Lich King Attacks Stormwind, Orgrimmar

Players waiting for Wrath of the Lich King to come out got a little teaser tonight. 

The Lich King’s forces — including Frost Wyrm Raptors and Towering Horrors — began attacking Stormwind and Orgrimmar.   

The invaders were finally driven off, but that silly Herald of the Lich King pretty much double dared everyone to come to Northrend for a rematch.

It looks like the event recycles about every 20 minutes, so definitely make a quick visit before Tuesday maintenance closes the show.

Here are some pics:




Run for Ezra Video

Excellent video detailing the Run for Ezra.

The Race For Ezra

wowscrnshot_110808_182845Today’s guest blogger is my 10-year-old son.

He was really moved by the recent loss of Ezra Chatterton. When he read on BigRedKitty’s blog — doesn’t every 10-year-old read BRK??? — that a baby tauren raid on Stormwind was being organized in honor of Ezra, he was really excited to participate. 

It was a short-lived event, called early by Blizzard GM’s concerned the server wasn’t up to such a large concentration of players.  But it was still a great idea and great cause.  

You can still make a donation in Ezra’s memory.


As many of you know a boy named Ezra has died recently 😦

BigRedKitty came up with the idea to have a race for Ezra. The race would begin at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday November 8th.  The plan was to go from the tauren starting area to Stormwind with low level tauren characters. The players would have to survive many mobs on the way.

It took a while for me to log on so I started at 6:05. Most of the players were heading into the barrens already! Also,there were so many players, the world server went up and down! Talk about bad luck! After countless tries of being kicked out I finally caught up with the group while heading for Rachet.

While in Rachet getting on the boat  the GMs told us to not go to Stormwind. I managed to take this photo while on the boat.   I logged off in Booty Bay with a lot of other players.  I wanted to go farther but I didn’t want to mess up the server for other people. 

I was a little sad that we didn’t go the whole way but at least we did something to remember Ezra.  I think it was for a good cause.  It was a nice thing for BigRedKitty to do.

Auction House Alt: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

“So I’m in the Ironforge Auction House, you know, just posting some herbs I got in the mail.  And I see this big green glowing thing run by me.  

“My first thought was ‘Zombies! Run for your lives!’ and I cut out for the exit.”

 “Then I see that no one else is paying any attention. They’re just standing around, raising their hands now and then, with some of the Night Elves bouncing a bit.”

So, I look again, and it’s, like, just a core hound.”

“I felt pretty stupid.”

“Still, I couldn’t stop shaking.  I got so flustered I posted three stacks of netherweave cloth at 30 silver each and I had to /sit down for a minute to get my head together.”

“Stuff like last week, it just stays with you man, like, forever.”

Zombie Slacker :)


Has it really been 10 days since my last post? 

How time flies when you’re busy trying to rack up achievements and depopulate cities. 🙂

I spent most of the last week plinking about in World of Warcraft. 

First, I was busy levelling up the new Inscription profession for one of my characters.

Then I played a lot with my son to get his “Hallowed Be Thy Name” achievement and a pet Sinister Squashling.  We tried endlessly to get a special mount from the holiday Headless Horseman boss, but, alas, the RNG gods were not with us.

After that, Blizzard rolled out the Scourge Invasion and Zombie Plague.  The Scourge Invasion was a slightly updated version of a world event from a couple years ago  — fun but nothing special. 

But the zombie plague was brand new (though probably the “corrupted blood” incident of 2005 helped shaped the idea).  Strange crates appeared in cities that, if touched, infected you with the plague.  After a few minutes, you turned into a zombie with a unique set of attacks.  Then you could attack anyone — NPCS, enemy players, or even friendly players  — and spread the plague along.  Over the course of a few days, Blizzard made the plague faster-acting and more resistent to being cured.  

Not being a born griefer but always a sucker for something new,  I got infected, infected a few others, and then quickly got bored with the whole idea and just avoided the zombies from then on.  As a zombie, there really wasn’t much to do — “I’m a zombie. Now you’re a zombie. Let’s both go make that guy a zombie too.”   Yawn.

I think Blizzard missed a really fun opportunity.  What would have greatly improved this event would have been the addition of some zombie-specific quests and achievements.   Infect someone in town X.  Infect NPC Y.  Infect Z number of players.  Infect one of every race.  It wouldn’t have taken a lot of extra effort, and the well-documented compulsion to completing achievements would probably have helped redirect some people from simply using the zombie plague as an opportunity to grief their fellow players (which ruined the event for a lot of folks, especially lower level ones just trying to level).

One of the constant complaints you hear about MMOs is that the world isn’t persistent and that players’ actions have no lasting impact.  I agree.  It’s a bit disheartening to know that a minute after you finish saving the world, everything will reset for the next group coming through.  So I really enjoy Blizzard’s world events, where, for at least a short time, players’ actions do have a more impact.  Unlike some other people, I was happy to trade convenient access to the auction house for a while for a chance to see the Ironforge temporarily overrun with zombies. 

The zombie apocalypse abruptly ended yesterday (with some claiming Blizzard gave in to the whiners and others saying it was all working as intended) and Azeroth is back to safe, boring normality for the moment.

But with Wrath of the Lich King almost upon us, I’m inclined to believe Blizzard has more in store for the players.

Perhaps another helping of…BRAIIINNSSSS…

(Hopefully, this time with a side dish of quests and/or achievements)

P.S.  Apparently it was all just a big misunderstanding.  Scott Jennings over at Broken Toys posted an apology from the Lich King which sounds genuinely contrite.  See, we can all get along!

New MMOs need time to shine, or Why Warhammer should have raised their price $10 and included 90 days of free play

October 18th, 2008.

That date marked the end of the free month of gameplay that came with Warhammer Online.

It also marked the time when a lot of Warhammer players decided to quit, including several prominent bloggers who had been posting regularly about their experiences.

“Too many bugs.” “Not exciting enough.”  Whatever the reason, when renewal time came up, they voted with their feet — and their pens keyboards. 

That they came to their decision pretty much exactly a month after the game was released should be no suprise to anyone. 

Mythic also saw the end of free play as a big milestone in the minds of their players.  The day before, on the 17th, Mark Jacobs wrote a long “State of the Game” post highlighting their ongoing work to improve the game and offering a look at significant changes right around the corner.  It was essentially (and very appropriately) a carefully timed sales pitch to keep playing.

But still as soon as that 30 day buzzer went off, players were faced with a big psychological decision to either commit to the game or walk away.

And quite a few looked at what they were doing right then and decided to walk.

Personally, I think that’s a shame.

30 days is simply not enough time for a new MMO to settle in and for players to really get a sense of the game’s long term worth.

Even when a lauch goes well, you can depend on the game going through a lot of changes over the next  several weeks.  The underlying technology — the servers and clients — finally get tested under real-world loads and need to be tweaked.  There will be bugs in the gameplay that have to be fixed and adjustments to players’ abilities made. Servers will be up and down a lot. Fundamental things about the game are going to change.

And then there’s the actual game content and how well you can understand and appreciate it in 30 days. 

After my first month in WOW — pretty much considered the most popular MMO of all time — I think I was somewhere in Stranglethorn Vale, probably killing tigers or running away from pesky apes. I hadn’t seen half the zones in the game, done much with my tradeskills, wasn’t in a guild, and had only been in one instance. It is fair to say I had a limited sense of what the entire game was like. As it was, I decided to keep playing and have been happy with that decision. But I could as easily have been annoyed with where I was in the game at the time or with issues with the WOW servers (it’s easy to forget now but there were some serious issues back then) and quit.

Again, I just don’t see how it serves game companies’ interests to give players of a new MMO only 30 days to fall in love with their game.

Especially when they already know that those 30 days are going to be the least stable, least polished ones their game ever has.

When I purchased my copy of Warhammer, I also purchased a 60-day time card.  (Yeah, there’s probably a psychological message in there somewhere about committment…)

Now I don’t feel any need to rush to judgement about Warhammer and am looking forward to a lot of changes coming soon.

I firmly believe companies like Mythic rolling out a new MMO would be better off raising the price of their product by $10 and throwing in 90 days of free play. 

The revenue lost in monthly subscriptions would be offset by the higher initial cost of the product and I think by higher long term player retention.  It would give the company more time to improve their product and let players make their first subscription decision at a time when the game was more solid and polished. I’d also expect that the more time players invested in their characters, the harder the decision to abandon them.

(The only time this wouldn’t be a good idea is if a game company knows their product is rubbish and just wants to cash in as quickly as possible before their customers start raising a stink.)

Keen & Graev: What do you think about Gold Selling?

Keen is writing a research paper and looking for people’s thoughts on gold selling. 

I put in my two cents.

Bouce over and give him yours.

Slayer Redux

Apparently, I’m not the only one thinking the Dwarf Slayer might be good addition to Warhammer’s lineup:

Book of Grudges points to interviews with Mark Jacobs hinting that is what’s coming.

JoBildo — of the great Ramblings of JoBildo — is pretty enthused about the idea too, and asks a good question elsewhere:  what’s the best game mechanic for a class whose stated goal is to die in combat?

Clearly they’ll need a spammable talent called “Death Wish.” 🙂

(Oh, and according to a CM quote I saw on MMO Champion, the mohawk is the new black in WOW too– “…the mohawk is now the most popular haircut in Azeroth (if not the most popular, then certainly the most striking).”  Maybe so, but are they using pig grease???)

Warhammer State of the Game: What Order needs

I’m way too late to comment on Mark Jacob’s State of the Game post for Warhammer Online.  Others have already done an excellent job breaking his remarks down.

But I do have one suggestion on how to improve faction balance in the game.    Whether Mythic was proved right in their belief that early adopters would go Destruction and later arrivals would go Order, the fact still seems to be that, overall, Order is underrepresented on every server (EDIT: apparently  there are a couple servers where the population is skewed towards Order — still the trend is definitely the other way).

The addition — or return, depending on how cynical you are — of two tank classes, Black Guard (Destro) and the Knight of the Blazing Sun (Order) will definitely help add much needed tanks to the game. Depending on how many feathers the Knight ends up sporting, it may also give players a bit more reason to roll Order.

If Mythic really wants to boost interest in Order, there’s only one thing to do:

Add in the Dwarf Slayer.

Suicidal, bezerk Slayers sporting mohawks and blue tattoos would instantly raise Order’s coolness rating tenfold.

Just saying.

Slayer fan art by Essi2

Werit: Are Bright Wizards too bright?

Werit put in his two cents on the question of whether Bright Wizards are overpowered.

As someone with a Bright Wizard main, my unbiased opinion is no, they’re not overpowered.

Not all. Really.  (Now move along.  These are not the droids you’re looking for.)

Actually, the little I’ve seen so far is that my Bright Wizard’s damage output is very good but he is the ultimate glass cannon. Now that the Fire Cage ability works reliably, I can cc, kite and blast away.  But I go down immediately if I stay in melee range for any length of time. 

Save Da Runts has a nice series of tips for how to take the shine off Bright Wizards.

The good news is that at least I’ve learned to not blow myself up so often.

The bad news is that I still keep trying to press Blink 🙂