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The Junkbox

This blog is mostly about MMORPG's or whatever else pops into my head and I decide to write about.

Author: galad2003

Warhammer Online Open Beta Review Part 2 - Character Creation, UI, and Graphics

Posted by galad2003 Thursday September 11 2008 at 1:49PM
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First off let me say that I am a huge fan of the Warhammer franchise. I have played the tabletop game in one form or another for 15+ years. I started when I was in High School and still have my mini’s although I don’t play anymore. I have played fantasy battles, 40K, Necromunda, Mordheim, and even some of the smaller more obscure games. I have the following armies Bretonnian army, High Elf, vampire counts, Ork, Imperial Guard, Blood Angels, and Dark Elves(40K version). Plus assorted mini’s from the other games. Needless to say I am a fan

So with my fandom established I am all logged into Warhammer Online and ready to play. First thing I notice is the great art style and awesome looking characters we can choose from. The character creation screen is really well designed with a clean interface. I was a little confused for a few seconds as I was trying to select my race by clicking on the description at the top. I soon realized my error and proceeded to make my first character. There is a nice selection of features to choose from when customizing the look of your character which is very important to fans. While you don’t have the freedom to alter every detail like some games such as Vanguard or EQ2 you still get e wider range of choices than WoW.

I was a little surprised on Sunday that Destruction was full on every server. Sign of things to come? I don’t think so, the initial fan base might gravitate towards Destruction races but once the game hits shelves and the more casual player base moves in I suspect the numbers will favor Order. I give the character creation process an A.

So I pick my first character, a High Elf Swordmaster (since I don’t have the patience to wait in a queue for destruction). I play for five minutes and I crash hard. I got a message Windows had to shut down to protect itself from corruption or some such. When I restart my computer my character is gone. GRRRR!!!! That’s ok its beta right? So I try a dwarf Runpriest next.

First thing I notice is the ease of getting in there and playing the game. For anyone who has played a MMO there is no guessing in WAR about how to move or use the UI. The UI is well designed with just a little bit of difference to keep it fresh but still be familiar. There is plenty of ways to add hotkeys and change how your hot bars look. No annoying little graphics at the bottom of your screen cluttering it up with useless icons, like options, player data etc. It is all located at the top in a nice and utilitarian manner so as to maximize my view of the world. Chat is easy to figure out and customize to my liking. I can change text colors, opacity, and size right in beta. No waiting weeks for some annoying patch to fix something that is crucial to playing. With the ability for players to customize their UI I give the UI an A+.

Like I said I am really impressed with the art style. They hit the look and feel of the Warhammer universe dead on. Each race has a distinct look that is right out of the IP. Mythic choose to go with a bright colorful look to their art which some people refer to as cartoony. I can see how they would say that but it is nowhere near as cartoony as WoW. They chose this style as that is how Games Workshop paints their miniatures, bright and colorful. Another benefit is that this allows people to run the game on lower end machines. When we factor in the huge number of people that will be taking part of RvR, the ability for players to play on modest machines is crucial to keeping a large active player base. I could run the game on highest settings on my machine with a Geforce 7800. I was a little dispointed that the games graphics don’t scale up. On my high end rig (running a GeForce 8800GT) it looked only slightly better.

Overall I give the graphics a B+, they are good clean graphics with an excellent art style but they aren’t going to show off my hardware. The graphics already look out of date so what will it look like in 5 years? I would give it lower marks but factoring in that they want to have massive amounts of people in RvR, going for lower end graphics was probably a smart idea.

Next time I will get into the meat and potatoes of the game, going over pve and pvp gameplay.

Warhammer Online Open Beta Review Part 1 - Launch

Posted by galad2003 Tuesday September 9 2008 at 11:51AM
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No one should ever mess with another person’s desk without asking, and for crying out loud if you need a sticky don’t take the whole stack. My whole life is on my desk and when someone messes around with it, they are messing with my life. My job, my hobbies, pictures of my family are all on my desk. I get all protective and territorial over it. Don’t touch a guy’s desk! I guess I’ll have to start marking my territory….

Now that I got that off my chest let’s talk about Warhammer. The open beta for Warhammer Online started a little rocky for me. About 45 minutes late I could start patching which went excruciatingly slow. Five hours later on my broadband connection I was 96% complete, and then I get an error message and the whole patcher crashes. After some fiddling around with no success I give up. Boy was I frustrated. A late start a slow patch download, half my Sunday gone and no dice on playing. Like many of you I am sure, I freed up my whole day just to play.

Being a veteran to many beta tests and launches of bad games I took it in stride however. I reopened the patcher and went to the store. I‘m not going to waste my day anymore on waiting on a MMORPG. When I got back everything was patched and up and running…yay!!! Lesson learned – sometimes when you are frustrated just walk away.

All in all I hope this was a test to see how their servers could handle the strain. If this is how they plan to launch then they will have problems. I have struggled through much worst launches but the bar has been raised, whether it is fair or not. People expect a near perfect launch (and apparently a near perfect open beta launch too- which I will talk about in an upcoming blog).

I have to give Mythic a C+ for how they handled the launch and patch process. Slow patching, errors, crashes, late launch time all need to be improved for launch day. Maybe they should practice taking the servers down and opening them back up to get some practice, because when people log on they want to play NOW!!! Whether that is the right attitude or not I will leave up to you, but I know in my job, when I have a deadline I better meet it, test or not. What do you think? Later I will talk about some issues with the GOA launch in Europe and the rest of my open beta review.

So excited

Posted by galad2003 Monday September 8 2008 at 4:41PM
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Like a kid on Christmas morning I wake up early on Sunday and rush to the computer to try and play the open beta of Warhammer online. Its 6:57Am EST but I try to log in regardless with no luck. So I franticly get online to check the forums to see what people are saying. 7:00 AM I try again, no luck. Twenty minutes later I am still trying to log in. What is it about a new MMORPG that gets me so excited? As an adult so few other things manage to capture my excitement like this but here I am early on Sunday morning anxiously awaiting to play.
I think it’s the prospect of exploring a whole new world that truly excites me. In a MMORPG you have the freedom to wander and explore and entire 3D realm that you usually cannot do n other games. You are forced to wander a set path with vary little room to deviate. In a MMOG you not only can wander around you are usually rewarded for doing so. You are rewarded by finding new quests, new mobs to kill, which may yield new treasure, or you are just rewarded by seeing the beautiful game world that the developers created. Warhammer takes this to a whole new level with the Tome of Knowledge. When you explore new areas you are rewarded with a small experience point bonus and an entry in your book that gives you information on the area.
As you can probably tell I am big into exploring as one of my motivations for playing. Of course I am anxious to do other things such as try out the different races and classes. Plus there is the ultimate excitement of pwning my enemies in some scenarios.
I know I am not the only one who gets so excited when a new MMORPG releases. This can be seen by the ravening hordes of followers who follow a game months if not years before it releases. They too await a fresh new world to explore. Very often of late the games that have released have disappointed fans. They find that the game they have been following so closely turns out to buggy, the game play is not what they expected, customer service is lacking and the world that they have drooled over for so long is small and static. Fans don’t take long to voice their disappointment on the forums. Companies sometimes don’t understand the anger and frustration this causes, to look forward to something for so long and then have it not deliver. Not only that, but there is little else for these fans to turn to.
There is a multitude of FPS, RPG’s, RTS’s etc. for people to turn to when one game of that genre bombs. But when a MMORPG bombs there is not many other choices. They can go back to their old game, which they probably left because they are tired of it; they can try another game, which they have probably already played and they didn’t like; or they can sit and wait for the next game, hoping beyond hope that it doesn’t disappoint.
Well here I sit anxiously awaiting a patch update hoping that this game doesn’t disappoint me. Stay tuned for my next blog where I review Warhammer Online and we see if I found my new virtual world that I can call home.