The Dark(er) Side

Have decided to start a Destruction alt, finally, after all this time. These are my top choices, based on what I like and what I’d like to experiment with. So pick me a class and if you have suggestions of non-Burlok servers for me to go to, let me know those too (in comments). Oh, and if you want to join me for a night a week of alting in Destruction, also let me know!

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Cross-Server Scenarios?! No thanks.

I haven’t read up on this one on the forums, so excuse me if there’s tons of good links on the topic. I’ll endeavour to add some later if I find them. It’s just something that came up in an instant messenger chat with someone about WAR. Are cross-server scenarios a solution to lower-populated servers?

I can see how the idea would be appealing. It’s working on World of Warcraft to populate the battlegrounds, as far as I know (wow, how many times can I ask people to correct me in one post!). But, would I like to see it in Warhammer Online? I have to say it’s a resounding ‘NO’ from me on this.

Scenarios are great fun, but open RvR is the core of the game, and it’s something people learn as they progress through the game, in my experience. It may be frustrating at the moment to get as far as you can in the open world and not quite succeed in the end goal, but running scenarios over and over – well, it might get the xp and rp ticking up, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of the game.

Most importantly though, I think cross-server scenarios would be a short-term solution for some lower populations that want access to more regular scenarios. In its  turn I feel it would seriously damage server community. And, for me, server community is a lot more of an important part of the happiness equation. If I log on to my server and go out into a scenario, I like that I get to group with a variety of the people on my server, it forces us to mix, to get to know one another and to rely on one another – valuable lessons for when we bump into each other in the open field and are defending a keep or attacking a fortress. I like seeing the same names over and over again and slowly knowing they’re getting to know my name too, seeing that I actually stop to heal or res them in whatever situation. And I think any cross-server stuff could quickly erode some of this server spirit.

So I really hope this doesn’t come to Warhammer Online, but am prepared to listen to counter-arguments!!

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.

Early access – bring it on!

In the week when Play.com sell out of their Collector’s Editions and start to send out beta keys, I found myself considering why Early Access to the live game is such a valued thing – even if it just means 3 days playtime before the masses converge on the game. So far, this is my list of why it was worth the extra money* to me (and um, yeah.. I still owe someone a bit of money for my CE!)

  • You have a better chance of getting your fave character name
  • You have a better chance of getting your guild up and running and getting the name you want
  • You get to vacate the starting areas before the deluge
  • Less server stress, less chance of un-smooth launch

These should all be pretty obvious. On another tack, we have less servers to choose from. I believe it’s been stated a number of times that there will only be limited servers for the Early Access Brigade (my fabricated name there), maybe one or two of each server type, whatever they think they need. Now, this sounds bad initially, because:

  • You don’t get to choose from the entire server list from the start
  • If guilds are split between early access and non-early access players, then there’s a chance the server will be pretty full before the entire guild can join it, which may lead to problems, depending on how they deal with overcrowding

But on the other hand, let’s assume that the Early Access Brigade are all fairly into the game, enough to blow £60 on a game that they could otherwise have got quite a bit cheaper by not getting the Collector’s Edition (and this assumes there are no pre-order bonuses about to be made available on non-CE purchases). They’re the kind of people who hang out on internet forums and blogs discussing Warhammer Online and what they look forward to or fear about the game. They embrace RvR as a concept – and they’re all going to be choosing from the same limited list of servers!

So.. surely those servers will have a higher chance of being populated by experienced MMO players? Which again, is a big advantage to both the experienced and non-experienced alike. It’s not like the later servers won’t have experienced players on them, some guilds might want to wait for the non-early access servers so everyone can join at the same time, or because they want to pick an emptier server to start on from the entire list of potentials. But for those of us who’ll probably stay on their early access server, I believe it means we’ll have a fairly knowledgeable population on both sides of Order/Chaos split.

This, for me, is a huge benefit and one that I hadn’t really thought about until all the analysis of the WHA figures and speculation that new players were more likely to pick Order. Does this mean early access servers will be weighted towards Destruction? Or that it won’t matter as much, because at least the Order players might have more chance to be organized from the off? I have no idea, that’s all in the realms of ‘who knows’ but I do think the poll results might affect the early access servers more than the ones that come later.

*obviously it’s not the only reason the pre-order Collector’s Edition was worth the money to me – who wouldn’t want the choice of extra heads, some extra quests and funky items?