Monday, April 27, 2009

New look of the alliance?

(stylin' and profilin')

I'm one of those WAR players that are disgruntled with the current state of the end-game. With that being said, I find it crucial to explain the breath of fresh air that occurred last night.

My DoK — even with his tricked-out +heal crit gear — has begun to tire me due to Mythic's hardware issues. As a result, I have decided to revisit my original class of choice, the magus.

Alestier Grimm is only lvl. 27 and while I have enjoyed him through most of his career, I have always steered my attention towards my DoK. Of course, while some of my good friends in the (new) Eternal Alliance are taking a break from the game, I thought I would see how the battlefield felt to disk surf.

Last night, the Eternal Alliance decided to storm Mount Gunbad. I'm not for sure what it was, but I had a blast. For the first time, many of the older alliance members got to group with a lot of the newer members. We ran a 15-16-man warband through the right wing. 

Considering the outcome, I'm pleasantly surprised to have been happy with the outing. We never fought the wing boss, instead opting to wipe on the final stage of the last PQ, where the group has to fight a wraith. He hits hard. Really hard.

Once the group disbanded, six of us decided that we would go through it again, but some connection issues arose and we were unable to finish our journey.

Despite the wipes and the system troubles, people in the alliance seemed generally happy with the chance to get in some alliance time. It was fun and I was able to loot my Redeye helm.

Finally, my magus is beginning to look like a battle mage.

The alliance is looking to get revenge on Gunbad next Sunday. I look forward to the next time that my new brothers in arms can take to the field of battle.

Staving off burnout

I've been burned out on WAR for a couple of weeks now. I just haven't been able to get excited about a city siege mechanic that is lackluster, in my opinion.

It really makes it hard to continue playing the game when the friends that you've made begin leaving the game. However, here I am this morning excited to get back home to log on to my magus.

For me, an alt was just what I needed. These are a few ways to stave off burnout in an mmo:

1. Make an alt — making an alt can be a great way to escape the grind of your main character. I recommend choosing a path that is not the one that your main is traveling. For instance, while I am curious of playing a zealot, I have been doing non-stop healing with my DoK for 40 levels. As a nice change of pace, I rolled a dps class with my magus. This change of playstyle lends a nice feeling to not only leveling, but in the way that I interact with groups.

2. Quest — actually reading some of the quest text can help keep players distracted from the little nuisances that make them upset with the game. Personally, I really enjoy the struggle between House Ulthorin and House Arkaneth in the dark elf/high elf pairing. The lore in WAR is very rich and well written and would be a shame if it was all just skipped over. Actually understanding what is at stake when you see Lady Arkaneth and her guards approaching you is much more exciting than just knowing that you have another mob to kill.

3. Crafting — crafting is something that I have yet to partake in WAR. Crafting helped to entertain me in EQ2 when I got bored, so it will definitely be something that I will look into in WAR.

4. Be social — find a guild if you are getting bored. Playing and joking around with a few like-minded mates can do wonders in staving off boredom. There have been many times where I have kept Vent running so that I could communicate with members of my alliance while I played games like Age of Conan or Left 4 Dead. It wasn't long after hearing the good times they were having adventuring together, before I would log back in and join them. If you want to play alone, go play Fallout 3.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dark times are approaching

The Eternal (Twilight) Alliance is going down an uncertain path.

It seems that seven months of zerg surfing has gotten old. Who'd a thought? RvR is great in small groups. Anything larger than 12v12 turns out to be a boring game of push and shove.

Small group skirmishes is where the excitement happens. Basically, it comes down to resolution. In 12v12 or 6v6, there is a winner and a loser, unlike zergs, which just seem to ebb and flow until one side get tired.

WAR needs to disable the warband function as a means to discourage zerging. It would still occur, no doubt about it, but now players couldn't babysit the rest of the warband because other group's health bars wouldn't be visible.

I believe that disabling the warband function would definitely decrease the number of zergs running around in RvR lakes. There is a good reason why DAoC didn't have a warband option. Mythic should learn from their previous endeavors. Large scale battles can still be accomplished without the option to form warbands.

Back to my original thought, members of my alliance are looking at other games as a result of the constant zerging.

It isn't just the zerg that sucks about WAR, it's the whole concept.

When WAR was in development, I thought it was going to be more open. For instance, I thought Destruction would be able to ride over into an Order warcamp or outpost and take it over. If Order wanted it back then they would have to come and take it.

Instead, we have to fight over battle objectives and keeps, which don't really have an impact on the world.

Capture the other side's warcamp and you cripple their ability to properly defend their lands. This is war, not WAR.

Not to mention, but the city sieges are also a let down. Locking down two of the three fortresses should allow the attackers a chance to siege the enemy city, but this should happen in the "real" world, not instances that act more like player playpens than anything else.

As it stands now, city sieges are a joke. It isn't just server stability, it's the entire concept. 

Sitting outside the gates of a city under siege in a queue is anti-climatic. I should be able to ride up and see the fighting going on. I should be able to ride up and rip through the front gates, joining the fray. This instance stuff is good for dungeon boss fights and that is it.

All of this is why my alliance is wavering in their loyalty to WAR. So, what do we do now?

Some are proposing going back to DAoC. Some are toying with AoC, and some are even tossing around the idea of going back to WoW.

As of right now, if I had to choose, I would say I'm going to WoW. The game won't provide me with the RvR that I am looking for, but at least there are plenty of epic PvE encounters and the option to run premades in battlegrounds, Lake Wintergrasp and world pvp.

I believe when it comes down to it, that WAR's current design is not due to the limitations of the development team, but the limitations of the company's hardware. 

A sad state of affairs, this is.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If you're not indie...

It's not WAR-related or mmo-related, so f**k you if you have a problem!

Thanks Mega 64!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Wherever I may roam

For the first time since WAR launched last September, I am beginning to waiver in my allegiance.

The flaws of Mythic's poor server stability, as well as a city siege mechanic that is more instanced than virtual world, leaves me wondering if WAR should be my nightly dose of mmo tea.

As a result, I have downloaded the trial for Age of Conan. I haven't played the game since launch and am interested to see what changes have been made. I must say that after playing WAR for seven months, the combat is a refreshing change of pace.

Will Beyond the Sands pull me back? Well, if anything, it will distract me from city sieges, which in my book is a plus. With that being said, the live event is already a success.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

WAR's swan song

(Ever wonder what a city siege looked like. Here it is, enjoy.)

Honestly, after last night I don't know where to begin. Even after a long night's sleep, I am still riddled with complaints and frustration towards Mythic and "their" game. I say "their" game because many people feel that it is "our" game. Well, that's just not the case at all.

Last night on Phoenix Throne was one of the most abysmal gaming experiences that I have ever encountered.

It was encouraging to see so many destro pushing for the city — not at midnight — but at 6 p.m. est. Of course, WAR's true inability to handle anything more than a tier 1 PQ on farm status, reared its inevitable hand.

Players in Eataine started dropping like flies. If only it was due to skilled Order players and not the omniscient server, casting its judgment on us poor souls. Needless to say, many players spent last night in character screen Purgatory. And that was exactly what it was, Purgatory.

Eventually I was able to log back in and push towards Shining Way. Maybe my alts paid enough gold in tithes to grant my main a chance at redemption. We took the fort and then it was off to Altdorf (Lagdorf).

There's nothing quite like having an army of bloodthirsty destruction warriors salivating at the chance to burn a city, only to have all of them looking like dumb asses outside of the city gates because the server won't let them in.

Some of us were lucky enough to get in and at least do a bit of pillaging. My 5-man got in and started burning and killing townspeople. Note: townspeople were not other players. WAR's fantastic end game doesn't necessarily include PvP at the end.

Of course, the inevitable happened and the server crashed while we were running around in the city. It was brought back up two hours later.

So, there we were again, looking like d-bags standing outside the main gate again, but things were different this time. No one could get in to the city. I actually left my desk for more than an hour to watch some T.V. in the other room.

What a total epic end game for an mmo. /sarcasm

After a couple more hours, people were able to trickle into the city. However, it wasn't long before people were cast back into character screen Purgatory to receive their judgment. One friend of mine remained in Purgatory the rest of the night, unable to log in. I sincerely hope he enjoyed watching "The Office."

I eventually became fed up with this giant turd of a game and ported back to the Inevitable City (known as Inevitable Lag when it is under attack). I assembled a group of alliance members to farm Bilerot Burrow.

And wouldn't you know, five minutes into the dungeon and the server crashed.

I spent the rest of the night logged into Vent — not WAR — talking about other mmos with my alliance members. That's when you know it is bad. There's nothing like a chat room of WAR players talking about every other game that isn't WAR.

This game is broken. Literally broken to the point where it can't be played at times. 

Yes, it was patch day. Yes, things can go wrong, but a server's inability to hold stability should have little do with a Rain of Fire nerf and RvR tokens.

I witnessed many friends logging off throughout the night in fits of rage because they couldn't get into Altdorf or out of character screen Purgatory. This game is as broken as our economy.

If it wasn't for the great people in the Twilight Alliance, I wouldn't even log in to this game again. I, for one, certainly didn't enjoy paying and wasting an entire evening with my wife and kid to stare at my character select screen, hoping that I would finally get to experience what WAR is all about. City sieges, after all, is the point of the game that I have been paying for the last seven months.

This game is about as epic as meeting the "Grumble, grumble" guy in The Legend of Zelda. It's about as epic as running into a sliding glass door. Even if the servers didn't suck balls last night, the city siege would have still been my group of people stuck in their Altdorf play pens, while other groups stayed in their play pens. It's not like we would all be in a static world.

Sure, what we do in our play pen affects the world, but I'd much rather ride into Ironforge and start killing players and NPCs, because at least that is happening in the "real" world, not in instanced play pens.

I could go on and on, but I really don't want to put much more energy into thinking about this game right now.

Hey, I hear AoC has a free trial. Been since launch when I stepped into Hyborea. Maybe it's time to revisit and see the changes that have taken place.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

ATTENTION: server status

Phoenix Throne is officially broken.
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A patch is supposed to fix things, right?

More often than not, I am playing WAR with the mantra, "I'll believe it when I see it."

This is in response to what we read in patch notes and what actually goes live. Things such as smooth transitions between animations and stuck visual effects, as well as loot priority with corpses, have been things that we have seen in previous patch notes, yet don't actually happen.

As far as my class of choice — the Disciple of Khaine — Devour Essence was supposed to be fixed long ago, according to previous patch notes. Yet, it still doesn't work. Will it work after this patch?

And then there's everything that is working pre-patch that gets broken post-patch. 

Now, I'm no stranger to mmos and how patching works, but when we go through three different rounds of patching and something that is listed as fixed still isn't fixed after three failed attempts, my contempt for the developer sets in. It's inevitable and I can't help it.

Tolerance only lasts so long.

So, will everything work like the patch notes say?

Well, "I'll believe it when I see it."

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lost Vale: part deux

UPDATE: We failed again on N'Kari. Thing to remember next time -----> think twice about bringing your friend who likes to drink before end boss nights.

Tonight, my fellow group of adventurers travel once again into the depths of Avelorn, across the great sea and into the realm of the Everqueen.

Tonight, we will battle fierce beastmen.

Tonight, we will stare at the endless steppes, ridden with chaos.

Tonight, we will fulfill our dark promise.

Tonight, we bring Lost Vale to its knees.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Battling the Keeper of Secrets

A group that I have been running through Lost Vale with for the past week finally reached N'Kari, Keeper of Secrets. I was pleased with her design, but her entrance was a little less than lackluster.

Where was the epic, "You are not prepared?" Why didn't she tear through some Chaos portal or something? Instead, she silently appears out of nowhere and starts fighting. Meh, the combat lead could have spent five minutes to give the encounter some character at the beginning.

Needless to say, our group wiped. Granted, the first time we weren't expecting her to spawn and the second time we were down a man. Add to it that it was in the wee hours of the morning and you have a recipe for disaster.

It was the first time any of us had reached the final boss. While many guilds and alliances have N'Kari on farm status, this was a first for the Twilight Alliance.

It wasn't a wash-out, though. Many of us received some good gear, myself included.

I had already looted the Darkpromise gloves, but was also able to pick up the helm and the shoulders. For a player who has been farming city dungeons since January — and still hasn't gotten the Sentinel gloves nor shoulders — I was quite surprised to see so much loot come my way in only two Lost Vale runs.

Of course the gear was quickly overshadowed when I picked up this gem off of the Darkpromise Beast. The Calyx of the Beast is a fantastic chalice for a Dark Rites disciple.

Equipping the chalice bumped my chance to critically heal to 13%.

After I got that chalice, everything else was gravy.

So after just two runs, I was able to net a sweet chalice and three pieces of Darkpromise gear. Not a bad time at all.

I can say this for sure, after spending several nights working on Lost Vale, I am in dire need of some RvR. I hope this weekend can deliver.

Note: this is the first mmo in which I have experienced end-game PvE. I think I will wait until later before I analyze it.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Looking back: The Heart of Darkness

(sorry for the poor quality)

This video is one that I made a couple of years ago when I was playing my first love, EQ2.

I was playing my dark elf necromancer, Talieris Grimm, at the time. Remembering how much I loved Nektropos Castle, I decided to make a small tribute to the castle and its denizens.

Nestled deep in the northeast corner of Nektulos Forest, there was just something about this place that captured my interest. Maybe it was the music, the spectres, or the Tim Burton-esque hallways. I guess it really doesn't matter. Maltus Everling became my favorite boss, not because of the actual fight, but the story behind the man and his family.

The Everling saga is infamous in EQ2. Here is a link to the full lore.

If I ever make the decision to play a fully-engulfed PvE game, EQ2 will definitely be a contender. I can still feel the beating heart of Nektropos Castle beckoning me. 

Perhaps one day, I will be able to assemble a group of adventures to once again brave the depths of the castle to reveal the secrets of the Everling family.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

A rebuttal for a game that I sometimes attack

I'm not one to do this, but here's my response to A Wall of Text:

It appears that we are finally seeing reports of an actual king kill in Warhammer Online. It only took these European players a total of 14 hours of PVE (not RVR, which is the game's bread and butter) and the coordination of 6 guilds to make it happen.

C'mon, br3nt, you know that they fought through many Order players in order to not only take keeps, BOs and fortresses, but the initial stages of the city siege. Saying that it was, "14 hours of PvE," is really stretching, don't you think? Hell, for all we know, they could have been battling it out with Order for the fortresses for more than half of that 14 hours.

I believe 14 hours of PVE tops the end game raid of just about any other MMO out there, and to me it qualifies as the absolute worst thing in any MMO in my book. I was a part of nightly 4-6 hour raids years ago in WoW. Farming Blackwing Lair and Molten Core was nearly the death of me, and lead to the inevitable burnout that the WoW raiding treadmill can produce. Even that experience pales in comparison to this 14 hour stretch.

Final Fantasy XI had a raid that lasted just short of 24 hours. Those peeps still didn't accomplish their task. Also, this is an RvR game. Contrary to what you may believe, killing trash mobs for 4-6 hours is quite different than killing actual players. Translation: it can sometimes take longer.

By the way, anyone surprised that it was Destruction capturing Altdorf? Perhaps early population imbalances have manifested themselves in the end game, since one side might be more geared out than the other?

Interesting how order has been the dominating force in tier 4 on the majority of servers since the latest patch. Must have been a while since you've stepped foot in the Old World. That or maybe the frostbite from Northrend is spreading to your brain.

Mythic seems to have not noticed that this is a bad thing. It's bad because you can't have a game with mass appeal if you cater to a small group that is capable of 14 hour play sessions. 

Not every game is designed for mass appeal. Think about it for a second. Why do you think they keep making Deer Hunter games? It isn't for mass appeal, I'll tell you that. It's because they want to make "their" game, not necessarily "your" game.

Keep in mind that the players in this case spent hours farming gear out of instances just to get to the point that they could attempt a city siege. And this makes no mention of the organization involved to pull 6 or so guilds together for such an event. Mythic intended for it to be difficult, and it certainly seems that they delivered.

Is this necessarily a problem? Is the time/money investment in playing mmos as a hobby ultimately doomed if said game is too hard? If, as you say, Mythic intended on it being difficult — despite an easy-to-use guild interface that allows you to coordinate with up to 10 guilds with a click of a button and description — then they have done no foul. They completed their goal. WTG Mythic?

For a company that wanted to compete on a high level with World of Warcraft, catering to the small percentage of players that can actually pull off such a feat only ensures that WAR will be a niche game. 

Not that I want to bring up the topic of "niche" again (you can search this site if you want to know my feelings), but why is this always considered a bad thing? Could it be that your definition of success is different than someone else's definition?

Once again, we have another article about the daunting failure that WAR's end game is at the time being. And what's the best way to complain about a product's end game? Well, first we exaggerate the story with ridiculous statements about what went on, even though we weren't there nor have any reliable source to support our statements (assumptions).

Then, we make loud remarks about how the game's company isn't living up to the expectations that they established during the Monday lunch & learns that they regularly held during the game's development. You mean they didn't send everyone the company memos?

After that — and only after that — we attack the players of said game by calling them lunatics and showering them with false praise. Because you see, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter what you like or how much free time you have. You are a lesser person because of it. Period. Learn to like better things.

If only they would have made this game more like WoW...


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RIP Mezzer 1999-2004


I'm sure there's some Ultima Online player who will bash me for the above date, but I'm putting it up there anyways.

Through sheer coincidence, Ferrel over at Epic Slant has been mulling over the same thing that I and a former guildie have been discussing; the importance of the mezzer.

The mezzer is a dinosaur in the mmo sphere. Nowadays, there are three archetypes for players to choose: tank, dps (either ranged or melee) and healer. But what ever happened to the mezzer?

The mezzer fell into the archetype of pure support. They were an interesting brood of player. Not much damage, no healing and no mitigation. The player's job was to simply debuff and use crowd control to its fullest. 

The best mezzers loved to be masters at their craft. No matter what happened in a dungeon, a good mezzer could always gain control of the situation through crafty crowd control. In my opinion, they played a very crucial part in group dynamics, possibly even more than an off-tank.

But the mezzer has gone by the wayside.

EQ2 was the last game that I am aware of to have the archetype. (Oh, and if Azelda is reading this: damn, bro. You were one hell of a mezzer. Pick-up groups were never an issue when you were there mezzing.) The addition of the mezzer brought so much to the gaming table. Strategies would be developed around the archetype, allowing for its fullest potential to be shone. 

However, games like WoW, LotRO, AoC and WAR have done away with the archetype. The genre has been reduced to only tank, dps and healer. So what happened to the mezzer? Well, everyone became a mezzer.

Crowd control is sickening in games like WoW and WAR. It doesn't matter what archetype you choose now. Rest assured that you will still have the ability to use stuns, roots, knockbacks, knockdowns, disarms/disables, silences, etc.

But why the total demise of the archetype?

Was it because of the popularity of PvP? Such could be the argument for WAR, but WoW is first and foremost a PvE game. It should have surely had mezzers if PvP was the eventual killer of the archetype.

The truth is, we don't know. Maybe developers believed the archetype to be boring. I saw the power of mezzers in games. They were anything but boring.

My guess: casualness.

It is the casual-friendly atmosphere that developers are taking with the genre that signaled the demise of one of the most important group roles. With every archetype now able to use effective and reliable crowd control, soloing becomes not only easier, but the new standard as to how to describe an mmo. Thus, there's no need for a pure support class.

But these are multiplayer games. There are plenty of single-player, role playing games out there for people who like to solo. The concept of soloing really doesn't have much place in a multiplayer world.

Just like Ferrel, I am hoping that 38 Studios' Copernicus brings back a more hardcore-oriented multiplayer experience, where mezzers can once more be re-envisioned.

Rest in peace, Mezzer, a forgotten class that is sorely missed by those of us you who were —perhaps — the last adventurers in a true multiplayer genre.

Massively has also posted an article relating to this discussion.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Every time a developer says, "arena," an angel loses its wings

(you win if you understand this picture)

According to patch notes 1.2.1:

"Beginning with this update, players of Rank 19-24 will be able to join a special 6-on-6 version of the Gates of Ekrund called "Broken Gates of Ekrund." Also, a new quest has been added to the game to reward players who answer the call to defend (or smash down!) the Gates."

An angel just lost its wings.

I lost the link, but in a recent developer interview, Mythic's Josh Drescher hinted at the possibility of having arenas in WAR. I believe the Broken Gates of Ekrund is the start of it.

For the uninitiated, arenas are small group vs. small group scenarios. The combative zone is relatively compact to encourage fast and furious gameplay. Teamwork, strategy and communication are all vital if a group wants to succeed.

World of Warcraft players are very familiar with arenas. Personally, I am against them. In my opinion, arenas and e-sports need to say away from my mmo. I treat the idea like it is the Red Death himself.

Here's why:

WAR is not about scenarios or 6-on-6 gameplay. It is about realm domination on a mass scale. Arenas will just be one more distraction to keep players out of RvR lakes. Scenarios are already a prime example of something that is a disservice to RvR. Experience points and renown are easily attainable in scenarios, making oRvR less appealing. While changes to oRvR XP and renown have slighted this, the problem is still there.

While Mythic isn't calling the new scenario an arena, it is quite easy to see that it is a testing ground for implementing the concept into WAR.

Those who played WoW know that arenas changed the face of PvP in that game. A few saw it for the better, but many offered a sound rebuttal. It was easy to see who were the arena players that stepped into battlegrounds or open world PvP. Here's a hint: see the boots in front of you. Yeah, the person standing over your corpse enjoys his arena play and has the loot to prove it.

WoW is beginning to marginalize the arena gear with raid gear, but the diversion is still there. Arenas, overall, work great for WoW because it is not a PvP game. Therefore, arenas prove to be a nice change of pace from raiding dungeons.

However, WAR is a PvP game. Arenas serve no purpose. You can't gain zone control from them (I will probably /ragequit if you can), so instead of a nice change of pace, they serve as a distraction from the greater war effort.

I foresee the Broken Gates of Ekrund going live and being very successful. Players will be cheering for more. So, if it must come, then let it come with severe restrictions:

• Players participating gain no XP
• Players participating gain no renown
• Players participating gain no influence
• There are no "arena armor sets," a la WoW
• Rewards come in the form of arena titles (fluff)

With these guidelines, arena combat in WAR might be nothing more than a change of pace. Because players get no tangible benefit from participating, maybe they will consider the advantages of oRvR.

After all, oRvR is the point of the game.

Though, I have the perfect loading screen for arena combat, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." A dreadful thought to a realm pride idealist.

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