Mythic’s Announcement

The announcement, and thanks to Messenger for the link.

Here’s the text for those of you behind nasty walls.

* * * Announcement * * *

As announced in the newsletter, we are excited to bring you news of the latest additions to the Armies of WAR!


Choppa Slayer

For uncounted centuries, the Dwarfs and greenskins have been the most bitter of rivals. Now that the Slayer and the Choppa are set to join the armies of Order and Destruction, old grudges will be answered and ancient enmities will be given new breath. Though the outcome of the war still hangs in the balance, one thing is certain: the battle for the Warhammer world is about to become deadlier than ever!

Once the Bitter Rivals live event begins this March, take part in daily challenges to earn a head start in the two awesome new careers.

This exciting news and more is described in detail in this month’s Newsletter, but here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:

Call to Arms: Live Expansion

Night of Murder Live Event

Bitter Rivals Live Event

Read this morning’s Press Release for even more info!

* * * Call to Arms * * *

Answer the Call to Arms!

Today we issued a Call to Arms to all players of WAR with the announcement of the first live expansion for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Call to Arms will introduce an incredible array of new content to the game, including two highly anticipated new careers – the head bashin’ Orc Choppa and the oath-sworn Dwarf Slayer – and a new dungeon zone called Land of the Dead, set in the desert realm of the Tomb Kings.

The Call to Arms live expansion, set to roll out for free over the next few months, will also include three in-game live events, a new RvR Scenario, added functionality to the Realm Wars section of the WAR website, the opening of the official WAR Forums, and a new free trial version of the game.

Call to Arms Live Expansion Schedule
  • Call to Arms: Bitter Rivals Live Event (March): Successful completion of the live event allows head start access to the new Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer careers. The event will also introduces a new Chaos-themed RvR Scenario, Twisting Tower. More information here >>
  • The Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer answer the Call to Arms and join WAR! (March) More information here >>
  • Call to Arms: Beyond the Sands Live Event (April): The promise of great riches and powerful weapons comes from the south.
  • Call to Arms: Rise of the Tomb Kings Live Event (May): The race between Order and Destruction begins to unlock the Land of the Dead for their Realm.
  • Land of the Dead Opens (June): The deserts of Nehekhara open to players with the addition of a new RvR-gated dungeon zone. To gain access to the Land of the Dead, opposing Realms must battle for control of the zone to access dozens of new Public Quests, instanced lairs, and a massive new Tomb Kings dungeon to plunder in search of the Casket of Souls.

More details on these and other new features soon to invade the Age of Reckoning will be revealed as the launch of Call to Arms grows near.

* * * Night of Murder * * *

WAR Live Event: Night of Murder
February 6 – February 15

As darkness falls on the Night of Murder, the worshippers of death bathe the land in blood, each intent on proving his or her devotion to the Elf god Kaela Mensha Khaine. It is a time that the forces of Destruction are all too willing to exploit. Assassins infiltrate the cities, while on the battlefield the differences between Good and Evil fade beneath the crimson haze of bloodlust. None are immune to the will of Khaine during this dark holiday.

During the Night of Murder, players will receive event influence by completing daily tome tasks and participating in the “Marked for Death” quest given out by Witch Elves and Witch Hunters located in every warcamp, scenario, and capital city. Keep an eye out for members of the enemy realm who have been “marked for death” and kill these players and NPC’s to reap the rewards of the Night of Murder! But beware… unbeknownst to you and your realm mates, you too may be chosen as sacrifice.

Rewards

Receive event influence by completing daily tome tasks as well as the “Marked for Death” quest given out by Witch Elves and Witch Hunters located in every warcamp, scenario, and capital city.

Basic – Shadowbane Potion that grants the title “The Murderous”
Advanced – Screaming Skull for Destruction and Murder Fang for Order
Elite – Talisman of Fell Whispers

World Drop – Khaine’s Regard (ring) and Burning Blood Potion

* * * Bitter Rivals * * *

Ancient enmities collide in the Age of Reckoning!

Grudges that have lasted thousands of years boil over as Dwarfs and greenskins clash in epic battles. Warriors on the sides of both Order and Destruction stir to the pounding of battle drums … or get ground under in the march to war. With both factions gnashing at each other’s throats, new champions arise: the frothing-mad Slayers of the Dwarfs, and the battle-crazed Choppas of the greenskins. Armed with sheer fury and a berserker will, these warriors charge to the fore, carrying the fight to the enemy, eager to bash in a few enemy skulls … or die a glorious death trying.

The pounding of the drums signals the advance, and a new offensive begins in the all-out warfare that is the Age of Reckoning.

New In-Game Live Event Introduces Two More New Careers to WAR!

The war is underway, and you have pledged yourself to the cause of Order, or of Destruction, to take up arms and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your realm-mates on the field of battle. You have banded together and faced mighty opponents, crushed enemy keeps, and raised your banner over battlefields littered with the dead.

Now, this February, we present you a new challenge in the form of WAR’s upcoming live event: Bitter Rivals!

The Age of Reckoning is about to get a lot more savage as the frenzied Slayers and the brutal Choppas enter the fray, to vie for domination of the Warhammer world.

Get a head start on the Choppa and Slayer!

Once the Bitter Rivals live event begins on February 24th, players who log into WAR will see a new tab in the Tome of Knowledge. Clicking on this tab will open the Live Events page, where each day we’ll place a special new daily task. Completing these daily tasks earns influence, just like you’d earn in a public quest. There are rewards for Basic, Advanced and Elite influence, culminating in the ultimate prize: the chance to play WAR’s new classes a full week before they’re released to the public! This last reward won’t be easy to earn, and players who want to get to the Elite level will need to log in each day and complete on the daily event.

Exclusive Scenario

Bitter Rivals players can also participate in a new RvR scenario–the Twisting Tower–which will only be available to players for the duration of this live event. This scenario takes players to a ruined Chaos temple hovering above a mighty vortex in the Tier 4 zone: The Chaos Wastes, where they battle for control of different levels of the temple-with a very special surprise to those players who succeed in capturing all three. This new scenario will be available for players of all levels, on all tiers, but will not contribute to the campaign. Participation in this scenario will give players an extra 10% bonus to their Renown point gain.

Rewards for Valor and Hatred Alike

Among the many spoils earned during this event are a special potion and a unique siege weapon for each realm, as well as premiere early access to the exciting new Slayer and Choppa careers.

Strap on your armor and take up your arms–and offer a heartfelt prayer to the gods. Bitter Rivals is almost upon you, and you do not want to be taken by surprise!

RewardsBasic – Bitter Brew: Unlocks exclusive event titles
Advanced – Exclusive Bitter Rivals siege weapons: Giants and Flame Cannons
Elite -Unlock the Slayer and the Choppa for Head Start Play!!!

World Drop – Broken Axe/Notched Choppa (grants event exclusive titles) and Grimnir’s Mercy/Redfang Grog (grants an attack speed buff!)

* * * Press Release (excerpt) * * *

Mythic Entertainment Issues a “Call to Arms” with the Announcement of the First Live Expansion for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
The Armies of WAR Prepare to Go Berserk Over Dwarf Slayer and Orc Choppa Careers, New ‘Land of the Dead’ Dungeon Zone, and Live Events

FAIRFAX, Va. – Jan. 29, 2009 – Mythic Entertainment, an Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS) studio, today announced the new “Call to Arms” live expansion for its award-winning MMORPG, Warhammer® Online: Age of Reckoning® (WAR). Call to Arms will introduce an array of new content for WAR players, including two highly anticipated new careers – the Orc Choppa and the Dwarf Slayer – and a new dungeon zone called “Land of the Dead,” set in the desert realm of the Tomb Kings.

The Call to Arms live expansion, set to roll out for free in early March and running through the beginning of June, will also include three in-game live events, a new Realm vs. Realm™ (RvR) Scenario, added functionality to the Realm Wars section of the WAR website, the opening of the official WAR Forums, and a new free trial version of the game.

“The launch of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning was only the first step in our ongoing quest to make a great MMORPG that players will enjoy for years to come. Over the next few months, we are going to be treating our players to the first of our ‘live expansions’ planned for the game,” said Mark Jacobs, VP and general manager of Mythic Entertainment. “With the addition of new careers and a huge Tomb Kings dungeon that is the spiritual successor to the Dark Age of Camelot™ ™ dungeon, Darkness Falls, Call to Arms is an outstanding example of the massive amount of free content we are committed to delivering to WAR players now and in the future.”

Call to Arms Live Expansion Schedule

  • ‘Call to Arms: Bitter Rivals’ Live Event (March): Successful completion allows head start access to the new Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer careers. The event will also include the new Chaos-themed RvR Scenario, Twisting Tower.
  • Two New Careers Join WAR (March): The Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer answer the Call to Arms.
  • ‘Call to Arms: Beyond the Sands’ Live Event (April): Details to be revealed soon!
  • ‘Call to Arms: Rise of the Tomb Kings’ Live Event (May): The race between Order and Destruction players begins to unlock the Land of the Dead for their Realm.
  • ‘Land of the Dead’ Opens (June): The deserts of Nehekhara open to players with the addition of a new RvR-gated dungeon zone. To gain access to the Land of the Dead, opposing Realms must battle for control of the zone to access dozens of new Public Quests, instanced lairs, and a massive new Tomb Kings dungeon to plunder in search of the Casket of Souls.

More details on these and other new features soon to invade the Age of Reckoning will be revealed as the launch of Call to Arms grows near.

Bitter Rivals Answer the Call to Arms!

The Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer may be bitter enemies, but they have at least one thing in common: they live, eat, and breathe close-quarters melee combat. Choppas are ornery and savage, with a one track mind dead set on bashin’ heads! This savage dedication makes them ferocious fighters, wreaking havoc throughout enemy lines purely for the sake of satisfying their own self-indulgent bloodlust.

The Slayer is driven by a solemn oath to atone for past sins through an honorable death in combat. However, Dwarfs are a stubborn folk and dying quietly is simply not in their nature. Slayers therefore become ruthless and terrifying fighters, throwing themselves into battle with no regard for their own well-being.

“The Orc Choppa and Dwarf Slayer are two of the most iconic characters in the Warhammer universe, and I have no doubt WAR fans will go berserk for them,” said Jeff Hickman, executive producer of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. “Choppas represent the pure anarchy that the Greenskins embody, and the crazed, mohawk-sporting Slayers are their ideal archenemy. It won’t be long before you see both of them adding a new level of insanity to the Age of Reckoning!”

Based on the popular tabletop war game from Games Workshop, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning features revolutionary Realm vs. Realm conflict that will provide players with an engaging battleground for years to come. Available now for PC, WAR is rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB.

To answer the Call to Arms and learn more about the live expansion, as well as the new careers, read the January issue of the WAR monthly newsletter at www.warhammeronline.com.

I’ll have one of everything

There have been several posts floating around about MMOs’ current payment models and whether subscription beats pay-as-you-go beats free to play but pay for expansions/goodies/whatever. (Yeah, I tried to find a couple of the recent ones, but I’m going to be lazy. If you want to come wade through my 90+ feeds, go ahead.)

I just missed the pay-for-usage ISP model that CompuServe (I think) was so fond of, back in the day — also, it was never particularly popular in the UK, where I lived at the time and where most people had the sense to go “WTF? You want to charge me how much by the minute? No thanks, I’m going to Demon.” (Note that at that time, we paid for even local calls in the UK, so you’d have a time-used charge and a call charge. Also, Demon were handing out static IP addresses back then, which was geek-attracting.) To me, the monthly sub to play a game made as much sense as my monthly sub to my ISP or my gas company or whatever, so I paid it and forgot about it. As a result, I’ve always been slightly mystified by the stance that games should be free. Why? They’re providing a service. They’ve got infrastructure to maintain to provide that service. They have staff to pay. And most cogent of all — they’re not bloody charities. If you want FREE games, go play chequers.

So I’m going from the starting point that something needs to be paid, somehow, for the games I play where I expect a reasonable amount of company communication, a reasonable amount of customer service, near 24/7 server uptime, and relatively frequent updates. Ah yes, I’m also a child of Asheron’s Call which, unlike EQ, did not make you pay through the nose every time they added content. Turbine had monthly content updates; granted not all of them were earth-shattering and sometimes there was very little in them other than bug fixes, but the basic intent was there: every month, we’ll give you something new. Now while I’m perfectly happy paying my monthly sub, it would have driven me away in a second to be told that ON TOP of that sub, I’d have to pay for extra content — certainly not every month. There were larger expansions that you did have to pay for if you wanted them, but they were few and far between and added a great deal more than a single month’s patch ever could (housing was in the first expansion, among other things).

Now, however, as gaming reaches a larger market, people are apparently scared of the subscription model. Which puzzles me, since we pay on that model for all sorts of things that get piped into our house — telephone, TV, electricity, all of which have a flat “service” (read: subscription) fee over and above any consumption costs like calling Antarctica a lot or watching pay-per-view.

Outgrowing the subscription model I can understand. Being worried about the format itself, though, seems pretty disingenuous to me.

That said, there’s definitely a case to be made against games that happily take our subs and give nothing but a static game in return. (I’m sure Blizzard’s US subs people would disagree.) I’m okay with subs because I got monthly goodies for them and because… that’s what I’ve always done. Apathy and habit are a large part of why the model hasn’t changed — that and the fact that it has worked pretty well for games companies over the last decade.

But it’s not the only model, as Guild Wars, Wizard 101 and a host of other games have proved. Wizard 101, in fact, has several different payment methods — you can play in certain areas for free, you can subscribe and have access to everything, or you can buy in-game “crowns” for real money and use those crowns to unlock areas as you go. It’s also noteworthy that W101 offers discounts on subs after the first one, which encourages families to play together — and for W101 it’s perfectly sensible, since it’s a game parents are likely to at least want to try with their children, or whose children may want to play together. It’s strange that it should seem so revolutionary when it’s exactly what cellphone companies are doing here in the States; a new customer who pays a little less because they’re associated with an existing customer is better than no new customer at all.

Another point that’s been made and that’s very relevant to me in my older, game-hoppier, more time-constrained days is the fact that while I’m happy to pay for one or two subs (maybe three), I certainly won’t pay for 5 or 6, so I’m restricted in terms of how many subscription-model games I can play at once, especially since any subscription I get we also get for the spousal unit — so two accounts for me means four accounts being paid for in the household. That stuff adds up, especially these days. So, I end up playing whatever I’m playing and my friends, that I’ve made in half a dozen different games, usually end up playing something else. Absent some cross-game client-amenable chat platform, we only really communicate outside of games now even though we met within them. If subs were lower, of if there were other payment models available, playing half a dozen games at once (or at least being paid up to play those games, time permitting) would be a lot easier.

It’s a tough call, at least for me. On the one hand, you generally get more for your money up front with a subscription system (access to the whole, usually pretty large, world and all of its content, etc.), but less and less for your money as time goes by. I may be soft on patch days, but even I don’t consider a few balance changes and bug fixes “worthwhile” content as far as getting value for my subscription goes. In that sense, a scaled, tiered, or any other non-sub model would probably give me much more bang for my buck in the long term, because I could pay for stuff as it came out or as I needed it.

What I don’t ever want to see, and you can call me old-fashioned, is a “free” game that isn’t, in fact, free, because it shoves adverts in my face every time I turn around, or because there’s some other pernicious method for parting me from my cash (like making me pay for basic things — if I’m at a disadvantage because I’m not buying items or skills, I’ll exercise my option to choose by choosing my ass right out of there; don’t pretend something is a choice when it’s not).

One other thing I wonder about is this: the time-sink design paradigm is often said to be rooted in the subscription payment model, since the basic aim is to keep your players paying for another month. If games move away from the subs model, do you really think a generation of designers is going to move away from the time-sink design model? Call me cynical, but I doubt it. Sadly. I think it’ll take more than payment changes to alter what has become the standard way of designing things for mainstream MMOs. Which is another reason up-and-coming, smaller (i.e. non-WoW) MMOs might want to consider a different payment model — if you’re trying to do something innovative like get rid of timesinks, don’t force people to a) buy a box and b) buy a subscription just so they can see what it’s all about. It takes more than a free month to really get to know a game, and that’s possibly the biggest argument against the subs model I can think of.