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Picking Apart Carrie’s Mind

July 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Well I’m back! Unbeknown to many I was actually gone this past week and had an elf secretly posting my posts daily =) Yeah… I wrote them ahead of time. I was out hiking in Yosemite for four days and a day at Mono Lake. With about 45 miles under my boots and 620 pictures of varying quality – I’m back and ready to smash face!

So upon returning and going over the sites, I stumbled upon many juicy factoid releases which may or may not give us hope. So first things first, we have our July Producer’s Letter! The first half is a pat on the back  for the Euro server transfer and the Bioware forums – which if you haven’t read aren’t going so well among the Warhammer Community. A lot of players just don’t like them and oddly enough a new breath of life has been given to the warhammeralliance.com forums. The second part of the letter goes on to talk about 1.3.6 on the PTS and the live event – now if the patch is released at the time of the live event, then we wont expect 1.3.6 to go live until the end of August which is when the live event happens. Only juicy tid-bit from this letter is the 6v6 scenario – The Eternal Citadel (which I’m sure has destro pouting over why the scenario is in their city). The only question is will it only be available during the city fight or always? Seems like a terribly odd choice to have it always open as a scenario… All in all the letter gave no real indication for the future, but go figure, it never does.

Now if we want some serious juicy hypothetical extraction going on we turn to Carrie’s interview with buffed.de – lovingly translated by Google. In the second question we are told that fortresses will be in the game again in the future – but no clue as to when. Question four cites that Mythic is indeed working on new content but the answer was brushed away and pointed to waiting until Gamescom in Cologne Aug 18-22, so again more waiting until an announcement. The Warhammer Community had hopes that during E3 some announcement would be made but alas we got nothing, now we are again deferred to Gamescom in 18 days… The next question says that new challenges are being worked on – going back to my post on a new dungeon, I can only hope that this new challenge isn’t a Skaven dungeon or something like that which drops Warlord/Sovereign equivalent gear. The sixth question does indicate that Carrie has a surprise for us at Gamescom but again… one can hope it’s what the players are asking for. When further specifically asked about Bretonnia and the Vampire Counts Carrie (laughs) and says coyly ‘maybe yes, maybe no’ as if she was being asked out on a date, and then she tells us to read the patches over summer… well Ms. Carrie summer is a dwindling with autumn technically starting September 23rd and at the rate Mythic pumps out patches we’ve only got one to read… To put the final nail in the coffin of the Hypothetical Expansion regarding the remaining capitals… Carrie states “To be quite honest, it is increasingly unlikely that cities have to create this game. We never close things out categorically – but I think we have far more interesting plans for new endgame content than other cities.” I don’t think people wanted the cities as more end gamecontent, they just wanted the cities…  and the rest of the interview is chit-chat which doesn’t really interest me.

Casting my hypothetical eye at the interview and the July Producer’s Letter I deduce a few things:

  • The Weekened Warfronts were indeed replacements for Live Events, so instead of making new live events throughout March-August they took out scenarios and recycled them as weekend live events – a poor substitute. We will however be getting an actual live event, The Wild Hunt, but again its a recycled Live Event and its a month away.
  • We are getting a new 6v6 scenario, The Eternal Citadel. Will it only be available in the city? Will it be plagued by the horrors the Ironclad had?
  • We are made to expect that sometime during the Gamescom in Cologne a ‘surprise’ announcement will be made, and with the 2 year anniversary coming up at the start of September, a ‘surprise’ announcement is indeed expected.
  • The other capitals are pretty much out of the equation
  • Forts are somewhere in the future, and so are flying cars.
  • There are plans for more endgame content, however with the city already dropping three sets of gear in a two hour window, it seems that the only additional end game content is most likely PvE in the flavor of a dungeon.
  • We apparently have clues in the patch notes regarding the ‘surprise’… so far we’re being fed rats. Lots of rats. I hope I get to play with my rats and not just kill them.

All in all I feel that much like all the previous Producer’s Letters, we are made to wait until the future for any announcements. Nothing solid. Another month goes by and Carrie continues to tease and say nothing more. To end I give you the Google Translator’s epic quote of the month:

“Currently, many players ergrinden their way to level 40 too early for our taste.  We will also be new and very pregnant XP opponent near the RvR sections to add.”

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Hypothetical Expansion Conclusion

July 29, 2010 1 comment

In an ideal world…

I conclude this series and would like to wrap it up with what I would do if I was the producer of Warhammer Online. All of the proposed expansions are feasible, however alone they are on shaky ground. The true winning approach would be to combine elements from all 8 hypotheses posted and form a chain of expansions to keep players interested and subbing. A burst expansion would grab players for some time, but after a while they would whine for more, so the ideal solution is to cut up the vision into chunks and feed them a chunk at a time. Given the developed story of Warhammer as presented by Games Workshop and the limitations Games Workshop imposes on Mythic there’s only so much new content that could be added that doesn’t exist in the tabletop. So here is my formula for the ongoing success of Warhammer online and new content to keep the players happy…

  • Reintroduce forts to slow attacks on capitols and keep them a unique experience and bring in the remaining cities – possibilities for new cities include a separate district with purchasable guild halls which can be raided in cities.
  • Introduce a mercenary faction to aide the realm in need – Dogs of War and Ogre Kingdoms
  • Announce a new racial pairing and start off the drive with a themed live event; have a ‘sub for 3 months before the expansion and its free’ promo
  • Cap the live event with a new pair of classes in a new or old archetype to combat the forces to come
  • Create another live event granting early access
  • Release a new pairing
  • Release t5, a new dungeon dropping sovereign level gear requiring excelsior wards, and raise the exp and renown cap to accommodate this tier.
  • Repeat the live event cycle for a 2nd new pairing again with 3 month subbing = free expansion promos and a 2nd pair of the new archtype
  • Release 2nd new pairing
  • Repeat live event cycle for 3rd pairing
  • Release 3rd new pairing

This chain of events could take place over a year to two years, but that is that much time that people are hooked and waiting for the next new thing. Every three months throw the players a carrot and keep them happy. Its an ideal set up I know, but it gives players something new to look forward to. So far all Mythic has done is said “something’s a comin’!” and they’ve said this for quite some time now. At some point people get tired of waiting and being hopeful and just move on. Give us something substantial to hope for not random tid-bits that can point to anything.

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Hypothetical Expansion 8: Tier 5

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Scenario 8: Tier 5

The Possibility: To end my chain of hypotheses, I bring to mind a possible expansion which in fact would have made sense ages ago – the implementation of a fifth tier to separate lower levels and renown ranks from upper levels. This theory does go hand in hand with raising the renown and level cap but deserves its own category because it does not necessitate them in the current state of the game.

The Pros: As I stated in my prior post – tier 4 is not a fair fight. Separating people by renown rank would give new players entering tier 4 a fighting chance. My main came through T4 back when the best gear you could get was full Dark Promise, and those people were rare – seeing someone with even one piece invader made jaws drop. On average players were decked out in combinations of Dark Promise, Sentinel, and Annihilator – maybe some conqueror if you were lucky. Now as I bring up other toons my poor fellas in devastator get eaten in milliseconds by a RR80 choppa. He looks at me, I’m dead. It’s not fun. I knew a guy who hated T4 because he had no chance, so every time he hit level 32 he rerolled – to me that’s not what  Warhammer is about, yet people do it.

The Questions to be Raised:

  • Mythic’s biggest argument against a T5 is that the population would not sustain it. I dont know if they ever considered that maybe new people would sub if there was a) a new tier to fight in and b)their lower level toons were on an even playing field in T4. Would this expansion create the population boost in WAR necessary for sustaining populations in all tiers?
  • Where does T5 go? In most of the story lines T4 is on the home front of the factions capitol. Do you tack on a 5th tier to the existing pairings and somehow rework the story to accommodate for it sticking the cities behind T5 or do you leave them at the cap of T4 and have another tier…? Given the geographic mess the story lines are currently in I guess it doesn’t matter.
  • Do we open up a new racial pairing and make it exclusively T5, forcing classes in that pairing to forgo their storyline and level in the existing three pairings.
  • At what point do we cut T4 in half? Or does T4 remain RR32-RR80 with T5 being RR81-100?
  • New maps? New scenarios? New pqs? New armor sets? I likey but would Mythic go through the work to do it?

The Finances: This is a mixed bag. People would re-sub to see tier 5 but the question is would the momentum stay to keep the population alive in every tier or would it dwindle and create 5 tiers with skeletal populations. There are already arguments to condense the game to three tiers to remove the dead zone that is t3 (although with the LotD changes t3 may regain life yet!). Temporary financial boosts without a sustained population… could bring the end to WAR.

Conclusion: Although in my heart T5 is something that should have existed ages ago I fear what this would do to the game if the population did not hold after the expansion, let alone the fact that Mythic has stated they do not favor T5 because it would force them to rework mobs in dungeons that coincide with T5. I believe T5 could only be implemented with an expansion which was guaranteed to bring in huge numbers – like the implementation of new racial pairings because everyone is in love with Skaven. As a stand alone expansion I do not think this would be a prudent move, as a tag along expansion to new content which could be experienced T1-4 this could very well work.

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Hypothetical Expansion 7: Raising the Bar

July 27, 2010 2 comments

Scenario 7: Renown and Level Cap Raised

The Possibility: We now enter a possibility which the player base hasn’t really asked for, yet the developers have stated that it is a possibility in the future. That is the possibility of raising the level cap to 50 and/or raising the renown cap to 90 or 100.

Developer Feedback: Now if we look at this site which has the titles posted (which Mythic will tell you is a third party site and they are not responsible for its content) then we see that titles exist for renown rank 90+, presumably RR81+ was removed for unknown reasons. I lump these two together because although they are different ‘pools’ in my mind they go hand-in-hand. On several occasions the developers have said that they have looked into raising the renown cap; however, even though in most players minds raising the level cap goes hand in hand with this, the developers have stated that they do not intend on raising the level cap due to other changes to PvE that would have to be made (I have no source for this statement but I have heard from someone who knows the goings on on the inside so I trust the statement.)

The Pros: For players who like to be the best of the best, raising the renown cap would be a carrot-on-a-stick for that much longer.

The Questions to be Raised:

  • Currently RR80 is a let-down. Unlike the other increments of 10 from RR40-70, you do not get a mastery point, you get a hidden +1 to every mastery tree (which equals something like 12 more damage to your abilities). Different people say different things about what you get at 80 but to state what I know: you do not get a mastery point – you get a hidden +1 to all your trees, you get your 80th renown point, you get a title, and can wear your last piece of Sovereign gear. Given the let-down that 80 is what reason would we have to grind  RR to 90 or 100? Would there be gear? Would the rewards actually be worthwhile?
  • Renown is not a measure of skill by any means, it is simply a measure of time committed to the game. I don’t know the exact math, but give or take I can say that RR1-68 is roughly half the total renown in the game, and 69-80 is the remaining half. Once you hit 69 the amount needed for the next level begins to grow at semi-exponential rates, no longer jumps of a few thousand, but jumps of 10s of thousands of renown. Going off the growth rate of the renown required per level I would assume that renown rank 81-90 would have a time commitment roughly equal to that of RR1-80 and renown rank 91-100 would be possibly RR1-90 x2. Like I said I don’t do math so who knows – my point is the renown required for 100 would take months to acquire. At this point how would renown not be a grind? Considering you get the same renown from BOs and keeps it seems like this would be an unbearable drag.
  • T4 is already a mess in terms of Renown balance. In my mind you cannot raise the renown cap without separating higher renown ranks. It is already unfair for a RR32 in devastator gear to be fighting with a RR80 in full tyrant/sovereign. Would these players be separated finally?
  • Raising the level cap in my mind would require a fifth tier for further chapters and mobs that are level 41-50, would this happen? If so where would tier 5 be and how would it work with the fact that the campaign is capped at the capitols. It would seem rather odd that after culminating the campaign with the king fight you progress to a 5th tier… what would you fight there? Sigmar versus Tzeentch? Do we take tier 5 to the heavens and fight the gods themselves? If not how do you carry the story line into a 5th tier?
  • Level 50, new abilities? New tactics? New Morales? A 5th career tactic slot? Another bag? A pet monkey?
  • If you raise the renown cap but do not raise the level cap, certain players would grow rather weary of playing the same six scenarios every day fighting in the same 9 zones every day trying to fill ever bigger renown bars. How can you possibly consider keeping us in t4?

The Finances: This ‘expansion’ in my mind does not smell financially wise decision at all. In fact all this expansion does smell like is financial incentive without any thought. “Gee how do we get player to play longer without actually giving them new places to fight or new things to do… I know raise the cap!” Lets face it people who are already RR80 and still play are not playing for the gain, theyre playing to kill. People who unsubbed probably left because there was nothing new, the renown was a grind, or the game wasn’t to their fancy (bugs, PvP orientation, etc).

Conclusion: I don’t believe that raising the cap would get anyone to re-sub or it would draw in new players. It would just give the 80s purple numbers again. If someone’s 80 and still playing its because they love WAR, not because they want to grind to RR5,742. Raising the renown cap is no incentive for player to play, especially considering the lousy reward we get for hitting RR80, I mean come on, not even a fireworks display or banners in Altdorf? Raising either cap without actually implementing a fifth tier to separate the boys from the men would essentially kill T4. You think being a lvl 32 in T4 is bad fighting RR80s… try fighting RR100s… talk about getting one-shotted by throwing knives.

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Hypothetical Expansion 6: New Classes

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Scenario 6: New classes in existing races

The Possibility: Among the fans and players there have always been ‘better options for such and such archtype’ and this has led to several small-time requests and rumors that like other MMOs a new class will be tacked on to existing races, such as the Hammerer for Dwarves, a class that was removed and replaced by slayers, or Assassins for Dark Elves, the male equivalent of Witch Elves.

The Pros: Although not a mainstream thought, there are enough calls for adding classes that exist in the tabletop but not in Warhammer Online that who knows. This would certainly give players something new to experience and the best part of this type of expansion is it doesn’t require the creation of any new maps or pairings. All that would be required is creating new models and ability sets.

The Questions to be Raised:

  • Would a new archtype be introduced or would the new class fulfill an existing archtype simply with different abilities and mechanics?
  • Would new classes only branch two races, or could we expect each race to receive a 5th class? Certain armies are certainly more flexible and have room for a 5th class, others are not.
  • Class balance? That ever pestering issue that is a thorn in Mythic’s side.
  • Would current models be restructured to allow other classes which better fit that roll? Most vivid example that sticks in my mind is the Sword Master which is hardly a tank in lore; uber melee dps – yes, sword and board tank, no. The same can be said for Black Guards which in lore better fit the role of tank, however in Warhammer Online are played more like mdps in heavy armor.

Candidates:

  • Dwarf Hammerer – possibly a medium/heavy armor dps – bumping the slayer down to light armor
  • Night Goblin Fanatic – Goblin mdps
  • Empire Greatswords – Heavy armor mdps
  • Another knightly Order from the Empire
  • A wizard from another college
  • Phoenix Guard for High Elves
  • Dragon Princes – mounted High Elf tank/mdps
  • Dark Elf Assassins
  • Dark Elf Executioners
  • Chariot Units for any race

The Finances: There are many possibilities for new classes, and anything new would bump up revenues for Warhammer. Depending on how Mythic handled new classes this could be a good move for the game. If a new archtype was introduced such as mounted dps there is an interesting world of possibilities for Warhammer.

Conclusion: New classes would certainly mix up the game and allow Warhammer fans to play a different beloved character. Questions arise when it comes to archtypical roles and role shuffling since some of the current classes do not really fit the roll they’ve been jammed into, but this is among the easiest possible expansions since no new maps would have to be added which would be the case if a new racial pairing was added. Although not a mainstream expansion theory, certainly something to be looked at in terms of ease of implementation and revenue boost.

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Hypothetical Expansion 5: A Live Event!

July 25, 2010 1 comment

Scenario 5: Anniversary Live Event

The Possibility: As the two year anniversary approaches Mythic could possibly throw us a new live event, yay new content!

Live Event History: Live events happen every two months (well they use to) and the cycle is pretty much predictable. Starting with the games history our first post birthday live event is the Halloween related one which in 2009 was the Daemon Moon Rising and lots of masks! Two months later at the end of December/start of January we get Keg End and fireworks, yay! Come February and Valentine’s we show our love with the Night of Murder and collecting hearts. This leaves the Live Events for April and June to be something new, in 2009 they ushered in Land of the Dead. Ending the cycle we get The Wild Hunt as our anniversary event in August/September. And so it restarts – assuming Mythic doesn’t care to make something new.

The Pros: Well… we get a new Live Event finally after months of a dry run. Mythic dropped the ball on their promise to give us a new live event every two months when we failed to get a new one in April. Instead we got Weekend War-fronts, a poor substitute for live events.

The Questions to be Raised: Mainly one – is this worthy of all the hype that is leading the players to think we’re getting an expansion? If we get a live event and it isn’t ushering in a greater expansion then this balloon of hope is going to deflate in a matter of nano-seconds.

The Finances: A live event is highly unlikely to bring in new players unless it is specifically announced to bring in something new – like the Call to Arms chain brought us Slayers, Choppas, and Land of the Dead. IF we got a stand alone live event then more likely than not after the brief joy it gave players would begin to leave stating all hope was lost for new content for Warhammer.

Conclusion: A live event is not what the players want, and does not even merit being considered an expansion, yet with Mythic anything is possible. Give us a series of Live Events ushering in a new pairing, new cities, even a new dungeon, but do not just give us a live event and expect us to be content.

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Hypothetical Expansion 4: A New Dungeon

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Scenario 4: A Warlord/Sovereign Level Dungeon

The Possibility: Digging back into the past a little, I bring back the May 2010 Producer’s Letter and in particular the quote at the very bottom which sparked our next theory. That quote would be “We want to make sure that you have proper incentive to wear that shiny new armor that you’re winning in the new city.” Now given the release of the 1.3.6 patch notes, this could have just been in reference to the Sovereign armor changes, but initially the theory was a dungeon for us to use our Warlord/Sovereign gear.

From the Dungeon-master: If you break up the game into the RvR sets, which are the only way to gauge a players progression in the game visually, you see that for almost every set there is a coinciding dungeon which drops a like-warded set. The exception to this rule is the Decimator  Set which is alone =( Obliterator has Keeper, Devastator has Redeye, Annihilator has Bloodlord, Conqueror has Sentinel, Invader has Dark Promise, and arguably Warlord has Tyrant (even though Tyrant offers no wards and the dungeon itself has the same ward check as Lost Vale). That being said their is no ‘real’ ward mirror for Warlord and no mirror period for Sovereign.

The Pros: A new dungeon would indeed be welcome new content for any player to explore but what is really Mythic’s greatest hurdle currently is keeping those pesky elitist RR80s interested. For those who have mastered the Tomb of the Vulture Lord and are working on their second set of Sovereign gear due to the dual-set announcement, there isn’t much of a carrot-on-a-stick for them to keep going – aside from bloodlust and enemy tears.  And considering by technicality a RR45 can access ToVL and hypothetically do it the higher-ups feel they deserve something that’s just for them.

The Questions to be Raised:

  • Initially Tyrant gear had no wards as to prevent players from PvE-ing their way to the King instance and there for potentially getting Sovereign gear without ever doing RvR/PvP. Would Tyrant receive the wards its due and would ToVL be upped in status to a Superior Warded Dungeon?
  • Would the dungeon require Excelsior Wards and grant a set equivalent to Sovereign gear or would it require Supreme wards granting gear above Sovereign?
  • The bugs…. oh the horrendous bugs! Anyone whose played Warhammer Online knows that Mythics biggest foe is the bugs in PvE. The bugs in RvR are one thing, but the bugs in PvE completely kill that experience.
  • How could you add a high end dungeon dropping gear equivalent to Sovereign or greater without further imbalancing the quagmire that is T4? Lets face it, a RR32 stands little to no chance against a RR80, yet they’re expected to fight each other.
  • How would the community respond to another PvE expansion in an RvR game?
  • Where would this dungeon be located? More of a fluff question but it still raises eyebrows, and concerned eyebrows at that…

The Fear: Branching off the last question to be raised – where would this dungeon be and what would it do to dash the hopes and dreams of players? With the constant Skaven related teasing going about by Mythic and the quote stated in the beginning of this post there are great concerns that we will get another PvE lake in a zone which could have had a playable army, such as Land of the Dead. To casual players, Land of the Dead is just another zone, but to Games Workshop and avid Warhammer Table-top players The Tomb Kings are a playable army and by turning this zone into a PvE lake Mythic killed their hopes of having the Tomb Kings as a playable third faction (arguably one of the best candidates for a third faction). With the raving thirst for Skaven and Lizardmen there is actually a fear rising among the player base that Mythic will give us Skaven and/or Lizardmen, but not how we want them – that fear being that they will turn another racial zone into a dungeon. Players want to play a lizardman or a skaven, they don’t want to do a dungeon full of them. Should we get another zone such as The Necropolis of Zandri which has a high end dungeon in it, such as a ruined city in Lustria or Skavenblight, and that was the carrot that Mythic has been dangling in front of us for all these months… I fear the outrage and disappointment from the player-base would severely hurt Warhammer. There is nothing that says Mythic can’t expand the Land of the Dead into a pairing allowing Tomb Kings, or that they introduce a Skaven or Lizardmen pairing consisting of a high end dungeon – but to introduce a zone that could have had a pairing but only has a dungeon would be detrimental.

The Finances: As with every other hypothetical expansion, a new dungeon would no doubt bring temporary revenue, but as I stated above, if this dungeon is improperly placed then it could be the final nail in the coffin. Stick it in a Dwarf zone, stick it in an Empire province, but do NOT stick it somewhere where fans know another army could have been. If that happened all of a sudden that carrot-on-a-stick would materialize into a nasty-pickle-on-a-stick.

The Conclusion: A new dungeon requiring Warlord or Sovereign gear would no doubt be a fun new experience (polished and bug free of course) but there are many issues at stake. First and foremost is the gear and how it compares to the existing gear. Tyrant for the past year was better than Sovereign, only with this new patch will that slightly change, how would gear from a new dungeon compare? Also Mythic would have to very carefully place this dungeon as placing it anywhere that gives the slightest hint of A) A LotD PvE-type zone with a stupid flipping mechanic or B) A zone that could house another pairing would most likely lead to another drop in subscriptions. Warhammer is built on PvP, we do not want more PvE; but if we get it, it better not be a bug-filled-dream-killing-resource-grinding-zone.

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