jump to navigation

Riders of Rohan Unleashed October 16, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags:
12 comments

Marking events, the Lord of the Rings Online expansion Riders of Rohan went live yesterday with the usual fanfare and updates.

Like so many of the new things coming this Fall, it is not on my list.  This will be the first LOTRO expansion I have skipped, but I am so far from the content, still being back in Moria with my highest level character, that there seemed no point.

I will, however, be looking into buying that extra bag slot with my accumulated Turbine Points.  I get 500 every month for being a lifetime subscriber, so long as I log in… and I make sure I log in at least once a month.

Still coming up in the season are expansions for Rift, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and EVE Online, along with some sort of reset/upgrade/do over for Darkfall.

Of those, I am only really signed on for the Storm Legion expansion for Rift.

And the EVE expansion of course.  But that is more like a patch update, not something I have to go out and buy.

Wednesday Morning Trends August 22, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Sony Online Entertainment.
Tags: , , , ,
17 comments

Ubisoft Finds a New Rationalization for Free to Play

From The Register, Ubisoft says more than 90% of PC gamers pirate their game, so they might as well go down the free to play path.

Money quote from CEO Yves Guillemot:

“It’s around a 93 to 95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage as free-to-play”

I still find it hard to believe that 90% of gamers pirate their games, and people who spout such numbers rarely go into detail on how they arrived at them, so color me skeptical.

Riders of Rohan Delay

Casual Stroll to Mordor reports that the launch of the Lord of the Rings Online expansion Riders of Rohan will be moved back from September 5th to October 15th.  I expect conspiracy theorists everywhere to proclaim that this delay was to get out from under the weight of the Guild Wars 2 launch the way they declared the Mist of Panderia launch date to be a defensive move against the game.

Chalk another one up to the might of Guild Wars 2?

Your Virtual Currency Has Expired!

Massively Multiplayer Fallout brings up a topic from the RuneScape forums.  Apparently somebody discovered a statement in Jagex’s terms of service that indicates that RuneCoins, the RuneScape virtual currency, can expire.

Jagex responded, indicating that the terms were correct, but that they had never, to this point, had to expire any RuneCoins.  The actual shelf life of RuneCoins was left unstated.

Of course, this makes me wonder when companies like SOE, which seemed to be picking up bad habits from its free to play neighbors, or UbiSoft, which just seems to hate its customers pirates people in general, will jump on this potentially lucrative idea.

And then there is how local law applies.  In my own jurisdiction, companies cannot expire things like gift cards.  Where does virtual currency fit in that equation?

Bonus Trend: Windows 8

After watching this, I foresee another Windows Vista level PR fiasco looming.

If Microsoft needs to learn something from Apple, it is how to produce software that doesn’t make people angry.

Apple drops OS updates more often that Microsoft, charges for them, and people tend to be interested to indifferent.  Microsoft drops a huge OS update every few years and manages to make people run around screaming like their hair is on fire more often than not.

And don’t get me started on how much I loathe every corporate mandated Microsoft Office upgrade.  In my mind, MS Word was perfected with version 5.1a about 20 years ago.  Everything since has been… uh… Windows dressing?

[Credit to Derek Smart for finding that video, but his Twitter account is locked down so I can't even link to the tweet.]

Hear Charles Foster Kane Utter His Last Words! August 17, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags: ,
5 comments

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.

Witness 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.

Riders of Rohan – Higher Prices, Fewer Incentives June 7, 2012

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

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.

It is like Sesame Street

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:
      • 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
      • The Outriders Token — A 25% XP Boost for all characters on your account that will last up to level 75
      • Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape Appearance — Upon reaching level 20, you can customize your Soldier on Landscape with a Rohirrim Appearance
  • 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
      • The Outriders Token — A 25% XP Boost for all characters on your account that will last up to level 75
      • Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape Appearance — Upon reaching level 20, you can customize your Soldier on Landscape with a Rohirrim Appearance

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.

In the fields of Rohan

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.

Next Stop in Middle-earth: Rohan January 25, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
Tags:
11 comments

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.