Hype! Areae’s announcement imminent!

Cuppycake has posted a teaser on her blog letting us know that her company, Areae, is going to announce what they are making! Here’s what she had to say on her blog.

“Hey all =)

Just wanted to let you know that tomorrow Areae is making our announcement on what we are making. We were picked to be one of the TechCrunch40 and are demoing our product tomorrow.

Keep an eye on Metaplace.com tomorrow! =)”

For those who are not aware, the Areae team is full of big names in the gaming industry. Raph Koster, President; John Donham, VP of Production; and of course who can forget Cuppycake, are just a sampling of the team put together at Areae. I’m looking forward to what they have to show us and hopefully there will be plenty to blog about tomorrow!


Why do players prefer a DPS role?

This is not a ground breaking new topic for many of my fellow long-time MMO players out there. Through study and attention to the blatantly obvious, a majority of people prefer DPS(damage dealer) roles to supportive ones. The reason this topic came to mind is I am currently in that preparation phase of deciding which class I truly want to play when Warhammer Online hits retail. I have always been one to have multiple characters in a MMO. I will try one class and take it to mid-levels and then decide if it’s worth taking it the rest of the way or if it’s better for me to restart and try something I might enjoy more. Very few times do I guess correctly when trying to plan what class I want to play. So back to the topic at hand, why do players prefer a dps role? There are several reasons why people may be drawn to a dps role and I must say they are enticing.

Big Number Syndrome, or BNS, is the addiction some players have that leads them to think that unless they are dealing huge numbers their character is worthless. DPS classes are damage per second for a reason! It’s common in a fantasy mmo to have a rogue or berserker type class with their role clearly defined to deal big damage. In games with PvP these classes are very popular for their ability to “wtfpwn” people. One shots or combos that are downright deadly are the biggest cause of BNS. It’s easy to become blinded in your own ownage.

The lack of responsibility also draws many players to play dps roles. Your job is simple: dps the mob. You aren’t worrying about keeping aggro, healing, or crowd control. Your job is to stand (usually behind) near a job and swing your weapons. Now, I’m not saying that all DPS players are alike and that skill can not set you apart. The good players are obvious. Sometimes in a game the dps classes are very gear dependent and distinguishing a good player from a mediocre one is nearly impossible. But given time and usually the higher level the player gets, it becomes obvious who is a quality player. Let’s face it though, dps classes can be relaxing. You’re not going to be blamed for a wipe because you didn’t do your job (well, rarely). The fault usually lands on the tank or the healer and it’s usually unfair.

Dps classes level faster in almost every single game! I’m sure it’s been a nightmare for developers to try and balance this problem. Damage dealers simply kill monsters so much faster that their lack of healing or utility doesn’t matter. They can go through a dozen monsters before a healer or support role can go through even half as many. Who wants to be the one fighting a single boar for 5 minutes just to get 50exp when a berserker has killed 20 of them in the same amount of time and gained 1000exp? No one wants to level slowly in a MMO, or at the very least inefficiently. Until a solution to this problem has been found this will always be a major draw for DPS classes.

Those are just three main reasons that I could think up on the spot. Bottom lines is that DPS classes are just easier than supportive ones. I’m sure there’s a better way to explain it and if I knew much about psychology I’m sure I could give you a real ‘thinker’ of a reason. Where does this land me though? I’ve played the DPS role before in DAOC, WoW, EQ, heck I’ve tried DPS in every game. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a fun class and if it’s truly what you like to play then more power to you. For me though I can never seem to stick with a DPS class as my primary character. I always fall back on the roles with responsibility. I took a test that said I am a supporter-strategist or “Quarterback” when I play. I think that test was absolutely correct. I love contributing to my group’s success and knowing that as long as I play well my group can have success. In WoW I played a Healadin (Healing paladin) as my main character and in DAOC my primary ended up being an Aug Shaman and Healer. I have also enjoyed roles of Bard classes. I love the support they bring to any group.

Blogging about this stuff is very therapeutic. I think my decision of playing a Goblin Shaman is a good one. For about 30 minutes there I was actually considering an Orc Choppa but now I’m certain I want to be a Shaman. Warhammer Online is also really making it easy on me by giving support classes medium armor. DPS will be in light armor and Tank-types in heavy armor. This means that we have balance in the Force, er, realms. I might actually have a shot at taking out a DPS class because he’s wearing lighter armor! As a Shaman I won’t be all heals and buffs, I will have damage! Watching the pvp videos out there I see Shaman throwing all sorts of nasty spells and Waaagh at the enemy.

Hopefully all you rogues out there won’t backstab me in a dark alley because I’ve been critical of a stereotypical player. This same analysis can be done to each playstyle. I can just imagine the supporter roles as the type who always needs to be loved and the mezzers being classified as control freaks! Perhaps as we get closer to WAR you will find me changing my mind. I wouldn’t be surprised. 😉

Which class will you play in Warhammer Online? Which play style do you prefer?


3 MMORPG mistakes you will not make again

I found this topic on the Warhammer Vault message boards that posed this question to that community.  What 3 MMORPG mistakes will you never make again?  At first it seems like a simple game or perhaps an outlet for some creative thinking to create humor among those who understand commonalities in MMORPG’s.  When you look deeper and really think for a moment you can actually discover that this question can cause you to think back and evaluate your play style, your experiences in MMORPG’s, and how much you have grown since you first began playing.

For me the question was not easy; not at all.  I had trouble deciding how I would narrow down the mistakes I have made in MMO’s and pick three that would actually cover a broad enough spectrum.  I have chosen three things that I consider mistakes and wanted to write about them briefly.

I won’t play for anyone but myself

When I say I won’t play for anyone but myself I do not mean literally playing for someone else.  I can approach this topic from a few directions.  Too many times in the past I have made choices that are not necessarily in the best interest of my character or myself.  I have made these choices to keep friends, guilds, and to give myself a ‘good name’.  I have given up my spot on a raid, chosen to pass on an item, let someone else get ahead, and so many other things in the name of being a ‘good person’.  The result has always landed me feeling bitter and my fun factor has been sucked away as I watch these players never return the good deed to myself or anyone else.  I’ve been used far too many times now.  Another way to look at this would be from a ‘sticking around’ point of view.  I won’t continue playing a game after it is no longer fun simply because I feel bad about leaving my friends or guild behind.  I have to quit a game when I feel ready.

Blindly believe that raiding is the only solution to end-game

Never going to happen again.  In World of Warcraft I was fooled into believing that the center of the MMO gaming universe revolved around the never-ending struggle for gear, uber guilds, and being better than others.  It sucked away time, fun, and the soul of the game for me when I made the choice to raid blindly for over a year.  There are so many other solutions to “end-game” (I despise that term) than raiding that can and should be explored by a company.  So far the leader in this venture, and developer of Warhammer Online, is Mythic.

Play a Flavor of the Month Class

I’m tired of being nerfed dangit!  Too many times I always pick the class that is obviously overpowered and due for a nerf.  I just can’t help myself!  It’s too tempting to play a class that’s actually fun and doesn’t have to work too hard. 😛  I liked my early Zerker in DOAC, my beta Bard in Vanguard, my Hunter (when they were OP’d) in WoW, etc etc.  They were fun but ultimately ruined when It was decided by the gods that they were too strong or overplayed.

There are plenty more mistakes that I could go into.  I won’t really talk about them but I think I should list them for the heck of it.  I won’t: Lead a guild, continue playing a game that is broken with hopes it will be fixed, play the game like it’s a job (unless it is a job!), pick a server with a cool sounding name, be an elf, and not pick up crafting (it’s too rewarding later!).  There I think I summed them up nicely!

What 3 mistakes will you never make again in a MMORPG?


My rant on pickup groups

I had a really busy day in Lord of the Rings Online and I absolutely have to vent to someone.  Good thing I have a blog!  The day was not only busy but it was borderline lousy.  Oboe (my minstrel) and his static group of friends (theres 3-4 of us on at any given time) decided that we were going to start running regular groups to Urugarth, Carn Dum, Barad Gularan, and other dungeons.  We’re level 49 and working our way to 50 at a steady and comfortable pace so doing these dungeons really is only icing on the cake.  Since our Kinship right now can’t field a group to run anything, likely due to burnout causing people to quit, we are forced to seek out PuG’s (or pickup groups).

And there is where the hell that was my day begins.  We advertise in Angmar that we are looking for three more to do Urugarth.  Within a reasonable period of fifteen minutes we have fielded what looks to be a decent group.  There’s a great class balance of all 48-50’s and we have decent gear and good kinship representation.  We go over the loot rules that should be absolutely common sense to anyone who plays a MMORPG today and then proceed to the dungeon.  It’s stated over and over that you roll need if you’re going to use it on your this character that you’re currently playing (Whether it’s for crafting, questing, or wearing) and you roll greed if not.  Really simple stuff here people, it’s probably the most basic rules to grouping you learn at level 10.  When we get into Urugarth we don’t go 2 bosses before we have people rolling need on items that their class can not use!  When asked why they rolled need they claim it was an accident and the item is redistributed.  When we get to the next boss the guardian who was with us the previous night rolls need on the item he had won the night before!  When asked why he doesn’t know!  That right there should have been the end of our group.

My day gets better /insert sarcasm here.  We get to the last boss and I give a reminder of the loot rules.  We have had two foul-ups already and I want to perfectly clear what the rules are so no one can claim stupidity.  Well of course the best minstrel shoulders outside of a raid environment drop.  Can you guess what happens next?  The guardian rolls need on medium armor shoulders with fate as the main stat!  These are bind on acquire shoulders and when we ask him why in the name of all that is holy did he roll he says “mistake, sorry”.  I was done.  Completely done with that group.  What form of lower education is being taught in our school systems, or not being taught for that matter?  Why can’t these people understand?  This is not something that requires a thinking process – you can use it or you can’t – if you can use it roll, if not don’t.

I wish I could tell you my day ended there but being the masochist I am we decided to form another group and go back in to Urugarth.  This time we formed another group of similar makeup and blacklisted the people who, for all intents and purposes, ninja looted.  We go through the loot rules and the explanation of assisting.  It’s common sense again that you listen to the group and when we say “Only attack what X is attacking” …. it’s that simple, right?  Wrong!  This group just could not figure it out!  They were pulling mobs from every direction into the battle, not assisting, not tanking, not doing anything they should be doing.  When we wiped on a pull that could have been done by a group 5 levels lower than us in all vendor purchased gear I was done with groups for day.  I straight up told them they need to learn to play before ever coming back into a group.

Where are these people coming from?  There’s not a farm out there breeding stupid people without common sense or the ability to listen, is there?  Why am I never able to find a pickup group that consists of intelligent or at the very least responsive attentive people?  Has the bar been set so low now in the MMORPG genre that we will have people reaching the max level that know nothing of game mechanics, class mechanics, and common sense?  I can’t blame WoW for ALL of this because these people were in WoW too!  I used to try and convince myself that in WoW it might be their first MMO and a grouping experience would be something new to them.  But now I see it has followed me everywhere.  It’s forcing me to have to interview and screen the people who join my group.  In order to join my group I am going to require a signed document stating they have read the rules and hereby acknowledge that they understand.  Why has it come to this?

Thanks for reading my rant.  I feel better now.  It’s times like this I wish there was open pvp.  How I long for the ability to simply destroy these people’s characters and camp their bodies for hours on end.


Mark Jacobs talks WAR with TTH – My thoughts on his thoughts.

Cody Bye of Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Mark Jacobs at AGDC for a two part interview discussing the plan of WAR. The interview is appropriately titled “The Man with the Plan” and goes into details with Mark on some interesting topics that only a visionary behind the scenes could truly answer. Jumping right into my thoughts on what Mark had to say we start off my looking at the answer to a very basic question. Cody Bye asked Mark why he thought the game had already generated so much fan responsiveness.

“Two reasons,” Mark answered. “We have the advantage of a very well known and very well loved IP. Warhammer isn’t as popular as, let’s say, Lord of the Rings. But what Warhammer does have is a really loyal and really committed fanbase that spends a lot of time and money playing their game. While we may not have the sheer numbers that the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars may have, we do have people who just LOVE this IP.”

“Combine that with a very good marketing plan and the cool stuff we have in the game, and people know that we’re not just trying to make WoW 1.5,” Mark added. “People also know from our previous product (Dark Age of Camelot) that we’re not going to be a vaporware company. They know that they can look at this game and believe a little – hopefully believe a lot.”

The second half of Mark’s response was the only part that I could truly believe justified all the hype. The Warhammer IP is well known and people do love it, but the IP is loved for different reasons than the capability of being the next blockbuster fantasy MMO. The die hard fans of Warhammer are the ones playing the table top games and reading the books. They’re the ones who do not want Mark Jacobs and Mythic to really mess up their passionate pass-time. In my opinion they are the ones who are going to be most skeptical and standoffish when it comes to WAR. It’s the DAOC fans who are the fuel of WAR’s hype. The players who loved what Mythic has done right! People know that Mythic made a great game so they are ready and willing to give Mythic their time and money again. Like Mark said, they aren’t going away. WAR is here to stay.

Now this next question is something that hits hard for many fans of this genre. What happens when, after so much hype and expectations, a game doesn’t feel right? Cody asked Mark what he thought about looking at a game before it hits store shelves.

“Never judge a game until at least thirty days after it has launched,” Mark said. “At points, back when we were releasing Dark Age of Camelot, I’d tell the community not to get terribly worked up over the game. Don’t expect that the game will do everything AND bring you coffee in the morning. Look at the game, and if you like what we’re doing and believe in us that’s great. Keep it simple and don’t go crazy.”

“Doling out messages like that, especially to the Warhammer fanbase, is a great start,” he continued. “Then you need to look at the history of online gaming. Generally when a game gets to be around three years old, you really begin to see the population of the game going down. It happened in Camelot, and it happened in Everquest. You now have a lot of people entering their third years with their respective game.”

It’s true he did say that back when DAOC was releasing. DAOC never had the hype that WAR has though. Honestly I don’t know what to think about the direction of not judging a game until 30 days after release. I can’t say that I agree. If you’re going to say that the game should not be judged until 30 days after release then you should have waited 30 days until you released it! Looking a little deeper at what Mark could have meant it’s a given that MMORPG’s are evolving and the reason we have patches is to fix things. For example, if a game has a bad launch (like WoW! Remember those queues and server crashes?) do we condemn it? No of course we don’t. The time to look at the game and what the developers are doing is before you buy the game, not after. Once you purchase the game you then decide if they are sticking with what they planned/promised and you base your decision to stay or leave after that.

Could his remark about people entering their third years in their respective game be aimed at WoW? *rubs his hands together* Reading into it I can’t help but grin when I think of the possibilities of WAR toppling WoW in the North American and Euro market.

Now enough with the theory and interpretation and onto some real WAR stuff! Cody asked Mark a couple questions and it led to city sieges. We know about those so I won’t increase the length of this blog entry more than it’s already going to be by explaining it. What about some more specific questions? We like those! Mark was asked: What will players have to do once their cities are sacked? Will the cities regenerate?

“Of course,” Mark said. “The last thing we want to have happen is to have people not being able to do what they need to do. We don’t EVER want to provide a disincentive that might cause people to quit. So if every time I logged in I couldn’t go to my capital city; that’d be a horrible situation. It’d be even worse when you throw time differences and play patterns into the mix. What if people came in at three in the morning and were immediately able to sack the city, which the can’t do in the actual game, but the next time people log in their city is sacked!”

“But if players sack a city in WAR, NPC forces continually get harder as they try to kick the players out of their city,” Mark said. “We’re going to send in the clones. We keep sending in the NPCs until the people are eventually kicked out, and we want it to be a challenge to players to see how long they can stay in the city. We’ll give them rewards depending upon how long they were able to stay inside the city.”

I’m so very glad that they are thinking smart. Far too many times I have to worry about inconveniences and factors of gameplay that are just downright not fun. On paper everything they are saying so far has WAR heading down the path to being a near perfect game. If Mythic can keep the hype under control and discover a way to funnel it into productive testing and feedback then we are in for a real treat.

Mark Jacobs really is the man with the plan. I’m glad that we can trust ‘our game’ in the hands of an intelligent and wise game developer. Remembering back almost a year ago I read a statement where Mark Jacobs commented on why there would be no stealth classes in the game. To paraphrase what he said by memory: “All stealthers are griefers”. How can you not completely trust someone who has the gumption to come right out and say it?!