Sep 22

Ending the Age of Reckoning

It was a sad day when Mythic announced they were shutting down Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, the MMORPG set in the Old World. Though I left the game some years ago, it will always have a place as one of the best games of its type.

With the Games Workshop intellectual property as a foundation, theme was never going to be an issue. You were transported to the Old World on either the side of Order or Destruction. The world was fleshed out, public quests kept things interesting and introduced you to other players, but where this game really shone was the world PVP. This was not just a case of jumping a lone elf as it repeatedly killed crocodiles looking for pages from some book, you had fortresses to storm, objectives to capture, and once you achieved victory you moved on to the next zone and eventually the enemy capital. You had siege weapons. You could stare out over the battlements and watch the enemy amass through the mist. This was a reinvention of PVP and it rocked!

The greatest memory I have from the Age of Reckoning is a battle in the elven territories. I led one warband of twenty four of the foulest scourge ever to crawl from the Chaos Wastes. A friend commanded a second warband. My friend entrenched at a strategic bridge that would allow our advance while my warband worked as a strike force to smash the outlying objectives. The forces of Order amassed at the bridge and pushed my friend’s warband back, fighting hard for every inch of land. The call for aid blared over the lush hills and echoed through the valleys. I heard the call and I answered. With the bridge defence dwindling at the brink of collapse, my warband charged down the hill. We rode like the Rohirrim breaking the Uruk Hai at Helm’s Deep and massacred the enemy. We won the day and pressed our campaign to the heart of the Empire.

So how did it go so wrong?

I only had a couple of issues but they were deal breakers. In a game where world PVP is king, balance is essential with comparable numbers of both sides. On the server which I played, this was only achieved for brief periods and I fought on both sides of the imbalance. Neither were fun. The greatest battles in gaming are those hardest fought, pulling victory from the maw of defeat, executing a last minute piece of tactical genius. If you have twice the opponent’s number of troops, well, there is only going to be one outcome and the challenge is removed. The same applies on the other side of the spectrum: why play a game you cannot win?

The PVE end-game might as well have been absent. There wasn’t much to it. More may have been added later but when my character – the mighty Ulixes, Chosen of Chaos, Destroyer of Realms, Pummeller of Spleens, Smasher of Spindly Elves, Conqueror of…etc. – reached the highest level, only two instances were available. One became tiresome quickly and the other took far too long. So long that I didn’t bother with it. When someone asked me to join a group and suggested we needed seven hours to finish, I suddenly had a number of other places to be. I think Azeroth was one of them.

Warhammer: Age of Reckoning had the potential to dethrone World of Warcraft but missed its chance. Will we see its like again? Who knows. Despite dwindling numbers, even in the mighty World of Warcraft, the market remains lucrative and rumour places a Warhammer 40,000 MMO for release in 2015. If the lessons from the Age of Reckoning are heeded, this promises to be something special.

Drop me a comment. Did you experience the Age of Reckoning? Were you there the day Altdorf fell? Perhaps you took your crusade to Azeroth or formed a bulwark against the rifts.


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Sep 14

Progress and Exciting Times

After something of a second wind, progress on Forshai Ascended has stepped up a notch or three. I shifted the progress bar all the way to 95% since there are about four chapters left to write and those are either fully planned or about half-written. Of course, that then means a switch from writing mode to editing mode. The fun part of that is I can justify a few more forays into the short story markets. That reminds me: one of my short stories, Planeshifter, was recently accepted for publication in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Be sure to look out for that in the January issue.

Inspiration is always a big factor when sitting down to write. It makes the difference between a few hours of slogging and glorious hammering away at the keyboard for an irrelevant amount of time. On that note, I thought I would share a few of the things that help give me a nudge toward the inspired.

Music is one I expect everyone can relate to. It’s the riff that surges energy through you, the bow to string that gives you goosebumps. I like to choose something with appropriate imagery for what I’m writing. Something like Moving Mountains by Two Steps from Hell evokes wonder and mystery. If it’s action packed sci-fi, Framing Armageddon by Iced Earth works every time. Right now, I’m dealing with the climax in epic fantasy so the keyword here is ‘epic’. To that end, Audiomachine, Future World Music, Mark Petrie and Two Steps from Hell are providing the soundtrack to my writing. If I manage to transpose some of their grand imagery into words, I’ll be satisfied with a job well done.

The other media that I use is visual art. I think it’s a wonderful cycle where artists feed off one another’s creations. Books, film and music often inspires someone to paint a fantasy character in a mysterious setting which, in turn, can jolt something in the imagination of other artists. And so the cycle continues. My favourite site for artwork is DeviantArt. I could lose hours browsing the wonders on display there. I even found the talented Mat Andre on that site and persuaded him to create the banner you see at the top of the page. Another of my favourites is Phantagrafie who does excellent characters with roleplay gaming roots. Many of these guys are open to commissions so if you are a writer looking into the self-publishing route, you would do well to explore the services on offer at DeviantArt. They could make your covers and other promotional stuff really shine.

There is much writing still to do so I will sign off here. With the wind to my back, I hope to have the first draft of Forshai Ascended finished by the end of the month. There. It’s down in writing so you can wallop me with that target if it looks like I’m slacking.


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