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News - Warhammerherald.com - Thursday, December 6, 2007 Edit

WAR Beta Update - Part 5

James Nichols


Greetings!

Today we bring your part five of our Beta Update series. The re-opening of beta is swiftly approaching and the furnaces are burning full steam ahead here at EA Mythic. All of the teams have been working like mad men to make magic happen throughout the entire game. This weeks witchcraft brings you even more information about the inevitable city, character creation, and questions directly from the beta testers about Keeps and Career Mastery. Enjoy!


Waaagh! And well met!
After the last few updates from the Cities Team, we decided that it was time to show off some concepts of the Inevitable City. This bastion is the physical manifestation of the power of Tzeentch and a visual representation of the madness that is Chaos.
Hail from the Cities Team!
This week has been a bit Chaotic. Literally! We’ve been delving into the twisted and disturbing halls of the Inevitable City. One of the items we’ve been forging out of cold warpstone is the “Feast Hall” interior. Here players can find or offload the latest plunder taken from the enemy, brag about new mutations, or just simply relax with a few lashings. Take a look at the concept:
Feast hall concept
And one more chilling image for you from the shadowy corners of the Inevitable City, the Bank! A twisted counter-part to the Altdorf Bank, power of Chaos flows through the very walls… Take a look:
Inevitable city bank
I hope that whets your appetite for our Capital Cities – they’re going to be like no other city you’ve ever experienced before!
-Capital Cities Team
I have to wonder about the sanity of our artists when I start to see the various “urban” elements that they are creating for the Inevitable City. I think we may have to call in some Witch Hunters to check them out…after they finish all their work, of course.
Another issue that has been raised on the Beta forums concerns our plans for character creation. Before the Beta shut down you have no real choices when making a character as this system had not yet been implemented.
As always, we have a plan and here is the UI Team to talk about it:
One of the focuses of the UI Team for the past few months has been to get Character Creation up and running. In Beta up until this point, players have only been allowed to select their career and gender before they jump into game and start playing. Of course, the biggest problem with that was that every single player who made a male Dwarf Engineer looked like every other player who had made a male Dwarf Engineer.
Obviously that is not our intent.
It has been our plan since the beginning to allow you to have characters that look unique. We do that through so many other systems in the game (trophies and armor dying to name two), that it seems only natural to do it from the moment of character creation. And not only that, but we want players to be introduced to the characters and careers of Warhammer Online in a way that is both informative and interesting. Truly, character creation is the first place in the game that we get to show you what the game is all about.
So one of our first decisions was how to make the process as interactive as possible. We want players to see their choices before they start eliminating their options. In DAoC, the very first choice in the game was to choose Hibernia, Midgard, or Albion before you even had a good sense of what that even meant. So the first thing you should see when you log into the game (other than the EULA) is all of the available race choices, right up front. They're standing in front of you, staring you down, and daring you to pick them.
Now, clearly we have more choices than you can see in a quick glance, so we had to make some decisions about what to show and when. Hopefully you'll find it easy to make decisions, and you'll feel not only informed about the decisions you have to make, but excited to make them.
So while Beta has been down, we've gotten character creation in and running, and the first batch of options for you to choose from. As we continue to iterate on it, we will have more and more options, and more sophisticated methods for you to select them; but for now, when you make a male Dwarf Engineer, it's not going to look like everyone else's male Dwarf Engineer. And that, of course, is the whole point.
-UI Team
Even in its early phases, it’s a much more engrossing process to create your character now. It’s visually engaging without forcing you to be bogged down in some sort of elaborate process.
Last week the RvR Team dropped the bomb that we were not only going to be adding Keeps as part of our Open World RvR, but that siege would play a part of it. They took some of the initial questions that the Beta Community asked about Keeps and answered them so that everyone could have access to the information. This is a very basic overview of Keeps as we’re not quite ready to talk about them in any greater detail. That’s for a later Update.
For this week's update, we are going to answer a few of the recurring questions regarding keeps and siege. The details will still be on the light side as many of the features won't be fully implemented when Beta re-opens. We don't want to tease you too much with juicy bits of goodness that won't be available right away when you log in.
Before I dive into that, there is one other change to RvR. We have changed the Renown splitting from its old contribution based system. Renown for killing players is now awarded to each member of a group if one or more members participated in the kill. The amount of renown given to the group is a percentage based on participation in the kill.
Now we move on to the Keep questions -
Will the keeps be attackable without siege? Yes, players will be able to break open the keep doors, battle the guards, fight their way to the keep lord, and try to capture the keep.
Will Keeps change in appearance based upon which race controls them? In future patches (pre-launch), the appearance of the keep will change to reflect that the enemy realm has captured it. At this time, we are not planning to entirely replace the keep with a new structure with different geometry. So, an Empire keep captured by Destruction will still look like an Empire keep, but it will change to look like it's been under siege and show some signs of its new owners.
Will there be NPC guards and a captain to kill rather than a "run up and click the flag" we see in other games? There will definitely be more to capturing the keep than just interacting with an object or entering an area. There will be guards and a "lord", with the numbers of guards present based on factors players from both realms can affect. More details will be released closer to Beta re-opening.
Will there be non-typical types of keeps? (i.e. ships, trains, mountains) At this point, we aren't planning on using anything that deviates too far from a "keep" style structure.
Will keeps have multiple levels and if so, will they use ladders or stairs? The keeps will have several floors of combat space. Both the keeps and the outer walls will use stairs or ramps, with no ladders to be found.
Will Battlefield Objectives play a part in the keep system? Yes, there will be connections between the BOs and the keeps. Sorry folks, this is another one that we have to say "more details to follow later".
-RvR Team
I can see the follow-up questions already being written on the Beta forums now. Remember, we’re only talking about a small part of the pie at this time. As we get closer to re-opening Beta (when the Beta Community will actually be interacting with the keeps), we’ll be going into much greater detail.
When last we left our combat & Careers team they too opened up a can of worms by revealing the information behind our Career Mastery system. This generated a significant amount of feedback as well as many questions...many…questions.
We decided to rip questions straight from the Beta Forums and have the Combat & Careers team answer them directly. These were some very interesting questions to answer. So without further adieu… On to the questions and answers!
“I'm hoping we'll get more than two options for mastery per class (i.e. a chosen that can master being more defensive, being more offensive, or being more debuffer.., or... duel vs shield, or...”
- Each career will have 3 Mastery paths available to them, and the specific differences between the paths will be based on the individual careers. In general, careers that share archetypes will often share similar themes on Mastery, but it is not 100% the same.
“But one thing I was expecting to see at least mentioned, but wasn't, was an ability to respec our characters?”
- There will definitely be a mechanism in place to re-specialize your Mastery. Initially for Beta it will be easy to access and free, however there will be some cost to it in release.
“Hrmm, i probably missed it, but how do you earn mastery points? Is it just from when you level up?”
- Yup! You gain Mastery points as your rank increases. You'll begin gaining Mastery points at around 25% of the way through your career, so that you have some time to become accustomed to the career's core playstyles before you have to make any specialization decisions.
“Is it a good assumption on our part to guess that you are taking a look at spells and attacks as a whole as well as adding specs?”
- Absolutely. Remember that we're releasing all of these different aspects of the careers iteratively, so the next pass over the careers that adds Masteries will also be a general pass over the careers as a whole.
“I would like to know if you can give us any information on the UI for the Career Mastery. You mention that at certain levels you get to "unlock" skills, will these skills be visible before they are unlocked or only at the point when they become available?”
- The UI for the Mastery system isn't quite ready for discussion yet, but we can assure you that all of the abilities within a path will be visible right from the start. We're not going to keep the benefits of a Mastery a secret; you'll be able to see right from the beginning what you'll gain from each Mastery path.
“I am interested in how this will work for the front load casters, IE Magus, and BW... hmmmmm ... Guess will be like DD mastery, CC mastery, and DOT mastery type?”
- The C&C team is actually making strong efforts to avoid "CC Mastery". Crowd control is a powerful, necessary, and key part of gameplay, but it's also very delicate - if you're unable to control your character for an entire fight, that's horribly frustrating and simply not fun. Bright Wizards, for example, might have one Mastery for direct effects, one for longer-duration effects, and one for area effects - any crowd control abilities that they might have would be scattered through the trees as appropriate.
“For some people, the meta-game of speccing and respeccing is the most fun”
- Don't forget about things like Tactics! Not only will you have made decisions about Masteries, which are longer-term and more fundamental decisions about the direction you want to take your character, but you'll also be making fight-by-fight decisions on which Tactics to use. Let us diverge a moment away from Masteries, and briefly mention another change that you'll be seeing when the Beta reopens: When it comes to Tactics and Morale, you'll have to make fewer choices about what to -purchase-, and more choices about what to -use-. The Mastery paths will have some Tactics and Morale that you'll have to purchase, and those will be very specifically focused on that path - but outside of those, your career's normal Tactics and Morale will -all- be granted to you.
“I'm not entirely certain I understand a certain facet of the system. Is it true I could get full mastery in all three mastery paths, but not get all the skills associated with that tree?”
- Let's throw out some "most-extreme-case" scenarios here for you:
- If you ignore every supplemental ability in every Mastery, and only invest your points into Masteries, then you'd be able to either take all three paths up to 75% of their maximum level, or two paths up to 100% and the third at 0%.
- If you take one Mastery up to its maximum level and purchase every single supplemental ability in that path, you'll end up with around 25% of your points left to distribute into the other paths.
- If you try to distribute your points as evenly as possible, both increasing Mastery levels and purchasing supplemental abilities in all three paths, then you'll end up with each Mastery at about 45% of its maximum level, and about 45% of the supplemental abilities available to each line.
“Not sure if this has been asked yet or not...but I had a quick question. Will masteries effect stats or anything else besides skills in any way?”
- Stats are not affected by Mastery directly - there may be some Mastery Tactics or Actions that give you access to improved stat buffs, but the core allotment of stats stays the same. Gaining additional stats is predominately done via equipment. That being said, there may be different sets of gear that are more or less attractive to different mastery paths.
“I guess I'm just confused how not speccing into something makes your base spells for that tree equivalent to level 20-25, but it's still only a 30-35% difference if you spec 100% into it. That seems like conflicting numbers to me.Unless there's only a 30% difference between a level 20 and 40, but that brings up a whole other set of issues.”
- To keep it short: the 30 – 35% is the general number you see after you factor in the fact that a rank 40 Character will have rank 40 stat bonuses & gear, which will make an ability stronger then the same one cast as a rank 25 player with rank 25 gear and stats. Don't confuse -player- levels with -ability- levels! That 30 - 35% number is when you compare two rank 40 players of different specs - comparing a rank 40 player to a rank 25 player, even if they're both using rank 25 abilities, would be a MUCH larger gap because of stats, gear, etc.
“I think the worry comes about the system comes from the number of actions to choose from within a line. If most of our choices are tactics/morale then this does little. On the other hand, if within each path is a large number of good actions to pick from then I think this system has a good chance.”
- Some numbers to hopefully put your fears to rest:
- 25% of each careers Base abilities are Core, the other 75% tie in to Mastery Paths (25% each)
- If you’re really fond of purchasing Actions/Abilities you can get 10 – 25% More actions via mastery purchase. That being said, we’re not releasing final numbers at this time but every career will have 20+ actions no matter how they spec.
“I sincerely hope each specialization is viable in both pve and pvp. Its more about the style in which you are most comfortable with to achieve your goal.”
- We absolutely agree. The Mastery paths are designed to emphasize different facets of the careers, -REGARDLESS- of whether you're playing in PvE or RvR. From a design point of view, we make a strong and intentional effort to have all of your abilities be useful in both realms of play - for example, look at our Taunts. The differences should be in personal choice and playstyle (a tank who's focused entirely on defense will be the person blocking off a bridge at a strategic chokepoint, whereas a tank who's focused entirely on offense will be the person leading the charge when the battle line advances - won't it be interesting to see what happens when the two collide?).
-Combat & Careers Team
Well Lads and Lasses this Update should certainly keep you busy until the next update. If not, fret not… We shall work on keeping you entertained and enthralled as we have since the beginning. For what is a Beta without its Beta Community? For me personally, it's a lot less interesting to be sure.

See you next week! - The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Team

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