How Many Miles to Babylon?

So yesterday I was trudging my weary (but sophisticated and intellectual) High Elvish way through the lion-dotted hills of Chrace towards the looming mountain pass into the Shadowlands; or as we call it, “Tier 2.” I was helping my elvish brothers and sisters locate various missing relatives and knocking off a few underdressed dark elves along the way. Eventually the uppermost question in my mind was, ‘OK, so where’s the next flight master?’

As it happens, he was a whole zone away. And that made me happy.

Warhammer is a game that likes you to walk long distances. And whenever you are in a long stretch without a flight master, that’s a period where it’s harder to meet up with people in other racial areas or access the bank or auction house in capital cities. Quests do a good job of leading you through the local Public Quest areas and to the next warcamp, it’s hard to get very lost. But it is still a long way to walk, and if you bind near a warcamp (which most people do) then you’ll have to walk back to get to your quests.

As long as the landscape is varied and full of intriguing places to explore, quests to do, NPCs to meet/kill, and lore to learn, I’m happy to go by foot. The long journeys make a gameworld feel more coherent and less like a mass of levels and zones. It’s more immersive. I want my world to feel like a coherent WORLD and that means it needs a sense of distance. There’s a balance to be had between player convenience and immersion and that means that sometimes distance can feel frustrating. But at the same time, it’s an in game rite of passage to make long solitary journeys. WAR so far hasn’t thrown up anything quite as obnoxious as WoW’s trip from Darnassus to Ironforge that all Night Elves had to make if they wanted to hook up with their non-elf friends, although there are routes that send you dangerously close (or through) RvR zones …

Some people obsess about efficient use of time in games but frankly, if we were concerned about efficient use of time we wouldn’t be playing games at all. The time spent wandering through the world makes us keener to pick up a mount and appreciate the faster speed once we have it. Like getting your first car, there’s a childish glee in speeding through areas where you used to have to walk.

I don’t have a mount yet — 15g and rank 20 is what you need for that. And I’m enjoying my slow rambles. It isn’t that it is never frustrating. Walking up and down the same path can get tedious and although the quests mostly don’t require that, running up and down to your bind point certainly can. But at the same time, it is very immersive. There’s no better way to feel the distance than to walk it.

It also encourages you to think of other things to do along the way. You can jump into a scenario from anywhere, and there are always Public Quests nearby where you are, in every zone. I’m sure that there will eventually be more transport in the game, people are bound to complain about it. I also hope that Mythic think of a way to make it easier to access the bank, because crafting materials can easily fill up low level bagspace. But I’m equally sure that the long walks encourage people to pick up more of the quests and get more involved in the zones they are travelling through.

To get back to the efficiency point, you can play an MMO as a resource management game. Time is a resource to be managed and to win the game, the goal is to amass as much gold, xp, influence, renown and gear as possible in the time available. Wasting time is bad play. A game that is designed to encourage long periods of time in which you can’t gain any of the above is bad design. But that’s not the only way to play a MMO. We aren’t all oriented on the same goals. And if you play like that, you’ll end up putting a monetary value on lots of simple but fun activities like making friends, exploring, and roleplaying. Some of the activities that make MMOs more than just multi-player games.

There’s a fashion at the moment called The Slow Movement which is all about taking life at a slower pace. I like to think that jogging through the world is a way of experiencing Slow Gaming.

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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.