Daily Archives: September 2, 2008

Warhammer Online: The Lost Classes.

There are plenty of MMO blogs out there that have reviewed the various classes available to new players when they take their first tentative steps into the World of Warhammer. Online. Craft. There isn’t much coverage, however, of the classes that Mythic left out of the game; I’m not talking about those classes, such as the Hammerer or Choppa, that were extracted with a precision scalpel, expertly carved out in such a way as to cause maximum outrage on all the Warhammer forums of which, I should note, Mythic has to police and support precisely none.

The person at Mythic who said “Hey, why don’t we not have any official forums, because fans are bound to run their own anyway, and then we can just piggyback off of them for free” has now been set up in their very own room at Mythic HQ, a room made of solid gold, with a golden throne at the centre, where gold fountains routinely shower said person in chocolate and liqueur. And gold.

No, I’m talking about the secret classes that were in the very early alpha release of the game but were quickly removed after initial feedback from testers. So here’s a brief description of some of the lost classes of Warhammer Online:

The Scion of Slaanesh – The Scion was an interesting class, being a representative of the god of seduction, depravity and hedonism they were armed with nothing more than a main-hand whip and a large vibrator in the off-hand. Death at the hands of a Scion was an absolute pleasure and at the same time absolute agony. Alpha testers complained that there was a lack of armour options, which was not strictly true, because since the Scion didn’t wear any armour, or clothing at all, there weren’t many options to be had. The developers pointed out that they had been quite generous with the various body customisation options for the class in compensation for the lack of attire, but testers pointed out in response that there was a bug where the male and female characters had every combination of body options, male and female, all at the same time. The developers said that this wasn’t a bug it was a feature, but nobody was buying it, and the class fell into disuse.

The Dwarf Beer Master – The Beer Master was meant to be a pet class, but it had a twist, the twist being that it didn’t have any pets to speak of. The idea was that the Master would carry around flagons of ale which would act as pets and aid him in combat. Of course, beer isn’t actually sentient or mobile in any way, and the developers had trouble resolving that fact. When he tried to command his pets to attack, the flagons of ale would simply sit at his feet and not move, and with the character being too drunk to realise the problem, he would simply repeatedly yell at the beer mugs to attack until the player was forced to turn the sound off to protect their speakers. The only mobility the pets had was when the Beer Master flung them at his enemies in a fit of inebriated rage, at which point he would realise that the flagon still had precious beer in it and he would charge after it into the midst of the enemy, where he was quickly cut to ribbons because he’d forgotten to put his armour back on after taking a leak behind a nearby Swordmaster earlier in the day.

The Orc Negotiator – A diplomacy-based class, the Negotiator didn’t last too long. Orcs aren’t given much to diplomacy, and thus this class kept chopping the heads off of the other diplomats and then using them as glove puppets in order to conclude negotiations quickly and get back to the fighting.

The High Elf Conscientious Objector – Another diplomacy-based class and the mirror to the Orc Negotiator. Alpha testers complained that the Objector spent far too much time with its head being used as a glove puppet.

The Dark Elf Emolator – A suicide attack class, they charged-up their Emo power bar by contemplating their pale skin and black hair in hand mirrors that they carried around with them, and by singing powerful dirges by The Cure and Jimmy Eat World until they were suicidal enough to attack the enemy head-on. Alpha testers complained about the lack of variation in the black cloth armour, and the fact that there was no character run animation, instead they had to go everywhere at a shambling walk with their head down on their chest.

The Human Bloggerer – A very unusual class, they were armed with nothing more than a quill and a sheaf of vellum. They protected their allies by generating huge walls of text that the enemy could not bypass without siege engines, and they attacked by writing scathing reviews of the other classes’ prowess in combat and the bedroom. They also had a powerful debuff where they would speculate on a specific class being nerfed soon by the developers. Alpha testers complained that the class was a lot of fun to start off with, but soon became too much effort for most players to be bothered with. Mythic suggested a skald-like class instead, the Podcasterer, but it was quickly shelved when they realised that it had balance issues; you could only hear it in one ear.

So there you have it, a few of the lost classes of Warhammer. Remember them well, for their existence was brief, broken and bizarre.

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

Apparently NCSoft is adding day jobs for heroes and villains in update 13 for the City of Heroes/Villains franchise.

Is it just me that pictures a bunch of hideously over-muscled heroes crouched over tiny desks like Mr Incredible in The Incredibles, all tapping away at keyboards, writing blog posts, browsing their super group forums and pondering over spreadsheets showing their latest character build? Because that seems to be the day job of many MMO players, from what I’ve seen of the united federation of MMO bloggers.

And as for villains with a day job? By day Dr. World-Eater arranges flowers in his small boutique on Pleasant Boulevard, The Beastmaster owns a small pet hotel and Croznar the Slayer of Innocents works at the till in a fast food restaurant.

Playing for Achievements

I like a good Achievement, me. I think it was the City of Heroes badge system that crystallised it; Achievement-y elements had certainly been a feature of games previously, like medals or promotions based on mission performance in flight simulators, and in the Grand Theft Auto 3 series I’d always studiously collect hidden packages or similar for in-game benefits, but CoH badges were really the first thing I collected for the sake of collecting. There are a few Accolades that confer a tangible benefit, but other than that there’s not much reason for having three hundred badges other than to say “Woo! I’ve got three hundred badges!” With XBox Live really cementing capital-A “Achievements” in the “doing stuff in games” sense (to the point that “Achievements” in Wikipedia redirects to the Gamerscore section of “XBox Live”) they’re popping up a lot more in PC games now, Team Fortress 2, Audiosurf and Mass Effect being three recent examples that spring to mind.

Having completed one run-through of Mass Effect including just about every side-quest I could find, I picked up quite a few achievements: all the general plot missions, level 50, the Paragon achievement for being a generally nice chap, completing 75% of the game etc. I’d carefully rotated all four weapon types to get the 150 kills achievement for each. It’s a splendid game, and I was quite getting into the combat, so I thought I’d take another run at it, make a couple of different choices along the way to see if the plot changed at all, and grab a few more achievements. I rolled a Sentinel, to pick up the Biotic-use achievements, and set it to Hardcore difficulty level, which so far I’m not having too many problems with (I ought to check in case I thought I’d set it to Hardcore, but actually left it on Medium…) The new character is called Bastard Shepherd. Not “Bastard” Shepherd, it’s not a nickname or anything, no, he was christened Bastard, and in a shining example of nominative determinism is attempting to rack up maximum Renegade points. So far this mostly involves shooting whoever I’m talking to: an NPC has surrendered, claiming they were under mind-control when they attacked you? “I don’t trust you!” *BLAM* A cell full of prisoners who’ve had their minds wiped? “It’s a kindness, really” *BLAMBLAMBLAM* One of the crew has second thoughts about the mission? *BLAM* Even though it’s just a bunch of pixels, I actually feel quite bad about making a lot of those choices, I’m not sure if that’s a sign that I’m far too invested in something that’s only a game, or just confirmation that I’m not really a sociopath who’ll gun anything down that gets in the way.

Finishing off this second playthrough should net the “Complete Mass Effect twice” and “Complete Mass Effect on Hardcore difficulty” achievements, but I don’t think I’ll go for broke and play through the whole thing twice more, on Insane difficulty, just to round out every “finish the game mostly using this NPC” achievement (I’d chopped and changed too much the first time to qualify, apparently). It’s good that they’re there, as per a previous post optional additions are a much better way of prolonging gameplay than mandatory crazy-difficult bosses or missions. Some achievements don’t seem like such a good idea, though; news from WoW suggests there’s going to be a whole bunch of “first to…” achievements, which seems pretty odd behaviour to encourage; raid boss kills, I can see that, there’s already fierce competition over world and server firsts, and it takes a prolonged effort to get a group geared and trained for the dungeon. But first to level 80? That’s surely just an incentive for account sharing or crazy not-entirely-healthy marathon play sessions. You could say “people are going to race to 80 anyway, why not give them a title?”, but to delve into the wildly inappropriate analogy for a moment, you could say people are going to drink to excess anyway, why not hand out a t-shirt for the first person to down 20 pints of snakebite in a pub? What else, achievements for ganking 1000 players at least 20 levels below you? Maybe our biting satire wasn’t quite as bitingly satirical as we thought… First to 450 in each tradeskill I can sort of respect as a logistical exercise in calculating the necessary raw materials, amassing as much as possible before the expansion hits, then engaging in a furious craft-off in the bank, rivals staring intently at each other as piles of unwanted belts, boots and hats build up around them… And first to level 80 on a heavily populated PvP server, I’d quite like to see the almighty ruck in the final zone if each side has a candidate for the title, waves of level 70s flinging themselves into futile combat just to slow the other side down a bit. Still seems like an awful lot of effort to expend in the first week (day?) of the expansion’s release, when it’s hardly as if anyone’s going to need any extra incentive to be playing.