Dark Millennium Online

Posted in Warhammer 40k with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2011 by krosuss

What seems like a lifetime ago, back in August when I attended Games Day Baltimore 2010 I not only got a chance to talk with Mythic about WAR but also got to talk with some folks from Vigil Games who are developing the Warhammer 40,000 MMO, Dark Millennium Online.

Since DMO isn’t on the near horizon — planned for 2013 or so — the guy I talked with wasn’t sharing the secret soup recipe or any firm details. I’ve seen a few interviews online where they simply aren’t talking. Fair enough. It’s what I would expect of a developer working on a product not slated to release for several years. What we do have is a pretty neat trailer that shows game footage. Game footage. This goes with my complaint about WoW, Star Wars TOR, and WAR with their super-slick trailers as opposed to how their games actually look in game. My talk with Vigil went something like this. See the tap dance? And here’s a neat interview with Joe Madureira (the creative director at Vigil … you might know him as the former kick-ass X-Men artist).

For those who don’t know what Warhammer 40k is … it’s a futuristic vision of mankind’s struggles in the 41st millennium (started back in 1987). Mankind is trying to reclaim its empire across the galaxy as they face the threats of their former brethren turned evil, Chaos, and various threatening xenos, Dark Eldar, Eldar, Necrons, Space Orks, Tau, and Tyranids. No one gets along in this universe so there is basically non-stop war everywhere. Thus the game’s long standing catch phrase: “In the 41st millennium … there is only war.”

At this point all we have to go on is this confirmation: the first race announced for the game will be the Imperium of Man. Classes mentioned were Imperial Guard, Tech Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and Black Templar Space Marines. (You know that every freaking schmoe out there will be gorked out rolling Space Marines.) To satiate you SM geeks, here’s an interview discussing them (sort of but not really … actually discusses a bunch of other stuff). Okay, this is a better interview that will give far more details on the Black Templar Space Marine. Hey, I’m just trying to wet your appetite with all this info!

I’ve been reading that DMO is going to be more action oriented than other MMOs. And if you watched the interviews linked above, the main producer speaks to this. I like what they’re saying. I hope the playstyle equates to some nice PvP action. He said it will be somewhere between an MMO and a twitch-based FPS. I assume that will require some skill in the aiming department but will be tied to your toon’s stats (ballistics, initiative) moreso than your own eagle eye. I don’t envision there being many one-shot kills between the eyes a la Call of Duty.

The developer has said they want to move away from the action bars and other UI elements that have become an MMO mainstay. For a more action-based game it will be interesting to see how far they stray from that reliable look. Players are comfy to that when they play … familiarity.

If the world doesn’t come to an end in 2012 we have this to look forward to. I’ll be writing further posts on this MMO soon as it will be the next timesink I intend to spiral down.

T-Minus 4 Weeks … or So

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , on February 3, 2011 by krosuss

If you’re ever going to pull out a trick play … it’s now. Rift is slated to launch on March 1, 2011 here in North America and on March 4 in Europe. I’m not here to say Rift will be good or bad but it’s the next big lamprey that will be sucking players away from WAR.

To date it’s no secret that the natives are restless, myself included. A communications glut and a recent significant departure have left the doom slightly ahead of the gloom in the wake of Patch 1.4’s flop. And why shouldn’t players feel that way? We need to be coddled, consoled, and told every single little plan that is hatched. The secret squirrel, hush-hush stuff is old — TOO OLD — and we wants us some firm plans so we can plan out how we intends to plan to play.

That’s where Mykiel comes in. He’s definitely different and has a unique perspective on things. Mykiel loves him some PvP and he simply enjoys playing. He wants to get out there and fight which will lead to him having fun. Meeting him last August at Games Day Baltimore it was refreshing to hear his thoughts on WAR from a rather interesting angle. Some say he’s too rosey but I say he’s realistic. But that’s me.

Mykiel was at Mythic recently and writes about it here. The astute will recall that it was Mykiel who started the whole Red Plague rumoring last year in April. That led to other bloggers chiming in and a flurry of speculation, theorycrafting, and excitement that led up to the RvR Packs. Okay … so things haven’t been that awesome since those packs launched but the build up to them was fun. Right?

Mykiel eludes to what he heard. And because he’s under an NDA he can’t mention specifics. Fair enough. He says that he was really surprised by what he heard. He also says to watch the forums over the next few weeks. Quote: “Good stuff is coming.” End Quote.

Okay, Mythic … it’s now or never. With some thinking F2P is on its way, others saying that the expected exodus to Rift will surely crush this game, what ace is up your sleeve? Can you pull off some of this kind of amazing shit? That’s what it’s going to take. You’ve got until Rift launches and then … perhaps only the crickets will be listening.

Good Luck, Andy

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags on February 2, 2011 by krosuss

By now many have heard that Andy Belford will be leaving Mythic for an opportunity out west. The allure of being close to home and around family is important (for those that are family oriented). I never got the opportunity to meet Andy but trust my fellow bloggers with their assessments of him. I always felt he seemed genuine and forthright in his posts on the forum. I also feel that he did care about his work and for WAR. In the technology world (games fall into that realm) it’s not uncommon for folks to come and go quite often. Tech is a fast-moving industry and with signs that the economy is slowly starting to wake up … companies are starting to hire again (albeit not as quickly as we’d all like).

Thanks, Andy, for you work and good luck in the future with wherever you land!

Hiatus Extendicus (January Producer’s Letter)

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , on February 1, 2011 by krosuss

So … like Punxsutawney Phil, Mythic has crawled out from their hibernation and have seen their shadow. That means six more weeks of nada for the faithful. Groundhog Day jokes aside, this letter was long overdue.

I’m not shocked that Patch 1.4.1 will be a small one to address bugs and to fix things. That is to be expected after the previous patch’s girth. However, some of the flaws we’ve seen since last November are not so easily resolved nor should they be classified as “bugs”. But all of that can be discussed in another post. Let’s focus on the January Producer’s Letter itself.

F2P?
One major thing that’s coming through loud and clear seems to be a covert move to a F2P model. Why else would there be a push to the forefront on this new interface to get your EA Store items and other oddities? The F2P chestnut has been lurking in the background for quite a long time. Some seem to feel that making a move to this model would be a good thing while others disagree. I’ve never played a F2P MMO so I truly can’t say whether it’s a good or bad idea.

I’ve heard of some successes like Wizard 101 … while there have been some base disasters like Allods Online. I suppose if it’s done the right way it could be a good thing. And many gamers enjoy “free” so if it draws more players to give the game a try then it could be a good thing. There’s a part of me that hates the idea of a potential pay-for-power game. But then the selfish side of me wouldn’t mind paying actual cash for some things (within reason, of course).

For example, I’ve never completed my Sentinel set. As it stands, I’d never wear a single piece of Sentinel again — it’s now beneath me — but the completist in me wants, demands, to finish the set! If I could buy the remaining two pieces I need for a $1 a piece I’d do it rather than run Sigmar’s Crypt ad infinatum. But that could open the gates to a host of other items where those with the cash improve while those on a limited budget do not. That’s where F2P can be a bad thing. The letter mentions additional items becoming available on the EA Store … name changes, more pets, etc. Perhaps this F2P bluster is just that.

Scenario Facelift
Next we learn that the permie scenario list will be mixed up a bit. That’s probably a good thing (as long as Thunder Valley isn’t added). The Maw of Madness was mentioned — I like that! Also mentioned was some of the scenarios will be shuffled between tiers. Imagine the fun of Tor Anroc in Tier 4. I’ll respec just to get Backdraft so I can punt the crap out of people. Lava! We’ll have to wait to learn more about this. With this it would be nice to see some new Weekend Warfronts? Maybe?

Get Me Out of Here!!!
That free server transfers to select servers is on the way could be a godsend. It will also draw the ire of players that have already paid a premium to find fun elsewhere. Fun, by the way, which is something the game should already be providing for our subscription. Since we’ll never get an accurate count on population, isn’t it more likely for a server merger or two? Would it hurt to have a Volkmar/Iron Rock, Volkmar/Gorfang, or Gorfang/Iron Rock merger? That’s what I assume these “free” transfers will be … a merger. My server of Iron Rock has been hit or miss. So far my guild has stuck it out and in the end, I will go where they go.

Awesome Coming … We Swear!
As always, there’s some big, BIG things on the horizon. By ‘Big’ they mean ‘major’. And we’d love to tell you all about them but are constantly reminded of our past promises and failures as we sit on our psychiatrist’s couch wondering what went wrong. Get over it already!

Unless I’m daft, which I very well may be, one assumes Forts are a part of these “new features” we can expect. And when you sit back and think about that, a reimagining of the Forts really isn’t new. If that’s going to be a cornerstone of the new features then how dumb do they think we are? I guess pretty dumb. Maybe we’ll be surprised.

Would it be so hard to outline the entire year and state: “We plan to roll out new zones, new gear, new races, and new classes”? Or mention one quarter of that. Can’t something be promised? Anything? Mythic isn’t the CIA … and keeping the new goodies a secret is pretty much overly old at this point. If this game isn’t going to be turned off, then they should dig into the forums and see what players really truly want. It’s not that hard to discern but it is understood that the resources probably aren’t there to deliver on a significant chunk of what’s being clamoured for. Then be carefully selective on what you focus on. Find the longest thread out there … ((cough-Skaven-cough)) … and do it. The implementation of Skaven in 1.4 didn’t pan out. Then go back and make it right. You’ll be surprised how excited players will actually be.

I’m not alone in saying I want new races, classes, and zones to explore and fight in. And dare I say a new dungeon or two? That would make people excited. All the lore, art, and groundwork is there … it’s almost too easy. Easy? Well, the creative end of it, anyway. The programming, developing, etc. is where the challenge comes in and therein lies the problem.

8 … Yes 8
Live Events seem to be on the menu this year. We’re told to expect 8 of these which could be some nice chunks of new content. We’ll get some of the usual repeats (Night of Murder, Wild Hunt, Daemon Moon/Witching Night, Keg End). So in addition to the 4 repeats we should have 4 new ones coming. Some of these LE’s are a lot of fun and usually spur a resurgence in players and action. Here’s hoping for something cool.

Expansion … Not What You Think
The letter mentions expanding existing areas. This sounds like what so many WAR bloggers have been blogging about since forever: enlarging the RvR lakes. At this point any thoughts of players flodding the PvE parts of each map is not going to happen. Even thought there are some interesting quests, cool sites, and fun PQs … the game has totally turned its back on anything relating to PvE (except for the dungeons). Why they haven’t dug into their old DAOC playbooks to update the WAR zones to mimic those is beyond me. Here’s looking to a bit more substance in the lakes as well as more objectives necessary to flip zones.

Lastly, Congrats!
More real news … Carrie was promoted to oversee all of Mythic’s Live games. This sounds like WAR, DAOC, and Ultima Online. I’ve been happy with the game and communications since Carrie took over … right up until she stopped communicating after 1.4 went live. Congrats on the promotion but sad to see such a drop-off with the communication thereafter.

About That Hiatus
Even though I mentioned in my last post the beginning of this month, I am still on a hiatus. I had all the best of intentions to get back in and play but the urge has yet to grab me. Other games have diverted my attention but I still often find myself thinking of WAR. Believe me, one of these nights I’ll be downloading whatever updates I’ve missed and will be running around. I’m hopeful we’ll get some more news on what’s planned … but I wouldn’t bank on too much info. That’s just the way Mythic rolls.

P.S. The Realm War is still borked.

Hiatus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 3, 2011 by krosuss

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season and is ready for a hopefully better 2011. I’ve been on a little hiatus from WAR since before the holidays. They are a hectic time of year for me with a lot of family activities and going here, there, and everywhere. It’s a busy time of year and despite intentions, getting into game just didn’t happen.

I did check in on the blogs to see what’s going on and sadly, it sounds as if my Iron Rock home is hurting. What is troubling is the lack of formal communications from Mythic. I totally understand not getting info just before and through the holidays. Heck, I didn’t even login and missed my first Live Event since launch. I’m referring to the monthly Producer’s Letters we’ve come to expect the last day of each month. The last one we received was back in October.

With the high hopes of Patch 1.4 not panning out communication is important to let the core players know what we can expect in the future. Wherever the population of WAR is there are a diehard group of PvPers who enjoy the game and haven’t left because there really isn’t a lot of PvP competition in the MMO genre. I’m hoping they throw us a bone here soon.

The other thing that’s miffed me is the broken Realm War on the WAR website. I use that as a gauge for logging in to play. I like to see who from my guild is online and what’s going on in the zones. Without it, I’ve been blind and frankly, too lazy to login to check. LOL

I’ve heard that many North American players are rolling on European servers. Other than Badlands it seems Iron Rock, Gorfang, and Volkmar are hit or miss and we could be leading towards some sort of server consolidations. That may sound like a bad thing but for a game that is dependent upon people fighting people … you need a decent population. I would welcome this.

So hiatus is over.

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 25, 2010 by krosuss

To those that celebrate … hope you and your families have a very, merry Christmas!

PvP’s Expansion Limpness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by krosuss

There are sooooooo many other things I’d like to be posting about, but it seems the expectations and hope for Patch 1.4 are a resounding clunk. I was reluctant to even post my comments on Thanquol’s Incursion but as I take a gander around the WAR blogs … I am not alone with bad feelings. Many WAR bloggers have been accused of being too happy shiny about the game so they’ve been posting items that are taking a critical look at this MMO.

And the most recent post from Bootae has hit on something I’ve been thinking for quite a bit of time … the lack of actual new content. I feel that’s the biggest problem with a PvP game. How do you give new content to a playerbase that wants to fight other players?

The big dog WoW is easily expanded as we’ve just seen. Forget that they destroyed Azeroth via the Cataclysm, forget that they did a redo and “improved” the graphics … they went in and did this:

  • Two new playable races (Goblins, Worgen).
  • Each race was given their own starting zone to get players to Level 6.
  • Expanded use of flying mounts.
  • Seven — yes 7 — new dungeons.
  • Three new raids.
  • Two previous dungeons revamped.
  • New battlegrounds and PvP zone.
  • And more …

Easy, right? PvE is much easier to add to and those who love PvE are somewhat easier to cater towards. Call them carebears or whatever, serving up new quests and dungeons is what they want, what they need. You can build a quest chain with story, some loot, and lead them all over the map finding things, talking to NPCs, and killing mobs. And if you’re WoW that could entail taxiing mobs from one side of Gobbo Land to the other. Same with new dungeons … add a portal to some underworld cavern with elaborate architecture, increasingly difficult bosses, and epic gear to be won. That particular path really doesn’t seem possible for WAR since RvR and PvP are what keeps us here. So what can be done?

Patch 1.4’s zerg-busting, RvR-stalling intentions haven’t really come to fruition. Every server is different but on the whole, the zerg still rules and getting into your opponent’s city is still a frequent occurrence. Hey, Mythic tried and what looked good on paper didn’t pan out. Where do we go from here?

If us PvPers can’t be satiated in the same way as WoWophiles, what will fit the bill? We need more territory to fight over, more zones to explore, some more scenarios to clash within, and yes … more gear of all kinds to win. That’s the easy stuff that can be added in. The “hard” stuff referenced above therein? How about new classes, races, and pairings?

Forts … Forts … Forts
They aren’t expansionworthy since they currently reside in the game as pretty scenery and they definitely better not charge us for doing something with them. These need some sprucing up to put a little speed bump in our paths to city siegedom. This post isn’t about specifics so I won’t go into ideas for how to bring these back … all I know is they are needed. Get on it.

Change Your Mind … Add Missing Capitals
When asked directly at a Q&A session, Carrie conceded that completing the missing capitals was off the table. There are other things to focus on. Fair enough but those other things better be freaking good. Going along with my theory that we need more places to fight, four new capital cities with different mechanics, Warlords, and Kings would be cool. Throw in a special set of armor only available from each of the cities all with different appearances and stats. A rotating “city to siege” would be in order rather than capturing one pairing to enter. You’d still need to lock two pairings to get in with the second one locked opening up that pairing’s cities. You wouldn’t fight to lock Dwarf/Greenskin second for a chance at the Grudge set?

More Zones, Please
As others have made mention, it is a bit stale to be fighting it out in the same zones over and over and over again. New is good and despite the hardcore who play WAR, even we are getting tired of the same old Dragonwake and the same old Chaos Wastes. Yeah! Praag again! There are four Tier 4 zones just sitting there not being used. What a waste. And I’ll bet there are players who don’t even know they are in the game.

These are West Praag (Empire/Chaos), Isle of the Dead (High Elf/Dark Elf), Cinderfall, and Deathpeak (Dwarf/Greenskin). I posted a Q&A question on the forums that Andy Belford actually answered. I asked if they considered repurposing these existing PvE-only zones for RvR? He said it was a good idea and something they would consider. Okay … do it. It’s as low a hanging fruit as you’ll find with them just sitting there waiting. Give us a reason to fight there.

Refresh the Weekend Warfronts
We have yet to cycle through all of the retired scenarios that were to be repurposed for the Weekend Warfronts. Some of these gaps can be explained with resources working on other things. But I’m also guessing some of it is a lack of knowing just what to do to make some of them better. To make my point, here are the retired scenarios that have yet to make a reappearance:

  • Gromril Crossing
  • Grovod Caverns
  • Maw of Madness
  • Reikland Hills
  • Thunder Valley

All but one of those are bottom-of-the-barrel in the fun department. Grovod’s is a Phoenix Gate clone only underground. Gromril and Thunder Valley are near clones of one another with multi-flag captures and ranked near the bottom of players’ fave scenario lists. Reikland Hills is similar with multi-cap BO’s for players to run between. The Maw of Madness really doesn’t need any rejiggering. It’s a death match that’s actually a lot of fun. Let’s bring these back some weekend, spruce up the rewards (a longstanding issue for all WWs), and perhaps surprise us with some new scenarios (War Quarters, Undercroft, Bright Wizard College, The Monolith).

Beyond the Warfronts the issue of pops also needs to be addressed. Many have thought that with scenarios removed from the campaign that cross-server matchups would soon follow. Let’s hope they do.

Easy Said …
Those are the easy things that could pump some new life into WAR. I say “easy” from my armchair but some of them are easier than creating a ton of new content from scratch. Much of what I’ve listed is there already either in game or hidden code currently hidden.

The hard stuff? Yeah, now that would take some effort but I feel that’s where the path must go despite the limited resources. You could probably hold back the dogs by simply adding in missing mirrors for the races. Mr. Meh actually listed some intriguing options. Wouldn’t it be cool if every race had a glass cannon? What about a melee-healer for all?

New races with a whole new pairing is definitely pie-in-the-sky but it’s what’s truly needed. The Skaven implementation of 1.4 has been lackluster at best. Thanquol’s Incursion is not widely embraced nor is it much fun. Talking with those who’ve actively played the new Skaven “classes” say other than the Gutter Runner and Warlock Engineer … they really are only so-so. I don’t see too many people using them.

Suck it up and finally — FINALLY — load that silver bullet into your gun and pull the trigger. I know the RvR Packs have sold pretty well by all the players I see running around with their trinkets. There’s a lot of new people playing (or some say). Take that momentum and capitalize on it. Bring Skaven to the game for real with actual classes and zones. Match them with the Lizardmen for double the win. That’s your silver bullet, trump card, sure thing. I wrote about a possible pairing before and Ekalime wrote an epic post on both of these races (and a ton more … shame on you if you don’t read his blog!). It’s right there! Go head down and do it!

Closing Thoughts
It’s a tough road ahead to say the least. Are we coming to the end of the line or is there something worthwhile on the horizon? A patch that on paper sounded fairly solid has landed on its face. Instead of slowing the campaign it’s been accelerated more than ever. The anticipated addition of Skaven has been a dud. We’re tardy on a Producer’s Letter by nearly a month. Guess there’s either nothing to say or is Carrie at a loss for words? I don’t buy that … she’s always got something useful to write. What’s going on?

I know a ton of work went into the RvR Packs and Patch 1.4. And there is some good stuff there just not as substantial to truly enthrall subscribers for longer term. Taking a step back to recover on Mythic’s part is warranted. However, with some of these glaring issues at a time of year when a good chunk of WAR’s playerbase is off from work and school, all ears are open awaiting some word on what is planned to resolve these problems and any hint of what the horizon holds.

The conspiracist in me sees the quickening of the game and the raining of gear on the playerbase as a precursor to no good. Have we been kidding ourselves the past year thinking that if we turn the corner all will be well? I don’t see WAR closing down but can it grow beyond the meager subscriber base it currently has? Where are we … 100,000 – 200,000? More? Less? Who really knows? Is it possible to take the EVE route and grow this thing slowly to where you can gain momentum or are we staring at the eventuality of a F2P model?

If you’re profitable as stated earlier this year … if you have all these “cool expansions” planned … we better see a roadmap or are you guys moonlighting on Star Wars The Old Republic. All I do know is we’re coming to a real crossroads with this game and the directions aren’t looking too rosy. I want Doomflayer and Warpforged gear but am staring at 10 tough renown ranks for each with nothing truly new in between to keep me happy or engaged. It’s just an extension of the grind that isn’t that appealing for me at this moment.

Two years in and we have no new zones … no new races … no new classes … and all the hard work and effort put in to fix the game is quickly forgotten with this recent patch. The work put into WAR to fix its innumerable wrongs does not go unnoticed but for how long can that be the excuse that holds us back? What do you think should be done?

My Xmas wish is for clarity.

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