Monday, June 30, 2008

WAR Expansion: Ogre Kingdoms

(This is all speculation of course. The Chrono Chaos time machine is currently broken... thanks syp... so I cannot verify if it will come to pass! My hope with this was to explore horizontal advancement possibilities rather than vertical. There should be no mudflation with what i proposed and it sounds fun to me. Your thoughts are welcome. )

Chaos has spread east to the mighty Ogres of the East. Some have fallen victim to the corrupting power of Chaos, others have rejected it and have vowed to eliminate it from their brethren. The once mercenary people now need your help to spread or fight the growing Chaos!

Features:
  • Fight in 3 new RvR/PvE areas in the Mountains of Mourn.
    • T4 zones, 1 for each side and 1 neutral
    • New Ogre-themed fortifications to capture.
  • Capture the opposing Ogre village.
    • Smaller versions of capital cities
  • New loot to plunder from your enemies.
    • Ogre themed armor and weapons, not any better than what is available other T4 areas. More of an emphasis on strength/brutality and a unique Ogre look.
  • New Trophies.
    • You know, those things you can hang from your belt
  • New Crafting ingredients.
    • Gather new ingredients from your enemies or use Ogre influence to purchase them. These would not be any better than what can be found in other areas. They should open up possibilities for new types of improvements.
  • New Dungeon.
    • A new instanced dungeon (1 for each faction or 1 for both).
  • New Quests.
    • Gain influence by doing Quests for Ogres that you support.
  • New Public Quests.
    • RvR and PvE PQ's for loot and influence.
  • New Tome unlocks.
    • Pretty self-explanatory.
  • New scenario.
    • A new Ogre-themed battleground to fight on.
  • New Ogre-themed banners and tactics for guilds
    • Guilds can unlock new banners and tactics here too.
And the big features:
  • Unlock two new classes to play!
    • Use your newly obtained influence to unlock the Bull Ogre and the Ogre Butcher
      • Bull Ogre: Brute strength melee class. No magic and is vulnerable to magic
      • Ogre Butcher: Decent melee, able to provide buff's. No magic, not as armored as the Bull.
    • New classes would have their own mastery, maybe not 3 trees, but some customization possible.
    • Available to Order and Chaos, as they are mercenaries.
    • Expensive influence wise, but should be available to a good chunk of the population eventually.
    • Start at level 1 in any starting area (on your side).
    • Full character creation, so you can look unique.
    • Ogre-Only armor sets
    • The main goal of these classes are to provide new interesting ways of playing the game. Not necessarily meant to be a players main character.
  • Learn new skills from your Ogre allies.
    • Several new skills that can be purchased with influence.
    • Skills would NOT be class specific, rather they would specific to group of classes. Melee skills would be open to a subset of classes, some buffing skills would be open to another subset of classes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

WAR: Fightin' Music #1

MMO's need a good soundtrack to fight by. Sure it comes with one that is of the 'appropriate theme', but honestly, it just doesn't cut it.

Everyone knows that music reached its pinnacle in the 80's. No where else can you find so many inspirational fighting songs in montage form. But don't take my word for it, the proof is below!


video

Admit it, you are fired up now.

Information:

Karate Kid (for music)
YouTube #1
YouTube #2
Windows Movie Maker

WAR: Dodged bullet

It was not too long ago, that the focus of WAR RvR was in Scenarios (Battlegrounds ). The fact Mythic was heading down this road still worries me today. Open world RvR consisted of taggable objectives... and that was pretty much it. This sounds like a game I do not want to play.

I am not sure why they designed the game that way. Thankfully, beta changed their minds and put the focus on open world RvR. It seems like this was an obvious decision, so why didn't they start out that way?

Everything Mythic has been saying lately has been great. However, this still sits in the back of my mind casting some doubt as to whether they really know what they (and we) want. Just thought I would share this small worry :) We will find out soon enough if it is warranted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WAR: Beyond launch, content updates?

In WoW, a new expansion pack is released every two years or so. This usually (well it has only happened once) consists of a new level cap, new races or classes, new professions and new areas. In between, they release new content in the form of new raids/dungeons, quests, items and features.

In LoTRO, they release a new content pack every few months. These usually contain a new zone and quests. Sometimes it includes feature upgrades (like housing or Fishing) as well. They are set to release a new expansion soon, which will include several new zones, dungeons and classes.

What kind of content will WAR be able to release? First, lets look what Mythic did with DAoC:
  • 7 Retail expansions
    • Classes added, not evenly to all realms. Some available to all realms.
    • Races added. Some available to all realms.
    • Areas, dungeons added.
    • Player customization (i.e. models)
    • New forms of advancement (Champion and Master levels)
    • Housing and vendors
    • Expanded RvR ( Boat transport, new siege capabilities, expanded keep building, realm abilities)
  • Patches
    • Patches every couple months
    • Patches are mostly fixes, but they do include new content sometimes, but not much.
Since WAR is a RvR game, balance will be very important. Any additions should not give an advantage to either side. We have seen them address this by mirroring classes on both sides. Not only are classes mirrored, but areas are too. They have taken a very symmetric path with the design of the game. This is good and bad.

It is good for balance. It is bad for adding new content. Instead of just adding one Dwarf class, they will have to add a second to the Destruction side. If they want to add an area to the Chaos Front, they will have to add one to the Empire side as well. Then the Empire/Chaos front will not be mirrored with the other two anymore... so it could get complicated.

A lot of what was added in DAoC was outside the scope of RvR. Many of the areas were open to both sides but were primarily PvE. New PvE content is great, but this is WAR! Some of the PvE additions led to equipment grinding, which many blame for the downfall of DAoC.

For an expansion pack, I could see Mythic releasing 2 new races, 9 new areas , 2 new capital cities and 6 or 8 classes. Yikes! That does not sound very easy, as those classes have to be balanced with the rest of the game. An expansion should be a big deal though. Also, I don't see a reason that new fronts must have all 4 Tiers, so there could be room for easier expansion there.

As for content upgrades, that will be a bit tougher. Classes/races which can be used by anyone are a possibility. Imagine being able to unlock an Ogre class. It would not be an alpha class, just different in how it plays. New areas don't seem appropriate for a content upgrade for the reasons above. The world should be pretty full of Public Quests and such, so I don't see those really being a big part of an update (without new areas).

What will we see in the way of WAR updates and expansion packs?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DAoC RvR RSS feed Beta

As an experiment and a learning experience, I put together some automatically generated RSS feeds to report on Relic, Keep and Outpost ownership changes in Dark Age of Camelot. So whenever one of these gets captured, you should see it in the RSS feed.

Notes:
  • RSS 2.0
  • Currently, all feeds will be refreshed every 30 minutes. This can be improved upon in the future, I would like to see it every few minutes.
  • Guild information is not included, it will be phased in later in the beta.
Right now there are 6 Feeds:

*Some of these will be empty, as they are newly created.

Feedback is welcome. This post will change with any updates.

Monday, June 23, 2008

WAR: WTB Squig Launcher

From June's 'News from the front':

"To: Requisition Office
Type: Requisition Order
Request: Building Materials, Class II
Requestor: Brimold, Engineer
Reason: (Following is a direct dictation from Engineer Brimold transcribed by Aelior, high elven Archmage stationed on-site – or as well as he can make out)
Damn this thrice-cursed piece o’ goblin dung! Tis like a greenskin buil’ it! This turret’ll ne’er las’ the week! Here I be with my mates sittin’ on this horde o’ gems for the Doomstrikers, waitin’ for transport when we be attacked! I be tryin’ me hardes’ to defend this here place from those fool Sun Boyz o’ wha’ev’r they fancy themsel’es but I kin only be buil’in trash wit’ wha’ I ‘ave. I need me some truly outstandin’ parts to build me a turret proper-like! I saw a wild pack o’ lumberin’ green apes run through and trash me mates’ turrets like they was nuthin’ but paper! Great Thorgrim’s Beard Buckles! Like paper! Ne’er before has dwarf engineerin’ fallen so low!

Now dun get me wrong. Them turrets be fine on their own fightin’ wolves, but we no’ fightin’ wolves! We be fightin’ orcs o’ the blackest kind, and even worse: squigs…and lo’s o’ ‘em. Now…I kin imagine you sittin’ there readin’ this wi’ a dumb expression on yer face thinkin’ ‘squigs? Now how is them worse ‘en orcs o’ the blackest kind?’. Well…I’ll tell ye. Orcs be fierce, no doubtin’, but they not be in the numbers we be seeing these squigs! This place be crawlin’ wit ‘em! And what’s worse ‘en their numbers? The smell. Downright putrid! I saw me own cousin belchin’ out his own breakfast they smell so bad! And he’s a hearty one!

‘So how’s this ha’e anythin’ to do wit’ this requisition order’ you be askin’. Well, wha’s the best way to be fightin’ a squig? From a distance, o’ course – that way you cannae smell ‘em. And to be fightin’ from a distance, I need to be builin’ me best turret! But I cannae do tha’ unless I be havin’ the proper buildin’ materials! So there be yer damnable reason. I’ll be waitin’ for the materials in the usual place. Dun leave me waitin’!

To: Brimold, Engineer
From: Requisition Office
Type: Requisition Denial
Reason: Fellow engineer! It be known the squig menace is something bad in your area, but at this time, we be unable to comply with your requisition order. We currently do not have the available materials. When the material be made available, we will send it to you post-haste. Meanwhile, it be suggested by our educated elven brethren that you should make clever with items
near at hand as your materials. Since it seems you are swamped with squigs dead or living, it was suggested: “squig launcher”. That is all. "

This may have just been a funny fiction piece, but I think this should be in the game. Of course, it would be used by Dwarf Engineers.

How would I get a Squig Launcher?
  • Kill X amount of Squigs
  • Renown award
What it should and should not do:
  • SHOULD be fun to use! I would like to see a great animation of a Squig getting hurled through the air.
  • SHOULD be hard to get, but never go obsolete.
  • SHOULD be statless. The actual launcher should be generic. Lets have the ammunition be what decides the result.
  • SHOULD NOT be required. At no point should it be a must-have weapon to accomplish anything.
  • SHOULD be useful, but not overpowered. That is easier said than done of course. I see the launcher being used to add short-lived AoE debuff's.
  • SHOULD have a long induction timer. I see this as a support weapon, not a primary weapon.
  • SHOULD have a cooldown timer. This is not a primary weapon, so no need for a quick cooldown.
Ammunition would be Squigs of course. There are a couple ways to go here:
  • Collect dead Squigs to use as ammo
  • Squigs are abstracted and you just choose which type to use in the weapon.
I like the latter option. The first would lead to people searching out rare Squigs (as they may have a different effect when launched). Also before a battle you may have to go farm some Squigs. That is a slippery slope I do not want to get started on.

If we can set the weapon to use a certain kind of Squig, it opens up even more rewards and customization options, which are always a good thing.

The most important aspect of a Squig Launcher is that it should be fun to use. Good animations and good sounds are a must. Sadly, this weapon probably is not in the game but it does not hurt to hope.




Saturday, June 21, 2008

A RPG that SAVES you money?

This is a piggy bank and a RPG all in one! The more money you put it, the more you level. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Link



Friday, June 20, 2008

WAR on G4: Bleh

I just finished watching the WAR preview and 'hands on demo' on G4. It was pretty lame. They talked about Warhammer basics while some footage of PvE was being shown. It only lasted 5 minutes max. Footage looked like anything else out there and no real information given. Mythic, if you are going to advertise something, at least try to make it worthwhile.

WAR: Release on track for Fall?

The eternal question, when will WAR release? E-Commerce type sites seem to say late September or early October, so that is what I am going by for now. EA-Mythic has been pretty tight lipped regarding any specifics, but they do release some information which give some idea of their progress.

WAR is set to have an Open Beta. In order for Open Beta to be useful, it would probable need to be at least 3 to 4 weeks long. Shorter then that, players do not really get a chance to advance. In an ideal world, Open Beta would feature a complete game and be just about Balancing. I am in an idealistic mood, so they would need to have the game complete by September. That leaves us a little over 2 months.

Periodically, Mythic will release 'News from the Front', among other things, they write about what happened in this months closed beta. Lets looks at the previous 3 beta reports:

April:
  • High Elves vs Dark Eleves
  • Blighted Isle (Tier 1)
  • Eight careers open, with Career Mastery
May:
  • Empire, Tier 3 and Tier 4
  • Twelve careers open
  • Altdorf (peaceful)
June:
  • Greenskin and Dawrf, Tier 1, 2 and 3
  • High Elf and Dark Elf, Tier 1, 2 and 3
  • 18 careers open
  • Inevitable City (peaceful)
  • Gunbad Dungeon
There were two reports for March, which covered several areas in the Empire/Chaos and Elf fronts.

From the given information, we can see they have improved a good amount each month. I would expect the next beta report to have all careers and races open, and explore some Tier 4 areas.

More troubling is the lack of previous Tier 4 testing, capital cities and dungeons. All of this is likely content that is seen in high levels, but as i mentioned before I would like to see this actually in the game for open beta. That is just me though :)

I think it will be tight but there is a real chance of a late September release.

So what do you think, can they make it?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Zerghammer? I hope not

One concern I have with WAR, is that the tactic of zerging will become too prevalent. Zerging is basically getting a large group of players and going from objective to objective, laying waste to anything in your path. There is nothing wrong with it, but it tends not to be very fun for the other side as there is nothing they can do except ride out the storm.

There is a reason Zerging happens and it is not lack of skill. Simply, it works very well. The mechanics of a MMO, in general, foster this tactic. Why does it work so well?

Healers - In order for a zerg to sustain itself, it needs healers. They are also a major factor in what makes a zerg so effective. If a few healers are present, the battle becomes: DPS vs Healing. If you cannot out DPS their healing, odds are you will not be able to break the zerg.

Going after the healer first can be effective, but if they have a healer healing that healer it becomes difficult. Rushing into the zerg to get the healer will often result in a quick death, even if you get to the healer.

The Map - The layout of the battlefield is often zerg friendly. Objectives are not usually that far away from each other. This allows the zerg to move quickly to objectives which may be under attack.

Objectives - Some Objectives require a group to take. This means it will take time, which allows a zerg to respond, often times rolling over you before you can capture the objective. The tactic of spreading out and attacking where the zerg isn't becomes less effective.

A force with superior numbers and reasonable equipment and skill, will and should win more time than not. That is not in dispute. The problem with a zerg is, it becomes pointless to even fight it. You will just end up feeding renown to your enemy. All you can do is make your own large group or wait until the zerg breaks up, then go recapture everything. The whole battlefield becomes a flipping affair.

Will WAR have these issues?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Werit captures a Greenskin!

Today we have an interview (RP/In Character) with Snafzg from The Greenskin. Hope you find this format enjoyable and entertaining!

------

In an undisclosed cave, somewhere near the Dwarf/Greenskin border...

A feisty Goblin sits in a crude chair, restrained. Behind him, two heavy-set Dwarves stand with grim expressions, but keeping their distance from the chair. Entering from some unseen tunnel is an austere Dwarf, more lightly armored then the others. He carries a rifle on his back and several strange canisters on his chest. The Dwarf approaches the Greenskin, stroking his beard lightly.

Werit: Well, Well, what do we have here? Some green... thing. I bet you thought you could get away with trying to spread that Greenskin propaganda without any consequences. Now you are going to answer some questions for me. If you don't, well, we have way of making you talk.

He nods towards an odd contraption in the corner of the room. The only things that can be made out are: gears, a steam whistle, a small rock on a piece of string and a keg of ale.

Werit: So lets get started. What are you and what is your name?

The Goblin unflinchingly stares at his interrogator, a glinting malevolence in his beady eyes.

Snafzg: I ain't be tellin' ya nothin', ya pompous stuntie!

Again, Werit motions towards the contraption.

Finally taking the hint, Snafzg quickly glances at the torture device and takes a hard swallow before opening his mouth again. Through gritted, needle-like teeth, he seethes:

Snafzg: Ah, dat's a pretty piece o' machinery ya got there... My name be Snafzg an' I be a Gobbo o' da Greenskin tribe: Enmity. Ironically, that's what I be feelin' fer you at dis instant!

Werit grins.

Werit: Is that so? I hope I can get to bed tonight knowing that. Tell me, what use could a creature like you be to them?

Snafzg: Oh, ya know... little o' this, little o' that. Mostly baby snatchin', keepin' the snotlings in line, and takin' care o' ya mum! Oh, and I dabble in da Gork n' Mork arts o' Shamanism. She loves dat especially!

The two Dwarven guards raise a sign of protest but Werit waves them off.

Werit: No slimy, disgusting, offspring of a slug insults my mum!

Werit starts to reach for one of the canisters strapped to his chest, but moves his hand away.

Werit: You are lucky we dwarves take oaths seriously. However, there are limits goblin. Back to the matter at hand. How do you feel about the war? Do you like your people getting slaughtered by us or would you prefer they just fight some bears or something?

The Goblin cackles loudly; a sound akin to breaking glass, grinding stone, and the shrill, gleeful cry of a bar wench.

Snafzg: Does I prefer bears? Are ya tryin' to kill me with ya nonsense? Sure, I'll kill a stinkin' bear just to get good n' messy if there ain't be stunties around, but ya gotta know I'd rip yer jugular out first if I be havin' da option of it!


Werit: This is probably a silly question, as I don't think Greenskins understand the concept, but I was told to ask: Do you take part in any trade skills?

Snafzg: Oh yah, sure. I be craftin' some fungus twixt me legs right now! What you guys call Cultivation me guesses. I actually poisoned a whole batch o' yer ale before ya furry git muscleheads caught me fer questionin'!

The dwarves exchange a concerned look amongst themselves but then shrug it off because Goblins are known to be cunning, deceitful creatures.

Werit: Fungus eh? That would certainly explain the smell. Moving on, what is the deal with those Squigs? No matter how many we kill, they keep reappearing? Tell us their secret!

Snafzg: They be a-sexual, but I guess all ya fuzzballs wouldn't known anything 'bout that, being so ugly n' all! Prolly don't know a-sexual from b-sexual from any-sexual! I've seen da hairy upper-lips of ya brauny women... and I gots ta say, I'd rather do it with mushrooms to be honest!

Werit turns a deep shade of red, especially around the ears. His broad shoulders and wide arms twitch involuntarily. His hands begin to flex open and shut, as if throttling some invisible neck.

Snafzg leans slightly back in his chair, a wicked grin starting to form on his disfigured face.

Werit: I got one last question before ridding the Old World of your presence, filth. What do you think of your allies, the elves and those deformed by Chaos?

Snafzg: I ain't got much t'say 'bout dem other than I'd like to show da Dark Elf women a sloppy good time, da Dark Elf men a serrated shiv in da spleen, and dem Chaos freaks, well, dey can take a deep breath of my fungal feces! Us Greenies don't play nice with others because we don't play nice with ourselves neither! Ya got that, ya cheap, lying, no-good, rott'n', four-flushing, low-life, snake-lickin', dirt-eatin', inbred, ovastuffed, ig'nint, blood-suckin', hell-hound-kissin', brainless, ****less, hopeless, heartless, fat-arse, bug-eyed, stiff-leg'd, spotty-lipped, worm-'eaded sack of squig spunk?!

Werit: You go too far, scum! Our tunnels won't smell so bad with your corpse floating down the river! Take him out, brothers!

With a smirk and a snort, the Goblin Shaman makes several quick hand gestures. An aura of green surrounding him, he shouts: "Gork says stop!"

Simultaneously, the Dwarves breath in sharply and each clutch at their chests. With every step they take towards their diminutive prisoner, shockwaves of pain shoot up and down their spines. The two guards collapse within five paces and Werit falls to his knees in agony.

The Greenskin mutters something unintelligible and the ropes that bind him unwravel. He brings his legs up, squatting in the oversized chair looking self-assured and demented all at once.

Snafzg: O' what prideful fools ya Dwarves be. Da boss'll promote me fer takin' out another batch o' stinkin' stunties! I can't wait for me special blend o' ale to warm, den burn through ya clansmen's bellies!

With a grimace of pain and all his will, Werit quickly reaches over his shoulder, drawing out the chestnut-stocked rifle. He fires off a round just as another lance of pain racks his entire body. It misses inches wide of his intended target, putting a neat, cauterized hole through the green creature's ear.

Snafzg shrieks in pain as he clutches his already-scarred ear. With a penetrating and evil red stare he hisses at the Dwarf. The little Shaman launches himself over his kneeling ex-captor and make a run for the exit tunnel. He notices a detailed map with strategic markings on a side table as he passes the mechanical torture device and skids to a halt on his calloused heels. Grabbing at it, he hears the loud clicking of a rifle being reloaded. His fingers grip the rough edge of it and he quickly ducks and rolls just as the wall where his head used to be explodes with shards of fractured stone.

Werit reloads the lever-action rifle again as he grunts. The pain is receding and the water that previously blurred his vision is nearly gone. He slowly takes aim as the Goblin jams the crumpled map into his inner robe, making for the dark tunnel. He fires again and hears a squeal of pain but Snafzg staggers into the shadows muttering another incantation. Werit reloads as he struggles to his feet and then bounds towards the injured prey.

Werit: You'll not get away with our secrets you vile creation!

Snafzg can be heard cackling, through ragged draws of breath as he skitters around the corner out of view. Werit pursues with a scream of rage.

Werit: This isn't over, you're going in my book!

------

Many thanks to Snafzg (who wrote a good chunk of the above) over at the The Greenskin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Web-Services for MMO's

Web-Services are becoming quite popular in today's MMO's. Using them Web (i.e. HTML) with a MMO is not a new proposition. MUD's and other text-based games were doing it before the advent of the graphical MMO's. Back then, the web was pretty basic and many text-based users used terminals to access their games.

One of my first programming projects was altering PennMUSH so I could dump in-game economy information to a file in the web server directory. Good times. We have come along way since then, just look at the WoW Armory. By making all of this data available outside the game, they increased community involvement greatly. Sites like wowhead have become almost a necessity.

I have high hopes for what WAR will available for Web-Services. DAoC, their first RvR effort, provides XML files with in game information, so I would expect at least that amount of information.

As a test, I put together a quick example. On the side-bar, down at the bottom, you can see the populations of 3 DAoC clusters. It will update on refresh. This was a very quick test of what can be done now, using no real hosting (I am on blogger). The future is bright!

Monday, June 16, 2008

WAR: Incentives for choosing a side

In a RvR game, the population of each side can have a dramatic effect on the battle. This is one of the most common concerns for players. Recently, Mythic has addressed one part of this problem by putting limits on the amount of players for each realm that can be playing at the same time. This will work great to ensure one side is not overwhelmed by the sheer amount of players online.

Another piece of the puzzle is to make sure all sides have enough characters created. Even with the limits described above, it will do no good if the limit is 3000 and there are only 2000 Dwarf accounts. Best case for the Dwarfs would be 3000 vs 2000, and that would not work out too well for them.

As Mythic has stated, they have done this before with Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC). In DAoC, they used an incentive system to help persuade players to create characters of a certain realm. Let's take a look at what kind they offer:

  • Bonuses applied to both PvE and RvR
  • % Bonus to each PvE and PvP kill (% based on disparity)
  • % Bonus to Realm (Renown?) points (% based on disparity)
  • Cost reduction for hook points (housing feature?)
  • Free levels (affected by time)
Now some of these features are obviously DAoC only, but it can give a good idea of what we can look forward to in WAR. Quicker leveling and cheaper stuff seem to be the best way to generalize possible incentives.

What kind of incentives would get you to switch sides?

More Information:

DAoC Population Bonuses

WAR: Population Caps

A lot of great info from Waaagh today from Games Day 2008 in Baltimore. One major tidbit was:

"Servers will have population caps on each side to keep them balanced between Order and Destruction. Most MMOs have server population caps; WAR will have realm caps (i.e. two separate caps per server)."

At first this had me pretty concerned. There seem to be a lot of pitfalls with capping the population. The devs made a post on the Warhammer Alliance forums explaining more:

"- We are not capping the amount of accounts/characters that can be created on a server. We want friends to play with each other, it's important, we know that

- Most every game has a server cap, those who played World of Warcraft in the earlier years probably remember waiting in queues for a spot on the server. The only difference is that ours is based on realm to help maintain balance when we have a very high population on a server.

- This number is yet to be determined, I see 3000 being tossed around a lot, please realize that it just an example and by no means should be taken as "the law"

- The blanket caveat of "It's Beta" applies. If we try something out, find out it doesn't work in practice, most likely we won't keep it. It's important to us though that we provide the best experience for everyone.

With that said about providing the best experience having servers capped at max with queues definitely doesn't accomplish that. We hope that if queuing becomes a necessity that it doesn't continue for extended periods of time. You guys getting in and playing the game is definitely important."

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Feed Change

I went ahead and changed the RSS feed to feedburner. Grab the feed here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

WAR Feature: PvP Leveling

The feature I am looking forward to most is that you can level through RvR/PvP. From Level 1, you can go to the RvR part of the map and just fight your way up through the levels. Don't feel like killing 15 boars? No problem, you won't be penalized (through time).

My first exposure to RvR (or a RvR wanna-be) was in LoTRO's PvMP. They had one zone, which was pretty big. It had 5 keeps that could be captured. Each was guarded by NPC's, sub-bosses and bosses. The two sides were the Free Peoples (freeps) and the Monsters (creeps). Freeps were actual player characters, while Monsters were high level creatures that allowed customization. In the beginning, the main purpose of this setup were Destiny points, which could be used in PvE. As time went on, they added a raid instance which could only be entered by the side that controlled the majority of keeps.

Once I started playing PvMP as a creep. I rarely looked back to the PvE game. The mostly constant action and human opponents were just too much fun. Rivalries developed the more we played and got to know the other sides names. I did not need the Destiny Points and just played for fun. Of course during this time, my PvE character sat dormant not progressing at all.

LoTRO is a good game, especially on the PvE side, but their PvP, to me, was more fun. Don't get me wrong, I like PvE too, but I would like to do both. The time I spent in PvMP works against my PvE progression. With PvP leveling, both playstyles will help each other. Seems like the ideal situation.

Another reason why PvP leveling is an important feature is leveling alts. In other, more traditional PvE games, I have always had trouble leveling alts. This is mainly due to the fact that I do not like to redo content. Many times there are different starting areas to try, but eventually you end up in the same places doing the same quests.

In WAR, leveling an alt can be done just doing RvR, which is usually much more dynamic than PvE content. I can easily see myself having a few alts. WAR's varied classes and lower level cap also help, but those are discussions for another time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Civilization as a MMO?

Sometimes even Dwarves want to conquer the world...

In a recent interview, Sid Meier (who really should needs no introduction) mentioned that there has been talk of a Civilization MMO. Whether or not this is true, it does beg the question: Can a 4x (i.e. Civ, MOO) be turned into a MMO?

I have long been a fan of 4x games and turn-based strategy (TBS) in general. I don't think any have been successfully made into a MMO yet. I can't say I am surprised, as I have a difficult time trying to figure out how they could pull it off.

There are numerous strategy web games available, but they have never been able to grab me like a game of Civilization. There are several reasons for this:

  • Map and the amount of players. How do you make a map for a strategy game when it could have an unknown number of players? In a MMO, everyone needs to have a fair chance of winning, so the map must be equally balanced. One things that makes Civ fun is the map can be quite random.
  • Time frame. Does the game go on for a long time? How do new players join and have the possibility to compete?
  • Loss. What happens when a player is knocked out of the game? Do they have to wait until a new one starts up? Seems like a bad idea for a subscription model.
  • Time spent in game. MMO's are giant time sinks. A game of Civ is too, but it is spread out over turns. Turns would have to be scheduled as to be fair, so what does a player do after they make their moves? Questing would not really work in Civ.
A common solution to the above issues is to separate the playerbase in to smaller games and start new ones as needed. This really is not a MMO to me, just an online game with a greater amount of people. Seems to be they would be better served to make Civ more multiplayer friendly. They have started down this path with the new console game, Civilization: Revolutions. This solution really is the same concept as above.

I just cannot see how to effectively make a 4x MMO. All that being said, I will try whatever Meier and Firaxis release.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WAR Boot Camp: Chaos

WAR is on the surface, a battle between the Empire and Chaos. This is not really true, as the Empire is only one human group and Chaos is not really a group at all. It could be said that it is a battle between good and evil, but that is not accurate either. One of the nice things about Warhammer is it is not cut and dry/black and white.

So what exactly is Chaos?

Chaos is a force that comes from a realm of energy (aka magic) in another dimension. It enters our world through gates located at the poles. Chaos can be described as an amplifier to the nature of living things. Living things have basic instincts, such as survival and anger, which are often amplified by Chaos and in turn these dark instincts begin to corrupt the host.

Sounds like Chaos is pretty bad.

It can be, but it is also the source of The Empire and High Elf magical power. They tend to only embrace a small part of Chaos due to the dangers it presents. So when you are wielding your magic, keep in mind where it comes from.

So, Chaos is just a magical energy?

If it were only so simple... Chaos is alive, in a sense. When living things use Chaos, Chaos also feeds off of them. Gods and Demons are created out of Chaos energy. These Chaos entities are created from emotions and instincts of the creatures using the energy. If hate and anger are ruling the world, you can bet the Gods representing hate and anger are benefiting.

Learn more:

HammerWiki

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WAR Boot Camp: Know your world!

As I am new to the Warhammer universe, I figured it would be a good idea to read up on what it is all about. This is the first in a series of bootcamp articles, starting with knowing the Warhammer world. I will keep it nice and simple, if you want to read more the links will be provided.

Where the heck are we and what are we conquering?

The Warhammer world is similar to our own (Earth for most of you I hope). In fact, where we will be seeing action is what is very much like Europe. This is where the Empire and Dwarves live. To the South and South West, we find the Orcs and Goblins. The elves inhabit the island of Ulthuan in the center of the Atlant... err Great Ocean. This is the primary theater of operations for the current battle.

Where can we conquer next?

Valid question, as we will win and need to know where to go next.

To the East, in Russia and Western Asia are the Ogre's and the Chaos Dwarves.

To the South in Africa is the land of the Dead and the human land of Araby.

Across the Great Ocean, the New World is largely devoid of civilization, but Dark Elves and Lizardmen have been seen.

Not much is known about the Far East, it is suspected that Chaos has a presence there.

The North and South poles are the location of strange portals which lead to the Realm of Chaos.

Learn more?

Warhammer
HammerWiki
Warhammer Alliance

View a map here.

The next article will cover who is fighting and why.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Conan the canceled!

A few days ago I canceled my subscription to Age of Conan. It appears I am not alone. It was not long ago I was excited for AoC to come out. I read up on it, I pre-ordered it, I even started reading the Conan books! I do recommend the books regardless, they are very good. I never did get to the place where the Conan MMO is based off of (2nd volume). I will eventually. The cheap person that I am did not want to pay for a chance to play 3 days in advance. So I eventually got to play a few days after launch.

Looking back, I did have an inkling that this would not work out. There were many signals, from the NDA to the messed up pre-launch. Beta leaks pointed to trouble as well. Then when i finally got to see for myself, I was not impressed.

The graphics are not all that good. I was playing on high and getting 50fps, but they really didn't look that good to me. Not a big deal, as gameplay > graphics... but it was a selling point.

The combat was a nice change from WoW, but not enough to keep my playing the game.

The main reason I canceled was that it is not sufficiently different from WoW. AoC has 80 levels, Battlegrounds, raids and Battlekeeps*. Battlekeeps is the big difference and it seems that for the moment it is poorly executed. Only a very small amount of people will actually get to participate in them, which likely leaves me out. WoW does all of the other things better and has more of it to do... so why would I play AoC?

Now AoC is a MMO, so it will evolve. Maybe in 6 months to a year it will have matured. I will keep watching it and probably give it another go down the line. the Conan lore is quite interesting, so I do have AoC to thank for getting me started reading those books. I hope AoC does well, as competition is good! Hmm, that is the 2nd post I have said that.

* It has other things like mounted combat, but those are the big ones.

Attack of the Clones?

News of a possible new WoW feature has been spreading around the net. It seems WoW may be adding an achievement system. This is not going over well in some places. Others have a more balanced take on it. For the purposes of this post we will assume it is true. Sigh, I hate assuming, but oh well. I don't understand why this is a big deal to anyone. Some WAR folks claim it is just WoW copying.

No game has an exclusive right to gameplay systems. If that were true, we would still be playing a couple MUDs (text based games for you younger folks :) ). Even more recently, Lord of the Rings Online had achievements. Star Wars Galaxies has also introduced a collection system which is basically the same thing.

I am glad to see WoW incorporating features that their customers obviously liked in other games. They are trying to improve their product which will benefit us all. This will cause LoTRO and WAR to try and make theirs even better. Competition is good!

Werit?

Welcome to Werit, a Warhammer: Age of Reckoning blog (WAR). All things WAR will be discussed, as will other MMO's. I am very excited for WAR and cannot wait until this fall to get started.

So what is with the name of this blog?

Werit: A Dwarf who has forgotten where he placed his tankard of ale; a stat of befuddlement.

Check out the dictionary here.

Seems appropriate as I have been known to be befuddled. I also have an affinity for Dwarf's in games. Much like a dwarf, I can be rather stubborn. I also enjoy my toys, and Dwarfs generally have them. So a Dwarf will be my first character when I get to play. In any case, the name seemed like a good fit.