Dream features in WAR (or, why won’t work just end?!)

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Author’s note: Just like last weekend, I’ll put in links on Sunday evening. The bosses don’t like me surfing the web to much on their dollar 😉

I was reminiscing about my time in Preview Weekend this morning, mentally willing the minutes to tick faster until my work day was done, and got to thinking about a couple of small things I really enjoyed. They’re nothing much but I think that they’re a step in the right direction for MMO gaming as a whole.


The first thing that I thought was really neat was the ability to operate mechanical weapons against your enemies. I’ve touched on my elation regarding the mechanical crossbows in the Dark Elf starting area before, but I also toyed around with a catapult in the Green Skin chapter three zone.


The crossbow and the catapult were different in a couple of marked ways. First, the crossbow featured crosshairs that would lock on a target before it would shoot. They’d begin green and turn red when they were set to kill. I found this to be really neat and reminded me a lot of some of my favorite first person shooters. It’s also something that I’ve never seen in an MMO before. The catapult, on the other hand, reminded me of older Tiger Woods games. The main reason for this is that when you “man” the catapult, a little power meter comes up on the left side of your screen. You also get a small action bar that allows you to shoot it. I was cramped on time, and wasn’t able to really figure out how to work it, but the general appearance was definitely similar to a “swing” bar in a golf game. In practice, I’m sure distinct differences will arise but these preliminary experiences were definitely food for thought.


The other thing that I thought was intriguing was that you (as a goblin) could be launched from a catapult to assault your enemies. I’m not sure if this is something that occurs in more than just the first chapter, but I hope it does. The only thing I wished was that I could have a) aimed myself before launching and b) moved myself in the air. As it is implemented now, you’re on a set launch track without the ability to move at all. It would have been nice to have had a little more choice in how to launch myself. From a game design perspective though, I understand their decision to keep it locked.


Both of these things lead my mind to a place of genre-melding. It’s a place where dragons fight cyborgs and uzi’s are held by hello kitties and cute squirrels. I mean, think about it: if done correctly, in a way fitting with a game’s main genre, mixing in elements from others can add a whole lot to it. I may be behind the times (did DAoC have anything like WAR?) but being able to hop into FPS mode in the middle of a huge battle, behind some big mechanical weaponry is just cool. Think of how that would affect game play if all the sudden being out in the open became a lot more dangerous in world RvR. Or, for example, being able to hop in a catapult and launch myself precisely into a group of the opposing faction, just as the healer is about to keep their tank from dying? Mayhem! Madness! MA- I mean, WAAAGH!


Another thing that would add a whole lot to WAR, and a lot of MMOs actually, would be working physics engines. How much fun would it be to be able to get in your gyrocopter and buzz around the skies with working physics? Loop-de-loops R’ Us! Better than that though would be some form of mechanical land mount to use with this. I’m not too into WoW anymore but when I saw that YouTube video of the motorcycle working with real physics, I couldn’t help but to think of all the places in Azeroth that I’d like to buzz around on and pull some jumps off of.


Genre-melding… oh we could have some fun. Mixing up FPSs and MMOs might be able to work in some cases and even some limited physics could be worked in but, unfortunately, some things would just break the essence of the world. As much as I think I’d have fun blowing through a fantasy lands on a big motorcycle, I’d hate to see the world of Warhammer watered down so much. This isn’t ATV Madness. I’m not big into lore, so I don’t know appropriate motorbikes/cars would actually be, but that’s not what WAR is about and I accept that.


I think all of us have some kind of “dream MMO” in our minds. MMOs draw you in and take part of your life, after all. They become a hobby. Since the course of our hobby is largely out of our control, it only makes sense that we’d dream up features and imagine all the things we would do if we had our way. I think that’s why people love sandbox games so much. For me, WAR is the closest thing I’ve seen to blurring genre lines in an MMO, even if it is in a very limited way. I may have limited modern MMO experience but being fresh to a scene can really allow you to appreciate the small things in games. Even if WAR never goes a step further in this direction, it’s still a step in the right direction.


And hey, we can always imagine. Right?


WAR of Words: The Daemon’s Curse

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Author’s note: This is an article I’ve wanted to write for some time. Though not specifically about Warhammer Online, it does deal with the Warhammer Universe and lore.


THIS IS A DARK age, a bloody age, and age of daemons and of sorcery. It is an age of battle and death, and of the world’s ending. Amidst all of the fire, flame and fury it is a time, too, of mighty heroes, of bold deeds and great courage.


And so begins The Daemon’s Curse, the first installment of a three part series of novels by Mike Lee and Dan Abnett.  The Daemon’s Curse is a Malus Darkblade tale. Malus is a lean, mean, (dark) elven killing machine with a thirst for power that would rival even the most ruthless of dictators. This tale will keep you on the edge of your seat for the whole ride and leave you wanting more.

A word of caution though, this series is not traditional fantasy; it’s dark fantasy. Throughout the novel, you’ll really get a sense for how much the Dark Elves revere pain and torture (torture is an art, after all). To me, it seemed like the darkest portions of the book were in the first half; however, gory battles are the author’s stamp and don’t relent. If you’re into long battle sequences, you’ll love this book.




The book begins by introducing you to the main character we love to hate: Malus Darkblade. He’s somewhat of an anti-hero. He’s evil, ruthless, hateful, and driven to power. He’s driven by the desire to see his enemies cower beneath him. When we first meet him, he’s returning from a slave gathering expedition that cost him more than he could afford in loans from rich nobles. Unfortunately, all of his hard work goes to waste as his warband and slaves are cut down outside of Hag Graef. Believing his brother Urial is behind this sabotage, he seeks out his sorceress sister to plot his revenge. She informs him that his brother holds a relic (the skull of an ancient sorcerer whose soul is trapped inside!) that is a key to a temple of great power in the Chaos wastes. Determined to harness that power, Malus steals the key and makes away with his small band of retainers.


On the journey, the warband encounters wild Autarii (Wood Elves, cousins of the Dark Elves), human nomads, an undead army, and savage beastmen who nearly cause Malus’ demise. When Malus reaches the road leading to the temple, he is forced to use the magical relic to pass the Gate of Infinity. Pursued by Beastmen, Malus enters the temple to find it brimming with the very essence of evil. Within, he finds the source of power he sought, but can he control it or will it control him?




I really liked this book. It draws you in from the first few paragraphs. Malus is delightfully evil and the authors do a great job of making it okay to root for such a bad guy. He’s the underdog of his family and the underachiever of Dark Elf society but I liked how the insight given to the reader really allows you to see Malus’ inner-workings. He’s underestimated but not incapable and by the end of the book, you really believe that Malus will make them all pay – in due time.


The characters are fairly believable and the events that take place do a great job of keeping you hooked. There’s lots of twists and turns in this book, so there is no shortage of excitement. One of my favorite parts was when Malus stands before the Gate of Infinity and beckons the soul of the dead wizard to force unseen powers to let him pass. It was gripping and I found that I didn’t want to put it down. The whole book culminates at the temple. It’s what you push several hundred pages to get to and there’s a nice twist to leave you satisfied and wanting more. I also really liked the portion of the tale where Malus meets the undead Willow Wight. It was like something from Tales from the Crypt: creepy and cool, my kiddies. The imagery is almost haunting. It also makes a fine example of when you’re really rooting for the bad guy (Malus) to win out against the spiteful, yet understandable, Autarii.


The environmental detail is very well done, as well. The authors spend enough time to paint a clear, concise picture, of the landscapes while also giving the reader enough room for their own imaginings. I loved Hag Graef. That place had a definite evil, bondage vibe to it. To help you imagine what I saw in my minds eye, think of the armor styles for the Disciples of Khaine and apply that to architecture. The Chaos Wastes were also very well depicted. Mirages, half-beasts, bloody rainstorms? Yes Ma’am, I’ll have another. Probably my favorite environment out of the whole book was the temple though. It had a spooky, haunted vibe to it and once events unfold, it becomes the apex of the book.


I also thought that the authors did a great job of incorporating a lot of the Dark Elf lore into the book. You learn a lot about Hag Graef, societal structure, family relations, and a lot about the environment too. I went into this book sure I was going to black a Black Orc in WAR and came out wanting to play a Disciple of Khaine. It also really made me look forward to having my own Nauglir (think rideable raptor mixed with the strength of a small t-rex). If Mythic keeps true to the lore, this mount could be a lot of fun. Plus, just look at the thing! Nauglir = Win.


I’ll admit, as someone new to “dark fantasy” I was a bit taken back by the emphasis on violence and pain in the first half of the book; however, it really allowed me to understand how Dark Elves work. There are several instances where tortures inflicted upon victims are referred to as art or as a gift. It takes some getting used to but in the context of the Warhammer universe, I think that it was appropriate. The essence of “dark fantasy” as I came to know it also encompasses the detail the authors use in the battle sequences.


And of battle, there was a lot. Nearly every chapter features a several page battle sequence. Some of these were riveting. You’re always getting descriptions of severed limbs, spraying blood, pain like ice, and the like. I’ll be honest though, by the end of the book I found myself only skimming some of these. I got a little tired of it but that may just be my preference. It is Warhammer after all, so I should have expected that going in.


Final Rating: 3.5/5 Stars


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. That’s saying something too. I’m very picky about the fantasy I read, as I’m not too into the overly cliché. The Daemon’s Curse was well written and unique, which added a lot to the quality of the narrative. As a holdover to Warhammer Online, this book definitely worked. Even if there was no WAR on the horizon, this book would still be worth the time it takes to read it. 


I’ve only given this book 3.5/5 stars for two reasons. First, there are definitely going to be times when you remember you’re reading. Sounds silly, right? It shouldn’t. The best novels draw you in and make you part of the story. You forget that you’re reading words on a page and enter into you mind’s theatre. Personally, I found myself stopping from time to time and thinking “Could he really be running away right now?” These points were easy to dismiss though. Fantasy novels are based around extending disbelief. Second, as previously mentioned, the battle sequences were a little too frequent for me.


If you’re interested in exploring the lore of Warhammer, especially the Dark Elves, definitely pick this book up. It’s one of the highest rated books set in this universe for sale on Amazon. By then end, you’ll be looking forward to book number two: Bloodstorm.

EU Headstart dates confirmed

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It looks like today is the day for a lot of short posts! WAR-Europe confirmed this morning that the EU headstart will begin on September 14th for Collector’s Edition pre-order customers and September 15th for Standard Edition pre-order customers.

Thus far, we haven’t received any confirmation as to whether or not we can expect the North American headstart dates to be the same thing. I think that it’s reasonable to assume that they probably would be though. Time will tell.

Stay tuned!

Managing wife aggro

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Those of us who are married or have boyfriends/girlfriends that live with us have all had it happen: you’re in the middle of some epic battle, in the middle of a quest, or “just a couple minutes away” from finishing a task you’ve worked long and hard at in our current MMO. Thankfully, trollhunter_D has written up linked to a nice guide for us on how to avoid gaining the red-hot heat of wife aggro.

It’s too long to post here but you can check it out on the IGN forums.

Does this guy have a lot of time on his hands? Oh yeah, but it’s worth a smile either way.

Just… don’t let your wife see you read it. 😉

Edit: It looks like this guide was actually hijacked from the WoW forums. We can thank OP Qil.

WAR Effort: Improving Preview Weekend issues

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As expected, Mythic paid close attention to what players reported during the preview weekend. In short order, they’ve already implemented a lot of fixes to some of the biggest issues. Mark Jacobs stopped by the IGN boards to let us know what they’ve been up to since the beta servers went down. In his words, here’s what they’ve been working on:

1) Significantly improved NPC pathing – Okay, in all fairness it wouldn’t have taken much to improve on what we showed you folks during the PW. However, the NPC pathing is back to where it needs to be and while it still isn’t perfect, well, it’s a heck of a lot closer than it was just a short time ago. We identified a whole lot of bugs and squashed them.

2) Improved pet commands and responsivness – Well, pretty much same as above. Pets will no longer act as if obeying an order from you was the last thing in this world that they wanted to do.

3) Fixed an issue with textures blurring – Nothing like looking at textures through a blurred lens to make things look really sharp eh? Major improvements in and more OTW.

4) Enhanced Global Cooldown Mechanic – Well, for one the GCD actually shows the correct cooldown time and not the rounded up cooldown time (Hey, what a great idea, let’s make it seem slower than it is. WOOT!). The slop timer is working fine right now and we’ll continue to look at making the GCD and combat in general more responsive.

5) Continuing to improve Client Stability – As always, lots of fixes going in here. The client is supposed to be more stable (and looks like it so far) but until we get the masses back in…

6) Added new Graphics Settings and seeking more feedback from testers to guide future improvements. You asked for it, you got it. Well, in all fairness we were going to put these in anyway but it never hurts to nudge us a bit at times.

7) Target Nearest Target improved – Yeah! One of my pet peeves addressed.

8) Renown Gear changes and Potency of Potions increased. Tweaking, adding, subtracting, in other words (don’t say “nerf”, we’re still in beta!) balancing.

9) Increased bonus for medal winners in PQs. PQs are supposed to be fun, joyous and not grindy. We’ll continue tweaking and changing them wherever we need to do that to make it so #1. (okay, a ST reference)

10) Added more loot bags in Tier 1 PQs – Boy, it’s going to be rather crowded when we launch so we just upped the loot for the Tier 1 PQs. We’ll do the same to T2 as needed. And when the rush is over, we’ll tweak downwards.

In my opinion, probably the biggest fixes that went in addressed NPC and pet pathing and pet responsiveness. Client stability and GCD tweaks? Mythic, you have Raegn’s official stamp of approval! Now if only it meant something to people other than me…. 🙂

The other points are pretty great too. I wasn’t in Closed Beta to notice a difference in texture quality, so I really can’t comment there, but I’m glad that they’re opening up the graphics options. Preview Weekend was really limited in that regard. I’m also optimistic about how they’re increasing the amount of loot bags in the first couple tiers of content. It shows how much they’re ramping up for launch and thinking of a lot of the small things that will be impacted by the large influx of players.

WAR is coming, my friends. I can’t wait to see what else to polish up before launch because, at this rate, things are looking very promising.


Blizzard and the one-two punch


Before I begin, a reasonable and well thought out comment brought it to the table that Blizzard only does what every other company out there does. This is true. My feelings towards these actions may in part be skewed by my feelings as far as how businesses should conduct themselves; that their proprietors should look towards the common good of gamers and the gaming industry as a whole. I don’t it when companies try to undermine other, smaller companies. So, for the sake of insight, that’s where I’m coming from.

The last thing I want to do is turn this blog into a place to complain about Blizzard, since our primary focus is WAR and all the things we enjoy about it as enthusiasts. Given yesterday’s post though, I thought this a little too relevant to overlook.

Blizzard announced Monday that they’ll be offering a free content patch that will offer many of the highlights to Wrath of the Lich King. I was a little behind the game and didn’t come by this announcement until this morning. Some of the things they’ll be offering are:

New class spells and talents
Stormwind Harbor
Barbershops in capital cities
Zeppelin towers outside of Orgrimmar and Tirisfal Glades
Two brand-new Arenas featuring challenging new layouts, terrain hazards, and moving obstacles
Guild calendar
Hunter pet skill revamp
New profession: Inscription

You’ll never guess when this patch, presumably 3.0, is set to drop either. “In the coming weeks.” Funny, I seem to remember something else being released within the “coming weeks” too. Hmm… oh yeah! WoW’s next best competitor, Warhammer Online!

Coincidence? Unlikely.

Now, Tobold is of the opinion that this announcement is probably not related to WAR’s upcoming release. I disagree. Right now, Blizzard is under a lot of pressure to keep subscribers interested. Many are suffering from pre-expansion burnout and are looking for something new to satiate their gaming appetites. WAR is the answer for many people and Blizzard is trying to avoid the fallout.

We have to keep in mind, when Age of Conan launched, crashed, and burned, only 40% of those players came back. And that’s from a game that, by most accounts, sucked. WAR stands to do much better. Their content is of far higher quality and Mythic is delivering on their promises. Blizzard has shareholders to answer to and, as investors, they won’t be happy with big revenue drops. Hence, we get the pre-emptive patch release. Who wants to bet that they’ll release this patch within a week of WAR’s launch? Now, let me say that I know this happened for The Burning Crusade as well. The fact that there is a pre-expansion patch is not what’s telling here, it’s the timing of the announcement and in all likelihood the timing of the patch’s release.

This is just one more attempt to drown out the competition. As a company, it’s an understandable move; however, it just goes to show that Blizzard has grown away from where they should be as a company. Like I said before, at this point, it’s about money for Blizzard and not innovation. They’re acting defensively and holding the whole industry back as a result. WoW opened doors, sure. Now, it’s the bouncer keeping other people from moving forward.

Let’s hope Mythic sets a great example and helps push that bouncer to the side. More MMOs equals a better gaming market for us all.

WAR vs. WoW pt.1: WoW will hold WAR back


In this edition, we will examine the impact that WoW has had on the MMO market and on Warhammer Online’s future. Community is important; how will the Warcraft community affect WAR’s subscriber numbers? The title gives my predictions and below you will find my justification. Next time, we’ll examine how WAR can/will fight back and why all will be right in the world of WAR.

Over the past couple days, I’ve put a lot of thought into the impact that WoW has on the MMORPG community. There’s been some definite positives and stark negatives. If it wasn’t for WoW, WAR may not have ever made it to development. Then again, it may be because of WoW that WAR may not reach its full potential and achieve the subscriber base it deserves.

On one hand, WoW has opened up the market. Because of it, more people are involved in the MMO market than probably ever would have been. Investment in the genre is way up from where it was beforehand and, now, we have the hope of more and better games to fill our shelves for years to come. We should all be thankful to Blizzard for this.

On the other hand, WoW is the grand barrier preventing other games from achieving comparable success. The subscriber amounts alone cause many gamers to label other, lesser earning MMOs, failures. Somehow, a subscriber base of 50,000 people isn’t considered high anymore. There are many other reasons too, some of which I believe will have a direct impact on our yet to be released favorite game.

WoW players have been spoiled.

World of Warcraft was released in 2004. At that time, it was far from bug free; however, millions of players never experienced that version of the game. In fact, I’d bet that most of the current players have yet to experience more than a few bugs in their total playtime. Since WoW has opened up the genre so much, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s a lot of people’s first MMO. Because of this, when players come over to WAR, or any other game for that matter, they’ll expect to see a game at the same level of polish that WoW currently showcases. For these people, WoW is the standard other titles need to live up to. In the area of bugs, it would be amazing for any game to achieve this. Bugs are a fact of life; they are critters to be squashed over the lifespan of an MMO. You can bet your bottom dollar that when WAR launches, the World of Warcraft forums will be exploding with people screaming “it’s a bugfest! WAR FTL!” no matter how polished Mythic can get it beforehand. It’s unfortunate but almost certainly true. Which brings us to point number two…

A lot of WoW players are doom-callers.

Let’s face it: a certain portion of the WoW player base complains about everything. I’d imagine it’s like this for every game, actually, but I know WoW, and in WoW, whenever there’s a class change, it’s the end of the game. Whenever the servers go down, players are claiming to cancel their subscriptions. Whenever a developer sneezes, the world is irretrievably thrown into the void. Why is this? Well, people get attached to the game as they see it. For these people, when they come to WAR, if it doesn’t fit for any reason, they’ll taint the internet with their disdain. You’ll see these people all over the place shortly after launch, naming everything that makes the game wrong for them and applying it universally to anyone who might be interested in trying it out. That’s really a shame, in my opinion. Right now, a lot of WoW players have never even heard of WAR. The first time many of these people do, it will be on a WoW forum or fansite where they’re bashing it because WAR is not WoW. Starting a new MMO is a big decision. You’re usually giving up the one you’re playing at the time and making a leap of faith in purchasing and subscribing to a new product. Bitter players will keep others away.

WoW PvP has soured many people against the idea.

WoW started off as a PvE game and had PvP thrown in afterwards. As a result of this, they’ve had to make big changes to the way many classes work. Within the past year or so, they’ve been placing a heavy emphasis on Arena combat. They’ve even tossed in Arena rating requirements on gear. Many PvE’ers are feeling neglected as Blizzard pushes towards turning their combat system into an e-sport. What does this lead to? People having a bad taste left in their mouth towards PvP in general. This isn’t good for a game whose main appeal is RvR combat; however, that doesn’t mean Mythic is down and out. What it does mean though, is that Mythic has (and always has had) an uphill battle to pull these players away. Their plight is made even more difficult as many of those have turned heavily to PvE, alts, and raiding, as a result. Which segues us into point three…

WoW players will expect raid content.

The raiding treadmill has become the standard in World of Warcraft. Granted, many players are tired of this method of advancement and are happy to have an alternative; however, many others enjoy it. They dedicate hours and hours to research and practice until they take down their raid boss. To date, Mythic has focused mainly on the RvR aspect of their game. Now, RvR is awesome and leads to PvE in several different ways, but WoW has set the standard for what many players will expect to see at the endgame. WAR is breaking that standard. Now, in truth, I believe that if a raider took the time to get to 40th rank in WAR, they’d probably enjoy it and stick with it. These players will more than likely count it out before they even try it. It is true that only 1% of the hardcore raiders generally see the endgame raids in pre-nerf state; however, raids will still be expected by even casual dungeon crawlers. WAR is offering 6-man dungeons that are tuned to be quite challenging by maximum rank. Due to WoW, and other preceding games, anything less than 10-players will strike many players as non-raidlike. So we find yet another precedent at least reinforced by WoW that will prevent other players from looking further into WAR.

WoW plays dirty

WoW isn’t afraid to steal ideas. Allow me to rephrase, WoW isn’t afraid to take other’s ideas and “make them their own”… if by their own, they mean calling it something else. Perhaps I’m being rash, I mean great games are made by taking good ideas from other games and making them better, right? The only issue is, WoW isn’t a new game. Comparatively, it’s actually pretty old. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s doubtful they’ll be breaking any big barriers in MMO gaming. Likewise, I doubt they’ll change their general formula very much either. They have a new MMO in the works, so at this point, it’s about money. You have it and they want it. If you subscribe to another game, that’s money not in their pockets. So, at this point, when they’re implementing things such as achievements into their game, when competitors are offering something similar, it’s to crush the competition, and if fans happen to like it, even better. Let’s also not ignore that they’ve chosen to implement siege vehicles, destructible buildings, and zone-wide open pvp right at the time a competitor comes around offering the same things. It’s a deliberate attempt to devalue the efforts of others. WoW is a cash cow and Blizzard wants to keep it that way. They’ll be content to bar every other MMO from great success until they offer another of their own to continue the trend. WoW has no reason to be afraid of repackaging the ideas of others. It’s a means to an end and, heck, their whole IP is based on Warhammer. Originality is not their strong suit.

WoW has done great things for the MMO genre but its community and parent company are significant ties that will bind Mythic from the success it could reach. Do I think any of the reasons above will stop WAR from reaching one million players? No. Four million? No (Server populations are what matter, anyways, not overall population as per the enjoyability of a game like WAR). None of the above are brick walls to success. What they are, however, are hurdles. Make no mistake, this is a long race and Blizzard has a head start. Will Mythic be able to launch into first place right out of the gate? Certainly not. In time though, they could be a huge competitor that will give WoW a run for its money. In order to do that, they’ll need the support of the community to spread the word and they’ll need to market all aspects of the game. RvR is a big selling point but it shouldn’t be to the near exclusivity of their other amazing content; when they do that some players will undoubtedly read “niche game” between the lines. They’ll need to pull in people from all walks of RPGs, from the hardcore PvP’er to the hardcore PvE’er.

I honestly believe that they’ve got what it takes. Personally, I’d like to see the behemoth taken down a couple of notches. Not because I don’t think it’s a good game, though. In all honesty, despite my burnout and all of its failings, I still think that it’s a quality MMO; I’ve had a lot of fun with it. I’d like to see it drop down so that other games can really shine. It should never be a “one title rules all” market. If some of their subscribers populate WAR or any of the other MMOs out there, it can only be for the betterment of the genre as a whole.

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