Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Downward Spiral?

Greetings to one and all.

The last few weeks have seen some damage done to the once thriving WAR blogging community. We'd already lost Syp to the potty, and now we've also lost the excellent Breakfast at War and GirlIRL. Sad times indeed.

Meanwhile many of the rest of us have slowed down or disappeared from the blogrolls altogether. Coincidence? Could be. Diminishing passion? Hmm.

For myself, I can say that the flames have cooled a bit. I still am playing nightly, and still enjoying it, but I'm not as fanatically as I was even a few weeks ago. The approaching endgame is rekindling some of my worst WoW 1.0 end-game memories and RvR in Tier 4 is still a mixed bag at best.

The live event was quite fun, I thought, and got people out and about, and I still contend that the early game of WAR is much better than the competition, but the RvR-nes of WAR and all that it entails combined with the rigid PvE endgame is not inspiring me to play as often or with the same level of dedication as I did when my characters were churning through the lower tiers.

Having said all that, I'm not closing shop or looking for a new game, and I still read and enjoy the many great WAR blogs out there. My guild is great is small, and I feel like there's much fun to be had in the game.

Here's looking forward to some exciting developments and creative thinking from the mythic team and maybe a little more interaction with the consumer base, to get us amped up again about the WAR.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Week in review: the Good and the Bad

Greetings and happy Friday to you all.

So another week of WAR bites the dust and it's been a pretty interesting one for me.

Instead of another whiny Fuck You post, I thought I'd mix in a little good with the bad. Still whining, naturally.


Beyond the Sands Live Event. Lots to do, and people are gung-ho about it, even though the rewards are middling. The trophy is quite nice and the title is pretty good ("The Eternal"). Not sure how important the goggles will be, but I guess they're useful too, and fun looking, if you're into that sort of thing.


Getting wtfpwned A few guildies and I were harrassing the live event PQ in dragonwake when we got absolutely crushed by a level 40 witch hunter. There was a SM there as well but the WH did the dirty work, basically killing all four of us solo. I chased her down when she had just a tiny sliver of health left, but one healing pot and a disarm later, I was eating elf-dirt. Anyway if you see Lolaxica on Volkmar, run away.


Lairs I know the loot isn't that great, and sometimes they're down, and you waste a trip, and some are much harder than others, yadda yadda, but for me, these are gold. Tucked away in obscure spaces, with jumps or obscure keys to enter, and then some really challenging fights, at least at the level my group was doing them. From the last one we did we got two R39 blue BoE drops, so not a bad haul, imo.

The idea of the lair itself is just great, for me. There's something about creeping into a big baddies lair that makes it very evocative. Also its a nice option to have when you've got just a little bit of time.


Bad physics Seriously, I'm sorry, but If I knock someone off a mountain top, they need to die from the fall. It's complete BS that they take no fall damage. You don't want people pushing others off mountains, how about you get rid of knockback, or better yet, mountains? Don't fuck with gravity, kthx.


Alts I'm playing three characters now, and it's really ideal for me. Each tier and character role plays very different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. I'm doing new stuff and getting a better feel for how the pieces work together. The sorceress for me is still a bit too flimsy and reliant on others, especially in pvp. Though I can at least kill comparable level champs with her, so that's a nice improvement. The zealot is good fun, fun to RvR, a bit slow to solo, but obviously groups very well with just about anything.


Invisible Walls Okay, I get why there's invisible walls in say, the Soul Vault, but ... I can't jump off stairs? Why on earth they felt like they needed to keep people from jumping on stuff, I'll never know. It's maddening though, to find perfectly good gaps or low walls or whatever and then find the way blocked.

Here's a thought, if I can jump yea-high, make the damn walls higher than that.

If I want to jump into the lava, by god, that's my right. Isn't it?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

You know what's awesome?

When light can't penetrate objects!

That's right, shadows are awesome. They're nature's way of telling us what is a ghost and what we can run into. So let's hear it for shadows! Yay.

You know what is not awesome?

Not only having to ride a rather undersized piggy, but also being called a "whacka."

My friend, you have my sympathy.

Miscellany: City Defense, Sorceress, Bastion Stair

Participated in the defense of the IC last night, was good fun. The defensive group I was in was quite strong and we held off order until the timer ran out, then killed them off and farmed the PQ. Of course I didn't contribute much to the effort, but I made a good show of it, running around crazily, as if my attacks were actually doing damage to the enemy.

But I have to say the whole wait til the timer wears out thing seems a bit sketch. I mean, not exploitive, but just slightly unbalanced towards defenders. After contested wore out, we could still respawn in the city while attackers got the boot when they respawned. Might be more balanced if we had to at least finish stage one of the pq while the city was contested.


Also, I've been playing my bank alt, a lowbie sorceress, a bit. Quite different, as you might imagine from the Chosen or the zealot (my other active alt). The sorceress kind of sucks to solo with, at least the way I play, because I can't realistically kill champions solo. I suppose I could kite them around terrain, but I have no snare at this point, so it's a bit daunting. I will say that it's very fun to one-shot mobs of the same level.

Scenarios with the sorceress are a real mixed bag. If there's any structure to the group: healing, tanking, that sort of thing, then it's quite a potent experience, but when I'm left alone, I'm a joke. It's a bit frustrating watching tanks and mdps run right past people that are racing up to me, and then getting owned. Probably this gets better as people get more snares and crowd control, but it can certainly be frustrating.


Which makes me wonder, would I be more RvR focused if my main were a healer or the sorc? I find that healers are the least team-dependant in terms of enjoying doing rvr. I can be on a totally crap team with my zealot and still have fun, but with Czarnal and even more so with the sorc, if my team is underpowered or disorganized, it quickly feels like a chore.


Also, did a guild run of Bastion Stair left wing on the weekend. Good fun. I like a lot of things about this dungeon: it looks great, the loot is good, and I still like the pqs and quests and all that, very centralized and efficient, like so much in WAR. The downsides of the way these things are built (at least BS and Gunbad) are:

1. a bit uniform. Mobs in left wing are all beastmen: there's a couple outliers ... a gnoblar/ogre optional boss (iirc) and a doombull boss, but basically the same thing over and over. The PQs in the wing are all extremely straightforward too, though the wing boss fight was different and fun.

2. Hard to work on. The second PQ boss is quite hard, harder than anything else, unless we were just completely doing it wrong, which is possible, I suppose. And we couldn't really practice it, because by the time we respawned, the 1st PQ was fully populated and by the time we got past that, the 2nd was reset.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Time for Another ... F*ck You Friday

Greetings, gentle reader, and welcome to another Fuck You Friday. I haven't played that much this week (fuck you, real life), but I have managed to find enough gripe in my soul to warrant another installment.

Without further ado:

Name-calling whiners Oh hell yes you're getting a "fuck you." Last night I was invited into a group farming a Bastion Stair PQ. We ran it twice, and I guess they'd been running it for quite a while previously. After the second time through, the level 40 tank decided he was done.

Now, he'd been asking "who needs bags" and apparently master looting his bag to someone in the group that hadn't gotten one. A nice thing, given that this was essentially a PuG. I lucked into a blue bag on our first time through, so i was happy. Apparently, one of the group, a shaman, wasn't. When the tank called it, he went off ... "i never got a bag" ... "everyone else got one but me" and finally "you guys are a bunch of fags, I'll never help you again."

Riight. So, you're "helping" us? and yet you're peeved about not getting a bag? Doesn't sound like altruism to me, friend. And really, fags? I'm sorry, but you got all the bags you earned or lucked into, per the PQ conventions. So, No, I'm sorry, you're a whiny little tool. Sure he was level 40 and no doubt a big reason we did well in there, but you know, that's how loot works, friend.

Why is it that people that get bad luck or fuck up are always the quickest to call other people names. I remember a UBRS run I did ages ago in WoW, in which some dumbass got himself killed and then released. This was in the 15man UBRS days, mind you. And he was livid that we wouldn't clear back to the front door to help him. He and his friend in the group decided to call everyone Jews ... which in addition to not making any sense, is just really, really, fuck-headed.

So here's a big ol' fuck you to whiners, name callers, and bigots all around.

Tier 4 Scenarios Oh my everloving god do I hate these things. I'm sure it's a delightful romp for the level 40s in organized warbands and all, but man are these un-fun. The one I did last night was a little better, so maybe there's hope on the horizon, but still. Fuck you, Tier 4 scenarios, and particularly Grovod Caverns ... you look so cool, but you are such a dick, Grovod.

Can we get a level 40 only tier, plx?

Here's how my play sessions go: happy at questing ... happy at farming ... happy in oRvR ... happy in PQs ... happy with professions ... OMG I want to tear my arms off.

That last part is the scenarios, btw.

Crushclaw Fucking scorpion, fuck you. Way to be take forever to get to, be unusually hard to kill and then cause me to respawn at the ch.15 camp in Caledor, meaning I have to hearth to go anywhere ... I am going to wear your carapace like a cape if it's the last thing I do.

Dammaz Kron Fuck you for making me feel bad about my skills. I play a tank and a healer .. I'm not getting a bunch of killing blows, okay, I admit it, so I've gotta be like -12 to every witch hunter and BW out there. When Mythic steals this idea to incorporate into the core game, I hope they score participatory kills rather than killing blows, that would make me feel a little better.

"WAR is a PvP Game" Okay some of my fellow bloggers as well as pleeeenty of people in game have trotted this one out, to which I must respectfully say, "fuck you, good sirs (or madams)." WAR is. not. a. pvp. game.

It is an MMO. It is a whole big ol' fucking world. It is PVP-oriented. PvP-centric if you will. You know what game is a PvP game? Street Fighter II. Quake is a pvp game. WAR is not that. Frankly, I don't get what the big freaking hissy is all about. PvP is fun, to be sure, there's a potential randomness to it that PvE doesn't have. Characters hit harder and are more cagy than mobs. But really, if you can out-level, out-gear, or out-number your way to victory, I'm not sure how much crowing you should be able to do about your PvP chops.

And on top of all that, WAR is also a license game. It's the Warhammer Fantasy game. Not Mythic presents gloomy fantasy battlelands! Trust me, if it were, you'd have a lot fewer people in your RvR to lay waste too. Am I persona-non-grata because I'm drawn to this game by the property rather than its DAOC heritage and RvR bent?

And the final fuck-you ... Forum commentors. I'm sure there's good in there, but it's like digging for gold in shit. Not. Interested. So much venom and self-congratulatory nonsense. The thread on the kill of Tcharzanek was the last thing I saw on a forum, and was totally absurd. The only value these things have in my book is as a primer on logical fallacies: "See there johnny, where Long Dong Silver calls the original poster a "Fanboi" that's an ad hominem fallacy."

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WAR is not War

The comic panel above is taken from the excellent Giant in the Playground.

So there have been a number of good posts out there on RvR tweaks and fixes, particularly Breakfast at War's "RvR Remodeling."

Another quite good post this week was Dark Crag Dispatch's "Shouldn't MMO's End?"

My response to both of these excellent posts is succinctly phrased in Rich Burlew's Giant in the Playground tribute to D&D co-creator Dave Arneson (shown above).

To belabor the point: WAR and other MMO's are descendants of pen and paper roleplaying games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons. With that comes a set of limitations and conventions: the glory of the individual hero and the persistent world are two that are relevant here.

So, should MMO's end? Of course not, like D&D and before it Tolkien, and before that the old myths and legends, the world is bigger than the individual hero. But, should the hero's tale have an end? Yeah, that would be nice. Is finishing end game the end of a hero's journey now? Well, if you feel like it is, sure ... until the next expansion naturally.

Will an MMO ever add in an end to a character's development arc, a meaningful conclusion? If they did, they'd have to add in something to do with the character afterward, some kingdom to rule, some other role to play, otherwise they're throwing away subscription dollars.

But what does this all have to do with RvR? Well, it's the odd nature of the world of heroes. Battles in WAR are comprised of essentially nothing but heroes: elite units, if you will. This is not war, right? There's no infantry, there's no rank-and-file. Which isn't to say that RvR is irrevocably broken or ridiculous or anything, but its a unique beast. People in RVR-chat are often complaining because their fellow players don't defend, for example, but it's not really the hero's role to sit around garrisoning a strategic objective. People aren't committed 100% to the cause because they don't have to be. They don't have to take orders. They don't have to do boring stuff.

Interestingly less PvE-oriented RvR, such as Pancakez proposes, and scenarios are even more abstract. More ... lets say realistic, even though that's pretty ridiculous ... fix would be to add more PvE in ... a whole army in defense and in support of the attack, but of a decidedly trivial nature, so that the stature of the hero is reinforced while the narrative is augmented. But certainly this creates problems of its own.

This is the dilemma for Mythic though: pursue the grandeur and pomp of massive sieges and battles at the cost of any narrative sense as well as the individual glory of the participants, or pursue skirmish-type PvP that heightens the role of the individual, makes more sense narratively, but loses the massive scale and glory.

Dave Arneson, as imagined by Rich Burlew, makes the D&D case pretty clearly ...
"We're not doing a big battle," but Mythic's choice will likely fall the other way.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tier 4 thoughts

Czarnal is now at rank 35 and has had a fair bit of time in tier 4. My experience here has been a mix of the good and the not so good, so I thought I'd share a little recap of how tier 4 is playing out for me.

City Siege

The good: I've participated in both sides: defense of the IC and the assault on Altdorf, and I've seen plenty of back and forth going on in the various zones. It gives the game a very live feeling. Having the various scenarios lock or unlock based on the status of the various zones connects you to the status of the war, even if you're ignoring it. On Volkmar, it seems like we're approaching the sweet spot: back and forth with both sides having opportunities to pin the other back and to put their capital under pressure.

The Altdorf city siege that I participated in, seemed particularly effective. It really felt like a city under assault. There was lots of skirmish action in the streets as well as organized bands assaulting the 2 capture points. It felt genuinely cinematic and like a really well-wrought combination of PvE and PvP elements working to further the central narrative.

The Bad: I can't really get all that into PvP in Tier 4. I hope it will be better post-patch, and/or as I get a little closer to the level cap. Right now I feel like I'm making up the numbers. In scenarios I get consistently crushed, and in the 2nd stage of the City defense PQ (or either stage of the assualt of altdorf) I felt basically useless. I guess I gave order some renown, so there's that.

RvR is less casual in T4. Sure you can hop in and out, but you're not going to do much or earn much unless you're willing to really commit to the process. So far, I'm not.

The Ugly: Lag. It's really absurd how laggy some of this can get. While order was pushing into the maw, I was trying to do a PQ in Praag and had around 3 seconds of lag ... 3 seconds between the receipt of any given action is really unbearable. And I know it's even worse in the fortress fights. So yeah, put those bad boys in discrete instances on an instance server plx ... and keeps too.

Questing and PQs:

The Good: So everytime I change tiers I start questing again, and then about halfway through I abandon it for PQ influence grinds, dungeons, and RvR. In Tier 4, I've been very pleased with the quality of quest narratives. In particular I've done a lot of Chaos ch.15 and 3 of the epic quests. These are great fun ... very appealing story arcs (spoiler: your character is awesome) and force you to visit the various zones of parts of zones. The PQs have been a bit mixed, but some of them are fantastic. Interesting mechanics, interesting stories, good visuals.

I've also been enjoying exploring the Tome. My current obsession is jewelry unlocks. They're perfect for my level and there's a lot of them. They tend to be defensive in nature but seem pretty good at that. So far I've unlocked about 6 or 7 of these and there's at least another 5 or 6 if not more. They're in sets too, btw, which increases the collectibility for me.

The Bad: Basically poor and inconsistent rewards. More of the same kvetching I know, but let me explain. PQs throughout the previous tiers have had evenly scaling rewards. Ch.11 elite rewards are level 22 blues, ch.12 are level 24 blues, ch.13 level 26. But in T4, not so much:

Ch. 15: level 28 (ch.14 at the end of t3 gives level 27 blues)
Ch. 16: level 30 (okay so far so good)
ch. 17: ...also level 30
ch. 18: level 31.

and so on. Now to be fair, there are more chapters in tier 4 (8 vs. 5) but the rewards rapidly drop below the scale of the mobs you have to fight. (ch.20 for example gives level 33 blues for it's elite rewards. The mobs you fight are level 38+)

Not a big deal for grouping, I imagine, but it makes soloing yourself decent gear from PvE a bit of a non-starter.

Epic quests are as I've said, very cool, but the rewards are a bit inconsistent and seem to trend a little low. The chaos Ch.15 epic quest yields a level 28 blue weapon, the chaos ch. 17 epic quest yields a level 30 blue weapon. But for this one you're looking at level 37+ mobs. The ch.15 greenskin epic quest yields green level 30 boots. It's all a bit slapdash.

The Ugly: Broken PQs. This is a bad thing. Gaarawarr's epic PQ crawl puts this into stark perspective. Look at all the busted PQs in that recap, particularly in Tier 4. A real shame. My personal bane has been the Lonely Tower (ch. 15 chaos) which has like 3 or 4 different broken bits:

1. final boss may completely reset at any point in the fight.
2. PQ refuses to leave stage one, even when completed.
3. PQ refuses to start stage three, after all the skeles in stage 2 (that are above the ground and visible) are slain.
4. Random junk.

Here's a couple screenies from lonely tower to illustrate my point:

t4 Art & ambience

The Good: It's all good. T4 really is quite gorgeous. Altdorf is gorgeous, Praag is fantastic, the Chaos Wastes are brooding and crazy, Thunder Mountain is brilliant, even the elf zones, in particular I love Dragonwake, are great ... all yawning chasms and elegant, absurd bridges and lonely, graceful towers. Just really lovely.

So there you have it. Gorgeous zones, a bit of bugginess and lag, brutal PvP ... tier 4 is a different thing to be sure. I think I may just have to forget RvR altogether. Or alternately, give in to it completely. The old standby of queuing for scenarios while I'm grinding PQ influence doesn't seem to translate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ten Probing Questions

Girl IRL tries to breath a little life into the somewhat sleepy WAR blogging community with 10 probing questions. They're good questions too, and I'm happy to play along.

1. What is your current main character’s name (or names, if you play multiple games)? Explain how you chose the name.

Czarnal. So this is a good example of how I choose names. I get a feel for the character class/race and then I sort of dig through names I like from fiction other games whatever. In this case, I'd just finished Neil Gaiman's American Gods which has a russian (I guess) god in it named Czernobog. Cool name, I thought. So I toyed with different variations on that name until I reached Czarnal. Now, truly, when I was reading the book, I was pronouncing the name Chair-no-bog in my head, may or may not be right, but after I'd picked Czarnal and started leveling him, I realized that my toon's name would likely be prounded Zar-nal (which is uncomfortably close to Arnold) insted of (Char-nal) as I had imagined. Oh well. Them's the breaks.

2. What was the name of your very first character in an MMO? Explain how you chose that name.

My first MMO character was in WoW ... a female night elf rogue (original, I know). Her name was Ashran. Yeah, I got in pretty early. The idea for that name came from an RPG character I'd had named Intima Ashrain. ... Modify and enjoy. Other WoW toon names I've had that I quite like: Bellacose (from bellicose ...modify obscure words into names is good too) and Sephira (from Sephiroth, FFVII) I guess Sephira is also an Eragon character, but it was accidental.

Oh, another naming thing. I like names that shorten nicely. People aren't going to type your full name, so think of how they'll truncate it. This can go really wrong, as my friend Tanith found out in WoW when his pally's name got shortened from Mordesa to ...



3. Have you kept a specific name through various games, or do you tend to change your naming habits based on the individual game?

No, I'm not really about that. Each character deserves a fresh name imo.

4. Do you ever reserve names, planning to use them for characters that you might play later? If so, what are they and why do you hold on them?

I don't. See 3 above. I feel like I can find a good name even if lots are taken.

5. Of the three common archetypes in MMOs — tank, healer, DPS — which is your current main character?

Czarnal is ...well a tank class, but now he's specced DPS (Rending Blade, natch)... we'll see what happens post-rending blade nerf.

I really don't see the point to speccing corruption. I'm sure there's good tanking stuff in there, but it seems pretty thin ROI given that a lot of speccing in WAR (at least for chosen) is upgrading damage from your various attacks.

6. What archetype was your very first character in an MMO? Why did you choose it?

Ashran as I've said was a rogue, melee dps. MDPS is a good starter role i think. Gets you up close to the action, decent soloability, not too much responsibility.

7. Are you usually attracted to one archetype over another, or do you play them equally? Why?

Well I like to tank and to heal for the responsibility that comes in those roles. I like ranged DPS the least, though my raiding main in WoW (Sephira) was a warlock and I did a lot of content that way. Too easy to autopilot for my tastes.

8. What is your favorite feature from an MMO you no longer play?

I miss the breadth and complexity of WoW's dungeons. So many of them, most with fun complications and interesting designs.

9. Is there an MMO that you would play if it was free? Which and why?

I might play WoW again if it was free, or LOTRO which is yin to WAR's yang. Maybe Lineage II just for the sexy characters?

10. How do you measure the success of a character in an MMO (total kills, titles accumulated, wealth, rare items collected, level reached, etc.)?

Tricky. I think I've always sort of judged by fairly basic guides: do I have endgame gear? Have I done end-game content? When the end-game of an MMO is really working there is no end, so I try to be flexible. I was very pleased right before I quit WoW to have met a couple goals: got an arena ranking on my disc priest and had a more-or-less matched set of gear on my rogue. I wanted to kill Illidan on Sephira, but though my guild killed him and I worked on the fight, I never participated in a kill. Still, it was a good run.


so there you have it!

I'm going to chain-letter this bad boy to Rivs at Way of the Chosen, Tulane at Incoming Pull, Goody at The Captain's Blog and Grimnir at Grimnir's Grudge.

Post your own or get seven years of bad luck, so says I. Readers are invited to post their own in the comments. Fellow Children of the Raven, that means you!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Imagine there's no healers ... I wonder if you could

WARNING: The following is a general MMO post, not WAR specific.

So a while back, I was discussing a hypothetical MMO with my friend and fellow WAR-player, Tanith (aka Bellagoth). In this hypothetical MMO there weren't any healer classes. We wondered, could you do it? What effect would it have on the game?

Here's what we came up with, as I recall:

• all classes would have some healing abilities
• boss fights would shorter, as you couldn't build them assuming PC's would go through several times their normal hit point allotment.
• some people would be turned off by the loss of that role.

Is it doable? Absolutely. What would the combat in game look like ... not entirely sure, but it would likely be much more intimidating.

Recently, as I was thinking about this conversation, I was wondering about the other iconic MMO role: the tank. Could you do away with the tank?

I'm reminded in all of this of D&D. The pen and paper sort. Before 4th edition you certainly had fighters with armor and shields, but they didn't have the stickiness that you find in an MMO tank .. they couldn't taunt, there was no threat.

Also, in D&D, while there has always been healers, at least since good ol'AD&D, virtually all of their heals were touch range only. Moreover, they had a very limited amount of heals.

So imagine, if you will, that there is no tanks and no healers ... there would still be ranged vs. melee types, and probably light armor vs. heavy armor types, but imagine that all of those classes could do some of the things a tank does: debuff, taunt, temporarily increase damage absorption or avoidance. If the only sort of tanking was one that was shareable by all, then how might roles be assigned and how would combat play out?

Furthermore, for the sake of argument, lets imagine that each character has some sort of very limited healing ... whether its a long-cooldown group HoT or a self-heal or what have you ... or imagine instead that everyone has a WoW-shammy style self-rez.

I guess to avoid nitpicking I should also assume that these abilities are balanced such that one doesn't clearly outweigh another.

In the resulting game you'd have parties where each player could contribute in all aspects of the fight. Monster damage would have to be juggled between individuals, or they'd have to be crowd-controlled or kited. Everyone in that world is a hero, no one is there to support someone else.

But is that better? While you could still have class diversity, some might miss the specialization that comes with being a great tank or a great healer. Some might prefer to support others (which you could still do, but less potently). It might also encourage the bad play we often see in PvP: everyone attacking willy-nilly without organization or structure.

On the other hand, it would mean that you wouldn't have to have someone playing a healer, playing a tank ... everyone could be a hero capable of dealing the final blow, of finishing off the badly wounded boss, of soloing the difficult champion.

I like tanking and healing both, but I wonder if without them MMOs might not be more dynamic. When you try doing a hard PQ or a keep lord without a tank or a healer you find yourself improvising, working harder, pushing yourself, I wonder if you could build that in to a workable system.

Blogger confessional

So Wall of Text has an interesting little set of questions for bloggers that I'd like to take a stab at in my ongoing effort to talk about myself all the time.

1. Do most MMO bloggers change their game more than their underwear?

I played Wow for over three years, and in that time I changed my underwear at least once ... maybe even twice. Since I've been blogging and playing WAR I have not changed my underwear, so I guess I can't answer that question truthfully yet.

2. Do we have secretly compete with other MMO bloggers for attention?

Secretly? No. I like to think of blogging as a war with other bloggers, rather than a competition, which might imply some sort of friendliness. And instead of attention, I consider blogging a battle of reputation and credibility. I am constantly working to undermine my "fellow bloggers" one post at a time.

3. Can we ever stick with one game longer than 2 weeks without ranting about what is wrong with it?

Okay seriously, there's two things here worth discussing, one that discussing issues with a game is potentially equal to ranting about what's wrong with it (totally inferring this by the way, maybe not intended) and secondly, actual ranting and complaining. I'll ignore the two-week thing, since its mostly for effect (as in, we do it constantly).

Yes we point out issues. We do this so that, one, people know that they're not alone in the trouble they have with a game, and, two, that we can share perspective on it. Is our perspective more valuable than say Johnny-Posts-a-lot on a given forum? Yes it is. Here's why. Blogging is more a more involved enterprise than posting to a forum. It's less of a pissing-contest. Sure there's some pissing involved but we're forwarding a brand and trying to make it valuable, so we're less likely to just wail pointlessly. Though obviously, that happens too.

But it shouldn't, in my mind. Certainly anyone can blog about any thing, but for me, I wouldn't put the time in if I didn't care about the game and want it to succeed. Why I would spend time constructing posts about a game I just wanted to kvetch about, I can't imagine.

4. Why should developers read us when they know we just are going to cry more?

Begging the question. You assume that we will cry more, but I think that's an exageration. Maybe you're reading the wrong blogs. Most of the ones I read are happy to see improvements. Sure, there will be more complaints, but that's because no MMO is ever perfect, no system is flawless and completely realized and untouchably awesome, so why not share your concerns, frustrations and ideas?

5. Do we really think we are going to be web famous from this?

I write this blog to communicate with and maybe get in-game contact from smart, saavy WAR players, and because I've read and enjoyed other blogs. Hopefully somebody out there gets a little enjoyment from this one.

And also I'm trying to get a hot suit of armor.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Malekith, Professions, and Master Looter revisited

A gallimaufry of WAR thoughts for you today.

The king is dead, long live the king. Grats to the euros who brought down Karl Franz. While I agree with Tulane's generally annoyed stance on the community response, I do think that 14 hours is pretty long, and I suspect that the whole process will get a nerf to make it easier.

Having said that, the first time my old guild cleared karazhan it took us like three nights? after gear and experience improved we were clearing it in like 3 hours.

But yeah, I think they'll nerf it, and here's why: Tomb kings. When you start diluting the end game player pool, especially when they haven't mastered the current content, you're probably going to need to nerf the old content to get it done.

And moreover: Malekith. So at some point I expect we'll see Malekith and the other various faction leaders in killable form. When they come in, where do they slot in, experience-wise? Are these subordinate leaders going to drop comparable or better loot? If not, why do them? Maybe they'll be easier to kill. If so, people work toward that target instead of Tcharzanek ... and you're back to the nerf equation.

Maybe I'm missing an option here, but I think that there's a potential narrative/progression problem here.

I agree with Snafzg Whoa that was weird to write. His post on crafting is spot on. A couple of notes: Butchering is a really a chore. Beasts aren't as plentiful in PQs or quest areas as humanoids, and the returns from beasts aren't exciting... pretty much one level of drop. The good thing about butchering, what's now missing from scavenging, is drop-relevance. Cats drop cat sinews, birds drop feathers etc. In old-timey scavenging (oh sweet old-timey scavenging) that was also the case.

Not any more. Now the drops are totally mob-independent, which is kind of boring. On the plus side, there are rare drops. Rare and very rare curios, and the grand prize, very rare level fragments.

Salvaging pretty much sucks for the absence of both of these: no relevance to what your salvaging (Well it has to have the stat for the fragment) and no randomness.

Also, why do you only need one gathering for apothecary but need both for talisman-making. And if you need both, why do they both need to gather fragments? There's so many fragments between salvagers and scavengers, that they're basically valueless, except for the rarer ones.

Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus The PQ master looter is working great, by the way. A couple of follow up notes to this, for those of you who aren't taking advantage of it:
1. you can set up master looter during the final boss kill of the PQ, maybe after even, but I can't confirm that.
2. set loot type to all (default is uncommon). this is the thing that was failing it so often for me.
3. turn off auto-looting. Probably you can work around this, but it makes it much easier.
4. master looter should be given to high bag winner. I've actually only ever done it when I was party-leader and high roll winner, so maybe the other doesn't work, but I suspect it does.
5. After you've been master looted a bag, you can then go pick up the bag you rightfully won.

I'm sure this info is out there elsewhere, but I thought I'd share my findings. Good luck and good hunting.

Pet Peeves I think this was a WAR blogger meme right before I got started, but I'm gonna list mine anyway. Complaining in bullet-form isn't complaining at all!
  • Clipping: A while back Dont had a big post about graphics that is worth a read, but for my money the big problem is clipping. It's really quite bad.

  • stuck: I've gotten stuck riding my horse and in a keep. If I'm jumping off cliffs or whatever, fine I'll give you that, but in a keep? Riding near a path? a bit aggravating. Also, the only way out is to hearth (er ... bind?) ... sort of a pain.

  • inventory responsiveness: particulary I'm thinking AH and mailbox. The mailbox as a whole is just really sluggish and frustrating. I love the bulk mail, but the auction house mailbox is ridiculous ... can't I just get the gold deposited and a receipt? It's pretty painful at the moment. Also, my bag sorting preferences apparently cause stacks to break apart and items I'm trying to mail to shift position and then not be mail-able? Or maybe that's just the mail system being fritzy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Vending Machine

WAR is seemingly built on a fairly straightforward premise, one that rings very familiar to the consumer in us all: Have it your way, right away. It's a vending machine mentality. Lots of choices, easy to get at.

What do you want to do? Let us make it easy for you. Scenarios, quests, PQs, oRvR ... they're all just a click away. The rallying cry is the latest step in this direction, adding more convenience, and the "arena" and multi-tier city-defense scenarios upcoming are yet more options, and on it goes.

But this is a good thing, right? Well, yes. And maybe no. It's often very pleasant. It minimizes waiting around, searching, riding aimlessly. Or it intends to at least, your mileage may vary. There's a lot to do, at every level of gameplay, and each of those things is easy to do. You get buffed up in level in both oRvR and scenarios, so you can hypothetically contribute as soon as, or even before, you enter a tier's level-range.

The downside is the thinning of the waters ... each element takes playtime from the others. If you think that WAR should be all about oRvR, then you probably wish there were fewer or less appealing competing options that suck players from the oRvR lakes. If you want to do nothing but PvE, you might have a parallel response: that it's too easy or too lucarative to do RvR, that encourage participation in RvR at the cost of PvE.

The second downside is immersion. If everything is sort stripped of locational meaning then the world doesn't feel solid. Where exactly are Nordenwatch or the Stone Troll Crossing? (okay maybe you know where these things are. I don't). Is Talabecland really right next to High Pass? The design of the world emphasizes narrative connection and ease of access over world shaping, which comes at the cost of immersion. I don't really understand how the pieces fit together. I'm not sure that they do fit together, honestly, as they're constructed. It seems like the world is built on a premise, rather than a map.

So, what's the take away? It is what it is. I think the loss of immersion is a significant one, but the added convenience of the structure, as well as the nice narrative flow of moving as you level up the battlelines toward both your own capital and the enemies are positives.

I think that the wide array of options are competing against each other, but if you have less to do, do you reduce your player base, and consequently have fewer people to take part in your fewer choices? I don't know.

I think that WAR works. For me it works. But it is this odd thing: this vending machine game of many choices.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Drop Dye Colors

Hey hey, it's a non-april fool's day post. Shout out to all the funny and well-done Fool's Day posts out there. Of what I've seen, Thulf and Rivs win the prizes, and Dont's post is also quite funny.

What I offer you, gentle reader, is less amusing, but hopefully helpful. A quick look at some of the various drop and cultivating dyes out there and what they actually look like. You can get also get screenshots of the various dyes from wardb but having the context of a comparison, is I think worth a look. I've provided some vendor dyes as context.

Blazing Orange
Scorched Brown
Made from resinous brown extract (cultivating)
Dark Red
common quality drop
Red Gore
made from fiery red ant extract (cultivating)
Warlock Purple
drop dye shown, but same as vendor

Regal Blue

Midnight Blue
Seaguard Blue
made from blue bottle fly extract (cultivating)

Scaly Green
Oddly enough the drop Scaly Green that I had previewed like this:
Which is the same as Goblin Green
Made from verdant leaf extract (cultivating)

Obviously a lot missing here. I'll try to update as I acquire more dye, and screenshot submissions are welcome.