Hot feelings in the community

Mark Jacobs went in with the Hammer of Justice and laid down some truth that more than one person in the thread on WHA needed to hear. At the writing of this post, the replies in the thread are up to 426, which is pretty impressive considering the thread was started 5 hours ago.
When we put up the websites for the CE, we separated the CE from the CE Pre-order program on purpose. Nowhere in the CE Pre-order program does it say that *only* CE Pre-orders will get the HS and the OB. There's even a line that says "All pre-order customers will receive one of the following items..." It also says a number of times in the same section the words "pre-order customers" and not "CE pre-order customers." We weren't trying to be clever, cute, devious, etc. but to simply covey the basics of the program. Apparently we may have needed to be even clearer than I thought we were being.

In terms of the length of OB, the final length of it is still to be determined. Don't expect a 30 day OB or anything like that. We've never promised, hinted or even inferred that OB was going to be a long process, that's what our Beta is for. If we need a longer OB, then it will be longer. If a shorter one will suffice, that is fine by us.
I couldn't agree more with Jacobs. The Open Beta was never announced to be CE only. The length of the Open Beta was also never announced. You expected a month of free time, with a game that would probably be so polished that it wouldn't need more beta testing. If you pay for something you automatically get certain demands, even if it's a beta. There wouldn't be a NDA, and all review sites would each get a invite to spread the word of WAR. Free PR is what Betas are nowadays. If you expected a month of beta time and all you got was 9 days, guess what, no one has cheated you on your "righteous time". Seriously, stop laying down threats to cancel your CE, it's pathetic. I will gladly pick your copy up, I have nothing against a short beta that more than CE get invited to. The box is packed with sweet stuff, if you bought it just for a Open Beta spot, you bought it for the wrong reasons.

Mark Jacobs once again prove himself to be a man that doesn't keep back on the words when he want to get things out. Now if you excuse me, I will go and preorder my normal copy of WAR, since CE is all out here in Europe.

In Europe, the plan is for the OB to invite the CE POs customers but the SE POs will not get a special invitation.
WHAT?! Oh you got to be ******* kidding me?!


Update:
They [EU SE] will get into the HS but not a guaranteed slot in the OB as far as I know.
- Mark Jaocobs (Source)
So us in EU who preorder the SE won't get into OB. That's just pure BS, first the website and now this. Second hand experience straight from GOA. But we will get into the HS, that's a small relief at least, now people won't level way ahead of me straight from the beginning.

Dates for Open Beta, Head Start, and Release

Gamestop has sent out a mail with awfully detailed information on Open Beta, Head Start, and Release! Normally I would stand up and wave the false-alarm flag, but this just seem to be too detailed to be false.
Please Note: Servers will not go live until 10:00am EST on 9/18/08.

Reserve Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and receive:

Open Beta Access: Be one of the first players to experience the glory of battle and the thrill of WAR! Open Beta will run from September 3, 2008 at 10am EST until September 12, 2008 at 10am EST. The Open Beta will level capped and content restricted.

Live Game Head Start: Reserve customers will get a 3-day head start on the battlefields of WAR. The Live Game Head Start begins on September 15, 2008 at 10am EST.

Bonus In-Game Items: Equip your characters for the journey to the frontlines with Rittenbach’s Portable Camp and Sentinel’s Amber Band.

Universal Fighting System Battle Deck: The Emperor Karl Franz and Tchar’zanek, dread Champion of Tzeentch, go head-to-head in this exclusive collectible card game deck from Fantasy Flight Games.

ONLINE/IN-STORE PICKUP CUSTOMERS: You will receive a code for the bonus items. Please provide a valid email address at time of purchase.

STORE CUSTOMERS: All bonus items will be available in store at time of reservation. Items available in store week of August 4. Please call ahead to confirm availability.
As you can see, this seem to be offers previously limited to the Collector's Edition now also available to the normal pre order game. I didn't reserve a CE in time, so I'm not exactly objective to this announcement. I have been worried half to death to be left out of the Open Beta and all it's juicy information it provides, without NDA.

The Head Start offer on the other hand is a bit confusing, since I was definitely thinking it was a CR feature only. If they hand them out to everyone that pre order everone will start at the same time anyway. Probably the offers is either timelimited or only for Gamestop.

Via Warhammer Vault.

WAR is finished - no it isn't

The talk around the watercooler the last days have been about a interview Paul Barnett made, in which he apparently said that "The game’s finished, we could ship it now". Fans all over the world rejoiced and sang hymns of glory in Paul's honor.

Well, apparently this isn't the fact about the game. Mark Jacobs himself posted on Warhammer Vault and said that
LOL. No, we're not finished, wish we were. We've still got a lot of work and testing left to do before we're ready to ship.

On the specific quotes from Paul he had this to say
FYI, just spoke to Paul and, as expected, Paul was not only misquoted but the interview does not reflect what Paul said to this guy nor the context in which Paul's answers were delivered.
Read the full posts.

Well, what can you say. It's journalism at it's finest.

Heads on pikes and salt the earth


Instanced battlegrounds have never been a feature I liked in games - I am more of an open world PvPer. Being thrown into an instance with some random guys to face some other random guys in a sort of sport that doesn’t always have the killing of the other team as a goal has never really sparked any interest in me. In World of Warcraft I played it because it was the only way to get "honor", so that you could buy that new shiny breastplate you had seen other people strutting around in. In Age of Conan I think I did one game before I decided it was nothing for me.

The goal is not always about killing the other team or something as simple. You need to capture a flag, or hold locations to gain "resources", or something other silly thing. The only way you could associate this with a war is if you beat someone to death with the battleground's rulebook. Rules, pah! If we played Alterac Valley on my terms, I would crush the alliance base, put the leader’s heads on pikes, and salt the earth so nothing could ever live there again. Then we would never have to fight that battle again.

I know that doing Scenarios will somewhat aid the overall war in Warhammer Online, but it feels too disconnected from the real fighting. It feels like entering a tavern and having a brawl with some enemy soldiers when a huge battle that will decide the fate of the war is taking place a mile away. Of course this is all feeling I get from reading about the game, I have not actually played it, and I hope the game can prove me wrong.

WAR has a huge world that is like a gigantic battleground. You got keeps, fortresses, capitals and slaughter plenty of innocent civilians PvEers that try to farm in peace. Why do you even need Scenarios? Is it not just another thing put into the game to draw players away from WoW, because the only PvP those people know is the one they get in battlegrounds?

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.
- Cato the Elder

Career - Disciple of Khaine

"Few are the select chosen that survive the reveries of the Death Night. Fewer still are those who leave the Cauldron with eyes of molten brass, burning with the hatred of our Dark god. These true chosen are taken into the cult and trained in the most secret of rites, emerging as masters of death second only to Khaine himself."
- Haridar of Har Ganeth

The following post is based upon personal theories and the small information that exists about the Disciple of Khaine, prior to NDA drop and release of the game. All things are subject to change, and theories could be just dead wrong. Once the NDA for Beta drop I will look over this text and make corrections. The same thing when the game is released.
I am not in the Beta, and have never played the game, but I have a lot experience with healers and how they function in PvP, no matter what game.

What is the Disciple of Khaine, and why would you play one? Anyone who wants to feel useful, a pure asset to any group, should play the Disciple. He heals his teammates by attacking his enemies with blades, so healing will never be boring. He will also be fighting at the front lines, where people will gather around him to benefit from his short range buffs and heals, so he will never lose out on any action.

Lore
The Disciple of Khaine is one of the few careers that had no previous lore in the Warhammer Universe. The Dark Elves just didn’t have anything that would fit well as a healer/support career; they are more into torture and that kind of stuff. Instead, Mythic consulted Games Workshop and created the Disciple’s background from scratch.

The Dark Elves have something of a holiday called the Death Night. During this night, Witch Elves are prowling the streets and taking any infants they see and toss them into a cauldron of boiling blood. You know, to see if they have been naughty or nice, just like Santa Claus – except this time Santa is Khaine, the elven god of murder.

Now this is where the lore is getting a little uncertain, because the origins of Witch Elves are also said to be linked to the cauldron (different editions of Warhammer varies). If you survive the cauldron (by the grace of Khaine) then you will get eyes of brass, and become the Disciples of Khaine. Since WAR support both male and female Disciples, it’s safe to say that males and females alike are thrown into the cauldron. This probably means that either Witch Elves survive without getting eyes of brass, or they are not tossed in at all.

Look

A Blood Chalice
Disciples armor consist of metal and leather (exactly what that represent in the game I don’t know) for maximum sex appeal and as the official site says “high collared gorgets with partial facial masks”. See Disciple’s concept art for what it looks like.
In their hands they wield two slim blades for maximum damage or one blade and a Blood Chalice (yea that’s exactly what it sounds like) for increased healing power.

Abilities
The Disciple is all about slicing and cutting with its blades. Some abilities also cause party members that are nearby to be healed by half or more of the damage caused. All healing is powered by Soul Essence, which are gathered from using damaging abilities. The more you hit stuff, the more Soul Essence you have to heal. This makes being in melee range to hit stuff a requirement for the Disciple – a solution to solve the problem with boring healbotting.

But healing is not the only support the Disciple brings to a party. They have Covenants that imbue their party with a powerful buff, but only one Covenant can be active at a time. They also have single and multi target resurrections, to turn the tide of a battle.

The three Mastery paths help you specialize on what you like to do with your Disciple. Path of Ritual will make your healing more powerful; Path of Torture will make you more proficient in killing stuff with your blades; and Path of Sacrifice is a mix of the two, increasing both your healing and attacks.

For a quick glimpse of what specific abilities the Disciple will be using in the game, see my post Some Disciple abilities.

Advantages and weaknesses
Like with all careers that has the ability to heal themselves, opposing players must do more damage – over time or in quick bursts – than the healer can heal themselves. Playing defensive with a healing class means that he will slowly kill you – your life will go down while his are going up. As a melee class the Disciple will probably have an advantage when they fight ranged careers in close combat, and especially lightly armored casters. Disciples will have a constant stream of healing into themselves, so damage over time spells will not be very effective against them.

When playing with a group, the Disciple loses the advantage the ranged healing careers have: to stay behind his teammates and heal. Instead, the Disciple must be at the front lines, swinging his blades to enable him to heal.

How to fight him then? As a melee class without any ranged attacks to speak of, the Disciple is in a natural disadvantage at range. Once he get into close combat it might be hard to shake him off to get range again, so constant movement and abilities to slow him should be useful. If you happen to be a melee career, you must make sure to keep the fight short - time is on his side. Silencing or knockdown effect combined with burst damage should be a winner. In a group situation, the Disciple could either be taken out first, before he gains momentum, or you could take out his teammates, as he require time before he can begin to heal.

New design

As you can see, I have updated the design on the blog. The previous one was decent, but I wanted something with a little more colors in it, a wider main column, and not so much space wasted on the top - more room for posts. I also wanted to go back to pure white as background color for the posts, as it looks better when you have images in the text with the same background color.
Other than that, I mostly used a picture of a Disciple (the one you see on your left) to get the colors (red, blue, white and black), and I think it turned out pretty well. Not too screaming colors, but not too dull either.

I didn't really want a logo in the original sense, but more like a small banner (like the one upper right corner) and some art on the sides. I also wanted a male that looked a bit like a wizard (right side), and a female to fill the wenches part. Both are Disciples (so not actually wizards), and I will focus a bit more on this career now that release approaches.

Other than all that it's not much that has changed. I have changed the blogroll a bit, making it a bit more personal by writing some stuff about how I see the blogs. Right now it's only the blogs that I read frequently (more like "this is who I am, and this is what I read" instead of mass linking), but I will see if that changes in the future - there are many blogs I want to support, even if I don't currently read them.

The design is done in and for Firefox (as it follow the CSS standard the best), but I have checked it in IE6 and it looks good (except some few details, but I didn't expect less). It should be near to perfect in IE7, but I can't check as I don't have it on this laptop.

I hope you like the design as much as I do, please leave a comment on what you think. Better or worse. Like that and don't like that. Your a genius vs were you drunk?

Blog Warhammer

Warhammer Online's release date will be September 23 and here is why... no, I'm just kidding, I'm not going to discuss that on my blog. If I see one more "September 23, did you know?!" post I just might explode. Like a big... big... angry badger.
In fact, I now declare W&W to be officially September 23 Free *insert appropriate music*. (Now I can only hope it's not actually that date or I might get trouble.)

No, what I really wanted to talk about is blogging and WAR. See, back when I was playing World of Warcraft I read plenty of blogs, and the idea of starting one about WoW myself came to me more than once. What many WoW bloggers had in common was that they where a part of a community called Blog Azeroth. On it's forum bloggers discussed blogging with other bloggers. How to write, what to write, how to get publicity, advice, and much more.

It's a great concept. It would not only help us that already blog to get better and more in touch with each other, but new bloggers would also find a easy platform from where they can begin. We all know it's a bit hard to make people aware of your blog when you first start, so what could be better than drop a post on a blogger community, announcing that you are here and this is what you do. So why can't we have the same thing about WAR? Nothing that stops us I guess. All we need is a forum somewhere.

What could it be called? "Blog WAR", "WAR-bloggers", "Waaagh! Bloggers", "Blog [whatever WAR's world is named]"?

In other news, the new design for the blog that I have been working on for the last week is nearing completion. And by completion I mean that I haven't deleted this design for two days. With me, that usually mean it's something I will stick with... for a month. Expect to see some result Soon™ (could be tomorrow).

A Matter of Perspective

The last one of my Wheel of Time books was finished yesterday. That leaves me without any decent fantasy books as I’m spending time at my parents place over the summer. The only fantasy here is those books that I left behind when I moved into my small student apartment two years ago. I had quite a bookcase back then, and books are heavy. So I made some tough decisions between which books I wanted to read again and which that just didn’t cut it. David Eddings and his twenty-or-so books were left in that Bookcase of Shame. This was a bit weird, since I had loved Eddings before.

Back in the days when I first started reading fantasy, David Eddings was my thing. I couldn’t possibly understand why he wasn’t the crowned king of fantasy. Then I expanded my circle of writers I read to more than ten, and Eddings slowly faded away. I read Tolkien (again – first time I almost choked on The Lord of the Rings, it was just too massive for my inexperienced mind), Stephen Donaldson (also again), Robin Hobb, R.A. Salvatore, Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, and many others. All these writers gave me a new perspective on what rich and entertaining writing meant for me. The next time I picked up an Eddings book I was amazed on how horrible it was. The writing was thin, the characters were shallow, the jokes were dumb, and the story was silly. Not at all what I had experienced when I first picked up The Diamond Throne – the book that started my fantasy interest - all those years ago. I just couldn’t understand how I had actually loved these books.

That’s what a wider perspective gives you. Don’t think you know what’s best if you haven’t seen it all. It just might be something that you have missed, something so beyond what you are used to that it becomes your new standard.

Trolls, there is a special place in hell just for you. It’s right beside bad humor, and Adam Sandler is your host.

See what I did there?

This is why I don't go to events


Seriously, couldn't Wired have Photoshopped it a bit?

Sunshine, polar bears and hype

In which our hero shamelessly expand his blog with a filler post

No NDA drop combined with me not yet having received a beta invite make me a sad puppy fearsome lion. Hopefully the Open Beta is just around the corner - surely there can't be more than a few weeks left now. I'm a bit jealous to all the bloggers already in beta who will release tons of quality information they have been gathering and polishing for weeks the moment the NDA drops.

The sun continue to pound its hammer on my location, I'm almost wishing I would move north... but more north and I will end up at the North Pole. And I'm allergic to polar bears.
This time of year I recognize the laptop for what it is: the best invention since sliced bread. I have been sitting in the shade, sipping ice cold cider and working on a new layout for my blog. I know it wasn't long since I did the current, but that's who I am. Can never be content for more than a month.

The Warhammer hype is being worked up good now. When the NDA drops and Open Beta beings it will just explode, and people will take place on either side of the WoW vs WAR line, shouting features at each other. Personally, I don't see it as a war. Both games are directed to a certain type of player; WAR to the PvPers, and WoW to the PvEers. I don't think anyone will be able to look at WAR's PvP features and be able to compare it to WoW's, it's just worlds apart. WAR's PvE features remain to be seen, but hopefully it's not too extensive.

Where will WAR place itself in the MMORPG scene if you ask me?

Achievements - grinding?


World of Warcraft database site Wowhead have a complete list of the Achievements that players will be able to compete in Wrath of the Lich King – the game that will be competing with WAR for best MMO ’08. Both sides claim they don't compete with the other, but I know a Cold War when I see one. We only need ninjas moving in the night, assassinating developers for the rivaling companies now.

Normally I don't mind database sites, they are invaluable when you need to find that small sand-colored quest item somewhere in the desert. But showing what exactly you need to do to complete these achievements? Sounds a bit like cheating. Or a good move from Blizzard. The list of time-consuming things in WoW is impressive now. They got leveling, gearing up, reputations, raids, honor system, crafting, arena… and probably fifteen other things that I forgot. Achievements had the prospect of being a nice touch and bonus to your ordinary things – I imagined it to be like WAR's Tome of Knowledge.

Instead we have this list of stuff you can do and get rewards for. It will be a goal instead of a bonus reward. Kill the last boss in a 10 man raid instance with one player less? It could have been something that popped up on their screen when they did, something that they didn't expect. Now instead it will be standing in front of them, teasing them to complete it, making another time-consuming shore.

I prefer WAR's way of achievements, their Tome of Knowledge. I don’t want to know I get the title Rabbit Slayer if I slay 5000 bunnies, and I certainly won’t count them. It will just be something I do, and it might pop into my face, and my day will be Done.

Host Warhammer images

Worth mentioning is that Khaos from WaaaghInsider has started a new site called Warhammer Images that will have image hosting for Warhammer Online.

It has several different account types, and the free one offer 60 1000 MB disk space and 3 30 GB bandwidth per month. The free account will also include a small banner at the bottom stating that it's hosted on Warhammer Images.

Now, before I get to what I really think about this service, I should mention that there is a account type called "Webmaster Deal". It offer unlimited disk space and bandwidth, and images don't get marked. The requirement for this service is that you have a website, that it's about Warhammer, and that you mention the service.

It's neat, because I personally don't have access to a FTP that I can dump images on (without feeling guilty), and the normal image hosting sites often have bandwidth limitations, which might not go hand in hand with your website/blog being linked on many places. I'm using Blogger, and while the function to shrink images is very nice, it's a pain when you want a image to actually be larger than the "large" size (which is around 400 px). So I have been using other image hosting services, but then we're back to the bandwidth issue again. With the Webmaster Deal, I will probably be using this service.

But what if you don't have a website about WAR? Just how much is 60 1000 MB disk space and 3 30 GB bandwidth/month compared to other image-hosting services?
  • Photobucket offer 1 GB space and 25 GB bandwidth per month.
  • Imageshack offer unlimited space and 300 MB bandwidth per hour.
It's a new service, and I wish them the best of luck, but maybe they should check out the competition and make some changes?

Update: As Khaos informed here in the comments, the free account has have its space buffed from 60 MB to 1000 MB and it's bandwidth buffed from 3 GB to 30 GB. That's a very nice improvement. If you got Warhammer images, this place might be just for you!
Some edits to the text to clarify this change.

PvP and what it's all about

I was thinking of writing a bit about something that lies close to me heart in gaming: PvP. Non playing characters (NPC) serve a purpose in that they populate worlds and serve as grind material (pigs) for real players. If we explore a world we want the towns to be crowded and full of life, and real players just can't be bothered with standing around there, directing new players to the nearest trader all day long. While killing a NPC can feel rewarding the first hundred times, you will start to lose the sense of pride by defeating them sooner or later. Defeating another player is an entirely different matter.

Real players can do anything; they are not limited by AI options. I can't exactly put my finger on why PvP gives such a rush of adrenaline. Maybe it’s the sense of having outsmarted/outskilled another player. Or it’s the feeling that somewhere, someone is screaming at their screen, cursing your name. Did I mention I love to play healing classes? Nothing gives me such joy than healing up someone's target from almost dead to alive and kicking in front of them. The imagined fury on the opposite players face almost outweighs the imagined thankfulness on the one I saved. Maybe thankfulness is a bit too much, it’s probably more like a nod of appreciation, an acknowledgement that I exist and not doing damage or something other stupid things that healers are forbidden to do.

Random PvP encounters when travelling a world can be fun, but there has to be a meaning behind it. I think anyone who has played in a PvP zone can agree that being killed by an enemy player when battling a NPC is frustrating. If there isn’t any motivation, then the one ganking is just being a jerk by ruining your play. Then there is always the problem with people killing players that are much lower level than themselves. WAR offer the most interesting solution I must say: turning anyone who enters a low level PvP zone into a chicken, too weak to fight anyone. It’s such a stupid, charming way that it just has to work.

It took me a while to recognize that PvP was something I enjoyed the most in World of Warcraft. Some of my fondest memories are not when we defeated Lady Vashj or some other major boss – although they are in the top. It’s when some casual questing in a zone turn into a PvP war. They kill you, you kill them, they bring friends, you bring friends… and it ends with everyone in the zone engaged in conflict over something so trivial that none can remember it.

What I have always felt was missing from my PvP experiences is the sense of being part of a bigger cause. My random victories in the jungle didn’t aid my race/faction at all. I was very excited when I read about the WoW’s Burning Crusade expansion and how there would be a town that could be captured by anyone. That Halaa now lies deserted by all players should be proof enough that Blizzard missed the point completely.

The motivation to get people into PvP is not hard to create. You can either create a system that rewards killing other people, or you can let the player be part of a greater cause, like a faction or race. Or even better: do both.

World of Warcraft didn't have any of those in the beginning, and people – me among them – still gathered on the dangerous grounds between Southshore and Tarren Mill to wage endless war. Later came their Honor system and Battlegrounds, but it became more about points and rewards that turned it into the sport it is today. I mean, people don’t care who they are fighting as long as they get their rewards; in Arena they even fight people of the same faction, and they don’t mind.

Rick from /random tell me what I am really looking for when he explains the gameplay of Dark Age of Camelot. And all the good stuff from that game will be inserted into WAR, together with all the other stuff that Mythic come up with. It can only be better. I can’t wait.

I will kill for a beta spot.

Bathrobes and Legolas


Animation 3D: Warhammer

It's not a video from Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, but a old one from Warhammer: Mark of Chaos. Still, it's very nice and still relevant. In fact, I think it's a better trailer than the official WAR one. Hope the new promised trailer come soon.

We see a Warrior Priest skip around in his bathrobe and getting beaten up (yeay!) by some Chaos Chosen (go them!), and then a High Elf Shadow Warrior does his Legolas thing before he is smashed into a puddle.

Am I being too one-sided? Maybe. But I want to work up some angry blood until launch, I don't want WAR's war to be wimpish. To all you Order guys out there, bring it on!

...and something even worse

Barely had the ink dried on my last post about real life references in game, when WoW Insider found something even more horrible.
How can you justify that in a fantasy world? Can we even call it fantasy any longer? Gnomes and dwarves in World of Warcraft have always had more than a little futuristic engineering skill, sporting vehicles such as airplanes, mechanical gnome mounts and even tanks. Where does the line go? It's just a small step away from laser pistols and lightsabers.

Warhammer's world also sport a neat array of technology in cannons, guns and pistols; but from what I know, it doesn't take it longer than that. Hopefully.

Real world references

Movies, games, celebrities and other popular culture; World of Warcraft is full of real world references in the game. It removes the sense of being in another world that fantasy games is all about, but it also add plenty of humour. Most of Blizzard's games have Easter eggs that refer to their other games, so I guess they don't take as much damage as other games - people who play expect to see them.

For WAR, I would prefer if they didn't include any; I like the feeling of exploring another world, and real life references just ruin it. There are other ways to bring humour into the world.

Future of healers as we know them

I was thinking to ponder a bit about the future of healing classes, in WAR first and foremost, but also in MMO games that will follow WAR's [inevitable] success. I know a bit about healing; I levelled three classes to (then current) max level in World of Warcraft and spent my time standing in the back, wearing a bathrobe and, as Paul so glamorously explained it, casting heal, heal, heal, heal *insert silly hand moves here*.

I'm sorry that I use "classes" when I mean "careers", it's not WoW's fault, I'm just used to the Dungeons & Dragons system. I might begin to refer to them as careers, but it probably require me to play the game.

WAR take a different approach to the healbot problem - and yes, it's a problem, you can ask any healer who quit because of raids. In WAR some classes have healing spells they can cast all the time, but are slow or ineffective until you start doing damage. Others require you to do damage to be able to cast healing. And some spells heal from part of the damage they do.
It's a interesting approach; it doesn't make healing not as required and healers obsolete, and at the same time it require healers to take more part in bringing their opponent down by doing damage.

Healing is very rewarding, in the sense that people acknowledge and are thankful of the help you give, in saving their characters lives. In real life, everyone respects doctors - they save lives. But healing can also be frustrating, in that you are standing safely behind all the others when battling monsters, and probably the only thing you see during battles are colored bars which display the health of your party members.
Hitting the monsters with big pointy weapons are much more rewarding in the sense of bringing them down, even though healing offers more to the success of the party by keeping everyone alive.

In other games, healers can specialize to heal, or to do damage; but never the same in a efficient way. WAR enable you to fill the best of two worlds: hitting the monsters with weapons/spells while effectively healing your team. It's one of those things that you just wonder "why didn't anyone do this before?". Since innovation in today's MMO games consist of "borrowing" pieces from competing games, it's probably only a matter of time before we see healers in other games ripping of their bathrobes and start poking holes in monsters.

Except Warrior Priests, they will still run around in bathrobes.

Talk around the water cooler - WAR stuff

Talk around the watercooler is that WAR is pretty much done, and it's being polished for maximum gloss now. Bring out the baby oil. NDA drop and Open Beta can't be far away.

Keen from Keen & Graev's Gaming Blog visited E3 for Warhammer Vault and found out some nice stuff about WAR.

More info on Capital sieges. It seems that Fortresses (referred to as "uber keeps") will replace the removed Capital cities. So Destruction side will have one for the Greenskins, one for Dark Elves and one for Chaos. When two of them are captured, players can siege the Capital.

400 armor sets. That's 20 for each career. Hopefully they all look different so we don't run around looking the same for 40 levels, like in some other MMO.

Mounts available at early level 20, which is refreshing since MMOs seem to like having it later rather than earlier in the game. Mounts can also be customized in color and armor - hopefully it means armor that can be equipped for mounts, and not just a armored version of a mount.

Who watches the watchmen?


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I will.

Don't know how this could have eluded me, but I had no idea they were making a film out of Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen until they threw the trailer (see it in HD!) in my face. And the trailer is just... well, let's just say I mentioned people wetting their pants over a KOTOR MMO yesterday and leave it at that.

Before the normal people shy away from the aspect of yet another damn superhero movie, understand that Watchmen is unique in every aspect a superhero movie can be. It's as different Batman Begins is to the Batman TV series. In fact, if you hate superheroes, you will probably love this movie.

Since a lot of people have read the novel, and many are waiting for the film, I won't spoil the story for you - you got Wikipedia for that. Big Bear Butt summed it up pretty nicely in his post about the Watchmen trailer.

Now I will go and see the trailer again. March 2009, that's a long waiting.

E3 goodness - Dragon Age and KOTOR

While the previous trailer for Dragon Age was nice, it wasn't that impressive. And it wasn't in-game footage.

Wow, bet if I was surprised when they release a new trailer for Dragon Age, now with in-game footage, and it actually looks great. This game just climbed more than a few steps on my Looking Forward To 2008 ladder.

A commenter on Rock, Paper, Shotgun said pretty much what I was thinking.
Oh my god, he just mounted that thing and stabbed it in the throat, was not expecting that, jesus


Not only does the game offer what seem to be pretty good party support, it has some truly unique things you can do with the engine. Ice magic can be used to put out fire and fire magic can set fire to grease (like our trigger happy mage did). Who knows what more stuff you will be able to do? The lightning looked really nice as it bounced around the room long after the spell was cast.
I noticed you were able to pause the game, something used much in Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. This truly is a RPG to check out.

And for all future wizards out there, don't forget the golden rule of magic and companions: don't throw chain lightning into the group. Just don't.

Knight's of the Old Republic MMO
While thousands of fans just wet their pants in excitement, I must I admit that I have only briefly played Knights of the Old Republic. Which is probably a shame, since I have heard plenty of good things about it, and it's from Bioware (/kneel /praise). I don't remember exactly why I stopped playing it, but I think it was something with my computer that just didn't get along with the game. I just might try it out again, now that the news is out that a KOTOR MMO is in development.

Just earlier this week Relmstein complained about the lack of sci-fi MMOs, and I commented that "KotOR MMO will probably never come". Yea, I got pretty owned there. Damn you, Bioware!

I'm a fan of Star Wars (h3ll, who isn't?), I like sci-fi games (more for the exploring endless worlds than ships with laserz I admit), and I like MMO game. So a KOTOR MMO would probably be pretty sweet. H3ll, light sabers PvP action, sign me up.

Game breaking things

What things are so important for WAR that it would break the game for you? That is being discussed on the WHA forum.

What I'm mostly enthusiastic for in WAR is the whole RvR concept. War is everywhere. If it's not, then that is surely a game breaking thing for me. The same if they would somehow make it more like a competitive game (like a big Alterac Valley) between the two realms instead the bloody war I'm looking forward to.

Another game breaking thing for me is careers. They must be different from each other, but still maintain a greater balance. I don't require every class to have the same chances against all careers, that would be to ask for too much, but they should all have a fair chance. No more rock, paper, scissor balance where rocks can just lie down and wait for death when facing a paper bag. As a melee I don't want to be kited around by a ranged class without any chance of catching up, and likewise I don't want a melee to lock me down in melee combat when I'm a ranged.

Careers should keep their original concept and not go with the flow. What I mean by this is the way a damage/support/healer career get turned into a pure healer by demand of the players. If players demand pure healers because encounters are too healing intensive, don't turn away from a career's original concept, fix the bigger issue with healing instead!

Grinding is required. I want to be able to play casually and don't feel like I'm missing out on half the fun. Likewise I want to be able to play a lot because I enjoy it, not because I have to.

Gear matter more than skill. Placed under the grinding for a reason. I don't want gear to be irrelevant, that would destroy the whole reward system, players don't want to work their ass off for nothing. But gear should not have a huge impact on the outcome of a fight, skill should. You shouldn't be able to dress up a character in the best gear and let a monkey roll it's butt on the keyboard... and win.

Game not running well on old computers. I have a pretty good computer, but I don't want to turn down my graphics just because another twenty people entered my screen. Or that my friends are unable to play the game because their computer is not top-notch or the game does not properly support their graphic card. I thought Age of Conan's beautiful graphics would be awesome, but I found myself more annoyed by the reduced frame rates than I would have been over worse graphics. I think I will value stable performance with plenty of people on the screen more than nice graphics from now.

Disjointed game world. I am a explorer by heart, and I love exploring in all games. If I want to climb that mountain I should be able to. No invisible walls please.
One of the things I loved with World of Warcraft is that it's a seamless world. The changes in texture when travelling between areas are horrible, but at least you are able to. You don't get a loading screen and are instantly transported to another part of the world. This become a issue when you have existing lore to take into consideration, like Age of Conan and WAR have to. You can't just place a area between the human and elf areas as a transition, when in the lore it could be a continent between them. It's not really a game breaking thing for me, but it would be annoying, so that's why I put it last.

E3 goodness

What kind of gamer would I be if I didn't follow the E3 and checking out interesting games?

New WAR footage, featuring what seems to be a siege!


Looks pretty awesome, don't you think? Only wish they would fix the lightning sometime. EA has their own trailer of WAR that show more impressive graphics.

In-game footage of Fallout 3. It's a bit different that I expected, it look like a combination of STALKER and Oblivion. I love both games so the result can't be anything than good.
For the uneducated plebs, Fallout take place in a post-apocalyptic future, where the world is devastated by atomic war. If you have trouble comprehending what that would be like, Wired has a new article with images of nuclear blasts.
It's definitely one of my most anticipated games for this year, after WAR. Also a trailer - reserve a spot in a Vault today! Got damn, I want this game! Ah the horror for not being at E3 and indulge some real Nuke Cola.

Dawn of War II trailer. If you can't have Warhammer Online, have the next best thing: Warhammer 40k.

Dragon Age Origins trailer. Not too impressive trailer, but since it's from developers Bioware who made Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, Neverwinter Nights, KotOR and Mass Effect, I can forgive them pretty much everything.

Moar beta invites

This is just in! A new wave of beta invites have been sent out!
Check your Beta Centers and Inboxes as today might be your lucky day!

We've invited more people from Guild Beta, contest winners, and event attendees but many were from the Newsletter Subscriber pool which is fair game for anyone.

Guess who got in? That's right!

Not me! /facepalm

Paul Barnett impressions

Perfect.


In another part of the world, Massively has some new screenshots of WAR from E3. Filled to the brim with RvR, squigs, Waaagh! and all that stuff.

And speaking of squigs, we welcome Da Squig Herder to the WAR blog community. /salute

Thanks Book of Grudges for digging out the Paul impressions thread, it's pure gold. Also, war lions are on the lose - you have been warned.

Monday musings

I have helped my parents dig out the entire garden today. Apparently the grass that has been there for ten years is no longer fine, it should be a flowerbed. Holiday, my ass.

Penny Arcade has comic on why the pulled classes from WAR just didn't work. Hilarious as usual.

As mentioned earlier, there is a great comic out there for all you Greenskins out there, and it's called Goblins. It's about goblins (not kidding), and is very much recommended.

The fourth episode of the podcast ChaosCast is out, and it has a very interesting interview with Carrie Gouskos - Tome of Knowledge developer.

Speaking about podcasts... If you have never experienced the magic of Dungeons & Dragons before, or if you already have, check out the podcast of Penny Arcade/PvP playing the new D&D 4th edition, as a podcast. Entertaining no matter how much you know about D&D.

Why rotating capitals are bad

A short while after Mythic announced that there would only be two capitals at launch Mark Jacobs began to discuss the possibility of rotating cities when the other two had been patched in. At first it was put forward as just a thought, but with the recent interview with Ten Ton Hammer he use the words “for the long term health for this game I think that is critical” when talking about rotating cities. He name player focus as part of the reasoning; that players need to be forced down to the path of a city to get enough player focus to conquer it. Worrying words, because I like rotating capitals not at all.

MJ mention the issue to get players to focus to conquer a capital, but isn’t that part of the challenge? You have hundreds of people running around all over the battlefield, and if you can get those people to rally and attack as a unit... damn, you probably deserve to win. I admit that I have not experienced the RvR concept for myself like in Dark Age of Camelot, but surely it would be difficult to unite a bunch of random people all there for their own purposes, and more than a few who probably have problem with people telling them what to do? WAR will have things like Standards and Careers with group buffs to get people to fight together, but it will most likely still be difficult.

If you have three capitals to be able to conquer you will get three real battlefronts, whereas if you only have one you will get one main battlefront and two that isn’t as important. I think everyone can agree that capturing a capital is the end goal in RvR, and in a three capital struggle you have three points to accomplish that goal, and likewise three points to be defeated. With one capital you have two sides that, while it’s bad that you lose them, doesn’t make you lose the war (as in losing a capital).

My hopes for WAR was that it would be more war and less competition. From a lore perspective that is just plain silly. The three race's lords can't just sit down around a table and say "ok, this month we will focus on Altdorf. Forgot the other ones, we can take some other next month." For me, the lore aspect and the feeling that I am a part of a war, is one of the biggest things that draw me to WAR. Without it, it would be just like World of Warcraft’s battleground weekends, where there is a different one each weekend. My mind shies away from the thought.

I imagined WAR as a big sandbox, and limiting my goal down to one capital is like taking the sand out of the sandbox.

Realm War is coming

The "Coming Soon" over the third tab on the official Warhammer Online site has been removed, and what we have is a page called Realm War.

Shadowski on the WHA has a very good guess what this could be, by looking at Dark Age of Camelot, the previous MMO by Mythic. Guess what? They also have a page called Realm War.

The WAR's Realm War page is only available to the beta testers at the moment, but from the text on it we can read the following.
Warriors great and small will stand for your inspection, the most accomplished of them rising to fame and glory atop piles of their adversaries - only to be cast down into oblivion at a moment's hesitation.
This sounds like a ranked list of players that anyone can view when not in the game. Dark of Camelot has exactly that kind of list.

Guilds will make themselves known to allies and enemies alike as their fame grows with the litter of corpses in their wake.
A ranked list of guilds? Why, DAoC has exactly the same thing!

Watchful chroniclers will yield information on the tide of the war with the state of objectives, the ownership of keeps, and the fate of the capital cities themselves.
A log of when keeps and other objectives switch hands? Yup, DAoC has that aswell.

Some say that WAR will be DAoC version 2, and that is probably not too far-fetched. It's a good concept, to be able to follow your realm's progress when at work, grinding your teeth that you ain't home to defend it. I estimate that Realm War will look very similar to DAoC's, but with a new look at some new features. Hopefully nothing as graphic heavy as World of Warcraft's Armory, because that's just silly how slow it is.

Some Disciple abilities

Since I figured out a while ago that Disciple of Khaine would be the career or my choice, I have been reading the forums, further checking out their abilities. Damn NDA, if only I was in the beta... *hint nudge* Mythic, my email is on the top of the page.

Several videos with ingame footage from a event showed many abilities from some careers, Disciple one of them. Pendrako was nice enough to spare our squinting eyes by compiling a list of abilities that were shown in it.

I have edited the list quite a bit, removing info like cast time, cooldown, range and such, and just showing the name and the description. I also didn't include everyone, just the ones I think are interesting, and they are divided in four parts: damaging, healing, buffs and debuffs. If you want to read more about them, check out the thread.

Overall, I am a bit surprised about the big number of AoE knockbacks the Disciple has to it's disposal, and many of the abilities that do damage also do part of it to healing. He will basically not be able to scratch his back without healing his group. It feels like the Disciple will be a huge asset to any party that want to kick some butt.

If I had to compare it to a class of WoW, the Disciple of Khaine is probably a Paladin gone to the dark side, using slender blades, and who has placed plenty of talents in the Shadow Priest talent tree. Sign me up!

Damaging

Essence Lash
You lash out at all opponents in front of you up to 40 feet away, dealing X damage.

Lacerate
A gory strike that cripples your enemy, dealing X damage over 9 seconds and reducing their Toughness by X.

Flay
You flay your opponent for X damage. If target is Crippled they are further Crippled as they become snared, reducing their run speed by 40% for 6 seconds.

Universal Confusion - Morale
Raw power erupts in a 30 feet area around you, inflicting X damage and stunning all enemies, preventing them from taking any actions for 5 seconds.

Stun everyone for 5 sec in a 30 feet around you? H3ll yea.

Consume Thought
An overwhelming attack which deals X damage to your enemy and silences them for 5 seconds, making them unable to use magic.

Silenced, that's how I like my casters.

Consume Essence
A quick strike which deals X. Khaine's approval of your actions causes your defensive target and all allies within 10 feet to become healed for 50% of the damage that you dealt.

Transfer Essence
An unholy attack which deals X damage to your target and spills out a portion of their soul, healing any of your groupmates within 30 feet for 50% of the damage that you dealt. This effect will not heal you.


Healing

Soul Infusion
Your target is gradually infused with X health over 15 seconds.

Renew Soul
Dark energies restore an ally, restoring X health.
This is a fragile spell, and will always be set back by a large amount if you are damaged while casting it.

Stand, Coward!
Life is restored to a dead ally, and 20% of their health is recovered in the hopes they will prove less worthless to you in the future.

Lovely description.

Khaine's Embrace
All of your groupmates regain X health.

Life's End
For 10 seconds you allow your group (instead of yourself) to feast on the life essence of your victims, healing everyone for 50% of the melee damage you deal.


Buffs

Covenant of Vitality
Any time someone in your group damages an enemy, they have a 20% chance to deal an additional 20 Spirit damage to their victim, and heal themselves for an equal amount. You may only use a single Covenant at a time.

Covenant of Celerity
Your entire group gains a 20% chance to Cripple anyone that they damage, dealing X Spirit damage over 9 seconds and reducing their victim's run speed by 20%. You may only use a single Covenant at a time.

There are also Tactics that give additional buffs to the group when using the Covenant buffs. Some of them increase group's Armor, Strength and Weapon Skill, Intelligence and Willpower, or Toughness.

Rampaging Siphon - Morale
Deals X damage to all enemies within 30 feet, and heals your entire group for the full amount of the damage dealt.

Divine Fury - Tactic
You deal 25% more damage, but all of your healing becomes 20% less effective.

Sounds good when you solo or just want to kick some ass.


Steal Life
Your target suffers X damage over 9 seconds, and you are healed for half the damage dealt.

Focused Mind - Morale
For the next 10 seconds, you will remove and ignore any silencing, disarming, rooting or snaring effects and your abilities will build 50% faster and may not be set back.

I'm the Juggernaut, b*tch!

Dark Elf Magical Alignment - Tactic
Any Corporeal healing spells become 5% more effective on you, and you take 5% less damage from Corporeal attacks.

From the description one would think this is for tanking.

Divine Protection - Morale
Everyone in your group is surrounded by a protective shield, which will absorb a large amount of damage from melee abilities.

A Paladin's bubble as group buff? Sounds neat.

Khaine's Blessing - Tactic
Whenever you critically heal an ally, your auto attack speed is increased by 25%.

Alter Fate - Morale
Resurrects all groupmates within 30 feet. Anyone who is brought back from the dead will also be healed for X over 5 seconds.

AoE ress! Now if it only worked in combat...


Debuffs

Uncaring Dismissal
A great energy washes over all targets in front of you, blowing back all enemy players within 30 feet and knocking down monsters.

Blogging advice and Firefox addon

WoW Insider has a post called How to start your own WoW blog that has some simple, but good, points for anyone starting blogging. I was reading the comments and found someone referring to Scribefire, a Firefox addon. So I checked it out, and I must say I like it.

It's a addon that split your screen in half, so that you can see a website and write a blog entry at the same time. When writing a new post I often have some info from another page, and it's very nice not having to switch between the tabs but having a split screen instead. Also, the addon has way more editing options than Blogger has in it's editor, so that's also nice. You can even see previos posts and edit them, doing everything you can do in Blogger's pages, except you don't have to switch around soo much.

I can't say how it works for other blog platforms than Blogger, but give it a try and see what you think. Much recommended.

Edit: Webmonkey has a article called "Get Started With WordPress". It explains how you setup WordPress on a webhotel, or your own server.

WAR announcement - the aftermath II

Warhammer Alliance's official thread on the recent announcements are up to... 65 pages. Probably more when I finish writing this. 972 replies, 30,421 views. Yea, we do care.

The poll on "Does this make you reconsider playing WAR?" has changed very slightly, with the "Yes" side increasing 3%. 549 voters (that's 229 more than last time).

Mark Jacobs have made several appearances on forums, trying to douse the heat of flamers. He appeared on IGN's forum, writing three long posts about Punkbuster, Capital Cities, and Careers, explaining their thoughts on why they did as they did.

He wrote a long and honest bit on WHA discussing all the issues people seem to have with the news. Well worth reading.

We announced this now, rather than in two months, precisely so people would not be surprised when they buy the box.
A slip or did he mean two months as an example? Does it mean release in September?!
Nice try but what else did we announce today? Guild beta starting and after that.... :P Besides, I kinda had to put something down for a number.
Ah damnit, oh well, it was worth a shot.

A few posts down, Jacobs talk about the possibility of not having six capitals against eachother at the same time, but keep using one pair and the other two get refreshed with new PQs etc. It's a intriguing idea, and testament that Mythic has nothing set in stone.
One of the things that *might* work really well would be if 'X' months, one city pairing became the focus of the RvR campaign. While that pairing was the focus, the other pairings would be worked on by the team and improved, cleaned up, changed. The new pairing would allow the players to have new quests, new PQs, different layouts based on what we learned from the previous pairing(s). This would add even more variety to the game and allow us to really keep things more interesting over the long-term. Now, if we find out that having multiple CCs as potential targets works better because the one-pairing thing wasn't working as we hoped, then we wouldn't rotate the cities in and out.

I'd rather have you all pissed at us now than when we launch.
And we sure are aswell, mr J. Rock on!

WAR announcement - the aftermath

The fanbase sure are in turmoil after the latest announcements. I have been trying to follow the WHA thread on the subject, but every time I finish reading the last page and press refresh there are three new pages.

Overall, the people seem to be torn whether this is a good or bad thing. Most of the people in the thread are just banging on their Doomsday Drum and screaming things that defy all sense and logic, but some has some good points in between. I guess not much has changed among the fans. Those who supported what Mythic have been doing so far, still do. Those who are uncertain about the game are still uncertain. And those who think WAR is crap, Mythic are a bunch of satanists, and everyone can go and die in a pool of blood, still think so.

There is a poll on the WHA forums, asking "Does this make you reconsider playing WAR?". At the moment of this writing, the "No" side is overwhelming with 64%, followed by "Yes" at 20%, and "I'm not sure yet" with 15%. 320 votes so far.

Myself, I have taken pretty much all of this with calm. I still think the game will be fun. In fact, I have probably become more confident in Mythic as they show a will to really make a game that will be fun for a long time, not shower us with features that isn't polished. Many companies would probably just have rolled with unfinished content and patched it up, it takes courage to scrap them altogether because they isn't what you want.

Many people - me included - feel a bit worried what this will do the lore. I mean, it will still be there, but it's just doesn't feel the same without a end goal versus your arch enemies. If you roll a dark elf you want to burn the fancy pansy high elves capital to the ground, not the Empire's capital.

Making another delay for the game to (hopefully) fix the remaining careers and capitals would probably not be wise. Age of Conan have had it's months, and the game is not good. Wrath of the Lich King is still far into the future, probably not before 2009. That leaves plenty of room for WAR to launch a great game, and spend the following months making it truly awesome, so by the time WoW's second expansion hit the shelves, people will have have a truly worthy opponent.

Next part is up

It seems the doomsday prophets who yelled that it was too much untested contest while banging the Drum of Doom was right. Read for yourselves.
Jon Wood reports that the game will be implementing Punkbuster and cutting four capital cities and four careers from the launch features of the game.
As Deekin would have said "doom doom doom doom!!!!"

Update.

Apparently, only the Empire capital Altdorf and the Chaos capital Inevitable City will be in the game at launch. While all this is a bit disappointing, there are still good things about the decision.
First of all, the cities will be very polished, or as Jacobs say "Not good, not great, but fabulous."
Second, all mistakes they make with the starting cities, as they see how they work out, won't have to be fixed in four other cities, hopefully meaning faster fixes of bigger issues.
And third, just having two capitals will give a single battlefront instead of three. Having three at the launch of the game would probably mean that each battlefront would be sparsly populated, or some more populated than others. And by having only one, all players on the server come together in the same fight instead of three different in the world, hopefully leading to a better community.

The four careers that will be left out at launch is
  • Choppa (Greenskin)
  • Hammerer (Dwarf)
  • Blackguard (Dark Elf)
  • Knight of the Blazing Sun (Empire)
Meaning two melee dps and two tanks. While all this have to do with polish and quality, I wonder about what impact the lack of two of the tanking careers will have on the game. Sure, WAR is mostly about PvP, but there is still a PvE aspect, and for that you will need tanks. Not having two of the six tank careers at launch means most of the subscribers from launch and probably a month forward will miss out on the chance of rolling one, probably picking another class as their main and won't switch back very soon. Time will tell.
Well, at least I didn't plan to play any of the classes seriously, but I feel for you guys who just had your main career removed. Ouch.

All of the changes are about quality and not announcing features on the box that isn't properly implemented, the very things I wrote about in the How AoC's failure can help WAR post I wrote about a day ago. It's nice to see that Mythic is firm in their decision to deliver a awesome game, from day one.

And to further hammer that point, we have the following quote.
"This has nothing to do with EA,” he said, pointing out that this was entirely a Mythic decision, and it isn’t a directive from the company which many MMO players feel has a dubious history in our genre. “they had zero input in this. This is not something we went to them with and said ‘hey guys, we need an extra few months…’ and they said ‘no, you must ship on this day’. They don’t even know about it. It’s not a discussion we would have with them."
Beautiful. There just might be hope in this world of evil mass producers after all.

One of many

This seem to become a interesting day. MMORPG.com have done a interview with Mark Jacobs at Mythic and is going to post it in parts.

In the first part Jacobs announced that EA Mythic has changed it's name back to Mythic Entertainment. They have not broken with EA, it's just a name change to display their individuality. Cash still goes into EA's pockets. Hopefully it means their masters have loosed the leash a bit. Freedom! Er... I mean... We need more Overlords!

That leave three more announcements. In the expected panic that ensued, theories were thrown this way and that. Mythic doused the panic a bit by announcing that it wouldn't be another delay, or a release date, or any other date. They also commented on WHA saying that
1) We are not, repeat not, going to announce a delay tomorrow.

2) The announcements are not mundane.

3) The announcements will be worth reading, they are wide-ranging and frankly, some of the stuff I talk about is central to the game.

The most humorous thing about the interview is the timing. Browncoat, you may want to begin to sharpen your pencil.
For those unfamiliar what he means by the last part, Browncoat wrote an article on WHA where he critizied Mythic's marketing. Mark Jacobs responded at length.

Overall, my expectations are not that high. Maybe we will finally hear about the Black Guard, or another small bone of information.

Syp at Waaagh! might just have one of the announcements, as he discovered that the Collector's Editon probably will be sold out on Monday.

How AoC's failure can help WAR

The Greenskin recently did a post on how Age of Conan could affect Warhammer Online in a negative way. While I agree with his points, I was thinking of turning the tables around a bit, and discuss how AoC can affect WAR in a positive way. It's all about learning from mistakes.

Mythic won't rush the release. AoC showed clearly what most players take for granted but developers don't really seem to grasp: a rushed release means a unfinished product, and if it's something customers don't like it's not getting their money's value.
Age of Conan was horribly unpolished on release. I can say that from my own personal experience in the closed beta, early access and launch of the game. If you can't deliver the things you write on the box you are not giving customers what you promise, it's that simple. If you had written "and this we will be patched in the near future" you would tell the truth, however bad it might sound. It's better to promise a whole list of future stuff and deliver them on schedule rather than say you have a bunch of features that you don't actually have. And really, who reads the features on the box anyway these days? If you want to find out what a game is all about you check on the internet.

Customer Support will be good. If you anticipate hundreds of thousands of customers, you have to have the appropriate numbers of people to support that many when they have trouble. The only thing worse than using a product that doesn't work properly is not getting help to fix it when you pay for that kind of support!

You want to know that even if it takes a few hours you will eventually come in contact with a Game Master that can solve your problem. You do not want to wait 24 hours in queue (and see the line in front of you) to get in contact with a GM that maybe can solve your problem. You want to know that if you can't wait all the time for your turn, at least your problem will be fixed, even if your not there. You do not want to log in the following day and find a message that told you that when it became your turn, you weren't there so you have to do it again.

Rather start with too many Game Masters in the beginning so that they have to fight over jobs than too few so that the petitions start to pile up from day one.

Community Managers will actually communicate. People don't have to write twenty pages long threads on forums to get attention of CMs, they will pop in around page two and happily take part of the discussion. Your CMs can't work that much? Hire more.

If all you want is responsible people who can read the minds of the community and what they want, you can get a hundreds of volunteers easily. It's when you want responsible people who can give people the insider answers they want that you have problems. But if players know that a hundred people are browsing the forums reading what they write and forwarding the info to higher places, even if they don't make their presence actually known, they might not be craving so much for the response of the CMs. And by knowing that the volunteers are just forwarding stuff, not actually having a say in anything, they can be a bit more forgiving when they behave unprofessional. Maybe. Ok, not very likely.

The CM's job could consist more of taking part in discussions and compiling the important bits forwarded by the volunteers into a thread posted once per week.

Not having official forums. When I first heard that WAR wouldn't have any official forums I was a bit sceptical. I mean, we have always had official forums for games, it's where the developers talk to us. However, I have seen that Mythic has taken it's own promise of staying active on all big WAR forums seriously, so I'm not sceptical any more. In fact, there are many advantages with this. Not only does it give power to the fan sites, it removes the whole issue of censoring.

AoC's forums are infamous just for this. Threads that direct the negative aspects of the game mysteriously disappear and regular complainers of the game get banned from the forums. What exactly is the worst publicity? Having someone complain about the game, or silencing people who complain about the game? The answer should be obvious, but still we hear about people getting banned on the forums for criticizing the game.
With no moderation power on the various forums, developers cannot really be accused of censoring.

It's all about learning from mistakes. And mistakes from another company are free. Hmm... freebies.

Goblins - Life through Their Eyes

Just a short post to inform people that there is a awesome comic out there, about goblins!

Called Goblins - Life through Their Eyes, it's a story driven and really well drawn comic that I stumbled upon just a week ago and instantly fell in love with. It's about goblin NPC's in a D&D world who grow tired of being prey to players and become adventurers themselves.

It starts as a black and white comic with funny punchlines but get a very serious tone with plenty of blood and nice coloring after a while. The story is really good (I mean really good) and the rare, intelligent humour just get better with plenty of jabs at D&D.

I have read the entire comic now, from beginning to current, and can't wait for more. Much recommended. Not suitable for younger readers.

Guild goes to Scotland, survivor tell the story

The third annual Tribe LAN has been completed, and all the participants try to recover best they can - it's only a year left until the next one. The previous two meetings was held in Sweden, but this time we invaded Scotland, just like in Braveheart. And we got totally crushed, also just like in Braveheart.

You travel all the way to Scotland and you buy American whisky...
- Heard more than once when a bottle of JD's was sighted.

We from Sweden gathered at the airport and had a few beer as we were waiting for the rest of the people, and then we had some more when they arrived, and some even more with the food (pay more, get less). After that we felt we had to stop, since we didn't know how drunk you had to be to not get on a airplane.

It's fun to see the faces behind the voices, and some can really surprise you as you get your inner pictures and expectations listening to their voice for years. You can have a imagine of some seven feet giant who wrestle with bears for a living and have arms as thick as your thighs, and see some tiny thing that could be your ten year younger brother half starved to death. Or the other way around. Imagination can do funny things.

During the entire LAN we didn't play that much WoW, we were busy doing other things. I can't recall what exactly. Drinking was probably one of them.
We did two groups speed running Karazhan against each other (which my group won of course, protection paladins for teh win) on the first day. I barely remember something about us doing Blackwing Lair late one night. I think we only were around 15 people and we had really fun running around in chaos on Razorgore. When we finally managed to destroy all the eggs and had Razorgore in tank and spank, the encounter bugged a bit and we had orcs respawning again. But down he went, and we barely had time to loot before we wiped on the orcs that piled up. Vaelastrasz would probably also have fallen if we didn't ninja pull him five times as we were positioning.

Other than WoW there was everything that could be expected when our guild comes together. We had drinking, singing, some drama, and plenty of laughter. A tank and a priest had a fight with toothpaste which led to some awkward moments when the cleaning personal showed up on the last day and wondered why there were toothpaste all over the walls.

This was the third annual guild meeting and it was the best so far. What is funny is that every guild meeting we play less and less WoW, next time we probably wont play any WoW at all. Location for the next meeting is under discussion, with Netherlands and Czech Republic as options.

At the writing of this post, no pictures or video have been released on the interwebs. I will see if I can post some harmless pictures when they do. If your looking for the real, hardcore stuff you probably have to be a member of Tribe and confirm that your age is above 16 18 20.