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Will This Help Me To Moria? June 13, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
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8 comments

Turbine has announced the next expansion, Rise of Isengard. which should arrive on September 27th of this year.  This will bring out new zones and raise the level cap to 75 from the current 65.

However, my highest level character is only 44.  I haven’t seen any of the key content of the first expansion, Mines of Moria, slacker that I am.

There is, perhaps a glimmer of hope.

As with past LOTRO expansions, there are some pre-order incentives to consider.

There are, in fact, three tiers of pre-order, base, heroic, and legendary.   The differences between them is mostly about access to a variety of cosmetic items (including horses), the opening of some content that I already have with my lifetime subscription, and some additional Turbine points.

But all of the packages include one key item, Derudh’s Stone.

I’m not sure who Derudh is, but his stone grants a 25% boos to experience gain when equipped.  And it is a pocket item, perhaps the best slot in the LOTRO equipment hierarchy. (Giving one the answer to the eternal question, “What has it got in its pocketses?”)

It is actually very nice that this is an item as opposed to a potion with a timer, as EQ2 tends to hand out, or a general cut in the experience curve with each expansion, the WoW way of things (though that tactic has been used by EQ2, LOTRO, and others as well).  When you want your experience boost, you can equip it.  If you feel the need to slow down, you can just take it out of your pocket and put it back in your bag.

Like most such items, you get the stone on every character, including characters you make going forward.  It appears in your bags when you log a character in or create one anew.

I went through some of my characters, just to see who got what, being of a suspicious mind.  I was surprised to see that almost all of my many characters on Firefoot already had an item in their pocket.  My mind must be slipping.  Back at launch, such items were somewhat rare.  I would bet that if I logged on to Winfola and checked characters made at launch, few would have anything at all in their pocketses.

As for which pre-order I chose, I went heroic.  And I did it specifically to get the green versions of the special cosmetic gear and horse.

Green Clad Mount

The pre-order process is not without wrinkles, the first being the order system seeming to insist that you create a new account (the term it uses!) when you know you already have one.  But it really just wants an email address to which to send the activation code.  You might want to check out the pre-order FAQ put together by A Casual Stroll to Mordor if you find yourself at a loss.

Will a pre-order item from the third LOTRO expansion help me get to the FIRST expansion?

We shall see.

What do you think of this sort of experience boost item?

Would you rather have something more temporary like a potion with a timer, or something more sweeping, like a general cut in the experience curve with the launch of an expansion?

STO – Special Space Junk Edition! February 3, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Trek Online.
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8 comments

Despite the Star Trek line about boldly going where no on has gone before (which is right there on the back of the box), we’re now talking about an MMO and so anything I do will be more like boldly going where many, many people have gone before.

Which isn’t always a bad thing.

For example, I did not have to worry too much about figuring out how to claim my pre-order items.  By the time I was ready for that, Potshot already had a post up with instructions.

That lead me to the C-Store where I had four items to redeem in the “special unlocks” tab.

The USS Enterprise (which isn’t actually what it is called when you get it, and you can change even that name) was my GameStop pre-order bonus.

The not-so-unique Red Matter Capacitor is from the Collectors edition.

The title “Ambassador” marks me as a lifetime subscriber; either a proud badge of honor or a great big “L” on my forehead, depending on how you view that subscription option.

[Edit: Per the comments section, "Ambassador" is apparently not for lifetime subs, it is for people who made STO forum accounts before a certain date.  The either/or aspect of what that means probably still applies though!]

And then yes, Virginia, there is a Del Taco shuttle.  Apparently a single code will get you that in-game item.

Not that I am sure as to how useful it is.  So far all I’ve seen it do is follow me around in space.

Shuttle in tow

Plus it takes up a slot on your ship that could otherwise be used for… say… a unique red matter capacitor.

Still, it is mine!  I have one!  And should the next patch make is suddenly start spewing out gold-pressed latinum, I’ll be set… though I might have to unlock the Ferengi playable race to spend it.

The big item though is the ship, the Constitution class cruiser.

What decade is it now?

This ship is more cool than I thought it would be.  Flying around in it puts me far more in the “Trek” mood that the standard starter ship.  It is going to be tough to let this ship go when it comes time to upgrade.

Even combat seems a bit more fun with that ship.

Fire all phasers!

Other than that, the opening night seemed to be… smooth.  A lot of the things that I complained about during open beta and the head start weekend were not present last night.  I didn’t spend a lot of time online, but enough to do a few missions, fly around, and say hello to Tipa.  I missed her inaugural day bridge party and the accompanying games of smear the Klingon and whatever they were doing with those tribbles.

Then again, it was a Tuesday night.  Friday is likely to bring a much heavier load.

At least Cryptic knows and is admitting that capacity will be an issue.



We shall see what the weekend brings.

STO – That Was the Head Start That Was February 2, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Trek Online.
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5 comments

And I spent most of that head start not being able to log into Star Trek Online for various reasons, not always the fault of the game.

Sure, at one point I spent long time looking at this message.


Then there was the case of the message in the launcher explaining that the server was down when the server status indicator said the server was up.  And it was up.  The danger of using the news feed on the launcher for transitory messages I suppose.

I was certainly not alone in having trouble getting into space.

And then there was a point on Saturday when the server was up, but my daughter wanted to go do some quests in the Outlands to get her Deathknight another level.  We did that and we watched a movie. (Shanghai Knights, because we like Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson and enjoyed Shanghai Noon the weekend before.)  And then I had to let her play with the character creator.  I went and read a book while that went on.

But eventually things seemed to settle down.  There were a couple more updates.  And by late Sunday afternoon I was able to spend a decent stretch of time concentrating on the game and… well… figuring out what was going on.

It would have helped if I had done the “go talk to the so-and-so at Earth Spacedock” missions (quests) first.  But there was Commander Sulu (no, not that one… some relative I’d guess) ready with a patrol mission to go oppress miners again, so I put off, yet again, learning that I could just open a hailing frequency to Starfleet to finish a mission.

Were I designing, I might have put those guys in the same room with the Admiral and perhaps had Commander Sulu stand somewhere else.

And yes, I spent so little time in-game during the open beta that I hadn’t figured that out yet.  There are all sorts of things to find.

I went about looking into skills, filling out my bridge crew, and running some missions.

I’m going to have to figure out how to get a group shot with my bridge crew.  While I am mildly adverse to playing a female character myself (if only to avoid retribution for the metric tons of crap I’ve given others for doing that) I have no problem setting up a bridge crew that looks like an outer space episode of Charlie’s Angels, complete with a Vulcan Bosley carrying the medical tricorder.

And you should see them kick butt on away team missions.

Once things had settled down I found the game enjoyable.  Ship combat works for me, and the ground combat went from something I wanted to avoid to something I started to enjoy.  I did feel like perhaps I wasn’t inline with the spirit of the prime directive when I found that success on the ground often lay in shooting first and rifling the corpses for loot.  But those Klingons… and Orions… were not really sociable when I tried introducing myself before shooting.

I also found Potshot (and Mrs. Potshot) in game where we continued our downtime obsession of figuring out the perfect fleet name.  There have been many amusing ideas, but no clear winner as yet.

All in all, enjoyable once I could get into the game.

Was it like that very first weekend of EverQuest?  Or even EverQuest II?

No, I did not feel compelled to play every possible second.

Things have changed since 1999.  There are other options when the server is down.

And I am not as OCD about games as I once was.

Okay, that last bit is probably a lie.  I just haven’t figured out what to obsess about yet in STO.

But I know I’ll be playing this game for a while.  Adventurer Historian spotted the liberated Borg headset in my previous head start weekend post.

Happy early birthday to me from my wife.  Thank you sweet heart!

And GameStop’s automated system called me up to let me know my pre-order will be available for pickup tomorrow.  It appears that none of my local stores are among the ten that will be opening up at midnight for the big launch.

STO – Pre-Order Key in Hand January 12, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Trek Online.
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1 comment so far

Gamestop obliged me this afternoon with an email that contained my pre-order game key so I can get in the Star Trek Online open beta, which begins tomorrow if things go as planned.


Of course, the next trick will be downloading the game client, which weighs in at around 7GB if I read the forums correctly.

Not that I will have much time to actually play in the open beta for the next week or so, but I’d like to get it set up so that when I do have time, I can give it a try.

Addendum: Ah, they put up a page about the open beta.  It looks like my subscription to FilePlanet will pay off again.

Star Trek Online European Pre-Order Bonuses December 31, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Trek Online.
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6 comments

The Star Trek Online area of the UK MMO Hub Star Trek Online site has a listing of all the Star Trek Online pre-order bonuses that are being offered both in Europe and North America.

It currently looks like the only in-game item that European players will get that we in North America won’t is a Starfleet Shuttle, which is available if you order via GameStation.

On the flip side, it looks like Europeans won’t face quite the myriad of conflicting choices if they pre-order. There appears to be no Constitution Class ship option, for example.

Only available in America?

On the other hand, their special Gold Edition (Collector’s Edition?) includes a T-shirt and a map of the Star Trek Universe.

That is all I have seen on the subject so far.  Has anybody seen anything else?

Star Trek Online Pre-Order Choices December 8, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, polls, Star Trek Online.
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27 comments

Cryptic is making me crazy already.

I am going to play Star Trek Online.  On this we are decided.

Potshot seems to be sharing my enthusiasm on the subject, so it looks like we might have makings of a bridge crew or flotilla or squadron or whatever the group mechanic is for the game.

And if we’re going to play, we might as well pre-order and reap the benefits of that, such that they are.

But the pre-order bennies haven’t been exactly clear up to this point.

In the absence of information, I went to the default, which is to order from Amazon.com.  I’ve been ordering from them for 12 years now and they have always been good to me.

Amazon.com showed a borg bridge officer as the special pre-order item.

I knew 7 of 9, and you're no 7 of 9

Fine, I put in the order.

Then I saw that GameStop had something different.  A “bonus starship” as part of their pre-order package.

On the surface, a bonus starship might be lame.  But when I went to the site to look into it, the ship turned out to be a Constitution class starship from the original series.  For those not up on the lore, that would be the same class as the Enterprise.

To Boldly Go...

Okay, cancel my order at Amazon.com (sorry guys!) and head over to GameStop.

Only at about this point, the gaming press starts reporting on this situation in detail, since Cryptic finally put out a press release on the subject.

NEW YORK, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ — Atari, Inc., one of the world’s most recognized videogame publishers, and acclaimed MMO developers Cryptic Studios(TM), are pleased to announce several pre-order programs for the highly anticipated Star Trek Online for PC. Based on the world renowned sci-fi series, Star Trek Online gives gamers and fans of the fiction a chance to boldly explore the Star Trek universe for the first time on a truly massive scale. Star Trek Online is available at retailers in North America on February 2, 2010.

All Star Trek Online pre-orders receive guaranteed access to the Star Trek Online Open Beta test from January 12th to January 26th, 2010. In addition, Star Trek Online also offers an exclusive Early Start Program with pre-orders at all participating retailers that runs January 29, 2010 through launch on February 2. The Early Start Program allows players to get a leg up on other interstellar explorers and access the Star Trek universe the weekend prior to the game’s launch. Unlike beta play, all in-game progress made during the Early Start Program will carry over to the live adventure.

All customers who pre-order Star Trek Online receive access to the Open Beta and Early Start Program. Details on exclusive pre-order content for Star Trek Online include:

GameStop

GameStop customers receive the ability to command the exclusive and always classic USS Enterprise from Star Trek The Original Series.

Best Buy

Best Buy is offering their customers a fun in-game pet. As a Federation Captain, players own a famed Tribble of Star Trek lore that will accompany them on their travels into the final frontier. As a Klingon commander, players control the boar-like Targ, a beast found on the Klingon home world of Qo’noS.

Amazon

Amazon is offering an exclusive “Liberated Borg” Bridge Officer. This bridge officer, who comes with unique nanotechnology augmentations, assists in missions and gains experience as the player does.

Wal-Mart

With the Wal-Mart Bonus Skill Points package, receive addition skill points that enable players to improve their characters quickly.

Target

Target customers who pre-order Star Trek Online receive a unique ground weapon — a TR-116. This rare projectile weapon is used in dampening fields and other challenging environments; it is also modified with a micro-transporter which beams the fired projectiles to targets at close range so that a user can fire without a direct line of site.

Direct2Drive

Direct2Drive customers receive an exclusive Multi-Spatial Personal Shield. This advanced personal shield system is based on Borg technology, which constantly regenerates itself and the health of its wearer.

STEAM

STEAM is offering customers Chromodynamic Armor. This armor is based on technology brought back from the Delta Quadrant by USS Voyager improves the damage and critical hits of energy weapons.

In Star Trek Online, players will visit iconic locations from the popular Star Trek fiction, travel to unexplored star systems, and contact new alien species. Every moment spent playing Star Trek Online will feel like a new Star Trek episode in which you are the hero. Immerse yourself in the future of the Trek universe as it moves into the 25th century: a time of shifting alliances and new discoveries. As the Captain of your very own ship, it’s up to you to lead your crew on missions that span the galaxy.

For more information, please log onto www.startrekonline.com

So many choices.

Of course, the real die-hards on the forums want to know if they can buy some or all and combine them on a single account.

I am only buying a single copy, so I had to take a deep breath and think on this a bit.

A pre-order bonus cannot… or at least should not… give you any sort of huge advantage in game.  Every pre-order or collector’s edition item that I can recall has generally outlived its actual usefulness pretty quickly.

And if usefulness is going to be set aside, then style is really the way to go.  And for style, you have your tribble or you have your Constitution class starship.  But that still leaves a choice.


Decisions, decisions!  I'm leaning towards the starship.  I'm already humming the incidental music from the episode "The Doomsday Machine" in my head.  But a tribble...

SOE, A Grace Period Please? January 22, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Sony Online Entertainment.
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8 comments

I picked up the pre-order box for Pirates of the Burning Sea, downloaded the client, and have been playing the game since the “Pre-Boarding” party began.

That is pretty much the same story I told when Lord of the Rings Online came out. I bought the pre-order box, played through the pre-release, and then went straight into the game.

Pretty much the same, but not exactly the same.

With Lord of the Rings Online, after the pre-order period ended and the game went live, Turbine gave all players with pre-order keys a two week grace period in which to purchase the full box. We did not have to rush out on day one, a Tuesday (why is that the industry standard day for releases… and patches?), to get the box. We could at least wait for the weekend.

I wish SOE had picked up on that idea.

But no, when I tried to log on tonight, I got this:

soepirates.png

No code, no play.

Not unexpected, I suppose. This is the first time, that I know of, where SOE has done the pre-order play period thing. They might not have thought to look at how other companies have done it.

I have a pre-order box, but I am stuck at home with a sprained ankle (I get to learn how to use crutches again), so I cannot just run out to the store and pick up a copy. That will have to wait a week or so.

Since sailing is out of the question, maybe I’ll go see if Turbine fixed that video drive crash problem they have been having. I still haven’t picked up my horse.