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Archive for April, 2010

 

A good RVR night

Here is a pic from a Tuesday night battle. Order was out capping BOs like usual when all of a sudden, a few warbands of Destruction showed up!

zergincSMALL

Click to zergify.

Order was so happy to see so many Destro that we ran at them again and again and died over and over. Good fights all around. I was glad to see them out and about. I didn’t recognize any names but that doesn’t matter.

Posted by on April 30th, 2010 3 Comments

Following the carrot leads to deplorable player behavior

If you need any evidence of my recent post, “How our reward centered culture is killing the game,” please read the following screenshots of actual player dialogue within the last two days. I have blocked out player names because I am not really into naming and shaming them because it’s not the players’ faults that they are chasing the carrot:

renownwhores1

renownwhores2

Yes, players are advocating the renown-gain strategy of letting the Destruction take BOs so Order can cap it all back later.

None of this surprised me until this discussion just now in Caledor:

renownwhores3

Really? Really?
/sigh

I suppose nobody should be surprised. Groups of Order have always done RVE to get renown. I’m saddened that they want to work together with Destruction to maximize renown gain.

Posted by on April 28th, 2010 4 Comments

Photobomb, Temple style

FOTF was running some scens this weekend and I felt like taking a pic of our BW faceroll zerg.

Prebomb

But in the middle of our photo shoot, a Destro jumped in the middle of scorched earth spam and promptly died. I didn’t catch the name.

Click to embiggen.

photobomb

“I know what you’re thinking. “Did they have three Bright Wizards or only two?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a facerolling class, the most powerful in the game, and would burn you to a crisp, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

Posted by on April 27th, 2010 Comments Off

How our reward-centered culture is killing the game

Games have long used the carrot and the stick to motivate players to do what designers intend. Players have also tried to use bugs and game mechanics to their advantage to game the system.

In Warhammer, WAR is everywhere, right? Yet every day I log in, I see barely a single crossed sword on the map. ORVR seems incredibly rare. Genuine pushes on zones by Destruction tends to only happen in the very early morning or in midday when most people are at work.

When Warhammer first came out, the only reason to flip a zone was to get to the fortress. There was no flip renown, not for keeps, BOs or for zones. The only way to get renown was to fight people — run scenarios, go into ORVR and slaughter until the ground ran slick with blood. The only reason to take a keep was to get annihilator gear. When a zone flipped it was because we wanted it to happen.

Then the game designers decided to add renown for taking objectives and keeps, and then for taking zones. This meant that people who might work hard for a zone flip could be anywhere in the zone and get renown for just standing around:

mailbox

Mailbox is safe!

In theory you don’t ever have to step into the RVR lake to make it to RR 80. You can just hop from warcamp to warcamp and enjoy the flip renown while reading a book, writing a blog post or doing chores around the house. Just keep an eye on State of the Realm and it can tell you when zones are ready to flip.

(more…)

Posted by on April 25th, 2010 5 Comments

Top five problems WAR needs to solve

Warhammer is a decent game or I wouldn’t be playing it. But if a viable alternative were out there I’d probably jump ship. It actually pains me to write that. It was a hard decision to leave Warhammer for Aion last year (Aion’s mindless grind made it so easy to return). And if you want to avoid elitist jerks in Warcraft this is the game for you.

I wanted to include a top five list of things to improve because I do want Warhammer to continue to be an enjoyable game.

1. Population balance

praagzerg

To see corresponding Order zerg pics, click here.

The bane of every PVP MMO seems to be population balance and Warhammer is no different. It seems every other month is feast or famine in this game. We switched factions a couple of times to Destruction to allow our server to recover from the effects of too many Order.

Population problems have been around for a long time. DAOC had problems but DAOC also had three factions. If one faction was doing badly the other two usually showed them some mercy (after taking their relics of course). If another faction was doing really well, the two underdogs ganged up on them.

I think the easiest solution to this one is to add a third faction. I bet devs are really tired of hearing this. But I really think it could a) revitalize the game and create more excitement b) help the underdogs gang up on the overdog (for lack of a better word) and c) (most importantly) bring in new players.

The problem with this is how do you redo the rest of the zones? That’s a hard one. It would probably have to be some sort of underground race so they wouldn’t have to redo the surface zones. It would be a lot of new content to create if they wanted to make it as rich as the other campaigns. I also don’t think it would realistically happen.

2. Game performance

Warhammer is not the most stable game out there. Every night at least one guildie crashes — and it’s not because their computer or their ISP sucks. I can run Guild Wars all day long and never crash. Warhammer, on the other hand, is a different story. I recently built a new machine that has more than respectable components. It should run Warhammer with ease. Yet I have the same problems that most of my friends are having. I get about 10-15 frames per second at any one time. I can have settings at “fastest framerate” or “oooh shiny” and it doesn’t make a difference and I have no idea why.

Game performance is a huge issue, especially with the upcoming city sieges. If you crash to desktop in the new city siege, you automatically get lockouts for the city encounter.

3. Rewards for RVR should be a choice and not a problem

If you are unfamiliar with the principle of game design regarding choices and problems, please watch this fun video. But if you don’t have seven minutes, here’s the gist using the example of the recent scenario changes where you earn an insignia upon completion of the scenario.

You can get insignias from winning a city PQ or by taking a keep, but by far the easiest way to get insignias is by doing scenarios. It is not a choice for players to do scenarios. If you want your weapon before 2012, you need to do scenarios. I think this is a perfect example of problem vs choice.

Is the goal of the game designers to remove players from the ORVR lakes? It sure seems like it.

4-5. If we MUST PVE to get better gear, make it less frustrating

This will count as two items because it deals with PVE.

- Buggy PVE encounters

I can’t think of anything more frustrating in a PVP game other than being forced to PVE. Oh wait, I can. Being forced to PVE in a game that has buggy PVE encounters (see earlier post: A TOVL Rant: Why don’t they fix this?).

It seems the best way Mythic has addressed this problem in the past is by removing the content altogether. We all remember fortress encounters, which were so buggy that it was nigh impossible to win (or or allowed you to win, see post of Destro’s first Altdorf siege here, which was assisted by a bugged Reikwald fort lord that warped to the bottom where they easily killed him).

Do they read bug reports? I submit one every time. Do they have time to fix them? I would guess not.

- Remove luck from the equation

I cannot remember where I read this but I think I heard that the devs are going to include a system where if you have the ward for a piece of equipment then you can actually buy the piece (someone in the know please correct me if I am wrong). That would be awesome, especially if they did it for every encounter.

Anyone who has been to the Tomb of the Vulture Lord knows that the loot drops are amazing and the drop rate is abysmal. We have gone through entire clears without seeing a single piece of Tyrant gear drop. Other guilds who have been doing this much longer than Fight on the Flag can tell you they’ve never seen a breastplate drop, or have seen multiple back pieces drop for classes not in attendance. This is sooo frustrating for players! Spending five hours in a dungeon to get nothing for anyone in the group is not fun. Yet the gear is so good we can’t not try.

So there’s my list. Please let me know what you think and if you would add or remove anything.

Posted by on April 20th, 2010 3 Comments

Guilds vs single players, who do you please?

Let’s face it, players will stick with a game much longer if they feel like they are part of a community than if they are playing by themselves. Great guilds make a huge difference.

But you can’t go full bore and please the only guilds because then casual players would get left out of the mix. Guilds make people want to log in and play when there are other things they can be doing.

I know this from personal experience and from what other people tell me about Fight on the Flag. When Warhammer first came out we formed a single-group guild and did scenarios all the time. But as we got to know more people, our ranks grew to the point where we could field two groups.

ORVR was awesome with everyone in Ventrilo and assisting our MA. We would only do scenarios when RVR was slow. At the very least, don’t hurt guilds on purpose, and that’s almost what the recent changes feel like.

Earning insignias via RVR was a great idea, but the only viable way to earn them was via scenarios. That simple change to the game has changed the way players view ORVR and I think that’s bad news for guilds, especially those like mine.

Most of the players in FOTF when I asked them this week have said scenarios are actually less fun.

Why?

  1. Collecting scenario currency has made scenarios more of a grind and less fun.
  2. The fact that it does not matter if you win or lose the scenario encourages AFK players, which in turn demoralizes the rest of us who care.
  3. Queueing solo means you can get more crests per hour than if you queue as a group. There is a disincentive for grouping with a friend or friends.
  4. Because of the grind, people do not want to ORVR anymore, and those who love ORVR are sad pandas :( We love ORVR if you couldn’t tell.

I think the situation can be fixed, if they would only make the insignias obtained from scenarios drop in ORVR as well (possibly at a 1:5 ratio to crests).

(more…)

Posted by on April 18th, 2010 1 Comment

Mythic: Penalty for instance hoppers in new city

Ever have an awesome fight against a challenging enemy — and then they leave?

Ugh! I hate that! Fortunately any fight dodgers will get punished in the upcoming city changes by receiving a full complement of lockout timers for stages 1-3.

Unfortunately, CTDers are caught in the crossfire:

http://anshumanpandey.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/computer_crash_again.jpg

From Gaarawarr’s recent post regarding the new city instance:

GG - So one of our fellow WAR players would like to know if there’s going to be some way around strong groups.  Like leaving and rejoining as in scenarios.

Mike - This is the one where my gut reaction was to just penalize the crap out of people for doing that…

GG - ~whispers~ Go with your gut!

Mike - …but then it screws the people who went link-dead and came back or crashed, whatever the case may be.

GG - No one crashes in WAR…

Mykiel - Get better Internet…

Mike - Yeah…call your net provider, flush your DNS cache…

~all laughing~

In a Twitter conversation, Gaarawarr assured me it was a lighthearted conversation so don’t read too much into the text.

Currently as the city stands, if you CTD (crash to desktop) you are booted outside and have to requeue. I understand why they want to do this. (I would be a fan except I would be more likely to leave an instance to FIND a fight not to leave one.)

I really, really hope they can give the CTD player a break, maybe a 5-minute grace period, before they are permanently booted from the city and given lockout timers.

Posted by on April 15th, 2010 1 Comment

More reports from the WARfront: Mythic HQ

I’ve been reading up on the latest posts from last week’s “blogger invasion” of Mythic HQ in Virginia. There was a time when the four selected bloggers were able to ask questions (along with Twitter helpers) of the Devs on various issues.

Here is a list of recent posts:

Mine these posts for information (but they were also told that the information could change at any time). My guess is if it’s out in the public then it’s close to ready for player consumption.

EDIT: I will add more posts as I find them.

Posted by on April 14th, 2010 Comments Off

City siege changes on horizon

There will be a large post on my thoughts on the city changes either late tonight or early tomorrow. Let’s just say I a very skeptical, but that is my nature. I am hopeful but my main concerns are how I can get my guild into an instance and be sure they have the right groups and what happens if one of our guildies goes LD?

If you wanted to read the massive dev thread, go here.

All will be revealed in time and I suppose there’s no use fretting about what will eventually happen. I am planning a few posts for the coming week or two:

  1. Commentary on the new city mechanic
  2. Why game designers should cater to guilds and players, not the player or the guild alone
  3. Our reward-centered gaming culture and why it should change

I realize no game will ever be perfect, although DAOC before Trials of Atlantis and New Frontiers came awfully close.

Posted by on April 14th, 2010 Comments Off

Bank accounts drained, players ticked

For those of you who don’t know, Mythic’s billing department screwed up big time.

A quick survey of FOTF members shows that members were billed between seven and 15 times per account. The amount of the charge depended on how you repay (month to month or several months at once). One guildie said he had more than $300 in overdraft fees from his bank.

So far every person I have talked to has had this happen. This is huge.

Thankfully Mythic is  posting on their Web site that it should be cleared up within 3 business days. Many of us who have overdrafted are concerned that this could go onto our credit reports. Keep an eye on the Warhammer Herald for more information.

Here are links to what other Warhammer bloggers are saying about the issue:

The comments of these posts are pretty golden. Healeroftru of Gorfang is calling it “Warscammer Online: Age of Thievery.”

The big assumption is banking institutions will refund the overdraft fees, from Slashdot:

They haven’t specifically promised to refund overdraft charges, only to ask customers’ banks to refund them once the actual charges are refunded. They seem to be assuming banks will have no problem with this.

A poster on Slashdot who supposedly works for Visa says there are some steps we need to take, regardless of whether Mythic takes action to reverse the charges:

So to summarize, call your bank if you were one of the ones fucked over by EA and request an immediate dispute on all charges beyond the one authorized and agreed upon charges (and then proceed to cancel your subscription to Warhammer). Also, as a word to the wise, make sure to ask your bank to stop subscription charges from EA. Just canceling and getting a new debit card isn’t enough. If a merchant has an authorization for subscription billing, they can still bill the card even after the card is canceled, since they have an authorization already.

Canceling the account could be our best recourse if we are afraid of that sort of thing. Instead we would have to buy game cards if we want to continue to play.

Posted by on April 11th, 2010 4 Comments