Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Old Keep

On this weeks This Old Keep, we will strengthen up that rickety keep door so we can keep those unwelcome visitors out.

One surprise that the 1.2.1 patch is bringing is the Keep Upgrade system. I was under the impression that this would be in 1.3, so I was happy to hear it is coming sooner. Guilds who have claimed a keep will now be able to purchase improvements. These improvements take time to build, so they better hold onto the keep.

When I envisioned the system, I thought we would just be able to upgrade a couple things. Turns out there are 13 options, some with multiple levels. Hopefully this will provide a wide variety of different keep setups. Currently, keeps are all pretty much the same when you attack them, I hope this will make things a bit more dynamic.

The Door will be able to be strengthen via hit points, or repaired by wood purchased from a vendor. I expect these to be popular upgrades so long as they provide enough bang for the buck.

Also popular should be the guard improvement. You can hire more guards and promote them to Champion level. This should help against the smaller raid on your keep. It should also help with those pesky people sneaking in through the backdoor.

Two types of NPC's can be hired to help fight in the lower level of the inner keep. Both are AoE dealers, but one is damage and the other is healing. Combined with Champion level guards, will this encourage the fight to move to the lower level of the keep?

Powered by the skulls of your enemies, the Divine Altar Favor looks like the WAR equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction. It will take about 500 skulls to power and should do some serious damage to your would-be attackers.

One thing that does concern me is the economics involved. From the examples, we are looking at 300 gold a day to run a mid-ranked keep. I don't know what everyone's guild bank looks like, but this seems like a lot more than even large guilds bring in on a daily basis.

What does a guild really get for this high cost? AT first everyone will scramble for the keeps as a novelty. After a few days though, the cost will likely start to take it's toll. While making the keep tougher to take is good, I don't think it will provide enough incentive for a guild to fund. They need a personal stake in that keep.

One way to give accomplish this would be a purchasable game-wide buff for the guild members. For example, a 2% wounds increase, which has 5 levels up to 10%. This kind of bonus would give guilds something in return for spending large amounts of gold on that keep. Since it has levels, it would encourage the guild to want to hold it as long as possible.

I am very excited about the incoming Keep Upgrade system. I think it will make RvR more interesting, which is something WAR really needs at this point. Bring on 1.2.1!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Pendulum Swings

One of the big changes in 1.2.1 is that Rain of Fire and Pit of Shades will no longer stack. You can read about the details here. Basically, only 1 of these abilities will affect a player at a time. Napalm and Dissolving Mist will still work in combination with the newly balanced spells. This isn't a new issue, so let's take a look back.

Stacking of RoF/PoS has been a problem since the game launched. Patch 1.1 brought some nerfs to both Bright Wizards and Sorceress. However, the real story is that players started figuring out the resist system. Once they started to stack resists, BW/Sorc damage, even from RoF and PoS started not to be that bad. However, there were no real limits to resistance stacking, so we saw some absurd numbers (upwards of 80%). This had the effect of marginalizing the casters damage.

With 1.2 we saw Diminishing returns added to resistances past 40%. The cap isn't 40%, its just harder to get absurd numbers. Not surprisingly, we saw the cries of overpowered BW/Sorcs come back in force. Coincidence?

Stacking abilities are really difficult to balance. In the case of RoF/PoS, the fact they are so powerful just adds to the problem. If you get enough of them in the same spot, you can almost instantly kill your opponent. If there were only 1 or 2 BW/Sorcs per warband, this may not even be an issue. When you get 7 or 8 of them, it becomes a problem. And that is the real problem, how do you balance stacking abilities when they could have any number of that class?

It is hard to argue with this change, as it will certainly stop the instant deaths. However, as with most complex systems, there will be unintended consequences. RoF/PoS has been the primary defensive tactic in keeps. If the defender had a strong enough tank wall, and enough BW/Sorcs... they had a good chance of holding off the enemy.

A single RoF/PoS will be nearly useless in most keep sieges. Group healing is very effective, so the damage caused will be barely noticeable, especially to tanks. Without this defensive tactic, it is likely that melee will run wild. There is another reason single-target damage isn't used much in keeps.... it is not very effective. Line of sight and lag are big obstacles with casters single target damage.

With this change, I expect to see the melee heavy realms start to dominate the keep sieges. There may be other changes we do not know about though. Short of a big change to group healing and keeps, I'm not sure what could avoid this outcome.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Keep Upgrades Detailed

Yes, a weekend post!

Mythic has given up the details for their keep upgrade system. Check it out:


One quick note, I really hope they get the parts mentioned at the end in with the rest, looks very promising.

More to come on this during the week.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Daily Quests or just chores?

For this weeks WCPI, I stumbled across Girl IRL. She makes a case for Daily Quests. These are commonly known to most any WoW player. You can do 25 of them a day. They are usually quick quests that give decent rewards. As it turns out, they were quite popular among WoW players as they were a nice source of gold and reputation.

I never really liked Daily Quests. When I do play WoW, I always try to like them. After a week of doing dailies though, I just can't stand it anymore. They are just too repetitive. they feel more like chores to me than fun.

One recommendation she makes is to have them be of the RvR variety. While this will help, I think the last thing we need is more RvR quests. We have way too many as it is. Instead, there should be a player Kill Collector that will always reward you. Although, I wouldn't mind them so much is we got rid of the glut of RvR quests.

One idea I do like is for it to be a way to introduce crafting items as rewards. Why are there no seeds from RvR?

So what do you think, dailies in RvR?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Ryzom is a MMO I had not really heard much about. I was reading an article and one of the comments mentioned it, so I took a stroll over to their webpage. I was actually surprised that this was the first time I checked this game out. It looks like it has been out for quite a while. I saw there was a free trial and gave it a try. There are several reasons why I gave Ryzom a try, as opposed to Spellborn.

Skill Based. No real classes here just 4 basic skills: Melee, Magic, Crafting and Harvesting. When you defeat a monster, you get XP into combat (Yea Darkfall, looking at you. No casting at rocks to advance.) The same goes for the non-combat skills. You can then spend that XP (as points) on abilities. There is really no limit, so you can make your character be whatever mix you want.

Stanzas. The best way to describe a stanza would be as a compound action. These are abilities you create out of your other abilities. For example, I can create an attack that consists of a basic attack, a DoT and then a cleave. This is not a free lunch though. You have to pay for each action with things like Stamina.

Seasons. There are actually seasons (Summer, Winter) in the game. They affect the harvesting resources available and even the types of animals you will see.

Ryzom Ring. This system lets you create scenarios (instances) for people to adventure in. It would be a predecessor to CoX's Mission Architect system. Not only can you create detailed instances (including placement), you can be the Adventure Master (aka Dungeon Master) or let it run hands off.

Those features were enough to get me to download and give it a whirl. In the end though, Ryzom will not be a game I will be playing. It just looks and feels too dated. It also has an uncertain future, as it has been struggling over being a free to play game for so long.

Ryzom appears to be JRPG influenced graphically, which doesn't do anything for me. While I wouldn't call it anime, it just feels odd. It's lore also seems to be a mix of fantasy and Sci-fi.

The folks who made Ryzom put their engine (the whole thing, Networking, Graphics ...) up as an Open Source project. If you ever wanted to learn how a MMO works, this is a good opportunity. You can check it out at http://dev.ryzom.com/.

Overall it looks like a game with a lot of nice ideas. Hopefully there will be a Ryzom 2 someday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Chronicles of Spellborn?

The Chronicles of Spellborn recently went into open beta. Normally, I would want to try it out but with this game I just cannot gather any interest. Am I missing something? From their webpage, the game does not look like anything special.

The primary feature seems to be a 'progressive' combat system that uses a reticule (ala Oblivion). More about that combat system can be read here. That is nice and all, but what is the overall gameplay about? It seems like you kill, quest and do instances. There is crafting, but it looks like nothing new. They separated powers/item stats from the items, so you can look how you want. That is nice, but doesn't make a game for me.

These days I need something more from a new game. WAR gave us RvR, Star trek Online will give us Star Trek, Exploration , ship crews and more, Champions Online will give us unparalleled customization and a nemesis system.

Spellborn just seems to be a slight modification on the traditional MMO. If I wanted to play a WoW type game, I'd go play WoW. Oh, and Spellborn is RMT which isn't helping its case.

I like to try out new MMO's, but can't think of a reason to try Spellborn. Am I missing something?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Star Wars Pinball

Give you points I will. - Yoda

When I am not playing MMO's, I enjoy spending time with some old arcade games. I am lucky enough to have a wife that allows a small arcade in our home. Although Pinball has fallen out of fashion these days, I still find them very fun. There is really nothing like them. The first game I bought was Star Wars Pinball by Data East.

I am a Star Wars fan, but not an uber-fan. However I have always enjoyed anything Star Wars related. In my younger days, when arcades were still around, I was not a big pinball fan. I did have to play Star Wars pinball whenever I saw it though. I didn't appreciate the nuances of pinball at the time, so I was more interested in the theme, sound and lights.

The artwork on this pinball is just fantastic. It was made in 1992, so it follows the original trilogy. There are a lot of little details and most everything in the Star Wars universe is represented. Sometimes, I will just look at the artwork and not even play. Brings back the memories of what made Star Wars a great movie.

Also amazing are the sound clips and the lights. I'm not 100% sure if they have the actual cast doing the voice clips, but I can't tell the difference. Classic quotes include: Luke: "Noooooooooooo" on a ball drain and Darth: "You have failed me for the last time." There are many pinball ones, like the Yoda quote at the beginning. The music from the movie is here, but a little bit different (digitized perhaps?) It fits in very well though.

Gameplay wise, Star Wars is not considered one of the top pinballs. It is rather simple due to the importance of the middle ramp shot. That is alright by me, as I am by no means good at pinball. One thing I never knew about pinball until I owned one was how deep the rulesets actually are. As a kid, it was just hitting the ball and hoping something happened. Now I realize there are strategies involved. The best part of the game has to be the spinning Death Star. At certain times, a door opens. When you hit a ball into the Death Star you see a nice dot animation of them getting ready to fire (like in the movie). However, when they do it explodes. This starts a 3 ball multiball. Lots of great lighting, sound and fun.

Star Wars Pinball will probably always remain in my collection. It isn't the highest rated game, but is fun to play none the less. Someday, maybe pinball's will be considered fine art... ok maybe not.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fixing AoE

It is true, Area of Effect attacks are a bit out of balance since the 1.2 patch. Mythic has pretty much confirmed it in their forum posts. The 2 main culprits are Rain of Fire and Pit of Shades. Back before 1.1 (I think), they were in this same situation. 1.1 increased resistances, which went too far and reduced their damage by a lot. 1.2 dialed back resistances, now they are too powerful again. There are two main issues:

Stacking. Both abilities stack without limit. If 5 Bright Wizards use Rain of Fire on the same location, the poor folks get hit with all 5. This can add up to a lot of damage. The Engineers Napalm (and the Magus equivalent) do not stack. Napalm is also less powerful, but not a channeled attack.

These abilities should not stack, or have a stack limit. This would be a boon for tanks and melee dps in keep sieges. Healers will likely be able to heal the damage easily, possibly tipping the balance too far. It is not a simple problem, but one that needs to be addressed.

Targeting. RoF/PoS/Napalm/Mist are all ground targeted. This lets the player place the attack anywhere their camera can see. So if you are standing in the back of the Lords room, getting hit for damage, this may be the culprit. In the case of channelled spells, it allows the caster to stand in relative safety while casting.

Fixing this could be pretty complicated as it is based on camera mechanics. I wonder if they could only use a portion of the camera ( calculate the camera 10% smaller and use that for the check), which may limit the range of the crazy placements. This would probably cause some strange bugs in legitimate situations though. If they end up getting rid of stacking, this issue may not be that big of a deal.

Changes are almost certainly coming to these AoE abilities. I just hope they are slight, and not too drastic. Balance is getting better, just have to keep tweaking.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Eve Business Report

Over the past week or so, I have been concentrating on building up my production business. After all, I didn't spend nearly a month on Production Efficiency 5 for nothing. Luckily I started out a a few million isk and some BPC's from previous play attempts. That always makes things a bit easier.

I looked at my home area, which happily has a good amount of mission runners, and found some holes in the market. Mostly these were T1 ship modules to start, as I don't like selling ammo. It just takes too much time, for too little profit to sell ammo.

Many T1 ship module BPO's cost under 100k, so it will be quick to re-coup the cost. The drawback is that these BPO's have not been researched, and that will cut into your profit. I plug the numbers into Eve-MEEP and voila... it gives me a good idea if I can make a profit on this item. The other important piece is to check the volume of the item. If it isn't selling much in your area, it may not be a good investment.

As my modules kept selling out, I started to build some Destroyers. This upped my mineral requirements far past what I could collect myself. Using Buy orders in my solar system solved this problem and I just had to go collect the minerals. It was a little more expensive in some cases, but worth it due to turnaround time.

Manufacturing is like a snowball rolling down a hill. Momentum starts to pick up and soon you need a lot more minerals to satisfy demand. As Destroyers were selling great, I started to add Cruisers into the mix. These require much more minerals. So those buy Orders were pushed out to a jump away. They get filled very quickly, but now I have to do quite a bit of jumping to collect them all. Time is valuable, so I don't want to spend all of it collecting raw materials.

That leads me to the present. I have about 35 million isk and a couple more left on the market in sell orders. It is time to take the next step. I will start to produce on a weekly schedule, rather than ad-hoc like I have been doing. This means I will buy all the materials I need for the week at one time. I estimate this will cost about 25 million isk. My hope is that I only have to collect the materials one time a week. I will of course need a bigger transport at some point too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quest improvement and fine art

Yesterday I was writing about improving quests for the upcoming Star trek Online. Today I found a nice article at Blame the Healer about some small improvements that could be made to quests in WAR. Check it out here.

I think they are all fine ideas. The pictures would add some more flavor and could possibly be used to give clues or just clear up confusion. On Mythic's end, it would probably take a bit more work to keep everything up to date.

The 2nd idea, non-linear quests, seems like it should have been used long ago. Many single player games use branching quests, but for some reason MMO's do not. It may have to do with itemization. Quests are often used to get a player to an appropriate gear level, when you add choices a character may end up gimping themselves unintentionally. However there are many quests which just give money rewards, so I'm sure there is room for this.

The third idea is crafting quests. This sounds like a good idea if it is given out in an appropriate way. Giving players quests they cannot do is not very common in the MMO world. That's what may happen, unless it checks the player for their crafting specializations and levels. They could always allow the player to make the potion or give them a way to go get it.

The stick figure comics are also excellent. I really wish I had some shred of artistic talent. So drop by Blame the Healer for a visit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Boldly go...

where no Dwarf has gone before.

I like Star Trek. I would never dress up as a character or go to a conference, but I am a fan. You know those Star trek: The Next Generation Season DVD sets? I own them all. Expensive suckers, yay for Christmas presents over many years. I would like to get Deep Space Nine too, but I want to see if they release a HD version.

Star Trek Online is a game I am very much looking forward to. Long ago I played some Star Trek themed MUSHS/MUDs, and they were awesome. I played Star Trek on my Sega Genesis quite a bit too. Overall, there have been no killer Star Trek games. Hopefully STO will be it.

As a result, you will see increased STO coverage on my blog. I don't anticipate it taking the place of other content though, it is just an addition. Much of the game is still an unknown, but as we all know, speculation is fun.

STO: Design a Mission #1

Star Trek has always been about more than just combat. Problem solving, diplomacy, trickery, plot devices are all part of how things get done in the universe. In MMO's, quests are nearly always Kill X amount of this, go get this or go click on this. Trying to shoe-horn this into STO would be a very big disappointment for me.

Making quests better is easier said than done. Luckily, the Star Trek Universe has a huge amount of situations to draw from. It might be a fun exercise to take an episode and make it into a quest chain.

Episode: The Masterpiece Society (Season 5)
Goal: Save the colony

Start: Given a mission to investigate the Stellar Core a fragment.
Step 1: On arrival (or on scan), human colony detected. New mission, Save colony.
Step 2: Go to colony and make contact. No answer from colony. Mission text/scan results hint at older technology. In the episode, Picard just tells them to use an older method. For a game, I would envision just a multiple choice question here.
  • Send down an Away Team to make contact (Effect: Fails, lowers reward and/or makes rest of mission more difficult)
  • Use older frequencies and try again (Effect: Success)
Step 3: Contact has been made. Dialog with leader reveals their genetic past and concerns. Evacuation is not an option. In the episode, they immediately know they cannot affect the fragment with their standard equipment. For the game, it might be good to allow the player to discover it on their own. New mission, try to destroy/alter the path of the fragment.

This would be a combat mission if we can't use the tractor beam. Player would engage the fragment, and find that weapons/tractor beam are ineffective.

Step 4: Here we come to the tricky part. In the episode, they figure out Geordi's visor can be used to make the tractor beam work on the fragment. That does not exactly translate into gameplay. If we went the traditional route, we could just turn it into a series of quests to find item X, which would of course include fighting. I really don't want to go down that route.

Using dialog alone to find a solution would end up being very quick. It think Cryptic has also said they don't want STO to be full of mini-games.

One choice would arise from dialog. The player would be given the choice to bring up Hannah to help or to leave her on the planet. Bringing her to the ship will affect the missions, buy making them easier. leaving her on the planet will make them more difficult.

I am at a loss of how to play out the 'find a solution' aspect of this episode in terms of good non-grindy gameplay. So I will use a standard solution.

Sensors have detected a crystal on a nearby planet that could enhance the tractor beam. Player goes down with an away team, fights through local wildlife to find the crystal. The location and difficulty would be different depending on the choice with Hannah.

Step 5. Now that a solution has been found, the player can go to the fragment and alter its course. Return to the colony.

Completion: Depending on your earlier choice with Hannah, the ending dialog would be different (based on the episode). That choice would also affect your rewards. If there is some sort of prestige/reputation given for completing missions, those could be adjusted based on decisions.

I think the choices aspect would add a lot of Star Trek flavor to these missions. They should not ruin the mission for you, but affect the outcome.

Finding alternatives for the traditional MMO quest is the really tough part.

How would you turn this episode into a STO mission?

RvR Quests

Is it just me or are there way too many RvR Quests? Let's take a look at the Tier 4 repeatable RvR quests.

Each BO and Keep has a kill quest, 9 zones * 6 quests = 54 quests

Each zone gets a 25 player kill quest, that's another 9 quests.

The leaders give out a banner shred quest, so that is another 3.

The emperor gives out an Inevitable City capture quest (not sure if it is repeatable): Add 1 more.

We have new RvR quest lines, 1 in each warcamp (I think). I won't count all the stages, but that is another 9.

That gives us a grand total of 76 repeatable RvR quests in tier 4!

To me, that is just entirely too many quests. How many people actually defend an objective based on the kill quest given there? I would gather not too many. Now that we have Zone Domination, there is reason to keep these out of the enemies hands.

It may be time to drop all of the kill quests (except scenario ones). They would be much better served with a Kill Collector instead. No more quest hassle. Just rewards for killing players, wherever they may be.

Speaking of rewards, the Emperor is rather cheap. The reward for capturing the Inevitable City is a whopping 3,600 exp and 26 silver! How generous. This quest, Capture the Enemy Lair, should be looked at and adjusted to give a proper reward. Same goes for the banner/insignia quests, it is barely worth my time to redeem those.

The 1.3 patch may be a great time to address RvR quests due to the new expanded influence bars and possible token system. Gold is always welcome, but perhaps a choice between these other types of rewards too. For example, I'd love to be able to get seeds for cultivating from RvR.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What if there was no AoE?

Area of Effect abilities are the new nerf of the month (NotM) on the forums. It got me to thinking, what if there were no AoE abilities? That would include Damage, Healing and Crowd Control. What kind of game world would it be?

BOOOM. Siege weapons would be the only AoE in the game. As a result, they would be moved off of the pads and be usable anywhere there was flat land. Also, their damage would be increased, but their accuracy would be lessened. We would now see them used on the battlefield, and not just in keeps. I think this is a good idea regardless of AoE.

Poor Healers. With no AoE heals at their disposal, many healers would start to suffer from repetitive stress disorder. As a result, Mythic starts to market Warhammer brand arm braces.

Tab DoT. Tab DoT'ing will become the poor mans AoE. This could be addressed by increasing action cost or cast time and increasing damage.

Choo Choo. The tank train will run wild as there is no AoE CC (Slow's, Knockdowns, Knockback). Directional attacks will become more important, if a tank tries to bypass your melee to get to your casters... they should have to pay a price.

Keeps being kept. Getting to the Lord's floor will be quite the challenge in this AoE free world. Without AoE knockbacks, knockdowns and T4 damage morale's, breaking up that tank wall will be difficult. This is where you would want to start knocking down walls and opening up other avenue's of attack.

Less is more or less. With all AoE abilities removed, your action bar will look pretty sparse. Some new abilities could be added, but there is really only so much you can do with single target attacks. Is less abilities a good thing or does it just make for boring characters?

So what do you think of a world without AoE?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Warhammer Problem

The 1.2 patch brought us many nice improvements. Zone Domination, better class balance and improved crafting were all welcomed additions. As with most things, some not so good things tagged along.

Ever since 1.2, stability has been awful. I'm not sure whether or not this is a widespread problem. I seem to get disconnected several times a hour. Prior to the patch, this was a very rare occurrence.

As I do most of my fighting in the RvR lakes, I tend to be in the vicinity of a battlefield objective. When you get disconnected here, you spawn back at the warcamp. In some zones, this is just a minor inconvenience. However, when your warband is at the south end of Dark Crag, it is extremely frustrating.

I am pretty forgiving with MMO problems, as they are living products. However, this courtesy does not extend to stability issues; especially ones that are newly introduced. I really hope to see some news on this being fixed, as it will lessen the amount of time I give to WAR.

Friday, March 13, 2009

WAR, PotBS, Skaven

One criticism of WAR, often by DAoC vets, is that the game needs a 3rd realm. I think this argument does hold some water when it comes to population balance. When you have only 2 factions, and no self-balancing system, the strong will just keep getting stronger. If Order was dominating a server, the other two realms may be able to join forces and oppose them. In WAR, this is not an option, the losing side really has nowhere to get help from.

So where does Pirates of the Burning Sea come into play? In PotBS, there are nation factions (i.e. England, France) and a pirate faction. The nations can capture and hold ports, while the pirates can only capture them for a short period of time. The pirates also get more PvP privileges and can capture ships.

Warhammer was built around the Order and Destruction pairing (mechanics, zones etc) , so the introduction of a traditional third faction seems highly unlikely. However, it may be possible to introduce a 'pirate' faction.

This would be a perfect place to introduce the Skaven. Lore wise, it seems they are a Chaos race, but I'm not sure how much of an ally they are to Destruction. They are rats... pirates... get it? It's early.

The Skaven would not have a capturable city. They may have a home area which provides basic services, but no city ranks or anything. Skaven would live in the RvR lakes. As they are rodent type creatures, they could have warcamps underground with several entrances exits. If the developers were so inclined, they could give them underground PvE areas (no need to do much work to the existing zones).

Some sort of mechanic would be needed to allow them to pick which side to fight on. As I never played DAoC, I'm not sure how that worked in the pvp areas. Were the 2 other factions always red (attackable)? This would also allow the skaven to join their allies in a fort/city siege. However, there would be no keep/BO captures for Skaven in this system, unless they are able to capture it for Order/Destruction.

So the existence of the Skaven is mostly dedicated to PvP. They fight who they want and can switch sides. On the downside, they don't have much (if any) PvE content. There is always a risk that this side would become too popular as well, causing another kind of imbalance.

So what do you think, could a 3rd faction like this fit into Warhammer?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Business Questions

My main character in Eve Online is specialized in Industry. For as long as I can remember, I've always liked making stuff. While I do many activities in Eve (Mining, Missions and Manufacturing), much of my time lately has been spent getting my manufacturing going.

So far it has been going really well, in fact, too well. I primarily produce modules for ships and I just can't keep up with demand. By nature I am a conservative type, so I try to keep a nice cash reserve. This means I only like to have about 50% of my cash reserve in sell orders. So If I have 10 million isk, I like to have products worth 5 million isk in sell orders.

I am also lazy.... I mean efficient. I generally operate out of a single solar system (with a couple exceptions). So to get the raw materials, I use buy orders. As the system is busy (not Jita busy), they get filled eventually.

My problem is that I am still working from a on-demand perspective. I do not keep a stock of goods and rarely have replacements ready when I'm sold out. Manufacturing times plus buy order filling times seem to make this pretty tough.

I am pretty small still, but seem to be getting close to making the next step. How do you Eve producers handle all of this?

Bottoms Up!

One of the changes is patch 1.2 was that potions will now persist after death. The general consensus seems to be that this was a very good change. Prior to the change, you would lose the effect of the potion when you die. In RvR, you die a lot. So potions never seemed worthwhile. As always, there are some folks who did not welcome the change.

An argument against potions persisting is that they are now mandatory. As they are a must have, it adds another mindless grind to the game.

Are potions now mandatory? I don't believe so. Let's take a look at some of the high end potions. Thanks to Stunty Stomper, we have a nice sample here. As an Engineer, I'd most likely like the +100 Ballistics and +3% ranged crit for 60 minutes. The ballistics bonus, for a high end engineer (~ 1000), works out to be approximately 10% increase in dps. The crit increase isn't bad, but tough to measure.

While a 10% dps increase is nice, I would hardly call it mandatory, especially in RvR. For PvE, people have not had many issues beating Lost Vale prior to the change. For certain 1 vs 1 fights, a potion may tip the balance in your favor. However, in a large fight, it will really become meaningless. There are many more important factors than a potion buff.

This argument is a result of the min/max mindset, where every stat must be tweaked to maximum potential. If that is how you play the game, then yes, it is mandatory. Personally, I don't really care about anything beyond my basic equipment. I have several open talisman spots and don't use many potions. As for my performance, I have fun and never have to grind anything.

Potions fall under the want category, not the need. A need in WAR would be warded armor. If you don't want to grind gold or seeds, then don't. It is really that simple. Potions are finally viable and actually pretty neat. There are many more kinds of potions than I thought. Did you know there is a Napalm potion? Even non-engineers can throw down some napalm (it isn't the same, but similar).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Warhammer: Age of the Scorpion?

It's early and the post title was the best I could come up with. Mythic has started to dole out some hints regarding the Land of the Dead (here and here). Not surprisingly, they have an Egyptian-esque theme going on, which is awesome. Reminds me of Stargate. The images came on a Warhammer themed USB drive... which may be be cooler than the image.

One image shows a worm/snake looking thing attacking a poor soldier... sorta reminds me of Dune and Beetlejuice. Can't really go wrong there. You have to love this kind of marketing... very clever.

Also on tap for this week (or next) is the State of the Game for Patch 1.3. It has been said that this will be primarily about RvR, so I am very excited to hear what they have in store. I hope to hear about a token system and improvements to the city siege. A full keep redesign (so sieges are more dynamic) would probably be expecting a bit too much due to the time constraints. Also, any tidbits about the Land of the Dead would be welcome.

What would you like to hear in 1.3?

NOTE: Seems it is probably not a worm, but the tail of a Tomb Scorpion... more here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2 > 6

With Patch 1.2, the first stage of a city siege had its time changes from 6 hours to 2. Over the weekend, I got to experience my first city siege at this reduced time. The result is it is a much better fit. I was actually able to stay the whole time.

The six hour system was just too long. I'm sure some people managed to park themselves there for the entire time, but I sure couldn't. A side effect of that was that I really lost interest in the goal of the fight, to defend Altdorf. The Victory Point numbers became meaningless, as so much of the fight would go on while I was gone.

In the new system, I do actually care. Two hours is about the upper limit of my playtime (at one sitting), so it ends up working out. The city defense actually felt like an urgent matter this time around.

The city siege still needs work though. As Mythic has admitted, the PQ bosses are a bit out of line. It sure felt like it when I got hit for 30,000 damage on my warded Engineer. Hopefully we will see a fix for this soon.

We also had the problem of the enemy leaving our instance (1165 in this case). The Echelon warband was here the whole time and say Destro come and go. We had many good fights and were able to defend our PQ (with the help of the OP lord). There were times when the instance was empty though.

State of the Realm reported Destruction had 87% of the Victory points. Was this for just our instance or all of the instances combined? It would be nice if there was some built in feedback for how things were going. I can't imagine it was that high, unless Destro was able to beat the uber-Lord in other instances.... because they were not doing it in ours.

I only walked away from this city siege with some Renown. It would really be nice to be working towards my Invader gear rather than be at the mercy of the RNG. Overall though, it was a fun time.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fleet Warfare

The corporation I am a member of in Eve Online is currently at war. In all of my prior Eve experience, I had never participated in the PvP side of the game. It is actually quite involved and interesting. The largest grouping (raid) is called a Fleet. The fleet (or gang) is basically a hierarchy made up of the following.
  • Fleet Commander. The leader of the fleet, also called the FC.
  • Wings. Each wing is lead by a Wing Commander (WC). I always think of the video game. I miss the space flight sim days like X-Wing.
  • Squads. Each Squad is lead by a Squad Commander (SC), and is the smallest unit.
Eve has leadership skills which must be learned. They allow bonus to be filtered down the hierarchy and are very important. Also important are the actual skills of the commanders, as they are usually responsible for directing their subordinates during the fleet action.

An effective fleet requires four different roles for the pilots.
  • Tackler. This is most similar to a Crown Control (CC) class. Small fast ships fitted with equipment (Warp Disrupters and Scramblers) used to keep the enemy from escaping. So instead of keeping them out of the fight, your goal is to keep them in the fight.
  • EWAR. Eve has an Electronic Warfare system and ships that specialize in it. Basically, EWAR's job is silence the enemy, or prevent your side from being silenced. If your enemy cannot fire at you and cannot escape, odds are they will lose.
  • Damage Dealer. Confusingly referred to as DD (there are Destroyers in Eve). These are the DPS of Eve, they are the ones who are responsible for blowing the heck out of the target.
  • Scouts. Intelligence is paramount in fighting a war, and Eve is no different. Often times scouts are Covert Op ships equipped with cloaking devices. They spread out along the route your fleet may take and watch for the enemy (War Target, WT). When one is seen, they report the location back to the fleet.
All of the roles are critical when forming an effective fleet. One nice thing about Eve is the way it handles Fleet movement. At each hierarchy level, the commander can warp all of the people under him/her to a destination. This ensures you can stay together (mostly).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Zone Domination: Yay or Nay?

One of the many new things that the 1.2 patch brought us is zone domination. An alternative approach to lock a zone, centered in the RvR lakes. Prior to release, there was much debate about how well it would work.

Q. How do you like Zone Domination so far?

I am enjoying it. It's simplicity makes for a more fun experience. Also, the timers let you see an end is in sight. When the timers get close to zero, you start to feel a sense of urgency to take back an objective or defend it. I think that is something that was lacking with the old zone locking system.

It is too soon to say if it has been a success or not. Once the 1.2 population inflation settles down, we'll better be able to see the long term effect.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Full Bitter Rivals Task List

Today's Bitter Rivals Live Event update fills out all the unknown tasks. Now get to swearin!

Join the Battle!

With the launch of 1.2 and the coming of the Slayer and Choppa, it is the perfect time to give WAR a chance. Better yet, it is a free 10 day trial, so what's the harm? If you're interested, just send me an email at weritblog -a-t- gmail.com.

Taken last night, as order captured the Maw fortress!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bitter Rivals tasks for 3/04

NOTE: Full list is available here!

Here are today's tasks for the Bitter Rivals live event:

Looks like two are added to the list a day. I like the fact the tasks is not spelled out fully, lets me think about what I have to do for them.


X marks the spot

One interesting part of the Bitter Rivals event is the treasure map pieces you can loot. The map comes in 3 pieces: Sand-stained Map Piece, Glyph-covered Map Piece and Bloodstained Map Piece. It seems that the Glyph piece drops ALOT from the NPC Choppas (and probably Slayers) running around in the lakes. The other two pieces seemed to drop from players. Once you have all 3, just right click on one of them and it will form the full map: Lost Map of the Southern Sands.

SPOILER Warning, turn back now if you don't want to know what happens next.

By clicking on the finished map, it starts a quest.

The reward is about 1.5 gold for ever step of the quest line.

So it looks like each race has their own version of this quest. Unless they are just referring to the travel copter and not the mount.

So I went and found an innocent looking elf but when clicked on, turns into a normal 40 dark elf.

After he was dispatched and I retrieved the plans, it was sent back to the Flight Master. I forgot to take the last quest result dialog... but it really was not impressive. I bring back gyrocopter schematics and get a new version of the map. When clicked on I get my rewards:

That's the end. I at least thought I would have to go somewhere to dig up a treasure or would have received a new gyrocopter due to the schematic. In all honesty it was rather disappointing. It feels like they just ran out of time when making the quest. It could be when Land of the Dead opens, the map becomes useful or maybe I just missed something in the final quest dialog? Probably just wishful thinking.

This is just one tiny part of 1.2, which from my time last night is looking pretty nice. More to come on 1.2.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Eve and the Suicide Gank

In Eve Online, there is an interesting phenomenon called suicide ganking. When in High security space, players are protected by CONCORD (NPC Guards), who will swoop in and destroy aggressors. It is not immediate, so an attacker still has a shot to destroy the player. This has been refined into the well known tactic of suicide ganking.

For the non-griefing ganker, this is really just a numbers game. I consider griefers those who do this for fun, without any in-game objective like profit. It is possible to fit a ship to accomplish this task pretty cheaply relative to your target. When you add in insurance, it lowers the cost to the would-be ganker even more.

Their targets are usually high-security miners and haulers. Their defensive capabilities are usually pretty low and have a higher chance of carrying something profitable (and nice wrecks). Groups of miners are also a tempting and common target.

One of the most common tactics for a suicide ganker is to fit out a ship loaded with smart-bombs. They are Area of Effect weapons, so work nicely on groups. They are also burst damage, so when CONCORD shows up they can get out more damage. Once the battle is over, they (or a friend) will come and try to collect the loot and wreckage.

As a part time miner (solo and group), the thought of being suicide ganks concerns me. Here are some survival tips:

Insurance. Not really a survival tip, but important. Insure your ship fully. It may cut into your profits, but so will a destroyed hulk without full insurance. There comes a point when you may not be able to survive a suicide gank, so this is a nice safety net.

Go Cheap. Since this is a numbers game, suicide gankers usually need their target to be worth the time and equipment. Hulks cost around 120 million isk and can use high cost modules, so really the ship could be worth 150 million+. A Mining Barge may only be worth 25 million. The hulk would be much more of an attractive target.

Resistances. Surviving a suicide gank is all about time. You want to live long enough to warp out or until CONCORD arrives. Your ships resistance levels mitigate damage. For example, some Shields have a base Explosive resistance of 50%, cutting that type of damage in half. Of course, there is no way to predict what type of Smart Bombs an attacker will bring. Stacking resistances can give you the time you need.

Shields. Investing in a nice Large shield extender may be worthwhile. A typical solo smart-bomb suicide ganker may put out 2500 damage every 10 seconds. CONCORD will usually arrive by then, so can your ship take that kind of damage? Adding a 1000 hp shield extender or two may be a worthwhile investment.

Alignment. If you chose to warp at the first sign of danger, having yourself pre-aligned with a station/gate will save precious seconds.

Routine. Not all suicide gankers are just bored folks who attack on a whim. Many of them stalk their targets over time, know where they will be and what they are fitting. Don't get in a rut. Change your mining habits (time and location) often. Keep your eyes on local and watch for anything suspicious.

Just some thoughts on how to survive, anyone else have ideas?

Monday, March 2, 2009

RvR Finale and a Keep Door Change

Last night was the RvR Finale on PTS. I was only able to participate for an hour, but it was a blast. There were a ton of people on and plenty of RvR to be had. It really was just a massive back and forth brawl rather than a real attempt to lock the zone. They broke out Rank 40 templates for the Slayers and Choppa's, so they were there in force. A lot of people, including myself, showed up in their normal classes, so it was not too out of balance.

This kind of situation was made for an Engineer. So many targets, so close together. I was tossing out Napalm and land mines like crazy. I'd like to think the disorient (now fixed) I have added to the mine is somewhat annoying to Destruction. On region chat, there was much talk about Get to Da Choppa. As I was not on the front lines I did not get pulled in by it much, so I can't talk much about it. the Slayers do not have anything like it, which is probably a source of frustration.

One interesting piece of news I heard in regional chat was the there was a keep door change. It seems that only a ram could damage the door. I did not go to a keep to verify, but if it is true it is an interesting change. It will slow down massive assaults but also put a lot of people out of work as there can only be so many people using the ram. Again, I'm not sure if this is actually true or not, anyone else know?

Here are a few screenshots from the action last night: