A Facelift

If you’ve been playing Warhammer for any amount of time, you’re most likely aware of their main webpage, their forums, and probably the “Realm War” portion of the site. I remember when it was first launched, it was a very cool, interactive idea that provided a pretty slick interface for the community and hobbyists to check out the game while not able to actually play the game. For those of you familiar with World of Warcraft, it was a somewhat similar version of their Armory. The Realm War, is a tad clunky, and lacking in a few areas, but it’s so close to being a very refined and great tool for the game, that I wanted to go in depth on some areas it could improve. If you visit the forums of the game at all, I made a suggestion with some of the same ideas I have in here, so give it kudos if you like what you read.

There are a lot of things that it does right. It allows you to look up characters, guilds, racial pairings, and even rankings based on different criteria. The campaign interface is great, with lots of interactivity and little flourishes of style and smoothness all over the place. The searches are fairly thorough, and provide you with who your looking for as long as you know something about your desired subject. The leaderboards give you rankings on everything from guild-leader kill to renown gain for all time, and in the last week. It all works, as in it functions, and in a lot of places it’s even got a cool factor going on. But there are areas that need work, and improvement, which I’ll go over as I talk about each different system.

The character search has a nice touch of being able to refine it by server, faction, race, and career. The last three will autfill the lower tiers if you choose a more specific one (i.e. if I search by Blackguard, it fills in Destro/Dark Elf). You can search a partial name, a full name, or a fragment of a name, and it will give you results based on that.  All of this is very cool and slick, but it’s lacking a bit in polish, and a slight bit of functionality. The most glaring functional flaw is in search results. If I do a blanket serach for Bright Wizards on Gorfang, I get a set number of results. I can then sort it by level, name, guild, or whatever. However, I don’t get a full table of people that are applicable. This is clear when you sort by level. For instance, this search for all Knights on Gorfang, sorted by rank, does not show any of my guildies. I know we have at least four different Knights at rank 40 between our members. I’m not sure what criteria is being used to display results, but there’s something amiss here. I’d really like to see the ability to further refine your search by both renown rank, and by level. As usual, my motto applies here, “Options are good!”.

When you get your results, and finally choose the person you want to look up, it shows you a fair amount of information about them. You get to see everything from their level and renown rank, including progression as both a number and percentage through them. All of the gear equipped is shown, including trophies. At the very bottom of the paperdoll area some base and offensive stats are displayed. Each career has both a male and female (where applicable), non-dynamic portrait that is placed in the center, it’s appearance deteremined by level. All of the stats and gear have tooltips that give you the name and attributes of each item when you hover over them, so you can get a good idea of what they are wearing.

The stats area doesn’t seem to accurately represent the reality of in-game attributes. I’m using images of the results for my Knight, and I can gaurantee you, that I have over 696 wounds. When sword and shield are in hand, I have close to 900. I think this is in part because of the way it pulls information for the stats, and how that’s tied with another bug. The tooltips for gear are in desperate need of updating. The Realm War site was released shortly before Land of the Dead hit if my memory serves me, and before then, +power items were very rare. Since the release of the site, items don’t seem to have been updated to keep up with current game. You can see on my paperdoll display that two items are missing icons, and if you were to hover over others, you would see random floating “+3                 “, and I know for sure that some stats are just left off completely, like set bonuses. When the stats are calculated below, I think it totals the information from the items as the Realm War site knows them, and gets it’s total that way. So the two issues are tied together by a root problem of not recognizing certain stat bonuses and items being out of date.

It would be great to see an update to the database to bring it current and keep it trendy with the game as it progresses. I’d also like to see ALL stats represented for both gear, and on the display page. Additional fun features would be to see the five tactic sets the characer has set up, and be able to change them and see it reflected on the paper doll. Seeing it tied into their Tome of Knowledge and be able to adjust worn gear based on unlocks would be a fun way to change things up and see how it would affect your character. This is a whole lot of work, and I’m sure resource intensive, on both the development side and the information side, but it’s something that would be nice to see, none-the-less.

The Campaign portion of the site is probably the area with the most refinement and strength. It’s incredibly fun to click through, and poke around to see the real-time status of the game. You start off being able to choose a server and pairing, and you can tunnel down from there, even to the lower teirs of the game. It shows a familiar pairing map from in game, with the circular icons representing the different zones, and which are contested and locked. Hovering over all of them shows you a tooltip, and you can even click them to be redirected to a zone map. The zone maps are an extra bit of cool as well, as each zone shows the status of the various objectives and keeps, which faction controls them, and there is a victory point bar that shows who’s winning the fight. The icing on the cake for this, is that hovering over any location on the map will show you a stock photo of what the objective looks like in-game. It’s a nice little flourish that realy draws you back, and shows an attention to detail that I really appreciate.

One of the big things I’d really like to see added to all of this, is an even greater display of information. I’m a glutton I know. Firstly, I’d like to see the domination points represented, because currently, they are not. Seeing timers and ownership rights for BOs and Keeps would be a plus. A real twirl of the wand would give me the cross swords that shows me hot-spots of combat. Last on the list, would be a cleanup of the site as a whole. Fixing random links that indicate you can click them, but do nothing at all, and other small glitches here and there.

The last portion, the Leaderboard, is a fairly straight-forward system, that could just use a touch of improvement. It does what it does pretty well. It gives you a list for on your server did the best of whatever activity it is talking about. There are six catagories that it covers; Renown Points Gained, Enemy Players Killed, Influence Poings Gained, Times ranked #1 after a PQ, Guild Leader kills, and Scenarios Won. You can see the rankings for All-time leaders, or the past week. You can then further refine each of these to be by a specific faction, race, or career, in an interface almost identical to the character search. The only things I’d really like to see changed or improved here is allowing users to do searches across all servers, and the addition of a few other factors. Everything from most deaths to most damage taken could all be fun. It’s not an overly complicated system, so there isn’t really a whole lot to change with it.

On a wholistic approach, if Mythic really wanted wanted to go crazy, and push the envelope, I’d love to see them implement their own character builder that tied into everything. Being able to plan, theorycraft, and see those adjustments would be a huge boon to site traffic and player interest I think. Additionally, players might come to view the Warhammer site as more than just an information hub, and stop relying on 3rd party or fan sites for these types of things. Creating these systems, and tieing them into the forums so that they mesh well together and provide a cohessive total experience would go a long way to impressing players. Making the entire experience overall a tad more interactive would be a great way for hobbyists to enjoy the game, without actually being IN-game.

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

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