Drying Off After The Waterworks August 13, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Mines of Moria, Redhorn Lode, The Waterworks, Twenty First Hall
I have managed to keep plodding forward in Lord of the Rings Online. My previous post put me on the verge of Moria. Well, I am through the doors and stuck into the expansion.
Our kinship seems to have faded however. The summer diversion into Middle-earth has fallen by the wayside for most of our EVE Online corp which, if nothing else, means that even at my modest pace of advancement, at level 56 I am close to being the highest level player. Of course, without everybody else, doing instances as a group hasn’t come to pass. And just to rain on my parade a little bit more, the founder of our kinship quit EVE and, in what I take to be a big “Up yours!” to his former corp mates, revoked officer status for everybody in the kinship. So the kinship is now both dead and without anybody who can make any changes.
Life in MMOs.
At least there wasn’t anything for him to steal.
So my progress forward has been pretty quiet as well as slow. But it has allowed me to explore Moria, which is turning out to be a much bigger place than I had imagined.
I do find that Moria’s separation from the initial world… which I know was required back in the day… is initially quite bothersome. You cannot travel straight to Moria, the last horse stop is at the portal into the zone outside Moria, so you have to hoof it across a modest zone every time you leave and then come back. This is aggravated by the fact that all of the services you go back to Bree or Rivendell for are available in Moria, just not until you reach the Twenty First Hall, which the map below shows, isn’t exactly close to where you start off.
So you can be a while getting there. And until you do all your crafting, banking, and training needs have to be served back on the surface.
Initially you start off in mostly cave-ish areas where the dwarves have carved out rooms and a few structures. But as you move deeper in, the size and scale of the works become truly massive.
Of course, massive comes with a price as well. I was in Durin’s Hall at one point, which is a well developed area at least five levels deep, and was standing on a walkway at the top on one side of the area and needed to be on a platform one level down and across the… room? I could see it from where I stood… but actually getting there involved a Super Mario Brothers routine of stairs and ramps. This was further hindered by the designer’s love of very steep stair cases. They are so steep that you often cannot verify that there are stairs there until you get to the very edge of a platform. And they are not always where you think they will be, something that has lead me to go over the edge on several occasions.
And I always seem to be a bit lost. Not a bad thing, as it speaks to the depth of the zones. But not only is it surprisingly easy to get turned around and headed in the wrong direction if you fail to consult the map every so often, but I also end up completely losing the thread of quest chains as I accidentally stumble on new locations.
And the names of places just don’t seem to be sticking with me. So I abandon some quests, pick up some new ones and carry on.
In part I think this is because the goat subway system that forms the mass transit backbone in Moria insists on naming the stations, such as they are, after the immediate geographic location. So, for example, the destination when I want to get to the Waterworks, a zone in which I did all the quests I could and finished most of the deeds, is reached by a goat stop at The Rotting Cellar. But it took me a while to associated that name with the Waterworks.
The Waterworks itself though is an amazing place. At least assuming you don’t mind being waist deep in water a good portion of the time. It is one of those locations that makes you feel really small. The quests in the zone were not anything exciting. They were mostly the standard fare, go kill some of these and come back, now go turn the knob over there and come back, now kill something else. And the water structures themselves often appeared to have all the purpose of the engine room in Galaxy Quest. But the design and feel of the zone, a huge open cavern with immense structure all bathed in an eerie crystal light, kept me going. It was one of those zone where I wanted to poke my nose into every location.
I suppose the fact that is was a much more open zone than what I have been through in Moria helped. I could see the distant corners I wanted to explore.
So I actually finished up the quest chain there… unlike any Moria area up to that point… after which the final task was to send me off to the Twenty First Hall and essential services. I had been there already. I dropped a Mithril coin to get there just to be able to use the bank. But now I was actually being sent there.
Gaff pointed out that I might want to pick up a new legendary weapon, as I was still using the one I picked up in Eregion. It was falling behind in damage rating, and I apparently picked up some of the barter currency as drops along the way. With auto loot on, I am often surprised what I find in my bag or wallet at the end of the night.
Fortunately, that investment in first weapon gets paid back somewhat when you deconstruct it. You can then apply that to your new weapon.
After doing some lift and carry and search quests (the dwarves seems to lose a lot of things in Moria) in and about the Twenty First Hall, I made my way to the Redhorn Lode area. That will be my next area of exploration. It isn’t as open as The Waterworks, though it certainly isn’t as cave-like as the opening zones either. And it is tinted in a reddish glow rather than blue.
While I start in on that, here are some tourist photos from my time in The Waterworks.
July in Review July 31, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review.
Tags: Feedly, RSS, The Old Reader
You can tell when I am looking at old posts. I find typos or dead links or some sort of error and I edit them. And then, in its mysterious way, WordPress.com makes a judgement call about whether or not that update means it should put the post back into my RSS feed. Whatever method it uses to make that call… coin toss, darts, broken random number generator… the “post it back to the RSS feed” option seems to be coming up a lot more lately.
I have no idea why.
It actually makes me a bit self-conscious. I apologize for the old posts showing up in my feed.
Then again, if you want some insight into what I might be writing… or thinking about… or may have just accidentally stumbled over, this is certainly one way. Unofficial reruns with error corrections!
Meanwhile, in the post-Google Reader world, things continue to vex me or go awry. I went to The Old Reader for a couple of reasons, including the ability to create my own output RSS feed to place in the sidebar of the blog. It had hiccups and was down a lot right after Google Reader went away. So I looked at Feedly, which was in an imperfect state as well, but which was popular in my RSS reader poll. It was up, but only knew how to import feeds directly from the now departed Google Reader. With The Old Reader down yet again, I added a subset of feeds into Feedly by hand. And then a couple of days later, Feedly announced support for OPML import, at about the time The Old Reader came back up and started behaving.
So I spent a couple of weeks using both. Feedly for key feeds, The Old Reader for all my old feeds and the ability to create the sidebar RSS feed. That feature was a bit flaky, but it mostly worked. And then last week, The Old Reader went down hard, which resulted in them essentially taking their venture in a new direction, one to which I am not invited. And that was the end of that.
So now I am using Feedly, which seems reliable enough, has an iOS client (which actually works now), and which I would pay for and/or donate towards, except there seems to be no allowance for such that I see. All I could find was that they had plans for a premium service at some future date.
The upshot and site related part of this is that I need to work out a new way to have a feed in the sidebar.
And, in what is really a note about my other site, I decided to post a picture a day, as opposed to two a week, in July to see if that changed traffic at all. It did not. Traffic was actually down a bit. But I have a huge backlog of pictures, so what the hell.
One Year Ago
In New Eden my hear went “Boum!“
Elligium took its pandas and went home.
Blizzard set the date for Mists of Pandaria.
There was a Steam Summer Sale.
I was wondering if Torchlight II could live up to its potential.
Ultima Forever! A shot across Lord British’s bow.
Rift sells mounts for cash. It wasn’t like they were going free to play though.
Let it be noted that not all Kickstarters fail. Last year there was the Defense Grid expansion Kickstarter. I kicked in, they built it, I played it. Simple as that, and much better than any 99 cent app I have purchased. And I still get a free copy of their next Defense Grid game when it comes out.
I wondered aloud if nostalgia servers… official ones… would remain the sole domain of EverQuest.
Meanwhile SOE was talking about Vanguard’s free to play plan.
I was underwhelmed at the so-called “reskin” of Qeynos in EverQuest II. The sorrow of Qeynos knows no end.
In EVE Online, there was war in Delve… again… if only I could get there. There were battles in 49-U6U, C3N-3S, and DSS-EZ, a conga line in 319-3D (where we also watched the alliance tournament), and a flying titan in F2OY-X. The tiny Wallpapers Alliance held out longer than Nulli Secunda, before being crushed.
Then having done the heavy lifting for TEST, the CFC was asked to go home. TEST was going to be its own alliance, but we would all remain the best of friends in the big blue donut of love. Anyway, it was time for a convoy back to Deklein. Somewhere along the way I got a warning from CCP for causing lag.
And there was also a link to a list of things to do in EVE Online.
Five Years Ago
BioWare finally let loose the least well kept secret in the MMO-verse at the time. They confirmed they were making a Knights of the Old Replublic type MMO.
The mention of Diablo III seemed to spur a revival of Diablo II with the Diablo II Battle Chest taking the #1 sales spot for a time. Not bad for a game that has not had an expansion since 2001.
Meanwhile, on the SOE front, it was time to say farewell to the EverQuest side of the Living Legacy program. I also griped a bit about how SOE was advertising the completely out of date EverQuest Platinum on the EQ Players site and had been doing so for a long time. That ad disappeared before the month was out though. Such a coincidence!
In New Eden I was pondering the economics of building and flying a marauder and comparing the benefits of a Raven Navy Issue and the Caldari marauder, the Golem. Our little corp was on the move again. And some of us were taking the EVE personality test while I compared ships styles of the different factions to cars from my youth.
And speaking of EVE, I also joined in with CrazyKinux on some crazy EVE Blog Pack idea. I wonder what happened with that?
Warhammer Online was on the horizon. I had pre-ordered the collectors edition, but then came the content removal, some classes and four cities. And while Mythic posted the minimum system requirements, I was wondering what the recommended… often thought to be the true minimum for many games… might end up being.
New Linking Sites
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in July
EVE Online dominates the list, in large part because of EVE News 24 syndicating several of my posts, which in turn contained links to other posts on this site.
- 6VDT-H – The Biggest Battle in EVE History Ends the War in Fountain
- Gold is Where You Find It – Blogging and Community
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- I’m Malshandir and So’s My Wife!
- A Prophecy of Murder in G95F-H
- The Propaganda War in Fountain
- More Propaganda from the War in Fountain
- Decisions and Inventory Management
- My Guns Jam at Z9PP-H
- Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
- Remember the Lazamo – Bloodbath at 3WE-KY
- Google Reader is No More – Where Have You Gone?
Search Terms of the Month
eve online awesome screenshots
[I have a whole site for that, but that search points here]
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[You seem confused]
wot major tannhauser
[I think he is still with Venus]
скачать карты для warcraft 3 покемоны белое и черное
[If Google is correct, somebody is looking for Pokemon themed Warcraft III maps]
July was all about the war in Fountain for me. I lived in B-D and 4-EP and went on as many fleet ops as I could manage. With the war… if not over, at least in transition… I am not sure what the future holds. Rumors are that our alliance will move to the new Fountain frontier to live. But other rumors say that FA or FCON or Fweddit or Black Legion or The Mittani’s aunt on his mother’s side will be taking up that role based on participation or need or ability to knit warm sweaters. We shall see.
Potshot re-subscribed thanks to my reports of the war, and some prodding on my part, only to join our corp and get into null sec just in time to miss the big battle at 6VDT. He was far enough along to have coms set up and was able to listen to fleet ops on Mumble, ala that scene in Wing and a Prayer, but wasn’t able to get into the fight. So he has some time to figure out null sec and get ready for the next war.
Lord of the Rings Online
I have been faltering a bit in Middle-earth. My captain is in Moria and is just shy of level 52, a number which represents the previous pinnacle of my LOTRO leveling career. But my drive has waned. It isn’t that Moria is bad. It is just more of the same really. My fun in LOTRO tends to peak in the Lone Lands and Evendim. I scrambled around in the Misty Mountains and Forochel for a bit until I could start in Eregion. Then I cleaned up there until about level 51, when I entered Moria and stopped. Of course, the rest of our kinship had pretty much stopped playing as well. I am not sure that my summer vacation in Middle-earth is over, but moving beyond Moria seems in doubt.
I had to check on this one. I wrote about playing Rift in July, but I didn’t actually play the game this month. I am not sure I even logged. The full instance group got together for its second appearance in game last month and that was it. I might be able to log in and reclaim leadership of the guild again.
As mentioned yesterday, the most anticipated part of SOE Live has to be news about EverQuest Next. I expect there will be equal parts joy and despair no matter what gets announced. But whatever gets said, I am sure we will pick it apart and gnaw on the bones for a couple of weeks.
There will be the clean up after the war in Fountain. What happens next? Who will get what in the CFC? Who will end up moving to Fountain? Will TEST hold on to Delve, take back its moons there, and thrive? So many questions to answer.
I bought Skyrim in the closing moments of the Steam Summer Sale and started playing that a bit. I will have some observations… two years out of date though they may be… on the game I am sure.
And… is anything else coming up in August?
On the Verge of Moria July 11, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Brandywine, Free-To-Play, Mines of Moria
Our Summer run through Lord of the Rings Online has actually been quite successful so far, given a pretty specific definition for success.
For me, success is advancing in the game to a point where I am seeing things I haven’t been through before. I am almost there. Basically, I have to get into Moria and go a few quests in and I will be beyond my past peak in the game, which came about two years back.
All of which would have been a lot easier if I did not end up on a new server every single time I went back to play the game.
Ah well. I am on the cusp. I have been through much of Eregion, having made the leap from Evendim at 40 and muscled through a combo of the Misty Mountains and Forochel a few levels early. That high quality halberd, amongst other equipment, you can buy when you have sufficient faction with the Wardens of Annuminas helped a lot, though it still won’t make the slowest elf in creation move any faster.
I have been to the door of Moria, in the little zone that contains the quest line to get in. It is the beginning of the Book II quest chain, so there is no skipping chapters, everything must be done in order.
The chain includes quite a few “lift and carry” quests for the dwarves who, following behind the fellowship of the ring, are trying to reopen the doors to Moria that have been mysteriously blocked. I wonder how that happened?
So you spend some time in the mini-zone picking up sticks or stones… which could at least break my bones if correctly wielded… delivering packed lunches, and solving the ubiquitous “Orcs stole my homework… and map… and supply list…” issues that seem to crop up in these sorts of game.
You do eventually get stuck into things… you know, you get to kill something… and reach a climax, though it might not be what you expect if you have never been there before.
After which there is a diversion back to Hollin to pick up your epic weapon. I went with the halberd, as I always think of it as the true weapon of a captain, though I might splutter a bit if asked to explain why.
DPS-wise, it was a bit of a step down from what I had been swinging. I have an alt… of course I do, and more than one… who I has been working on the weapon smith craft and who has kept me well supplied with sharp objects as I have moved along. You do not need to worry about armor if you kill the bad guy quick enough. Though now that I have hit the epic weapon stage, I do wonder what I will do with him.
But the epic weapon grows as you feed it the blood of your victims… erm… as it gains experience. Which it does through killing things. I am actually on the chapter in the Book II quest line where I have to level up my epic weapon 10 levels, at which point it has to go through a reforging or some such, and then I can move along to the actual story again.
So that is where I stand.
As for the cash shop intrusions into the game… I have been able to ignore them for the most part when required. I do buy things now and again. And it helps that, as a lifetime subscriber, I get a monthly 500 Turbine point stipend, which after a long stretch of not playing, added up to small fortune. So I have expanded my shared storage a few times to accommodate the passing of an ever larger array of crafting materials between alts. I am going to have to either make a scholar or stop collecting all that crap soon. I bought a stack of boosts for crafting experience, the ones that boost you by 50% over 10 minutes, to help make that stretch to the next tier every so often. And I bought probably the most useful item in the store for my main, who harvests.
Basically it means I do not have to swap tools to change between mining and chopping wood.
Also, I must admit, I did buy a pile of Mithril Coins. Their utility in getting to next travel point in the horse network proved too much to resist. And, I have spent a coin now and again at the end of the night to get to back to a quest giver to go to bed.
And once you do it, it becomes easier to do it the next time. Grumble, grumble, hurf durf, damn free to play conveniences have corrupted me again! *shakes fist*
I also am fine opening up the present every day, though that whole mechanism does feel like they are spreading things a bit thick on the cash shop front. You can have limitless presents, if you are prepared to pay for them! (At which point, they aren’t really presents, right? And what business model do we tend to associate with the phrase “the first one is free?”)
Still, if I end up with an equipment upgrade, it isn’t like I throw it away. I do refuse to play the lockbox game though. Yet another wrinkle in the whole free to play scheme of things. Hand out locked boxes, but sell the keys. We hates it, and the work that went to create it. My primary complaint about free to play remains that the game becomes focused on getting you to make that next purchase rather than keeping you subscribed. But it is a mixed bag and there are good points as well.
Other than that, it has been a reasonable revisiting of Middle-earth so far. There is still much I like about the game, not the least of which is the sense of being in Middle-earth when you are out and about, away from the quest hubs, when you have turned off the general chat channels, and you come across some odd ruin or bandit camp or other feature that the game doesn’t even require you to see, but is just there because it helps set the tone and atmosphere for the occasional adventurer that stumbles across it.
There is still good in the world.
Decisions and Inventory Management July 8, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Design, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
Tags: A lot of words, No Real Point
Why doesn't every MMO have a "sell all trash" button… first thing I notice when I play one that doesn't. Bag management is not fun ever.—
Belghast (@belghast) June 27, 2013
I must agree. I love that button. I feel that pain all the more because I am playing Lord of the Rings Online at the moment, which makes vendoring items about twice as annoying as most other MMO I have experienced. Meanwhile, Rift has put that button in the cash shop, so you can rid yourself of vendor trash wherever you may be.
Well… at least I agree at that instant, gut reaction, convenience level. Long live the button!
Hell, as one person responded to that tweet, why have gray items at all? If you want to reward players, just drop coin and be done with it.
But then I start thinking about how we got there in the first place, which seems to me to be a convergence of a couple of things.
First there is the reality of currency and the fact that wild animals rarely ever carry any at all. If you want to give your players a currency reward for every kill, then you have to do it indirectly with item drops or explain why your wildlife feels the need to have coinage on them at all times… and how they carry it.
Granted, these sorts of drops do not necessarily have to be vendor trash. LOTRO has turned those gray remains into quest items that generate a little experience and a small boost with the local faction, though in the end I still vendor them most of the time because I usually need cash more than faction.
I will call that the lesser reason for gray drops. It could be worked around it in all sorts of ways if you set your mind to it.
Then there is what I think of as the greater reason, which is essentially to drive us crazy.
Well, not explicitly. That is just a side effect for some.
It really is/was a way to put constraints around the game to force us to make choices rather than simply having things our own way. This aspect has some deep roots.
Much meandering on that after the cut.
June in Review June 30, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, Rift.
Tags: Google Reader
I was going to grouse about WordPress.com changing up the blog admin UI yet again, especially since it appeared to be change merely for the sake of change, but what is the point? Having pretty much perfected Word in version 5.1a hasn’t stopped Microsoft from revamping its UI over and over in the intervening 20 years.
I will just illustrate what a crank I can be.
Instead I am going to grouse about something that may actually impact the site, the demise of Google Reader. My secret hopes for a reprieve or an integration into Google + appear to have been folly.
And when iGoogle goes away in a couple of months, Google will just be a search engine again as far as I am concerned.
Google Reader has been, for years at this point, the most common RSS reader listed in my blog stats by a wide margin. It is simple, they have only pissed off people with UI changes on rare occasions, and most people likely to be reading blogs seriously probably already had a Google account, so there was little friction getting into it.
With its pending demise, there has been a lot of talk about what services to look into. But only six weeks ago half of the people who responded to my poll on the topic said they were still using Google Reader. Since then, NetVibes has started climbing in my stats, as has The Old Reader. But Google Reader still tops the chart.
After tomorrow though, Google Reader will be no more. And I wonder if the absence of an easy to access, basic RSS app like Google Reader will end blog reading for some portion of the community.
Expect yet another poll on the subject this week.
One Year Ago
I was asking people about voice software again. That poll is still open.
I went on about the ridiculous nature of material tiers for MMO crafting.
My daughter finally found a game she liked on the PS3.
Everything we knew about EverQuest Next was declared obsolete. It wasn’t all that much really.
Turbine announced the Riders of Rohan expansion, the first LOTRO expansion I declined to buy. For somebody still in Moria, it seemed to offer few benefits for its increased price relative to past expansions.
In Rift I hit level 50, which is a special thing in game, and started tinkering with the then new instant adventure option. Trion also announced the Storm Legion expansion, a sign of success for most subscription based MMOs.
And, finally there was Electronic Arts which, as part of its ongoing mission to be seen as the most arrogant company in gaming, tried to tell people that Origin was the Nordstrom to Steam’s Target level business model, unintentionally insulting Nordstrom, which actually cares about customer service before the fact, not just after it has screwed the pooch yet again. EA says they “get it” but I have my doubts.
Five Years Ago
The big news was Blizzard announcing Diablo III. Of course, they didn’t announce a ship date. Still, we were all primed for the announcement, there having been a surge in Diablo II nostalgia at the time.
The Empyrean Age was upon us in EVE Online, if you could stay logged in. CCP went looking for a fix and found one eventually. When I could get a break on connectivity I went out to try a factional warfare mission. It did not go well. After that I moved back to Amarr space again and started in on level 4 missions. And while that was going on, the skill point meter rolled over to 20 million.
Norrath was calling as SOE launched their huge Living Legacy marketing campaign. I picked up some nifty stuff in EverQuest, but never really got rolling with EverQuest II during the promotion. Of course, not everybody was happy about the campaign. The phrase “a slap in the face” was used by some. I never got around to a post about that involving the prodigal son (I still have the notes) though I did wonder what sparked this campaign.
New Linking Blogs
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in June
For some reason my “Feedback Issue” post, which was almost unanimously shot down by comments here declaring that it is a practical impossibility to hide numbers from users so we shouldn’t ever try, was posted to Reddit. That in turn got a lot of people to come view it, though no visitor from Reddit left a comment about it either here or back on Reddit. Another internet mystery.
- The Feedback Issue – Which Weapon Should I Use?
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- PlayStation 4 Wins
- To War! We are Invading Fountain!
- What is it with Me and Storm Legion?
- Quote of the Day – The Strategy for the Conquest of Fountain
- EVE Online – The Odyssey Begins
- Walltreipers Alliance Defeated – Conquest of Delve Complete
- Meeting Up in Rift After the Big Change
- Thinking On Tank Crew Skills
- Neverwinter at First Blush
- Quote of the Day – It’s All About the Equity
Search Terms of the Month
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[Then move away slowly, maintaining eye contact]
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[A long and storied history there]
mmos that have music
[Regrettably, all of them insist on it despite most coming up with forgettable pap]
team edward to norrath game
[I knew that vampire race would be an issue]
The war in Fountain dominates my time there. Fleet ops are frequent enough that I can generally find one to join in on to help do my part in the war. And even the ones you expect to be dull, like following Suas around to blow up SBUs, can turn out exciting when Retirement Club decides to send out a Munnin fleet to stop you. Not that any fleet with Suas leading is ever dull.
How the war is going… well… that is a different tale altogether. Both sides claim to be winning. Neither side can actually produce irrefutable evidence that this is the case. So it seems like the fail cascade has yet to come.
Lord of the Rings Online
Back in Middle-earth, my main character… and I am trying hard to focus on just the one character… has passed through all of the well worn content I am so familiar and comfortable with and is in that 40-50 gap before Moria. It looks like I might get a second character into the nearly five year old expansion. But can I get him out the other side and into Mirkwood?
Trion has gone all-in on the free to play front, making the cash shop the interface for all your currency transaction in-game. Unlike LOTRO of EQ2, where you can avoid opening up the cash shop, in Rift any vendor transaction requires you to go into the the den of RMT. Will this constant exposure to RMT currency goodies lead to greater success? I suppose we shall see. Right now we are in the happy time. Check back in a year.
The war in Fountain goes on, so I suspect that will continue to dominate my time in New Eden. Moria looms in LOTRO. There is a possibility that the Saturday night group might all be on at the same time at some point, though given that we have only managed that feat once so far in 2013, I wouldn’t put money on that.
Summer means that there will be a Steam Summer Sale at some point. Given that I don’t play most of the games I have on Steam as it is… will probably have no bearing when something I want but don’t need is marked down some crazy amount. I am looking for Skyrim under $20.
A new expansion for Civilization V will be out soon. I pre-ordered. It will add in more features that were back Civ II, like trade routes. I would just play Civ II for that, but I still cannot find the damn disk. No idea where I lost it.
Outfitted by the Wardens of Annuminas June 19, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Annuminas, Evendim
What with a war on in EVE, I haven’t spent as much time in LOTRO as I might have otherwise. But I still manage to get into Middle-earth now and again when fleets are not forming or I do not have the time set aside for what might turn out to be a multi-hour operation.
My last post on LORTO was saying, “Oh wow, I am in the Lone Lands already!“
This time around I am saying, “Oh wow, I am done with the Lone Lands already!”
I have been trying not to pass the guild designated goal levels, which hasn’t been that hard, since it seems like every time I get close they go up. I thought I might stop in the Lone Lands, but then the bar was raised to 35. And once I hit 30 around Ost Guruth I decided to wrap up my time in the Lone Lands. There was more to do. I had not yet finished up the Red Maid or the swamp area. But I was ready to move on.
I like the Lone Lands as a zone. There is a comfort going through it, knowing where to go for all the quests. It is the one zone where I really feel like a ranger, so familiar am I with the terrain. But at best now it ranks as my second favorite zone, at when I hit level 30 I was ready to go to my current favorite: Evendim.
Revamped Evendim that is, not the original which caused so much pain… and required so much swimming… back in the day.
You can certainly make the case that it should not be my favorite. It is designed in a way that has been declared “bad” by those who purport to know best. In a game where the now maligned quest hub structure is common, Evendim takes the quest hub idea almost to extremes.
You show up at a quest hub, you get a quest with a big reward that essentially tells you that you must do the quests of a handful of other NPCs in order to get that reward, and then you are stuck servicing all their varied whims.
That might have ended badly had the quest design not been above par for the game. There are the requisite “go kill an oddly specific number of something” quests, but they are well leavened with all sorts of other different, and sometimes goofy, tasks. Like collecting farm animals for hobbits.
You also get to set things on fire now and again. The zone seems to set you against the idea of boats.
And occasionally being asked to go to some high point in the zone simply to look (/look command) at the zone around you, which if nothing else puts the grandeur of the zone right in your face so you can’t miss it.
The quests are also pretty well focused around the story line of the given location. They give a feeling that there is a legitimate task at hand and that you are helping them along with something more urgent than, say, collecting lynx pelts so they will have warm clothes for winter.
And then there are the rewards for the zone. The Wardens have their own currency which can buy three pieces of very nice gear and getting your standing with them up to the “kindred” level opens up some more options. Finally, finishing out the quest line in the zone fills in a few more pieces, leaving you rather well equipped if you finish the zone.
So far I have managed to horde enough of the currency to buy the three pieces of the Forgotten Hope armor set available from Cannuion.
I also managed to make it “kindred” status with the wardens rather quickly this time around. In the past I have been well into the final set of quests in the heart of Annuminas before getting there. This time around I was a “made warden” before I got to the series of quests at the tombs of the kings.
That opened up my next weapon, the level 40 halberd from the reputation vendor as well as the special mount.
I am now level 39… because our goal level got raised to 50… and on the last couple of quests in Annuminas, after which I will have the final piece of the captain’s Forgotten Hope armor set and be done with the zone. Of course, that last bit is a doozy, even with Orchalwë and my herald in tow. Actually, especially with those two in tow, as they seen to find joy in pulling in adds. But even if they were perfect, the the Banners of the Iron crown is a tough nut to crack alone, and I have to go in there no matter what, as it is also the final location to finish off Orchalwë mission. I might have to get Gaff over to help me.
Then I will be fully outfitted, level 40, and ready for the next zone. I am clearly not playing enough alts if I am moving this fast. And, honestly, I have stopped so often in the past at this point, I am not quite sure what the next zone is.
Angmar I think. Off to Angmar.
May in Review May 31, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, Rift.
1 comment so far
Aside from putting all of my banners in a post where I (and everybody else) can easily find them, general site related news has been pretty slim. And after a month of record setting page views, things are back down to the level of mere mortals… and down a bit from even there. Not writing as much about actual games takes its toll.
So this month I will do what I often do, and pick on some dubious WordPress.com feature.
This month: Reblogging.
If you have a WordPress.com hosted blog and you use the somewhat dubious WordPress.com Reader (let’s just say it is not going to replace Google Reader in its current state), among the options you get is to reblog the posts you read.
And if you click that, you get a short excerpt of the post added to your own blog as an independent post.
Which is okay, I guess.
It appears to be an attempt be a bit like Tumblr, where people with picture focused… Tumblrs… repost from each other all the time, which means you will see the same picture over and over in whichever of the many Tumblr silos you happen to follow.
However, with WordPress, it looks kind of awkward. The post before this one is a reblog, so you can see what I mean. I picked on Tesh for this, since he has pictures, which adds to the effect.
All of which is neither here nor there, except that 99% of the time I see anybody use this feature is in attempt to create some insta-blog with content. At least three times I have had some blogger reblog every single post on my other blog, EVE Online Pictures. I can see no good reason to spend the time doing that.
Since my other blog is all pictures, I think maybe those rebloggers really belong on Tumblr. Or maybe my picture blog does.
One Year Ago
I played Portal finally. Now Zoidberg makes the cake joke!
I wrote about camping rare mobs and how this all came from the fact that MUDs used to crash pretty often.
There was the Newbie Blogger Initiative thing. I summed that up already this month.
On the Fippy Darkpaw server, The Gates of Discord unlock vote shut down that expansion. This caused some hard feelings. And then it failed the vote again.
38 Studios went tits up due to managerial incompetence. Not how you run a start up. But the myth of what greatness might have been lives on, fostered primarily by those whose reputations would benefit from such tales.
The instance group was clearing out King’s Breach.
Diablo III came out and… error 37. Then error 75. And installer problems. High expectations, huge sales, its always online nature, and memories of past Diablo games probably doomed it the eyes of many. Still, we played it a bit. I compared it to the beta version of Torchlight II, its primary foe in the click to kill genre. I moaned about atmosphere and the influence of WoW on it.
And then I complained about talent trees. Most people seem to like them more than I do.
But mostly I was on about EVE Online. There was a summary of Burn Jita. Hulkageddon V came and sort of went. There were spoils from the war in the north to be handed out. OTEC actually got out there, putting aside differences, to defend its financial interests. We blew up an IRC CSAA in Cobalt Edge. There was a question as to whether PLEX was cheating. I mined in null sec for the first, and so far only, time. There were stats about Escalation and Hulkageddon and just ships being blown up in general. And I made a post around John Smeldley’s tweet about Drakes and new missile graphics. He dropped me a note in reply. Turns out he is not only a huge EVE Online fan, but was in the CFC as well. As Mittens would say, one of us.
Five Years Ago
In EVE Online CCP gave us a date for the Empyrean Age as well as giving us all a gift on the five year anniversary of the game. Meanwhile I was building battleships, refining my Drake fittings, and laughing at a the EVE Online guide to talking smack.
Oh, and I was being propositioned in a standard Goon scam.
New Liking Blogs
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in May
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- So What is the Verdict on Google Reader Alternatives?
- Further Mutterings about MMO Revenue Models
- New Blogger Initiative a Year Later – Who Survived?
- It is Never Too Late to Head to Mordor
- Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
- Memories, Timelines, and the Bigger Picture
- Rift to go Free to Play on June 12
- Diablo III – Now Featuring Hyperinflation
- Party in Amarr – EVE Celebrates 10 Years
- Blizzard – WoW Subscribers and the Diablo III Economy
- The First Computer Game I Ever Played
Spam Comment of the Month
Spamhaus a bunch of liars and criminals
Spreads slander about isps and their customers
Blackmails ISPs to comply to their rediculous “demands”
[two additional pages in the same vein cut]
When I get semi-literate automated comment spam claiming that an organization dedicated to fighting spam is bad, I want to applaud their work. Spamhaus must be doing a good job if spammers are taking time out of their evil ways to criticize them. Poor spammers are sounding butt hurt. Plus who doesn’t love to nitpick about the difference between slander (spoken) and libel (written). Though who knows, maybe Spamhaus is saying things aloud about spammers as well as publishing lists.
It has been relatively quiet for me in EVE. There was the 10 year anniversary. I did go on a couple of small fleet ops. I actually ratted a bit to earn some ISK. Mostly I have been training skills, which is something that goes on with little interaction from me. The goal, I think, is a carrier. I am currently working on Jump Drive Calibration V. And I am about to hit 99 million skill points.
Lord of the Rings Online
The approach of summer has seen a return to Middle-earth. How far will we get? We shall see. I am already into the Lone Lands, a place where many a summer group has left off. I have to say that now, after six years, the lifetime subscription I purchased back at launch was officially a good deal.
We have started to look into this. I am not sure where it will lead yet.
Rift seems to be on the back burner for now. It goes free to play next month. We shall see what that ends up meaning in the both the short and long term. Details have been sparse. One interesting idea that has been broached is selling additional crafting skill slots, so you could work with fewer alts. But would you spend $50 to have one character with all the professions?
World of Tanks
Somewhere along the line I just stopped playing this in May. I am not sure when. So call it a break. I still have more than half a year in which to make it to my tier IX tank goal. There is always the 8.6 update and all the arty changes to come.
As mentioned, Rift goes free to play next month. That should at least make for some discussion if they find some new way to serve up F2P.
In EVE Online, the Odyssey expansion comes out. That will shake some things up in null sec, to the point that there is a promise of war. Fun stuff.
And, at some point over the next month, barring a last minute reprieve, I am going to have to have to switch from Google Reader to some other RSS feed reading tool. Despite all the helpful feedback, I am not sure where I will go yet.
Suddenly in the Lone Lands May 29, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Brandywine, Lone Lands
I have made it to the Lone Lands already, twice over.
There was a bit of a push in our kinship to get to level 25 ASAP, with the intent of doing the Great Barrow in kinship groups… erm… fellowships. Kinship fellowships just sounds odd.
So I put in a bit of effort to get there, though not as much as I expected I would have to. The levels flew by. If I spent time running down quest lined in one zone it inevitably pushed me beyond the level requirements of the next. I hit 20, which is when the game prompts you to head out to the Lone Lands, having completely bypassed Adso’s camp and almost all of the north and south Bree fields as well as The Old Forest and the Barrow Downs, except for my visit with Tom Bombadil, which is part of the epic quest line.
Granted, it helps that by this point in my relationship with the game I know most of the quests. Not a lot of time is wasted figuring out where to go or what to do, though I do get ahead of myself once in a while.
And it also helps having the right rock in your pocket.
Of course, it is hard to tell exactly how much that pocket item hurried me along.
Traditionally, LOTRO has given the lion’s share of experience for quest completion, while monster kills have tended to be a pretty meager second source of experience. Likewise, they have added experience to harvesting and crafting, but the actual experience per action is pretty small. However, I did go explorer with my two highest level characters, so I did do a lot of harvesting and processing, so quantity probably made up for the small individual contribution of each action.
I suppose I will see once I catch up with the group and swap that rock out with something else.
Interestingly, the LOTRO store also sells a pocket item that turns off all exp. I am not sure I would spend Turbine Points on that yet.
Despite my start with a hunter, and then a short diversion with a lore master and then a champion, I think my group character this time around will be a captain. I have never played one in a group, though they seem ideal for such. A test with a skirmish showed the benefits. I was even able to keep Pengail alive during his goblin murder spree without much effort, thanks to the captain skills.
They actually seem to have tweaked Pengail a bit. I seem to recall him going half a mile out of his way to gank a goblin who he thought might have looked at him cross-eyed, but now he seems to be content just to murder those who get within aggro radius. Still, he is easily one of the more aggressive escort quest mobs in the history of the genre. He does hate goblins.
So, plumed hat at a jaunty angle and my armsman in tow, my captain is just about set for the Great Barrow.
Now to see if I can keep the alts under control. Those crafting materials pile up and it is always tempting to make an alt just to use them up.
Charting the Relative Natures of MMO Economies May 28, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Charts and Graphs, I could make a little list, MMO Economy
I think that by this point in time, some fifteen years down the road from the launch of Ultima Online, having a player economy is one of the hallmarks of games I consider to be MMOs, at least when I use the term.
If there is no player to player economy, then the game is something else to my mind. World of Tanks, not an MMO in my book. EverQuest certainly is.
And desire for a player driven economy stems from the deep in the roots of the genre.
In 1993 I was playing TorilMUD, arguably the precursor of EverQuest, which was very much a gear driven game. Despite there being no mechanism at all to handle or encourage a player economy, one spontaneously appeared. The desire to exchange gear for trade or coin, the need to create an economy, was so strong that an unofficial one was started and developed its own rules and customs. And it became popular enough that there were standard prices for certain items. We would sit around in Waterdeep and people would do shout auctions for items, which you would bid on with a direct tell to the seller. And it you were looking for something, you would shout out a “want to buy” or WTB.
The economy become very popular very quickly, to the point that the people running TorilMUD were not quite sure what to do with it. First they tried to contain the amount of spam it caused in town, putting a limit on the number of yells you could do over a given period of time and then by trying to get us to do this in a single room rather than shouting across a whole zone. Eventually, an auction house was implemented, though the devs put the auctioneer in out of the way places, as I think they were still suspicious of the player driven economy.
This suspicion came, in part, from the fact that the player driven economy pointed out flaws in the game. With little to spend the in-game currency on besides items from other players, some people began to amass huge quantities of cash. This, of course, drove up the price of everything in the player economy because the long term players could afford to drop a lot of coins on things they wanted for themselves or alts.
But the whole sinks and faucets and inflation aspect of the currency is another discussion.
Likewise, when EverQuest launched, there were no tools to drive a player economy. It formed around the Commonlands tunnel where people would go to buy and sell, very much in the model of TorilMUD. This popped up again for a bit on the progression servers, at least until the bazaar showed up.
I was thinking about all of this and trying to fit MMO player economies into a two dimensional system for comparison.
What I came up with was how much of a requirement the player economy was to play the game and how much friction there was to engaging in the player economy.
The first seems pretty reasonable to gauge. Can you play the game, or can you get very far in the game, without engaging in the player economy. For example, in EVE Online, you have to use the player economy to play the game. You could, I suppose, try to avoid it. In fact, it might be an interesting experiment to see what you could do without it. But I imagine that it would be a long, slow grind to completely avoid the market and it would limit what you could accomplish.
Most other MMOs make the player economy somewhat optional, and have moved more in that direction over time. The combination of quest rewards and game difficulty have moved in the direction of keeping players independent of the player economy.
Friction, on the other hand, encompasses a whole range of things, such as:
- How easy is it to access the market?
- How easy is it to buy and take delivery?
- How good is the UI?
- How high are the fees/taxes on transactions?
- How stable is pricing?
- Do enough people use the economy to make it viable?
And it is with this that you start to get all over the map. For example, Guild Wars 2 and EVE Online are oddly similar in how easy it is to view the market. You can bring it up in the UI wherever you are. On the other hand, while GW2 shows you everything on the market in the game, EVE limits you to your current region.
Anyway, in order to compare these, I made a little graph and put down where I thought certain games might sit on those two continuum. This is what I ended up with.
The X axis is friction, and the mixed bag of items that represents. The Y axis is how much of a requirement it is to engage in the player driven economy. For a few games I made entries for past states of the game and how they seem currently.
EVE Online is, of course, the game furthest down the required end of the spectrum. I also put it midway along the high end of the friction scale. On the one hand the market is chopped up by regions, there is no delivery so you have to go get the item from the station in which it was listed, this leads to interesting price differentials based on convenience, there is a double tax/fee system, and then there is the whole contracts economy to confuse the issue. And pity the poor capsuleer in the middle of nowhere in need of something.
Mitigating that friction is that if you go to the right system, usually Jita, you can find what you want to buy, and there are so many buyers and sellers competing that there is price stability.
At the other end of things is Guild Wars 2, where you can list to sell anywhere and just have to find the right NPC to pick up items you have purchased and proceeds from sales. The friction is so low that low that lots of people engage in the economy, so commodities for crafting and the like are readily available at reasonable prices. How much a player is really required to participate is a wild guess on my part. Gear provided by your personal quest line seemed good if you kept up, but I have no idea if that carries on through the game.
In the middle, well, a few other games. I ranked LOTRO‘s friction higher than most because of the low participation and the annoying locations and mediocre UI of the auctioneers. On the other hand, you don’t really need it, and doubly so since Turbine started selling very good armor in the cash shop.
EverQuest II was high friction at launch in some ways… you had to be online to sell, sales were restricted to the storage space of your home (which you had to have to sell), and fees pushed players to go visit players directly in their homes. And, if you were crafting at the time, there was the interdependence of the crafting skills that required you to use the market or use up your four character slots to make crafting alts. On the other hand, when you buy something on the broker in EQII, it appears right in your inventory. A lot of that got smoothed out over time, but dependence on the broker went with a lot of that.
EverQuest started at high friction, you had to be online and see the right person on the auction channel selling something you wanted. Later the Bazaar came and you could get a listing, but sellers had to be online, in the Bazaar, and you had to go find them. Finally, things got to offline selling in the more recent expansions, though I think you still have to show up at the Bazaar.
I ranked TorilMUD even higher on friction, if only because the player base was so much smaller. When your player population is a few hundred, and only 256 can be on at a time, your buying and selling options are pretty limited.
And in the middle there is World of Warcraft, which used to have a segmented market, but which has since been unified. The UI for it has gotten better over time, and the addons for playing the auction house have grown more sophisticated, but the need for the auction house has diminished over time as quest rewards in the form of gear have become more regular and standardized through the leveling process.
So there is my chart. It is pretty much a gut-level, unsubstantiated work at this point. Where do you think I am right and where am I clearly wrong? And where would other games fit on the chart?
And, of course, where do you think MMOs should sit on that chart? What would be ideal, if anything?
It is Never Too Late to Head to Mordor May 20, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Brandywine, Free-To-Play
I stood again in Middle-earth.
In was in Archet, one of the small towns around Bree, and the forces of Sauron prepared to strike.
I was in Lord of the Rings Online.
My new character was set to start out on the long… six years long at this point which, if we were following the timeline of the books, would put us past the Grey Havens and into the Fourth Age… road to Mordor to throw down the dark lord.
Or, more likely, to get about as far as Rivendell then give up in a fit of ennui and go off to play some other game.
About two years back I wrote a post titled “LOTRO – Our Story So Far” that covered the various “ages” of the game for myself and our group. I probably need to update it. At that point we had been through three “ages,” which were launch, return, and return again, each time on a different server, rolling up fresh characters. The fourth time was going to be different, as we were going to pick up again on the same server. And I did make it into Moria that time around.
But eventually that petered out for the group, once again at the far end of the Lone Lands. I have been through the Lone Lands enough times that when NPCs greet me by name, I am pretty sure it goes beyond simple coding.
There was a fifth run at the game at some point last year, when I joined the Nazgun on yet another server, with the usual result. I have characters at least into their 30s on Windfola, Nimrodel, Firefoot, and Silverlode.
And now I am at what I would guess is the sixth “age,” joining our EVE corp in Middle-earth. Of course, while the odds of picking a server where I already have a character grows ever higher as the years go by, they still missed. And so I ended up rolling fresh on the Brandywine server.
Much is still the same with LOTRO, including my need to take the same screen shots every time.
Since it is time again for another plunge into Tolkienland Online, I thought I would mention a bit of what has changed in virtual Middle-earth.
More after the cut due to an excess of pictures and uninformed opinions.