Archive for September, 2008

Are classes going to be balanced in WOTLK?

Probably not.  At least not right away.

This response from Ghostcrawler about mages (I saw it on Spicytuna) seems to confirm what I pretty much expected:

– Is the numbers pass starting soon? We’re worried that you may be running short (5 weeks) on time to properly see data regarding the dps passes.

We’ve been in the middle of it for weeks. Don’t worry about the time. We don’t. If we looked at the ship date as a deadline, then we’d get sloppy and do dumb things. The truth is that in an MMO, game balance is a process not a destination. Even after the patch goes live, we’ll have opporunities to make changes before you can head to Northrend. With all the changes we’ve made, there are going to have to be some quick patches to fix things we missed. And overall we’d like to address balance problems that do erupt in a more timely fashion – consider, before we could always say “Eh, they’ll still take the X for his Y buff even if his dps is low.” We can’t say that anymore. Now we just have to get stuff fixed.

Hmm, interesting philosophy about ship dates and deadlines.

But this is pretty much par for the course.  I expect classes to more or less work when WOTLK hits and then a bunch of wailing and moaning from players and minor tweaks from developers as they do their balancing based on data from the live game. 

Players that think the game will be perfect on Day 1 and players that think the game will be irretrievably borked will both be proved wrong – eventually.

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Blessings of Kings talks about WAR chat

Blessings of Kings has an interesting post today about WAR’s chat box and ways it might be improved.

Some really good points there, and I very much agree (in fact, I touched on some of this a couple days ago).

The chat box is functional but that’s about it.  This is one area where WOW has a definite advantage (and there are addons like Prat for WOW that can further personalize and improve the chat interface).

Does this contribute to low amount of player chatter in WAR?  I think it doesn’t help.  The lack of conveniences like right-click shortcut menus makes using chat harder for neophytes.  The inability to link items limits chat’s convenience for some conversations.  And, as Blessings of Kings pointed out, the large number of system-generated messages in the same chat window makes it harder to follow player conversations.

But I also think that the underlying mechanics and general pace of WAR is such that it reduces a lot of idle chat.   Things like Open Grouping and Public Quests makes means players are much less likely to hang around a capital city spamming chat for a group.  Crafting still seems to basic to generate much chat traffic trying to sell wares.  And the general pace of the game — where you can jump into scenarios from anywhere, where there is no down-time during zone-to-zone travel, where more fighting is always just around the corner — means less standing around bored and chatting (in fact, the pace of the game is why I still haven’t read much of my Tome of Knowledge — I’m just too busy in-game). Right now I’m still just moving into Tier II; it’ll be interesting to see if general chat increases in later tiers as players focus more and more on RvR activities like keep sieges.

Side note: Interestingly enough, my experience  has been that Opening Grouping is one of the most non-verbal parts of the game.  People often pop in and out of open groups without a word.  In WOW, where you have to be invited into a group, there always seems to be at least some social conversation — a “hi” from the invitee, “welcome aboards” from the rest of the group, and usually “thanks for the group” from everyone at the end ofthe activity. In WAR, where you can invite yourself and stay as long as you want, there seems to be a lot less interest in any “social bonding.”

Ahh, code wheels…

Those were the days…

(And for some well reasoned thoughts on DRM from Chris Remo)

Werit’s Friday Question asks: what’s your favorite WAR Tier 1 zone?

Warhammer spent quite a bit of time giving each zone a very different feel.  I’ve only scratched the surface so far and am looking forward to trying them all.

What is your favorite?  Go tell Werit!

WAR subscriber population > Fresno, California

Ok, maybe not exactly 🙂

But according to a recent Marketwatch report, Warhammer Online has 500,000 subscribers so far.

(According to Wikipedia, Fresno is the sixth-largest city in California with a population of 486,171.)

Trivia aside, this sounds good for EA, Mythic and Warhammer fans.

Still, as I’ve said before,  the real test will be retention of subscribers.  MMO competition is a marathon, not a 50 yard dash.

Putting the polish on WAR

Overall, Warhammer Online has really impressed me with it’s classes, content and gameplay.

But there are definitely a lot of little bugs still floating around and a lot of rough edges that could use a bit of smoothing out.  Mostly annoyances instead of gamebreakers, but worth looking at now that the game is in full swing.

Tobold just covered one very well today  — the slapdash Auction House interface.  Yes, it’s better than a lot of MMOs but still majorly behind its chief competition. 

Here’s my list of little things that could do with improving:

Chat interface.  Let people link items in chat.  Provide a right-click menu when you click on someone’s name in chat that lets you do common things like whisper, reply, etc.  People everywhere are crying out for improvements to chat.  Snafzg at The Greenskin says item linking is #1 on his wishlist. Blessings of Kings looks at other chat box issues.

Mail.  Remove the delays.  Allow players to inclule multiple items in a message.  For super bonus points, give players a drop down list of common names to mail to (so you can do things like mail to alts quickly).

Inventory management.  Make moving items betwen slots more responsive, there’s a definite lag now. That applies to the paper dolls slots and bag slots.

In-game gamma control for video.  On one of my video cards WAR is fine, but on the other it is way, way way too dark.  In most games, that would be no problem, I’d just tweak the gamma in the game’s video settings menu.  WAR doesn’t have one.   I have a kludgey work-around, but it shouldn’t be necessary.

 

Where is this troll really? Not right here!

Where is this troll really? Not right here!

– Bright Wizard visual glitch —  As long as I’m complaining,  I have one significant visual glitch on my Bright Wizard. He has a CC spell called Fire Cage that locks an enemy in place for a short time. However, if I cast it and then I move away, most of the time the enemy appears to come right along.  I can tell they’re really still tied down at the original spot because if I run far enough and try to attack them again, even though they appear to be right on top of me, I get the “target is too far away” message.  This glitch happens quite often on multiple computers with different video cards, so it’s hard to imagine its an issue with my computer.  The Dragonchasers website reports essentially the same experience.

And for super-picky stuff:

Pathing on birds.  I don’t know how many times I’ve run into birds frozen in the air.  Clicking on them sometimes unfreezes them and then they start flying again.  It has no effect on gameplay but it does break my immersion a bit.

Server character details. At the point in the login process where you see the server list, I often notice that it incorrectly displays the number and type of characters  I have on a server.  For example, I have 3 Order characters on Server X, bu it might display “Server X (3 Dest)”  or “Server X (1 Order).”  Again, it’s not a big deal — I know how many characters I have and where they are — but the first time I saw this I panicked and wondered if they’d gotten wiped somehow.

Did my Averheim characters really defect from Order to Destruction? Nope.

Did my Averheim characters really defect from Order to Destruction? Nope.

In-game FPS display.  It would be nice to know how changing different settings adjustments would affect my performance in WAR.  But WAR has no in-game FPS display. 

Now that the retail product is out, other bloggers are putting together their lists too. 

Here’s the fix list from A Wall of Text.

Boathammer has a list of fixes and improvements too.

Esri at the White Lion Blog has her “Fix This Now” list.

Overall, I’ve been pleased with the way Mythic has been trying to address customer issues, including their latest fix –which should reduce or eliminate a repeated wait in a login queue if a player’s game ever  crashes.  Here’s hoping that they maintain their zeal to finetune WAR and eliminate customer annoyances.

Meanwhile, back in WOW…Brewfest Kodo

Since the release of Warhammer Online, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time levelling up my Bright Wizard and Ironbreaker.  Despite a few rough edges here and there, Warhammer has been a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying playing with a whole new mess of guildmates.

But I’m not one of those people who can only love one thing at a time, so I’m still popping into WOW on a regular basis and looking forward to the new WOTLK expansion in November. 

Things there are a bit quiet right now, which is pretty understandable just before an expansion release. My guild has slowed way down on raiding and  Blizzard just confirmed that there will be an PVP honor/BG token reset when the expansion comes which is putting a damper on PVP.

One fun thing I’ve been doing is running pick-up groups to fight Corwin Direbrew, the special Brewfest holiday mini-boss.  He’s holed up in the Grim Guzzler Bar down in the Blackrock Depths dungeon.  Luckily, from the first room in the instance you can teleport right to him.  Any group of five 70’s can put him down pretty easily (it’s a tank-and-spank event with additional mobs popping up during the fight that can killed quickly or even ignored if you have enough dps).  Direbrew drops a selection of trinkets that are the equivalent of 41 badge rewards, an updated version of the famous Barman’s Shanker dagger, some unique fun items (a teleporter and two summonable barmaids that will throw you beers and either give you a healing buff or do some damage to your enemies), or, rarely, a Brewfest Ram or Brewfest Kodo mount.

It’s a repeatable daily quest so I’ve run all my characters through multiple times and got most of the useful trinkets.  The teleporter still eludes me, but I finally saw — and won — a Brewfest Kodo.  Got to say it’s very cool to have a Horde mount on my Alliance character (but, honestly, those kodos really jounce a rider around – I’m just about seasick from watching him move <grin>).


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