Tag Archives: rant

Grats is short for ‘gratuitous thanks’.

I mean honestly, I’m not sure if this is just a World of Warcraft phenomenon, or whether it applies to other MMOs too, but what is it with people announcing in guild chat the slightest achievement they make and others feeling compelled to says “grats” or “congratulations” or “well done” or “Oh shut the hell up, it’s hardly a bloody impressive feat now is it?!”.

One of those answers only happens in my mind.

World of Warcraft has taken this to the next level by announcing achievements that guild members make to everyone else in the guild who happens to be online. And so now, if you miss the announcement because, say, you have it turned off, or have placed it in another window which you have made the size of a postage stamp, and hidden off the edge of the display, and then set on fire, and then stabbed repeatedly with a spoon, and then stamped up and down on… where was I? So if you miss the announcement for Some Reason all you get is a guild window filled with gratses. Which at the moment is Every. Five. Seconds.

I caught the announcement once, and you can click on it to see what the person achieved, in this case a level seventy hunter had managed to explore Bloodmyst Isle. I know! One of the first zones that brand new Draenei characters can get to when they start the game. However did he manage it? But the stream of congratulations and adulation that this chap got, well it would have made Winston Churchill blush.

From now on I’m going to start saying “Grats!” every time guild members manage to log in.

Beta blocker.

Now, this is a story all about how,
My life got flipped, turned upside down.
And I’d like to take a minute,
Just sit right there,
I’ll tell you how the WAR beta made me lose all my hair.

Our story begins, as these stories often do, with an old and cynical MMO player.

I’m not sure that I can be bothered with the traditional wall-of-text rant here[1] and, ironically, I’m also having trouble expressing this farcical comedy of errors in any sort of comedic way.

So here’s an outline, please feel free to add your own canned laughter track.

I woke up on Sunday morning and found an email from Zoso waiting for me, informing me that the registration for the Warhammer Online Open Beta was to start at 8:30am. It being just after nine, I hopped on to the WAR website and tried to log in. It failed. At this point I was entirely unsurprised, because despite GOA’s assurances to the contrary, everyone and his pet mushroom knew that the registration process would fail initially, this is The Way when it comes to MMO registration. Especially those registrations that don’t open until the day the servers are supposed to come online.

I seem to recall that I went and made some breakfast, read through my RSS feeds and pondered the meaning of life, the standard Sunday morning fare, and at some point I found out that the registration required a new website account and could not be applied to an existing account; as such, there was a shortcut to the registration page provided, and of course the registration process was totally bogged down, such that you could get most of the way through registering, and then it would fail to provide the captcha image that was required to validate one’s state of human beingness and you could proceed no further.

After a few attempts at this I resigned myself to the fact that this was not going to work any time soon and so I went and did something less boring instead. In this case, housework. After a few hours of chores, I popped my head back in to the website, saw that it was still not working, and then had a quick look at the Warhammer Alliance forums and quickly left when I saw that they were all glowing green and causing Geiger counters to explode due to high readings. After a brief decontamination session, I took the family off to see relatives and came back late that evening. A quick check again confirmed that still nothing was working, and the forum status had been upgraded from Nuclear Bikini Alpha to White Dwarf Super Nova.

I played City of Villains for a bit and then went to bed.

Monday was much the same as Sunday, really. I had the day off of work because Mrs Melmoth was otherwise engaged, and I was to look after mini-Melmoth, so the odd check of the Warhammer website and forums was possible every now and again, but after the first few tries I realised that we were in for the long haul of Open Beta cock-ups. The various ‘official’ unofficial forums had generally been locked at this point, mainly due to load issues I imagine, but also because it appeared that new forms of life had bred in the nuclear wasteland of the previous day, and the rage and bile spewing forth from these entities was actually starting to melt the LCDs of innocent forum posters as they stumbled into the midst of the chaos whilst looking for help on the situation.

Whether the rumours are true that the White House had to be evacuated and the president moved to Air Force One after a presidential aide accidentally browsed to the EU Warhammer forums rather than the US ones, I can’t tell you.

At 15:00hrs on Monday evening an emergency asynchronous activation webpage (also known in the industry as the “it’s all gone to shit in a handbag” page) was provided such that players could submit their account details, whereupon a million small monkeys with hammers would hit Fisher Price keyboards until they either managed to validate some of the seventy thousand applications that flooded in or they managed to finish replicating the complete works of Chaucer. Either one was as likely as the other. This process was only available to people with registered accounts, because the account registration process was buggered and nobody was able to register. The GOA CMs pointed out that they were gob-smacked that anyone thought that they’d need a new account, because they hadn’t stated such a thing. The fact that they hadn’t posted anything at all until the entire cluster-fuck had become a steamy writhing mass of rabid forum-based rumour, speculation and misinformation may have contributed to this somewhat, however.

Anyway, at 16:00hrs on Monday I submitted my Open Beta key, and after a few failed attempts where the page just sat there looking gormlessly at me like a bucktoothed yokel who’s just peed himself and is hoping you haven’t noticed the puddle on the floor, I finally managed to submit some details. Current estimation of a reply email – which would either tell you that your key had been validated; perhaps tell you that you’d got your password wrong and that you’d therefore have to go through the whole process again; or possibly just say “Thise olde gentil Britouns in hir dayes. Ook Ook! Ook! Of diverse aventures maden layes Oook!” – was one to two hours. Now, this estimate was given by GOA CMs, so a slight amount of pessimism was probably in order based on their performance up to this point.

It was some twenty seven hours later, late Tuesday evening when I finally got an email from the registration system.

The forum speculation had continued apace, and after Zoso had had success Tuesday morning with the forum theory of the moment, that spamming the authentication system over and over with ten or twenty applications in quick succession was the way to go, I succumbed to the hysteria somewhat and had a minor spamming session myself when I got back from work, and indeed, a few hours after that an email arrived. Well, three arrived at the same time.

Each email said the same thing in the subject: “Registration issue”. Upon reading each one I was told that my beta key had not been validated and that I should click on the provided link to see why. Fuelled by nothing more than weary curiosity at this point, I clicked the link. The message was simple: “Your account has not been verified, please check your inbox”. So the account that I applied with, the account that I have had since July 5th, the account which I have used to access your site repeatedly since that time, this account, the one that has worked for two months, has, apparently, not been validated?

I’ve said that I’ve boggled at things before, but really it was just artistic license. This was the first time that I have truly boggled.

I sighed.

I checked the game patcher one more time, since now the latest and greatest forum theory was that even if you hadn’t received a confirmation email you could generally log in after a few hours of submitting your application. No dice. So I went and read a good book for the evening; Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge, incidentally, and it’s very enjoyable so far.

At about 9pm, just as I was going up to bed to finish my reading for the evening there, I decided on impulse, tugged by that somewhat pathetic hope that if you catch a beta unawares it might forget to not let you in, I checked my email of which there were no new messages, and attempted to log in and run the game patcher.

And it started patching.

After patching the game I managed to play for an hour, but generally just wobbled around like a drunken partygoer on a cocaine high, all Captain Jack Sparrow, staring at the pretty pictures in boss-eyed confusion and wonder, unable to fully appreciate that I was really there in the game. I logged on to the guild’s Teamspeak server, but was afraid to open my mouth lest all that came out of my microphone was “Heeaaaahhahaeeeeeerrrrrrruuggggghhhhhhaahhhh” followed by a minute or two of unrestrained sobbing. So I failed to introduce myself entirely.

Hopefully this evening I can take some time to actually appreciate the game, get to grips with it and give it a decent test drive; you know, clear that new game smell out and replace it with the stale musty smell of regular use, fill the glove box with tissues, scraps of paper with directions on and partially melted boiled sweets, and stick a humorous sticker in the back window that says “Gamer onboard”.

This morning my inbox was full with the replies to the other ten or so applications I made last night, each one saying that I had failed to register.

I still haven’t had an email telling me that I’m officially a part of the beta; the way things have gone, I’m not sure I ever want that association in writing.

[1] Having now finished the post, this was clearly a lie. Never underestimate the power of rant.

Warhammer Online: The Age of Cogitating.

For those of our readers who are too busy to trawl through the many blog posts out there, here’s a brief summary of the current ‘debate’ circling the MMO blogosphere concerning WAR (and what it’s good for):

WAR Orchard


(Opening music)
Announcer: MMO Blogger Theatre comes live tonight from the Evon MMO Blogger Theatre near Guildford. L. D. Blogger, M. J. Blogger and R.S. Blogger star in The WAR Orchard by Mythic Entertainment. The action takes place near the real world in the 2000’s.

Bloggers: (War song, knock knock)

Announcer: Meanwhile in another area of the blogosphere several bloggers await news of the beta NDA being lifted.

Bloggers: HELLO
(Closing music)

With apologies to Monty Python’s Cherry Orchard, and no apologies to the ‘controversial’ and ‘informed’ blog debaters out there.

Ass arse in screed.

I finished Assassin’s Creed the other day. The more observant and pedantic amongst you will note that I said ‘finished’ and not ‘completed’, and you would be well within your rights to raise such a point, and I would give you a look of sheepishness in response, because I have merely uninstalled the game and placed it on the shelf of ‘games that I pretend I might play again some time but secretly just leave out on display because they give me gamer cred’.

As the name suggests, it’s a long shelf.

I have to confess that I didn’t complete the game, as far as the official version of completing a game goes anyway, which is generally accepted as seeing some sort of preposterous feel-good cut scene followed by half an hour’s worth of credits, unless the game is Portal, in which case, as we all know, the credits are the best part simply because of that song. What I did do was complete the same set of missions – in slightly different areas of a couple of cities – about one hundred times, which generally involved seeking out information on an assassination target through my being a sneaky assassin sort of fellow, and then once I had the details down, I would toodle off and assassinate said target by, again, being quite the sneaky stealthy assassin. So it came somewhat as a surprise to me that the final missions (and readers should turn away for the rest of this post if they don’t want to learn of any spoilers) involve a full frontal assault on the entire first division of the army of King Richard I of England, aka the Lionheart, aka Coeur de Lion, aka that Giant Nutter Who Conquered Half the Holy Lands With His Army of Crusaders. It was at this point that I had to go back and have a quick look at the game box, and yes, there on the cover were quite clearly the words ‘assassin’ and ‘creed’, and unless I am very much mistaken, there are not many known assassins who have decided to ‘bugger all this stealth and intrigue nonsense’ and instead whipped out their long sword, which has up until now been mainly for show, and charged headlong into the front of the enemy, Braveheart style. Now there’s a reason that there aren’t many assassins known for this tactic, and that is because all of the ones who have tried it have been turned into a bloody pulp in the time it takes to say “I’m wearing the armour equivalent of pyjamas!”.

I thought I was missing the big developer’s joke, and that somewhere along the mountain path where I was fighting tooth and nail (mainly my character’s teeth against the soldiers’ bloody great six foot steel nails) there was a secret route that I needed to find, one that would allow me to stealth around the back of the army, almost like an assassin you might say, and that I merely wasn’t thinking like a ninja, or an insurgent, or a small seven year old child with enough common sense to not wade in to the pack of fourteen year old bullies blocking the path ahead. But no, apparently after having spent tens of hours as the elite parkour champion of the middle east, leaping from rooftop to rooftop with the lissom grace of an alley cat in its prime, I was suddenly unable to scale even the tiniest boulder; I mean, these boulders were so tiny there were seven year old children hopping over them and thumbing their noses at me as they escaped away from the inevitable beating that was barrelling its way up the Tedious Railroading Path of Lazy Level Design. It was more through attrition than anything else that I finally found King Richard and the man I had been sent to assassinate, and instead of just jumping the bastard the first chance he got and stabbing him squarely in the face, my character decided at this point it was best to have a little heart-to-heart with the Conqueror King. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, keep reading and I’ll tell you.

Despite believing that the story you’ve told him about his traitorous right-hand-man could well be true, the king doesn’t decide to lock-up the traitor and yourself, do some investigation of his own in order to find out the truth of the matter, and once he realises you were right, release you with a full pardon and a huge reward of gold, ale and whores. No, instead he decides to let God decide. Fair enough, we’re in the middle of the crusades after all, and God will apparently decide through a trial by combat. Sigh. Ok, I’m an assassin, and although I’m trained in the sneaky-sneaky stabby-stabby school of combat, I can probably take this over-armoured meathead, even if I am only wearing pyjamas. But wait, apparently God has decided that before I can face the traitor in one-on-one combat, I get to fight fifteen of his best heavily armoured mates first. All at the same time.

There will now be a short interval in this post as we are experiencing some Melmoth-related technical difficulties.


We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.

Suffice it to say that I decided, after about ten attempts, that I was decidedly bored with these shenanigans and I went and had a quick look at a FAQ to see if I was missing anything obvious. Apparently, I was missing the fact that:

a) There’s one specific move that you should spam over and over in order to try to win, but even then it will be difficult.

b) There’s no other way, be it using stealth, subterfuge or suspenders, to circumvent the fight.

c) The developers are related to small developmentally backwards marmosets.

Having read the FAQ and decided that I wasn’t going to play their version of Heavily Inebriated Streetfighter, I read on further to see how much of the game I was going to miss by throwing my arms up in the air, shouting ‘Why God, why?!’ and then launching the DVD across the room at the cat in a final attempt at bringing the game back to its assassination roots. As it turns out I was quite near the end, and the only bit left should I have decided to bang my head against the brick wall of the token pre-boss combat smack down, was to fight my former master, who it turns out can use ancient Christian relics to turn himself into a super-powered being of celestial might.

There was a phrase I uttered at that point, involving porridge, percolation and panties, but I think we’ve already reached an understanding of my feelings in this regard so I won’t repeat it.

And so, as I mentioned at the start of the post, I’ve finished Assassin’s Creed and have now moved on to Gears of War, which I may talk about at some point, but if you want to know the short version: I find it very hard to play games which involve a group of over-doped American wrestlers trying to act hard whilst grunting sounds no longer than a syllable, all of which is being presented in the nausea inducing wonder that is sHakkky CaMMmmm.

A question.

To the one hundred and thirty or so bloggers out there who posted the Warhammer Online release date, with perhaps a token copy and paste of the blurb output by Mythic’s ineluctable hype machine.


I have a copy of the Warhammer Online newsletter in my inbox this morning, one whole day after having to trawl through an RSS Feed List that was triple its normal size, and guess what that newsletter tells me, here’s a hint: it’s not telling me anything to do with the release date of Wrath of the Lich King.

Does this stem from that laughable notion that bloggers are somehow related to the press? Is this some sort of “Stop the presses!” “Hold the front page!” mentality, because if you hadn’t noticed there are no presses, and the front pages of blogs don’t need to be held (they are in fact quite self confident and don’t need the comforting reassurance of someone’s body pressed against them). There is no scoop to be had, because this is not a format where if you get the story out ahead of your rivals they may not be able to repeat the story to their readership for a whole day because they missed their print deadline.

And what boggles the mind more are those who post a day or even two later with such one line news items. Did you even look at your RSS feeds before you posted? Did you not see the one HUNDRED posts already stating exactly the same? And you… you posted it anyway.

Let us all take a moment to bow our heads, close our eyes, clasp our hands together and boggle quietly to ourselves.


Please, for the love of whichever Almighty it is that you observe, stop doing this. Next time you decide to post release date ‘news’, try to add two or three paragraphs of insightful commentary on why this is an interesting event and what it means in the context of the MMO genre. If you can’t do it, then it’s probably not worth posting it; do you really think that you’re informing anyone? Let’s face it, if your blog is not alphabetically first in people’s RSS reader of choice, you’re already posting old information.

Cue a raft of blogs named AAA MMO Blog and AAAAA MMO Blog.

There is a hypothetical being, we shall call him Toh Ken, who is crouched over a steam powered cog-based computer console in the basement of a monastery high in the mountains of Xiahe County, and who is only now managing to read the first few posts from his RSS reader which takes three days to process the feed through its analytical engine and then scribe the content onto vellum using a small feather quill attached to a miniature piston-driven brass arm.

To Toh Ken you are, perhaps, posting astonishing and fascinating news. To everyone else in the world, you are just posting token 1up-post-count content.

Stop it.