Daily Archives: September 23, 2011

No, Really… We Still Kill Orcs Now and Again…

Contrary to what you might have assumed from reading this blog of late, I have not totally given up on playing fantasy based massively multiplayer online games.

Yes, of the the last couple months posts, very few have been about me actually playing such a game.  Anniversary related items, Driving virtual cars, Star Wars coming out on Blu-Ray, the trials and tribulations of the Fippy Darkpaw time lock progression server, and the Storybricks logo seem to be more active topics recently than, you know, actually swinging a sword to kill a few orcs.

The instance group is still on hiatus.  The changes in Cataclysm which made WoW such a massively solo online game were unfortunate.  The game had been the cornerstone of our group, the home to which we would oft return.  Only now, it no longer seems like home, and a replacement has yet to be found.

And real life gets in the way now and again as well.

But once in a while, when the stars align and the old folks aren’t too sleepy, a few of us do actually get together and play.

And so it has been, the last few weeks, as we have slowly been working our way through the Lake Tahoe of Middle-earth, Evendim.  My goal of seeing all of the revamped version of the zone is well under way.

I started off with my champion as the tank of the group, but later switch to my guardian whom I caught up to the group via Oatbarton. (Okay, that wasn’t my guardian in the post, but it was Oatbarton.)  I found the champion to be a bit finicky as a tank, as opposed to the guardian who is all about the tanking profession.

So our group has been:

  • Enaldie – Rune Keeper
  • Garfinkel – Minstrel
  • Nomu – Guardian

And we have been taking on the zone in short, quest-hub sized bites.  That and the fact I haven’t been taking many screen shots (that often drives what I write/remember) has lead to few posts on the topic. (I installed FRAPS again to get better screen shots of LOTRO, but I keep forgetting to launch it.)

Anyway, we’ve been across quite a bit of the zone so far.

Evendim - Oh The Places We've Been!

We started off at the great bridge of Numenorian overcompensation as a group.

There is a bridge underneath that guy... somewhere...

One of the highlights there is the great big obvious rope hanging down in the midst of the quest hub.

Please do not pull rope

You run around doing some quests, eventually launching something up to the top of the great kings head via a captured Angmarian catapult (the Wardens of Annuminas are fans of Rube Goldberg) that eventually lets you climb the rope and stand at the pinnacle of the bridge.

Way up high

The view is pretty nice.  I never got around to being able to prove if I was really on top of the bridge in the actual zone (i.e. could people see me up there?) or if I was in a special room instance version of the place.

You cannot fall off the top of the bridge.  There is a Blizzard-approved invisible barrier all the way around. (A nod to all those invisible barries in instance in WotLK.)  You could, however, get some interesting camera issues if you moved to the wrong place.

A flying elf inside the king's head

The quests at the bridge took us one evening and were, for the most part, good to do as a group.  There is a series of things you have to do/find in some ruins across the river where it is easy to get overwhelmed by individual wandering mobs if you go in solo.

Hanging out in the river

That quest line ends up sending you to Tinnudir, which I end up pronouncing as “Tuna, dear!” on Skype.  It is good to get to Tinnudir, since that is the place with the stable route that connects to the rest of the world.  It is the hub of the hub and spoke system in Evendim.  Without it, getting around can be a challenge.

Tinnudir has a great quest thread that sends you around to the various ruins like a package tour.  At each ruin there is another set of quests you can pick up.  All in all it works well, as you don’t have the giant shopping list of things to do, but rather get a task that unfolds and develops into other tasks.    That and a trip to Ost Forod was another evening.

Showing off Isengard pre-order horses in Ost Forod

Up at Ost Forod the whole meta quest thing… you get a quest to help a few other people who have quests for you… starts to get a bit out of hand.  It started to become an accounting task to make sure everybody had spoken to all the right people and had picked up all the correct quests.  Fortunately makes the audit process pretty easy.  I recall similar tasks in New Halas being a nightmare.

Ost Forod remained the center of our tasks for most of two sessions and took us on a tour of the East and Northeast sections of the Evendim including the rather lush, green goblin encampment.  You wouldn’t think filthy goblins lived there.

This is actually pretty nice...

We paid our respects by slaying them in wholesale lots.  And goblins are almost orcs in the Middle-earth mythos, so there we go.  Orc slaying accomplished.

We took some time out while we were way up in the Northeast corner of the zone to get the stable route to Forochel.  We successfully acquired it, we just could not use it.

You must be at least level 40 to go on this ride...

That was a bit awkward as far as travel went, but we made our way back to Ost Forod and wrapped up the quest lines there, with the multi-stage turn-ins proving a bit of an accounting task as well.

From there we were sent of to Rantost, an island in the lake, where we met with the usual party of rangers, eager to hand off work to gullible strangers.

Rangers of Rantost

This actually turned out to be another area where having a fellowship along proved to be a boon.  The three quests were of the slay/collect/burn variety, but in the midst of the area where you do this is a clump of signature mobs, including a named one, that would pretty much do in anybody attempting to solo them at level.  For us the group, which came as a surprise add, lead to a vigorous workout.

Upon returning to the three beach rangers, we were given an instanced, small fellowship task to take on.  We completed that and called it a night.

All of which brings us up to where the group stands as of this moment.  I believe we only have two more areas to face before the big battles in Annuminas.  We keep on advancing.  I just have not been playing much LOTRO on the off nights.

We will very likely all be kindred status with the Wardens of Annuminas by then.  I think we are ally at this point.

I might have to take the Isengard pre-order bonus experience boost item out of my pocket, as we are climbing up a level or two every session and I do not want to out run the zone.

And speaking of Isengard, that is pretty close.  I will have to start figuring out what changes are coming and how it will impact me.

Items from the GameSpy “To Do” List…

Passed to me by a mole at GameSpy HQ, it turns out that yesterday’s “Imagining of Diablo III as a first person perspective game” is just the first in a series that the site is planning.

Going forward we can look forward to imagining:

  • Portal as an Infocom text adventure (tentative title “Get Cake”)
  • Pokemon played from Pikachu’s perspective
  • Quake as a collectible card game
  • Star Wars Galaxies in a universe where Anakin Skywalker died at birth. (Wait, we’ll be getting that after December.)
  • MUD1 as a graphic novel

The list appears to be only the first of several pages.  Has anybody picked up on any other titles they might be working on?

Diablo III Delayed or Something

Blizzard has never officially announced a ship date for Diablo III, so saying that the target date is now “Early 2012” is not really a slip.

How can you push back a date you never announced?

The official line is that it isn’t ready yet.  As Mike Morhaime put it:

…we didn’t put so many years of work into Diablo III to release a game that was almost ready.

A good enough reason for sure.  The list of games that didn’t delay for that reason is pretty long, and many suffered for it.

Still, I will be interested to see the dark theories running around with the “real” reason for the “not a delay.”  Did Blizzard fear being over shadowed by SWTOR?  Are they maneuvering to try and rain on the Guild Wars 2 parade?

Anyway, this is something of a blow to the instance group, which has been on hiatus since late spring due to the lack of interest in Cataclysm and any other MMORPG.  There was a hope that Diablo III was one of the games that could potentially get us back together and playing as a group this fall.

So that leaves Star Wars the Old Republic from my MMO outlook list of late last year.  Here is hoping.

And where the heck is Torchlight II these days?  That was estimated as “some time in 2011” at one point?  Is that headed to 2012 as well?

Quote of the Day – If Only Blizzard Would Try This…

I’d love to see what Blizzard could do with a first person view. I love the freedom that this camera system gives us to explore the virtual worlds we’re inhabiting. I can only imagine what a Blizzard first person game would feel like; I’m guessing it would be astonishing given the company’s eye for detail, provided it had an engine powerful to give the designers free rein.

Bennett Ring of GameSpy, Diablo III Beta Musings

Fine, you want to imagine Diablo III as a first person perspective game, go right ahead.  I’ve written dumber things than that.

But if you’re going to aspire to be a real, actually paid to do it, gaming journalist, never having heard of World of Warcraft seems like it might be a bit of a draw back.

(Zonkeriffic hat tip)