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’)

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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.}

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.