Archive for February 2009

Size is relative   Leave a comment

Everyone knows the Zerg… Many people play in the Zerg and roam with it through the RvR lakes, otherwise there would be no Zerg ;)

Hell..Even I join warbands and participate and large scale battles. Is it bad? No.. as long it’s not the only form of ORvR. That’s at least my opinion. It’s fun to do this large scale stuff, but sometimes I just want to go search for some 1vs1 action or small scale fights. There is just one thing hindering me. It’s the size of the RvR-lakes.

When you ride through them, they seem fairly large with enough room for fights, but as you stuff some warbands in them they are so small that you have to stumble upon a warband every few meters (or ft for the non-metric folks ;) ). And seeing those crossed axed just serves as a center of gravity for zergs, attracting them to those scenes and stomp on every opposition. So you can forget the idea of small scale fights in a fought over zone. Everything accumulates to zergs.

One option for smaller parties is to form a group for distraction. No I don’t mean that you serve drinks or do some fancy dancing. What I speak of is entering the RvR lake at a different location and taking BO’s while the enemy is camping at your warcamp.. This might just lead to sacrificing that group, because you can be sure that you will get kicked by at least a warband after taking that BO,  so that the own Zerg can get out of the warcamp.

It seems that on Huss I’m not the only one who wants to fight not only in large scale battles. I was informed yesterday that it’s planned by both realms to agree on a locked zone for small scale battles. So no warbands there, just a zone for 1-6vs. 1-6 battles …

I’m not totally overwhelmed by this idea because it has two weak points..

  • The problem of controlling group sizes. Not everyone might know this is just for smaller groups and/or losing some fights might make people form bigger parties. Everyone has seen this. You win a fight and  short time after that the enemy returns ..if you win again you will not face one, but maybe 2 or more enemies, until you lose.  What about 6 vs. 6 fights where someone (or even a group) is passing by..should he avoid the action because it would make it a 7vs6 fight?
  • With the fights not going on in a contested zone you are not really contributing to the realm effort. Yes it’s sounds soooo 2008 … but this fights in a locked zone just feel like some sort of arena match to me. Compared to a arena it has more elements of random to it, as you don’t go for only 6 vs 6 fights and not exactly define date/location of the fight, but it’s more a duel than a war.

It all reduces to randomness. I want fights against an enemy to have some sort of random element. I don’t want to know beforehand who I fight and how large the enemy forces are. I want to get surprised. I like the RvR lakes. I’m able to chose if I’m in the mood for RvR or I’m in the mood to just bash some mobs, but the action inside the lakes is too foreseeable. Declaring a zone for small scale fights is not the right thing…just a desperate try to avoid RvR being only another word for zergfest.

This makes some fights like yesterday special. In T3 we saw Destruction taking BO’s in the Empire/Chaos pairing and instead of waiting at the keep for them to knock on the door, we waited at one  BO, hiding behind rocks and ambushed them as they tried to kill the mobs. Then we pushed forward and tried to take their keep… My respect goes also to the Destruction players, because they didn’t leave for another pairing nor did they only rushed by to get into the keep and wait for us.. they fought us outside of the keep and..man..it was a fight. That kind of fights are rare and that’s a shame.

Posted February 27, 2009 by Karic in WAR

Unbelievable   3 comments

Despite my heavy Altitis my Runepriest on Huss dinged yesterday.

Having the flu gave my some time to exp a bit. I’ve searched for a big enemy to get the final exp for it, but changed my mind as I found the Valaya dwarves at Thounder Mountain. So my Valaya specced Runepriest made his final exp for rank 40 when finishing a quest for those dwarves. Not really heroic but I liked it.

Little interesting note: I have completed the quests for chap 19 (though the influence is not full) and partly chapter 20 (also no full influence bar there)..still having some quests open which I will finish when I’m bored.

Edit to the note, i.e. I have only quested in the Dwarven zones, leaving them only for ORvR, Altdorf-stuff and scenarios.

Posted February 26, 2009 by Karic in Dwarves, General

Fast..faster..faaaaaaster.. still to slow…   1 comment

Looks like the topic I’m going to write about today is some sort of torch relay.
Gamespy started it and Syp took it up… handing it over to Spinks and now I want to add a bit…

Leveling.. Leveling-speed is something that can cause frustration. The normal progression curve looks more or less like this:

graph2

This leveling curve assures that you gain level fast at the start and it gets harder the more levels you have. So at the beginning of the game (btw. it doesn’t matter if you take some level-based pen&paper RPG or MMO) you gain new skill and powers rather fast. You get exited because you always see new stuff and your character evolves at a fast pace. The level curve has to flatten, because you gain powerful spells at higher levels and so it’s important that at higher levels you don’t get so much levels and new abilities, otherwise stuff would get out of proportion.

Now things get a little bit different if you compare for example WoW with a pen&paper RPG. To be honest, leveling in WoW means nothing. WoW established the “The Game starts at level-cap” … “End-Game”.. mentality. So the very casual players may still enjoy the journey to max-level, but many so called hardcore-players want to pass this levels as fast as possible. It doesn’t matter if quests are entertaining, it’s just “give me the exp and shut up”. WoW adapted to this mentality by giving the players possibilities to nearly skip this content.

But I don’t want to talk too much about WoW. This is a Warhammer-focused blog and I didn’t check WoW for over a year. So.. what’s the situation like in WAR? The leveling curve is something like this:

graph1

I’m not sure if you get the right impression I want to deliver, but in WAR this general leveling-speed-curve is applied on all tiers, with a factor to stretch/compress it. If you look closely at how your character in WAR progressed it was always the same. After rank x6 (x= 0,1,2,3) the leveling speed decreased. This can hardly be noticed in T1. In T2 I’ve noticed this with my first character, but not so hard with alts. In T3 most people notice it and feel burned-out. I don’t want to go into too much detail about T4, because my main char is just rank 38 and in T4 things look a bit different.

The leveling speed experienced by the players may look like this:

graph3

Maybe I should have made the drop in T3 more negative with slower recovery. ;) The red box should mark the end of T4, because I can’t say too much about it.

So.. why do you get slowed down at the end of the tier and get this feeling of non-progression, hitting a wall?

Anyone remembers “In WAR endgame starts at rank1!”? It’s common knowledge that you are just fodder if you are at the low ranked end of the tier, e.g. rank 12 in T2, rank 22 in T3,… and that you are quiet powerful when you are on the high ranked end. So it’s obvious that players should get relatively fast out of the low end area, resulting in a faster leveling speed. This should keep the time of frustration because of being inferior just short-termed. To experience enough of the content one tier has to offer the progression slows down, leaving you in a powerful position as you are at the “end of the food-chain”. You could debate if this is good or bad.. Those “the game starts at level-cap” might argue that they just want to get past that content. Others might enjoy it being somewhat powerful.

Mythic noticed that their leveling curve is not received well and tweaked it a bit. Again you could argue if this is good or bad. I’ve noticed that I outlevel the tiers 2 and 3 faster than I can get max influence in ORvR (but that is another story as destruction on Huss seems to boycott ORvR in T2 and T3 most of the time). One has to note here, that I play on a server with exp bonus for order and destruction.. meaning low pop on both sides, but as said before the 20% makes leveling speed pleasant.

Playing multiple alts also changed my view on leveling speed in WAR. With my first character it seemed rather slow, but with my alts it feels really fast. One thing that helps me in enjoying the trip to 40… I don’t set the rank 40 as a finish line I want to reach asap. I can besides questing/scenarios/ORvR also enjoy running around and exploring stuff, helping a guildmate, i.e. stuff that doesn’t earn exp, renown, gear, etc… The second point is that you don’t have to get used to the game mechanics, only career-specific stuff.

So does WAR have a good leveling-speed? Depends on your point of view.

For the “We need to get to max-rank to enjoy a game”-part of the players, most likely not. For those who enjoy the trip..probably, but not for sure. I think this is stuff where you can’t satisfy everyone and the dev has to find a compromise that doesn’t turn off too many players.

On the player-side I’m always amazed how people tend to focus on non-fun parts of the game and ignore everything else (even if it’s fun). Of course getting good gear is some sort of fun, but that’s not everything a game has to offer. Good fights are not defined by huge amount of renown, gear, whatsoever … Good fights are imo defined by having fun and a challenging fight. This is something WAR can deliver right from rank1 on, but you have to be willing to do something and not expect to get handled everything on a silver plate. Having the possibilities you have in WAR makes rank somewhat irrelevant.

It’s a nice contrast between WoW and WAR. In WoW you skip leveling, because the game starts at max-level. In WAR you can have that end-game in some form right from rank 1 on. This end-game just evolves as you gain ranks. Two ways of making leveling-speed irrelevant.

Last note: The approach of WAR leads to frustration, because people who expect the game to start at R40 are disappointed because the game actually started at rank 1. Frustration is caused by a difference in expectation and reality.

Posted February 20, 2009 by Karic in General

Handcuffs or sure win?   Leave a comment

Reading Syp’s post on BioBreak and at Eric’s at Elder Game about the Pro’s and Con’s of an existing IP for a starting MMO and the design things you have to keep in mind when using an IP, made me think a little bit..

Sure.. an IP e.g. Warhammer will draw many players towards the game, expecting a Warhammer world (same goes for other IPs like Lord of the Rings, Star wars..etc..). They are more forgiving at problems with technical stuff (e.g. lag) as long the IP is handled nicely, but the IP or the lack of it  is not a guarantee for failure/success of an MMO.

Both views were restricted in terms of lore and fanbase of that IP. I want to add a little bit. It’s the dev of the MMO.

In talking about this, there are two names which really pop up when I think about it. Bioware and Mythic.

I will start with Bioware (and their MMO in the Star Wars Universe). Star Wars is an existing and good IP with several games and even an existing MMO. Why get people so psyched about a new MMO in the Star Wars world? It’s clearly because Bioware is making it. They have created great RPG’s in the Star Wars Universe. Most people I know really enjoyed Knights of the Old Republic. Great Game! So people expect the same thing to get when Bioware is making a Star Wars based MMO and this makes me…I can’t really phrase it. Creating an MMO and a single player Game are two pairs of shoes and I’m not sure how well the concepts transfer, e.g. the interaction with companions is great for a single-player game, but for an MMO I think of it as defying the purpose of online gaming. It’s not about running around with a couple of NPCs, though funnily in other MMOs people really like pet-classes in MMOs and those classes are always well received and wanted. This is maybe too pessimistic, but I don’t hop on that hype-train without further information or testing. It’s no good game just because Bioware does it, though I think that they are able to bring up something really good. They know the IP and they know how to tell stories, but they are restricted in terms of design by the IP and their history in computer games (bound to that IP).

Next part…Mythic. Well I don’t want to go into too much detail about Warhammer (Online), but one thing that is striking to me is that people often refer to DAoC when wanting “improvements” in WAR. Mythic at first tried to avoid at the gaming design features they’ve used in DAoC, but are forced to re-use stuff e.g. like Keeps because people demanded them. Reading now in forums what should be done to improve WAR you often hear DAoC-style stuff like 3rd realm and you’ve heard demands for something like Darkness Falls, etc.. Well.. The call for Darkness Falls has been heard. So Mythic seems to be expected just to improve DAoC ..make WAR to something like DAoC 2.0  and that’s it. Many out there seem to got dissapointed because it was not just a more polished version of DAoC (and DAoC mechanics/careers/design). So Mythic stumbled upon their own reputation on another RvR-based game. I didn’t play DAoC and just started to get into the IP from Warhammer just a little bit before I started to play WAR and I can enjoy the game because of what it is and now what DaoC was.

The problem with IP and developer of the game is that some gamers out there aren’t able to view a game on a neutral level. You start new MMOs with much information (due to leaks, dev-interviews, blogs, etc..) and imagined how cool several features will be. It’s a common phenomenon nowadays for MMOs to get a real hype because of IP or Dev and then getting a huge drop after the initial month, just because things were different than expected. Is there any chance that a game might live up to that hype? Do MMOs get a fair chance to proof that the game mechanic works  or just needs a little bit of time and confidence? Do MMOs deserve this confidence when they seem too unready for launch? (Maybe 3 free month aka beta-testing might help) How far can you as a dev go in getting a different MMO/Game out there than you did previously without getting beaten for doing something different?

Many questions… I’m not sure how willing most the current MMO community is to “learn new tricks” and test out stuff on a neutral/objective level. Every game gets compared to a different game even when there is no real justification for it.

I want to end this post with an “I’m curious”-sentence… So I’m curious about Start Wars The old Republic in two ways..

First: The game by itself.. I like the Star Wars IP and Bioware did some really good RPGs and are good in story telling.

Second: How loud the complains will get, if it is different to KotoR or the same like MMO X or the same like KotoR ;)

Posted February 13, 2009 by Karic in General

Killing time   Leave a comment

I want to apologize for the lack of posts lately. It’s the end of the term and I have to put up an exam for the students which is really time-intensive.

The few time I have I spent killing Greenskins, Chaos worshipers and Elves.. Dark Elves.. as it would matter what kind of Elf you kill .. ;)

Night of Murder as every live-event in Warhammer is quiet fun. Mythic learned from the previous live-events and put a not-grindy-feeling live-event to us which is an improvement to the previous ones. It’s a good mixture of RvR-related stuff which doesn’t interfere with ones need to punch someone from the other realm into the face,  though I’m not sure if I will do the NPC-related stuff… There are some mobs in Altdorf running around or I could try to just kill enough keep lords to accomplish that task, but I have the tendency to miss the keep attacks and be more involved in defending it. I think it’s also a great idea that the quest givers for the killing-quest are easy reachable, so that this doesn’t interfere too much with action in ORvR or a scenario.

I’m not the biggest fan of live-events, but I enjoy them somewhat in WAR. Most likely this is due to the fact that those events are Warhammer-Events, not purely real holidays put into the game.

You are free to participate and not everyone around you goes crazy because this and this has to be done to get that and that. So if you don’t like the event your time in the game doesn’t get too much touched by the event which is something I like.

Will I may out my influence bar for this event? Most likely..not ;) I’m not the accomplisher in that terms and I don’t feel the need to fill this up even though the reward might be neat. As soon as it starts to feel too much like work and starts to push me into directions I don’t want to, I stop it.

Side Note: I like to hunt for tome unlocks, but I see it from a different angle then some folks out there. I don’t use any addon that tells me where those unlocks are. I search for them by myself..

If I’m in the mood for it. If not.. then I shouldn’ t get them anyway.  So under no circumstances I will be able to unlock everything, but I like it more to stumble over fewer things than to know 100% what to do for a certain unlock. So I’m sometimes more in the Explorer-mood when I do this unlock-hunts and not in a Accomplisher-mood. As this is personal preference I don’t state that this is the way people should search for tome unlocks (and everyone who is using addons for tome unlocks would be a bad person ;) ). It’s just my style and I can understand why people try to max out every influence bar and get every tome unlock.

Posted February 11, 2009 by Karic in WAR

My eyes are bleeding   1 comment

Warning.. just a vent-post..

So..subscriber numers are out  (Source) and as can be expected.. people point at each other, make bad comments/statements and fight like 3 year olds because they are playing the better game or the other game is just an epic fail..

To be honest.. I’m with Regis there and I want to go further. 300k is not a dramatic high number and most likely a lot less than Mythic/EA hoped for, but I couldn’t care less. The number that are important to me is the pop on my server..Every other subscriber number is just unimportant. Did it make my time in WoW different when it had 4M subscribers or 9M? I didn’t feel any change and the expansion/content-update rate didn’t increase with more subscribers.. So as a player this are a more or less irrelevant numbers. What I really don’t get is the boost of the own ego to play a game with many subscribers… It’s not bragging of the own accomplishments, but of the companies marketing?!

I should be old enough to see that kind of discussion among WoW and WAR players coming, but nevertheless I still want to hit my head on the table when I see people arguing why they think WAR failed and they left.

They left because they didn’t like the game. That’s ok, not everyone has the same taste… But you have to respect that other players might like the game. After I left WoW I didn’t yelled at anyone who still played that game. Is it too much to ask someone to respect others gaming preferences?

Things get worse when people who left the game 2 month ago argue what went wrong. WAR changed in the last two month by a great amount and is heading imo into a even better future. There are even some points where it’s already good, but people don’t see it as such, e.g. PvE.

Is PvE the crown juwel of WAR? Most likely not, but I think that it’s considerably better than most people think. The system of PQ’s, tome unlocks, solo quests and dungeons is great if you take your time to experience them.

What do I mean with that? E.g. Solo quest: There are those kill ten fozzle quests.. yes. There are also epic quests, though they don’t feel epic in T1, but.. if you take your time to read them you are presented with a wonderful story. The quest texts in WAR are better than most of the people think because they just skip the story-text and go to the to-do text. If you turn this around.. read the story-text and skip the to-do part.. than the solo questing gets much better. I must admit that the existence of quest hubs is making it hard to read all story texts, because you get such a big amount of new quests and you want to just start questing and not reading tons of text, but you should try it.

PQ’s are obviously great if you get a team to complete them. Tome unlocks for finding some stuff which is off the path is a great thing if you like to go around and explore stuff.  I still don’t use tome-addons because I want to stumble over those things. This way I will most likely get not all unlocks..but they are mine. This exploration stuff is a great addition to Quests, but many people don’t see this as PvE content.

I like the dungeons in WAR a lot…Everytime I was in a dungeon I had fun. No matter if I got a good item or not. Yesterday I even helped a guild mate in Altdorf sewers with my R36 Runepriest and it was still fun. Maybe that’s the difference between me and some of those hardcore-PvE’ers (Is it too harsh to call them gear-grind friends ?), I can have a good time in a dungeon without an ingame reward. It can be just fun and that it reward enough..at least to me.

Side note: There are some mob-behavior issues. Yes, but if aggro-range and pet-pathing determines your PvE skill than imo you have really low expectations of skill in PvE.

If you got to this point I have to thank your for reading this venting-post.. I am just sick of that arguing from people who don’t even play that game. If you enjoy a game. Fine. If you don’t enjoy it and leave..That fine too. Hopefully you will find a game that’s more to your taste.

The only thing you should aim for is fun in a game, not loot or XP/Renown. So find a game that is fun for you, don’t point at others because it’s not your style of gaming.

Posted February 4, 2009 by Karic in Community