Little stuff: Mission architects, what I’m playing

I’m behind on my blog reading, and on my blog writing. Spring has finally arrived, and I’m spending a ton of time outside with my kid, and then playing games late into the night, without taking time to write. Work’s crazy busy, so there’s no blog reading/writing time there.

Here’s a quick update on things knocking around my head, or being played on my computer.

I read Zubon’s post about the CoH Mission Architect system, and it made me wonder if anyone has tried it, and also tried the Ryzom Ring. Let me know if you have some experience with each system. I wonder which one is easier to use, has more depth, etc. I really liked Ryzom, but I didn’t get a chance to try out the Ring; I think their finances imploded before I got a chance to try it out, and now I’m distracted with other stuff. I remember thinking that Ryzom was totally on the right track with the mission editor, and I hope CoH has continued success.

I’ve been playing a ton of Team Fortress 2, and I’m thinking it’s one of the best video games I’ve ever played. Simple design, a small number of beautifully crafted maps, awesome diversity in classes while maintaining a really good rock-paper-scissors balance, and wicked awesome team play. I’m mostly playing on the Trashed Gamers servers (the Gamers With Jobs server is usually empty during the hours I’ve been playing), and I was surprised to find that I’m ranked in the low 200’s out of the 56,000 players who have happened to play on their servers. I think the rankings are based on points earned, and the major lesson learned by my stats is probably that anyone can appear successful if they play far too much TF2. Still, I’ll take it as an ego boost for a middle-aged gamer.

I renewed my Gametap subscription for another year. I’m locked into the $59.95 yearly subscription price, since I was a premium subscriber before they raised their prices, and it’s totally the best value in gaming. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of games to play over there. The switch from a client program interface to a browser-based interface has been very smooth for me; I had a small problem that required me to download a tiny executable and restart my computer, but after that, it’s been silky smooth.

The Everquest 2 announcement that players can write books in-game is an awesome addition to MMO’s. I probably made original EQ devs crazy with my constant suggestions about player diaries. I wanted there to be a journal feature, where you could write about your experiences, and other players could read it in your character bio. I love the EQ 2 ideas, but I’d still love to see a journal that would import major game events (where you leveled, who you leveled with, how much money you made, what you looted) alongside a WAR Tome of Knowledge achievement tracker model, as well as a place where the player can enter notes, fiction, etc.

It’s encouraging to see EQ2 taking the first steps toward that, and CoH enabling player mission creation. We’ve bandied about the term “second generation MMO” for a long time, without seeing anything that’s really second gen, but I think these ideas are the initial steps toward an evolution of the genre.

I’m re-subscribed to LoTRO, but playing really casually. I’m still feeling MMO burnout, at least with an achievement-based gameplay, so I’m refusing to get obsessed with levels, or money, or gear. It’s super-easy to solo in LoTRO, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m level 34, I have a house, I’m saving for a horse, and I’m having fun crafting. It’s such a drop-dead gorgeous game.

I realize now why it didn’t stick with me the first time I played, though. The classes don’t appeal to me that much; nothing stands out and makes me say “I want to play THAT class,” and the character animations seem awkward to me. I’m not a big fan of the character models, either, and I think that partially contributed to my lack of attachment my first time through the game. I’m still not a big fan, but I have a computer now that can run everything at high resolution, and damn, it’s a beautiful world.

I happen to be on the wrong server to play with Oz from KTR, or with the CoW LoTRO guild, and I’ve considered re-rolling, but I’m 34 levels in, and I just don’t think I have the motivation to start from scratch when I’m playing so casually. The last thing I want to do is make an MMO feel like work again.

Oh, and I’m in a beta. Yeah, that beta. Darren’s shame is my shame as well, but I’m man enough to deal with it, for the sake of my 9 year-old daughter . You’re a good dad, Darren, even if you are a fairy. Takes one to know one, I guess πŸ™‚


It’s up to you

Way back in my tabletop gaming days, I learned that a good group makes all the difference in an evening of play.Β  You can put six random people at a table, on two successive Friday nights, and have everyone play the same adventure with the same dungeon master using the exact same rules, and your experiences can be completely different.

One group might be contentious, and have players who would rather argue with each other instead of getting into their characters and making it fun. They might not cooperate with each other, they might not follow the rules, they might nitpick and nag the DM to death. Or themselves to death, when the frustrated DM drops them all into a pit with sharpened and poisoned sticks at the bottom. Not that I’ve ever done that.

The other group might put their real life personalities aside for the evening, and get into playing a character. If there is a real life personality conflict, they might choose to act it out in-game, making the story more interesting and challenging. They take the DM decisions as opportunities to add their own actions to the story, instead of challenges to their fun. They put the game before their own need to be in control.

I’ve played in both types of groups, in tabletop sessions and in mmorpgs. MMO’s don’t have the rules lawyering wrangling, but you do get the online variant, which is bitching in General chat, in group chat, in Scenario chat, in tells, and on message boards, about how the game is broken and it’s keeping you from having fun.

I’m seeing a bit of that with WAR. I’ve seen complaints that everyone is in Scenarios, and PvE and PQ’s are suffering because of it. I’ve seen complaints that rolling an alt just a month after release finds you in deserted Tiers, and there’s nothing to do but grind. I’ve seen people gripe about the people they find in open groups, whether it’s RvR or Scenarios or PvE and PQ’s.

It’s tabletop time, folks. If you’re finding something lacking, it’s going to be up to you to create it, or search it out, or find it. I’m reminded of people who log into Eve and saying “There’s nothing to do but run missions and mine….boring!”, or people who don’t like Second Life because a game isn’t handed to them as soon as they log in.

There are times, in tabletop games and in online games, where a player has to take some responsibility for their environment. I was lucky to fall in with the Casualties of War, and I have people to group with for PQ’s, or PvE, or Scenarios and Open RvR. They’re good players, they communicate on Vent, we’re pretty organized, and I haven’t met anyone who qualifies as anything close to a jerk yet…not even close. If I hadn’t found the CoWs, I might not be having such a great time in WAR. Perhaps I’d be making the same complaints about a lack of people in PvE, or empty PQ’s, or everyone just running Scenario groups over and over. However, since I can reach out and usually find willing groupmates for assistance when I need it, I think I’m having a lot more fun in WAR than people who might be trying to solo their way through.

I’m going to strongly recommend, if you’re not finding WAR to your liking because it feels empty, or everyone is doing something other than what you want to be doing, that you search for a good guild. It might take a few tries…if you join a guild, and it’s not to your liking, keep looking. Quit, join another, talk to people in Region chat, start open groups, announce that you’re going to be running Chapter PQ’s for the evening and you’re looking for company, take note of the guild names of people you enjoy grouping with, if you’re lucky enough to find good Open groups. Take some responsibility for the social aspect of an MMO, even if you’re not normally a social person.

MMO’s don’t put you on a linear path with a gameplay guarantee. A lot of your fun will be determined by the people you associate with, and if you don’t take the time to evaluate who you want your friends to be, you might find WAR, or any MMO, a lonely place.

That’s the one place where WoW succeeded where WAR doesn’t. WoW made a game that could be played solo. WAR’s not so much fun solo, but I don’t think Mythic has to apologize for that. I don’t think that was ever their intention. Who wants to recreate a tabletop experience for one? The magic and brilliance of MMO’s happens when you find real people to share the game with; people who make you laugh, make you want to play better, selfless people who will drop what they’re doing to help out a guildmate, or to run a PQ they’ve already finished, or insist that you take a gear upgrade before they do.

It’s up to us to find our good gaming groups, whether it’s tabletop or online. WAR is an absolute blast when you’re playing with friends. I ran Scenarios until the cows came home last night, and there were absolutely epic battles. Being able to chat about the fights with my guildmates after we finished an exciting round made it that much more fun…there wasn’t an empty feeling after the Scenario finished and I went back to soloing. Find a good guild, get involved, and you’re going to find a MMO that offers an experience you almost can’t get in any other MMO out there. I’ll note DAoC and Eve as exceptions. I think they’re the only two other games that offer the type of epic battles and exhilarating gameplay that WAR provides. The only trick is, you can’t do it alone.

State of WAR

I haven’t blogged much in the past month because I’ve been busy playing WAR. I’m having a blast, it’s mostly the game I expected (although it’s not my dream MMO, I can see myself playing for a long time), and I’ve been lucky enough to join up with a great group of players in Casualties of WAR.

I wanted to take a little time tonight (possibly a lot of time!) to offer my opinions on the game, what Mythic has done right and wrong, the challenges they face, and why I think a lot of the current semi-negative post-honeymoon buzz is a little premature, albeit accurate.

Before I dive in, I wanted to acknowledge the inspiration for this post. Often times, it takes another blogger or podcaster to help me organize my thoughts, to spark an idea for a post. This time, it was Van Hemlock’s podcast episode #22, which I’d link to on his site, but hey, he’s slacking while he builds stuff in the Egyptian desert and hasn’t actually linked to his own show yet πŸ™‚ I couldn’t find the link on Virginworlds either, but it’s on iTunes! Apologies if I’ve overlooked it on either of the two appropriate sites.

Van Hemlock hasn’t actually played WAR yet, but his co-host Jon has played, and he’s not going to be subscribing to the game. As he started explaining what he didn’t like about the game, I initially felt my fanboi ire beginning to rise, but as I listened to his experience with the game, I realized there was nothing to explain further or defend about WAR; Jon took a good run at the game, found a couple things he liked, found quite a few more things that got in the way of having fun, and he felt underwhelmed and won’t continue playing.

Briefly, I’ll try to summarize what he disliked, as well as I can remember it from the podcast on my train ride home. If I was getting paid for this, I’d listen to it again, take notes, and write a more detailed post, but I’m too lazy to do it for free. Apologies if it’s not 100% accurate, but it should be close.

  • Jon is in Europe, so the population is thin when he’s online, both for PvE and RvR.
  • He didn’t enjoy the Scenarios
  • He felt the PvE was light on content, and not really the point of the game, and consequently not done as well as some other PvE-centric games (I’m guessing WoW for sure, and perhaps LoTRO, or EQ, he didn’t make too many direct comparisons here)
  • The crafting really is dead simple, and not compelling
  • He felt you really needed a guild to feel like you’re part of the game

I can quibble about some of this (and I will!), but overall, I think he made great points, and if I quibble, I can’t quibble about his feelings. No amount of fanboi explaining is going to make someone suddenly like a game they didn’t enjoy before. It’s not like anyone has to explain the magic of MMO’s to Jon; he gets MMO’s. He just didn’t enjoy WAR.

I said, somewhere back during beta, that MMO’s are still in their infancy, and we’re going to see the genre go in a lot of different directions, with a lot of design choices that make individual games quite different from each other, despite the shared MMO tag. As much as people want to call WAR a WoW clone (Jon didn’t, btw), they really have quite different goals at the end of the game. I don’t want to go as far as saying they serve completely different MMO demographics; there are definitely some players who overlap in the WAR/WoW Venn diagram, but listening to Jon made me realize that overlap may be smaller than a “clone” tag would warrant.

WAR’s goals don’t include depth in the crafting model (thinking SWG, or Eve, or even LoTRO), a detailed market economy (Eve, SWG’s player vendors, the simple elegance of WoW’s Auction House), player housing (UO, EQ2, LoTRO, SWG, even Dark Age of Camelot), or massive endgame raiding (EQ, WoW). That’s a ton of stuff to exclude, but I think you have to have serious focus to create a AAA MMO title, and you can’t include everything from every game, do it well, and get your game out in five years.

When you look at everything WAR left out, and when you listen to what MMO fans consider their dream MMO (usually, me included, covering everything on my list above plus great RvR, pizza delivery, and booth babes doing my shopping so I can raid), it’s really no wonder that there’s a post-honeymoon let down. There are a lot of game elements that perhaps people were hoping for, and they’re disappointed to find WAR lacking, or not even attempting, some of those elements.

I’m having a blast, but there are three reasons for that. Maybe four. Well, pretty much three, I’ll deal with reason four at the end.

First, I know what’s coming at end game. I played a hell of a lot of Dark Age of Camelot, and I know that the first 30 levels are just a warm up for end game RvR. I hear people saying that the PvE is too grindy, and that it’s empty in PvE because everyone feels Scenarios are faster, etc. I understand what they’re saying, but I’m going to disagree pretty strongly, and here’s why.

You’re going to have to point to the MMO, any MMO at all, that was faster to level in at launch, even if you skip scenarios and just grind PvE content. I’m level 23 after a month of very casual play, and I should easily make Tier 4 endgame RvR, the real game in WAR, by the end of my second month. That’s equivalent to raiding Stratholme and Blackrock in WoW at the end of the second month of full release. This is, by far, the simplest MMO to level in at launch ever released.

So why are people complaining? First, because I think we’re all burned out on leveling. Most of us have been leveling characters nonstop since UO or EQ, and damn, that’s a long time on the hamster wheel πŸ™‚ I enjoy it, but I do occassionally get fatigued. I suspect a lot of the complaining has to do with fatigue.

Also, and I think this is Mythic’s greatest challenge, is pressure to get to the RvR end game. Everyone knows that’s where the real game goal lies. In my opinon, Mythic has done the best job of any MMO giving players a variety of ways to get to the end game content, but that has not removed the compulsion to race to 40. I happen to enjoy the PvE (I’m enjoying learning about the Warhammer universe through the Tome and the quests), and I’d happily level to 40 in PvE even if there was no RvR options, but I can certainly sympathize with people who are just over it, and just over “Kill Ten More” quests. I think the pressure of wanting to race to 40 makes it difficult to enjoy the PvE for some people.

Jon and Van Hemlock briefly said that if WAR is all about the end game, why not just get rid of the leveling? Van Hemlock called it heretical, but I think he’s right on. Levels are another reason people are feeling stressed about grinding; their friends are either a tier in front of them, or a tier behind them, and we just want to play together. Even if it’s just a couple months to run up to Tier 4, where we’re all reunited in RvR heaven, there’s a separation effect that affects how people feel connected to the game. I know I was sad when I leveled out of Tier 2 and left a lot of my guildmates behind, people who I really enjoyed running scenarios with. I also have guildmates in T4 already, and I’d like to be able to play with them too.

I have the advantage of knowing what’s coming in just a few weeks, or a month or two. Everyone will be in Tier 4, and we’ll see a blooming of gameplay that’s going to be pretty damn exciting. Just because I know it’s going to be great, though, doesn’t mean Jon or anyone else suddenly has to say “Hey! I just realized! I like grinding!”. Nope. Some game developer is going to realize (SWG and UO already kind of did it) that levels and grinding are not requirements for fun. Mythic made the curve pretty darn light, but the fact that players are still feeling a “mid level slowdown” signals to me that players would be receptive to a game that maybe lets everyone into the endgame at the start of the game. Look at what Eve is doing…there are lessons to be learned for level-based fantasy MMO’s there.

Holy &%$*. I warned you this might be long. Let’s move on to the second reason that I’m having fun in WAR, where some other people might not be feeling the love.

I had six months in the beta. I knew what game elements were going to be available. I knew there was no housing, limited crafting. I suspected the auction house wasn’t going to be a priority. There was no letdown for me at launch. I was also lucky enough to play quite a bit at the end game during beta, and I know what’s waiting for me when I’m done with my PvE climb. I know that what feels like a grind for other players will actually be fairly brief compared to the amount of time I’m going to have fun in WAR. That doesn’t mean other people have to like the grind; see point number one. Still, I knew what I was getting into, so there was no letdown.

The third reason I’m having a blast in WAR, which Jon acknowledged, is because of the Casualties of WAR. Some of Jon’s biggest complaints were feeling like he couldn’t participate in Public Quests or open RvR because he didn’t have a group of dedicated people around him. Given the fact that he was playing at non-peak times, I can understand how he felt that way. He was saying that the CoWs have a big advantage, having so many people committed to to playing together, and playing a lot. I’d like to slightly disagree with him there…we really are a casual guild, and I’m only on a couple times a week, there’s absolutely no compulsion to play; it’s less pressure than a WoW raid guild for sure, and less than what seems to be required of serious Eve 0.0 corp. But, he’s right that always having someone around, even if it’s just someone to chat with, makes the game feel less lonely.

Jon, if you see this, I’m curious; are you playing in EU time on a US server? Why not hook up with the Book of Grudges folks, and play on EU time? (that was point number four from above, if you’re keeping track).

I’m out of gas…I have a lot more to say, but I’ll try to get it out in smaller chunks over the next couple weeks. I have a raid starting in a few minutes, I have to get online. Check out Van Hemlock’s site, or the Virginworlds site, and look for podcast #22. It’s good WAR talk, and damn it, they’re getting me interested in A Tale in the Desert, too. I can’t afford another MMO!

Tip for CoW healers

If you’re an archmage or rune priest on Averheim, and you want to rack up some serious T2 experience and Renown, get in a group with Dorgun, Pend, Regex, and Helfire. I was joining scenarios solo last night, and having the usual mixed success with PUG assigments, when I entered a scenario that had those four Casualties of War members in the other group.

Dorgun had been complaining in guild chat about a previous scenario where he wasn’t getting any healing for his ironbreaker. I jokingly said I’d try to keep him healed when I saw him in the other group at the start of Mourkain Temple, but actually, it worked out really well. We dominated that first scenario, and they were kind enough to invite me to their group. We must have run 8 or 9 more matches, and I think we only lost one. Illluminaris joined us near the end, and it was awesome to have another heavy tank in the group.

Dorgun’s ironbreaker and Iluminaris’ swordmaster manned the front lines, Regex and Helfire nuked the holy bejesus out of everyone with bright wizard firebombs, Pend was everywhere with his engineer, dropping turrets, helping with crowd control, shootin’ and killin’, and I just tried to stay alive and heal. The only time we had trouble was when the opposition managed to focus on me, either with tank assist trains or with stealther witch elves popping me from behind. Most of the time, we dominated ball control and kept Destruction on their side of the Temple.

I went from halfway through 20 to halfway through 21 last night, and dinged Renown Rank 17. Actually, I was pretty close to RR 18 by the end of the night. It’s a shame I only have a half-level of Tier 2 RvR left, but I’m excited to see T3 content, especially since most of the CoW’s I just mentioned are pretty close to T3 as well.

I may have been grumpy about WAR’s lack of fluff earlier in the week, but it’s the kind of gaming I experienced last night that makes me love Mythic. I don’t think there’s anyone else like them in the MMO market. It’s difficult to compare them straight-up to other MMO’s, because they’re providing a gameplay experience that no other developer can really touch. And this is just the warmup to the endgame. I can’t wait until most of us are at the level cap, and the whole server really gets involved in zone control and attacking cities and keeps. The RvR we’re seeing now is just a preview. Wait until there’s a critical mass of players all focusing on the same objectives. WAR has the potential for absolutely epic battles, and I can’t wait to see it.

Thanks for the group last night, CoWs! It was a rockin’ good time.

*#$! VirginWorlds!

Last night in WAR, I was standing at the bank window knee-deep in crafting materials. I’m working on Cultivation and Apothecary as my tradeskills, and there’s just a ton of material, far outstripping my available bank space. I usually have to spend quite a bit of time grinding up skills to clear out everything I’ve gathered.

As I was click click clicking away, half-reading guild chat, I get a /tell from a name I didn’t recognize, asking if an officer from the guild is on who can invite people to the guild. As a guild founder, I’ve got lots of privileges that I honestly haven’t used. In fact, I hadn’t actually added anyone to the guild before last night. There are usually officers on who are quicker on the draw than me, and since Casualties of War closed recruiting a couple weeks ago, I didn’t even think we were accepting new members.

When I got the /tell, I started asking questions, because I know there’s a process to follow, and I didn’t want Genda mad at me because I was inviting people willy-nilly. There’s a cap on the number of people you can have in a guild in WAR, and I know we’ve got a ton of players toward that cap. New applicants are supposed to apply on the forum, and when they get moved to Invite status, they’re supposed to get a pass phrase that lets other officers know they’re cleared for an invite. This person didn’t know the pass phrase, but they said that Genda said it would be no problem.

Ok, that could be…I figured I’d check the guild forums and see if Genda left a note, or to see if I could find the applicant’s name. Nope, couldn’t find anything there, so I started into my spiel about how recruiting had closed, and I didn’t think I could add anyone without checking with Genda.

The person asking for the invite was polite, but persistent, and I started to get the feeling that they weren’t making up the story. I asked in Guild chat if anyone knew the character’s name from Thorgrim, the CoW Destruction server. Nope, nobody recognized the name, and when I said the applicant didn’t know the pass phrase, most people thought I should wait to add them. That made sense to me, and I was about to tell the applicant that, when he asked if this was the guild of bloggers. I said yeah, and he said his real name was Brent, and Heartless would know about this also.

It seemed like too much of a coincidence, so I asked if he was a blogger too. Yep, he was. I asked for his blog address.

The reply came back ““.

Nice! I just spent the better part of 15 minutes torturing the person who is responsible for a ton of traffic to my site, as well as a lot of the other CoW bloggers, and MMO bloggers everywhere. I’m sure I’m off the feed list today!

My apologies, Brent. We’re happy to have you with us, even if WAR is dead on arrival. If it’s any consolation, future newbie CoWs will benefit from your travails; I have a much better sense of how to manage the in-game Invite process now πŸ™‚ To make things worse, it was Alt night last night, and a lot of Destruction folks were asking to add their alts so they could run T1 scenarios together. After Brent’s torture, three or four Thorgrim folks had their Averheim alts added. I was imagining him thinking “Look at all these other people getting guilded! Why the hell did he put me through the wringer?”.

He’s playing an Archmage. I’d bet there’s a “Oops! I didn’t quite get to heal you time!” in my future πŸ™‚

Building a community: CoW guild in WAR

If you read here semi-regularly, you know that A) I piped up in the beginning of August, stating that I liked Boatorious’s idea of a WAR bloggers guild, and B) I’ve been slammed with work since just a week or two after I indicated my approval of the idea.

I have to say, it’s absolutely humbling to see what’s grown out of that little idea. To be honest, I was a little skeptical, because I’ve tried, in pretty much every MMO I’ve played, to gather a group of like-minded players that I know from outside the game, and it’s never really worked. The best guild I was ever in, The Fellowship of Dihn, was a group of players who played UO together, and I fell in with them in-game, with no outside organization. In fact, I got to the Dihn folks through a guild of Everquest druids that played DAoC together, but that group, organized off the EQ Druids message boards, fell apart rather quickly.

Watching Casualties of War go from a “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if…” post to the level 8 guild rank, 140+ member organization that it is today has been nothing short of amazing. It’s like a wildfire, the way it’s grown.

It wasn’t just work that prevented me from keeping up with the developments of the guild. So many people joined so quickly (bloggers and non-bloggers alike) that the site exploded. Not only am I overwhelmed trying to learn as much as possible about WAR, but I don’t have a prayer of keeping up with all the activity on the guild boards.

I’m so impressed at the contributions of everyone who has come to play with us. From the people who volunteered to help Genda with the web site, to the officers who are taking leadership roles in the forums, to the in-game players who are actively encouraging guild participation in RvR and PvP…it’s an awesome community effort. There’s no way this idea would have been successful without a lot of smart, funny, and dedicated people throwing their lot in with Casualties of War.

It’s not just the people. Mythic deserves a lot of credit here as well. The Living Guild idea is brilliant, and it gets people invested in the community in-game, not just on message board forums. The people at WarDB are building off the tools that Mythic has made available as well, so you can keep up with guild activity, like Hudson described the other day.

I’d love to say thanks to everyone individually, but it’s just not possible. CoWs, I’m impressed, I’m grateful, and I’m so glad to be running with such a dynamic bunch of people. I think we’ve found the right group of people for the right game, and I can’t wait to see what the next couple years of gaming hold in store. Waaagh!

Looking back before stepping forward

I’ve been studiously avoiding all things Warhammer for the past couple weeks. A fortuitous burst of overwhelming work activity has kept me off the message boards and the blogs, and I’ve spent my evenings running Eve missions, playing Puzzle Quest on Gametap, and trying to ignore the fact that in 48 hours, I’ll finally be playing WAR.

It’s been a long time since I jumped into an MMO at launch. WoW was the last game that got my full attention. I don’t know what I’m going to find in WAR, but I do know that my gaming life will change over the next few months.

I get excited about single-player games, but few of them affect me as much as a good MMO. It’s the people that make the difference; since I started playing games online, my favorite memories revolve around the communities of people that I grew to know.

When I grew up, games were still in their infancy. I cut my teeth on Asteroids and Defender at the local 7-11, drinking Slurpees and smoking my first cigarettes while I waited for my next turn (omg, video games are a gateway drug). If my mom was going to the mall (which were still a pretty new phenomenon where I grew up), I’d always ask to tag along and scrounge up a couple bucks to disappear into the arcade while she shopped. I played D&D whenever I could, but it was really, really, rare to find fellow gamers.

It wasn’t until I ventured onto the Internet that I found a ton of like-minded people. Inveterate gamers, unabashedly enthusiastic about their hobby, willing to stay up late, to play just one more turn with me, one more game, willing to talk games every time we could get to the keyboard. It’s been a transformative experience. I was a history major in college, graduated in 1988 without ever having used a computer to type a paper (and I typed some long-ass papers). 6 years later, largely because of what I learned while PC gaming, I had a new career in the technology business. 20 years later, I’ve met more people and played more games than I ever could have dreamed possible.

From playing MUD’s and playing Quake, hanging out in early gaming communites like Arcadium or on the Quake newsgroups, moving to Counterstrike and then to EQ, the rise of EZboards like The Druid’s Grove and The Safehouse, joining The Well, and starting a blog, the common thread in my enjoyment of online games is meeting and getting to know new people.

WAR is going to be quite an exciting new chapter. I’m thrilled to be playing with the Casualties of War, alongside the bloggers who I read obsessively. I’ve been holding back on getting too excited too early, but damn, I’m ready to play now. I’m not expecting WAR to be revolutionary. I could care less if it’s a WoW-killer, or if some people hate it while other people love it. I do think that Mythic is making a game that’s going to fit right into my personal history of making great friends within a vibrant gaming community, and that’s what has me so excited.

To WAR! To Cow’s! To gaming! It’s been a long wait. Let’s get busy having some fun!