Friday, July 31, 2009

The 'Nature' of WAR

Yesterday it seemed Mythic was on a bit of a nature kick.

How do you like them Apples? WAR has come to the Macintosh platform. This is pretty neat news. I'm not a mac user, but I know their MMO pickings are slim. Everyone deserves to play :) Next up, Amiga!

Where the wild things are. On the Wild Hunt of course. We got our first look at next months Live Event, The Wild Hunt. They also did a video, so check it out. Looks like an interesting event, I like the fact they are always pushing the envelope.

Won't somebody think of the trees? Here we have a preliminary look at the next patch notes for WAR. Here is a crazy thought, how about we save a small forest and fix some of those bugs before release :)

War with France

Last time, Portugal had allied with Castille in order to slow down the French expansion into the Iberian Peninsula. With the alliance in place, it was now a waiting game. I moved 6,000 men from Africa back to Portugal proper in anticipation. We also promoted a fine officer to General to lead the new army.

Sad reports came in from the other side of Europe. The Byzantine Empire has finally succumb to the armies of the Ottoman Empire.

Later on we received word that Castille has declared war on France. As required by our alliance, we too declared war. France and her allies did the same. Here is a look at the war:

As you can see, the land forces are pretty close in number. France has a large amount of cavalry and excellent leadership. This will be a tough war for us to win. Our Naval superiority doesn't mean much in this war.

Our first actions in this war were met with defeat. The French leadership really makes a big difference. Since we can't go head-to-head with them, we will go around them. The French armies worked their way into Castille and we occupied the former Castille province of Galicia. At this point we sent a diplomat to talk to France.

France had several large armies operating that we could not hope to defeat. Perhaps since we captured this province, they would be willing to call a truce. On a lark our diplomat demanded Galicia in return for peace. They accepted the offer, probably to get out 12,000 man army off the field.

During this time, the colony of Rio De Oro became a full fledged province. That only leaves the Azores as a colony. They are a drain until they become full provinces, so the sooner the better. We also gained a Land technology level, which gives us Men at Arms troops. They should help us in future wars.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to make a PvP MMO

Time to get in my recliner and become an armchair game designer. Making a PvP focused MMO is tough. You have to make an engaging game that keeps players coming back but it also has to be balanced. There are two critical design aspects that a would-be PvP MMO must take into consideration: Scale and Ownership.


Scale means the amount of players it takes to accomplish a goal. Let's look at WoW's PvE Scale: 1+ (solo), 5 (dungeon), 10 (raid), 25 (raid) and 40 (old raids). Nice distribution from solo to a large group and provides stuff to do for everyone.

Now look at WAR's for the RvR lakes: 6++ (Battlefield Objective), 12+++ (Keeps), 100+ (Fortress) and 48 (city instance). It clearly skews toward a much larger scale. Defenders just increase the numbers further for B.O.'s and Keeps.

This has the effect of making players feel like grunts rather than heroes. The lack of small scale goals also leaves players feeling bored and teaches them to wait for the zerg. Even PvP games such as Eve and Darkfall provide content (in the form of players or NPC's) for small groups. To keep players engaged, you must provide a wide variety of scale.


This would be the goal or objective piece of the PvP MMO. Why are the players fighting each other? In games like Eve, Darkfall and even DAoC guilds fight over ownership of objectives. By owning them, their guild gains benefits. They lose ownership when someone takes it from them.

In WAR you don't own a keep, you just lease it for a short time. It is hard for a player to get motivated when the scale of the objective is too big. They really don't have a stake in their city or taking the enemy city. It is all transient anyway, once someone gets to the city it will all be reset.

It is important to have that feeling of ownership in a PvP game. It is what drives many wars in real life and it carries over into MMO's too. Give players stuff to own, small and large scale, and players will create their own incentive to fight.

By combining a wide variety of scale and objectives that players can own, a PvP MMO will have a solid foundation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Farewell Eve

Yesterday, I canceled my Eve subscription. The last month or so I have only been skill training, so this was a long time coming. I've had an on again off again relationship with Eve for at least 3 years now. It is a game I want to like, but can't.

Eve is not hard. That is a common way people refer to it to make it sound better than WoW. It is a deep game which requires time and patience, but not any harder than WoW. My main issue is that it is not an accessible game.

Before I had a full time job and family, Eve would have probably been a perfect fit for me. Now though, I just don't have the blocks of time needed to get the most out of the game. Being able to have fun in 30 minutes - 1hour of game time is critical to me. In Eve, I could maybe do a mission or mine.... which were not fun activities for me.

In my ideal Eve world I would be involved with 0.0 sovereignty. That seems to be where Eve really shines, but it is not for the feint of heart. While I may never participate in that area, it sure if fun to read the stories.

Usually I keep 2 MMO subscriptions active, so losing Eve leaves me with a free spot. I have chosen a replacement... those of you who follow me on Twitter know which one. A post about it will be up soon :)

So when my subscription runs out, my 140 million isk ship will be deep in w-space with no way out. My character in stasis, waiting for the next time the Eve bug bites.

Dragon Age: PC or 360?

The eternal question, which platform to buy a game for. Dragon Age, coming in October, will be released on the major platforms. I have narrowed down my choices to the PC or 360. I have a PS3, but don't want to get the game on it.

The 360 is hooked up to my home theater (big screen, 7.1 sound etc). It is very nice for playing games. I played Mass Effect on it, but that was more action oriented. Dragon Age seems to have more RPG like combat. However, I don't think I will be getting it for the 360.

User created content is the reason. Dragon Age is set to be a monster when it comes to what players can create. Continuing what they introduced with NWN, Dragon Age will have all the tools for players to make their own campaigns. They even held a Toolset class for their more prolific modders. That should tell you how serious they are.

If this player created content piece was not there I would likely get it on the 360. I could hook my PC up to the TV, but that would be a pain and won't happen. It'd be nice to be able to get the player created content on the 360, but they have no plans at this time to support it on the console.

If you are interested in Dragon Age world building, check out the forums.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cold War, 1400's Style

When we last left Portugal, they had won the Second Moroccan war. Back in the Iberian Peninsula, Castille was fighting against France. The battle never did turn around and France managed to occupy much of their northern territory. When peace was finally declared, Castille had to cede several provinces.

Now I have to share a border with France. My relations are actually good with them, but they are still a major threat. The more they grow, the harder they will be to deal with. Eventually they will come after Portugal too.

Castille sent a diplomat with an Alliance offer. usually I tend to avoid diplomatic obligations as they work against my colonization goals. This time I accepted. My reasoning is that France and Castille will go to war again. If Castille looses more territory it will make my life more difficult. Also, now that they have territory on my borders, it will give me a chance to seize it in the coming conflict.

In the African territories I have been dealing with several rebel uprisings. The ferocity of the rebels has been surprising. It turns out my neighbors to the East, Algiers, has been funding Nationalist groups in several provinces. Their goal is to rebel and join Algiers. I also suspect France has been involved as well.

Dealing with Algiers is tricky. They are allied with Tripoli and Tunisia and more importantly, their independence is guaranteed by the Ottoman Empire. That is quite a bees nest and I'm not sure I want to poke it with a stick. I could likely win the war, France could cause some serious issues. Funding rebels may be an option, but it isn't cheap.

On the colonization front, I have settled in Rio De Oro and the Azores. Supporting these colonies has put a drain on my economy, but soon they will be self-sustaining. I also found a new African province called Taodeni.

Here is what the world looks like in 1428.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Premades, as it should be?

A premade is a term most often attributed to an organized PvP group. Friday night I had an opportunity to participate in one with my guild. We are a casual sort, so this is not a very common occurrence. As someone who is in pug groups most of the time, I know how frustrating it can be to get stomped on by a premade.

I had a great time with the group. There were 6 of us: Engineer (me!), Bright Wizard, Warrior Priest, Archmage , Ironbreaker and a Knight of the Burning Sun. This is just what we had on, so we were not running any sort of cookie cutter group.

For coordination we used vent and targeting assist (all in game stuff). We fared pretty well considering how little premade experience we had. All it takes is a little coordination to reap large benefits. We played mostly against pug groups, but there were several other premades going against us.

Some of the fights we had were amazing. In Nordenwatch, we had one skirmish that lasted 10 minutes, all constant fighting. It really helps when you know you can count on healing and a rez. Having that kind of confidence in your team makes it a more enjoyable experience.

In an organized group, you also tend to use all your skills in a more useful manner. You know what your team is doing, where they are and where they are going. When things mesh it really unleashes what WAR has to offer.

There is often talk about how numbers are all that matters in WAR. There is some truth, an organized 6 man will have a tough time versus a full warband... as it should be. Taking out a larger unorganized force is certainly doable. It isn't guaranteed though. Just because you are running a premade doesn't mean the folks in the larger group are not good players too.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who watches the Watchmen?

Werit does!

I finally got to see the Watchmen today. As usual I am behind the times. I never read the comics or even heard of the series before the movie came out. So I may be ignorant, likely am. Overall I thought it was a decent movie. Good action and an interesting story. A couple of things did bother me though.

One, I don't like invincible characters. Superman, Dr. Manhattan, whoever. Superman did at least have a real weakness. But they tend to ruin the story for me. Just like in the Lord of the Rings movies with the undead army. They swept in and killed everything making everything else pointless, what the hell?

They also killed off the interesting characters and left us with the lame ones. That is totally subjective of course. I won't spoil who lived, but I'm sure you'll be able to guess at the lame characters that will live.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Werit at WAR 7/24

It's been a quiet week as far as my WAR posts go. I've actually been playing nearly every day, but don't have too much to talk about. That isn't really true, as I have a sheet of paper with a number of topics sitting here. I've just been in the mood to write about things like EU3.

The big news in WAR this week is the 1.30b. I am going to refrain comment as it is still too new. They did bring back the Nordenwatch Live Event with slightly different tasks. This was a nice surprise and I have been having fun it it, especially with my alts.

My Characters:

Tirew (Engineer): 40 / 53 (so close to 54)
Hoplon (Ironbreaker): 30 /23 Sword and Board all the way.
Hurrik (Rune Priest): 13 / 13

I've actually been splitting time between them depending on where the action is. They offer very diverse play-styles so it keeps things fresh for me.

I plan on giving it another week before I weigh in on the new patch. It was funny, a couple hours into the servers going live folks were announcing on the channels that the patch was awful. A good rant would probably bring in the page views, but that isn't my style.

To help your Friday go faster, I recommend stopping by Gaarawarr Gabs to read about his recent visit to Mythic and his interview with Josh D.

The Second Moroccan War

A few days ago I covered the First Moroccan War in an AAR for Europa Universalis III (EU3). Portugal managed to sieze a couple valuable territories. I had the option to try and convert the people but decided against it. Conversion results in better tax revenue and lower revolt risk. However, it can take years to do and during that time the revolt risk is increased greatly.

Several years passed and our truce expired. Declaring war while having a truce will lead to a lot of other people disliking you. Morocco became embroiled in a conflict with their neighbors to the East, Algiers. This war was disastrous for them as they lost most of their standing army.

As a good neighbor, I felt obligated to protect their now defenseless citizens. Most of my Army was still in Africa, so war was declared. Facing little opposition, my forces occupied what was left of Morocco. Having no choice, they accepted a peace treaty and ceded a number of their provinces to me. The game mechanics prevent full annexation until they are down to 1 province.

With Morocco reduced to two inland provinces, I set my eyes on colonization. Portuege sailors recently discovered the island of Maderia. In the game, you accrue Colonists over time based on several factors. They set off to settle the island. We later discovered that sugar is grown here, this should be valuable as the colony grows.

When we took over the Moroccan province of Atlas, we discovered Tuat. This land was occupied by hostile natives. The Portuguese army was sent in to secure the area and colonists soon followed.

South of the newly gained province of Ifini is the unclaimed area known as Rio De Oro. We plan on moving into this area soon, but our finances do not allow for it at this time. Building colonies takes some gold.

Here is what Portugal looks like in 1420:

In related news, France and my neighbors, Castille, are at war. This could have consequences for me as time goes on. France tends to be aggressive, so I would rather not share a border with them. So far, the war is not going well for Castille, as France has occupied several provinces.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

MMO Crash on the Horizon?

It is a great time to be a MMO gamer. We have a lot of games to choose from and many more on the way. Just look at September, three major releases in that month alone (Champions Online, Fallen Earth and Aion).

In the coming year we will see a large number of new games and expansions. Can the MMO market handle all of these competing products? The development of many of them dates back years when WoW's numbers attracted all kinds of attention. Investors saw that there was money to be made and now we have a ton of MMO's (present and future).

One reason for this is that many thought they could grab a piece of WoW's playerbase. This does not seem to be how things work unfortunately. A significant amount of people like playing WoW and may not be swayed to these other games. There is a portion that will leave, but is it enough to go around?

The market will soon be saturated with MMO's and not enough players to go around. Once investors expectations are not met, we will see shrinkage (Do women know about shrinkage?) as MMO's close down, change payment models or shed employees. This will lead to investors being less willing to fund MMO's in the future.

As much as I like MMO's, I see the bubble bursting at some point down the line. Some games will be fine (i.e. WoW, TOR, Eve and others with a built in fan base). I think it will lead to more focused and efficient MMO's as they truly embrace their niche nature.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Werit's Kindle Review

A couple weeks ago I bought myself a Kindle. It was a tough buy for me as I had never seen one or used one. Would this electronic device actually be good for reading? Is it worth the rather hefty price tag? After using it quite a bit, I found the answer was YES!

There are several reasons why I like the Kindle. Let's start with its primary purpose: book reading. The e-ink display is very nice and easy on the eyes. I had no trouble going from paper to the Kindle. The ergonomics of the unit are easy to get used to as well. No more holding back pages. When you turn a page, there is a brief black wipe on the screen. I stopped noticing it after a few minutes of reading.

The amount of books available for the Kindle via Amazon is very large. At last count it was over 300,000. I read a lot of Sci-Fi and most books I wanted to read are available. Some older are not, but they add more all the time. Technical (i.e. Programming) books are also readily available. Selection has not been an issue.

One lesser publicized feature of the Kindle is its wireless connection via Sprint. That's right, you have a subscription-less 3G network connection included in the price of the Kindle. There is a basic web browser included too. It is primarily meant for things like wikipedia, but you can go anywhere you want.

It is a very basic browser and pretty slow, so visiting fancy websites will probably not work out very well. Sites like Google, GMail, Twitter and Google Reader work though. Not only is the Kindle good for reading books, you also get Email, RSS and basic web browsing. I even posted to this blog from it.

The Kindle can also read pdf's. At first I didn't think I would use this feature, but this weekend an opportunity presented itself. I downloaded Europa Universalis III off of Steam. It is a complex game so I decided I needed the manual. Steam provides it in pdf format. I hate to read large PDF's on the computer so I grabbed the Kindle.

There are 2 simple ways to get the pdf to the Kindle. I emailed the pdf to my special kindle address. Amazon converted the format and sent it to my Kindle automatically. This method costs a small sum (2.50 for 16 meg). The free way to do it is to mail it to a different address, which will convert it and email it back to you. Then you upload it to your Kindle via USB.

I spent part of the day sitting outside, reading the game manual on the Kindle. You can also search books , so if you just want to look up a certain topic, it's easy.

As far as negatives, I don't have too much to report. The Text to Speech is no replacement for an audio book as it sounds too computerized. I have not tried the mp3 player, but it does have one. I do wish there was a way to download podcasts straight to the device.

So far I am very happy that I bought the Kindle. As someone who never seems to get rid of a book the sheer amount of space make it worthwhile (well almost). Add in the wireless networking and ease of use, you get a very nice product.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Portugal Invades Morocco!

This weekend I had an urge to get back to my strategy gaming roots. I saw on Steam the complete Europa Universalis III package was a decent price. I've played the first two a lot and thought they were great.

I chose Portugal in the year 1399 (Grand Campaign). You can be pretty much any nation in the world at that time. Portugal is fun because they get involved in exploration and colonization.

You do get goals to help guide you. They don't need to be followed, but I will try to as I get acquainted with the game. The first given to me was to improve relations with Castille, who will eventually be Spain... maybe. I sent off a Royal Marriage request and they accepted. I figure it is good to be friends with the big neighbor to the East.

My next mission was to conquer Tangier, part of Morocco. It seems the Christians there need to be liberated. That's nice and all, but Morocco has some trade goods I am interested in too. Portugal is looking to be an economic power, so I will need those.

I assembled about 10,000 men and set course for Tangier. Once my force had arrived, I declared war and the invasion began. England, who are my allies at the start, also joined in the war as did Morocco's allies, Granada. My general (who has nice stats) began the siege. We received word that the Pope, controlled by Castille, called a Crusade against Granada. As a Catholic nation, this gives me a nice bonus. It should be known that Castille is at war with Granada too.

The Moroccan army mobilized and sent about 12,000 men against my forces. I had the terrain advantage and was able to break their morale causing them to retreat. Morale is very important, as troops with poor morale don't fight long. This was really the turning point in the war, as their main army had been defeated.

The siege of Tangier ended and we occupied the area. I sent forces to Ceuta, the neighboring province, to begin the siege. England's forces also began to land in other provinces. After we had occupied several provinces I sent a piece offering, we wanted Tangier and Ceuta. They agreed. This ended the Moroccan war.

In actual history, I do Portugal conquered Ceuta in 1415 but failed to take Tangier until 1471. I managed to get both provinces but it could have been more. My General died during the campaign and the war was dragging on my fiances. I thought it best to take their 2 richest provinces and call it a day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I feel for Mythic

Mythic announced today that they are finished testing 1.3b on PTS... after 4 days. Admittedly that is a very short amount of time. The overall assumption is that means it will go live soon. That may be true, but it could also mean they took in the feedback and decided to pull it back. I don't know one way or the other.

The worst part is the vitriol on the forums. So many complaints about nerfing without buffing. When they tried that they were lambasted for doing too much in one change. It really is a no win for them and their community team. They have to see how changes play out on live. PTS is not good for balance determinations as the population is so low.

The only thing I expect from them is to fix the NUMEROUS bugs reported during the PTS before pushing it live. The design decisions I can adapt to, the bugs not so much.

UPDATE: Looks like the changes are going live.

One week later

About a week ago the free server transfers were opened for WAR. My Server, Badlands received an influx of people from Skull Throne and Magnus. It wasn't exactly a merge, so not everyone was forced to transfer.

For the first time, in a long time, I logged in to see both sides showing a Medium population. This wasn't even during prime time mind you. Speaking of prime time, I am not too sure when that is exactly for this server now.

There has been RvR on every tier since the transfers. I've been able to get scenarios on my alts which has made playing them much more fun. Remember the days people used to complain about scenarios? They are a much more enjoyable way for me to level. Tier 4 has been very active as well.

There have been some downsides though. It seems both sides are somehow playing at different times. Order at night and Destruction in the morning/afternoon. There are good fights to be found, but most of the time one side has a larger force. This may change as time goes on and things settle down.

The other drawback has been the community. I don't seem to recognize anyone anymore. As with anything social, cliques have developed in the form of closed warbands. These will all go away with time though. Once folks get to know each other the social aspect of the server will pick up.

It has been a fun week in WAR. Hopefully now that they are down to mostly populated, fun servers the population will start to grow.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Werit watches Defiance

I watched Defiance this weekend. As I don't go for long reviews, here is what you need to know.

Action - Low/Medium. High would be Commando, the greatest action movie ever.
Revenge - Yes!
Cliches - Low, based on true story
Sad - A little
Come out cursing Nazi's? Yes
Make you appreciate how good you have it? Yes
Worth a rent? If you like history + action.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Day the AoE Died

Ok, that title is a bit dramatic. The Patch Notes for 1.3.0b were released yesterday. There is a lot to digest in there but the big changes are to AoE. No one has been spared and AoE across the board has been reduced in both radius and damage.

As expected, not everyone is happy with the changes. Some are just upset because they wanted change, but not to their class. Others feel that their class was poor to begin with and now they are even worse off (Shadow Warriors and Magus come to mind).

This latter group I do feel bad for. However, Mythic is taking an incremental approach. They are reducing AoE and then will re-evaluate the state of combat. It sucks to have to wait, but this seems like a prudent way to go about it. Once they have more data they can go about improving the classes that need it.

As an Engineer, I am taking a rather large hit with this patch. Here are some numbers:

Strafing: 711 - 656
acid: 952 - 1484
frag: 1290 - 1685
Land mine: 330 - 432
Sticky Bomb: (870 . 305) - (1050 . 369)
Napalm: 338 - 468 (last 10 sec)

I don't feel it is a big deal. It really just means I will need to use more Direct Damage attacks and that is fine with me. With AoE damage reduced, many people will take the direct damage route.

Another big change was made to how Fortresses work. The amount of time you have to take a Fort will be reduced by 15 minutes for every time you've pushed the opposing city into contested over the last 3 days. Hopefully this will help unbalanced realms a bit.

The CC immunity skill is also on PTS and called Resolute Defense. It provided 10 seconds of immunity on a 5 minute cooldown. The downside is that it costs 5 renown points. That is fine with me though, I like choices.

For a letter patch, 1.3.0b will be a big one. As much as it may hurt, it will be a good thing in the long run.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Producer's Letter for July

Mythic released a new Producer Letter yesterday. Let's get right into it.

Coming this month (PTS this week) in 1.3.0b.

AOE Normalization. AOE ranges will be adjusted to a standard system. Other AOE balancing is also being done, will be shown in the patch notes.

Immunity Mergers. Roots and Knockbacks are being merged into a single immunity timer. This should leave us with 2 immunity timers.

Immunity Duration. They will last longer now. This will mean less CC but more skills that just don't work when used.

Immunity through Death. Your immunity timers will persist through death.

CC Immunity Ability. At Renown Rank 40, you can get a CC Immunity ability. This is much like what was seen in DAoC I'm told.

Archmages and Shamans. Both classes are getting a revamp, as was seen in the 1.3 patch that never was.

Runes/Marks. Multiple Runepriests and Zealots can place different Runes/Marks on players.

More XP and Renown. When fighting near a Keep or BO you will get 50% more XP and 150% more renown. This is nice, but what about incentives for small group RvR?

Coming Soon in 1.3.1.

Second Ramp. Keeps will be getting a second ramp.

Keep Incentive. They want to base Keep rewards off of upgrades and the amount of players defending.

City Sieges. The city siege changes look to be included in this update too.

Fortresses. No new info, but the next letter should have it.

New Live Event. The Wild Hunt will occur near the one year anniversary (August/September).

Social Networking. There are plans to help players stay connected. This could be an in-game Twitter interface, which is all the rage. It'd be pretty easy to do this in an add-on.

Overall it was a pretty good letter. I'm glad to hear 1.3.0b will be out very soon. Not all is well though. They still are not addressing the end game issues of balance leading to a stalemate. They are also not addressing the need for small group RvR.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blogging Kindle Test

This is a test post. I am writing this on a Kindle. Wonderful device so far.

Werit on the WHA Podcast

Yours truly was invited to be a guest on the Warhammer Alliance Podcast. How could I say no? This was my first ever podcast and it likely shows. I talked a bit faster than I should, but I think I settled down eventually.

The main topic of discussion was server merges but it was recorded prior to Mondays announcement. Turns out they didn't need to do what i suggested, as some of the servers were balanced enough. We will see how it turns out in the long run.

The podcast was a lot of fun. Thanks to the WHA folks for having me on!

Direct Link:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Small Group content for WAR

It would seem that people like small group content much more than Mythic anticipated. It explains the apparent interest in games like Aion, which don't provide too much in the way of an over-arching campaign. So what can WAR do to appeal to these players?

I actually think it would be pretty simple to implement. If you give players the basics, they can make quite a bit out of it. Here is my poorly thought out version. First the simple way.

In contested zones, add several NPC spawns sites. They should be out of the way of normal traffic to prevent aggro frustration. These spawns could be anything really, Skaven, ogre's, both or something else. I envision 5-10 Rank 40 non-elite mobs at these little camps with a decent respawn timer to encourage movement.

The important part is what they give the player. Experience points would provide some constant leveling in the RvR zone for bolstered players. ordinance and Skulls of the Fallen would also drop from them, along with the normal npc loot table. To make them worthwhile to players, I envision a new set of items.

The items would be exchanged for: Money, Influence for the zone, Renown and tokens. These would be Tradeable. The drop rates would be appropriate for npc's which are supposed to be farmed. In addition, Quests can be made to provide other rewards. The npc's should not be worth any renown directly though.

This type of system should get solo/small groups into the zone as there would be something more to do. Once players start using the spawns, the enemy is sure to come looking for them.

If you want to get complicated, the spawns could be tied into the BO's and ownership. When Order takes a BO it unlocks surrounding Destro spawns and vice versa. This would give incentive for the farming players to protect that BO, but it may mean less to do if you have no BO's.

It doesn't seem all that complicated to add (the simple version at least). Would it be enough to keep the small group players interested?

Server Merges Cometh

Yesterday, Mythic announced a new round of Free Server Transfers. This time around they are consolidating five servers into three others. The source servers are some of the more underpopulated ones while the destination servers are in the middle ground somewhere.

I had thought they would do forced faction transfers, but it appears the server populations were balanced enough to avoid that. With the announcement there is a new wave of excitement on the boards as people scope out their new homes.

My server, Badlands, will be getting a bunch of new players from Skull throne and Magnus. I really hope this will help the lower tiers. Tier 4 was always fun, so I'm not too concerned with the impact there.

If Mythic is successful with this merge, not much should change and the stalemate will continue. It's a sad state of affairs when success == stalemate but that is the state of the end game right now. Still these transfers were a long time coming and desperately needed. More people to fight is a good thing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saga of the Seven Suns

I like Space Opera's. It may not be a coincidence that I am a huge fan of 4x games (Master of Orion, Space Empires) and a fan of their book equivalent. They primarily revolve around epic stories in the future, involving wars, politics, intrigue... you name it. My favorite series has to be the Commonwealth books by Peter Hamilton. They are huge books and tell quite a tale.

Recently, I read the first book of the Saga of the Seven Suns. It takes place in the 'near' future. Not actually near, but also not so far in the future humans have evolved much. I don't really enjoy the far future books, because I generally cannot connect with the characters. It is much like why I have trouble playing female characters in my video games.

This series looks to have all the hallmarks of a space opera. Some of it takes part at the highest ruling levels, the scope is on the galactic scale and the fate of humanity (and others) is at stake. The technology is out there, but pretty grounded and believable.

This book is a bit slow, as it has the responsibility of setting up all the characters. Once we get through that and the action starts it really gets exciting. One nice things is that all the books have been published. I don't like having to wait for conclusions so I can read through the series at whatever pace I want.

New Site Design

I am toying with giving the ol' Blog a new design. Check it out at It needs a nice banner though.

So what do you think? Should I stick with my current design? How does it look for you mobile users?


Friday, July 10, 2009

I'll have the PvP, hold the PvE

With Aion's release in North America approaching, there have been some interesting discussions on the nature of PvP. It can come in many different forms, but I am only really interested in two general implementations. Things like Arena based PvP don't really do it for me. Instead I like open world PvP, which can be separated into two basic schools of thought.

The first would be PvP-focused. This is the path Mythic took with their RvR in WAR. The RvR areas (lakes) do not contain much except for PvP objectives. In fact, it is a mostly dead area containing no npc's except for guards. This means that if you are in the lake, you are here for PvP, as there is no other reason to be there.

On the plus side, you get opponents that generally want to PvP. Motivation is very important in a game. If players don't want to PvP but have to (or would be stupid not to be in the area), then it can cause trouble and dissatisfaction. Whereas if both parties want to fight you can end up with a pretty good time for all.

There is a downside though. There is really no point to being in these areas unless PvP is going on. One common complaint levied against WAR is the lack of small group PvP. This can be traced to the PvP focused zones. Without npc's and other things to do for the solo/small group players these small group pvpers don't have much to do. Battlefield Objectives are for smaller groups, but still require a certain class makeup and usually a full group.

The second school of thought is to have a PvE area that has PvP elements as well. This , for the most part, describes the Ettermoors in Lord of the Rings Online and Aion's Abyss. You get a big zone, fill it with PvE content and also add in PvP objectives.

The PvE content in this area, which is usually some of the more rewarding content in the game, attracts all types of players. It also gives them plenty to do (PvE wise). They are known as the sheep. PvP players are the wolves. This is a broad generalization of course and players can and do fall somewhere in between.

Since there is a lot of PvE content which can be done solo and group, you tend to see a lot of small groups out in the zone. Many are engaging in PvE content while others are looking to gank them. For the purposes of this post, ganking means attacking a player while they are fighting an npc.

Ganking can lead to actual PvP in some cases. Eventually, as word spreads, it will grow into an all out large scale battle. Many other times, those who are ganked just go somewhere else to do their PvE and the gankers look for new targets. It isn't all bad though as sometimes your gank group comes across an opponents and you get some real PvP. In LoTRO I have sat around stealthed in my Warg just waiting for someone to try and gank some bait. It can be fun and exciting.

This kind of zone is also good for people who like PvE and PvP. WAR's Land of the Dead is similar in concept, but seems to feature less PvP and more PvE. Options are a great thing and I fully support them in MMOs.

You know what also bugs me about these zones? All the aggro you pick up from the plethora of NPC's. I just want to get to the fight, leave me alone! :)

How do you like your PvP?

I prefer my PvP without the PvE. It isn't a big surprise as I tend to avoid PvE content these days. In the Ettermoors, I never really touched the PvE content. I also am not a fan of ganking or being ganked. Attacking an opponent who is fighting an npc is weak and not much of a challenge. Ganking a ganker is fun but generally a small part of the game.

PvP is fun for me when I know my opponent is there to fight. It was very frustrating when WAR launched because people were actively avoiding the fight. In LoTRO it is also frustrating when people come to the zone just looking for the crafting materials or to farm npcs. The minute you attack they go elsewhere or hide. That is my fear for Aion's Abyss as well. Many players will be there for PvE. Some will discover they like PvP and seek it out, many will not.

In any case, I'm glad we have so many MMO's to choose from that offer different options. It is a great time to be a MMO gamer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

To be 28 again

Ah 28, what a great level to be in WAR. Young, wide eyed with all of Tier 4 in front of you. My Ironbreaker, Hoplon, recently reached this magical level. He is now bolstered to rank 36 and can queue up Tier 4 scenarios.

Of course, I get knocked around quite a bit. My equipment is sub par, as my renown rank was 16. I lack many skills and mastery points. I still feel useful though. My Challenge, Guard and Earthshatter are still effective even at this low level.

This is the part of the game I enjoy the most. I can compete in most of the end game and everything I do is useful for me and my team. Tier 4 is also where most of the players are on Badlands, so I can keep pretty busy with RvR. Hoplon is still developing, so that part of the game is still in play too.

If I had my choice, I would start every character at 28. My Rank 7 Rune Priest would love a gift of 21 levels. I don't think I have it in my to do the required PvE (on Badlands) to get him to 28 though. He just wants to play with the rest of the people on the server. Is that so wrong?

I don't even worry about Exp/Renown once I reach Tier 4. Being in the fight is just plain fun for me. The advancement is just gravy. An unwatched Exp bar moves much faster too. Hoplon has refreshed the game for me in a way. Playing an IB is much different from an Engineer.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Blogging bad for TOR?

Before The Old Republic releases, bloggers will be pretty good for the game. We can't help but be excited about it and give it much coverage. Bioware has been doing a great marketing job and blogs are just a small piece of the overall picture. But TOR is different than most other games.

TOR has put an emphasis on the story aspect where most other MMO's do not. They really seem to want to bring the single player experience to the MMO world. This is where blogs and other websites could be detrimental to the game.

We love to talk about the game (well, most of us). When I play single player RPG's, I do not want any kind of spoilers. If TOR succeeds on the story front, I won't want to spoil that either. That will be a limiting factor for me when visiting sites that talk about TOR. I'll be pretty paranoid the content I read as not to ruin the story.

It will also limit what I write on this blog. I usually don't post detailed guides ahead of time or spoilers for that very reason. After the game/system has been released I don't mind as much. With TOR though, alts sound like a very viable option for replayability. Bioware has said they all have unique quests and stories, so players may actually roll every class.

Will blogs be good for TOR once it's released? I hope we find out soon :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Problem with WAR's End Game

One of the most widely discussed issues with WAR is it's end game. The basic premise is one side defeats the other and captures their city. The actual city siege mechanics is another story, but so far this concept has not worked well. One side has to lose, constantly, for the other side to win.

This direct conflict is the core of the problem. A PvP MMO must strive for a balanced population. Without one the game just isn't fun for either side. If both sides are equal, then it is unlikely that one side can dominate the other. WAR's problem is that the end game needs to have that disparity.

The more balanced the game becomes, the less likely it is for the end game to occur. This seems like a fundamental design flaw that WAR has been built around. When the game becomes a stalemate, a large segment of players get bored and leave. If it is dominated by one side, players will get bored (of winning and losing) and leave.

In the case of a stalemate, the only time we will see the city siege is during off hours. This just frustrates players because they end up feeling helpless and not a part of the game. Why fight all day long when they will just take the city while you sleep?

Fixing the city siege mechanics and the fortress sieges will not help with this most basic problem. The whole idea of the campaign needs to be readdressed. Here is my half-baked idea.

Use the LotD resource concept. Instead of a direct conflict have it be more of a competition. Zone captures, kills, scenarios and prior tiers all contribute to the victory meter. Once filled the opposing city is opened. Get rid of the fortress sieges, no one likes them in their current form.

Just like the LotD, have a lockout timer that allows the losing realm to gain points while the winners can not. Also have a handicap system that will eventually get the losing realm into the opposing city.

This competitive system should prevent stalemates from occurring as all PvP contributes to the victory meter. By allowing the losing side access to the opposing city it may keep them interested as well. To keep all T4 zones relevant, one could be picked at random to provide a % bonus to the victory meter.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Werit Gets Around

It's true, I can be rather easy when it comes to games. I just cant help myself, I'm not a one game kinda guy. This last week I played around quite a bit.

Warhammer Online. Yep, I still play!
Aion. Street Fighter called and wants its annoying sound back.
Ghostbusters. I came, I saw, I'm still playing.
Fallout 3. I think the apocalypse will actually come before I manage to finish.
Star Wars Galaxies. I am very close to resubscribing.
Punch-Out for Wii. Glass Joe was getting uppity.
NHL Hockey. Greatest hockey game ever?
Ice Hockey. The soviets beat me down. Needed more fat guys.
Light of Altair. More on this later.
Eve Online. Just to train, my subscription will be ending soon.

My posts last week were pretty varied. That is the nice thing about a general blog, you can switch it up when you feel like it. I had been doing WAR posts almost non-stop for several weeks, so I need a break to talk about other games. Do not fear WAR fans, I have a piece of paper filled with WAR topics!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Werit Visits Aion

I was able to play Aion a bit yesterday. I can't say too much about the game though as I am still in the starter area. It is pretty much what you would expect in a MMO starter area. Combat is pretty smooth, gameplay is what you've seen before (so far).

I tried to make my character look like a Dwarf. Might have better luck on the good side of things though.

Below is some video I took. It includes combat, scenery, the personal store, skills and more. I suggest watching it on Full Screen so you can read the text.

Direct Link.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Aion Video Requests?

I happen to have an Aion Beta Key, so I will be checking out the game a bit this weekend. While I am not too excited about the game, it does look like it is worth trying out. This beta event does not include the Abyss, which is what I am interested in. But I'll putt around and explore a bit of what Aion has to offer.

I'll have Fraps handy, so if there is anything you would like to see let me know.

Don't cross the streams

This isn't another Ghostbusters post. The next big thing to come down the pipe in gaming looks to be these streaming services, OnLive and Gaikai. I know, cutting edge topic. This video brought on my interest.

Let's assume for a moment that both services work as described. I don't think they will work as well as their marketing would have you believe but let's say they do. You can play nearly any game without a download just using a web browser or their client. Lag is not an issue.

Would you be interested in the service?

I'm not sure I would be. It sounds great at first, but there are a lot of unanswered questions.

Pricing. Would this be a subscription service? Will all these game publishers be on-board with that sort of pricing? Seems to me they like the 1 copy == 1 license model. There would have to be some kind of volume license agreement going on. You'll still have to pay MMO subscription fee's on top of any service subscription fee too.

Bandwidth. Gaikai, on average, uses up about 1mBit a second. If you play 60 hours a month, that comes out to 27 gigabytes of traffic just from gaming. In this age of bandwidth caps, who knows what will happen. Also, network issues can happen anywhere down the line which can degrade your performance. This would be quite frustrating for a single player game.

Publisher Support. You know not every publisher will sign up for this service (or allow it). You will still need a computer that can play their games. If not, you will be at the mercy of OnLive or Gaikai for what games you can play.

Support. Will that game launching today be available on the service today? Will WoW 3.2 be patched and ready to go when I want to play? Again you are at the mercy of the service.

Add-Ons. Mod's and add-ons are popular these days. I think this is actually a pretty simple issue for these companies to solve, so I expect them to support it.

Overall, these types of services just sound too restrictive to me. I don't want to be waiting on them to do something.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In a galaxy not so far away

Recently, my interest in Star Wars Galaxies was piqued by Fan Faire. I have always liked SWG, but whether or not I want to play ebbs and flows. One, it is Star Wars and Two, it does have a lot going for it.

At Fan Faire, they announced the new Chronicle system. It is similar in concept to Ryzom's Ring and CoX's Mission Architect; User-Generated Content. SWG has been doing user-generated content in the form of the Storyteller system for years, so this is the next big step.

The Chronicle system allows players to build their own quests. It doesn't seem to use an instancing system, instead it uses what the game already has available. The quest is given through an object, which you can likely put on your vendor. You can also choose iconic Star Wars figure to be the quest givers. So Darth Vader can message the player and tell him what to do.

The Quests can be crafting, killing, PvP and more. You can even create a quest drop and specify its drop rate on existing npc's. Lets not forget the rewards either. There is a special Chronicle loot table, XP and custom rewards. The custom rewards are ones that you provide. You can check out screenshots of the system here.

Another topic of Fan Faire was the Galactic Civil War, Rebels versus Empire. The developers have many ideas but would not commit to anything just yet. Let's hope they do, as the struggle between the two factions is a big part of Star Wars.

Recently, SWG also brought back battlefields. They had something similar a long time ago (before WoW) but it went away. These are open world fields where a set amount of players fight it out over objectives. It is similar to being instanced in that the population is limited, but it is not separate from the rest of the world.

Unlike some other games (Vanguard and PotBS), SWG had a pretty decent showing. That should speak well for its future, even if stiff competition is on the way. There is room for both games, as they are going to be quite different from each other. I do think SWG will need a face-lift in the coming years to hang on though.

It turns out SWG had a free trial so I was able to log in and hang out a bit. My server was more crowded thanks to the free server transfers. I walked around a bit, looked at some of the new houses (which are SWEET) and did some of the Empire Day event.

Here is a compilation of the video I took.

Direct Link.