Founder’s Box

For once I don’t mean WAR in any way, shape or form. I was at the Ottawa Senators pre-season game against Philly last night but I wasn’t in the common stands, no. I was in the Founder’s Box which is way up on the penthouse level.

I want a seat like they have there for work. The pull down seat was leather and about 5-6″ thick and softer than a cloud. I’m 6’2″ and I could barely touch the floor with my feet, but still, so comfortable. Oh, I should get one for the desk at home too!

The bird’s eye view was good. We were behind the away net to the left (if you’re looking at the front of it), long side just after the corner.

Before that, we had a preview of the food that will be served to the box seat ticket holders. Wow, was it good. The Angus Sliders were my personal favorite. I regret having found them too late in the mingling because I probably would have camped them and KSed anyone that tried to get one (I’ve got to add some MMO lingo in there).

The game itself was not too bad. I felt a little out of it watching but I usually feel that way when I’m at the game. I’m a bit of a people watcher so I sometimes see something interesting and miss the puck being dropped or something. I also find that I miss the commentators (even Bob Cole and Harry Neale… but only a little..) and replays. I also miss the HD and rewind (PVR, DVR.. what ever). I know, HD vs. real life, but there is something to be said about having a pause button.

Philly looked like they weren’t really into it, at least not offensively. I think they managed about 15 shots on goal in the whole game. I would have thought with so many young players trying to earn a spot on the roster they would have played harder – unless the Philly roster is already decided? It was also their first pre-season game (so the radio said).

On Ottawa’s side Phillips, Schubert, Ruutu, Donovan, Fisher and McAmmond were missing.

I have to say I liked the look of some of the rookies. Despite what Dean Brown (I think it was?) was saying on the post game last night, #60 (Greg Maulden -sp?) played well. I thought he showed some skill though I do have to admit he looked unwilling to hit out there.

I was impressed by Jesse Winchester (#18) on the first line with Spezza and Heatley, but we’ll have to see how he does in the real season. Any Sens readers remember Bochenski’s pre-season awesomeness with Spezza and Heatley? Yeah.. let’s see how he does. That said, he showed a lot of fire on the ice. He played hard and to the hilt, throwing hits and back checking and making some decent plays. He even scored a goal from a bad angle by putting it to the front of the neat as Foligno was crashing the net and it went in off the Philly Defenseman. I have to admit, I was skeptical about putting him up on the first line but it’s looking good now.

Nick Foligno (#71) looked good as well. There was one point where I thought he was trying to be too unselfish and passed instead of shooting, but there ended up being a goal anyway. I thought his focus on the puck and willingness to throw the body was a good combination. He’s looking good on the line with Bass (#58) and Neil (#25).

I really wonder what the lines will be like when everyone is in the line up? Will that line (it was the 3rd line last night) be the 4th line? If so, it’ll be good to see that the checking line has is a scoring threat.

Defense. I thought Smith (#21) was solid again and Kuba (#17) did well enough. Bell (#9) had a little issue that cost them a goal – but I’ll give him credit for not screening Gerber, who probably should have stopped it. He might have been a little surprised. Bell didn’t let that hold him back though and he kept at it. I’m not going to talk about the A-Train (#24), he seemed a little quiet and I was waiting for him to lay someone out. Lee (#55) look alright but a little unnoticeable.I was a little surprised to see Richardson (#2) on the ice. I didn’t think he got a contract with the Sens? Maybe he’s still trying to break the line up anyway. He actually did pretty well. I didn’t see him make any mistakes but I didn’t see anything spectacular.

Honestly, I think they’re really going to miss Redden and fans that hated him will see what he brought to the team. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. You know that stretch pass Bell tried from behind the blue line? That was the kind of pass Redden would pull off multiple times per game. Notice all the bobbling of the puck on the attack line during the power play? Again, Redden was awesome there. Did you see when, I think it was, Lee slipped into the open slot from the blue line and missed the back door play? Redden usually hit the net there.

Really, people were too hard on Redden and I was disappointed to see him go.

It’s going to be tough to get a spot on the blue line (defense) for anyone looking to make it. Here’s what they have:

  • Chris Phillips
  • Anton Volchenkov
  • Jason Smith
  • Filip Kuba
  • Christoph Schubert
  • Brian Lee
  • Alexandre Picard
  • Brendan Bell
  • Matt Carkner
  • Luc Richardson

Likely in about that order.

There you go, some hockey talk.

WAR Bugs

Okay so there have been a couple of things that have really irritated me about WAR so far. The first two are bugs which negatively impacts RVR.

1. Engineer Turrets firing through walls – sound like the Animist’s mushroom turrets? Well, it’s happening. I bet it happens for the Magus’ turret-like pets too… maybe. It’s hard to tell because the Magus’ RVR Scenario map doesn’t really have a vertical layer design to it unlike the Dwarf one. Nothing is as fun as having three or four turrets attacking you through the ceiling and almost all the way down to your warcamp.

2. You can move through enemies easier than you can move through allies. It’s a real pain. It might just be worse because the Black Ork model is so big and broad. Which makes you question how it’s fair they suffer more? Is it a fair trade off for being able to block people out? I haven’t seen it yet. In fact, it’s not just the Black Ork that suffers this. The Chosen and Marauder are both very big as well. All the Order models are either tiny or thin. Hmmm… what’s the trade off? Not a lot that I noticed.

That said, there are some Destruction classes that need some looking at.

I’ve got my Witch Elf up to level 16 and I’m disappointed to say the numbers don’t compare to a Bright Wizard. Okay, comparing glass cannon to melee DPS. Well, the WE is a glass melee DPS type and at 16th level my most damaging finisher does 320 damage, it takes some build up to get to it and it also is concentration required. The average special attack was doing around 100 at about 9th level (I was using RVR gear weapons – I think they were between 9-11 DPS, might have been 13, but I think those were a little higher up). I’m now using 20 DPS weapons 7 levels later and I’m not seeing a big damage difference – I’m doing between 110-120. A BW can nail things for 300 damage in the early (sub 10) levels. Honestly, I’m not sure what the point is.

Oh, and the only snare we have is from our ranged attack that we get at level one and it only applies if the target is hit in the back. Compared to a Shadow Warrior that seems to be able to root someone from a good distance regardless of facing and seems to have some sort of defensive root ability… it’s sort of sad.

It also seems sad that very little of any of the damage is scaling up. I get the impression it should by the increases I have in my weapons but I’m not seeing it. The most damaging ability I have can do somewhere between 500-600 damage but it’s a morale ability with a cooldown timer.

Stealth? There is one attack that uses stealth and it barely does any damage – I’m better off running into come and just opening up with a typical chain.

They need some increase passive armor avoidance. When a WE attacks, it should hurt… bad. Heck tie Bloody Fury into so when it’s full they have to choose between damage dump or maintaining a heightened state of slaughter.

Maybe it’s an itemization issue where they need to scale the dagger damages up more as the levels progress. I don’t know, something just doesn’t feel right.

The Magus is another one I’m not sure about. They seem to get a number of AE spells but several are cone shaped in front of them meaning they have to get into danger. If anything, it just gets them into trouble in PVE because too many mobs get agroed. So does that mean you don’t use the ability unless it is in RVR? That seems like a waste of a level slot.

They have a target AOE DoT/Debuff that does pretty weak damage really. In fact, their DD does pretty weak damage too – though it is oddly comparable to the Sorcerer at lower levels. The difference is that they don’t get a crit bonus like Sorcerers (and Bright Wizards) do. The other big damage spell they get is a short range, practically melee ability. Again, they have to get into the thick of things to use it.

I’m not sure why they trade off any durability for this. Oh, maybe it’s that turret pet they have which does really weak damage. It seems to have a casting time and does about 10-20 damage per attack. It’s pretty weak. Tack on to that the only defensive ability they get early on is a detaunt which works on one target for a limited time and reduces the damage taken by half.

It just seems weak.

A case of the grass being greener on the other side? Maybe.

Bulls on Parade…

… oddly an appropriate theme song for Casualties of WAR (a.k.a. CoW).

Take a look at us stomping some keeps in T2 RVR. Some NWSF language is used. Yours truly appears as Sindaena, a Witch Elf. You’ll see me a few times in the video and I was there for all of it.

I can’t emphasize this enough, but I’ll try…

IT IS A LOT OF FUN!

Unfortunately, we’re currently not recruiting, however, if you send me suitable bribes I might put a word in for you. I’ll gladly take beautiful virgins, chickens or pie (chickens and pie are preferably virgins as well).

Thorgrim Needs More Order

… for me to annhilate. Now that I’m up there in ranks (11), I’m blowing through the enemy… and not in the way they’d want my Witch Elf to.

Actually, it really started to show when I got my daggers upgraded and worked on my Apothecary to bolster my strength, give me a damage shield and drop 500 point heals on myself if I strayed too far from healers (if they were healing). I’ve been redesigning the orifices of humans, dwarves and high elves for quite a few levels now… I’m just more sneaky about it now that I have Stealth.

And I have to give Mythic credit for how Stealth works in their game, it’s quite good. It’s one of the better Stealth mechanics I’ve seen in a game yet. Why? Well:

  1. It can be seen through sometimes, but not always (Hi2U AoC)
  2. It doesn’t appear to break when someone does see you and attacks you
  3. It doesn’t slow you down like it does in almost every other MMO
  4. It has a 30 seconds cool down which makes you need to think about when to use it (I admit, this might be a little high)
  5. It drops when you interact with things
  6. It has a limited duration
  7. It costs you Action Points while you’re using it, but not all of them like the run ability

Here are a few things I’ve done while stealthed that I really enjoyed:

  • I bypassed the tanks, DPS and such to sneak up on the healers which I can put down fast if I wait until they start to heal someone since I know their defensive target is set to someone else. I swear, I can almost hear the, “Oh shit!”s coming from them when I decloack behind them, nailing them with a backstab followed up by a Kiss of Death (damage proc + heal effectiveness debuff), DoT, damage, and puncture to finish them off.
  • One time I bypassed their whole group and took out their capture point in Khaine’s Embrace. In fact, I did that a few times.
  • I’m taking out Blade Masters and White Lions more reliably now. I mow through Archmages, Rune Priests and Warrior Priests. I do about the same to Witch Hunters and Shadow Warriors.
  • I stealth around our capture point protecting it. I usually wait for someone to try to capture it and then I pounce which interrupts them and lets me get in several shots.
  • I bail people out who think they’re going to die (i.e. decloak and clobber a tank who is eating a healer)

Really, it’s been a lot of fun.

Sadly, the most vicious thing I’ve seen done before wasn’t done by me. No, Chance gets credit for that. He fires an AE Root that traps Order folks at the altar area when Khaine’s explosions are about to go off then he gets out of there. Very nice!

Oh right, so yeah, Thorgrim needs more Order people or they need to start queuing up for scenarios because it’s pretty slow over there.

In case you were wondering, you can queue up no matter what rank (level) you are. If you’re rank 1 you will get bolstered up to about rank 8 – you don’t gain any new abilities, but you’ll have the health, hit and damage capabilities of about that rank.You actually have some really good people on the Order side so not every scenario will be a loss – most of them will be, but not all of them.

So queue up! You just have to click the war icon in the upper left corner of your mini-map.

And if you see a Witch Elf named, “Sindaena” target someone else.

ARGH!

I’m having a day from hell. I simply feel ‘off’. Body doesn’t feel right. Mind doesn’t seem to be working right. I’m struggling with something that should be simple to do but it doesn’t seem to be.

The wife called because the bigger little ogre’s teacher called. Apparently he’s being a little shit on the school bus and keeps standing up and not listening to the driver. The teacher also noted he’s misbehaving a bit in class, being a bit of a class clown.

It’s one of those days you wish you could have completely skipped.

ARGH!

I feel an urge to smash something.

WAAAAGH!

That’s the cry I made when I tried to log into Volkmar server for Warhammer Online on Sunday when the servers came up and I had a moment.

Mythic were tricky, I went in and created all my characters and figured I could just hop on after that but they fooled me. You see, once you create the character you then can log into the server. Queue! It was something like 22 hours with 400+ people in the queue. I popped over to the Order server for Casualties and no queue. Figures.

I didn’t actually get to log into Volkmar until much later in the evening and that was after a 30 minute queue… which was more like 45 minutes.

AAARRGH!

I did manage to log on Monday morning and I played Kneecappa my Goblin Shaman up to level 8 or 9 then I swtiched over to play a Witch Elf and I had so much fun with that class I didn’t stop until the servers came down for maintenance.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t log back in last night because I was busy rebuiling wife faction. I’ll try to pop on tonight and see how things go.

Just a thing to note to people playing Witch Elves or who had played them and dismissed them as WoW Rogues, the mechanics are similar, but note that your Blood Fury does not go away when you kill your target, you can build it up and hang on to it until you need to finish someone and you don’t need to build it on each target. Also note that your thrown dagger can snare a target that has their back to you… make liberal use of that. Don’t forget to keep one of your ‘kisses’ active as they really increase your DPS.

Too much fun… I can’t wait until I get stealth.

Watch your back out there…

Piracy Sucks.

Genda, over at The Gouchy Gamer, posted about how gamers have had an impact on software (games) releases that would have included rootkits and other nasty attempts at foiling piracy. I posted a comment and decided it is a worthwhile topic to get into, even though I know it is a sensitive subject for me.

I loathe software piracy.

I loathe the excuses people give for it.

I loathe the fact that my experience with software has become more complicated because of it.

I loathe the hypocrisy of people that work in the industry, actually pirate stuff themselves.

Do I have any pirated software or other media? No. Not even a single song.

I loathe a few more things, like a lot of the DRM solutions that have come into place because of piracy.

I loathe the fact that some of my friends have gone through me to get (legitimate) software from where I work (where it’s one of the benefits of working here), then had hardware issues, lost their software and then had difficulties recovering it because of those DRM solutions.

Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing.

Worse still, I loathe the fact that companies are moving work to countries that have cheaper labor. Yes, this is happening in the IT industry and has been happening for years.

Think about that if you’re in school studying IT. There might not be a job for you when you graduate. Why? Cost cutting and they can’t quite afford the salary you’re expecting.

But hey, maybe by the time you graduate, software developers will be making a third of what they are now in order to compete so you might be able to scrape by on that money you’re making. Suddenly your planned career choice might not be as lucrative as you thought…

The main issue is the accessibility to pirated software. The internet makes this easy. It means people that wouldn’t normally pirate software get their hands on it because it’s free, easy, requires a simple to use client and off they go.

The argument of, “these people wouldn’t buy it anyway” comes into play here. University students, high school students and so on, right? It starts there but what are they learning? They’re learning they don’t necessarily have to pay for things and if they can get away with it, why bother?

Okay, so a student doesn’t have a few grand to spend on software aimed at professionals so they justify stealing that software and using it.

Does it stop there? No.

The same people doing that end up doing it with 60$ video games. Are you trying to tell me students can’t afford that? Yet they can afford the bloated systems that the video games require to play that game?

See where I’m getting the previous point from?

The ideal situation I see coming into effect is government mandates to ISPs so ISPs will block and report offenders not using legitimate channels for acquiring media – it goes beyond software. This would mean software developpers would need to communicate with the ISP to flag the interaction as legit.

The good side of this is that it doesn’t impact the legit consumer like DRM type solutions do. It also makes obtaining pirated software less easy than having a computer, internet connection and the ability to search for it online.

The down side is that it doesn’t protect against physically delivering the software (or other media).

Although if you consider that, software piracy becomes more like drug dealing. It becomes something that takes more effort and the local authorities can actually monitor easier.

Without this sort of support from governments, expect the industry to eventually change from product to service. This is the software developer’s only means of really protecting their software if the ease of getting pirated software isn’t curbed.

It’s already happening too. Take a look at the productivity tools Google provides online. Acrobat.com? It’s another means of protecting their software much like you’re seeing games become more accessible through online downloads. Music, videos and movies as well.

Imagine iTunes shifting from allowing people to purchase and own local copies of music to being a streaming service you get access to instead.

Think people will be upset and boycott it?

Remember how opposed to people were (some still are) to paying subscription fees for games? How’s that working out? (Hint: consider WoW’s 11million subs, all the other subs to the many different MMOs out there. XBox Live Gold subs. Catching on yet?)

I keep harping on software piracy, but the reality is that the digital world allows for piracy of more than just software, all sorts of media are impacted; movies, music, TV shows, images, software and even books.

The digital world needs better digital policing…

Sleepless_ Gamer (Part 2)

Spore.

It’s worse than Civ4. I couldn’t stop myself yesterday. I evolved from a cell to a space traveller in one sitting and was up until almost 3am again last night. I’m going to pass out once the caffeine wears off.

The game is like crack, it’s addictive as hell. I think I stopped for supper and that was about it.

I think you can track what I created by looking here. I’m not sure if that works for others.Anyway, I made a Carnivore Warrior creature with four arms, four legs and horns.

I killed all I saw. Okay, except for the epic things. I did kill a few rogue creatures in the second stage of existence and all the epic creatures in the civilized stage.

Diplomacy is not for ogres you know.

You can also take a look at my achievements here.

Sleepless Gamer (Part 1)

Crap, I forgot the underscore.

The weekend starts with Friday and continues on until almost 3am Saturday. Lots of WAR and WAAAAGH!ing. (Yes, it’s a verb.)

After whining about the servers going down just as I got home, they came back up. Okay, not immediately afterwards, but it was a lot sooner than the announced 10:30pm EST availability. I hopped on to Crag Mere and finished creating my Goblin Shaman named, “Kneecappa”.

I was pretty impressed with the Goblin Shaman, he seems to heal well and dish out some pretty decent damage with his concentration required DoT he dishes it out pretty decently. He’s also got a small heal, medium heal, heal over time and an attack spell that also heals over time as it damages the enemy (sort of like a life tap but it goes to the defensive target).

It’s a monster of a class but I get the impression that most of the healer classes will be quite vicious (i.e. need nerfing). I was able to beat just about everything I faced one on one, except if they were higher levels, though even then it wasn’t too bad.

I played a lot of scenarios with some fellow CoWs and we kicked ass. I played enough of them to get into Reknown Rank 7, close to half way. I also outleveled most of the PQs and quests in the starting area because we were hopping into scenarios at level 2. I ended up Rank 7 by the end of the night morning which isn’t too bad for less than 6 hours of play.

The next day I popped on and off but I didn’t really play for too long. I cleared up some quests and appear to be aiming for the next tier. I think I’ll grind some PQs or more scenarios to get my level up to 10ish. I want to get to RR8 so I can pick up the new RVR gear.

They adjusted Public Quests so that you now gain more weight the number of times you’ve done it (or so it seems) and they’ve increased the number of winners. Really, they need to have the number of winners determined dynamically by the number of people that are there for the roll or who have participated in two of the rounds at least. I popped in and was guaranteed one win early Saturday morning because it was me, two Squig Herders and a Black Ork doing the PQ where you’re killing lots of dwarves.

Well, they made a lot of changes. Anyway, here is the list of things that I wasn’t too keen on last time:

Models - a couple of the models with cloth had clipping and overlapping issues. I believe long hair also was an issue.

I didn’t notice this as much with the Goblin Shaman I played. I also didn’t really notice it with the Witch Elf I had created but I suspect that’s because she wasn’t wearing much in the way of clothing.

I have to admit, I’m a little annoyed that they let the cat out of the bag when creating characters. At the character creation screen you pick from a grouping of your race and you see them in their best gear… or high end at least. It’s a little disappointing to see the cake before the birthday party.

Character Variance – it wasn’t easy to tell one character from another. A big part of this is due to lack of customization in the character creation. The other part that really doesn’t help is gear. It seems the gear upgrades are less obvious. The initial jump has something, but after that, it seems most armor in that ‘tier’ looks the same. *I’d be forgiving about this since it means less work for player PCs to render so it suits the PVP/RVR/PQs for performance. Dye seems to be one way of separating your character, but most of the colors aren’t all that impressive and they seem to have the same availability for each race. I strongly suggest they create color palettes for each race with some of the overlapping ones being the more expensive (hey, make people pay to conform to guild colors). Costs are also tiered so certain colors are more expensive – I get this concept, but I don’t like it, especially when you’re already so limited.

This is still an issue, in my opinion. At the starting point and through most of T1 you can’t really distinguish one person from another just by looking at them. Half the time I didn’t notice the person was a CoW until I took a moment to read their name and tag.

Dyes can be used to make a difference, but people have to actually be willing to use them. Me? Well, the Banana-man is back. I’ve got my Shaman in bright yellow robes, bright yellow shoes and with bright yellow wristbands. If it looks like a banana, chances are it is me.

That said, I’m not sure I like the colors or the way you dye things. It just seems a little off.

Performance - bad. I’m pretty disappointed with the performance of the game given the system I have. It is more than capable of running VG at the higher settings and EQ2 at the Extreme Quality setting. WoW… well, full blown. Some of this can be attributed to the large number of people on screen at most times – it’s a zoo, really. I also noticed some degradation overtime so I suspect a resource leak somewhere. I also experienced a crash.

It didn’t look good when the Preview+ weekend started. The patcher was fine but then I got into the game and it wasn’t showing any servers or details on the connection. It seems when it timed out trying to connect the game would throw an application error. Not pretty. The fixed that after they took the servers down.

I still got a crash and several times I found myself kicked to the character selection screen. This happened when running about and once when I was hopping into a scenario – which was good timing because two level 10 Witch Hunters appeared out of no where and started attacking me during one of the PQs. Being level 8 and caught by surprise by two melee DPS classes would have meant death otherwise.

Yes, I was in RVR mode. I couldn’t seem to get rid of it. They need to adjust the 10 minute cool down, it’s too long. At least it clears when you die.

Bugs - there were a number of bugs. One involved the quest helper markers (icons over the NPCs heads) getting stuck in a mode which was annoying. Another had to do with a PQ in the Greenskin area where you’re supposed to collect barrels – I picked up one and couldn’t seem to pick up others. One involved creatures running away from you after you engage them then they come back – I don’t know if it is intentional or not, but it was annoying because it’s not like they were low on health or anything.

Quest markers seemed to update correctly but I was getting some issues with my group/warband player listing disappearing when in scenarios which makes it hard to tell who needs healing. The weird thing was that I could see the buffs under people but I couldn’t see anything else.

I did see some creature pathing issues at first, but it was smooth the rest of the time I played.

I still couldn’t seem to pick up the barrels.

A new bug cropped up and it’s really bloody annoying. Somehow, the mobs get into a state where they cannot be attacked or they’re dead but still seem to be acting. It’s really frustrating.

Textures - world textures seem a little weak. The ground and rocks seem a little bland in most of the areas I saw. Some were well suited to the area but others were just too common. Where are the shaders?

Much better. I’m not sure if they fixed it or if it was due to updating my Catalyst and DirectX drivers. They do need to be better about alt-tabbing and working with dual monitors. I was impressed the other day when I was playing EQ2 and I discovered I could interact between the two monitors without putting EQ2 in windowed mode. Mythic, get on that.. it’s sweet! Makes switching Ventrilo channels a lot easier.

World Design – while a lot of people like that quests and the world ushers you into one direction while I like choice. Give me two or more paths to take. Heck, each class has three mastery paths, why not make quest lines for each one that emphasize that path?

Still not a lot of choice in advancing through the world. I mean, you can go to the other starting areas and play there but there is no real choice on which way you can go through the PVE quests. No branching that sends you in different directions or anything like that. If you played one Greenskin through PVE then you’ve played them all through there. Maybe that makes more sense.

Go easy on me, I’ve had limited sleep on the weekend.

Classes - I noticed the Disciple of Khaine and Battle Priest had identical gameplay which was somewhat disappointing. The Bright Wizard and Sorceress seem that way as well. I believe the Engineer and Magus are very similar as well. I think these are the only few pairings like that, but I’d have to see more.

This is still the case, at first glance, but it’s hard to tell if it is as obvious after all the patch changes. That and I only played a shaman all weekend.

Responsiveness - not so good. Somewhat understandable when over crowded, but when you’re playing at 6am and there are very few people around, things (inventory, NPCs, abilities…) should react a little better.

Much better. It was a whole lot better.

PVE – there didn’t seem to be a lot of PVE stuff early on. While that isn’t entirely a true statement, that is a feeling you’ll get because the PVE content you’re doing is tied to some of the RVR elements you’ll face. In other words, if you’re an ork you’ll be fighting a lot of dwarves and if you’re a dwarf, you’ll be fighting a lot of orks/goblins. It’s almost like playing a FPS with computer controlled bots… same sort of gameplay, only it is easier because the bots aren’t too bright.

Still the same. I’m not sure when the instances start but it would have been nice to have more dungeon delving feeling available. Going into small mines or buildings doesn’t cut it for a delver like me.

That’s about it for WAR. It was a positive experience.