Saturday, January 31, 2009


Richard K Morgan is one of my favorite authors. I have his prior works, the Altered Carbon series and Market Forces, and enjoyed them greatly. Thirteen (known as Black Man elsewhere) is one of his latest releases and I finally finished it. It wasn't that it was long, its just that I got distracted in the middle of reading it.

Over-simplified summary: In the near future, a genetically engineered dude kicks ass across the planet.

Unlike his previous works, I did not really enjoy this one. The story was good, but the problem was the characters. I did not like or care about any of them. Part of me was hoping for them all to lose. In a way they do, but it wasn't satisfying. Usually Morgan creates a very compelling main character. In Thirteen, he seemed pretty unlikable and one dimensional. Grrr, I'm a badass but it's how I was designed, so grrr!

I wouldn't call it a bad book, but it just wasn't for me. Next up for me to read is The Steel Remains. It is the latest book by Richard K Morgan and also his first journey into fantasy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Post-announcement thoughts

The big announcements from Mythic have come and gone. I have always felt it is best to sleep on things in order to get a good perspective. Now that I have, on to my thoughts!

Night of Murder. As alluded to by the cards from Mythic, it is a Valentines Day event. In fact, it starts in a week! The Marked for Death mechanic sounds pretty fun, should make for some interesting fights. Also, you can loot someones head and send them a gift. Should be an interesting week, looks very fun.

Bitter Rivals Event. To usher in the new classes, there will be a live event. This is a lot like Heavy Metal, which was a big hit. A new scenario is introduced too, Twisting Tower. As I enjoyed Heavy Metal a lot, I am looking forward to this one too.

Siege Weapon Rewards. As a part of Bitter Rivals, the advanced reward are new siege weapons. Flame Cannons and Giants! I am very excited about this, almost giddy. Almost. I will have this reward, no matter what the cost in time :)

Slayer and Choppa. The class picture painted before release will now be complete. Order will have a flood of melee DPS, which will hopefully lead towards a better balance. This is a much welcomed addition, especially Slayer over Hammerer. The Choppa? Well, that is just one more class for me to kill :)

Call to Arms Events. There are 2 live events (April and May) to bring in the new zone/dungeon. I think this is a great idea to help pass the time and spice things up. Without them, we will have have an uneventful stretch. There aren't too many details yet, but it sounds good to me.

Nehekhara. The zone in which the Land of the Dead dungeon is located. I can't wait to see what the world team does with a desert. It has a lot of potential to look amazing. For lore info, look here.

Land of the Dead. The new RvR Dungeon, akin to Darkness Falls and LoTRO's Delving PvMP dungeon. Many folks had been calling for this to be added, as it was a popular feature of DAoC. I was never really for or against it. Now that I have grown to like WAR dungeons a bit, I think this could be a lot of fun. Of course, it is all in the implementation, but I am looking forward to it.

Zone Domination. As seen here. It is clear that changes had to be made to the zone locking system. Mythic has added a way for capture to take place via open RvR. Now the old way still exists, but this will offer an alternative. While I have concerns, I would like to see the campaign get moving again, so this is a good thing.


There were two things I really wished they had announced:

Keep/Fortress fights. Stuffing 100's of people in the Lords room and on the ramp/stairs is just not that fun. Neither is the same basic fight every time. Break down doors, rush keep Lord. I would have loved to hear that they were going to make changes here.

Capital Cities return. This isn't that big of a deal to me, but still something I want to see. I'm not sure if 4 more cities even have a place in WAR anymore. Would be nice to see them though.


The new announcement brings excitement, but it also worries me a bit:

Event Loot. Giving out PvP useful loot in rare/one time events does not feel right. I have the Heralds Cloak which is quite nice, but a lot of players have no chance of getting it. In PvP especially, this isn't quite fair. All should have at least the opportunity to get everything.

Land of the Dead Loot. Keen makes a good point. Where will the rewards from this new dungeon fall? Will they be very good and a lot easier to get than city loot? I would love to see a lot of customization rewards, like new mounts. Even just different looking weapons (same as in stats) as what I have would be neat.

Will the City still matter? As mentioned above, will players lose interest in the city capture with the addition of LotD? In order to get access, you will have to fight in Nehekhara rather than any of the traditional zones. This could work itself out though, as if you abandon the normal zones they could be captured and your city lost. We will see if players-at-large care though.

Zone Domination. My main concern with Zone Domination is that the entire war will be over while I sleep. I don't want to leave a fight Friday night where things are even, and wake up at 8am to find our city has been taken. Will this happen? We'll have to wait and see.


Overall, I am pretty happy and excited. This is all happening in just 6 months too! I know some folks think that is too long, but to me it sounds just about right. When you get older, time just flies by. Still, waiting is hard when it sounds this good.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

WAR Announcement : Call to Arms

Check it out:

This is also my 200th post, great timing Mythic :)

For those of you at work, the press release:

FAIRFAX, Va. - Jan. 29, 2009 - Mythic Entertainment, an Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) studio, today announced the new "Call to Arms" live expansion for its award-winning MMORPG, Warhammer® Online: Age of Reckoning® (WAR). Call to Arms will introduce an array of new content for WAR players, including two highly anticipated new careers - the Orc Choppa and the Dwarf Slayer - and a new dungeon zone called "Land of the Dead," set in the desert realm of the Tomb Kings.

The Call to Arms live expansion, set to roll out for free in early March and running through the beginning of June, will also include three in-game live events, a new Realm vs. Realm™ (RvR) Scenario, added functionality to the Realm Wars section of the WAR website, the opening of the official WAR Forums, and a new free trial version of the game.

"The launch of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning was only the first step in our ongoing quest to make a great MMORPG that players will enjoy for years to come. Over the next few months, we are going to be treating our players to the first of our 'live expansions' planned for the game," said Mark Jacobs, VP and general manager of Mythic Entertainment. "With the addition of new careers and a huge Tomb Kings dungeon that is the spiritual successor to the Dark Age of Camelot™ ™ dungeon, Darkness Falls, Call to Arms is an outstanding example of the massive amount of free content we are committed to delivering to WAR players now and in the future."

Call to Arms Live Expansion Schedule
  • 'Call to Arms: Bitter Rivals' Live Event (March): Successful completion allows head start access to the new Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer careers. The event will also include the new Chaos-themed RvR Scenario, Twisting Tower.
  • Two New Careers Join WAR (March): The Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer answer the Call to Arms.
  • 'Call to Arms: Beyond the Sands' Live Event (April): Details to be revealed soon!
  • 'Call to Arms: Rise of the Tomb Kings' Live Event (May): The race between Order and Destruction players begins to unlock the Land of the Dead for their Realm.
  • 'Land of the Dead' Opens (June): The deserts of Nehekhara open to players with the addition of a new RvR-gated dungeon zone. To gain access to the Land of the Dead, opposing Realms must battle for control of the zone to access dozens of new Public Quests, instanced lairs, and a massive new Tomb Kings dungeon to plunder in search of the Casket of Souls.
More details on these and other new features soon to invade the Age of Reckoning will be revealed as the launch of Call to Arms grows near.

Bitter Rivals Answer the Call to Arms!

The Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer may be bitter enemies, but they have at least one thing in common: they live, eat, and breathe close-quarters melee combat. Choppas are ornery and savage, with a one track mind dead set on bashin' heads! This savage dedication makes them ferocious fighters, wreaking havoc throughout enemy lines purely for the sake of satisfying their own self-indulgent bloodlust.

The Slayer is driven by a solemn oath to atone for past sins through an honorable death in combat. However, Dwarfs are a stubborn folk and dying quietly is simply not in their nature. Slayers therefore become ruthless and terrifying fighters, throwing themselves into battle with no regard for their own well-being.

"The Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer are two of the most iconic characters in the Warhammer universe, and I have no doubt WAR fans will go berserk for them," said Jeff Hickman, executive producer of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. "Choppas represent the pure anarchy that the Greenskins embody, and the crazed, mohawk-sporting Slayers are their ideal archenemy. It won't be long before you see both of them adding a new level of insanity to the Age of Reckoning!"

Based on the popular tabletop war game from Games Workshop, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning features revolutionary Realm vs. Realm conflict that will provide players with an engaging battleground for years to come. Available now for PC, WAR is rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB.

To answer the Call to Arms and learn more about the live expansion, as well as the new careers, read the January issue of the WAR monthly newsletter at

Call to Arms and Bitter Rivals


Winged Nazgul, in the comments, gives us this. If this is true, it should be a very interesting spring/summer.


In a recent Herald news story about Comic Con, there was a hidden nugget of information:

"lots of new info about Call to Arms, Bitter Rivals, and the new careers"

We pretty much knew about the new careers, but what are these other 2 systems mentioned? Today is the announcement day, so it seems like a perfect time for some good old speculation to pass the time.

Call to Arms. To me, this sounds like a RvR information system. A while back, Mark mentioned they did want to add ways for players to get a better view of where the war was taking place. This is one of the features I have wanted for a while. My game time is limited, so I don't want to mess around looking for fights.

One piece I hope Call to Arms includes is a way to get to keeps in order to defend them. Information is great, but it is of limited use if they already have the keep surrounded. The link provides some more information on my thoughts.

Bitter Rivals. I am going to guess this will allow you to set opposing players or guilds as rivals. Anytime you defeat them in battle you will get a bonus of some sort. Perhaps this ties into the Fame system Mark mentioned a while back? While bonuses are nice, I hope the Tome of Knowledge is heavily involved in tracking information about your fights with rivals.

I would also predict there will be a cooldown on setting your rival list, as some smart add-on will just change it to whomever you are fighting. It should also not apply to scenarios, as everyone dies in scenarios many times.

Both systems sound promising just due to their names and I am looking forward to actual information soon.

What do you think Call to Arms and Bitter Rivals will be?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Werit the Forge Guard

A few days ago Tirew, my Engineer, reached Renown Rank 40. His Battle Rank sits at 39, inching ever closer to 40 as well. I was pretty happy about reaching RR 40, even if it is only half way to the cap (80). It is nice to get a new title, Forge Guard in this case. Other than a renown point, nothing else really happens at this milestone.

Let's take a look at Tirew:

I am wearing the full Annihilator set and have dyed it green (one of the CoW colors). On my right shoulder I am wearing the Herald's Signet which I got for my time in Heavy Metal (Basic reward). On my left shoulder is the Silver Heart Rank, which I got for dying 1,000 times in RvR. I have killed over 1,000 players too, but no trophy for that.

And for the ladies, the rear view:

I am wearing the Herald's Cloak, from Heavy Metal, but it is just not rendering correctly with our guild heraldry. The dancing cow doesn't look so hot. Also the rifle clips with the cloak, which is mildly annoying. I would just hide the cloak, but I must sport the cow! Hopefully these kinks will be worked out soon.

I have decided Tirew needs some more trophies. Soon he will venture out of the RvR lakes in search of Bestial tokens which can be exchanged for trophies. At the moment, I have one... which may be turned in for an Emergency Keg. That is more of a necessity than a trophy.

Battle Rank 40, here I come!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Werit gets something in the mail!

I found a little surprise in the mailbox today.

If there is one thing I don't need, it is love from a Witch Elf. They... hurt. Notice the spelling , 'which' and the question mark. A mystery is afoot.

I guess we will have some Valentines Day love coming our way! :)


On the back was '11/13 R'.

Wizards and Wenches has some good thoughts and coverage here.

Stairway to Hell

I logged into WAR Saturday night and found a group of CoW's heading into Bastion Stair. I had never been there before, so I joined up. We ventured into the Trial of Carnage, which was for ranks 33-34. I was Rank 38 but it didn't really matter. I am not usually a big fan of dungeon crawls, but I had fun.

The reason I do not like typical dungeons is that they tend to be very slow. The trash in dungeons and raids just ruins the experience for me. WAR has taken a different approach with their dungeons. They separate the trash and bosses by placing the former in an open area and the latter in an instance. So you can bring a large group and just run through the trash quickly. Once you get to the instance, you split into groups.

The trash, at least in this wing, are part of Public Quests. This at least makes them a little bit interesting. At the end of these PQ's are bosses and rewards. It worked out great I thought. We went in there with 8 and made quick work of the non-instanced areas. No stress at all, just fun.

We also cleared out the instanced boss, Thar'Ignan, beat up on the second PQ Lord boss, Azuk'Thul and did the first PQ a couple of times. All in all it took maybe 2 hours. That was longer than I planned on staying, but I could have easily left without causing the group to have to find a replacement or quit.

I am pretty impressed with the dungeon system so far. Sigmar's Crypt was not on my list of things to do, but now it is.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Free vs Paid Expansions

Is there anything more exciting than new MMO content? Maybe, but for this blog post, no. Most often this new content comes to us via expansions. Sometimes they are free, sometimes they need to be paid for. Each MMO has its own idea of how this should be done. For this post, content additions and expansions are roughly equal.

On the free side you have games like Eve, Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes/Villains. They tend to release new content, at decent intervals, for just the cost of the subscription. SWG recently released the Battle for Hoth and an Appearance Tab system. CoX put out Issue 13, which had many improvements.

If you added up all of the free content those games release for a year, would it add up to a paid expansion? I think in many cases it would, but then you would have to add in the fact that you had to wait. Free expansions allow for more additions, quicker which means a more dynamic game.

On the pay side, you have games like WoW and Everquest. These games do put out free content upgrades too, but usually they are few and far between (I am looking at you WoW). When they do put out a paid expansion, it is usually packed full of content and worth the wait. The downside is that paid expansions can be slow to hit the marketplace.

Finally there is the hybrid, like Lord of the Rings Online. They put out free content updates (Book 13 ) pretty regularly and a rather large paid expansion (Mines of Moria).

As far as WAR goes, we will have to wait and see what approach they take. I think it will be a hybrid, but I can't recall where I heard that. They have released 2 new careers so far and have plans to release another two soon. These were cut from launch, but are free content none the less. I can't wait to hear their ideas for a paid expansion.

What kind of expansion do you prefer?

I would have to go for LoRTO. It seems that they are giving their customers the best of both worlds in terms of content. I really do like the free updates, however, I suspect a paid expansion can be very healthy for a game. Maybe it is just psychological, but the expectations are higher when shelling out extra money, regardless of the amount of free content they have been releasing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Blogs on the Block

Or is it NBotB?

Anyway, the Age of Blogging has brought to light many new blogs... here are a few to check out:

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, just bloggin stuff

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where in the World is Werit?

Warhammer has some amazing scenery. Most of the time it is ignored, as the only thing I am interested in is killing that Orc in front of me. I thought I'd start a little weekly contest...

Where in the world is Werit? Need a specific answer, not which zone.

Bonus Question: What does the title of this post pay homage to?

What do you get? Everyone's favorite prize, recognition!

Edit Results:

Esri got the bonus question, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

As for the screenshot, Sara got it. It was taken on a wall at Drakebreaker's Scourge in Dragonwake.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where's Werit?

It has been a little bit since I gave an update on Tirew the engineer. Currently I am Battle Rank 38 and Renown Rank 39. One nice surprise is that once you reach BR 36, your RR is not capped. It feels good not to be limited by my BR as I always fill up renown first.

I did get the Basic influence reward from the T4 Elf zone, a nice belt which was usable at rank 38. It will probably last until I go get the Sentinel belt. Need to try and get that 2 piece bonus at least. 344 Corporeal Resistance would be nice to have. I am at or close to all the Basic RvR Influence rewards, so I really have been spreading out my fighting.

One thing I have been meaning to start is my epic weapon quests (Faith is Madness for example). They give nice rewards and from what I hear, very nice XP. I still have my Librams of Insight, so it may be a good time to break it out too.

Reaching the ranks of 40 does have a couple of things I am looking forward to. One is Focused Fire, this should add some very helpful damage. I don't like standing still, but using this at the right time (i.e. with Unshakable Focus) could be pretty powerful.

I am also looking forward to a fourth tactic slot. I currently use: Throwing Arm, Extra Power and Steady Aim. If Concussive Mine is ever fixed, that will be going in my fourth slot. As I am always using Land Mines, I think those would be very effective. If it is not fixed, it may be a toss up between Well-Oiled Machine, Ancestral Heritage and Stopping Power.

All in all, I have been having a good time. It is well worth the money and the future is looking goo... err orange.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Paul Barnett interviewed for Age of Blogging

Reagn, over at Fires of WAR, was able to snag Paul Barnett for an interview as apart of the Age of Blogging campaign. This interview is not like most others you have seen. It is pretty much all about community. I highly suggest you take a read for insight into how Mythic view the community. Below is an excerpt..

"Raegn: What can an aspiring blogger do to get their blog noticed by Mythic?

Paul: Write regularly about things that matter to the community. Have a pro-active voice and aim for ways to make a contribution rather than ways to throw stones. Become a resource for us to use and rely upon. Be critical AND constructive. Most importantly, be about WAR. I won’t read a blog that requires me to wade through ten posts about games I’ve never heard of in order to read something about WAR. If I want general gaming news and blogs, I already have a full list that I consult. Don’t assume that if I post a reply its not me!

Raegn: How does Mythic envision the Warhammer community growing over the next year and what of interest have you seen arise from the community so far?

Paul: Hopefully, the community will continue to expand and new, interesting voices will appear. Diversity of opinion is important."


Where am I?

Ever feel a bit confused? A little slow? Just stopping what your doing and standing there? Lately, this has been happening to me in WAR. I thought it was the ale, but that checked out fine. It turns out Destruction has discovered the power of the AoE disorients.

In WAR, disorient adds to the time it takes to fire off a skill. So a skill with a 2 second cast now takes 3 seconds and an instant cast now takes 1 second. On the surface, this sounds like a nice skill, but in practice the AoE version seems to have gone very wrong.

One problem is it stacks. When you get a couple Chosen running around with Corrupting Horror, it can cause some serious problems. Also, I wonder if this is the cause of abilities not being cast. Often when I am disoriented, abilities will just freeze until I launch another skill.

The fact they gave the AoE disorient to a tank does not help matters either. Chosen can be a tad tough to kill, with they big cool looking armor and all that health. So all they have to do is run into our lines and they can wreak some havok. Focus firing on the tank doesn't help much, as then we are ignoring the healers. Focus firing on the healers is tough, due to the AoE disorient in effect from the tanks. There are also the melee dps folks running around to still worry about...

Marauders do have a cone AoE disorient that is enabled with a tactic, Insane Whispers. Black Orcs also have a smaller AoE disorient that needs a tactic, Big Brawlin'.

Order only has 1 working AoE disorient. They gave it to the Archmage, Blinding Light, as a T2 Morale. Engineers are supposed to be able to use a tactic to add an AoE disorient to their Land Mine (Concussive Mine), but this has never worked. It doesn't seem like they have any intention of fixing it any time soon.

I don't expect much understanding from Destruction, as this is war. However, I suspect if they ever even out the AoE disorients, they will then understand how painful the abilities are.

My preference would be for no one to have AoE versions, only single target. If that is not happening, please fix Concussive Mine and give one of our tanks a long-lasting 30ft AoE disorient.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Would you play a text based game?

With the announcement of Zork coming back, it got me thinking about text based games (MUD or Interactive Fiction). There are many great writers out there who would probably love to have readers be able to play in the world they created. Sadly, creating a game these days is a huge effort that would leave little time for actual writing.

Text based games have always been much more content driven and flexible. Although they are not seen much anymore, they still do exist. So my question to you is:

Q: Would you play a text based game anymore (single player or MUD like)? What would it take for you to play one regularly in terms of features (assuming it is free to play)? Or have text based games ridden into the sunset?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Creating WAR Web Tools

Web tools are what I call sites like Waralytics and WAR Watcher. They take information from one place and use it to provide a new service. This post aims to serve as an introduction to how to create such a tool. It will require some programming knowledge, but nothing difficult. If you don't know how to program, now is a great time to start!

Purpose: First off, what do we want to do? This example will show a list of Warhammer Online servers. This may not be particularly useful by itself, but it serves as a great starting point.

Where is the data? Next, we need to find a place to get the server list. It just so happens this information is readily available on the Mythic Realm War page. So the answer to our question is:

Yep, it is just the web page. More often than not, this will be the primary source for web tools. other times it is an actual Web Service or XML files.

Get the data. Now we need to do 3 basic steps: Read the web page, pull out the information we want and then display it.

If you haven't already, bring up the webpage in your browser of choice. When loaded, view it's source (Right Click, View Page Source). You should see a lot of HTML. That is what we will have to go through to pull out the server information.

What we are doing is commonly called parsing or screen scraping. It is not a very optimal way of doing things, but we have little choice. To do this, I use the Python programming language. Most any scripting language (i.e. Perl, Ruby, VBScript) can do the same. They are easy to learn (compared to C) and have a number of tutorials available.

To make my life even easier, I use a Python module called BeautifulSoup. This module goes through all of that HTML and parses it for us, so we can easily navigate our way through. Now, on to the code!

Here we go get the web page. It will put all that raw HTML code in the html variable.

url = ''

import urllib2
response = urllib2.urlopen(url)

html =

Next, we give it to BeautifulSoup to parse and do all the hard work for us.

from BeautifulSoup import BeautifulSoup
soup = BeautifulSoup(html)

We still need to figure out where our data is in that web page. From looking at it, we can see that the server name is contained within a div tag, with a class name of PairSelect-Name. That should do nicely, so lets pull it out.

for x in soup.findAll('div'):
if x.has_key('class') and x['class'] == 'PairSelect-Name':
print x.a.string

In the above code, we go through each div tag, and find one that has a class attribute and make sure it has the name we want. If it does, we pull out its anchor tag (a) and use the string version (x.a.string). The string version will give us what the anchor tag contains, which is the server name.

That is it! It only took about 9 lines to pull down the server names.

In the next installment, I will show how you can make this information available to everyone else.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Slayer Cometh

Looks like it is just about official, the Hammerer is out... that really only leaves the Slayer.

Original link

Translated link

Should be a popular class, can't wait to hear the details.

Rise of the Arcade MMO

Yesterday, I saw some footage of DC Universe Online from CES. I have not really been keeping up with this game but I may start paying attention. DC is a new offering coming from the folks at SOE. As you can guess, it is a superhero MMO involving comic book characters. The videos were basically a developer walkthrough of an early build. You can check them out here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I enjoyed them quite a bit and am pretty impressed so far. The reason I called it an Arcade MMO, is that is the feeling I got when watching. The sound, graphics and movement made me feel like I was in an arcade. I think that is a great thing, especially in a game based on comic books.

Some notes:
  • Large Open world, which is also quite vertical as it takes place in Metropolis.
  • Said to be seamless, which means no loading screens except for instances. I suspect it will make heavy use of them though.
  • Character customization is looking very good. You can choose a power set, how you deliver it and a travel ability.
  • Traveling in this game looks fun by itself. In the video you can see two types of travel, super speed and acrobatics. Both are very Arcade like and look pretty nice.
  • Buildings are easily climbable by all travel types.
  • Able to take cars and throw them at people.
  • Interact with characters such as Superman and Batman, including fighting along side them. I'm not sure how often this happens, but watching Superman fight as if he was another character was nice.
  • There is no death, instead you are knocked out. You are given a chance to recover, from the same spot and go on with the mission.
  • No auto-attack or even rolls. This is an action game with RPG elements, I know that may turn some folks off, but it could be fun.
One big feature I liked was the doing away with traditional classes. Every power set has an Offensive and Defensive version, which every player gets. You have the ability to switch versions as you play. So you need a tank-type player? Just hit a button and you can act as that role. This should do away with waiting around for a tank or healer.

One thing that isn't clear yet is how you interact with other people, when not in an instance. Will they be taking a Guild Wars approach or a traditional one? Will PS3 and PC folks be able to play together? Still many questions to be answered, but it is looking promising.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fortress of the Future

In a recent forum post, Mark Jacobs talked a little about what we can expect from fortresses in the future. If you didn't know, fortress battles are plagued by stability and performance issues. The first step in fixing the problem was to put a population cap on the fortress area. This has most definitely helped the above issues. This was just the first step though.

The most interesting part of his post is that he mentions they will be looking at moving the fortress to its own zone. Lets start with the possible drawbacks:
  • Loading Screen. This is more of an inconvenience than anything. I would gladly take a loading screen for a fun experience.
  • More Players. Yes, this is a drawback unless they change the way fortress battles work. Stuffing 100's of people in a small room is not fun.
The upside of this idea is potential. Moving them into their own zone will likely provide it with much more in terms of computer resources. The more of those, the more things you can do without hurting performance.
  • Bigger. Everything about the fortress area should be at least 3 times as big. This goes for the zone, the fortress and especially the inner keep and lord room. Bigger is better when you have 100's of players fighting it out.
  • Objectives. I would like to think that Mark was hinting at fortress objectives in his post. Since the whole fortress area is at least 3 times as big, there is now room for objectives that can be captured. This is going to be difficult though. The purpose here is to split up the offensive and defensive zergs, what we don't want is for the whole blob to move as one to take these, and then the lord.
  • Inner Keep. Since the Inner Keep could be much bigger now, there can be more that one way to get up to the fortress lords room. Again, we need to be careful that we don't just split the defenders. Choke points are the defenders advantage, so now we can have more than one and not necessarily right before the lord.
  • Better Siege. DAoC has it and even WoW does, breakable walls. I don't think this is very likely anytime soon, but one can hope. In any case, siege equipment needs to be improved. My AoE should not be more effective than a siege weapon.
Overall, there is a lot of potential here for a better fortress fight. The amount of people is not what makes it epic. I really hope Mythic will take a look at improving the mechanics rather than just performance. Splitting up the players will help there too. This is the height of the world RvR and should require tactics and strategy, rather then a bum rush to the fortress lord.

Monday, January 12, 2009

WAR PvP ruins it in WoW

Over the weekend I was playing a bit of WoW and I heard some people talking about the new battleground, Strand of the Ancients. It sounded pretty neat, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Overall it is a neat battleground. There is a beach landing, tanks to fight in and a big fort to take. In the end thought, it was not very fun for me.

I have not done much PvP in WoW since I started playing WAR. There really seemed to be no reason to play that aspect of the game. It seems I was right. While PvE in Wow may be great, it is really obvious that PvP is just an afterthought. Not that there is anything wrong with that for WoW.

Some things that just don't work for me:
  • No Bolster. Having to wait until the latter levels to be competitive is just a bad design decision. You could go in there as a 72, but you won't have very much fun versus 80's.
  • Cross-Realm. When you go into a battleground, your teammates and enemies are from different servers. This does make getting in a match quicker, which is in line with WoW's honor grind. Rivalry is a big part of PvP in games, without it WoW's battlegrounds lose some excitement.
  • Rogues. Say what you will about Witch Elves, but I would take them any day over a WoW Rogue. I play a Protection Warrior and heres how it goes: Rogue saps me, does a couple of attacks and re-enters stealth. Repeat. I know I can break it once or twice, but they are able to get stealthed again pretty quick. Must be a certain tree, as they are usually warrior food.
  • No Point. The battlegrounds contribute to nothing. Lake Wintergrasp allows your side to get more experience points and Stone Keeper's Shards. That is pretty much it.
  • Feels clunky. This is highly subjective, but the WoW PvP just feels bad when playing. It is most likely due to my class choice, but it just didn't feel fluid.
  • Choice. Again, this is probably class subjective, but it feels like there is a lot less choice of how to PvP in WoW. In WAR, there are the 3 mastery trees (aka talent trees) but there are also tactic choices and morale ability choices. I feel like I can do a lot more experimentation in WAR.
I'm not sure I will go back to PvP in WoW. I'll likely check out Wintergrasp... but I don't see myself touching a battleground again. Before WAR, I used to do them for a change of pace once in a while, and then to get my Gladiator Shield Wall. Now, as I have no need for end-game gear (and you can actually craft some anyways)... there really is no reason to go back. At least Blizzard made the right decision not forcing people to PvP for entry level raid gear.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Werit 1, Bugs 0

When we last left our hero, he was about to head into Azjol-Nerub. It seems a faction of rebel bugs, Nerubians as they call themselves, want their now Scourge-ified leader killed. In addition, they want the eggs of the scourge destroyed. Since the only good bug is a dead bug, why not?

The only major equipment chance up to this point is I am now sporting a Saronite Defender (with a Titanium Shield Spike). My previous shield was a Gladiator's Shield Wall. I love shields.

As usual, I set out to find a pug. It took a few tries to find one, but eventually I did. It turned out to be a great group. We completed the dungeon in pretty decent time (~35 minutes) and only had one wipe. The wipe was due to poor coordination on who should be attacked. This was likely my fault as I was the tank.

Some notes:
  • Krik'thir the Gatewatcher has some neat speech.
  • The Anub'ar Webspinners usage of Web Wrap is what led to our wipe.
  • Anub'ar Skirmisher's will randomly decide to attack a party member for 10 seconds and can't be taunted. This is quite annoying, but neat.
  • Hadronox was a very close fight for us. This nasty spider puts out some nice poison damage, which I completely neglected. Thankfully our healer was on the ball and managed to keep me up.
  • Anub'arak was a decent fight. He has spikes that will toss you up in the air, so some attention is required. Also, he likes to burrow underground while some of his minions attack. Other then that, it wasn't very difficult.
The loot:
One other thing to mention. Before the final boss, there is a huge drop into a pool of water. I was reluctant to make the leap. As I did, I must say I actually felt a bit nervous as I plummeted. Surprising as this is a video game and I wasn't actually falling. Good work to whoever designed it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fortress Solution

Yesterday, Mythic announced a solution for Fortresses. Prior to this change, fortresses were rarely captured, as there were just too many people. Estimates have been as high as 800 people participating in the fight. This has stalled most of the Tier 4 game, as progress can't be made toward the enemy city on many servers.

Mythic's solution involved capping the population of the zone. Some notes:
  • Attackers have a higher cap than defenders. Good, as it should be. The fortress itself is a pretty big extra defender.
  • Rank 40 players do have priority. Read the announcement for the details. Again, this is as it should be.
There will be some adverse reaction to this announcement, as the community has its own ideas on how it should be fixed. Two common ideas are:
  • Get better servers. There comes a time when you just can't throw money at the problem. Besides, if Mythic could fix the problem by equipment, why wouldn't they? Equipment is cheaper than programmer time.
  • Use Stackless IO like Eve does. As far as I know, Eve still has lag issues when trying to deal with hundreds of people (fighting) and they have been working on the problem for years. Besides, Stackless IO (and Python) cannot take advantage of multiple core's (cpu's). It has its uses, but is not a cure all.
The thing that bothers me is, why did Mythic think this would ever work? It seems pretty obvious that a lot of people, fighting in a small area will cause problems. When there is the possibility that the entire server could be in the zone fighting, bad things will happen. My guess is that it is all a result of the shifting to more world RvR late in development and the fact the other capital cities would not make launch.

Capping the population also gives a nice side benefit. Mythic now knows the max number of attackers and defenders, so they should be able to tune difficulty better. I really hope this will lead to a better fortress experience down the road.

Another benefit is that it limits the zerg effect. No longer can one side just overwhelm the other with numbers. I don't think Mythic has said what the allowed numbers were for each side yet.

In the end, I think this is a good change. It may not be ideal, but it should get the campaign moving again instead of the endless fortress attempt and crash loop.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Keep Improvement: Defensive Queuing

One of my favorite parts of WAR is defending a keep. I'm a Dwarf Engineer, it is what I was made to do. Although I enjoy it, it could be improved. One aspect in need of help is the problem of undefended keeps. These really just end up being gold bag vending machines. I am sure most players would like to have some resistance rather than playing PvE style.

One reason that defending is tough is that you have to either get to a keep early and wait for the enemy or try to get to the keep when they are already assaulting it. Let's face it, getting there and waiting is boring and a waste of game time. Arriving after the siege has begun usually has you end up dead by the postern door.

What if there was a way for defenders to arrive as the keep assault begins? I would like to see the scenario queue system (or something similar) applied to keeps. So when an attack begins, a LIMITED amount of players will be given the option to spawn at the keep. I would imagine 5 to 10 players max being allowed to get to the keep this way.

This sort of system should allow keeps to have some defenders almost all the time. To get in the queue, I would have players need to go to the keep they want to defend. This at least makes sure they have to go in the RvR lake at some point.

There are some likely problems with this idea. One, at what point are players summoned to the keep? It can't be on the initial attack, as it could easily be abused by the opposing force. Two, this may make it near impossible for small groups to attempt a keep siege. This actually may be a good thing depending on your point of view.

In summary, I think a system that makes it easier for a few players to get to a keep will make it more enjoyable for both sides.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Enter the Dragon(blight)

This WoW post has been in my backlog to do for a while, so it is not really up to date with my character. After I took care of business in the Nexus, I headed off to Dragonblight. In order to get there, I took a turtle boat from Unu'pe to to Moa'ki Harbor. The turtle boats are pretty nice. Ever notice how they run those things? There is a carrot on a stick in the front. Great stuff.

I took care of the quests in the harbor:
  • Apparently the Kalu'ak don't like to fight.
  • Had to take out Jaws once and for all!
  • Got sent to a haunted lake, no Jason sightings.
  • Met a sea goddess name Oacha'noa, who is huge. She made me do a cannonball into the water to solve the quest... Guess gods have to get their kicks somehow.
  • That was pretty much it. I thought this ended very abruptly as the story never really went anywhere.
After the Harbor, I was sent to Stars Rest which is West of the harbor.
  • Quests were mostly based off of what was happening in the Nexus. I like storylines, even if they are only somewhat related.
  • Most quests involved investigating what the Blue Dragons forces were doing in the surrounding area.
  • After much killing, the most effective kind of investigating it seems, we find that they are funneling magical energies to the East part of Dragonblight. Nice long 16 part quest line.
  • Learned of a traitor at Wintergarde in the West.
  • I also had to deal with some bug worshippers to the North. Those things just won;t go away.
Overall the quests were not too bad. Nothing very frustrating but the story was just so-so.

I did come across Azjol-Nerub and was asked to venture in to help out some rebel bugs. Before I head West, I must take care of them.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Werit the Annihilator

My Engineer, Tirew, reached the Rank of 36 (RR 36) on Friday. This is an especially fun rank for two reasons. One, I can now wear the full Annihilator set. Two, I got a new T3 morale and a T4 morale from my mastery line.

The armor set is pretty nice. It is made up of: Annihilator Steeltoes, Annihilator Work Gloves, Annihilator Hardhat, Annihilator Bulwark and the Annihilator Sparkplate. The set gives some good bonuses, including +62 Ballistic skill, +320 Elemental Resists and +2 to grenade level. The last one is especially nice, as my grenades hit as if I am a Rank 38 right now. The set also grants lesser wards, used for PvE fights. These seem pretty useless to me, as I don't PvE much. I guess if I ever get into a city they can't hurt.

Cannon Smash is my new T3 morale. It deals 1800 damage and reduces a targets armor by 1200 for 30 seconds. So it is pretty much a tank weapon or a nice finishing move. I have not had a chance to use it too much. It seems like it is very situational, as I would rather use Unshakable Focus more often. However when a tank is carrying the flag in a scenario... this would be very nice.

Artillery Barrage is my new T4 morale. It is channeled over 4 seconds and deals 2400 damage to everyone within 30 feet of a spot you pick. Many Engineers do not find this useful due to the low amount of damage compared to loading up DoTs and using Unshakable Focus. What I like about this skill is that it has a range of 150 feet, well 180 feet if you consider the damage radius. During slow fights or keep sieges, you can hit the back line healers and casters. While 2400 damage may not kill them, they will have to spend time to heal themselves, rather than the front lines. If you pair up with another engineer... you can cause some serious havoc.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Number 5 is alive

Well no, not really. WALL-E is though. I got WALL-E a few weeks ago on Blu-Ray and finally had a chance to write down something about the film. I am a sucker for animation movies these days, as they are usually pretty good. I would say WALL-E fell under the category of pretty good.

The story was not the best, in fact there was no talking at all for quite a bit. That did not really bother me though and didn't even occur to me at the time. You can tell a story without the spoken word. Overall the plot was pretty basic, but hey this is a kids movie after all. It isn't the happiest of the Disney movies but isn't their most depressing either.

It looked amazing in High Definition. The space scenes were great. I am continually impressed with how great they can make animated movies look. I really wish I had scene this in one of the 3D capable theaters. They need to hurry up and get a GOOD home 3d system out, that doesn't require two projectors. I will wear the funny glasses, I am not ashamed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

It's so easy...

an Orc could do it! Blogging that is.

Syp, our Dwarf Engineer sister from another mother... and father, has recently announced the beginning of the Age of Blogging! Dun Dun Duuuuuun. Yes, the call has went out for more WAR blogs. So why should you answer the call?
  • It is simple and free. Really, the hardest part about getting a blog up and running is picking a name. That is a crucial part though.
  • Be heard. Tired of the moderators keeping you down? Suppressing your opinion because you do not agree with the Man? Well this is your own forum and you can moderate as you wish.
  • Improve your writing. I am no Syp or Snafzg, but I think that writing this blog has improved my writing skills. Prior to the start of Werit, I don't think I ever really had to write much. See, writing a blag can be useful.
Some tips:
  • Get involved. When you start up a blog, it is important to get involved in the community that is already established (i.e. Google will only send so many readers your way, and they may only be interested in the information that they searched for. Post on other peoples blogs and better yet, do a joint post (an interview for example).
  • Be patient. It takes time to get readers, but they will eventually come if you are involved with the larger community. So be prepared to wait weeks/months before you get a good amount.
  • Be creative. Creative works, like videos or webcomics, can set you apart from the other blogs. I do not posses those skills, but you may, so use it.