Archive for Capital Cities

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.


Missing Capitals … Condemned

Posted in Warhammer Online with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by krosuss

From last week’s Post-PTS Dev Q&A Session:

Q: For people that have been playing the end-game for two years, are there any plans to add any more end-game cities or zones?

A: Yeah, I think I’ve finally given up and said no to the cities. Not because they’re not cool and not because we couldn’t possibly do them in the future, but we’re going to focus the gameplay experience on Altdorf and the Inevitable City. That being said, we’re aware that the people that have been playing for awhile would like some more options for the end-game and that’s certainly foremost in our minds.

I missed the event last week … many thanks to Gaar for his awesome transcript of the Q&A.

Within less than a month’s time, WAR players have gotten the answers to two of the biggest outstanding questions about WAR:

  1. Games Workshop released the 8th Edition Rulebook for their Fantasy Battle tabletop game. For those just joining us, that is the 27-year-old fantasy world that WAR is based upon. In the rulebook GW explains the dynamic of the competing forces who fight in this world as being two sides: the Forces of Order and the Forces of Destruction … thus ending any more chatter about WAR adding a third realm a la DAOC.
  2. WAR’s Producer, Carrie Gouskos, stated in the Q&A that we won’t be seeing those missing capital cities that were promised prior to WAR’s launch.

The first one is easily understandable as GW calls the shots when it comes to the IP. Their world is a constant struggle between two opposing forces. The second one though … I feel this is a big missed opportunity. I’m not alone … Sarigs discusses this as well.

For many of us who’ve been here since launch, we’ve done the Altdorf/Inevitable City ping-pong match plenty. As cool as the new city siege mechanic is, it occurring too often is a fear for many. I don’t know if we’re in “old hat” mode yet — probably close — but the sieges do happen far too frequently.

Talking to players who were in the beta, I hear conflicting stories. There are some that claim the other capitals were in beta … while others say no. I wasn’t there myself but do see their remnants. Behind Butcher’s Pass you’ll see the gates of the Greenskin capital, ‘Eight Peaks’ they call it. The once proud Dwarf city of Karak Eight Peaks was conquered by Greenskins and is now vandalized and tainted with orc and gobbo filth.

Across the Tier behind the Dwarf fortress of Stonewatch stands the monolithic doors of the Dwarf Capital, Karaz-A-Karak.

Tell me you don’t want to see what’s behind those doors. That we have the forward-facing graphics of these capitals tells me there was some work completed. And if you own the WAR Collectors Edition there are artist drawings of their interiors. In trying to get close to the Elf capitals …  Lothern (High Elf Capital) is given the same treatment.

Behind Fell Landing is nothing but a path … I couldn’t even see the Fist of Malekith (Dark Elf Capital).

Why would adding these into the game be of use? Let’s see how they could be added and what that might mean.

Keg End Live Event > Live Expansion
Use this Dwarf-centric event as the first part of a Live Expansion similar to how Call to Arms progressed to Land of the Dead. Focus the action in the Dwarf/Greenskin pairing culminating with the launch of Karaz-A-Karak and Karak Eight Peaks as new areas to explore and siege.

Repurpose the new city mechanic — imagine High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer wheeled out on a massive anvil casting rune lightning from an ancient battle axe while players fight around him … or … Warboss Grumlok and Gazbag flying down on a giant wyvern unleashing orcish fury. The Invader/Warlord phases would still be a progression flag-capture and the Royal a champion selection. The twist for these cities? Only Dwarfs and Greenskins can be champs (unless none are present), new purple weapons, potions, trophies (all Dwarf and Greenskin inspired), then rather than Sovereign a new set of high-end gear would be available … the 8-piece Monarch set.

Night of Murder Live Event > Live Expansion
Don’t leave out the pointy-ears! Follow suit with a shift to the High Elf/Dark Elf zones leading to the launch of Lothern and the Fist of Malekith. Give it the same treatment with a similar racial twist — only High Elf and Dark Elf champs — and the goal would be the 8-piece Asuryan set.

Make no mistake these should be more challenging as well as rewarding — perhaps making the Supreme Wards meaningful. From there the WAR campaign could be a shifting experience that wouldn’t always need to end in Altdorf or the Inevitable City over and over and over again. Players would be treated to three similar yet different end-game experiences that all yield different, worthwhile, and rewarding items. And in the end, that’s what it boils down to … the fun and the loot!

Reality Check
I have a better chance of playing pro basketball than ever seeing this happen. Mythic’s staff is not what it was prior to WAR’s launch … understood … but with the game having gone through a metamorphosis these past two years it’s time to be forward thinking. When the bloggers visited Mythic earlier this year, they reported Paul Barnett still onsite and a secret team of developers working on a secret “something”. Do you think Paul is filling out TPS reports all day? Maybe those devs are working on DAOC 2.

Once the RvR revamps are all in place it should be about new content … new zones … new dungeons … new races … new classes … new loot … new events … new period. Or why bother. I appreciate all that Mythic has done to pull their game out of the mire. Enough lamenting on what could have been and build this game up. Look at a game like EVE Online and how it’s steadily gotten better and better and steadily grown population … this did not occur overnight. The sprint mentality is the downfall of MMO’s these days. All the hype over Champions Online, Aion, Star Trek Online … and where are they now? Even WOW wasn’t so special until years after launch when the Burning Crusade was released.

What I propose here is not impossible with a reasonable timeframe. If the capitals were mentioned to players during beta, that means somewhere someone was working on art, schematics, itemizations, etc. Unless all that up-front capital EA put into Mythic’s hands was squandered. Who knows.

These new cities don’t each need a dungeon … just give them an auction house, bank, guild hall, vendors, some meager quests, and some nifty streets to wander through. Their main purpose would be a battleground for end-game city sieges. When one looks at the maps for Altdorf and the IC … we know that the areas we get to roam in are not their entire expanse. The same can apply with the missing capitals.

Saying “no to the cities” isn’t a “never” but is sad to hear nonetheless. Carrie wants us to have options for end-game … the two city setup doesn’t give us that. Once you’ve defeated Karl or Tchar several dozen times … what else is there?