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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: RvR - Not One Step Back!

Posted by Paragus1 Tuesday October 21 2008 at 3:27PM
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Rant: RvR - Not One Step Back!

Order 227 was issued by the Soviet High Command and Stalin during World War 2 to deal with cowards on the battlefield. Order 227 was read out to all troops in the Russian armed forces and here are the critical parts of the order...

"And so the time for retreating is over. Not one step back! That must now be our watchword.

Is there something we lack? We lack order and discipline. This is our main shortcoming. We must establish the strictest order and iron discipline in our army if we want to rescue the situation and defend our Motherland. Panickers and cowards will be eliminated on the spot. Commanders of companies, battalions, regiments and divisions, along with their commissars and political workers, will be considered traitors to the Motherland if they retreat without orders from above.”

I have been recently playing Warhammer Online and have been spending a fair amount of my time doing overworld RvR now that I am 40. The game is built around massive combat between the realms, so it has become more common to see giant bloodbaths in places like Praag. I have seen a behavior pattern that I find disturbing that I have seen in previous MMOs, and I am sure both realms are suffering from it.

Cowardice

You are in your warband marching into battle when you encounter an equal size warband of the enemy team. There is a moment where you see each other and time seems to slow to a halt as the realization hits you that a battle is imminent and unavoidable. In this moment of truth, someone from the other team finds his balls while your comrades are still feeling in there pockets trying to find their yambags, and they start charging forward towards you. For some unexplainable reason, this man inspires the fear of God into your team and they start to retreat!

What the hell is the logic behind this? You both have the same number of people. You both were looking for a fight. You both are facing each other head on. All things being equal, you had the same chance of winning as they did. Now your army will be ran down like animals and scattered into the wind.

Is it confidence that inspires fear? This is the same type of behavior we see nature between animals when one animal scares off an entire pack, or how a mouse can spook an elephant. As it turns out, elephants may not be scared of mice, but scared by sudden movements (depending on who you ask).

My Theory

I play a Shadow Warrior which is by most accounts a back row class. From my point of view, I will be traveling with my warband or group until we encounter a group. Often times I my initial reaction will be to calmly step to the back of the ranks to allow the tanks to receive the brunt of incoming attack like they are designed to do, and to give myself the range I need to be effective. Naturally other back row classes, specifically healers, are also inclined to position themselves at the rear of the warband to avoid being damaged so they can keep the front line classes alive.

I suspect what happens is that front line classes in the warband see half of their force backing up and think they are fleeing, when in actuality they are repositioning. The front liners start to freak out when they see the opposing side advancing and the rest of their team backing up. Panic sets in and they turn and run. The back row watches the front row flee, then they in turn start to flee. The next minute or two consists of you and all your friends being rounded up like cattle and put down.

We need RvR Order 227. No army ever wins an RvR fight in any MMO with their backs to the enemy. Now don't get me wrong, there are times where you are faced with hopeless odds and running may be the best course of action. People who wander off on their own are likely to encounter superior numbers. When you have even a decent sized force, I'd wager you are more likely to get more kills by standing your ground, then try to flee and being killed anyways without any resistance. Regardless, this is something I see all the time from my experience so far in Warhammer and previous MMO's I have played. I suspect there are many other out there like me who do a collective facepalm on a regular basis from being the victim of this phenomenon.

Paragus

Co-Leader of Inquisition

www.inqguild.com

Warhammer: Top 5 Issues

Posted by Paragus1 Monday October 13 2008 at 9:07AM
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Warhammer: Top 5 Issues

Well here we are about a month after the release of Warhammer Online, and I wanted to take some time to talk about some of the top issues in the game at the present time. I have previously written about two of the early issues already which no longer seem to be glaring problems to me, Server Queues and Goldspammers. I want to preface this article by saying that I do enjoy the game so far, but for the purposes of this I will be zeroing in on what I see as the top issues that I feel have the potential to derail the success of the game. If you read my early review of the game, which has been published on a variety of sites, then you should know that my goal is to be as objective as possible. Let's start the constructive criticism.

1) Overworld Rewards

This is issue one for me and a lot of the community at the moment. The entire premise of Warhammer Online is the war in the overworld. I don't think anyone bought this game to do instanced battlegrounds, but at the present time they seem to be the most rewarding option in regards of using RvR to advance your character.

Scenarios are by far way too beneficial and the overworld is far less rewarding at the present time. Scenarios require no effort to get into, you simply sign up and wait for it to let you know when to zone you in. The longest any given scenario can run is 15 minutes, and can yield large amounts of experience and renown. Overworld RvR requires you to physically travel to the front in hopes of serious combat going on. Overworld doesn't lay a finger on scenarios in terms of experience points, and unless you are in a major bloodbath you won't be coming close to the same amount of renown, especially when compared to what can be earned in a 15 minute scenario.

The good news is that Mythic seems to have been reading the feedback. They recently announced a 50% increase in leveling experience in the overworld RvR areas, and they are promising to announce some changes in the next week about renown. This issue is critical because most people will opt to take the fastest route to advancement, and if the overworld becomes empty this game will fail.

2) Class Balance

Since release we have seen a variety of bug fixes go in, but we have seen little in regards to class balance. Now I understand where they are coming from in this regard, but there are some balancing problems that need to be addressed or people will get turned off from RvR. If people are finding themselves saddled into a class that is extremely weak, it may lead them to cancel out of frustration with their class if they don't have the strength to tough it out or reroll. These are my observations as someone who plays Order in Tier 4, so take it with a grain of salt as I will try to be fair.

Shadow Warriors and Squid Herders are in desperate need of a boost. Both of these classes are one of the rarest played from my experiences, and for good reason. These ranged DPS classes as they are marketed need a bit more DPS or a bit more range. I play a Shadow Warrior in Tier 4, and it is a hard life compared to some of the other classes that are capable of far more damage and have much better survivability. A Shadow Warrior wears the same level of armor as a Bright Wizard and does far less damage. If I am at my maximum range and shoot at someone running towards me, they will be in melee range by the time the move is finished executing. Kiting is not even close to being a viable option in RvR. My root barely works and is a melee attack, so by the time someone is close enough that I need it, I'm dead anyways.

Magus and Engineers need to be looked at as well. These are also uncommon classes because they suffer from similar problems. Both of these classes have an ability that is going to ruin this game if it is not fixed. Electromagnet on the Engineer and the Magus version is an ability that sucks in all plays from 65 feet away, has no casting time, only has a 20 second cooldown, has no line of sight check (can pull people through keep doors in sieges), and snares!  I wasn't surprised when I found out that the addition of this spell was something that happened right near the end of beta, so probably has not undergone the proper testing. The sad thing is that this is one of the few good tools these classes have at end game, so they need to be brought up a little while this ability gets fixed.

Witch Elves strike me as a bit out of control. I often find myself unable to fight back almost every single time they attack me, even with all of my counter-measures up. They can kill me in about 4 seconds flat while incapacitating me. Now as someone who wears light armor I guess that might be feasible, but Ironbreaker guildmates of mine have been destroyed almost as fast.  The ability that damages you for moving has no limit to how much it can do, and when factored with how easy they can kill when you aren't moving there is little anyone can do in most cases.  There is nothing fun about not being able to fight back, something DAOC was notorious for.

3) Performance

This is another major issue that needs to be worked on as soon as possible. The end game envisioned by Mythic and its customers is large scale overworld fights. If your computer crashes you to desktop, or reduces you to watching a slide show, then people will eventually quit. My computer is an absolute beast, and even I have found it being brought to its knees in some of the battles we are seeing in Tier 4 at this point. These battles will only get worse as more people level up, so they need to continue to tweak the code. Nothing sucks worse then crashing to desktop during a city raid, then logging back in 1 zone back and unable to rejoin because all of the guards have respawned blocking your way.

I have heard rumors that the game is sending too much data as a reason for some of the performance issues. Some have said that buff refresh data is being updated too frequently, or that chat being logged too often could be possible causes. There are some mods out there trying to experiment with these issues, but I have yet to try any to see if they work. The good news is that the game is running noticeably better after the last patch when I am in large scale battles, so I look forward to seeing if there are more changes coming that will help streamline with before everyone else gets to Tier 4.

4) Itemization

This is a minor annoyance at the present time, but could be a big problem as we move on into the coming months. If you go to the merchants in your capital city who sell the high end RvR gear you can take a look at some of the rewards and stats on the gear we get to look forward to earning.

The problem is a lot of those high end armors have stats that don't make a lot of sense. Many of my guildmates report to me that they are seeing the epic RvR gear with very odd stats such as willpower and intelligence on melee class armors and weapon skill for casters. Some of the items are not only lacking in the primary areas for their respective classes, but they have stats on them that are of little value to their class. If these items are deemed as junk by the player base, it will diminish the reward from RvR, and make people less motivated to try to earn them. Now I understand that a lot of these items are sets and have set bonuses, but a lot of these just flat out suck without the rest of them. Maybe they rushed them because the game was close to release and they knew nobody would get them for a long time, but they definitely need to be gone over again.

5) Bugs

These most likely won't make people quit, but they will test the nerves of the players. The guild interface is absolutely amazing, but it has bugs that need fixing. Some players in my guild have to be manually promoted by typing out the command because the interface hates them. The alliance tab has some glitches making it hard to read at times. The guild heraldry shows to other players, but on my screen I don't see it unless I toggle it off and on every time I zone. Altdorf still causes me crash almost every time I go there for no real reason.  I still can't join a scenario from some zones randomly. I could go on but you get the drift.

By far one of the most annoying things is the current state of the mail system. It literally took me 5 minutes to open 3 mails and remove the items attached to them. As someone who is in a guild where people are always sending each other stuff, this can make going to the mailbox a dreadful experience. Every time you buy an item at the auction house you have to go get it from the mailbox, so if you buy some material for crafting or a set of new armor, you might as well go to the bathroom and drop a duece while you wait for your mail to get sorted out.

Conclusion

Overall the game remains solid for what it is. The overworld RvR is enjoyable when it happens, and the gameplay is overall good. When you compare this game in its present state after 1 month to games like WoW and Age of Conan, it definitely has a lot going for it. These issues however summarize what I believe are the top concerns of the community, as you can find on most forums and in game whining.

The good news is Mythic is definitely listening to the player feedback. Recently they made a change in a patch that has reduced the number of gold spammers noticeably. People were upset about the leveling curve in certain tiers of the game and Mythic reacted by increasing the quest experience in these areas of the game. They are keeping a sharp eye on the community and reacting to their needs. If they continue to maintain this level of communication and honesty with the players, this game will be around for a long time.

Paragus

Co-Leader of Inquisition

www.inqguild.com