Hear Charles Foster Kane Utter His Last Words! August 17, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Citizen Kane, Riders of Rohan
We are getting close to the release of the Rohan expansion for Lord of the Rings Online, and as such they are sending out more email messages promoting the expansion in addition to their weekly updates as to what is going on sale in the cash shop.
And in doing so, they start walking a dangerous path. Again.
Being based on a story, part of the charm, the vision, the very raison d’etre is to make you and your character part of that story. And so they build up the game and its connection with the story like this.
For the sake of those who cannot read the print and who refuse to click on the image to make it larger, the ad invites the player to:
- Witness the breaking of the fellowship
- Experience the fall of Boromir
- Take part in Frodo’s decision to set towards Mordor alone
- Aid Eomer in his quest to defend Rohan
Wow, get right into things! Can I hold Gandalf’s bathrobe while he reanimates?
There is the purist point of view to consider though. There is that piece of me that always cringes a bit when playing a game as free form as an MMO that is set to take place in a story that has already been written.
Now, one of the greatest aspects of the game is the attention drawn to the fact that while Frodo was off on his adventure, a lot of other stuff was going on in a world full of people not necessarily worried about magic rings. Battles were fought, towns were burned, and partisans from both sides of the conflict go in their own hits. And a lot of other people simply tried to get on with their lives feeding livestock, drying tobacco, and losing farm implements all over their fields.
But the game wouldn’t really come together as well if the whole thing was “A Day in the Life of Will Whitfoot” run repeatedly like a Middle-earth Groundhog Day. You can’t go around trying not to mention the war.
So we meet the characters from the books, Gandalf, Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, and so forth at various junctures when it is… safe. You talk to Gandalf and Aragorn in the Prancing Pony before Frodo and friends show up. You find yourself up at Weathertop after they have passed. And you meet up with them in Rivendell when they are recovering, a time when I am sure they met a lot of people, so what is a couple hundred thousand more?
And even then, Turbine has to keep you involved with the main story thread, even if you are just a side story. And so we get the ad pictured above. The main story is why most of us showed up, even if we end up doing other things. And I have to imagine that the claims are not literally true, that we might be treated to cut scenes illustrated at least some of those points.
Frodo’s decision to strike out for Mordor was, for example, one he made alone. Sam only showed up by accident while Gollum was lurking about… and was drawn to Frodo by the ring in any case.
So while riding with Eomer to defend Rohan might be acceptable… who knows what manner of folk he might have picked up, even if they were suspicious of strangers… the rest seem unlikely to be anything your character will witness first hand if Turbine is sticking to the story.
But it still gives me pause. It makes me wonder if they might not try an inject individual players into an instanced version of some of these events. We shall see, I suppose.
Or you might see… I am still back in Moria cleaning up all the stuff stirred up by the fellowship when they came through. I did always wonder what happened to many of these places after the main characters passed through.
As for the odd title of this post, I was inspired by an article over at Cracked.com about plot holes in classic motion pictures. The claim was that in Citizen Kane nobody was there to hear Charles Foster Kane utter his final words at the start of the film, and so that the whole search for “Rosebud” should have never come to pass.
Only that turned out to be wrong. As is almost never the case, the cliche that “the butler did it” turned out to be true.
You just cannot believe everything you read on the internet. That includes ads from game companies I am sure.
Will Nostalgia Be Solely the Domain of EverQuest? July 30, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Fippy Darkpaw, Nostalgia, Progression Server
The discussion of problems in the Progression server area of the EverQuest forums generally falls into two categories; specific issues and general issues.
Specific issues are things you probably expect. A given NPC isn’t spawning or doesn’t drop the right item. A specific quest is broken. (Or in the case of the newbie armor quests, a whole bunch were broken.) The Station Cash store is selling things that shouldn’t really be available.
These threads are generally not that interesting, unless the issue in question affects your play.
And then there are the general issues, which often boil down to “people are jerks.” (Which, I think is necessary for the authentic EverQuest experience.) I find these much more interesting. The topics can range from hacking to player behavior to the rate at which the various expansions are unlocked. There was a good one started recently.
These threads bring out the various faction, which include those who want a server locked in time at some past expansion (though which expansion is always up for debate), those who see the whole thing as a race to be first to slay the key bosses and get geared up, and those who just want a taste of the “good old days,” along with various views in between.
And in those discussions, one of the points often brought up is what people think SOE should do for the NEXT round of progression servers. People seem quite confident that there will be a next round.
This is because SOE seems to be quite happy playing the nostalgia card when it comes to EverQuest.
SOE plays up every anniversary. They used the “hardcore heritage” as part of their marketing in the Living Legacy campaign. And they have seen fit to roll up special servers in the past. Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak are the second round of progression servers, the first being The Combine and The Sleeper, which showed up back in 2006. And then there was that 51/50 server back in 2009.
Does any other company play the nostalgia card as vigorously as SOE does with EverQuest?
Yes, some games note the passing of anniversaries. And there is a always a “come back and play” promotion going on for one MMO or another at any given moment of time. But that seems to pale in comparison to the lengths to which the EverQuest Live team goes.
Then again, I think EverQuest might be in a unique spot when it comes to playing that card, and not just because it is old. WoW is as old now as when EQ was when the first progression servers were kicked off.
EverQuest has all of those expansions, with 18 to date in its 13 year life. While the expansion train started off slowly, it took a year to get to Kunark, after that SOE was dropping two expansions a year for quite a stretch, each with its own additions to the world of Norrath. Every single one of those added zones to the game, and quite a few added levels or classes or races new game mechanics or some other change to the game.
At the time SOE seemed obsessed with getting out two expansions a year whether they worked or not. Broken content certainly plagued them and caused problems in the community. It wasn’t until WoW came along with its more stately expansion pace that SOE seemed to get the idea that less quantity and more quality might be a better plan. And even then the pace was still one expansion a year.
In hindsight though, this crazy pace of expansions set EverQuest up nicely for the whole nostalgia/progression server role. Each expansion was sold separately and required purchase to access the content. So the game has 19 built-in layers of content, including classic, that can be opened up, each of which expands the world.
Which makes me wonder if anybody else could even pull off this sort of progression style server.
Is there an MMO out there that should be playing the nostalgia card?
Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot both seem ripe for the nostalgia treatment, if only EA were willing. Have they done anything along that line?
EVE Online, with its single server and ongoing quality of life improvements, seems to have excluded itself from nostalgia. Or does somebody really want to go back to the days before “warp to 0?” (I know somebody does.)
Blizzard seems to see World of Warcraft only as a going and growing concern, despite some subscription setbacks, and has no plans for nostalgia. Plus they went and killed all the original content with Cataclysm, so setting up something like a classic server would take a lot more than just turning off the expansions.
EverQuest II is also getting old enough for nostalgia, but I think SOE will leave that card for its older brother. EverQuest II’s role in the world seems to be to push the player tolerance envelope for ugly mounts.
Lord of the Rings Online… might be too young yet. And how different would a server feel with Moria and beyond turned off? Maybe if I had gotten further in the game I could answer that.
And even if these games rolled a server based on original content, it would likely have to follow constraints similar to those that SOE faced with EverQuest. You might be able to play in the old world, but you would likely have to do so with class abilities from the current version of the game.
So what do you think about nostalgia focused MMO servers?
Who else should be playing the nostalgia card?
And is anybody in as good a position to do so as SOE is with EverQuest?
Elemental Absurdity June 11, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Design, Rift.
Tags: trade skills
Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-white, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an estimated average concentration of 1 part per billion (ppb), rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust.
-Opening of Wikipedia article on Rhenium
One of the aspects of the tiered harvesting and crafting systems favored by games like World or Warcraft, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, and Rift is that it really puts a burden on the person in charge of making up names for each new level of raw materials.
For example, in EverQuest II, which adheres to a hard and fast “new stuff every 10 levels” model, here is the list of metals from which you craft armor and weapons:
- Level 1-9 tin (bronze)
- Level 10-19 iron (blackened iron)
- Level 20-29 carbonite (steel)
- Level 30-39 feyiron (feysteel)
- Level 40-49 fulginate(ebon)
- Level 50-59 indium (cobalt)
- Level 60-69 adamantine (xegonite)
- Level 70-79 ferrite (incarnadine)
- Level 80-89 titanium (brellium)
- Level 90 rhenium (tungsten)
Those are the primary metals, with the rare versions (which make better items) in parens. The level indicates what level of crafter you need to be in order to use the material and well as the level range of the gear that can be made from it. (Data taken from a great chart at EQ2 Traders Corner.)
This is not an unusual stack of metals. WoW and Rift do the same. We seem to get tin, copper, and iron into the mix pretty quickly and then quickly launch into the realm of the very rare or mythical. LOTRO tries to walk a line between rare and common by coming up with variations on iron ore, as well as some tin and a something called skram.
So while the thought of armor crafted from adamant of some sort is cool, the whole thing does seem to be get to the point of silliness pretty quickly.
Take, for example, rhenium, whose rarity is attested to at the top of this post. I haven’t been on EQII for a while, but I would bet that on the market right now, rhenium is cheaper in price and more plentiful in supply than any number of the more common items down the stack. This used to be a way I made some quick money in EQII, checking to see which mid-tier harvestables were scarce on the market and then run out and collect some.
And, leaving aside the rarity factor and the technology required to fashion rhenium (a furnace, hammer, and anvil aren’t going to cut it), when it comes down to it, some sort of steel alloy is going to make for a better weapon or base for a suit of armor nine times out of ten.
With all that in mind, I would kind of like to see a fantasy MMORPG go down the EVE Online route for crafting materials. I would like to have some sort of base metal… probably iron… remain useful throughout all tiers of crafting, ala tritanium, which is the common basic building material for most things in EVE online. And then you could introduce different alloys as the crafter’s skill progressed.
This would also make sense in the economic aspect of the game as even new players could harvest iron… which I would imagine would be seeded as a harvestable throughout the game… and then turn around and sell it on the market because the demand for it would be there.
You would have to increase the amount of iron required as the crafter advanced to keep demand up. Perhaps ones advanced harvesting skill would be required to extract less common materials needed for alloys, something that would be more likely to appear in higher level zones.
It might even be interesting see a full-out EVE style crafting system in a fantasy environment, where all the base equipment is player created.
Unfortunately, for most games, crafting is a second tier activity, there to serve the “quest/kill/level” aspect that is central to the game. And that does not promote a sandbox-like crafting environment.
I know that, despite the fact that I pick up some form of crafting/harvesting in every game that allows it, crafting has never been the prime motivator for me. I probably would not go play an MMO solely for the crafting aspect, so something like A Tale in the Desert is out. Combat is a requirement for me.
Is anybody doing a hack and slash fantasy MMORPG with crafting like I brought up?
Riders of Rohan – Higher Prices, Fewer Incentives June 7, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Riders of Rohan, Rise of Isengard
The expansion season must be upon us. We have Rift and Lord of the Rings Online announcing details of their Fall expansions. For Rift, Storm Legion is their first expansion, and first expansions can set a critical precedent. And then there is the LOTRO expansion, Riders of Rohan. Woo hoo, further into Middle-earth!
For Lord of the Rings Online though, precedents have been set, broken, revised, and somewhat standardized over its three expansions. And I own all three, Mines of Moria, Siege of Mirkwood, and the Rise of Isengard. In fact, I pre-ordered them all, in part because I am still enthusiastic about the game five years in, but also because each pre-order offered me a few bennies to sweeten the deal. Mounts, titles, cloaks, and other trinkets.
And it is a damn good thing that they did, because due to my haphazard “Hey, let’s go play with friends on yet another server” approach to the game, I have exactly one character who has made it passed the original 2007 level cap and into Moria. And he is still only level 52!
So I have nearly 20 characters spread across four servers most of whom sit in the level band from the late 20s to the early 40s that essentially represents the “mid game” of the game at launch.
Clearly, when it comes to actual content, none of those purchases has been of much use to me.
And so it is with a critical eye that I examine the pre-order benefits one get with the Riders of Rohan expansion.
As has now become the standard for LOTRO, there are three flavors of the expansion. And they are certainly pushing the good, better, best comparison. They are laid out as Basic, Heroic, Legendary, and colored Bronze, Silver, Gold, as well as being displayed as small, medium, large, just to play on any size phobia you might have.
But, to put the true meaning of Christmas right out there, they are the $40, $50, and $70 versions of the expansion.
Each offers its own level of additions to the game, which I have copied straight from the press release:
- Base Edition $39.99 – Includes the full Riders of Rohan Expansion plus:
- The Steed of the Eastemnet – An exclusive Rohirrim Mount
- Friend of the Mark — An exclusive in-game Rohirrim title
- Pre-Purchase Bonuses:
- Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak — A box of four level 20 statted cloaks that allows you to choose a power bonus for your hero type
- Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape Appearance — Upon reaching level 20, you can customize your Soldier on Landscape with a Rohirrim Appearance
- Heroic Edition $49.99 – Includes the full Riders of Rohan Expansion plus:
- The Steed of the Eastemnet – An exclusive Rohirrim Mount
- Hauberk of the Eastemnet — An exclusive Rohirrim cosmetic chest piece
- Friend of the Mark — An exclusive in-game Rohirrim title
- Evendim, Moria, and Lothlórien Quest Packs — Over 650 quests, 10 fellowship instances, and two raids
- Pre-Purchase Bonuses:
- The Outriders Token — A 25% XP Boost for all characters on your account that will last up to level 75
- Legendary Edition – $69.99 – Includes the full Riders of Rohan Expansion plus:
- The Steed of the Eastemnet – An exclusive Rohirrim Mount available immediately with matching War-steed appearance available when Riders of Rohan launches
- Armor of the Eastemnet — An exclusive full set of Rohirrim cosmetic armour
- Friend of the Mark — An exclusive in-game Rohirrim title
- 6th Inventory Bag – An inventory bag that grants 15 additional storage slots
- Crystal of Remembrance – Adds one additional legacy to your legendary weapon
- Exclusive Rohan Content — Discover the lineage of the great War-steeds and earn a mounted combat deed that grants an exclusive skill for your War-steed
- Pre-Purchase Bonuses:
- Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak — A box of four level 75 statted cloaks that allows you to choose a power bonus for your hero type
So there it is.
Back with the Isengard expansion pre-orders, I was actually tempted by the top tier because it gave you three in-game mounts, three sets of cloaks/armor to match your mounts, 1,000 Turbine points, and was only $50. Yes, with Isengard the price range was $30, $40, and $50. Turbine felt the need to crank up the pricing a notch, something I am not alone in noting. But even then, I went with the base expansion. That gave me enough, a new mount, a nice outfit, the XP boost item, and a special pre-order title.
This time around, there really isn’t much to tempt me at all. Sure, another “I pre-ordered the expansion” title is nice, though that isn’t even a pre-order bonus. The title comes with the expansion no matter what. Level 20 statted cloaks… unless the stats are over powered… are not much of a draw to somebody whose characters are mostly beyond level 30. And the level 75 versions in the legendary set I cannot currently use.
And even the Outriders Token isn’t much use. I have the 25% XP boost pocket item from Isengard still, which is good up to level 65. Since none of my characters are threatening to pass level 65 any time soon, I am in no dire need of an upgrade. And, if things come to pass as they did in Isengard, that stone will be in the Turbine Points store, so if I really feel the need I can buy it for any character that happens to get that far along.
No, the only thing on the whole list above that looks both interesting and immediately useful is the 6th bag slot that comes with the legendary edition and, presumably, is good for all characters, current and future, on an account.
Tubrine has already said that they will be offering up the 6th bag slot in the Turbine Points store when the expansion goes live in September and that it will cost 995 points, which is anywhere from $9-14 depending on how you buy your Turbine Points.
Another 15 slot bag sounds ideal for a pack rat like me. I already have my shared bank slots maxed out as well as the bank slots on my key characters. And, in theory, if I just had to have it on all of my characters on all of the servers on which they live, $70 would be a deal.
But I do not need that. In fact, my latest surge into Middle-earth, on the Silverlode server with the Nazgun, I have been sticking to one character and have done no crafting. Crafting is where I get tied around the axel and start making alts to make use of all the materials and recipes I pick up. With Manteca, my dwarf rune keeper, I have been harvesting, but then just selling at the auction house or vendoring all of the crafting stuff. Mostly vendoring, the auction house in LOTRO remains pretty weak relative to other MMOs.
But Manteca, at level 39, is my most wealthy character in LOTRO by a long shot.
Thus, at most, I need one bag upgrade, unless the instance group jumps to LOTRO again. That seems unlikely.
995 Turbine Points, no matter how I buy them, will cost less than $70. And since I am a lifetime subscriber, and thus get 500 Turbine Points a month as long as I log in, I will likely have accumulated enough points to buy bags for a couple of extra characters along the way by the time the expansion goes live.
So the Riders of Rohan expansion looks interesting. I would like to see new lands and try out mounted combat.
But my lack of focus on a single character over the years and my off-and-on play style with the game has left me far behind the curve. LOTRO is another MMO that has slowly moved away from me. And without a tangible incentive, there really is no reason for me to pre-order the expansion. It seems likely that is content I will never reach.
April in Review April 30, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, Rift.
April was a record month here at TAGN, pulling in the most page views ever for a month as well as setting a new one day record not once but twice.
This was thanks largely to Google and interest in April Fools at Blizzard at the start of the month and the Burn Jita event in EVE Online at the end of the month.
My post with pictures from the first night of the Jita event ended up getting linked at a number of sites, including on CCP’s press site. (They credited another site, Poetic Discourse, but linked here. So I won I guess.)
The event got quite a bit of coverage, getting articles at major sites like EuroGamer, PC Gamer, and Kotaku. In a twist, the one site you would think would cover a player run game event in an MMO, Massively, was strangely quiet on the whole affair. I suspect that they have taken a vow to never mention “Goons” or “The Mittani” again.
My video from the first night also got embedded in quite a few posts, and has become my most popular item on YouTube by a fair margin. I think having a short video with immediate explosions and the UI turned off made it the go-to choice.
What I thought was my best, or most amusing bit, “Is Jita Burning?” was pretty much ignored, except by one Polish site that didn’t bother to attribute the source. At least they embedded my video as well, and according to the YouTube stats, a lot of people viewed it from there.
The reference itself was probably too obscure for kids these days. Or maybe, like so many things, it was just amusing to me.
All in all, a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Things will get back to normal soon I suspect, since most everybody else wants to talk about Guild Wars 2, something I am not writing about pre-launch.
One Year Ago
I also wrote something about magic quadrants.
Sanya Weathers had one of the best quotes about MMO gamers ever, made all the more amusing by its truth.
Battlefront.com released a completely new version of their original WWII Combat Mission series.
Wargaming.net released World of Tanks.
SOE’s spy themed MMO, The Agency, was officially cancelled.
The instance group got together and decided to try out EverQuest II Extended, the one-time separate free to play version of EverQuest II. However, the game immediately began to kick us in the teeth for daring to do solo content as a group.
Being there in EQIIx also meant looking at what the cash store had to offer. Some of this stuff is gone now in the post merger era of EQII. Flying mounts are still around. And some idea, like selling max-level characters, never made it to prime time.
And Potshot and I were still playing EverQuest. We moved on from Unrest to Lake Rathetear and spent an evening there. Then it was on to Kerra Island and finally we made it to Runnyeye, at which point SOE also went down due to the PSN hacking. That pretty much ended our EverQuest adventures for 2011.
I did have to explain EverQuest to my daughter. Her foundation in MMOs is World of Warcraft.
Five Years Ago
Back in April 2007 we were wondering what was going to happen with Sigil Games Online after their less than stellar Vanguard launch. (*snort*) There was much speculation. Soon, however, we would be free from the rambling posts of Aradune.
While our WoW group was winding down for the summer, with Earl off to Broadway, the remaining four of us went off to Middle-earth with the launch of LOTRO. Titles were the new thing! A year later, I still have yet to get any of those emote titles.
I answered the musical meme question, “Five Reasons Why I Blog.”
Van Hemlock was leet.
Our Wii finally came out of the box.
And, finally, I had a problem with a video card that eventually had to be RMA’d, which sounds a lot like the next April as well. At least it did not turn into a yearly thing.
Old/New Linking Sites
For the first time in more than five years, I was unable to find two sites not previously mentioned that included me on their blogroll. I rather expected this day to come much sooner than it did. So now, at last, I will go to my original plan of starting back at the top of the list and mentioning sites that are still active and which still have me in the blogroll. Thanks to my great survey of linking blogs, I have that list to hand.
So this month I thank, again, the following sites!
- Kill Ten Rats – A little more Zubon and a little less Ethic, but still good
- Kinless Chronicles – Actually at a new address now
- MMO Quests – All Wurm Online all the time these days
- VirginWorlds.com – A bit neglected, but still alive
- World IV – Pretty quiet these days
Please take a moment to visit them, if they are not already regular stops for you.
Most Viewed Posts in April
A heavy emphasis on EVE Online this month, and Jita especially.
- April Fools at Blizzard – 2012
- When in Rome Do as the Goons – Jita, Hulkageddon, and the EVE Economy
- Scenes from a Burning Jita – First Night
- Travel Advisory – Conflict in Jita
- Reshiram and Zekrom Download Event for Pokemon Black and White
- Hulkageddon V: Unholy Union – Coming Soon
- LEGO Rifter? Do Want!
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- Hulkageddon, Technetium, and the Circle of Life
- Burn Jita – Video from the Jita 4-4 Undock
- Is Jita Burning?
- The Return of the RAZOR Alliance to Tenal
Deleted Comment of the Month
Do these guys ever have time to get laid?
[Normally I reserve deletion for the incoherently obscene, but this was so generic and so off-topic that I refused to let it pass. Can you even tell me what post this was left on?]
Search Terms of the Month – Alternate Character Set Edition
[If Google translate is to be believed, this is how somebody in Belarus writes "Dead Pikachu"]
[No idea on this one]
pokemon black להורדה
[Have you ever tried to copy and paste a line of text that contains languages read in opposite directions?]
Цивилизация 2 windows 7
[Interest in running Civ II on Windows 7 has spread to Bulgaria.]
A big month in EVE Online for our Corp/Alliance. The end of the War in the North finally came to pass, something that had dominated my time in null sec since I showed up. It was time to draw down and return to our home systems in Deklein and get back to a peacetime routine. Time to make some ISK.
Then there was the Jita event, which like many others I went to watch rather than participate in. I will have a summing up of that later. And, finally, Hulkageddon V is on, running up until May 29th. This does not impact me directly, as it isn’t really my thing. But the rise is in mineral prices means that I might get out and mine in null sec a bit, where the even doesn’t really have any impact. Anybody who would gank you would get shot at just for showing up.
My time in Norrath tapered off rather dramatically. The same thing happened last year in April, as you will note in the “One Year Ago” section above. At the time I blamed it on the PSN hacking and SOE being down. But maybe it is seasonal. I always get nostalgic in the autumn, maybe spring cures that and I go on to other things? Anyway, not much went on after Potshot and I did our one Lost Dungeon of Norrath.
I am not playing in the beta. I have pretty much decided that I will probably get this game when it finally comes out, so I do not want to spoil things now with a long and change-filled beta cycle. Likewise, gushing fan-boy article and early how-to guides have no real interest for me at this point.
What I am really looking for are the negatives. That may sound bad, but really that is the only thing that will change my course. If the negatives aren’t that bad, I will go ahead. If they are flaming, festering sores, it will impact my buying decision.
So far, the worst I have read is that the game is very much like GuildWars. I didn’t really like GuildWars.
Lord of the Rings Online
The five year anniversary of the game’s launch has been going on, allowing me to remind everybody what a good deal it was buying a lifetime subscription back in 2007. Go me!
The events have been fun enough. They even brought Potshot back for a bit. I went through and got the mounts, then returned to yet another trip through the first 50 levels. I have found that just concentrating on a single character has sped things up a bit. And it has made me richer. That one character has more gold than any two of my others, mostly because I am not squirreling away tradeskill materials for alts. I can sell or auction them.
The instance group has been continuing on with Rift. I haven’t written much about it lately, as we have been doing a couple of quest running nights to get ourselves up to the right level to go into King’s Breach. Everybody is still on board with the game, at least for our once a week group. Aside from Potshot and I fishing though, there is not much group activity in Telara. That does not bode well for a long term commitment from us. But for now, there are plenty of instances left to conquer.
EVE Online will hit its 9 year anniversary in May, and will be giving out some toys to celebrate. That will be worthy of note I am sure. Plus there is Hulkageddon V and some summing up to be done around the Burn Jita event.
The LOTRO 5 year anniversary activities will continue for another week, so I might go get the fireworks laden mount on another character or two.
The instance group is just about at the right level for King’s Breach now, so there will no doubt be an attempt on that.
But the big item for May has to be the launch of Diablo III. Not being an MMO, I suspect I won’t write much about it beyond initial impressions. But the fact that it is out might lead to a quiet period here on the blog in the latter half of May. You have been warned!
Five Years of Lord of the Rings Online April 18, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Meaningless Milestones
It is a strange feeling. MMOs that have launched since I started blogging are starting to hit significant anniversaries. Games I played in beta and blogged about are hitting the five year mark.
And while I didn’t exactly set anything on fire when Vanguard hit the five year mark (I was accused of trolling by some, though that was not my intent), Lord of the Rings Online is a different story. While it hasn’t spent a lot of time as my main game in the course of events, it is a game I keep going back to. Of course, I did by a lifetime subscription at launch, but Star Trek Online proves that even such a subscription isn’t enough to keep me playing.
So there is a big five year anniversary event going on in LOTRO now.
And while I have been playing LOTRO some lately, the anniversary and the promise of gifts was enough to get into game to focus on just that. I will usually log on for some new shiny, and getting a new mount pretty much guarantees it. There is a range of gifts you can get, depending on how old your account is, and since mine dates back to February 22, 2007, I am on board to get them all.
I actually named my account LOTRO BETA back then and only just realized today that I could change it. But you can see my account creation date in there. But as long as you were in the game by June 30, 2007, you qualify for all of the goodies.
The horse was what I really wanted. I won’t spend money on mounts… not very often anyway… but a free one for just showing up and I am there.
That is a nice new mount, with blue finery and a blue flag that waves in the wind while you ride. Manteca is also wearing the blue festival cosmetic gear (I actually bought a new cosmetic slot just to have that available) along with a hat I dyed blue just to go with the whole thing. Why no hat with the gear I wonder?
There were also some consumables to go with it, though I tend to hate those. The +5% to attack damage booster is single use, so I will save it forever in my bag waiting for the right time to use it. And then I will be out in the field and my bags will be full and I will use it just to clear a bag slot. The thought it nice, but I always end up mildly frustrated with those items.
And then there was a “visible to me” upgrade. At least I think it is just visible to me. Maybe it shows up to other people in groups. Anyway, my character portrait got a cosmetic upgrade.
All of which is fine and dandy. I will have to get around to collecting the goodies on all of my characters, which are spread across four servers (Windfola, Nimrodel, Firefoot, and Silverlode), each of which represents a generation of playing LOTRO.
But there is also a series of anniversary events going on in LOTRO. And while there are some nice items to be earned between now and April 30th, I have an ambivalent relationship with in-game events. And because of that, I really have no favorite in-game event.
Sometimes, when I am in the right mood, I will go out and tear through an event. For example, three years back, I cranked through all of the WoW Noblegarden event, primarily because I wanted a pet bunny and a pair of bunny ears. And I had a good time.
But since then I haven’t really done anything when that event rolls around. It is going on now I think, or it just finished, but I could not be bothered. I have my ears and my pet bunny, I do not need to chase any more eggs.
And in LOTRO I have never really been a big fan of any of the events. They have just never struck me at the right time. I get the little party invite in the mail, accept the quest, and then end up deleting it six months later, untouched and incomplete, when purging quests from my log.
So I remain uncertain as to whether I will do anything for the anniversary events this time around, though I did give things a start. The initial quest won’t be lingering for months at least. And there are a few fun looking ones, and fireworks are involved along with the promise of earning another mount or two.
The quests, which are semi-dailies… they all have timers that regulate how often you can repeat them, ranging from 1 to 6 hours from what I have seen… involve a lot of running around or running horse races. I can just barely win the horse race most times. I steer from the keyboard which means I almost always fall off into the muck for the run across the narrow, curving plank bridge and jump the gap part.
I did all of the quests I could find last night once. That did not get me anywhere close to a new mount. But given the number of people I saw riding event prize mounts last night, it is doable if I just press on and run them whenever I can.
We will see how much effort I want to put into that.
Addendum: Casual Stroll to Mordor has an Anniversary Festival guide up now.
Small Features I Want MMOs to Copy April 13, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Little Features
For all the big features in an MMO, all the content, the skills, the special events, it is often the little things… or the lack of little things… that I remember most about a game. Usually when I am playing another game that does not have this little feature or that, and those missing features become like grains of sand in my underwear… not a real problem, but an annoyance that just won’t go away.
So with that in mind, I made a list of little features… mostly little… that I want MMOs to start freely copying from each other.
The 20 Hour Day
Who should be the template: WoW
Who really needs it: EVE Online
A couple of years back Blizzard had a great idea. They put 1 day lockouts on a 20 hour timer. Anything that was “once per day” got a four hour break. And I have cursed at every game that has full 24 hour lock outs ever since.
Inevitably I will end up doing something with a 24 hour lockout, like using a jump clone in EVE Online, at the end of my rather limited week night time window. Unless I end up where I need to be the next night, that night will be a bust, since I won’t be able to jump again until the end of my time window. So I generally just skip playing altogether.
The same goes for Need for Speed World and the gem hunt, a daily activity that went from once per calendar day to once per 24 hours. The gem hunt is the one thing that was getting me to log into the game regularly, and playing regularly is the one thing that will get you to buy stuff from the cash shop. But then I would play late one evening and end up skipping the next… and since prizes are based on how many gem hunts you’ve done in a row, my incentive to go back would suddenly go missing.
Sell All Trash Button
Who should be the template: Rift
Who really needs it: WoW
This is one of those features I didn’t know I needed until I had it. For those who haven’t played Rift, there is a little button at the bottom of the vendor tab that allows to sell all your gray named drops, stuff that is clearly trash, in one fell swoop.
And once you have this button, not having it in another game feels like a huge burden. This is especially the case in WoW, from which Rift has taken both the various levels of loot value and an apparent love of reusing icons. Now that I am playing in Azeroth again, mousing over nearly everything in my always close to full bags just to find that one gray item which some daily quest goodie bag dropped in my inventory has become a painful chore.
WoW so clearly needs it that I am surprised it hasn’t made it into the product yet.
Yes, there are a few addons that do this automatically, but having tried a couple, they all seem to be flawed in some way or another. Plus, I like pressing the button in Rift and seeing my bags cleared on command. There is something very satisfying in that little action.
With other MMOs, the situation is not so clear. EQ2 could use it as well, though gray items are not as prevalent (in my mind at least) as in Rift and WoW, and they occasionally have a use. And LOTRO… well, the whole “sell to the vendor” system needs a rework in my opinion. It is the most awkward system I have run into in a post-WoW game. Plus, in LOTRO, most gray drops can now be turned in for daily faction quests, so you have to figure out which gray its you can really part with first.
Who should be the template: Rift
Who really needs it: Every other MMO I play except EVE
Under most circumstances this Rift feature, which lets you loot all the corpse in a small area with a single click, is nice to have but not essential. The loot area is pretty small, so you will likely have multiple clicks for any big battle, and the interface in Rift is on par with WoW in responsiveness, so looting is a simple click that always works.
And then you get the battle with that leaves you with a big pile of corpses to loot and you are trying to get that one corpse that is at the bottom of the pile with only a toenail sized hot spot to click on. At that point you become a believer. This happens in every game
Key Bindable Names Toggle
Who should be the template: LOTRO
Who really needs it: WoW, Rift
I really like to play with the floating names over the heads of players and NPCs off. And I will go through and turn them off in most games if it is possible. This is one of the many reasons I am so bad at PvP. I am the guy running around the battleground who can’t pick out enemies across the field or behind cover due to a big red name floating over their head.
But some times you are in a crowd or are looking for an NPC and life would just be easier if you could turn on the floating names for just a minute to pick out who is who.
LOTRO does this for me, and they even have a key mapped to do it by default.
Granted, LOTROs choice of font and the way it scales as you move away makes turning off those damn names a necessity in any crowd situation, so it was probably included because of the MMOs I play, it most needed it.
Shared Bank Slots
Who should be the template: EQ2
Who really needs it: Rift, WoW
The shared bank slots in EverQuest II are one of the things that SOE got right on the first try in that game. So much else has had to be reworked time and again, but all they have done with the shared bank slots since launch is add another row!
In fact, the whole slots and boxes approach in EQ2 is almost too good, since it turned me into a serious pack rat in game.
So in EQ2 I can pass huge quantities of things from character to character on the same account using the shared bank slots, while in Rift and WoW I am still mailing things from character to character, or using the guild bank. The guild bank is fine if you have unlimited access, but in a larger guild I am going to guess that just won’t work out.
Easy Hot Bar Lock
Who should be the template: Rift
Who really needs it: LOTRO
This might be another “just me” feature, but I tend to be a clicker and with that comes the need to lock the hot bar buttons lest you find yourself accidentally swapping or deleting them mid-battle. So my hot bars tend to be locked by default.
But then I get new skills or want to rearrange skills on the bar to optimize utility and in games like LOTRO or WoW, I have to dig into the settings and toggle the lock off, do my changes, go back to the setting, and then toggle them back on.
But Trion decided to put the lock toggle right there on the hot bar. So when I want to swap things around it is a quick click and I am going. Plus I always know what state the locking mechanism is in.
You will note that I only say that LOTRO really needs this. WoW gets around it to a certain extent by only locking the removal of hot bar buttons by clicking. If you get a new skill you can swap that button in and even re-arrange things to a certain extent.
Oddly, the one MMO where I never feel this problem is EverQuest. The EQ hot bar system, even the new and improved version, has a “click and hold” mechanism for moving buttons, so a quick click and accidental drag in combat won’t move things.
Simple Wardrobe Slots
Who should be the template: EQ2
Who really needs it: WoW
I really like wardrobe slots. I can get along without them, but I have been known to refuse to wear some atrocious looking gear even with markedly better stats just based on looks. So I much prefer to have them.
And in thinking about this, my first inclination was to go with the LOTRO model. It is certainly the most sophisticated system I have used, what with shared wardrobes and multiple outfits and such. But I never really liked the whole “wear a copy” concept. You don’t put on the item, you copy the item to your wardrobe slot while the item itself remains in your inventory. And then I sell the item, or just forget which item it is, try something new on, and cannot get back to the old look. (Damn tiny LOTRO icons.)
So I think the EQ2 system of just having another set of equipment slots that actually hold the equipment is probably the simplest design.
Now, again, somebody will point out that WoW does in fact have something along those lines… though I cannot recall the name of it at the moment… I only remember reading about it and thinking that it sounded like an overly complex gold sink
Route XP Elsewhere
Who should be the template: EQ2
Who really needs it: WoW, LOTRO, Rift
It seems like most MMOs are now getting the idea that we ought to be able to turn of XP. Some methods are still more complicated then they ought to be (WoW), but at least we have the option to help us try to keep groups together in the same level range.
But then it becomes a case of one thing leading to another. I actually do not like to waste my efforts doing thing while XP is turned off. Yeah, that might just be me. But there it is.
Which is why I like the alternate advancement system in EverQuest II. You can route all your XP into something useful, so still gain the benefit of your actions, while sticking with you group in levels.
Of course, setting up an alternate advancement system is not a small feature. I just wonder if they could not route that XP into something else. Dedicate a percentage to a faction of your choice maybe?
Anyway, those are the items that have been leaping to mind of late, no doubt a product of my being in a game swapping mood and putting in a bit of time with a variety of MMOs every week.
What other little things are there that would be good to copy across the board?
Tags: Firefoot, Nimrodel, Silverlode, The Nazgun, Windfola
As I mentioned in the February month in review post, which I am sure you all read from start to finish, long time gaming friend Gaff (with whom I was playing Toril MUD back in 1994), was talking about a return to Middle-earth.
This is, of course, an easy option for me to digest.
I am enchanted with Middle-earth and have been for something like 35 years.
I have a lifetime subscription to LOTRO (now, five years in, truly an investment that has paid off).
I have all the expansions, which includes two whose content I have yet to reach, having last peaked in Moria. (But hey, I made it to Moria!)
And I have clusters of character with complementary trade skills and such on three different servers, Windfola, Nimrodel, and Firefoot. Gaff does as well, as I think he rolled up with various groups over the last five or so years as well.
So with all this, the choice was obvious!
We rolled up new characters on the Silverlode server!
New characters on a new server. Again.
You may ask, “Why?” to that one, and rightly so.
New characters are always fun, at least for me. I rolled up a dwarf rune keeper, a class I had tried before, but only halfheartedly, never really learning anything beyond how many clicks I had to do to use that great lightning spell. I love that lightning spell, it lights up the whole area and can be a shock when other people use it close by, as the flash can be similar to what you get before the dread of the enemy hits you.
And it is a chance to see the starting areas again and how they have changed. The initial starter zone has had its quests trimmed back quite a bit, though you level up so quickly it is easy to see why.
I was kind of annoyed that there was a quest in that segment that was not available to me, a lifetime subscriber, unless I three down some Turbine Points.
But a lot of it brought back memories. I hit the “Avert a War” quest in the epic prolog quest line and could remember back to launch when that was the first group-only quest in the chain. People were standing around that cabin and trying to find groups. Now, of course, the quest is solo. And while I saw one or two people in the area, the crowds are long gone.
But I could have started a new character on any one of three servers and had that experience plus had a network of trade skill support to fill in the gaps in equipment, since the auction house is pretty much a bust at levels below 50. Why the new server?
Gaff’s plan was to go somewhere that we could join a kinship (guild) that was active so that we would have people to talk to and play with. The solo journey isn’t bad. And as a duo it would be okay. But having the flexibility of more people can enhance the experience greatly.
Which sounded fine to me. And maybe I could, this time, make just one character rather than feel the need to roll up my own little crafting commune.
And that is how we came to be in The Nazgun, the Goon kinship in Middle-earth.
After playing in null sec in EVE Online with the Goons, a new and eye opening experience at least for me, and I mean that in a good way, Gaff went looking for what other games they play in. And they have guilds and such in nearly every MMO. The Something Awful forums have threads for every one I could think of. Gaff had already looked into their SWTOR guild, Starfleet Dental (which came over from STO), during the short time he played that game.
So with that, and thinking about LOTRO, he went and found the Something Awful kinship in Middle-earth and asked to join. And they let him in.
Getting into the Goonswarm in EVE Online is difficult and you have to meet some very select criteria. For LOTRO, it was more a matter of wanting in and demonstrating the ability to post in the right thread without crapping all over yourself.
And I didn’t even have to do that, thus maintaining my streak of one post in four years on the forums there. They just let me in because I was with Gaff.
Which, honestly, is how I have ended up in a lot of guilds over the years.
And so, there we were.
A couple of other people in the kinship, including one of the officers who let us in, rolled up new characters with the idea of having something of a regular group to do some of the lower level content. So we were on the team immediately. Most of the kinship that I have seen online is at the upper end of the level range, but alts are legion I am sure.
I went and read through the LOTRO thread on the forums and, being a Goon organization, it has done things that have attracted the notice and ire of the GMs from time to time. There are a couple of posts on how to troll the public channels, which generally amounts to saying on channel that the movies were better than the books and waiting for somebody to explode. (Something I have seen on every server I’ve been on at one time or another.)
One incident that sticks in my head, because it made me laugh, was a group of them putting up the title “Watcher of Roads,” which you get from doing quests around Bree, and then standing around town telling people to “stop running” as though the title endowed them with traffic enforcement responsibilities. That sounds almost like role play… though I gather that the GM didn’t seem to see it that way.
But the kinship has been around for a long time (the membership roll is huge) and the current regulars seem mostly interested in enjoying the game, doing group content, and being helpful. What more can you ask?
And so there we are, back in Middle-earth at the dawn of a new adventure.
Raptr Gets Analytical or Only 18,999 Hours to Go! March 1, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Need for Speed World, Rift, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Defense Grid: The Awakening, Raptr
Raptr put up a several blog posts and sent me two email messages, all about the new stuff they are launching that lets you… well… compare your epeen against your friends. Click on the picture below to see it in full size.
I think Raptr must be primarily a console gamers destination if 36 games on my system puts me 26 games ahead of the average Raptr PC user. Either that or Steam users… those of us who must resist their insane sales… are not well represented.
And the last bit, my summary, makes me think they haven’t quite got their system tuned:
Lightning Bolt! You and 0% of Raptr users have more RPG games than anything else in their game library. You put on your robe and wizard hat…
I suppose it depends on how you define the games. I notice that that Raptr still seems shy about calling out MMORPGs. Of course, that might be because MMORPG players are batshit insane. I offer this up as proof.
While I might be an Elite World of Warcraft player, I have still been measured and found short a whopping 18,999 hours and/or achievements to be the #1 WoW player on Raptr. If we take that as just hours of play, that is over two years of constant, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week play.
Meanwhile, on the EVE Online front, I am 103 hours shy of Elite status.
Other games in which I rank as elite for one reason or another:
- Lord of the Rings Online
- Need for Speed: World
- Defense Grid: The Awakening
- EverQuest II Extended
Elite status seems to be a pretty arbitrary thing.
Addendum: And if you want to be my friend on Raptr, I am wilhelm2451, as usual.
Next Stop in Middle-earth: Rohan January 25, 2012Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: Riders of Rohan
File under “when am I going to find the time?”
Turbine announced the next point of expansion for Lord of the Rings Online. Players will be headed through the gap and into the fields of Rohan.
So far, Syp over at Massively has the best write up about the expansion I have seen so far.
Despite LOTRO not being in my currently play rotation, I am a lifetime subscriber (which seems like the best deal ever nearly five years down the line) and do peek in now and again.
And because Turbine always offers some pretty nifty pre-order incentives, I am sure I will buy the expansion despite the fact that my highest level character is still in the Mines of Moria, having only arrived there this past August. That just leaves the Mirkwood and Isengard expansions between me and Rohan.
It seems unlikely that I will catch up, but I am still excited about the new expansion. I look forward to more details.
Let’s just hope Turbine can stay away from the crazy mounts addiction that SOE has. It turns out that 25% of EQ2′s revenue is from mounts, so they are never going to slow down.