Daily Archives: August 20, 2010

Boars Becoming More Like Their MMO Counterparts

Reader Kirjath sent me a link to a Yahoo article about boar problems in Germany.

Climate change has been good to the boars of Central Europe and they are flourishing.  According to the article:

Central Europe is turning into a land of plenty for the animals, as warmer weather causes beech and oak trees to overproduce seeds and farmers to grow more crops the boars like to feast on such as corn or rape, said Torsten Reinwald of the German Hunting Federation.

“The number of boars in Germany has quadrupled or quintupled over the last years, as has the number of boars shot,” Reinwald said, adding that other countries like France and Poland are seeing a similar proliferation of boars.

So you may laugh at the proliferation of boars in Middle-earth, but something along those lines seems to be happening in Middle Europe.  How soon until we see LOTRO-like quest givers offering bounties to solve their boar problems?

Unfortunately, there is more to the boar problem.  Some of these boars are radioactive.

Radioactive Boar - Artists Concept

It seems that the after effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident still haunt Europe 24 years later.  The  radioactive Cesium-137 in the fallout has moved deeper into the soil over the years, and is now at about the same level that truffles favor, which boars in turn seek out.

So remember that tainted boar meat quest in Hellfire Peninsula?  The same thing is happening, after a fashion, in Germany.  Only it is the German government paying out for the tainted meat.

So while the profusion of boars has caused a dip in the price of the meat, making your Schweinehaxe a bit more affordable, the whole nuclear truffle thing might make you think twice before making it a treat you indulge in frequently.

LOTRO Beta Bank Blues

I have pretty modest expectations for the coming transition of Lord of the Rings Online to a Free to Play financial model, which is scheduled to happen on September 10th.  Subscriptions will be out… sort of… there will be that whole VIP Level of commitment… and the LOTRO Store will be in.

And since my expectations are modest, I haven’t really felt the need to join in the beta just to check out the store.

Last week, however, they were going to do a stress test and wanted to get as many people online as possible.  I decided to finally grab the beta client to help out with that.

And since I was going to be there anyway, I though it might be time to check and see if my expectations had been met.

There were three specific things that I hoped I would be able to purchase with Turbine points, of which I should have many come September 10th.  Those things were:

  • Increase bag slot space
  • Increase bank slot space
  • Housing

That is it.  Anything else which shows up that I like will be a bonus.

And it looks like I am not getting two out of the three on that list.

Bags will remain capped at the five 15 slot bags which I have currently, or so it seems when looking through the store.

And while I can buy decorations for a house in Middle-earth, the actual house stills has to be paid for and maintained with in-game currency.  Gold in the game isn’t as rare as it was back at launch, but I still don’t have enough hanging around to invest in housing.  The homestead will have to wait.

Ah well, at least I have more bank slots for which to look forward.

Sort of.

I have a problem with that too.  It isn’t that I cannot get enough additional bank slots.  It looks like I can get plenty.  It is how they will be displayed.

Currently in LOTRO, your bank looks like this:

It looks like a pretty traditional bank storage system in an MMO, akin to what you get with WoW or EQII.  You get a series of spots into which you may place your items for storage.

As you can see here, the default is 30 slots, and you can pay to unlock additional slots (which both cost in-game currency and have a level restriction) which come in the form of 15 slots boxes.  In the picture above, I have unlocked two additional boxes, giving me a total of 60 bank slots, although those 30 additional slots appear as individual windows apart from the base 30.

You can also see the care I put into organizing my bank slots.  There is quite a bit of crafting material shown in that screen shot.  It belongs to Silinus, my hunter, who is also a weapon smith and woodworker.  All his crafting materials are sorted by rows to show the tier to which the material belongs, and by column to distinguish the type of material.

I have some excess materials (still sorted by tier) on the left column, while the top row holds recipes I cannot yet train.

So I have a system, and it works well enough with the bank slots as they are presented in LOTRO.

The one very valid complaint I have heard about the bag and bank slots is that it can be hard for people to distinguish between items because of the tiny and less than optimally designed icons. (I’ve complained about the iconography in the game before.)  The second column from the right, for example, holds ingots of dwarf iron, rich iron, and barrow iron, but the only way I know which is which is because of their position.

So there is a mixture of good and bad there.

In the beta, the bank view has been changed.  This is the bank for the same character, with the same items, after having been copied over to the Bullroarer server.

If you bought the Adventurer’s Pack that they were offering along with Siege of Mirkwood, this view will look familiar as it is the same as the shared storage vault that came with the pack.

It is a change and it has a couple of things going for it.

You can see how many bank slots you have and how many you have used right there at the top of the window.

And, of course, each item now shows both its name and its icon, so you can see what you have… sort of.

The problem is that the window can only stretch so large.  With the shared storage, which is only 20 slots, that is no big deal.  You can make the window big enough to see everything.

But at 60 slots the window would have to stretch beyond the dimensions of my monitor.  And for the full 120 slots, which I plan to purchase, the window would have to extend to the floor in my office to see all my stuff.

Also, while you can choose a couple of filters for what is shown, it still lists stuff out in an order that isn’t very helpful.  You can see four types of resin listed in that window, but I couldn’t tell you off hand, without mousing over them to get the description, which on was for which tier.

That is why I lay everything out in an orderly fashion, so I can tell at a glance which is which.

I won’t have that option soon.

So this looks like a mixed blessing.  I will be able to get a lot of new storage space with my Turbine Points, but the actual usability of those spaces will be compromised by the new view.