how a community develops, large groups perhaps moreso, but it doesn’t take too much to help establish a tone. More than that, I think we each have an individual and group responsibility to help make the server a place we want to play on.

First of all, everyone should want a good server community. There’s really no downside to it at all. And no, it can’t be clearly defined.. but it will probably include:

  • non-nasty answers to questions/requests for help
  • amusing trash talk about PvP, not straying into hurtful
  • guilds that cooperate for the realm’s good
  • a healthy forum/chat area where events/raids/whatever can be planned

Community building is one of those things that companies and games talk about a lot. It’s quite a skill. Mythic and GOA have gone the path of not having official forums, so communities won’t form at the direct official hubs – I fully support this idea as I’ve already said. It encourages satellite sites with individual personalities to form and for like-minded players to convene at whichever site/forum suits them best. That fosters community. The fact that news and polls are spread out throughout the community sites encourages us to visit more of them and to see which matches our mindset the closest.  So we have a ton of forums, fansites and blogs already.

Now, there’s nowhere yet with realm forums, because we don’t know the realm names. That makes sense. You can bet that the biggest forum sites will include realm ones as soon as they are known. And possibly there will be some more independent realm sites set up. I know Prydwen, my old DAoC realm had a RP forum, quite separate from the one that became semi-official over at Freddyshouse. The same’s happened with LotRO – there’s at least one independent server forum and then the official one at Codemasters. Realm forums are often underused by a majority of players, but they do enable those interested to get to know one another outside of the game, discuss raids, and generally it’s good for community. So I’m thinking one way you can get involved as a individual is to seek out a realm forum or two, follow them a little (it doesn’t have to take away from gaming time), and help them develop. Post requests for groups, ideas for events, just answer other posts – you will be helping.

Online, and in-game, yes, the big guilds will be there. Trash talk will exist. You will be told you’re stupid at one point or other. We all are. But, how can you help a nascent community if you don’t have a big guild around you, or a famous site to expound your thoughts on your server (for the record, I’m still cagey about releasing where I’d play, and I don’t really think of this blog as famous or influential at all!).

  • you answer people politely, but without becoming the server police
  • take part in public quests, meet new people
  • when/if you join a guild consider running events/raids/quests – it makes a name for the guild and it helps the community – plus, you may also find some shining new recruits!
  • consider the ‘pay it forward’ concept – and remember behind every avatar is a real human (unless they’re playing Chaos in which case, chop ’em up)
  • play for your own good and the good of the realm

The last point returns us to Warhammer Online specifically and what the game does to help foster a community. If you’ve only done PvP on WoW or LotRO or anywhere else without the concept of the realm vs realm fight, then prepare for a different slant on PvP. You’re not just fighting to score some points and get some decent gear here, you’re fighting to save your realm from the harshest of fates, from your sworn enemy gaining control of your lands, your keeps, your Capital City. RvR should bring a realm together with a common aim. Public quests help players get to know one another outside of guids, friends groups and solo questing.

That’s my thoughts on it, and I’m sure others out there have more to add to the discussion, which I hope they will. I do believe in personal responsibility in gaming, however fun it is to ride the wave, there’s another sense of fun to be had in organising groups and seeing others enjoy or react to your willingness to help.

ps. if you do happen to find yourself being the main mover on a server or realm forum, or if you’re part of that big guild, or run a massive site that gives you influence, don’t be snotty about it.

A tactical interlude

mmorpg.com has posted up the second part of their interview with Adam Gershowitz (Combat and Careers Strike Team Lead) on the careers system in Warhammer. In PvP, the classes have a rock, paper, scissors set of strengths and vulnerabilities vs other classes that Adam explains like this:

Tanks (Black Orc, Chosen, Blackguard, Ironbreaker, Knight, Sword master)

  • Strong Vs Melee DPS
  • Even Vs Tanks / Melee Healers
  • Weak Vs Ranged DPS / Ranged Healers

Melee DPS (Choppa, Marauder, Witch Elf, Witch Hunter, White Lion, Hammerer)

  • Strong Vs Ranged DPS / Ranged Healers
  • Even Vs Melee DPS
  • Weak Vs Tanks / Melee healers

Ranged DPS (Shadow Warrior, Bright Wizard, Engineer, Sorceress, Magus, Squig Herder)

  • Strong Vs Tanks
  • Even Vs Ranged DPS / Ranged Healers
  • Weak Vs Melee DPS

Melee Healers (Warrior Priest & Disciple)

  • Strong Vs Melee DPS
  • Even Vs Tanks & Melee Healers
  • Weak Vs Ranged DPS

Ranged Healers (Archmage, Rune Priest, Shaman, Zealot)

  • Strong Vs Tanks
  • Even Vs Ranged DPS / Ranged Healers
  • Weak Vs Melee DPS

So this gives us a rough idea of what the different classes might be doing in PvP. The general rule is that you try to target the classes who are weak to you, whilst avoiding the ones who are strongest against you. At the same time, there will be some overall tactic that probably depends on the situation or scenario. If the tactics involve focus fire, then the dps classes will be directed by the group or raid leader to take down specific targets. Maybe this will be killing the healers first, or whichever class is most dangerous to leave standing.

But tanks being strong vs melee dps implies that they have a way to break up the ‘assist train’. (Focus fire is called the assist train for historical reasons, because the traditional method was to have one leader as a ‘main assist’ and all the dps copy his or her targetting strategy by typing /assist <name of leader>). Adam throws some more light on this:

Traditionally taunt is used on silly STUPID AI in PvE, but you really have to twist our arm to make an ability only usable in one half of the game. As such Taunt not only snaps a monster’s Aggro onto you, but it also interrupts any currently casting spells, and gives you 20% more damage against that target until they hit you 3 times.

Spell interrupt is very powerful, but not so much against melee dps. Until you remember that this includes the melee healers. So tanks in PvP will be able to taunt to break up the assist train by weakening melee dps and interrupting heals. There have been previous comments that tanks in Warhammer will be getting some crowd control abilities which should also help. They’re starting to sound pretty darned good.

Warning, this is where it gets hypothetical. I can imagine open field scenarios where melee groups consisting of tanks, melee healers, and melee dps try to maneuver round each other to get to the other team’s ranged dps and healers. But if ranged are strong against those classes, won’t they just be nuking the bajeezus out of the melee while melee are tangling with each other? That’s still a concern of mine and I’ll be interested to see what the beta testers have to say about this when the NDA goes down (which probably won’t be any time soon).

Having said that, I’m also intrigued at ranged groups with (say, for Order) an engineer to put down turrets and barbed wire and a keg, and healers trying to kite the opposite faction through it.

I do wonder if part of the reason that the melee dps classes are still being tweaked is to do with these kind of balance issues. Melee needs to be able to get to ranged. But not without a fight.

Balance of Numbers

It’s interesting also to compare this with the Warhammer Alliance class survey results (analysis here). The survey showed tanks and ranged healers being by far the most popular Destruction classes, with melee and ranged dps scoring high for Order (or else Order players just like classes beginning with W, they’d probably play Witch-Elves if they converted faction).

If this follows through to the live game, which it won’t but bear with me for the sake of argument, then Destruction might have a lot more control of the battlefields with Order being encouraged to flank the melee opposition The lack of dps on the Destruction side would draw battles out longer, but their tanks and shamans would have to play very smart to keep all those White Lions and Witch Hunters and Warrior Priests (see what I mean about W?) from destroying their support. I wonder what the cooldown is on taunt and how many people can be taunted at once …

More stuff to read

Amusing little article on Fidgit.com lists 10 possible announcements Blizzard could be making at Paris GDC. If you wanted to get your Diablo 2 fix in advance of a possible D3 announcement, there’s a new patch as of last week so you can play without the CD.

Dreamy Gamer posts some videos of Paul Barnett talking about how to get into the games industry (from Youtube).

Kieron Gillen over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun publishes the first in a series of articles based on a meeting/chat with Paul Barnett. This first one covers games journalism – we look forward to the rest of the series.

The Gonzo Scientist describes a scientific conference held in World of Warcraft.

IGN has posted a new video interview on their site.

The Greenskin and Waaagh Insider comment on the Byron Report, UK games ratings and whether it might impact the UK shipping date for Warhammer Online. We hope not. And not only do EA claim it will affect dates, Microsoft whine that it’ll cause price increases. nb. industry is good at whining.

Warhammer Alliance publishes a list of emotes in Warhammer Online, compiled by community member Satarko.

TenTonHammer has a really interesting piece about prospering in PvP, with tips to help PvE’ers prepare for the launch of the game. We might not agree with all of them, but there’s some good stuff in there.

Apparently gamers will buy anything if it’s hyped enough. A fake games marketing team tried to sell made-up games and people were keen. Someone probably started a blog about one of them already!

A frankly disturbing (but amusing!) introduction to the recent US primary season, phrased in the vocabulary of Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War. Ah.. now we understand all.

And lastly, we haven’t had any Spore creatures for awhile. Check out this viking ship with oarsmen.