In which Warhammer Online kindly bribes me to return, and I accept.

I received a jolly email from Warhammer Online today!

Warhammer Online Reactivation Reward for Returning Players

Ooh, I love free stuff, so this sort of stunt always works on me. I dug out my installation disks, and set to work!

My first shock was that Burlok has completely gone. It ‘s not even hidden, to be revealed by hitting the “more” button. It just ain’t there any more. Luckily, my characters still exist in some sort of netherworld, so I was able to transfer them to Karak-Norn, where I have been led to believe most Burlokians headed. Looked like the server needs a few more Order anyway, so off I went!

Colwyn’s name was taken on Karak-Norn, but I was allowed to rename him to Colwynn, so in I went! Colwyn was my cultivator, the fellow mostly responsible for my cultivating guide, so the very first thing that I noticed was that the names of the seeds have changed. That’s going to complicate things, and I guess I’ll have to redo it. I’ll have a rummage through the last few month’s patch notes to see what they have wrought. The other thing that I noticed was that his bank is still full to bursting with seeds, watering cans, and soil. I had hoped there would have been a bit more space in there by now! Aha, but we do now have extra inventory slots for crafting ingredients. 40 of them for Osgard, which will come in quite useful.

Mind you, I feel a bit lost as a level 34 Engineer. I’ve forgotten what half the buttons do, and am having trouble walking around. In any case, Osgard missed a lot of the low level changes that came in after launch, such as the addition of RvR influence, so I’m going to start a new engineer to relearn the ropes, and get the full WAR experience from level 1.

Over the next 10 days, and perhaps beyond, if I am sufficiently impressed, I’ll post about what has changed in the Old World, and whether WAR has improved enough to be worth a second look.

In other news: In a spooky display of timing, Funcom sent me an email a couple of hours after GOA did, asking me to come back to Age of Conan, and offering me 2 free weeks of play.

Did you know that once you reach level 50 with any character on your account, you automatically get access to a new level 50 character with a class of your choice? Perfect for trying out a new class! That is just one more reason to log into Age of Conan today and continue leveling Alfric. Once you reach level 50, you can activate your new instant level 50 character through the character creation system. This is a one time per account offer.

I shuddered slightly, then deleted the email.

The end of Mythic. Mark Jacobs moves on.

From the Warhammer site today:

Today we have important news to share with the community. EA is restructuring its RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic and BioWare. This newly formed team will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Ray becomes Group General Manager of the new RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare’s other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Ray. BioWare’s studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Ray.

Mark Jacobs, co-founder and current General Manager of Mythic, will leave EA on June 23, 2009. We thank Mark for his contributions at Mythic and wish him the very best going forward. Mark played a major part in the success of Mythic with his contribution as General Manager and Lead Designer of WAR.

Mythic retains a strong team led by Rob who co-founded Mythic in 1995. Rob played a critical role in the development of Dark Age of Camelot. In his previous role as COO, he was responsible for all day-to-day management of the studio including all development, operations and support.

Please join us in celebrating the union of these two award-winning studios.

Thankyou, but no. I shall lament the end of a fine MMO company, as it is (entirely predictably) finally absorbed into the Electronic Arts borg. The individual cultures within developer groups matter, and it will not do Bioware or Mythic any great service to be fused together like some lumpen piece of fleshcraft.

I wish Mark Jacobs all the best in whatever he decides to do next. He’s a good lad, and I hope he starts anew with a fresh company, and keeps it out of the hands of the Goliaths of the industry a little longer this time.

I also wish the Bioware staff well. They have yet to build up any immunity to Paul Barnett, so I suspect it’s going to be quite a shock to the system!

Update! From Mythic’s Andy Belford over on the Warhammer Alliance forums:

For clarity:

Mythic is not “merging” with Bioware.

Mythic and Bioware remain independent EA studios within a larger MMO/RPG group.


Ah, well, now I feel silly. Never mind, I can always reuse this post when EA does finally squish them together. I suspect that Mythic is going to be bled of its best talent to fuel Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, but we shall see.

Warhammer Online 1.3 Update Notes.

This is a huge update, with a lot to offer both PvPers and PvEers. So much so that I am a little tempted to go back and see how things are in the Old World now. The Land of the Dead is here! With shades of the old Dark Ages of Camelot dungeon, the awesome Darkness Falls, this looks to be a great addition to the game.

Also, finally, we are able to choose to opt out of receiving a roll on the reward chests from public quests and keeps. The various issues (and dishonest handling of them) with chest contribution and looting were one of the main things that caused me to leave WAR in the first place. To me it is a terrible waste that fixing such a major source of unhappiness has taken until now, but at least it is done.

The Warhammer Online 1.3 Patch Notes can be found below the fold.
Continue reading Warhammer Online 1.3 Update Notes.

Some random updatey bits.

For the last few days my internet connection has gone rather badly wrong. I am getting speeds reminiscent of when we were all on 14.4 dial up modems, which is pretty unhelpful for either EQ2 or Warhammer Online. Virgin Media are saying the local fault may take up to a week more to fix. As Maltheas would say, “Boos!!!!!”. It’s just as well though, as my Dad is visiting in a couple of days and the house needs some heavy cleaning to get up to his standards. So for now Maltheas abides a time in the Village of Shin, pondering the fate of Luclin.

Maltheas rests, on the Isle of Mara in Everquest 22

Everquest 2 has launched a recruitment scheme with goodies for both the recruiter, and recruited. If any readers of this blog are interested in the 14 day trial, drop me a note in the comments, and I’ll shoot an invite off to you.

I’ve not popped into Warhammer for a while now. I notice that of the European servers, Burlok is the only one to be offering an xp bonus to both sides, so I’m guessing population is still an issue. In truth, I had started finding the RvR mechanisms increasingly irritating, lacking anything like the strategic depth of PotBS. The simple-minded nature of the war looks set to continue, though the bloodthirsty side of me is somewhat heartened by this upcoming change in patch 1.2 :

To help place more emphasis on Keep claiming and defence, as well as to combat the “defence by not defending” strategy, we are introducing the Zone Control Domination mechanic. With this system, players who take and hold all Battlefield Objectives and claim Keeps in a contested zone (in Tier 4) or a shared RvR lake (in Tiers 2 and 3) have the opportunity to capture that zone, forgoing the standard mechanics of Zone Control.

Each Battlefield Objective and Keep will be worth 1 Domination Point. To capture a zone via the Domination rules, your Realm must have all 6 Domination Points. In Tiers 2 and 3, capturing all six points in a shared RvR lake will give the capturing Realm control of the entire Tier. These are represented as small pip marks on the Zone Control Bar.

Battlefield Objectives and Keeps have different requirements for earning their Domination Point, as follows:
To earn a Domination Point from a Battlefield Objective, it must be owned by your Realm for 30 minutes.
To earn a Domination Point from a Keep, it must be claimed by a Guild and then held for 2 hours. If you lose control of a Battlefield Objective or Keep at any time, you lose the Domination Point.
Multiple Domination Points cannot be gained from a single source (for example, it isn’t possible to get 6 Domination Points by capturing Martyr’s Square 6 times).
If a zone that was taken over by Zone Domination is put into a contested state, all timers and Domination Points are reset.

That should, I hope, help to spread out the zergs a little, by forcing us to defend multiple locations.This new method of capturing zones is as it should have been from the very beginning, though I am somewhat irritated that keeps have to be claimed by a guild, rather than simply taken by the faction.

The change will improve the RvR on the level of base carnage, but it will also greatly shorten the length of the campaigns. A war campaign in Pirates of the Burning Sea takes a minimum of a few weeks, most likely longer with some back and forth, and involves a large amount of strategic planning. I wonder how quickly in WAR, from a starting map, could a campaign be successfully concluded (by the taking of the enemy capital)? With these changes I suspect it could all be done in a single weekend, given ideal conditions.

Now, I know that WAR never claimed to be a game of high strategy, but it is strategic depth that makes each campaign different from those that have come before it. I fear that by having so few real choices in how to go about the WAR campaign, with things changing so quickly that there is no time to think about anything more than the most basic of responses, it severely reduces replayability and long-term interest. I may just be speaking for my fellow strategy geeks though.

Right, I’d better get back to scrubbing the kitchen floor!

Wassail!!! Wassail!!! For the Keg End Ale!

The only half-decent version of the Gloucestershire Wassail I could find. There are about a thousand choral attempts at it, but for me that is the opposite of what a good wassail should be.

Of course, in the Old World of Warhammer, there is no Christmas, but every race has it’s own way of marking the Winter Solstice. For the Dwarves, it is the opportunity to finish off last year’s ale. It is more than an opportunity; it is a holy task. The harvest of the past Autumn has been laid in enormous vats and barrels, lazily fermenting. Soon it will be ready to drink, but first it must be transferred into kegs and casks for storage and transport. So it is that at the Solstice, the Dwarves make a point of emptying their kegs to make way for the new ale, in a tradition known as Keg End.

A good Dwarven ale keg can be centuries old, and will have been reused every year, with each previous brew still lending subtle notes of flavour to the new ale. The oldest kegs are prized possessions, honoured above even hoarding gold, having been passed down through several generations of a clan. In the ale that is poured from them can still be tasted the slightest echo of the brews of old.

The festival is therefore not named for being the end of the keg, but from the tradition that, in order to get every last drop, the keg is turned up on its end. To waste the smallest amount would be an insult to the ancestors, and is considered an ale-crime. This is why Dwarves often challenge manlings with “Are ye goin’ ta finish that?”, before, indeed, finishing it. The ancestors demand no less.

Continuity and tradition are central to the Dwarven character. The true meaning of the Keg End celebration is to welcome the ale of the New Year, but to always remember that the new is born from the old, and carries within itself all that was best of that which came before it.

EU Test Server launches!


In preparation for patch 1.1.0 we’ve now opened the European Test Server, Shifting Isles. This server runs on a Core rule set and while it’s in English, players from any language community are welcome to join the server.

To participate in the testing process either create a new character on the Test Server or copy an existing character from the Live servers to the Test Server.

To copy a character. follow these simple steps:
Go to the “My Account” page
Click the “Character Server Copy” button at the end of the page
Select the character you want to copy
If the name already exist on the test server you will be prompted to change it

Note that only rank 10+ characters can be copied to the test server.

To connect to the test server launch testpatch.exe from your WAR install folder. Note that you don’t need two separate installs. Warpatch.exe will keep connecting you to the 1.0.6 Live servers.

Naturally, any progress you make with a character on the Test Server will not carry over to your original character on the Live servers and vice versa.

Please remember that the version of the game running on the Test Server is a beta version of an upcoming patch and therefore everything is subject to change.

See you on the Shifting Isles!

The character copying page seems to be up and running, so I’ve sent Osgard over to perform some investigations! See you there!

Mythic admits that Keep Contribution system was broken.

Amusing as ever, though I felt rather bad for Colin being dragged out in front of the camera like that, especially when he is not responsible for the QA failures. Coding errors do happen, as I know to my cost from my modding. That’s why you always test thoroughly before you unleash your work upon the public.

What I did not hear, and what I did not hear from Mr Jacobs in his post below, was any sort of apology for wasting our time for the last two months.


Paul and Colin were trying to be funny. That’s Paul’s style and Colin is one of our most trusted, talented and valued guys. If they can poke a little fun at things…

And by the way, Paul also makes fun of himself and doesn’t take himself too seriously (well, most of the time ).

Bugs happen, design errors happen and nobody’s perfect. Well, except for some folks on the Internet who never make mistakes at their jobs and neither should anybody according to their posts.

A sense of humor is a wonderful thing and necessary, especially nowadays.


Thing is, if they actually did apologise, I’d accept it. Taking responsibility for your mistakes, and then apologising is the mature way of dealing with situations like this. Instead we have the bizarre spectacle of a company director telling his customers they need to get a sense of humour, and that they aren’t perfect, so they have no right to expect a product that works properly.

We’ve been saying it was broken for a very long time, and Mythic refused to listen. The central reward mechanism for RvR was completely broken, and nobody at Mythic noticed. I find it irritating that Jacobs chooses to turn the attack back upon the critics, rather than admit that the failings were serious.

Some people, whose blogs I will not link to, have known how to game this broken code and assure themselves of the gold bags. This knowledge has been passed around quietly and looking back now I am fairly sure I have seen people in Keep attacks I have taken part in using the technique. Honest players have lost out.

Mythic’s QA clearly did not perform any reasonable tests upon a vital component of RvR. We have been constantly assured that it was working as intended. We have gotten to this point where it (maybe) is getting fixed, two months after release, only because the players have had to force Mythic to listen to us by raising an unholy fuss on forums and blogs. Maybe we are arrogant back-seat drivers without the talent to make a game as wonderful as WAR, but we were also right.

Mythic needs to start listening more. If the news over at the Warhammer Alliance is right, an official forum in in the works, which may make this easier.

Update: Sometimes posts appear on some other WAR blogs that bare a striking similarity to what I write here. Often I expect it is simply synchronicity, or great minds thinking alike. I do, however, just want to point out that the time-stamps on this site are UK times, and the time-stamps on the other blogs may be US times, so you need to convert to decide which of us posted first. Just worried people will think it’s me copying them.