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Information Overload…

August 27, 2009

So it seems that in the last few weeks we’ve seen a mass of various types of information coming from Mythic about WAR.

All I have to say is:

Woohoo!

What can I say?  I love information.  🙂

From Patch Notes to a Producer’s Letter to a Press Release to Dev Interviews (one from me with more on the way still) and so on and so forth, Mythic has been veritably flooding us with information lately.  Overly Positive talked about a perceived change in Mythic’s tone in regards to some of my interviews, but it seems like they just have a lot more they’re willing (more likely able) to talk about lately.

I’m sure the upcoming 1-year anniversary helps too.  What company in their right mind wouldn’t capitalize on an anniversary by pumping out lots of information about their game from all kinds of avenues?

Anyway, let’s take a look at what’s been shared and what that means for us!

~Gaar

First up:  Patch 1.3.1 Notes

Sigh.

This patch was going to be so full of win…

~mutters~ stupid stability issues…

Unfortunately, the release of 1.3.1 has been marred by these issues and they’re the only things people are really talking about.  Me, I think they’ll get fixed and, since I’ve been traveling still and haven’t had time to play much the last couple days, they don’t bother me that much.  They’ll get fixed and then we’ll still have the patch and all its goodies, which is what I’m going to talk about today instead.

So, first things first, City Siege changes!!!  For those that didn’t get the chance to try out the new mechanic for Stage 1 of the City Sieges on the PTS, this is so much more fun now!  Not only is there info on these in the patch notes, but there was also a Dev Diary by Stuart Zissu, the RvR Strike Team Lead, about how the changes came about.  (Stuart also did an interview with me back in July about RvR in general.  Part 1  Part 2 )

Overall, in regards to the new City Siege changes, I’d have to say I love:

1.  The fact that it’s more like one giant Scenario now.  So much more fighting, so much less time standing around.  Much easier to actually win since it’s not PvE-dependant.

2.  The instanced Warlord PQs.  24-man instanced mini-dungeon anyone?  Hell yeah!

3.  And last, but definitely not least, the addition of the clickable Zone Control Bar that finally, once and for all, points out to everyone that Scenarios only grant 5% to the Victory Points for capturing a City.  Deal with it.  😉

While we’re on the topic of RvR, we can’t forget the second ramps being added to Keeps.  (There was a Dev Diary on this too, done by Russell Chamier.  I very much enjoyed the perspective it was written from.  I love insights into development.)  I’m still on the fence about this change though.  While I agree that we definitely needed a change to Keeps as the ramps were horrible, I’m not sure I like the second ramp from a defensive point of view.  Offensively it’s great.  Defensively it requires a much higher level of coordination which, let’s be honest, is lacking in most cases.  Oh well, tactics will have to adjust and I’m fine with that I guess.  Hopefully this isn’t the last adjustment we’ll see to Keeps for a while.  I’d like more reason to use Siege Weapons and more options for upgrading them that are actually worthwhile.

Now, while those two changes were definitely the major announcements for this patch, there are a lot of little things that were snuck in that I feel need pointing out.  What can I say?  Little things can be a big deal.  Here’s my list, in no particular order:

  • “There is now an option in the Group Menu that will allow players to Automatically Loot in an RvR situation (be that solo, in a group, or in a warband).”    ?!?!?!  Woohoo!!!!!
  • “Players who receive a Scenario invitation just prior to or during a zone load will now be able to enter the Scenario when they finish loading.”     Awesome change.  I always hated that.
  • “Guild Experience awarded from holding a Keep in a zone that is captured will now be displayed in the Guild News Channel.”     Good.  Now we can get some closure in regards to the arguments about how worth it it is to claim keeps in terms of Guild XP.
  • “The following NPC’s can now repair items in the Land of the Dead: Treasure Hunter Guzguz, Treasure Hunter Kurim, Treasure Hunter Rungni, , and Treasure Hunter Urglob.”     Was anyone else tired of looting a repairable and having to fly back to the Old World to repair it?  I was.
  • “Some monsters will now allow players to harvest from them multiple times.”     Gasp!  Some Butchering love!
  • “Players can now use crafted items to summon a single player within their group, or all of their group-mates (Rank restrictions apply).”     Gonna love this for when I’m the first one to the dungeon or when someone’s leveling on an out-of-the-way PQ and wants my help.
  • “In version 1.3.0, we added a number of titles to Achievements, but players that had completed the achievement previously did not receive the title correctly. Players will now receive the updated titles on the first login of that character after this patch if they had completed the achievement previously.”     I saw this one right away.  I was so happy!  I love my Titles.  Not that I use anywhere near all of them, but I just love having them available.  hehe
  • “We’ve added a feature that will allow profiles to be shared between characters.”    Nice!  Now I can clean up my profiles and standardize them when need be.  Was always a bit of a pain before.
  • “Fortress timers have been added to the map and related tooltips. Prior to the Fortress being captured, this timer will display the time remaining in the Fortress Public Quest before it resets the pairing. Once the Fortress has been captured, it will display the time remaining in which another pairing must be captured.”     Been a long time coming, but glad it’s here.
  • “Players will now see a new equip slot on their paper-doll. This is the “Event” slot made for items specifically given out in the Live Events.”    I’m excited about this one for multiple reasons.  First, we’ve always needed an extra slot for Live Event rewards because the items were always so cool but you couldn’t always justify equipping them over you regular gear.  Second, this means my bank vault/inventory will get a break.  hehe
  • “The top ten Rank-40 guilds in terms of Renown gain will now have their heraldry displayed in the cities, near the guild taverns.”    Not sure we have ten Rank-40 guilds on my server, but this will definitely be cool for the ones that are there already.

And with good comes bad:

  • Players will now be notified when another player friends them and will be prompted to friend them back immediately.

What the hell?  Look, I know Mythic wants to increase social interaction, but this just isn’t how you do it.  Even if it was something I liked, the current implementation of the Friends List doesn’t really make this viable.  It’s too limited.  Mine’s been full forever and I hate that I can’t add more.  I hate it so much that I even looked into making an addon that would allow for a larger Friends List but was told it’s not possible with the current API.  So now, if someone actually decides to friend me, I’m going to get told they did and asked if I want to friend them back, which I couldn’t do even if I wanted to because my list is full.  So now I’m going to feel like a jerk.  /sigh

  • The chance a Medallion or Crest will drop will now scale relative to the number of players involved in a kill, helping to bring the rate at which participants receive Medallions or Crests to the appropriate Rank, regardless of the number of players involved in a kill.

I’m gonna get a lot of flack for this, I’m sure.  However, I think this change is horrible.  It’s already bad enough that most people could care less about the campaign and put aside a desire to win just to farm some high-level player in a Scenario, Open RvR or in City Sieges.  Now they’re going to drop Tokens more often when you’re grouped with others it seems.  Now, I understand this may be their way to try to fix the issue of people being ungrouped or in small groups and tagging large amounts of people before the “zerg” kills them just so they can get loot rights, but it seems to me to just be trading one evil for another.  There is still no real motivation to participate in the overall campaign which is supposed to be the primary method for obtaining Tokens.  Making Tokens easier to get when in warbands seems to move even further away from having the campaign be the central feature of the game.  Oh well.  I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy their new shinies.  That is, until they have more than they need and still can’t finish their armor sets because they can’t move the campaign.  Then they’ll just complain about that instead. 

Next up:  The Producer’s Letter

So, in the beginning of the letter, Jeff talks a lot about the City Siege changes and how/why they came about.  Personally, I love hearing the hows and whys of things, so I enjoyed that bit.  I think a lot of people want this kind of conversation from Developers though.  Even if they don’t agree with the decisions, it can help to know the reasons behind changes as opposed to having people assume it’s because of some in-bred hatred of the player-base in general.  Silly forum-fighters.  :p

He then touches briefly on the rest of the highlights from 1.3.1, then gives us a sneak-peak at things that may be in line for 1.3.2.  First bombshell:  Decoupling Fortresses from the campaign.  He didn’t go into a lot of detail, but this is a huge change.  I’m not sure it’s for the better though as that will depend on how they change it and what happens to Conqueror gear and how it’s obtained.  I understand Forts weren’t fun for some people, but I think I would rather have seen an adjustment to the Fort mechanic in general to make them more fun than just have them be this wasted space or Conqueror-farming playground.  Only time will tell what it becomes, I just hope we hear soon.

Second part of 1.3.2 brought up was in regards to the new player experience.  I know there are definitely some advances that could be made in this area, but he didn’t go into what they have in store.  Personally, I’d like to see them flesh out the experience in the first few Tiers and not just focus solely on one path of advancement.  We’ll see which direction they choose soon.  One part of this focus I do like is the discussion of an Apprentice/Hireling type of system where you can go play alongside lower-Rank players on your Main.  I would absolutely love this.  My alts would collect so much dust, I’m sure, but I would much rather help people on my Main than roll an Alt just to help someone level.

He wrapped up his comments with the statement that more Crowd Control adjustments are coming, which is good as it’s nice to see them continue to try to balance the game as a whole in my opinion.  I know Class Balance is a sore topic for a lot of people, but let’s be honest:  How smart is it to pour a lot of time and money into fixing the interior of a house when the foundation is all screwed up?  It’s a waste of time and effort since you’ll just have to go back and do it again.  But anyway… 

He left us with a teaser of some kind.  Who knows what it’s in reference to.  “The Daemon Moon will rise.”  Maybe there’s some lore-junkies out there that can give me some clues on this one.  Could be a Live Event of some kind.  Could be hints at how they’ll start laying the groundwork for a future expansion.  Who knows.  My money is on a Live Event personally, but that’s probably just because I love ’em.  😉

In his outro, he mentioned The Wild Hunt, which is the upcoming Live Event that kicks off the 1-year Anniversary celebration I’m going to talk about next.

Next up:  Warhammer Online’s 1-year Anniversary Press Release

The celebration kicks off August 31st with the start of The Wild Hunt, which will last about a week.  Now, not only will TWH have the usual Live Event goodies, it also has it’s very own limited-time-only dungeon!  I’ve seen a lot of events in other games, but I’ve never seen a game build a dungeon just for an event.  Wild.  hehe.  Oh, and did I mention it’s really frickin cool?  lol.  I got a sneak peak at it back when I toured the Mythic Studios.  Mark Davis himself gave us a run-thru and explained some of the new and interesting things involved in this dungeon and how it’s viable for all Tiers of players, as well as groups ranging from mis-matched pugs to balanced pre-mades.  There’s definitely something for everyone in there.  (My interview with Mark about Live Events should be posted soon!)

Along with the Live Event, they announced a game-wide 20% renown and experience bonus, which I’m gonna love personally, along with special rare drops including fireworks and exploding stout, as well as items that will only be available for the anniversary celebration.

On top of that, they’ll be giving out special anniversary items thru the in-game mail.  Apparently we’re getting something called “Halfling Pies” (mmm…pie…) as well as the “Jubilee Cloak”.  I’m very interested in seeing what these do.  I’m sure we can probably toss the Pie (Pie Assassin and Death by Pie titles, here I come!!!) but who knows what the Cloak does, although I’m sure it will have a sweet graphic.

Players that have been playing for the last year will also receive unique rewards.  The first is a new Title:  Weapon of WAR.  Not bad.  The second is an item called the “WAR Aegis”.  Hmmm…  No clue.  We’ll just have to wait and see I guess. 

As if those things weren’t enough, for three consecutive weekends after The Wild Hunt, we’ll be given special Weekend Events based around some of WAR’s most memorable Scenarios:  Mourkain Temple (Kill the guy with the thing!!!!), Gates of Ekrund (OMG this is gonna be wild in T4), and Temple of Isha (Seriously?  Hrmm…not my first choice, but maybe it’s better in T4). 

I don’t know about anyone else, but this Dwarf is gonna be throwing himself head-first (most likely naked as well) right into these festivities and the RvR surrounding them.  I think it’s about time my Ironbreaker got his Renown Rank out of the mid-50s.  hehe.  What can I say?  A 20% renown bonus, limited-time-only items, and throwback Scenarios motivate me to RvR.   🙂

And finally:  Dev Interviews

Along with my series of interviews with Mythic, Warhammer Alliance, MMORPG.com and ZAM.com all have posted interviews in the last month.  That’s a lot of face-time lately.  Of course, there’s been a lot going on from Comic-Con (where the ZAM interview took place) to Games Day Chicago (where WA’s interview took place) to the 1-year Anniversary (which is what MMORPG’s interview was about).  Not to mention my holding a group of Devs hostagechance to interview some Devs when I was at their Studio.  😉

First up, PhoenixRed and the team over at Warhammer Alliance had a chance to talk to Martin Smith (Dungeons and Encounters Team) while at Games Day Chicago.  I really enjoyed this interview because it was a nice, focused look at dungeons and the ways they come about.  We get a lot of overview-type interviews usually, but while I enjoy those, I also like to read about the day-to-day nitty-gritty of making an MMO and this interview delivers in that regard.

Next up, ZAM.com interviewed James Nichols (Community Team) while they were at Comic-Con.  There’s a lot of talking points in this interview, but the one that James unfortunately got the most flak over was his discussion of perception vs. reality when it comes to class balance.  Like I’ve said before, I’m of the mind that class balance complaints will always exist as will changes to class balance when it comes to an MMO, so I tend to stay out of those debates.  However, his talk about perception vs. reality was valid, despite people’s negative reaction to it. 

It’s very different to look at classes from the perspective of “I play this class.  I think it needs to be changed.” as opposed to “Classes need to be balanced as a whole to make the game work right.  What is the best way to do it and/or how far off are they right now realistically?”  In one hand, you’re looking at it from the perspective of not just your class, but your Realm as a whole, and comparing it to the other side while having a sometimes subconscious desire to see your side be better than the other one.  As Developers, they have to remove any chance of subjectivity, whether conscious or subconscious, and look at things as a whole.  The main way to do that is via statistics.  When the reality of statistics meets the perceptions of players, they don’t always mesh.

Now, I’m not saying Mythic is right in the way they’re interpreting their statistics.  In my opinion, we’re only just now seeing the foundational adjustments to careers as a whole get implemented.  That’s an important part of an objective, thought-out balance process.  Once we see those changes come about and create a valid, objective, fair baseline for classes, then I think we’ll see some much more valid statistics being viewed by Mythic and I feel they’ll mesh pretty well with the community’s experiences in-game.  While it’s a slow, somewhat painful, process, it’s the best one to take when trying to make a game that will be succesful for the long-term and not just the short-term.

Next up, MMORPG.com sent some questions to Jeff Skalski (WAR Producer) about the first year of WAR.  We got a quick view of how WAR came about along with the almost mandatory discussion of class balance, patches, RvR and Land of the Dead that you’d expect to see when reviewing WAR’s first year.  They did ask about the Asian launches of WAR, which I found interesting as we don’t get to hear much about how WAR is actually launching and expanding in countries around the globe.  In my opinion, this needs to be talked about more, if only to shush the naysayers who say WAR is dieing.  He also tosses in a quick shout-out to the MAC client beta that’s currently going on.  Another thing to hush the naysayers, in my opinion.  🙂

And finally, my own interviewsfocused in on discussions about Combat & Careers, RvR, Live Events, Crafting, the UI and the Tome of Knowledge as well as looking at Live Production and talking about WAR and Mythic in general.  There’s still a couple more interviews to be transcribed and posted, but they’ll arrive over the coming weeks and I’ll finally get a break from my headset and the pause button.  hehe.

——————————–

So, as you can see, the interwebz have been veritably flooded with information about WAR this last month.  I expect to hear more over the course of the Anniversary celebration as well considering how many players will probably return for it to try out all the changes that have happened over the last few months.  I’m crossing my fingers that Mythic will have the stability issues that came with 1.3.1 well in hand before next week, but with the influx of player we’ll see logging in for the Live Event, my hopes may be a little too optimistic.  😦   We’ll see.

Until then, as always…

Have fun!

~Gaar

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. lwyll permalink
    August 31, 2009 10:05 am

    for anyone curious about the animals if you go just outside of the WC PvE you find lions and boars aplenty, there are salamanders along the cost to saphery if you then zone into saphery there are bears there. up along the road there are cockatrices and eventually cold ones. Deer are right around the road too.

    • lwyll permalink
      August 31, 2009 10:05 am

      EHHHHHHHH wrong post T_T

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