Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fallen Earth Tips - Waypoints

In this segment of Fallen Earth Tips, I talk about some easy ways to manage your waypoints. As I am an explorer who loves to track down resources, the waypoints are very valuable to me. When I started, their use was not obvious to me, so I hope this video helps out any other players in the same situation.

Direct Link.

In other Fallen Earth news, patch 1.0.9 was released. This patch mainly focused on crash fixing and performance enhancements. It sounds like we may need to start testing Fallen Earth for steroids. Yea, that was lame, but it's early here so cut me some slack :)

Here are some highlights:
  • Updated the resource thread to sleep when there are no resources to load, which brings the total CPU use down to around 50% or lower on a dual-core machine.
  • Added the Large Address Aware option, which enables up to 4GB process space for 64-bit operating systems instead of the default 2GB.
  • Enabled particle debris on vehicles driving over dirt or gravel.
  • Increased the range at which the mount window pops up. You can click the mount window to target your mount at any time.
The performance update has helped at least one blogger.

I need to try out my ATV now. Better particle effects often translate to an improved riding experience.

So far I am pressed with the patches they have delivered and the speed at which it was done. Now I am even more curious to see their first content patch.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interview with Warhammer's Carrie Gouskos

Recently, I had a chance to ask Carrie Gouskos, of Warhammer Online, a few questions. Some of these are ones that I have been wondering about for quite a while. Speaking of WAR, did you know the patch notes for 1.3.2 are out?

Thanks for the time Carrie!


Werit: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do for Warhammer Online?

Surely! I’m an Associate Producer at Mythic, and I was responsible for the UI and Tome of Knowledge development leading up to launch. Since we launched, I’ve taken a step back from the Live game and looked at some other side projects, leading the nebulously named Special Projects team. That included work on the Realm WAR website, producing the Mac client, and some other stuff we haven’t announced yet. Currently I’m back on Warhammer development as the Producer on Warhammer Asia.

That’s the CV, as for a brief bio about myself, I’m a former games journalist and former employee at the defunct version of Acclaim Entertainment. I obsessively collect video games and consoles (tally is at 57 right now), and I talk a lot. Also I like cupcakes.

Werit: One of the big projects you were involved in was getting Warhammer Online working on Mac's. How has that gone?

Getting Warhammer on the Macs has been much… much harder than I thought it would be. You’d think because the game was done on the PC and because we had the help of TransGaming to port the product over that it would be a cinch. But there were a lot of pieces and a lot of factors that differentiated the Mac and the PC game from a technical perspective. Fortunately for this reason, working on the Mac gave us a new perspective the PC version, and I’m very proud to say that improvements done for the Mac are going to be greatly beneficial to the PC players as well. Look it’s the Mac and PC folks working together!

Werit: What was the biggest challenge involved in getting it all to work?

Performance, performance, performance. As I mentioned, Macs work in different ways than PCs, and some of the things we did one way for the PC just didn’t play nicely with the Mac. Figuring out how to get that done, while not stealing resources hard at work on the PC game, and while still making sure everything still worked in the end, was very challenging.

Werit: Any chance we will see Linux support in the future?

Probably not. Sorry Linux people!

Werit: I've noticed there have been a bunch of improvements to the Realm War web pages. Can you catch the readers up on how that is going?

Thanks! The web team has been working very hard and I’m glad to hear it’s paid off.

Let’s see, after launch, we put together a crack team of people to take a look at the Realm WAR and figure out exactly how to best support the needs of our users when they might not have access to play the game. We all have experience of wanting to sit and fixate over our characters while we’re at work, or unable to play, or whatever.

So we outlined a whole bunch of features we wanted to support, to allow people the chance to get info about the game. We had a couple different phases of implementation, and have been gradually introducing the ideas in order of importance. For example, the most recent additions include the ability for players to log in and see which of their friends and guildmates are online or offline, as well as detailed RVR information about the last few events to occur on the server. There’s more, there’s always more of course, and we’ll get to them as it makes sense for the team.

Werit: I and others have made tools that use the Realm War information. Any chance we will see Realm War start to use XSLT? Some other MMO's implement it and it makes using the web pages much easier.

Oh so those were yours! Nice work! J Of course it’s something we’d like to do, but we’re always balancing resources. At the moment we’ve dialed back work on new features in the Realm WAR because we’re focusing on other things. But making the Realm War more malleable for the community is always a priority when we’re investigating new features for it.

Werit: Any plans to branch out Realm War into services such as RSS or Twitter?

Why yes! RSS has been on the top of our to-do list for awhile, but we just didn’t get to it. Twitter is an interesting beast, I’ve been using it for awhile now and while I think it’s great, I think a lot of companies who try to use it for marketing end up using it in the wrong way. Currently we just have individual staff accounts that aren’t really official, and one official account that gives Herald news. And I kind of like it like that. I don’t know if we’d extend it to the Realm WAR, but I guess we wouldn’t ever rule it out. That’s more bordering on Andy and the Community team’s territory though.

Actually one of the unannounced Special Projects that we’ve been investigating since the beginning of the year is an example of an extension of the Realm WAR. I can’t spoil it now, but I would keep an eye open in the next month or so for more info.

Werit: How goes the Tome of Knowledge? There have been a lot of improvements to WAR lately, but the Tome remains largely untouched.

The Tome will always be very close to my heart, but the UI and Tome were both taken over by a very talented producer (James Casey) who owns them in their entirety. I don’t know all of what he’s up to, but I expect big things!

Werit: Can you give us any hint about what the Cards page is for in the Tome?

I don’t want to spoil James’ thunder. ;) Though to be fair to him, he inherited that burdensome question from me. There is something going on with the cards, but more will be revealed later. That’s your hint.

Werit: It's hard to believe WAR is a year old. Looking back, what are you most proud of?

It’s hard not to say the Tome, because I’m extremely proud of it. But I think I’d rather highlight the work that the UI Team did in the year leading up toward launch. I was lucky to have such a talented team, and I was lucky that everyone was willing to work extraordinary hours. And I was lucky we had the ability to put features into the main game for the UI that a lot of games only have in mods. A lot of things came together that make me really proud of the UI as a product, though I wish we had more time to do more. But that’s the developer’s credo right? I wanted more time! Why’d those players have to make us launch?!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dawntide Beta - Phase 2

Today, the folks over at Dawntide announced that they are taking applications for phase 2 of their beta. If you are not familiar with Dawntide, check out these links for more information.
If you do not get invited, no need to fret. There is no NDA so you can follow along easily. My application is in, but I tend to have bad luck.

To apply for the beta, go here.

Blood in the Water

Most of my weekend gametime was spent playing Aion. Yes, I can now actually play! I have been pushing through the PvE content at a pretty good pace. Due to the smoothness of the engine, it actually isn't too painful. Although, I'm not sure I'll be able to do it a second time with an alt.

Sunday morning I reached rank 19 but had completed most of the quests in the zone. The final campaign quest required defeating a boss. I just didn't have a block of time big enough to get it done with a group. That left me with two options: grind it out or head to a level 20+ zone. I chose the latter.

There are two zones that have level 20 quests. Brusthonin is a PvE only zone and Morheim which has some rift based PvP. Morheim was the obvious choice for me. It turns out each side has a quest that takes them very close to the enemy starting point. The result is that there is PvP right next to the base.

It wasn't long before I had my first Aion PvP experience. One of my guildmate's (a Templar) engaged him and I hung back and healed. As this Elyos was alone, he did not have much of a chance. We won easily and I got my first Abyss points.

One nice touch about Aion PvP is that you cannot see the level of the opposing player. They all show ?? in their level circle. So you may want to choose who you attack more carefully, as they could be a higher level. I should mention that later on I also experienced my first PvP loss. It was my fault and I let a Ranger get to me while I was healing another player.

Much like LoTRO and WAR, I'm finding it tough to do PvE now that I have a taste of PvP. I spent the rest of my game time just hanging out and looking for Elyos. It would have been better spent getting to level 20, but not nearly as fun.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Valhalla or Bust

For your Friday reading pleasure, may I present an interview I did for Grinding to Valhalla. It offers a bit of insight to why I blog and other such important topics.

If you do not want to read about yours truly, then maybe some of these links will tickle your fancy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fallen Earth puts PvP on the map

I mean that literally. Until recently, the PvP areas were not marked on the map. As there are several areas and the sectors are just so huge it was a bit of a pain to find them. Speaking of the map, I like the look of it as it fits the game well. There is another level of zoom, but this is the map for Sector 1.

Yesterday I set out to explore and hopefully find some resources. I cleared out the inventory, made sure I had extra horse feed and set off into the wasteland. In the end, I found a rather expansive Coal, Copper and Iron field.

The field seems to be in the middle of nowhere and rather inhospitable. The high level creatures there don't help matters. I was able to avoid them for the most part though. I loaded up the horse with about 50 copper and 50 coal before heading home.

Aion, the first 11 levels

While I still can't play Aion, I may as well give my impressions of it up to this point. Don't worry, it is not too colored by my current predicament ;) I've actually played through the first part of the game twice, due to the server move. The good news is the second time goes much quicker.

Let's start with the positive side. It sure does feel polished. Is that like saying someone has a lot of personality? The graphics are good and combat is very smooth. It feels like it has been released for a year already.... which is has. That about covers the positive.

On to what makes Aion meh to me. The gameplay is very derivative. Seriously, this is the same game we've been playing for years. I find it completely uninspired. That's ok though, as I'm not playing Aion for the PvE.

I must be a glutton for punishment to put myself through 25 levels of this just to get to the Abyss. The wings are a neat touch, although a jetpack would be better. It would also be nice to be able to use them more.

I should be able to play again tonight, but I have my doubts. Some issue will arise which will prevent it from happening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

NCsoft does not want me to play Aion

First, we have the huge queues that eliminated any kind of head start for many players. Then those who chose to move to lower population servers were met with "Can't create a character" messages due to balance concerns. I have been effected by both issues and really got no head start.

Then today things were finally looking good. I had a character on my guilds new server and no queue issues. Everything was going well, that should have been my first clue.

It turns out NCsoft just froze my account because my boxed order has not arrived. Appears they had a 24 hour grace period to enter the retail key. So again, I cannot play Aion. My order should be here in a day or two.

Why do you hate your customers NCsoft? You probably don't, but it sure feels like it.

Fallen Earth Tip and Patch

Yesterday, Fallen Earth officially launched! Compared to most modern MMO's, Fallen Earth can be a bit difficult at the start. It's learning curve is not as steep as EvE's, but it isn't flat either. I've started a new segment called Video Tips.

The first tip is about inventory management.

Direct Link.

Along with launch, patch 1.0.8 was released. You can see the full notes here. They are pretty big, but the most interesting news has to do with vehicles. In Fallen Earth you have to fuel your vehicle with gas. If you have a horse, it must be fed.

Vehicles went through gas very fast, making them near useless when compared to a horse. In 1.0.8 they have increased the fuel efficiency, making them much more economical. As someone who has a pre-order ATV, this makes me happy. I'm not going to break it out until I can craft gasoline though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

STO has PvP leveling!

In an unexpected turn of events, Star Trek Online has announced you can level entirely by PvP. This is a huge and great surprise, at least for me. That is one of my favorite things about WAR. Although, I don't mind PvE as much in the STO universe. That is probably because the shows were like a big PvE quest.

You can read more about it here.

Aion's Perfect Storm

As you have no doubt heard, the login queues during the Aion Head Start are crazy. Anywhere close to prime-time and you are looking at a multi-hour wait. Besides the obvious reasons, too many people and too little servers, there are other factors.

One of Aion's features is the private store. You basically turn yourself into a stationary vendor selling your wares. When in store mode, the activity timer is disabled. So unless a networking hiccup disconnects you, you'll stay logged in.

As broadband is the norm and most do not have hourly charges... a lot of people have the ability to leave Aion running. Combined with no activity timer you can guess what happens. There are loads of people using the private store to stay logged in around the clock. This is legitimate but it just contributes to the large queues we have been seeing.

So far, I am not a fan of the private store. Due to the benefit of never logging off, they are everywhere. Most just use a default text or come right and say they are AFK. They must be contributing to the lag too. The concept sounds interesting, but at this point in the games life it is pretty annoying.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dawntide Q&A with Christian Hummeluhr

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Christian Hummeluhr, Producer of the upcoming MMO Dawntide. You may recall I have posted about Dawntide before as it looks quite promising. Thanks to Christian for taking the time to answer my questions.


Werit: One of the things that really stood out to me about Dawntide was that you do not use a NDA. That kind of open development is almost unheard of in MMO's. What lead to that decision?

Christian: Because we have limited resources, every time we make a decision about the game, no matter how basic, we intensely question our first response. The NDA decision is a great example of it – we were talking about needing to draw up an NDA, and we asked “What does this do for us, exactly?” and came to the conclusion that it does not do anything.

NDAs fundamentally attempt to keep information from getting out. This is an exercise in futility in this day and age – even assuming that no one breaks the NDA on the down-low (We’re all law abiding citizens here), people can still easily communicate to one another that the game sucks by saying “This game sucks.”

Werit: Openness does not only apply to the development. One of Dawntide's listed features is "Open ended character development." Can you tell us a bit about what that means?

Christian: Open character development means you make no decision that ties you down to any specific path of progression. It’s always possible to just pick up a new item and start doing something else, so your character’s skills will be defined by what you like to do in the game rather than in which direction the next carrot is.

Werit: Crafting in Dawntide looks like it is a core gameplay mechanic, rather than just a diversion. My favorite crafting system had to be Star Wars Galaxies. From what I've read, Dawntide seems to be going down a similar path. Can you tell us a little bit about how it works?

Christian: We have a big article on Crafting up in our Feature Discussion forum. It is very similar to SWG in that raw materials vary in quality and sources are dynamic, so a given piece of territory won’t always have the same resources or quality of resources.

Werit: Will there be decay on crafted items?

Christian: We haven’t made a final decision on how items will exit the game to combat mudflation yet, but an item durability solution is definitely on the table.

Werit: Decay can be an important part of a crafting system, but it can also lead towards a lot of frustration. How do you balance it so expensive items are worthwhile?

Christian: Very carefully.

Werit: One interesting tidbit's I picked up in my readings was about the supply and demand based economy. While reading about it, it reminded me of Elite and the player-based economy of EvE. Are they influences behind Dawntide's system?

Christian: I’m a big fan of EVE’s economy and they have definitely been a major source of inspiration for us. Players need to be responsible for the vast, vast majority of all market transactions if you want to have realistic effects like wars affecting the economy, and we definitely do.

Werit: Trading is a fun career for some, including me. How will players move goods around? Will they have a lot of backpack space or will the mount do the carrying? Is there an opportunity for pirating?

Christian: As a rule of thumb, nothing will move unless someone moves it. However, it will be possible to load ships with large amounts of cargo, and we will also have carts and wagons to help individual crafters improve their carrying capacity at the cost of speed and defensibility.

Werit: Will there be a central Auction House? How about player owned vendors?

Christian: We will be using localized markets. The current plan is to have local warehouses where you can rent space, which both markets and vendors will link to. Using the market will incur some sort of fee for the convenience, while vendors will have to be paid a set amount for their services.

Werit: Will a character be able to do it all (crafting/combat) or do you see players having crafting alts?

Christian: I think we’ll see people having alts. As convenient as it sounds, I can’t see it working out well if a significant amount of characters can simply do everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people played at least two characters to fully enjoy the game.

Werit: Dawntide is currently in it's first Beta phase. Any hints as to when phase 2 starts?

Christian: Expect an announcement this week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Aion and the Wizard of Oz

What do Aion and the Wizard of Oz have in common? They both seem to have a lot of little people in them. The height slider in character creation allows for a wide variety of heights. Normally I would support more options in character creation, but when PvP is a big part of the game is presents some issues.

Smaller Hitbox. It's been shown that smaller characters have a smaller hitbox in Aion. Since Aion's combat does not have any FPS elements, it isn't a huge deal. You can also use tab to select them. It does make them harder to click on, which is still an advantage.

Lost in a crowd. Smaller characters are also easier to hide in the crowd. There really isn't much that can be done about this, but it is also another small advantage.

Fallen Earth had this problem earlier in its life. Since it uses a FPS-type system for combat it was a bigger issue. In the end, they ended up lowering the height range a player could choose. Otherwise everyone would have been quite little in PvP. In WAR, everyone has the same size hitbox.

In Aion's case, smaller characters will have a slight advantage. Many of the PvP video's already show a plethora of small characters being used. The hitbox issue is just silly, everyone should have the same hitbox size. The only exception is if being smaller results in some disadvantage.

It isn't a big deal, but PvPers will take any advantage they can get. Be prepared for the onslaught of Aion Gnomes ;)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gates of Ekrund returns to WAR

As a part of WAR's year anniversary celebration, they are making the Gates of Ekrund scenario available for all tiers this weekend. It is all a part of the Battle at the Gates weekend event. Last weeks Mourkain Temple event was a lot of fun, even if I didn't get to play it much.

The scenario will only be available until the 21st, so be sure to get in there and check it out. As with previous events there is a task list with a title reward. These are often difficult to accomplish, but I wonder if we will be able to continue our progress the next time thay bring back the Gates? No matter, it is a lot of fun.

And the winner is...

September has been the month of MMO's. With three major launches it has been an exciting time. So far I have been sitting on the sidelines and not committing to any of them. That time is over. A winner in the "What MMO will Werit play in September" contest has been chosen! Lets take a quick look at the contestants.

Champions Online
  • + Non-fantasy setting
  • + Amazing character customization
  • - Brand new with the associated issues
  • - Felt small
Fallen Earth
  • + Non-fantasy setting
  • + Crafting is a core part of the game
  • + Skill based
  • - Brand new with the associated issues
  • - Unsure of its future direction
  • + Highly anticipated, will be popular at least initially
  • + PvP based endgame
  • + Polished as it has been released for over a year in Eastern markets
  • + Many people I play WAR with will be trying it out
  • - Anime influenced art style
  • - Wings
  • - Same old quest leveling scheme
And the winner is... Aion.

While there are quite a few things I do not like about Aion, the sheer amount of people that will be giving it a try makes it worth the cost. I will have no shortage of folks to play with as many CoWs will be giving it a shot. My pre-order is in, so next week I will be playing.

There are really no losers here. I will also be jumping into Fallen Earth and Champions at some point, just not at launch. It has actually taken quite a bit of self control not to buy into those already. I can thank a free DDO for providing a distraction.

Aion will be joining WAR as my 2 MMO's that I will subscribe to. Will I get beyond the free month of play? We shall see.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Comment System

You know what they say about imitation... so thanks Brent! I'm lifting his idea :)

The Disqus system seems to be a step above the default Blogger comes with. So I'll give it a shot, what do you think?

WAR introduces Stagger

In this Dev Diary, Nate discuss some of their Combat and Career plans. The quick summary is that they want to move crowd control from DPS characters to defensive characters (i.e. Tanks). This will also include making CC morale abilities higher ranked.

As a part of these changes they want to introduce a new CC effect called Stagger. A Stagger will disable a character for 9 - 12 seconds, but will break on any kind of damage. Knockdowns will still exist, but will be shorter in duration.

Knockdowns are meant to be offensive CC and staggers are primarily defensive in nature. Stun's are going extinct and all disabling CC will be one or the other.

These all sound like prudent ideas. I do have a concern about stagger though as I play a Grenade Engineer. Our job is to DoT up the enemy... which will now break stagger, even if it is applied prior. Many of our primary attacks are AoE based and I foresee many a stagger broken.

It is a tough problem, if they make previously applied DoT's not break stagger it would be very deadly. I guess we will see how it works in practice. I just want to be able to use my skills without breaking everyone's CC.

Moving CC from DPS to defensive characters is a good idea and probably long overdue. I am interested to see if Engineers will get more CC, as we are billed as a defensive class.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Big Fallen Earth PvP Change

Fallen Earth recently made a small but significant change with how PvP works. For more information about PvP, check out the recent developer interview. The change in question is:
  • Changed the radar on the mini-map so that it shows other players based on your Perception vs. their Athletics and stance rather than always by default. Teammates will always be displayed.
It is important to note that PvP in FE is free for all. Before, when you entered a PvP area, you could see other players on your mini-map. This put quite a damper on stealthy tactics or even just hiding. Some way to hide yourself has been often requested on the boards and the Fallen Earth team was listening.

Rather than just making a blanket change and hide everyone, they went the RPG route and based it on stats. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it yet. My initial thought would have been to hide everyone when in a PvP zone, but firing or running would cause you to be visible for a brief time.

Basing it on stat value does make some sense though. If you are a combat character you will be harder to spot as you are more likely to have a high Athletics value. However, some combat characters may not have a high perception, so they might not spot others too well. Having a crafter type as a spotter might be an interesting niche.

I'm glad to see a change was made though, should spice up the PvP areas.

Tokens in an unexpected place

Recently, I took a trip with some family to an amusement park. While walking around, we came across a carnival game. You know the one where you compete with others over who can shoot the most water into a clowns mouth? Yeah, that's that's it. This by itself is normal, but you now win tokens.

One token can be turned in for the small piece-o-crap prize while four can be turned in for the large piece-o-crap prize. That's all well and good but then I looked at the rules which stated: Everybody wins, Every time.

I was taken aback by this, as these games had always rewarded the winner. Now it doesn't really matter if you win, you get a token just the same. On one hand this makes a lot of sense for the folks running the booth. If you want that large prize, you are guaranteed to get it in 4 games. That makes it a bit more tempting. Of course at $3 a game, they will make a tidy profit.

On the other hand, this killed our motivation to play so we kept walking. The $3 price tag didn't help any, what the hell? In retrospect, the tokens should not have had any influence on our wanting to play. We were not playing for the prizes and there still would have been a winner. I guess we just don't want to see everybody winning. Hey, that's family :)

This system is actually more extreme than what you would find in a MMO. There you at least have to do something for the tokens. In the carnival game, you really are just handing over money for a token. They should at least have had the winner get 2 tokens or something.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Q&A with Fallen Earth's Wes Platt

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Wes Platt who is one of the developers on Fallen Earth. He was kind enough to answer some questions for posting on this site. Thanks Wes! Fallen Earth is currently in pre-order launch access mode and will be open for all on Tuesday September 22nd.

For Fallen Earth videos, you can check out the ones I posted on youtube.


Werit: Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do for Fallen Earth?

Wes: My name is Wes Platt. On the FE forums, I'm known as Canticle. For more than a decade, I worked as a journalist for the St. Petersburg Times. Now, I'm a content design team lead for FE. It's my job to help guide other designers on a day-to-day basis as we develop new content for the game.

Werit: I know text based games are a big part of your gaming history. Have they influenced your work on Fallen Earth? If so, how?

Wes: The text-based online multiplayer games that I've worked on helped me hone the creation of dialogue in short order and to jump rather fluidly from one character's mindset to the next. As a result, it's fairly easy for me to move between characters as I'm developing their dialogue for missions in Fallen Earth. I've also found opportunities to sneak in some Easter egg references to characters from my games here and there. If you play OtherSpace, keep your eyes peeled and you might spot them.

Werit: You may have heard Star Wars: The Old Republic is trying to make story a central part of their game, which many MMO's have gotten away from. Is the story an important part of Fallen Earth?

Wes: Story is a huge part of Fallen Earth, from beginning to end. We've got several major storylines that carry throughout the game. You learn early on that you're a clone, so that's a central storyline. In another, we explore the back story of the corporate giant, GlobalTech, and what its leaders did in the name of progress. You've also got opportunities to explore whatever became of the followers of Alec Masters after the fall of Hoover Dam. And those are just the core storylines. Every town has a story, from fighting off bandits to recovering from mass poisonings to trying to thwart zombie-generating lunatic AIs. We love telling stories in a post-apocalyptic environment. Some of them are true post-apoc. Some are horror. Some are sci-fi. Some are humor. We've even got the occasional unrequited love story here and there.

Werit: Fallen Earth is launching September 22nd. It just so happens to be near the release of Champions Online and Aion. That is some pretty stiff competition. What sets Fallen Earth apart?

Wes: Fallen Earth is set apart from the competition first and foremost by the setting: It's post-apocalyptic Earth. Next, we've got a deep crafting system that lets you make 95 percent of all the gear and other goodies available in the game world. You can make everything from a bladed hockey stick to a muscle car. As for having competition: We're okay with it. Our goal is to develop a growing fanbase over time. If we can follow a slow but steady growth curve similar to EVE Online, that's just fine by us.

Werit: I find the horses and vehicles in this game very interesting. How many mounts are out there for a player to get? Are there any customization options?

Wes: We've got several types of mounts: Horses, all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, dune buggies, and a muscle car known as the Interceptor. Players can make variants of each kind. Some are faster. Some hold more cargo. And some are equipped with guns. Horses will be popular because they're the only mount that you can fire a rifle from and they'll regenerate stamina, while vehicles need refueling. You can shoot handguns from other vehicles. Right now, our vehicles are single-passenger. We've got multi-passenger on the wish list.

Werit: Player made add-ons are becoming a mainstay of the modern MMO. Does Fallen Earth support these kind of add-ons?

Wes: Not at release. It's still under consideration.

Werit: MMO's seem to fall into a couple camps regarding content releases. There is WoW and their big but slow updates. Then there is LoTRO with their frequent but smaller updates. Once the game is released, how will updates be done?

Wes: We're hoping to add small content patches rather frequently, with major updates coming on a quarterly basis.

Werit: Fallen Earth does have PvP. Can you explain how this works and why a player will want to participate?

Wes: PvP comes in a few flavors in Fallen Earth. We've got some designated zones that are just intended for the video game equivalent of paintball: You run around and kill each other for fun. We've got some that offer "supernodes," which drop rare and valuable crafting components. And then we've got conflict towns, in which players of the various factions and their allies can battle for supremacy. If your faction takes over a conflict town, you get access to special merchants and mission-givers that aren't available to anyone else. During PvP, you earn Death Toll points. You can use those points to gain access to PvP gear.

Werit: Where do you see Fallen Earth in 3 years?

Wes: Successful, with a steady and growing player base and regular content patches. It's a little difficult to give an accurate forecast right now. Once the game releases and we've got a solid foundation of subscribers, it should open the door for us to add more exciting features to Fallen Earth.

Werit: Finally, what would you like readers to know about Fallen Earth?

Wes: To learn more about the game, visit our website at You can also follow our regular updates on Twitter at
. We're looking forward to enjoying the apocalypse with everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rewind: I can't play female characters

Still can't and still being lazy with the rewinds :)


I am a man in my late 20's and have been playing games for close to 20 years now. In all that time, I can't remember playing a female character (except for Metroid of course). In fact, I do not even read books when they are told from a female characters perspective. When creating a MMO character, I will always create a male character. If the class only offers female characters I will not play it.

Often times I will see guys posting things like "If I am going to look at this character all day, I want it to be a chick." That thought had never occurred to me as I do not think of my characters in a sexual way. So I have never really thought I was looking at a dude all the time and I still don't. If that sorta thing gets you going, more power to you :)

So why am I like this? Could I be sexist? Maybe... but I don't think that is the issue. When playing a game or reading a book I will try to put myself in the place of the character. If the character is a female I can't seem to do that. To support this idea, I used to have the same trouble creating non-human characters. I still will usually go with the Human option. In WAR I will likely be a Dwarf, which is really just a small human.

There is nothing right or wrong with the characters we chose. To each his (or her) own. Am I the only one like this?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rewind: Zerghammer

This one was originally posted 6/18/08... was I right?


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?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rewind: Werit captures a Greenskin

This week I am being lazy and posting some re-runs. Enjoy!


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.

Monday, September 7, 2009

One year with Warhammer Online

It is hard to believe Warhammer Online is just about a year old. The time has just flown by. It is easily the longest I have played any MMO without taking long breaks. looking at time spent in a MMO is a dangerous thing to do, as some people realize all that they could have been doing.

Not for me. The time I've spent in WAR would have just been spent playing other games. I really have no major complaints regarding the game. Sure, it could be improved. But for me, it provides entertainment even after a year. That's all that really matters. I couldn't care less that vindictive gamers have a problem with it.

In the coming year I hope we hear about a boxed expansion. I appreciate the free stuff they give us, but a retail expansion gives the perception of a healthy game. I think this is because it is generally thought that a full expansion requires more of an investment, which means the company has confidence in their product.

Happy first anniversary WAR, let's hope there will be a second!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Champions Alt-a-palooza

Yay Friday! Today we have a question:

So Champions players, how many Alts do you have?

The game has only been out a few days, but I'm going to bet you have quite a few :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

No respec for you

There is an interesting situation brewing over at Champions Online. On launch day they released a patch that among other things, made balancing changes to a number of powers. That is pretty normal, but the strange part is they did not provide a free re-spec (or retcon in CO terms) to its head start players.

There is an in-game system for respecs but it seems a bit broken. You can change skill choices with the cost getting more expensive the farther you go back. It seems the cost is nearly impossible for players to afford though. It may just be a math bug then again it could be working as designed.

Isn't giving players a respec when you make big changes to their class (or powers in this case) standard operating procedure? Seems it is not for Cryptic, but why? The game is still only a few days old, what is the harm in giving the players a respec?

Are they saving full re-specs for their newly launched micro-transaction store? I don't think they would be that greedy, but I guess you never know. I think it is much more likely that there is a bug in their current re-spec system and when it is fixed the costs won't be a big deal.

As a future player this does worry me a bit and I'll be watching to see how it unfolds. Cryptic, just give your players a free re-spec.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is Abyss Point loss bad for Aion's PvP?

Abyss Points are Aion's PvP currency. They are gained through PvP and PvE activities within the Abyss Zone. They are used to purchase equipment and gain rankings. For a list of rankings and a great Abyss overview, check this out. When you die to a player or Baldur NPC, you will lose Abyss Points. The amount depends on your rank.

On the plus side, point loss gives PvP some meaning. Not only do you gain points, you basically take them from your enemy. Players will be a bit more careful about PvP and not just throw themselves into the meat grinder.

There is also a downside that comes with this point loss system. The higher rank players get, the less they will engage in PvP. Here is an interesting post to illustrate the point. As you work through the ranks, the amount of Abyss Points you lose when killed increases. For example, if you are a 3 Star Officer and die, you lose 2,184 points. If you kill a Grade 8 Soldier, you gain 168 points.

The risk/reward ratio gets more imbalanced the higher your rank. Lord of the Rings Online had a similar system in their PvMP using stars and battle rating. Many players despised the system because it encouraged players not to fight most of the time. It was only worth fighting when you were sure you would win. The LoTRO stars were totally cosmetic and it had a noticeable effect. Turbine eventually removed/hid the stars.

Contributing to the problem is the amount of PvE alternatives in the zone. The player in the post mentions he just does PvE quests to gain his Abyss Points. Why wouldn't he? It is less risk and more reward.

Overall, I think some risk is good in a PvP game. I do wonder if Aion's system is the right way to go about it, as it encourages PvE in the higher rankings. It will be interesting to see how the mass market NA audience does with the point loss system.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Anniversary Presents

Warhammer Online is celebrating its 1 year anniversary this month. While I would have liked a romantic dinner, WAR has given me some gifts. All players received a nice new cloak (Jubilee).

I'm not sure if I imagined this, but I thought Mythic was going to put in a system where we get a cloak pattern, rather than an item. This is a spiffy looking cloak, but has no stats. We should just be able to choose the pattern for whatever cloak we are wearing.

For those players who have had their account active since the beginning, there was another gift. The WAR Aegis is a reusable item that grants everyone in the area 10% more renown and experience for 60 seconds. It does not appear to stack. Everyone will be eligble to recieve it once their account is active for a year.