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Paragus Rants

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

Author: Paragus1

Warhammer Woes at 60 Days

Posted by Paragus1 Monday November 24 2008 at 5:55PM
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Warhammer Woes at 60 Days

I feel compelled to do another installment here on how Warhammer online is progressing a little past the 60 day mark of going live. Those of you who have followed my writing on and MMOCrunch may remember that I wrote my review of the game right before launch, and at the 30 day mark I wrote about the Top 5 Issues with the game. Now past 60 days, Warhammer Online finds itself struggling due to what I believe are 3 main problems that need immediate fixing.

1) Itemization

This is the first issue that is crushing my motivation to play. This is one of the 5 points I touched on in my previous Warhammer article and it remains to be a major problem. The stats on most if not all of the high end gear are horrible. I am almost inclined to think the stats were picked by a Mythic Dev throwing darts, they make little to no sense for their respective classes and seem almost random in the stats and set bonuses.

This is a major problem because the high end gear is one of the primary motivators to play. Unlike DAOC which had interesting realm abilities to chose from, Warhammer uses RvR gear as the carrot at the end of the stick to keep you wanting to advance and participate in RvR. The fact that the stats are so poor on these items completely takes the wind out of the player's sails to participate and chase the carrot. Unfortunately this problem is not only limited to the RvR gear. I was fortunate enough to get 4 of my Sentinel pieces for my Shadow Warrior in a single run through Sigmar's Crypt. In any other game I would be elated to be this lucky, but the excitement was quickly diminished when I realized none of the items were an upgrade, and the set bonus was actually worse then a lower level Bloodlord set. This needs to be fixed immediately, and if not before the end of the billing cycle, then there will be a further bleeding of subscriptions.

2) Overworld RvR Mechanic

The overworld RvR mechanic simply is not working. In a recent patch, Mythic claimed they made changes to the "Victory Point" system which determines how and when a zone will flip to the control of one team or the other. The patch claimed it would make scenarios carry less weight, thus putting more weight on the overworld and making zones flip faster. Yesterday my guild had an ORvR day to make a real push on the Destruction territory. After taking all the keeps and battle objectives in all 3 pairings, I was shocked to see that we were only halfway to flipping in 1 zone, and even less in the other 2 zones. Nobody wants to be forced to run public quests, which offer terrible rewards and are tedious, in order to flip a zone. Scenarios other than Serpent's Passage still are not popping as needed, and I play on Skull Throne which is widely viewed as the highest pop server in the game. This leads to all the objectives being taken and being unable to progress, so people log off or go run mindless scenarios.

Another problem is practice of keep trading that has been developing as of late. In a recent patch, Mythic decided to make all keep lords to drop 3 gold bags 100% of the time when defeated. Unfortunately, players will always take the path of least resistance when trying to get stronger. It has become a common practice to see an Order Army and a Destruction Army deliberately avoiding each other and attacking undefended keeps for the easy gold bags. If you are out for loot, why would you attacked a defended keep when you can attack an undefended one a lot easier and get the same reward? On the flip side, why defend a keep if there no tangible reward for doing so? It is actually better to let them take the keep so you can take it back later and get 3 more gold bags. Even if I did want to defend, the keeps are taken so fast that the battle would most likely be over by the time I arrive. This entire system needs to be looked at quickly.

3) Contribution System

In case you haven't been reading various Warhammer related forums, someone seems to have come up with a theory about how contribution is calculated that I have been unable to disprove after testing with my guild extensively. The theory states in short, that whenever you zone into an area, you are given a randomly generated contribution number before you do anything. This randomly generated value will stay with you until you zone or relog. I can enter a zone and be given a value of 900 while my friend gets a value of 100. We can attack a keep together and if I do nothing while he does all the work, I will still beat him in contribution when the keep lord dies. If we move the second keep we see the same exact thing happen, but only if he relogs or zones will his contribution rating change.

After collecting data from my guild, I can conclude that this theory not only seems viable, but likely. Knowing this, it makes it hard for me to want to try and help anyone during a keep fight since my contribution rating has been predetermined no matter what my actions are. I wouldn't expect Mythic to comment on this because if they admitted that this was how the system works, the outrage would be massive. Now as much as it pisses me off to think this is true, the blow is softened by the fact that the itemization is so bad that the rewards are often times worse then most of the green items I have of lesser level.

The Billing Cycle

Warhammer's issues are starting to catch up.   A week ago we crossed over into a new billing cycle for those of us who started at release. As I mentioned earlier, even on Skull Throne I am noticing some of the guilds disappearing, I looked up some of the biggest instigators of RvR on the opposing side, and a lot of them have large portions of their roster who hasn't been on since the new billing cycle started. While I am sure some can be attributed to the Lich King, I can't blame those who have decided to sit this out until the big patch. 

If nothing changes during this cycle, this game is going to sustain serious damage to its subscriber base. Even if the diehards decide to ride it out, the premise of the game requires a lot of people to be playing and participating in RvR. The incentive to do so is not there with the 3 problems above. Mythic needs to prioritize issues that will drive people to quit. That new sound for the horn when I get on my mount is nice, but 4 of the classes are severely underpowered, the items are junk, the RvR system is flawed, and 2 new classes are not going to steer this away from the edge of the cliff.

Co-Leader of Inquisition

Rant: Guards!

Posted by Paragus1 Monday November 3 2008 at 7:43AM
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Rant: Guards!

What is it about MMO developers and their inability to implement guards in their games in a rational manner. Going all the way back to the very first MMOs, we have seen paranoid developers either use guards to try and stop their players from running amok in their games, or for merely decorative purposes.

I was playing Warhammer Online recently in one of the scenarios when I became witness to a guard from the other team going berserk killing most of my team. I think what bothers me is not so much that the guards attacked us, but the fact that the guards are level 55 champions! I mean seriously, what the fuck are there level 55 guards for?! These bad boys are handing out 30,000 damage a hit to a level 40.

The scenario "Serpent's Passage" revolves around the idea of 2 boats crashed on the same island fighting over some salvage part to repair their ships and get off the island. That is all well and good, but if the task is that important and critical, why would you send out the level 40s to kill each other and not send the level 55 super hero guard?! Hell, I'll take it a step further! Why don't they send out this guy to single handedly win the entire war?! He hits for 30,000 damage a pop, which sure to be enough to bring most keep lords to their knees in a few hits, and probably decimate the enemy king.

What were they thinking? Developers are so paranoid that players might actually have some freedom or inconvenience the other team that they have to use this as a method to keep us contains from going out of bounds. It reminds me of people who play Dungeons and Dragons with a Dungeon Master who uses one of the box adventures instead of giving their players the freedom to make their own decision. Unfortunately this problem is not just limited to recent games.

As far back as Everquest 1 we have seen guards gone wild, but even worse were vendors! I remember when Everquest first came out that I would sometimes accidentally attack the baker selling rations by pressing the wrong button on the keyboard. The result was me getting obliterated for obscene amount of damage. This also made me wonder why this lady is selling bread and not out hunting dragons, and what she is doing with that loaf to cause so much damage.

Final Fantasy 11 took a different approach to guards as a PvE game. Their guards looked bad ass usually sporting some amazing looking armor. You would think if there was ever guard that should be doing massive damage it would be them. Unfortunately we will never know because they are merely decorative. I will never forget my first night in FFXI where a bunny rabbit crit me and chewed my face off while the nearby guard stood motionless as I clung to him for dear life. It's a good thing the police in real life didn't train at the Vana'diel police academy!

World of Warcraft took yet a different approach. Their guards did not do massive damage and were very much killable. The bad news is that there seemed to be more guards in the town then people whenever one is attacked. My guild used to attack Red Ridge when the game first came out, and more guards ran out of that place then there were people living there. They just magically seemed to appear out what must have been a mysterious portal that connected to the biggest barracks of all time.

Age of Conan gave us Funcom's take on the idea. The guards were not super high level and they did not hit terribly hard. The bad news is that you could not hit them back! We used to murder people in the Noble District on the FFA server, at which time the guards would usually chase us. I found it ironic that my character had the will to murder innocent players in the street, but did not have the will to defend himself from the town guard. Players were often left to finding ways hide from the guards, but sometimes this would result in Funcom handing out a suspension. Clearly the Funcom CSRs thought it as more important to prosecute people hiding from guards instead of those exploiting the raid content in the game, nice work there!

Can we please stop having developers try to box us in with guards? Let us have our freedom, these are RPGs after all. God forbid the players should do something the developers never thought imagined we would. God forbid another player might be inconvenienced by another on a free for all server. Look, there is nothing wrong with having guards in your game. I wouldn't expect to be able to kill someone in real life without them coming, but be sensible about it. If you are a pure PvE game, then at least have the guards lend a hand if I am coughing up blood on them. If you are making a PvP game, the guards should be killable and in limited supply.  The use of guards in most MMO's so far has hurt immersion and has served as a virtual bitch slap by the devs to keep their players inside the box.


Co-Leader of Inquisition