I didn’t invent the term, but damn do I love it.  I took some time the other day to submit some questions over to Sanya, and just get a feel for what’s going on in their head that we’ve not really talked about.  Some has been talked about since then, and some of this may sound new.  Either way, it’s straight from the horse’s mouth, so you can’t get any closer than this without Warren signing your paycheck.

Going Rancid: In the first Q&A, it was stated that character progression was targeted at a month.  Is that achieving maximum skill points, or actually being able to compete in Dominus?  If the former, what’s the draw to keep players playing when there isn’t any tangible progression?

Sanya Weathers: It is my opinion that we will be adjusting that. We do want people to be kicking ass on Dominus within a few weeks, but I’m not sure maxing out in a couple of weeks will turn out to be our best choice of action.

Our beta testers will let us know.

[Rancid:  I hope it takes more than a month. I want a good ol’ fashioned sense of accomplishment for hitting 1000 skillpoints.  We’ll see how this evolves, but it’s no surprise that some might make it there rather quickly.  That’s how it goes.]

GR: Aside from having a lootable corpse, are there any other temporary effects for dying?  Ie, while in a newly cloned state, your stats are reduced by X%.

SW: Right now (8/24/2011), your stats are only reduced if you’re rezzed.

[Rancid: I’m not fond of this idea. I’m hoping for a more meaningful death penalty, as it should be some sort of deterrent to running into a zerg with guns blazing.  It helps encourage more strategic gameplay.]

GR: Are there any enhancements available to the UI for those who might be colorblind or otherwise visually impaired?

SW: We’re working on it. I can always count on my colorblind testers to point out areas where the existing UI is failing them. (Remember late 90s MMOs, where the purple cons and the blue cons were totally indistinguishable from each other? My colorblind reporter friend never misses a chance to remind me of that ;))

Right now there’s a little chevron system in addition to color for cons, by the way. If it’s higher level than you, the chevron points up. If it’s lower, it points down.

[Rancid: Glad to hear this. It doesn’t personally affect me, but it does affect other people, and with some stuff that’s so easy to fix, it’s a no brainer to keep all the people happy that you can.]

GR: Can you elaborate on some of the audio cues that will be available in the game?  Will there be true combat sounds (realistic sound effects of people parrying attacks, blocking, etc)?

SW: It’s still up in the air. Some battle sounds happen so often that the sound effect we picked is annoying.

GR: Will there be the ability to tie our in-game characters to our profiles in the forums and use in-game models for avatars?

SW: No to the in-game avatar model, it turns out to be a resource hog that is not on our priority list. I definitely have a whole system of opt-in stuff in mind for forum/in-game connections and bragging.

[Rancid: There’s not enough epeen wagging tools out there these days.  It keeps the community connected, especially on bigger servers. I like this.]

GR: Will crafted armor (or any armor for that matter) all look the same, or will different pieces use different models?  Can the same piece be crafted to use different models (similar to an appearance slot)

SW: Different pieces use different models, but at this time every piece of a particular name uses the same model. I mean, if you craft a Primal Death Helmet, it’s going to look like all the other Primal Death Helmets but it won’t look like the Helmet of Space Whomping. (I totally made up these names.) Our intent is for you to customize with dyes, which are player-made.

[Rancid: I hope this goes along with being able to visually ID a class at a distance.  The extra couple seconds to plan out your strategy is important.  It’s also why some casters in DAoC will pay real life cash for bugged out shields that can be equipped by anyone, even casters…]

GR: Housing:  Yay? Nay?  Want to, but not high in the list?

SW: Definitely not at launch.

[Rancid:  This is a good answer for me. I loved housing.  I know it was mostly fluff, but it added an emotional attachment to the game that I don’t know can be duplicated elsewhere. Models, merchants, and customization isn’t an easy thing to throw it, but I think it pays off in spades for community relations.  I’m happy they’re not saying “Not no, but hell no” to it.]

GR: In regards to the Trinity, is there a Rock/Paper/Scissors aspect to this game?  Are certain classes supposed to kill certain other classes? (like melee DPS shredding ranged DPS, but getting waxed by tanks)

SW: No, not really. We’ve set it up so that there’s too much variability available for each class for there to be an (insert archetype) killer.

GR: Are there plans to offer an online career builder, or at least furnish the community with the appropriate resources to build one on our own?

SW: I’m hoping for the latter, if you want to know the honest truth. My community will always build something more useful than I will, because my community will build the tool for the way people actually play, as opposed to the way we think they will play.

[Rancid: I’m liking this mentality. If the resources are available, I’d most definitely get myself involved in it.  I’m a super nerd like that.  Using my powers for good and all that whatnot.]

GR: Will there be a program similar to the Team Lead system (without all the bias “fix my stuff or else” crap)?

SW: Tell me how you really feel 😉 The High Council, currently composed of the alpha and some beta testers, is the seed of the eventual system. At some point I will be switching the Council to special invitation only. Council members will see concepts and designs and give input while things are being developed.

[Rancid: I’m still bitter about not being the Druid TL in DAoC.  I hope it shows.  I was epic win.]

GR: Have you ever farted in a phone booth?  I’d never heard that, so I figured I might as well ask. I’m also out of real questions by now.

SW: Dude, how old do you think I am? 😉

[Rancid: Old enough to work as a CSR in the year 2000. :)]

So there you have it.  I’m working on another interview series behind the scenes here, so keep yourself glued to the blog.  Both of you.  Ok, you can take turns….

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[WAR] De-Evolution of ORvR

Posted: August 16, 2011 in WAR

It’s been a while since I’ve had a WAR-related post, so here goes nothin’

I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one.  I’m not even tempted to try out Wrath of Heroes.  In fact, I’m overly disappointed with the way that BioWare (I’m not going to even apply the Mythic tag anymore, as I would affectionately do from time to time) went with this.

If you don’t want to hear about ORvR, then click the back button.  Don’t leave a bitchy comment; I’ll roast you like a chestnut at Christmas.

As one who played WAR for nearly two years (which is pretty long, considering the average WAR player’s tenure in the game), I appreciate how the game started with a fully open RvR feeling.  There were keeps being sieged all over the place.  The zerg would run here to there, try to get in to kill the Lord, and then get that random chance (and I snicker as I type that) to get gold bag.  Sure, scenarios were  popping up here and there, but it was a rarity to have someone drop out of a good keep siege, or a huge open-world skimish to hop into an instance and fight for a flag.  After all, there were 80 faces to melt out here, and 12 in there.  The math said that there was more fun to be had out here.  Plus, nothing compares to ass-jamming a zerg with a group of about a dozen late comers and ending the battle in mayhem.

Then things changed.  Fortresses turned into lag-fests.  Servers started crashing.  People started raging.  The balance issues in the game wore people down.  Rain.  Of. Fire.  People started leaving.  So what’s a company to do?  Well, it made sense to strike fortresses from the game for the time being.  Campaign streamlined.  I fault them in not testing it better, but not the decision to put the fortresses out of their misery.  It happens.  We moved on.

Then came the new City Siege.  It was arguably better-organized than before.  It was now a giant scenario.  Ok, anything was better than having to figure out the complicated City Siege which was originally in place.  Also, putting out fires sucked.  While I liked the new objective-based City, it pained me that ORvR would eventually lead to a scenario.  I didn’t play non-instanced-PvP to get thrown into instanced-PvP.  This hurt me.

Now let’s talk about Scenario Currency.  The progression of your character stopped at Rank 80.  Ta-Da, you won the game.  Time to melt more faces, and do what you want to do.  *SCREECHING TIRES* Just kidding.  Now you need to play Scenarios (and a crapton of them) to keep up with others due to this nice and fancy token system.  Not the open-RvR medallion system.  These tokens could be turned in for great weapons and other “niceties” to help you compete against your enemies.  Where’s the draw to go ORvR now?  Hrm, seems to be fading.

And the final nail in the coffin comes in the form of the new Keep Siege.  There is NOTHING Open about this system, aside from the fact it actually occurs in a RvR lake.  The mechanics are scripted, the upgrades are scripted, the entire system has moved from a choice-based system (in regards to when and where to fight) to a play-here-now-k-thx-bai system.

What’s the point of an ORvR game if it isn’t really open?

You’re right, there is no point.  You might as well just take out Keeps and Lakes, take out the PvE, take out the quests (the gear sucked, compared to SC/Renown gear). Hell, might as well take out leveling, since that was so trivial compared to the grind to 100.

Why don’t you just change this game into a persistent FPS?  Maybe call it… Wrath of Heroes.

No lies here.  I’ve been incredibly busy at work, which is when I usually keep tabs on all the games of the world.  I actually do work too, but most of the time I’m waiting on requirements and I get to peruse the interwebs and all their glory.

I just managed to get around to reading the crafting FAQ.  There’s so much win in there, I can’t put into words just how excited I am to try Prime.  I’ll try though!

1.  1,000 points to max a crafting skill.  It was all to easy to get 300 points in WoW or 280 or whatever in Rift.  Having 1,000 points necessary means it’s going to take some time.  That leads to a more manageable economy as every Tom, Dick and Harry won’t be out there filling the AH with useless wares.  I’m all for competition, but sorting through pages of useless crap is annoying.

2.   Maxing secondary crafts at 200.  This reminds me a lot of DAoC before the “accessibility patches” that took the fun out of crafting.  With only 200 points, you’ll be able to bump your lowbies up a bit, but you won’t be able to be self-sufficient in every aspect.  You’ll have to spend quite a few hours to get to 1,000 in every craft (see why I like #1?)

3.  Considering crafting hubs.  I love this idea.  The sadistic part of me really wants some of those hubs to be PvP enabled.  I remember crafting in a keep in DAoC and get wtf ganked in the middle of an order.  What a pain.

4.  Crafting skill gains depend on combat skill.  This is really going to help stave off the lowbie crafting twinks.  I don’t mind those twinks really, but this will get people out doing PvP, which I love more.

5.  Biotech.  I’ve already mentioned that I love the idea of armor augments.  With the decay of items, this profession seems like it will be in high demand.

6.  Espionage System – Stealing trade secrets sounds pretty sweet.  I look forward to ganking some sweet recipes and then murdering the person I stole them from.

Needless to say, I really want to give this a try. Mix this system with a fully-realized open-world PvP system and I’m in love.  I cannot wait for this game to come out.

[Prime] Webcast #3 – Fade to Black

Posted: July 29, 2011 in Prime

Today’s webcast was really a Q&A.  There was some pretty insane trivia at the beginning which just proved most of the people in there are WAY younger than Warren and John. (I think someone said “Hey, I was -8 when that game came out”… ouch)

At any rate, there was a lot of good responses to the questions asked in the channel.  Onto the answers!  This is more of a stream of conscious than a sectioned off Q&A, as I didn’t have much time to go back and edit.  Feel free to hate to yourself, or take your own notes, if you don’t like them. 😉

Q&A

How do you steal schematics? Get close to the other person and do something like a pick pocket ability

How do you harvest Prime?  Harvested just like other minerals, but more scarce

What type of variation in harvesting skill? More harvesters to deploy, and they harvest at a faster rate

Do bases give you extra stats? No.  But each one of the seven types do something for you otherwise.

Can you give us info in black market?  There will be unique guns for Soldier For Hirefor black market

What’s your favorite faction: Warren: Rodon / John: “Crappy canned answer” (because Sanya told him to)

How severe is gear degradation?  Dependent upon the quality of the item. It won’t be obnoxious

Can you turn off the ability for others to loot your corpse (in same faction)?  No, but it’s limited to immediate group only.

How big is Dominus? There are currently 10 to 12 large base areas to fly between

Can you fly forever with a Jetpack?  No, but higher-level ones can take you up pretty high

Are there any flying mobs?  Yes, and some have quite a set of ranged attacks to knock players out of the sky

Are there any abilities that grand non-flight bursts of movement?:  Yes, but the beginning jetpacks are similar, as they consume lots of energy for little payoff

What’s your favorite mount? Jetpacks are considered mounts, so duh.

Do skills graphically different based on specced points?  Yes.  Higher-level abilities usually have impact on group so they changed the effects.

Are skill effects more subdued or flamboyant?  Want to make certain that animations aren’t blocked by the effect.  Sometimes effects are awesome and supposed to be visible.

Will you need a cutting edge system to make this run smooth?  No, some of the test systems are 3-4 years old in the office.  Video card needs at least 512 RAM to run smooth.  Want 2 GB memory.  Multiprocessor will help a lot

Can you knock people out of the air and disable jetpack? Yes.  Melee especially.  There are also energy drains

Is there mitigation for CC?  Yes, but not endless mitigations.  There are abilities to break out of CC.

Is the UI goinn to be changed?  Not so much right now, but some tweaks are still being made

Will there be /face and /stick?  Nope.

Can a high level player be hired by a lowbie? Yes.  That’s the point.

What are the max/min times to craft items? Varies on skill and type of item crafted

Will there be an NDA for beta?  Yep.

Will there be an insta-spawn point like fins (DAoC Hibernia thing)?  Maybe….. but not disclosed

Will there be Easter Eggs in game?  Yes, but you gotta search for them…

Where are the servers located? AZ.

Are there plans for cross-server zones? No

 Are there any vids this week?  No, there were some bugs that they wanted to fix first.

How many instances are in the game?  More than 1, less than 20.  About 5-6 guaranteed.  Some are more adventuresome, meaning it’ll take longer to run them

How many world bosses are there?  Not going to give it away.  Figure it out.  🙂

How many people are required for each boss?  They’re designed in cross-faction zones, so a lot.

Is there a con-system for enemies? Yes, you can get a relative gauge.

Are there a ton of mobs in the PvP zone?  Not really.  The Mines of Dominus will have some mobs. Areas with bases won’t.

Will GM events be announced?  Not always.  They’ll be run at different times.

Will there be server queues?  Yes, based on load.  Want a good experience.

Can you put all abilities on hotbars?  Yes, there are multiple ones.  You can cycle through and put them on the side too.  You can’t fit all 15 on one bar, though.

Any guess on server populations required to crash a server?  Only guesses, but will be testing that.

Will there be a dungeon finder feature?  No, they want you go out into the world and not just hover in one place

Is Z-Axis combat working?  It’s working better than anticipated.  Allows you to do stuff in the air like shoot people.  Evolving over time, but pretty cool

Are there big capital cities for each faction? Yes.

<<I missed 4 minutes of Q&A here, as my boss walked in to make me actually work… grrrr>>

Is there a cool-down on rez?  Yes

Will I get machine guns?  If you pick the humans!

If you are rezed in battle, are there penalties?  Health-wise, yes. Stat-wise, no.

Announcements

The guild website will be launching next week, so keep your eyes peeled.

Beta will be starting on Thursday of next week.   That’s August 4th, people.  The first round would be comprised of people who were in Alpha testing, so don’t be shocked if you don’t see an email.  The next couple of days after the 4th should see the introduction of more people (I think Sanya said around 50), so keep your eyes peeled.

[Prime] Let There Be Crafts

Posted: July 28, 2011 in Prime

The info-dump yesterday (I’m still calling it info-dump because it makes me feel better) was all about crafting.  I’ve always been a PvP fan, don’t get me wrong.  There’s just something about crafting that pulls me in like a bugzapper.  Maybe it’s the allure of wealth beyond dreams, or the fact that someone needs me for something, or even I might secretly get a chublin from watching a little bar move across the screen.  Who knows, really.

While I was hoping for a PvP dump, I’m not ashamed to say that the crafting dump will last me just long enough to the next dump, which will hopefully be PvP.  Reading through the info, there were quite a few points that excited me.  Though I’m still currently optimistic (as should anyone be to a game that isn’t out there and playable*), here’s a few points that I thought were neat, and what might be of concern.  Here goes:

1.  Harvesting is actually a profession

What I like: Want to get rich?  This is probably how you’re going to have to do it.  Crafting takes resources and harvesters seem to be king of this.  It’s nice that they’re moving away from the DAoC model of “buy 10 things in the store” and adapting a bit of the Node Gathering ability.

What makes me nervous: With a small community split into three realms, I have genuine concerns of price fixation and market control.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a game economy that is fluid.  I just worry that with seven professions and three realms (21 segments) that we’re going to have few Harvesters right out of the door and crafting is going to be WTF expensive.

2.  Soldier for Hire looks pretty win

What I like:  The concept is always roleplayed in any game you go to.  Moving the concept out of the forums/fansites and into the game should be pretty interesting.  I don’t mind having a bodyguard if I’m going out into the field.  Solo play is nice, but someone trained to keep me from dirt napping is A-Ok.

What makes me nervous:  I’m not sure how closely this coexists with the Bounty Hunter system, but it looks like a “defensive mode only” profession.  The drawback I see is that if there aren’t any players to protect (say you don’t play in prime time), then you can’t advance your profession.  I could be wrong about this, though.

3. Open-ended professions

What I love:  (Yes love).  It’s easy to make something you know how to make.  I don’t mind doing that at all.  It makes it easy to max stats, go with the cookie-cutter design and all that pre-fab noise.  I’m completely in lust with the Inventor Profession.  It looks like you’ll be able to create custom schematics (recipes) and put them out on the market to other professions.

What makes me nervous: Given the fact you can learn new things from other players, I worry about the Inventor profession running out of stuff to do.  A helmet may decay over time, but a wiki article outlining all the recipe combinations won’t.

4. Augmentation (Biotech)

What I like: This reminds me of the spellcrafting system from DAoC.  There were slots in armor and you could upgrade each piece with a certain amount of points.  It sounds like the Biotechs will be necessary at all times, which is good.

What makes me nervous: Not a whole lot really.  I love the concept as much as my first born.

5. Different stats on the same items

What I like:  I like that PBG is breaking the mold a bit here. Stuff like this leads to quite a bit more diversity among players and can really open up a market for secondary sales.  The item I settle upon might not have exactly the stats that I’m looking for, but at that price, why not?

What makes me nervous:  The OCD in me is little scared that I won’t be able to get the same item twice.  If I have armor to support my spec, and it decays, there’s a very real chance that the replacement piece may not necessarily fill the gaps left.  It’s obviously too early to tell how much the variance will be between same-named item, but it still gives me a smidge of anxiety.

Summing It Up

I wrote a majority of this last night, but decided to sleep on it before publishing it.  It may sound like I’m coming off negative here, but that isn’t the case at all.  The concerns I voice about the crafting are just that, concerns.  They’re not founed on reality, but merely on speculation.  There’s a side of me that just wants to shout from the rooftops that this is the best crafting system ever invented.  However, it’s just on paper right now (for us outside the game studio) and they’re a complicated thing those game economies.  I look forward to getting in there, getting my hands dirty, seeing just how great this system is and allaying my concerns.  Yes, I’ll accept a beta invite, Sanya. 😉

[Prime] Webcast #2 Q&A&Mumblemumble

Posted: July 22, 2011 in Prime

This week during the Q&A, the guys at Pitch Black decided to give back.  There was a trivia contest full of old game questions.  Anything from Rogue to DAoC to some other game I didn’t know much about was game.  T-Shirts were given out as prizes.  I got the one about DAoC (I think), so woohoo.  Now, onto the webcast:

Updates from Last Week

Their main focus is getting the patcher ready.  They have made some good progress on it, and the build is compiling today.

They hope to start testing “sometime soon” but want to really start next week.

Videos of some Geography
Guilds

Guilds were the next topic up for discussion.  It seems to be a pretty typical guild system at first glance.

Ranks: Guild Leader, Officers

Chat for Officers/normal

Alliances between guilds

Alliances will be capped around eight guilds together

Guild Leaders from each guild in the alliance will have a private chat for them to converse and organize

Need to have five to form a guild

Will auto-invite you to the guild that your other characters are on.  Helps get lowbies in.

You can upload custom icon for your guild, which are displayed above your head.  These can be turned off, however.

Guild Perks : not at launch

Guild Leveling: not at launch

There are no Guild Cloaks, as there is no cloak slot.  There’s thoughts to put it on the jetpack, though.

Guild target around 200 players

Guild Web Integration

This was where things got interesting.  There will be some web integration for players.

Create a guild website on the company website

You’ll get your own subdomain’d url.  GuildName.PrimeOnline.com

Can manage roster online

Misc

No Voice chat baked in

DirectX 9b is required.

No Mac version (Hero not supported)  Hero engine peeps are talking about it.

Turrets will only attack those that you’re engaged with.  Issues with agro-fest

Single Player only for bounties, no such thing as guild bounties

Multiple harvesters can be deposited on the same deposit.

Other players can’t disturb your harvester.

Bases

Bases will facilitate faster mining.

Multiple different structures with different benefits

Set areas where bases are set to.  Varies based on faction control.

Bases will allow you to port to different areas, or respawn at different areas.

You will definitely know who is controlling the bases, and there are perks for that.

No DAoC-type relics in the game, per se.

So what’s coming next?

There’s definitely some direction toward Crafting and overall PvP as requested by the community.

More information is also coming about controlled vehicles.

(Special thanks to Pedro for helping fill in some blanks)

[Prime] Webcast #2 Today!

Posted: July 22, 2011 in Prime

In case you didn’t pick up from the last Webcast….this whole webcast thin gis going to be a weekly deal.  Head on over to the UStream site at 3PM EDT, and check out the next webcast.  I’ll be there with bells on, transcribing away at whatever the mention, so check out the ol’ blog whenever it’s over.

Here’s the link to the Ustream channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pitch-black-games

See everyone there!

(PS, Today is Info release day.  Keep your eyes turned to their Facebook and Twitter accounts for info.)