Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Photographing a Molecule

That is all.

Originally posted at

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Official: I'm a Twit...

...terer. A Tweeter? A Twitter user? Whatever we're called, I'm one of them. Twitter page is Hope I don't embarrass myself.

Originally posted at

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bits and Pieces: Champions Online

With the open beta officially shut down and the game going live soon, I thought I'd give my thoughts and reactions. This isn't a review so much as a quick list of points and thoughts. Couple things to note right off the bat:

  • I raced through both character creation and most of the content to try to see as much as possible in the couple of days that I had.
  • For that reason, I wasn't really satisfied with my character, but a buddy from my WAR guild took the same concept and totally nailed it. I think I'm just not used to the depth of options available (what do you mean there's another set of drop down menus for each major costume area?) so more practice and exploration with the character builder should fix that.
  • Also due to my rushed play style, none of the quests really grabbed me. Seemed like lots of the usual for MMOs, which isn't bad. If I do get the game, I'll take a lot slower approach and actually read the quest text, look for extra quests, etc...

With that in mind, on to the reactions!

  • I'm fine with the starter zones. Coming from Guild Wars, I'm familiar with the multi-zone mechanic. If the game is good for it (Champions and GW both are, WAR would never be) it works just fine. The tutorial city is okay, though nothing really grabbed me. The crisis zones are both much better and feel more like "real" zones.
  • PQs (fine, fine "Open Missions") are a great feature and I'm really glad that another game has picked up on them. The one in the tutorial city zone even gets past the "3 waves of enemies" formula, mixing in resource gathering and defend the objective instead.
  • Everything is better with a friend. I leveled 3 toons through the tutorial city. the first and third I did with a guild group, the middle one I did by myself and didn't enjoy near as much. When you're beating down a wave of mobs and each champion has their powers firing off and such, the game just feels more awesome. Individual mobs of my level up to level +2 didn't seem to be much of a threat (I could usually one-shot my level normal mobs), so bring a group and round up the aggro.
  • The multi-role system sounds very interesting to me. I like the idea, but I think it would be highly dependant on the power set and the way you built your character to determine how nice it will be for a given toon. My Might/Force guy could probably switch easily between DPS and tanking. My Sorcery one isn't going to have the Constitution and Endurance for that. Maybe there will be mobs who have primary attacks that are better defended by Ego or Intelligence, in which case it would make more sense to "tank" with my Sorcerer.
  • I love try-before-you-buy abilities. Appeals to my min-maxer nature.
  • Also love the travel powers, all of which struck me as interesting or useful for various concepts. Acrobatics was the surprise fun one for me; I didn't expect just running and jumping to be so entertaining. Ooo! Time to make the Prince of Persia!
  • Mass combat (15+ players against mobs) stinks. Nothing is going to really threaten you unless it's a super villian. So no real challege there. Also, the graphics bogged down trying to display the multitude of power effects getting thrown around. For me, the 6-man group was the perfect size.
  • I dislike the heavy black outlines. And bloom effects. So I turned them off. No biggie.
  • Dualing you're guild buddies is fun. I wish WAR had this feature because I had a blast just pitting myself against other characters and concepts.
  • Button mashing gets old. At level 8, I had 3 powers to use in combat, plus my block and travel power. While it's nice to get a perk or power every level, it felt strange to be so far along and still not really gotten access to much outside of the level 1 powers. It also makes it difficult to define your concept. My sorcerer was supposed to call forth minions taking the form of the enemies worst fears. But I couldn't get enough powers until after the crisis zones, several hours into the character's time played.
So what does this all boil down to? Well, in my mind, an open beta is a trade between the game company and the gamer. They get to test stuff on a large population, and we get to try the game in it's almost-completed state to see if it's something that interests us. For me, it's highly dependent on how many of my guild friends are playing. The social interaction (talking about power sets, checking out character ideas, and running zones together) is more than enough for me to work past the minor gameplay issues that I have.

Final verdict: Wait and see. If 4-6 people from my guild go for it, I'll probably give it a buy. Otherwise, I'll just hang where I'm at with WAR and DDO.

Originally posted at

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reach Out and Taunt Someone

It took hours of work and concentration, as well as tremendous personal persuading on the part of the warband leads, but we finally got it together and pushed all three forts in rapid succession recently. The second one opened up only 5 minutes after the first, and the third followed another twenty minutes later. An hour later, we had only captured one fortress, and the organization was breaking up. Why, you ask, with such superior numbers and excellent coordination were we kept out of the Inevitable City? Dumb bad luck and taunts on the Lords.

To elaborate, I'm going to chalk up any player mishaps into the category of dumb luck. Pull too many guards, forget to guard the healer, accidentally hit the challenge renown instead of the shield, etc... are all mistakes that people make in the heat of the battle. I'm not looking to court martial anyone for it, and I really don't want Mythic to make any allowances for it. Stuff happens, we learn from it, we move on, and we succeed because of that learning process.

But I really can't chalk up 7 or 8 failed attempts on the various Fortresses to bad luck. And I saw the number of Destruction players that were defending; they performed well, but not well enough to hold off the sustained effect of rolling warbands into the Fortress zone. Order's organization and execution were there, but we had some griefers in our midst. By taunting the Lord, a cross-realming player can shut down a fortress attack. With the sheer number of effects going off and the low frame rates that always accompany these attacks, it's almost impossible to figure out who the malefactor is most of the time. And it's killing the chances of invading the enemy city far too often by changing the Fortress Lord from a powerful defensive unit into a tactical nuke. This is further compounded by the fact that we didn't get a second ramp up to the Lord's room, as the keeps received.

Since we're all about solutions here at the WnP, I'd like to offer up one: Change the enraged attack from an AoE to a single target. Let the Lord go berserk on the player that taunted, and then return to his normal behavior. This would punish the taunter for his impudence without punishing the entire attacking army for what could be a griefer tactic. If there are concerns that the Lord will now be too easy, then Mythic could give the Lord a small heal (say 10-15% of their total hp). That way it would take a lot more work and coordination to force the attack to fail. The game would still have plenty of incentive to avoid making mistakes, since it can be difficult to impossible to get back in to the Fortress zone in time if you have to run back, but it would stop rewarding people who's loyalty belongs to the other side. We'll see what happens with Fortresses in the next patch and how Mythic addresses these issues.

Originally posted at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Winning Contests and Defending Altdorf

Woohoo! I won! So that means I've signed myself up for another round of WAR blogging. Unfortunately, due to the insanity that is fortress sieges (a second ramp for Forts seemed like a no-brainer), I'm not able to provide my promised interview of the defeated Destruction Lords. En lieu of that, I'll instead give my impressions on an actual city siege under 1.3.1, with me in the role of heroic Altdorf defender since Destruction managed to beat us to it.

I logged on to find that Altdorf was under siege and a solid guild group was online defending. I jumped in the warband and queued for the instance, hoping that the rapidly dwindling siege timer would hold out long enough for me to get in. Took about fifteen minutes, but I made it in with about 50 minutes left on the siege; plenty of time to get my feet wet in the new system. Turned out we were routing Destro pretty handily, though I must applaud the group or so of Destruction players that never gave it up. They fought hard and tried to hit the BOs, but with such a disparity of numbers, Order was able to sit on 2 BOs for the duration.

With the BOs securely in hand, it didn't take long to flip the PQ to the second stage and bring out the General, who was promptly ignored. Those guys are tough PvE content all by themselves, and it doesn't help that his Hero minions insisted on chasing our healers all the way back to the Order spawn point in the market. Odd pathing aside, I still don't like that even with 2-1 population in an instance, it still doesn't seem viable to beat the General down. An unchecked lion, or an accidental taunt, and the battle field is immediately littered with allied corpses. "Why bother with that?" seems to be the consensus. We can just hold the BOs, kill the few destro that stick out their noses, and wait. Destro doesn't need to really defend the General, they can just follow in his footsteps and mop up.

We finished the PQ twice; add in the 2 crests for successfully defending the city and I got 4 crests for an hour's defense. Not horrible, but I'm still left sitting on a grand total of 10 Invader crests. I've got 999 Officer Medallions ready to go, but until I can get into another City Siege or get lucky fighting in RvR, my gear progression will remain where it has been for the 4 to 5 weeks: 2 Invader/ 4 Conqueror for RvR. I'm RR 57 now, and the inability of my server to get to a City Siege has been a bit of a frustration the last couple weeks. It's got to be even worse for the folks even higher up the Renown Rank ladder.

Well then, you're probably asking, what would I do? Here ya' go:
  • I would have added a second ramp for Fortresses. What's good for the Keep goose is good for the Fortress gander, and I'm personally of the opinion that if you let your side get dominated so badly that you're depending on the Fortress Lord to keep the other side out of your Capitol, you need some incentive to make sure things don't get to that point. Go guerrilla, get mobile, leave BOs before the second tick, and otherwise shake up your strategy to annoy and confuse your opponents. It's too bad that they didn't take this opportunity to try to improve the Forts, but they are promising something new in terms of Forts and the campaign in patch 1.3.2, so we'll see.
  • I would have toned down the General. Are we mice or are we men? When the General arrives on the scene in a city siege, it's pretty obvious that all these lauded "heroes" and "champions" as we players like to fancy ourselves are able to contain him as well as a wet paper bag. Forget killing him, we can't even make it so that he doesn't kill us in one swing. I'm okay with the idea that the Generals of the armies in WAR would be immune from our taunts. What I don't understand is why this needed to be translated into an immediate "General goes freakishly insane and kills everyone" response. Especially now that the BOs are in place, the dominating side is going to win the second stage by virtue of being able to field a full defense of the Objectives. I don't see a reason for the General to still be so stupidly powerful.
  • I would have run more QA/fixed QA processes. I've defended Mythic before when the issue of bugs comes up, saying that some bugs aren't going to be found until you get a full population load and see it in the wild. That's still true but now we seem to be getting lich bugs; bugs that were quashed before and have now returned because nobody destroyed the phylactery of poor source code management and testing. I work in software development and I know how easy it is for someone to check in old code on accident. But we shouldn't be saying that a bug that was fixed before has now returned almost a year after launch. You shouldn't even start a project, especially of this size, without a very strong source control system and testing procedures in place and ready to go.

Complaints aside, this patch was a nice big step in the right direction. The new siege is more fun and based on what it should have been all along: killing enemy players. I'm encouraged that Mythic has a plan for Fortresses, despite what seems like a wasted opportunity to redo them a little now. We'll see what they come up with. I've got an idea or two myself, but I'll save that for another post.

Originally posted at

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Grimnir has taken it upon himself to recognize a category of WAR blogging that he has dubbed the "Zombie Blogs of WAR". And guess who makes the list? Welcome to all who visit, feel free to look around. We've got a wonderful deal on older "feature request" posts right now. A couple of them even got implemented in WAR. And there are several "recurring features that never recurred" that I am authorized to offer huge factory discounts on. I still track comments, so feel free to drop a line.

On a WAR related note, I've got Maladorn up to RR 52 and I still love Grace spec, Notaf Emale (my White Lion) has just about hit 29, Fuegocon Carne (Bright Wizard, of course) weighs in at Rank 25, and finally Khazral (an Iron Breaker) rounds out the set at a mind-boggling Rank 7. Land of the Dead has turned out to be a tremendous boon for people trying to level on low-pop servers. Just get to 25, get into LotD, and go farm the snake temple PQ with some friends. Fastest way to level now, and if you do it with a guild group on vent, it's actually a lot of fun too. Word to the wise: bring a standard or 2. When your healer wipes, you want a way to get him back up without having to wait for him to run back.

So yeah, still playing WAR like a maniac and loving most of it. I'm considering returning to posting on a less regular schedule, but with 50% more insight and 3 times the wall of text crit chance. Drop a line in the comments if you'd be interested in reading more from me. Till next time, have fun, and enjoy the WAR.

Originally posted at

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maladorn Out.

Well, it's been a while, so might as well make it official. It's not you, it's me. I just need to spend my free time enjoying the awesomeness of T4 RvR action. I can't bear to take time away from that, not even to write about how much fun I'm having. I want to have more fun, not write about the fun I've had. I hope you understand. And no, I'm not quitting WAR. Our relationship is still strong (we'll get this Righteous Fury regeneration arguement sorted out). I'm just quitting you, the blog. You were fun while you lasted.

Originally posted at

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One more reason I like the fantasy genre...

Ever wish that some stuff from the fantasy books and video games really existed? Like guarding your loved ones from some attack. Or removing diseases and curses with a wave of the hand and a few magic words. Even just finding the right special plant and giving it to the right special person to make a miracle and save your family and friends from the pains in life. Too bad athelas isn't as useful against cancer as it is against the wounds of the nazgul. And the death penalty in real life is so harsh, we really don't like to accept that it's a possibility. Fortunately, even in fantasy there is some truth: the hands of the King really are hands of healing, whether we experience it physically or spiritually. And even though we can't get a rez right now, releasing brings us to a much brighter zone. 

My mother-in-law's cancer has gotten worse. We don't know how long she has for sure, but the doctor's aren't encouraging. I'm taking a break from gaming and blogging for a while as my family works through this. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated. I'll be back later, but right now this is more important.

Originally posted at

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Cleaning and Mastery Trees

Spring has sprung and boy did it leave a mess doing it. The pop cans and dust bunnies had already moved past the agrarian gathering societies and were on the verge of splitting the atom, so I had to step in and take decisive action to deter these rogue groups. At least, that's what I told myself when taking out the trash and vacuuming the floor instead of playing WAR.

For the little time that I have been able to play, I've been working on testing a new mastery spec in scenarios. I leveled up straight into Grace, but now that I've got city dungeons to do, I've been told that I need to be able to bring the heals. And while I still haven't been able to run as a pure healer in a city dungeon, I have noticed that the build gives me some nice flexibility in scenarios. The group heal and group HoT allow me to make someone outside of my group my defensive target. This means that I can get direct heals or close AoE heals on the tanks under oil, for example, without having to join the oil shower. It also means I can HoT up the Bright Wizard in another group and gain some wicked renown. Since I'm about 3 levels behind on my Renown Rank, I see this as A Good Thing TM

I'm expecting company this weekend, so I probably won't have another update until next week. So I'm offering all of my portion of fun to the highest bidder. Auction starts immediately in the comments. Opening bid is to accept a recruit-a-friend invite from me. I'm one away from getting that bonus item!

Originally posted at

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Maladorn's Progress: The Long March to 40

The time: 9 A.M.
The place: My sleepy brain.
The call: brrrrring brrrrrrringg

"Hmmm? Wha...? Oh right. An update on Maladorn... sure, I remember promising that. What? Last Friday? Well yeah, but today is only.... TUESDAY!! Holy moose lips, Batman, where did the time go? I gotta write a post!"

Yes, my friends, this is the long-awaited (sorry for the delay) update on my Warrior Priest avatar, Maladorn Fairnath. And as the title of this post probably gave away, I did make it to Rank 40 this last weekend. Last week I decided that in order to do Bastion Stair with my guild-mates and not waste everyone's time, I should rank up and hit 40. So to that end, I headed out to Praag and started questing like a madman. 

I worked my way right up through Chaos Wastes and even finished the epic weapon quest up there. Praag and CW where pretty interesting zones to work through. Praag has several quests that send the players over into West Praag, which offers a number of extra quest opportunities to help grind through the mid-30s. Chaos Wastes was my favorite T4 zone in this pairing. The combination of insane allies, enemies that aren't really enemies, and chaotic monsters was pretty cool. Also, the quests moved quickly, especially by Chapter 21 (the order hub just south of the war camp). My favorite NPC was the Stranger in Chapter 22. He's got the classic mysterious ally thing going, and his quests give the players a chance to embody the heroic attributes that seem so ingrained into the Empire. 

The Empire/Chaos pairing got me up to the high end of Rank 37, so I next went over to Dwarf/Greenskin. I started in Kadrin Valley this time, because I was curious about the whole Dwarf setup and didn't have the same background familiarity as I had with Empire. And it was probably a good thing too. Where Chaos Wastes were dark and brooding, the Dwarves felt almost goofy. I've never had to dig through so many digital piles of muck, sludge, and who knows what else. I can only say that I'm very glad we haven't gone so far as to put olfactory simulation cards into our computers yet. I'd have been smelling sulfur and squig dung all weekend. My favorite zone here was Black Crag, with the crazy RvR lake slipping in and around the PvE sections.

My only regret in Dwarf-lands was that the level 40 itch really started to eat at me bad, and I didn't take the same time that I had been to read through some of the quests and get a better idea of what was going on. But with a Saturday alone, I really wanted to try to make it to the end. Which I did, just in time to get an invite to an alliance party heading out to Bastion Stair. And since I only had the Annihilator gloves from the renown merchant, I went hoping for some good stuff.

We spent a little extra time running the PQs in order to get one guy up to having enough influence to run both left and right side bosses. It was amazing what a difference being just 4 ranks higher made in my ability to be useful. We took down the left side boss, the bull, in short order. He seemed to be a bit confused, because he didn't toss anyone until he was over 50% down, and then instead of tossing our only tank, he threw me toward the front door instead. Of course, my unlucky streak in the dungeon continued with no useable gear dropping from the boss. 

Next we headed over to right side. Lord Slaurith can be a beast, especially now that his terrify seems to make ressing impossible. The alliance folks hadn't done him very much, so we took a shot using a CoW strategy to try to keep the healers from getting demolished. First time, though, we didn't succeed. After a short break and a heal, we went back in to give it another try. This time we positioned our ranged healers a bit further away and gave the tank a little longer to get the bosses attention. Fortunately, our 3 healer, 2 dps, 1 tank setup worked out just long enough for us to take him down, and we only had 3 casualties! **whew** The victory was sweet, but the loot was not. Again, nothing useable for anyone in the party. That token system can't come fast enough.

So that was going to be my update that I planned on writing last night. But then, Order was doing some good things in RvR, like pushing the Dark Elf fortress, Fell Landing, so I put off writing and joined the fray. We quickly rolled through the fortress doors and waltzed up to the Lord. He went down as quickly as a keep lord in T2, making me wonder if perhaps Mythic should let a few more defenders in. However, a guildie quickly pointed out that while we were attacking the fortress in Dark Elf territory, the Empire fortress had been pushed. So it looks like Destruction sacrificed one fortress to try and take the other. But we held Riekwald too, and soon pushed into Praag. Attacking the north keep yielded me a +300 on contribution. Several tense seconds later, I was finally rewarded with my first gold bag from a keep since T3. Two hours later, (and waaaaaay past my bedtime) we flipped Praag and headed into Chaos Wastes. With a quick smash on the south keep, I was once again on the contribution leader board, this time with a +450! And against all odds, I rolled over 900 again and was rewarded with another new Annihilator piece. A guildie who was on at the time did a quick auction house hunt and found me the Annihilator boots, so I went from having 1 lesser ward to having 4 in one evening. What an exciting day! Whole new areas are now open to me, and while I'd prefer the Bloodlord set for stats and bonuses, I'll happily take my Annihilator and catch up to the guild in the city dungeons.

So there you have it! A wall of text critical update to feed all those who are curious. I shall now close with a passage from the Book of Sigmar*:
"For Sigmar hath heard our cries for fatter loots and better gears. And he hath granted unto us the strength of mighty champions, that we might go forth and suffer not the heretic to live."
* Book of Sigmar not guaranteed to exist outside of Maladorn's mind. Not valid with any other offers. Reading this could cause blindness, fatigue, muscle spasms, tainting with chaos, and minor abdominal pain. Sigmar accepts all major and minor credit cards. Maladorn accepts cash or PayPal. Book of Sigmar may be purchased for $4.95, with a small shipping and handling charge of $321,752.68. Not available outside the continental U.S. And yes, if you order one, I'll sit down and write it.

Originally posted at

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ack! It's Contagious!

After seeing all the interesting blog designs that got rolled out this week (thanks to Omelettez for that round-up of WAR blogging tomfoolery), I decided to fiddle around a bit and see if we could find a better background option than the boring wood grain pattern. Lo and behold, Mythic had an old wallpaper from way back in 2007 which fit the bill. Mmmm... concept art. So tasty. Anyone else think he looks slightly... undead? Vampire Warrior Priests, now there's a thought.

I also added a bit of code to open external links in a new widow, because I tend to like that feature. All you readers out there, let me know if you really like or really hate it.

In other news, I'm pushing hard to hit the level cap with Maladorn. I'll have a more extensive write-up later on. Right now, I've got XP to earn!

Originally posted at

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Warrior Priests Stopped From Ruling The World, Story at Ten

Hat tip to Rivs over at Way of the Chosen, because I had missed the updates to the 1.2.1 Patch Notes regarding the change to the Cleansing Power tactic. Now, instead of removing a curse on every healed ally, the tactic will instead allow Purify to remove a curse or hex from every member of the target's group. This removes the arguably overpowered use of AoE heals to remove a curse from everyone in a group every 2.5 seconds (1 second cast plus 1.5 second cool down on the AoE heal). Under the 1.2.1 rules, Warrior Priests will be able to remove a curse or hex from everyone in the group every 5 seconds. 

I've not run Cleansing Power under the current version, for reasons I outlined previously. However, this looks like a good fix. The ability is still good and can make a good argument for the Tactic slot it uses. The doubled cycle time should let those poor Choppa's get some utility out of their curses. And now Warrior Priests have a solid team hex removal as well. I think both sides can come away with good news, and I hope the change plays well on the live servers.

Originally posted at

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Well Here's a Pleasant Surprise

About 6 weeks ago I wrote a post with a small request. And today I find in the 1.2.1 Patch Notes the following gem:

Character Profiles

Introducing the new character profile system, which gives you complete control over the way you play your characters! Each character will now have its own Interface Profile. This will allow customization of addons and UI layout on a per-character basis. You can also customize multiple profiles per character. For instance, if you want to have a different set of addons for soloing versus open RvR, just open the Profile Management window, create a new profile, and make any changes you wish. You can then swap between those profiles at any time in the management window. 
Profiles can also be copied from character to character, even across servers. Just choose "Create from existing Profile" when making a new profile, and you will be shown a list of all the profiles for all characters you have on all servers. 
When you first log in, your first character will automatically map your existing user settings to the new profile. On first login of an alternate character, you will be asked if you would like to start with a default profile or use the profile of an existing character.

Please note that this is only the first iteration of the character profile system. We are working to add new features, including the ability to save keybindings as part of the profile.
I must say, I'm blown away. Flabbergasted. Utterly amazed. It's as though somebody over at Mythic took my post and said, "Here's the requirements for this feature." In short, this is totally awesome! I know, the character profile feature is a natural extension of the customizable UI and addon sets; it wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that Mythic had it on a feature list prior to my February post. But even if that's the case, it's pretty insane that I ended up on the exact same wavelength about what the initial version should look like.

Once again, props to Mythic. I feel like even my small voice can contribute a good idea.

Originally posted at

Friday, March 27, 2009

Class is now in session...

Time to take your seats and get out your books. This week I've felt like a student of the Breakfast at WAR Institute of Advance MMO Design and Pancake House. Professor Pancakez has been kicking out high-quality, detailed examinations, nay, dissertations on all things MMO and WAR design-related. We've got the topic of balance between mirrors, hybrid classes (interesting in an "I never thought of it like that" way), Sun Tzu's take on WAR RvR, and more to come. As you can see, I wasn't joking about it taking me a week, but it's been well worth it. So if you have the inclination, dive in to any of the above and check it out.

Originally posted at

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WPs are OP!!!!11!111eleven

Whew! It must be rant week. The part that jumped out at me was, of course, the complaints about Warrior Priests with Cleansing Power. I decided to bring my response over here, because I want to say some stuff about this complaint specifically and also about the general complaining attitudes that I've seen on multiple blogs and forum posts. One blog post didn't get me worked up by itself, so I don't think that author should have to deal with my counter-rant in their comments.

My WP doesn't run the Cleansing Power tactic, because until 1.2 it was too weak to justify not going further into the Grace tree for leveling. Pre-1.2, almost nothing of importance to me was a curse (e.g. Witch Elves used mostly hexes). Now I'm perfectly willing to agree that the first tactic in a mastery tree should not shut down an entire class as this seems to do to all Choppa's debuffs. I'd even be willing to contemplate that there are now too many abilities that are curses and some should be made into a different attack type.

But I'm personally sick and tired of the post-patch screaming bloody murder that happens every single time the game gets an update. Adding new classes is going to mess with balance. Especially when there are people out there who try to screw up the public testing (check the tell in chat) to prevent balancing from happening. Tweaking abilities is going to mess with balance. Reducing or modifying defenses is going to mess with balance. Nobody is out there saying that the game is now perfect. In fact, the next major patch is all about class balance. So calmly state your issue and then get back to having fun. 

There is no way under heaven for Mythic to be able to balance test everything so that all issues show up and are addressed before it goes live. It's just not possible till it shows up in live play, because people play differently when their real characters are involved. I think that everyone needs to make some decisions. Do you want to help move the game forward and help it get better? Then keep playing, have fun, and give constructive feedback. Mythic has shown themselves willing to listen. Do you want to play the game at the same level of polish that you are used to from WoW? Come back in a while. Mythic is working on it, but the simple fact of the matter is that no major online application that has this much user interaction is going to be perfect at 6 months, especially when new features are being added regularly. If you like the new freebies then you have to accept that some other things have to be set to the side while the new stuff is being developed.

To all those wonderful readers, bloggers, and players who aren't filling my rss reader with complaints and tantrums, thank you. Hopefully 1.3 will address the valid class balance problems and we can get back to enjoying the game as a positive community.

Originally posted at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chirp, Chirp (And Thoughts on WAR Post 1.2)

I've seen a couple of blogs mention that things are kinda quiet in the WAR blog community. Too quiet for their liking. And like so many MMO gamers with the need for affirmation in their hobby, they start to wonder if the game is failing due to disappointment with patch 1.2. Well, I've been quiet because I've been playing and having fun. Gobs of fun. Patch 1.2 has been a blessing on my server, since with zone domination we've been able to counter the massive zerg effect that a couple of destro guilds where pulling off. It's been great to actually see the campaign progress in our favor. 

To the naysayers, I've got something very simple to say. I'm loving the game. I was loving the game when Witch Elves where demolishing me. I'm loving the game when Destro CCs me back to the stone age. And yes, I'm loving the game now that my side does well. But you've got to take both the good and the bad. New patch means a lot of new content, with the potential for new bugs. I've seen more CTDs this last week than I did last month. But they'll fix it. If there is one thing that Mythic has shown it's that they will listen and fix things. 

To those who complain about bugs, welcome to software development. There is no bug free code, only code where the bugs haven't been found yet. Maybe it's just because I'm a programmer, but bugs are one of the last things that I worry about in a game of this size. Sure, the painfully obvious stuff should be fixed asap. But you won't see me /ragequit over a monster not pathing well or a BO failing to give a domination point. Hopefully those who are so upset with these bugs are sending in an error report when they run into a problem and not just whining about it on the blogs and forums.

On the topic of nerfs and such, I'm pretty unfazed with Mythic because I used to play a game that made pointless nerfs to make entire builds completely useless in PvE because it's too strong in PvP. So far, I've not seen that from Mythic. Stuff will always need balance tweaks. That's just part of playing an MMO. But Mythic has done a good job so far of addressing things. I'm not saying that they are perfect or that they don't make mistakes. But they do make steps consistently in the right direction. One of the most encouraging things to me is that it seems like both Order and Destruction complain about balance almost equally. Not a perfect measuring stick, but an indicator that Mythic is even-handed when making balance changes.

Moral of the story: it's a game. If the things that you don't like are bad enough for you to leave, then do so. I wish you well and hope that you find more enjoyment in whatever new game you decide to pursue. But I'd like to strongly encourage everyone to really give things a shot. This game has made tremendous strides in the six months since launch, all while releasing tons and tons of new content. Stuff happens, but I'll take the game where the developer is openly communicating and consistently pushing the envelope of what the game can do any day of the week. 

Originally posted at

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Devs Listened To Me!

Alright, so it probably wasn't just because of little ole me. But with the 1.2 patch Mythic has fixed that little issue with the rested XP display. I now see that I've got 100k rested xp on my Black Orc alt. Looks like I'm going to be busy catching up!

Everything about the new UI has been really nice. Maps seem accurate now, and I love the indicators in RvR as well as the active players number in PQs. I'm still getting used to the new party and warband finder, but I think it's going to be a good thing in the long run. I'm a little sad to lose zMailMod, but the changes to the mailbox were needed. I'll probably always come down on the side of making the game client more capable, even if it breaks some nice addons.

Other thoughts on all things 1.2: 
  1. Twisting Tower scenario is pretty interesting and fun. Hopefully tonight it won't be quite so choppy.
  2. I've already gotten the first reward for Bitter Rivals influence, with only two tasks finished. Looks like Mythic is making sure everyone will get a shot at the elite reward, which is good. These live events to release new classes have been very successful in part because they took what could have been a negative (classes released late) and made it a positive (fun event with sweet rewards). 
  3. Hooray for the crafting changes. It was so nice to not have to reselect all the items to create a new talisman the same as the last.
  4. The new mounts were tempting, but I'm holding off for the guild mounts. Just 2 more ranks, CoWs! Let's go!
  5. I seemed to last longer in open RvR. Not sure if it was because the group finally gave me a Guard or if it's a result of the changes to armor reductions. But either way, I'm one very happy front-line healer. Pancakez has a great write-up on the armor reduction changes, for those who are curious.
So, how's your experience been so far? What's your favorite change?

[UPDATE] Hey WAAAGH readers! Make yourselves at home, but feet off the couch, please! Many thanks to Syp for the recognition

Originally posted at

Who, What, When, Where?

So I'm scrolling through the guild forums, looking for any posts about planned dungeon or oRvR events when I had a thought. I know, rare occurrence and all that, but here it is:
Why can't we have an RSS feed of guild calendar events?
It's a pain to look at 2 or 3 different places (in-game calendar, guild forums, alliance forums, etc...) to stay current on the planned events. I'd love to see an RSS feed, web page, or other information radiator (little agile lingo for you programmers out there) to tie things together and keep people informed. And while we're dreaming, maybe Mythic could even provide the guilds with a permission set to allow folks to update the calendar through a web interface. Something on the user control panel of the forums, even?

I realize this idea isn't anything mission critical, but it's exactly the kind of thing that Mythic could implement in the coming months and reap a lot of benefit from. A couple man-days of effort to design and implement the code changes for the server, then hand it off to the web-devs to put together the feed/page. In fact, once the data is accessible to the web developers, there are any number of cool, social network-y things that can be done, like sending out event invitations, updating forum status during guild events, and the like. 

Originally posted at

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dungeon Jerk: Drama in Bastion Stair

Recently my guild ran into one of those drama moments that come along in these kinds of multiplayer games. Fortunately for us, the jerk in question (who will remain nameless to protect the guilty) was a member of another guild who happened to be along for the ride clearing the middle path PQs in Bastion Stair. One of our guild's members has his eye on a PQ drop in that area, so a group was rounded up to work on farming the area.

Now, I should probably explain a couple things. My guild, the Casualties of WAR bills itself as a casual guild. We are a very active casual guild, but we have decided that that the daily events of life, such as kids, jobs, and spouses are more important than dungeon raids and keep assaults. It's a great atmosphere, as I can personally attest; it allows the members to come join the fun when they can, for as long as they can without getting any grief for having to leave "early".

Unfortunately, our nameless Jerk didn't understand who he was dealing with. When the guild member had to go AFK and then drop out of the party halfway through the PQ, it was the last straw. For the leaving member had just committed what must be the ultimate sin in MMO-land; he wasted the Jerk's time. And thus was the guild treated to a 5 minute rant from the Jerk, complete with swearing and name-calling. I say the guild was treated because this Jerk decided to give us both barrels in our own Ventrillo server. And he continued to do so, even after another CoW guilds man explained that the member who left was called away to go take care of his young children.

All this made me pretty upset, and has earned the Jerk the lasting scorn of our entire guild. Am I mad that he got mad? No, I can understand not wanting to waste time or have a dungeon group fall apart. What I find inexcusable was the way that this character expressed his frustration. He insulted one of our members, for circumstances beyond that person's control, in the guild's chat server. It showed an utter lack of class and maturity. 

So what can we learn from this situation? I've got a few ideas in mind:
  1. Know who you are playing with. Is this a PUG or a guild group, and what are their expectations? Is the group hardcore about not leaving, or do they have a more relaxed attitude? Knowing this up front will help you be prepared if someone has to leave. Or, it will allow you to bow out early and gracefully if you are looking for a different group dynamic.
  2. Life happens. Live with it. Despite our best intentions, sometimes things happen to pull us away at the worst possible moment. Yes it stinks to lose the healer halfway through the dungeon, but there is a very high probability that someday, you're going to be on the other side asking for a little grace when you have to leave.
  3. Show some respect to the owners of the house. If you are invited over to use another group's resources (vent server, website, forums, etc...), don't curse or insult that group's members or leadership. It's bad form, shows a lack of maturity, and is a great way to never get invited back. Which means that you've just written off an entire guild's worth of people who might have otherwise invited you to come on dungeon runs or RvR sieges. And if you've made enemies of a guild, chances are good that you made enemies with the whole alliance, too. So keep it clean and courteous while you're visiting; you can always go back to your own guild to vent when stuff frustrates you.

So how about you? Got anything to add to my list? Have you run into this a lot in WAR? Leave a comment!

Originally posted at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Public Relations: The Bane of Warlordry

Public Relations issues are my least favorite part of being the Overlord. But hating them doesn't make them go away, and they can make or break your career. So, I've got a few general tips, and then an overview of just some of the people you'll see out there.

The First Good Idea (tm) of Public Relations as the Overlord is to never act in a way that can be used against you. Before telling someone off, consider the wisdom of it, and choose your words carefully. If one of my troops is constantly in the wrong place and doing the wrong thing, I can tell him "Hey Name! You need to fall in line and listen to instruction! I will remove you from the Warband if necesary!" What I shouldn't say is "Hey Name! Stop being stupid and do what what you're told!" Just telling a soldier he's an idiot makes me look like a jerk, burns my bridges (he'll never listen to me again), and doesn't create a consequence for further disobedience. However, the first statement shows that I care about the performance of the team, and that he needs to shape up to be on it—it's not a personal attack.

The First Good Idea (tm) ties in well with the Second Good Idea (tm), which is to instruct, not criticize. Back in the WoW days, I started off working with a guildmate. She was old enough to be my grandma, and she would willingly admit that her eyes would glaze over after a sentence or two of technical talk. I could have criticized her for being a slow learner (honestly though, I just thought it was cool that she was even playing the game. How many of YOUR grandparents play MMO's?). But I didn't. Instead, I just patiently instructed. In the end, it paid off—big time. Not only was I able to continue a friendship with her, she was also the most reliable and effective Subcommander I ever had the pleasure of working with. So, yes, being a Warlord with good PR can require epic patience. But by seeing yourself as an Instructor instead of a Punisher, you'll retain many more soldiers to fight by your side.

The Third Good Idea (tm) is to never forget the Silent Majority. The Silent Majority of players are looking for some good, clean fun, where they can be treated with respect and enjoy some wholesome enemy-bashing entertainment. They won't say much, and they won't be very obvious. But the critical thing to remember is that they form the core and the backbone of your army. One of my rules back when I ran AV raids was that swearing was to be kept to a minimum, and we are to treat everyone else we were with with respect. I cannot tell you how many times I had someone I didn't even recognize whisper me to tell me that my raids were the only raids they would join. It just happened that often. So remember: when you decide to be a foulmouthed twerp, you will suddenly find yourself without half your warband, and you will have to move heaven and earth to gain them back.

People You'll See
Into every Warlord's career, some pain must fall. Lots of times, this comes in the form of the people you have to deal with. That's right kids! Not only do you have to strategize, organize, and do other things that end in ize, you have to deal with people on your own team intentionally or unintentionally bringing you down! Comes in many different flavors! And if you know of one I've forgotten, feel free to share in the comments!

The Repressed Teenager
His parents don't allow him to talk about "adult subjects" or swear in real life, so he's decided to get all of it out in YOUR Warband.

Danger: Turns an otherwise productive warband into a gibbering pile of foul language and "that's what she said" comments. Let it continue, and you're in grave danger of losing the backing of your Silent Majority.

How not to Handle it: Treat him like the child he is, and he'll shrug you off just like his parents.

Best Choices for Handling it: A friendly comment like, "Hey, let's keep it civil in here, guys!" can do a world of good. If that doesn't work, a whisper can also be effective: "I would personally appreciate it if you could hold off on the curses when it's not really necessary." The point is to appeal to his ego: by putting the ball in his court, you've treated him as an adult, and he'll often respect you for it.

Grumbles and Mutters (personal experience =P): I've known quite a few of these. They don't HAVE to be teenagers, but most are. And they don't HAVE to be repressed—it could just be that they act this way all the time. However, I've been able to convince a good number of them to hold off on the strong language and dirty jokes simply by asking nicely. Since they respected me as a good Commander, it worked. A lot of times, they aren't bad people, but just have the wrong idea for when you should tell which jokes and say what things.

The "Special Requirement"
Despite how many times you say to "/join Zaukther", this person just keeps saying "invite me! invite me!!1!" On the off chance he actually manages to get in my group, he'll want special attention and personal instruction.

Danger: We love as many people as we can get to fight at our side, right? Right! But although the Special Requirement by himself isn't bad, what happens when you have two? What about three? What about seven, or eight? The danger here is that you lose all your time catering to special needs, and have no time left to properly strategize or consult with scouts, other warlords, and advisors.

How Not to Handle it: Don't coddle the Special Requirement. I know we hate saying no, but if every general consulted with every private before every advance, the army would never move.

Best Choices for Handling it: Depending on the aptitude of the person, you may be able to salvage this to your benefit. If the person is intelligent, but just likes the attention of the Overlord, see if you can convince them to scout for you, or lead one of the other roles. Often times the Special Requirement is someone with actual leadership potential. Who knew? Other times, the Special Requirement is just someone who simply doesn't get it. Either they don't understand how to listen to your orders through warband or region chat, or they don't understand that you cannot personally respond to every person. You're a great guy, but you only have two hands and one mind, and those are busy strategizing, organizing, and collaborating! In this case, offer them the option to leave with no hard feelings—we like them, but we have an army to run.

Grumbles and Mutters: My most recent personal experience with this was not only someone who didn't understand that I'm already stretched thin as it is, but someone with a chip on their shoulder to boot! Ack! This person felt slighted because I would not repeat my orders in another chat channel. Worst of all, it was an alt of one of our 40 guildmates (I was leading a tier 3 Army at the time). Not only was I unable to convince the poor guy that I really do like him, and it's not personal that I can't repeat everything, I got frustrated with the situation and snapped at my Warbands. Fortunately, they gave me the feedback I needed—"We didn't deserve that!" Oh...right. They didn't deserve to have me snap at them. I ended up apologizing to my Warbands for what I said, and apologizing personally to the other Warlord I had been overbearing with. It was a tiring night, but a couple good lessons there: 1) Don't let frustration get to you, because it will hurt your ability and reputation as a warlord. 2) When you mess up, apologize. When you get egg on your face, pretending it isn't there and moving on doesn't make your face any cleaner. Better to be seen as imperfect than unreasonable.

The Talented Up and Coming Warlord
Now hold up a minute! This is MY tur—NO.

This person is NOT a problem. As much as we like to be Overlords, it is not "our turf." We are here to WIN, not to have power. If another Warlord is leading the battle and doing well when you arrive, you are not there to dethrone him and take his place. Sometimes, we like to think of the position of power as ours by right, but WAR is a meritocracy—if someone else can do the job just as well as you or I can, it's time we had a little humility and acted the lesser parts. You still want your side to win, right? Then play the Underlord, or the Scout. Try something new for a change, and play to win.

Now, when the person already in command has little tactical sense, THEN is the time to make the case to go somewhere else. A classic blunder is to continue assaulting a heavily defended keep when there are five others you could take. I know—sometimes, you NEED that keep, and it's the only keep you have to choose from. But otherwise, situations like this are a good cause to usurp. But seriously, unless you have a better plan than the guy already in charge (even if he "took your place" while you were out at dinner), there's no need to undermine his authority.

The Newbie
Often found in droves in Pick-up warbands, the Newbie isn't a bad player or a dumb person. They're just new to this tier or just getting into ORVR, and need a little extra help.

Danger: You give an order, and mass chaos erupts. What's BFP? What on earth is a t4 elf N BO? These are the folks that aren't clear on the lingo.

How Not to Handle it: Don't assume that just because someone is in an ORVR Warband they know what they're doing. Don't give orders with acronyms, shortened versions, or code.

Best Choices for Handling it: If you're going to, say, Gnol Baraz in Black Fire Pass in Tier 3 Dwarf, say THAT instead of saying "We're going to GB!" Some people will think you're going to Green Bay. Only YOU can prevent Newbies from becoming the Special Requirement—spay and neu...wait, wrong line. Ah, right! Give clear, full, and oft-repeated directions in the proper chat channel!

Grumbles and Mutters: Not too much Grumbling and Muttering here. Something I learned early on as a Warlord, and it's something I've held on to. It's a critical aspect of Warlordry, you know.

Remember, if you've seen, heard about, or (heaven forbid, BEEN) one of these or others, feel free to tell us about it in the comments!

Ironbreaker Insight: When in doubt with a public relations fiasco, nicely AX the person to leave.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some Population Balance Lovin' for Monolith

Badlands server has had the great good fortune of being on the receiving end of the open character transfers. It's why I'm a CoW! Well now we have some good news for the Destruction CoWs languishing on Monolith server: Your turn has come!

From what I've seen, these optional character transfers have been a lifesaver for some players, allowing them to experience the game on the broad scale that it was intended. I'm very pleased that Mythic is continuing to evaluate the server populations and taking action as needed.

Originally posted at

I Think I've Got This Mixed Up

As anyone who has read this blog can attest, Zaukther and I are a couple of RvR kind of guys. It's got nothing to do with WAR's PvE content; I've enjoyed working through the quests and PQs for the first tier on my Warrior Priest and White Lion. But on most of my alts, especially my Shadow Warrior and Blackguard, my preferred way to play has been RvR. Ironically, these are the characters that I play when no one else is on or I feel like just running around by myself. RvR gives a nice way to enjoy the game that is structured, yet varied. Familiar, while still dynamic and surprising at times.

So this week I convinced my beautiful wife to roll up a character on a trial key and try out the game with me. And thus was Tanroann the Sorceress unleashed on the shores of the Blighted Isle. Since my Blackguard is already in T2, I decided to roll up a new character as well. And given that I already have a Warrior Priest, I decided against the Disciple of Khaine and instead went with a Black Orc I have named Facepalmer. (It's not stealing if it's a tribute, right?) Tanroann isn't big on the idea of PvP just yet, which isn't suprising considering she's coming from Guild Wars, so for right now we are focusing on PvE only. Working through the Dark Elf Tier 1, I've found that the PvE is even more fun when played with someone else. I'm enjoying myself immensely, reading the quest text, taking advantage of the easy PQs (God bless you, Mythic), and getting chewed out by haughty Druchii in every shade of purple. After two years of being the heros that save the world (over and over again), it's nice to take a break and just let the evil side out.

Still, I was struck today by the odd juxtaposition of my playing habits. I've got my main in Tier 4, which I play when the guild is out together in a warband. I've got my PvP alts, which I run solo or PUG RvR 90% of the time. And now I've got a PvE alt, which I only play with my wife. I'd be surprised if Mythic considered my use case when they designed the game, but it's a credit to them that I can play in so many varied ways and have fun doing all of them. Just one more reason that I love the WAR.

Originally posted at

Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Layout Just Isn't Enough

Regis has another post up about his new UI layout. While his previous setup was designed for the healer role, the new one is focused on Choppa he's got planned. This got me thinking. Why do I have to have the same layout for all of my characters? Like Regis, I've found that the different roles have different information requirements. I couldn't even attempt being a competent healer without Squared, and unless I'm playing my White Lion or Shadow Warrior a DPS meter is just depressing. So I've come up with an idea:

I'd like to be able to save a UI profile. I'd like to be able to create several of these profiles to meet the needs of my different characters. The profile should store both the standard UI as well as the location and configuration of addons. I want to be able to apply any profile I make to any of my characters (even if it's restricted to one server). And I want each character's UI profile to be stored with them on the server, instead of having to re-create everything when I borrow a friend's machine at a LAN party. Sure, addon specific stuff wouldn't work, but at least I wouldn't have to reset the action bar to use 4 bars every time. Bonus points for allowing me to save a copy of the configuration locally and apply it to a character on a different server.

This request is for the altaholic, addon addicted players like me out there. It would save us some time and headaches. Granted, this idea should probably wait till after Mythic feels comfortable with RvR and Fortress/City Sieges. But I figured I might as well get it out there and try to get it stuck in a developer's head.

Originally posted at

WAR Is Murder.

Well, as I said earlier, I've been spending the last several days enjoying the Night of Murder live event. Since tonight is the Night of the Eternal Hard Drive Format, I guess this is a good time to relay my thoughts on the Night of Murder. As a big time pvp player, this one was just chock-full of tasks that rewarded me for doing what I love. Which is also something that I love. 

It also came just as my main pushed up into the firm footing of Rank 32 and all the Tier 4 glory that entails. Now, I must admit I was a little hesitant to finally reach the big leagues, so to speak. But that hesitation disappeared the first night out. Turns out, last Friday was Alliance RvR Night for the Echelon Alliance on Badlands server. I thought well led PUGs in the lower Tiers were fun, but those were nothing compared to the Awesome that is a full warband of allies, all communicating and working together. With that taste fresh in my mouth, I've been spending almost all my free time running around with a Guild or Alliance group.

And my, how the tasks have just flown by! As of yesterday evening, I am officially a Master Assassin! In all the time that I spent doing Night of Murder stuff, the only thing that I felt would have made it better was an increased respawn rate on the marked mobs in Altdorf. I dropped down to T1 to do the Burning Windmill PQ a couple times to finish off my last four. Other than that, I thought everything went really well. The influence requirements seemed just right, requiring more than one day but not the full week to complete. When I first saw the assassination tasks, especially relating to guild officers and leaders, I got a bit concerned about how to complete them. But T4 is apparently littered with high-ranking guildsmen and I finished those tasks in short order. 

Long story short, this was a great RvR live event. I'm not sure how they are going to keep this up at the rate they have been, but I sure hope they have similar success with Bitter Rivals next month!

Originally posted at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'll Tell You What If!

Syp has an interesting list of "What If?" scenarios for Warhammer Online. Below I've taken my stab at responding to a few of them.

A steep death penalty would kill open RvR. We'd be reduced to Witch Xs trying to gank the poor noob who stumbled out into the lake to do one of the quests from the warcamp. Sure, a few hard-core guilds would probably put together some RvR groups, but the main focus of the game would turn to PvE.

The resetting world idea is interesting, but would kill replay value. There are only so many times we are going to want to have to go fight through T1 before we get sick of it. 

The WoW battlegrounds people would soil themselves as they ran crying from the field of battle.

I like the idea of losing a RR on death in PvP, but the rate of Renown gain would have to be fast enough to keep up. I'd probably only have this effect the RvR lakes, not scenarios. And I'd remove the cap on renown to allow people to store up a buffer of sorts.

Monthly contests to design quests would absolutely ROCK! One winner for each tier in each pairing would give a nice batch of new content on a regular basis. And the winning quests should be interesting, rewarding, and fun.

Flying mounts would be interesting, but I worry about the effect on RvR. With the new flight masters in zones that didn't previously have them, there is a very real possibility that a warband could mount on flying critters and stealth take a keep without having to attack a single door. Like I said, interesting, but probably more of a headache than it is worth. Simple adding faster mounts or mounted combat would have all the coolness without the headaches.

A single rotating scenario is a neat idea. I think it would have the side effect of making the current scenario's pairing the most likely one to be pushed on a given day. Unless scenarios are taken out of zone flipping calculations, I don't think that this idea would work very well.

Players repairing stuff in pillaged cities/warcamps would be very cool. I'd love to see something like that, with supporting skills and professions to help make it go faster. I can see a masonry guild forming to replace walls and such. A great world immersion idea.

And them's my views. What's yours?

Originally posted at

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sneak Peak at Patch 1.2

Mark has a preview of the 1.2 patch up on the Herald for all to see. I'm far too late to the party to say much original, but here goes:

Class balancing will be great, especially looking at the classes they are talking about changing.

Bug fixes are another welcome change. I like to hear numbers like 500 resolved bugs/issues. From a PR standpoint, I'd lean toward making smaller sets of regular bug fixes to reinforce the idea that Mythic is seriously hammering away on the issues that players have highlighted. But a "Patch Tuesday" could lead to some folks making the wrong conclusion.

The crafting system is in need of an overhaul. Just pulling the functionality of a couple of popular crafting addons would help tremendously. Since I'm not into apothecary, I don't have a lot of stake in this round of fixes. But it should be a good indicator of what Mythic thinks needs fixing in the crafting system. As a major individualist, I'd really like to see less dependence on multiple gathering skills for the crafting professions, but I realize that's probably not going to happen. So instead, I'd like to lobby for the ability to queue up a set of items to manufacture. If I've got enough stuff to make ten talismans, let me hit the button and make all ten, one after the other. Cultivating should also be able to add all of the ingredients that they want to use up front, instead of having to wait for a seed to be planted.

Multiple attachments in the mail is one of the no-brainer features that really should have been included in the mail system design from an early stage. zMailMod has made my life so much easier moving items between alts. With this fix, I'll be able to get rid of another addon.

New live event for the new careers. Lots has been said. Short response: Sweet!

Finally, I'm going to note that high-level dungeon and RvR item drops are getting another look. As a Grace Warrior Priest main, I found this bit by Regis very informative. I don't know what they are going to do with these items, but hopefully someone is seriously thinking about how they work now vs how they ought to work. I realize that there are some issues with scale and scope, but it seems suprising to me that Guild Wars could offer a token-esque system for armor customization, along with full tokens used to purchase a weapon after defeating the end-game boss in each campaign. I know it'll take a little work, but I think that armor set tokens or customization options would give the game a tremendous boost.

That's all I've got for now. Night of Murder has been eating my time in WAR, leaving little for blogging about WAR. Which is fine by me right now. I'm going to get the Master Assassin title, then I'll have a write-up including my thoughts and reactions.

[UPDATE] Another update to the patch notes has been added to the Herald, with lots of specifics. Waaaaay too much to even try to work through. Most interesting to me was that they are in fact making it so that crafting will not depend as much on multiple gathering skills, just like I thought would never happen. Guess when it comes to what Mythic will do next, I just haven't got a clue!

Originally posted at

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Leaders: Grown Fresh in Your Own Backyard

For those who have noticed War 'n Pieces and linked over to us, a big thanks! I'm flattered by the descriptions of me that I've seen, and it's always a privilege to be known in the community.

One thing I'd like to point out in particular is that some have called me a "born leader." But actually, I can't take credit for that. There are two people in particular that I owe my grasp of strategy and my leadership capabilities to.

It was in Urielfixor's School of Hard Knocks that I learned much of the strategy I use today. Back in that day, I was playing Defense of the Ancients, based in the real time strategy game of Warcraft III. We would play one on one games, hour after hour, with him slaughtering me game after game. Every time he appeared weak, he was feinting me, luring me to a bad position where he could lay down the pain on me. And any time he appeared strong, he was bluffing. At first, his play style looks lethargic, until (after much defeat at his able hands) you realize the underlying principle: only engage the enemy when you have the advantage, strike swiftly, and retreat before you are in dire straits. By simply not being around for me to fight, he could lure me into a trap, time after time.

This strategy is one I hold to today. A few nights ago, my warbands arrived just seconds after the enemy killed our keep lord. It was an epic battle, but after their keep lord spawned in about fifty seconds after we arrived, Maladorn confirmed my suspicion: our forces could tarry on, but we wouldn't be winning this battle. At that point, I literally gave the order to my warbands: die. One death is humiliating, but being farmed is excruciating. Then, instead of regrouping and attacking the enemy at their strong point, I dispatched scouts to our other keeps, and formed up my forces in the warcamp. Then, when the scouts gave the heads up on which keep they were attacking, we went to that keep, in order to bring the fight to a place where the advantage was ours.

A year later in my gaming career, I apprenticed under Danagar, a true Master. He led the forty man Alterac Valley raids in World of Warcraft. His manner was laid back, his directions were clear, his instruction was constructive, and his raids were just plain fun. I started serving in his raid as a plain grunt, just following instructions and doing as I was told. As I became more familiar with his strategy, and the layout of the battleground, I began to be able to answer some of the many questions that were thrown at him constantly: "Where is this?", "What do I do here?", "Why are we doing this and that?". I enjoyed helping, but didn't see anything more of it. However, he saw something in me that I didn't see myself. He started giving me the responsibility of leading his Backcap group, a critical group of about ten people, which defends against the entire enemy force. Since I was a rogue, and had the ability to stealth, it was a natural fit.

But more than that, I enjoyed the leadership. I could tell my backcap group to go here, do this, distract him, cap that, and so on. And since I did it with the power of Danagar's leadership behind me, people followed my instructions. It was exhilarating. I began to formulate strategies of my own, and lead as one with authority. Sadly, Danagar eventually stopped doing the raids. He had collected everything he could from them, so there was no reason to continue. So it was then that I began to lead the whole thing on my own.

My first raid, I had to get him to help me recruit all the people I needed, since I was still so unknown in the game world. But, after that first raid, people began to flock under my banner, and whisper me incessantly: "When's the next AV?". It was extremely stressful to me, but it was tons of fun, crushing the horde, including their premades. But the interest was short to last. The battle, while fun, was always the same. The victory, while enjoyable, was never satisfying. No matter how many times you kill Drek'thar, he always returns.

Not only is this the story of my gaming history, it is also the reason I am so much at home in Warhammer Online. The battles are different every time, and there are no constants. The game is still a game, but the strategy is real. The victory is satisfying, because once you kill the enemy keep lord, for as long as you then hold the keep, it shall always be yours. Now THAT'S fun.

And remember, you don't have to be a born leader to be a magnificent general. All you need are three things: the humility to learn under the Masters in the field, the will to succeed, and the guts to put yourself out there to be judged by everyone. It's a tough job.

But it's a ton of fun.

Ironbreaker Insight: Roast witch elf tastes like chicken. But more satisfying.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some Economy, Eh?

With a bit more info rolling in, Syp's ticked about the announced firings at Mythic's WAR dev team. He makes a good point, especially about how the increased contact with the devs has fostered a feeling of attachment and friendship between the gamers and those developers. In no particular order, here are my random thoughts about it:

- It's a business. EA and Mythic have to turn a profit in order to continue to provide the content and game play that we've come to expect in WAR. Given the choice between cutting some people and shutting down the game, I'll take the former every time.

- That said, I'm not convinced that WAR or Mythic are facing that kind of choice. With just six months since the launch of the game, EA and Mythic should be focusing on expanding, improving, and developing this title. Granted, it's very likely that the gaming economy is shrinking just like so much of the rest of the economy these days, but it seems to me that a major new title like this is going to require a high level of support regardless of economic factors.

- The timing kinda stinks. "Thanks for your effort! Let's celebrate the six month mark with a round of layoffs!" My educated guess is that the development of this kind of title is a big investment of time and energy by the developers, including long meetings, long nights, and long weekends to insure that the launch and ensuing months go well. To go from full speed developer to fired is a harsh drop. I don't know how many other projects Mythic has going on, but if I was that manager I'd be looking for every way possible to keep those developers on board somewhere somehow. 

- Besides the bad timing for the people fired, this isn't good timing for Mythic either. 300k continuing subscriptions isn't bad, but it's not a slam-dunk either. Pair that with notice that you're firing developers, QA, and customer service sends the wrong message that you don't expect to grow much more. And that kind of pessimistic message has a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

- As long as Mythic hits the release schedule they laid out last week, this will probably be forgotten in six months. But that doesn't make it any easier for the folks who have to update the resumes and look for work in a down market. 

Originally posted at