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News - - Tuesday, December 18, 2007 Edit

WAR Beta Update - Part 6

James Nichols

It's that time again!

This final update before beta goes live includes some great information on the never before seen guild and social tools! In addition to more questions answered about changes to RvR and some great artwork from our cities team. Enjoy!

Waaagh! And well met!
Even though it’s been about two months since we temporarily closed the Beta, it doesn’t seem that long given how busy we’ve been. Time just flies when you’re neck-deep in the chaos that is the building of WAR.
We’ll start off this week’s update with some interesting behind-the-scenes information from the Cities Team. This time around they’ll walk you through some of the steps that go into building some of the wonderful bits of Altdorf, the Empire’s capitol city.
Cities Team
Hello once again from the Cities Team!
This week we’ve continued working on two very cool interior spaces for Altdorf. Since they’re not finished yet, we thought an explanation of how we build the city might be just the thing to pique your interest.
Step 1: Wouldn’t it be cool if…
The first step is done on white boards, via hand gestures, and even cocktail napkins. This is the phase where we work together to brainstorm the grand scope of an encounter. We establish what we want the fight or encounter to be and how the environment should be created to compliment it. Commonly heard phrases include: “You know what would be cool?” And “I wonder if it would be possible to...” with a variety of swear words thrown in to mix it up.
Stage 2: Swans of War!
After that stage, the idea goes to concept. Here, our amazing concept artists take our napkin ideas and turn them from ugly ducklings into swans… Swans of WAR that is!
We’re hard at work on two interior spaces this milestone: The Bright College and the Palace of Karl Franz. Here’s an example of their concept phase:
Bright College
BrightCollege Interior concept
BrightCollege Entrance concept
Emperor’s Palace
EmperorsPalace Interior concept
EmperorsPalace Hall concept
Stage 3: Grey Boxes!
Now that we have something to inspire us, we start the next phase: Modeling! This is a very crucial step to the development process. It’s here that we establish critical items such as play space, run distances, and encounter size, to name a few. A world artist will create the basic shapes and size of the fixture and then place it in game for all of us to run around on. Adjustments are made based on feedback, and once we all agree and the changes are settled, the grey boxes move on to the next step.
Here’s a look at the grey boxes! Aren’t they pretty?
Bright College
BrightCollege wip
Emperor’s Palace
EmperorsPalace wip
Step 4: A Coat of Paint
Probably the most difficult, if not the most lengthy step of the process is the texturing work. Once all of the “geometry” is in place, the world artists begin the lengthy process of painting all of the intricate details that make these areas really shine. This is the stage that we’re in right now with the Bright College and the Emperor’s Palace. We still have more work to do, but we can give you a glimpse at how far along they are.
Bright College
BrightCollege color
Emperor’s Palace
EmperorsPalace color
As you can see, the work is coming right along, but there’s still a lot left to do. We’re saving the final work for you to discover on your own once we open the City Gates!
Step 5: City Ninjas
Once the buildings are “geometry complete” in stage 4, we put our City Content Ninjas to work at placing the encounters. This involves all sorts of complicated things that use crazy content ninja lingo like “Pathing,” “Animation Scripting,” and “Talk Indexes.” The end result is a really cool public quest or boss fight that meshes perfectly with the environment to deliver a kick-ass encounter that you’ll be chomping at the bit to play again and again.
So – that’s it for the Cities team this week! See you in Altdorf!
-Cities Team
This is a part of the job that I really enjoy. I sometimes wander around in the Artist areas looking at what they are working on and I’m always blown away by what I see. Our cities are shaping up to be truly awe-inspiring sights.
User Interface Team
The best and most challenging thing about the UI is that it touches everything in the game. It consists of whole features (Maps, Tome of Knowledge, and Character Creation to name a few) and whole systems. It deals with art and code, data and design. If you're on the UI team, you're undoubtedly busy.
We touched base with some of the members of the UI team to see what they've worked on (whether big or small, whether code or art) while the Beta was on a break. Here’s what they had to say:
Overachievers rejoice! For the first time, you can now discover a ‘teaser’ set of successive achievements within Warhammer. You can expect to trigger actions that range from the whimsical, to those that relate to the essence of WAR, to the completely mundane. In other words, something for everyone! But, can you find them all, or, how many do you need in order to unlock that next tier? Try your luck in the next beta, where you will be rewarded with an ever-growing set of titles that you can apply to your character.
-Steve Busko
(UI Team Lead’s Note: Steve and the other talented implementers and writers have been adding content galore to the Tome of Knowledge.)
I spent a lot of time working on re-skinning the UI. No more boring brown and yellow windows. Now the UI will keep you immersed with the grim feeling of WAR!
-Jon Avila
(UI Team Lead’s Note: Jon, the UI artists, and other programmers have been tackling our UI overhaul program with gusto!)
Sure, we all know how a lot of games let you look at your characters from all angles, poking and prodding at them. Some games even go so far as to let you look up skirts, but the less said about those the better.
With all of this new character customization, specialization, distinctivization (We're so excited we're making words up!), and all-around superlative-addition going on, it was pretty important to let you closely examine the perhaps slightly-mossy but still firmly-packed rear-end of your Black Orc before putting it in the game. But not too closely - it is an Orc after all.
So, with a click and sweep of the cursor, you can pluck up any character loitering about the selection screen and give them a good whirl. Send them twirling, twirling always twirling…or at least until the momentum decays and they wind down, stop and get nauseated.
-N. Hajj
(UI Team Lead’s Note: Mr. Hajj adds detail everywhere in the game. You'd be amazed how much difference the tons of little polish items have made!)
Character selection and creation now have a dynamic and engaging feeling due to the animated 3-D background and the removal of selection buttons in favor of selectable background figures.
With this new generation of character creation, you are now able to change the features of your character. No longer will all dwarves have the same beard!
As you navigate the eye-candy-filled playground that is now character selection and creation, feel free to marvel at the leaps this system has made in just a few short weeks.
-Eric MacDonald
(UI Team Lead’s Note: Eric has been working around the clock to move Character Creation light-years ahead of where it was previously. We can't live without him!)
-UI Team
Community Systems Team
Here’s a very interesting update from one of the teams that we haven’t had a chance to hear from during the Beta downtime. Their first update ends up being a slam dunk, as it gives a nice overview of some of the changes that you’ll see in the various Community System elements of the game.
Take it away Community Systems Team…
Community Systems
Greetings from the Community Systems Team! Some exciting work has been completed by our team and we’re eager to share a few details and screenshots with you. Please keep in mind that the windows for these systems are all placeholder art that will be enhanced as we move further along in implementation.
We made some enhancements to our chat system by adding some user options. You can now filter message types, change text font sizes, create and remove chat windows, and rename chat windows. These are just a few of the chat modifications we’ve made, but additional chat improvements are in the works.
Social Window
We have added a social window to the game. This includes Friend and Ignore lists, Player Search, Looking for Party, and Looking for More options. Here’s some screenshots of the Player Search and Friends list:
UI Social window
UI friends tab
The entire guild window has changed dramatically since you last saw it. The layout has changed, along with the addition of new guild tabs and new functionality. Here’s a rundown of the changes that our team of *extraordinary* designers and programmers has been working hard on:
Profile Tab
We added a new profile tab that houses your guild summary description, message of the day, website, email, statistics, and some additional features that are currently in the works. Here’s a screenshot of the new Profile Tab:
UI guids profile
Roster Tab
We improved the Roster Tab’s functionality. You’ll notice that the guild Leader is highlighted in the Roster. Offline, online, and guild Founders (the original players that formed the guild) are highlighted differently as well. The Roster tab also includes a mouse-over window for each name in the Roster. The window lists your current location, along with Member notes and Officer set notes. In addition to all of this useful information, the Roster provides an option to right click on each name and bring up a menu that includes guild Invites and Edit Notes.
UI roster tab
News Tab
A news tab was added to the guild window. This tab tracks guild news such as guild creation, members joining and leaving, and guild promotions. We’ll be adding more tracked information to this tab as we bring more guild functionality online.
UI news tab
Alliance Tab
We added Alliances and an Alliances tab to the guild window with this round of Beta. Right now, guilds can form an alliance from within this window. We’ll bring some additional Alliance management functionality to this tab once we move forward in guild implementation.
Admin Tab
We modified the Admin tab and added some guild Management features. You can now enable and edit guild titles, and modify many guild permissions, such as promotion/demotion privileges, Rank Title privileges, guild chat privileges, and calendar management privileges. Calendar management privileges? What? Just keep on reading.
UI admin tab
UI view permissions
Calendar Tab
Our team is really excited about the addition of this feature. With this tab, your guild can view, set up, and manage guild events. The Calendar can be viewed by month, date, and year, and summaries and details can be added to each event. Additionally, there is a sign-up list which allows guild members to sign up for specific events, and provides an option to allow guild members with the appropriate permissions to Accept and Decline sign ups.
UI calendar tab
UI calendar info
-Community Systems Team
As you can see, the team has been putting an extreme amount of time into fleshing out the various Community elements, especially the guild bits. So this time around you’ll start to get a good feel for where we’re going with the concept of our Living Guilds. As we’ve been saying (and as you can begin to see with these screens), Guilds in WAR won’t simply consist of a tag above your head and an extra chat channel or two, they will be living breathing social entities within the game itself.
RvR Team
We finish this Beta update with a short note from the RvR Team. They are busy getting Open Field RvR ready for the Beta Community. This week they wrote up the description of the Elf Tier One Scenario.
Blighted Isle – Elf Tier One
The Blighted Isles hold many ancient treasures and ritual grounds upon their broken lands. Within the shadows of the Shrine of Khaine, the ancient grounds known as Khaine’s Embrace has long held dark secrets of rituals performed to the god of murder. Some think there is great power still held in Khaine’s Embrace, and were it to be used, the power of a god could be harnessed. Others insist that the land is full of nothing more then malevolent evil ready to strike at a moment’s notice.
The scenario has two shrines that serve as capture locations. Once either realm controls both capture areas for ten seconds, a glowing orb will appear above the High Elf altar found in the center area. Both of the shrines will also begin to glow brightly with a large pillar of white light shooting directly upwards. Players have 10 seconds to get out of the area of the shrines and altar before a massive point blank area of effect (PBAE) spell goes off. Once the 10 seconds expires, the PBAE will fire, killing anyone from either realm who is left in the area. Then, both shrines can be captured once more.
-RvR Team
After eight weeks and six updates, it has been my pleasure to keep the Beta Community drooling and dying for more information. Soon, beta will be open and you'll get to experience the glory of being a Dark Elf!
Until then keep your blades sharp, your backs to the wall, and your eyes open. You could use a spoon, but honestly that’s never quite as fun as it sounds.
So, these are just some of the features our team has been working on. We want you all to know that we’re committed to further expanding and enhancing these systems, so plan on seeing more features being brought on line soon, especially for guilds. We have a lot of great features in store and can’t wait to share them with you!

Wishing you a happy holiday,

- The Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Team

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