Category Archives: Lord of the Rings Online

March in Review

The Site

As I mentioned at the end of a mid-month entry, I passed the 5,000 post mark.

Where I stand today… still not popular on Tumblr

I hit 1,000 posts more than ten years ago, a little more than two years into the life of the blog.  As I noted in my anniversary post last year, my style has gone from many short posts to fewer, much longer posts over time, so I guess that lines up.

There are about 3.8 million words spread over all of those posts, making a 750 word post the average for the site.  Given how many 200 word posts I’ve done over the years, like when I post a video on the weekend with just a few comments, that means I have some behemoths out there offsetting those.

One Year Ago

Project: Gorgon made it to Steam.

Shroud of the Avatar left early access.

EverQuest turned nineteen and launched a new server.

In EVE Online the player run Burn Jita event was back for 2018.  Many ships were destroyed and I took a bunch of screen shots and tried to count the cost.

Up in Pure Blind we killed some dreads and I got a kill mark on my guardian.

CCP let out more details about the road to CSM13.  There was a pretty short interval in which to register your candidacy.

The March Update for EVE Online dropped the jump fatigue cap to four hours and introduced The Hunt event.

There was an INN editorial about the metaphorical masks we wear in EVE Online.  I asked if we donned the masks on purpose or if our masks were shaped by the game itself.  I was also blog warring with SynCaine over the idea of instanced null sec battles.  It would break the game in my view.

Rift Prime went live and I spend a good chunk of time playing that.  I was in the guild The Fishing Defiants with Liore and some of the cats she used to herd.  The daily gifts and the chat could be overwhelming.

I played through Freemarch pretty quickly and moved to the east end of Stonefield.  Trion was tinkering with the experience curve, but they gave us some informational tidbits about the server.

And a Kickstarter campaign for the World of Warcraft Diary looked doomed from the outset.  But the author vowed to regroup and return.

Five Years Ago

I was thinking about the word “free” and how it really brings up negative connotations.  Basically, “free” is usually a scam, so why should we expect “Free to Play” games to viewed as anything else?

My other blog, EVE Online Pictures, qualified for inclusion as an EVE Online fan site.  Free account!  Or it was.  CCP is killing the fan site program.

Meanwhile CCP lost money through “derecognizing” an asset which would turn out to be the demise of World of Darkness as a project for them.  CCP was also taking a stab at cosmetic options for ships.

I picked my 15 most influential video games, and got some other people to pick theirs as well.

WalMart was going to get into the used video game market.  Did that ever go anywhere?  I don’t shop at Wally World.

Something called MyDream wanted to be a Minecraft killer or some such.

It was the end of the line for Free Realms and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures as SOE chief John Smedley vowed never to make kids games again.  While over in EverQuest the 15 year anniversary included the introduction of instant level 85 characters.  I gave that a try and got lost immediately.

Facebook bought Occulus Rift.  Meanwhile, Sony announced Project Morpheus which later became PlayStation VR.

Brad McQuaid was a month past his unsuccessful Pantheon Kickstarter and I was wondering what the plan was.

In a set of short items, I also noted that EverQuest Next Landmark became simply Landmark, two of the founders of Runic games left the studio to try their luck elsewhere, while King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, went public and became one of the most shorted stocks on the market!  They were mentioned on the Planet Money podcast about shorting.  Of course, Blizzard ended up buying them, so I wonder how those shorts played out in the end?

The ongoing “Blizzard isn’t giving you…” series continued. while Diablo III: Reaper of Souls went live, an event which included the end of the auction house.  I had gone back to the game to try some of the changes.

Also on the Blizzard front Hearthstone launched. They did manage to find a hook to get me to play Hearthstone… or at least a couple rounds of it.  Five years later I would be surprised to find I have played more than 50 rounds of the game.

I was also musing about WoW and when the expansion would launch and the stat squish and guild levels and pseudo-server merges and my insta-90 choice and Warlords of Draenor being $50… which was at least better than it being $60.  While, actually in the game the instance group took on Zul’Aman.

We formed something I ended up calling the “strategy group,” if only to distinguish it from the “instance group” which started out playing some Age of Empires II.

And I wrote another installment of my ongoing TorilMUD series, this time about the Faerie Forest.

Ten Years Ago

In March 2009 we were excited about Pokemon Platinum around our house, although we weren’t really finished with Pokemon Diamond yet.

I spent a day up at GDC in San Francisco.

In WoW we finished up a short hiatus and started back in at the SteamVault.  My daughter was tearing up Warsong Gulch.  Meanwhile, the Lich King seemed to have laid a curse on my new video card.  Nothing I did ever seemed to change this issue, though it did seem to go away eventually.

In EVE Online, the Apocrypha expansion came out, and with it the classic graphics were swept away.  Adam though, was making his own adventures in New Eden.  Oh, and I bought a freighter.

Mythic was trying to tempt me back into Warhammer Online with 10 days free.

Somebody tried to put together a list of the Ten Most Important MMORPGs.  Like all such list, this one started the comments rolling.

It was launch day and I was already complaining about Runes of Magic… well, about the patcher in any case.

finished up what was then the last book of the Wheel of Time series.  The last Robert Jordan authored one.

The EverQuest 10th anniversary just wasn’t evoking the level of nostalgia in me that I thought it would.

And we had to say goodbye to an old friend and family member.  The picture my daughter drew is still up on the wall.  A decade later it still draws the occasional sad word later in the evenings when people are tired and a bit more emotionally fragile.

Fifteen Years Ago

Battlefield Vietnam, the follow up title to Battlefield 1942 and its expansions, hit the shelves.  This was probably the last shooter I played online regularly.  It never got a stellar mod like the Desert Combat, though it did have the Sweden vs. Norway mod that was… unique.  I also recall one of the maps had an issue that killed your frame rate if you entered a particular area.

Twenty Years Ago

Some game called EverQuest launched.  Heard of it?

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  2. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  3. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  4. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  5. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  6. Celebrating Katia Sae
  7. The Myrmidon Experiment
  8. Quote of the Day – No Porn
  9. What is a Niche MMORPG?
  10. Burn Jita back for 2019
  11. The EVE Online March Update Brings Restrictions for Alpha Clones
  12. Steam Policy Plays Out as Expected

Search Terms of the Month

sum baer iz durid
[Tehm whos bare durids, can B 4 tank?]

next eq2 expansion
[November]

is eqii dying?
[We’re all dying]

meaning of nazgun
[It should have the u-circumflex and be pronounced ‘Naz-Goon’]

feral bear porn
[There is something wrong with you]

Game Time from ManicTime

Month three of tracking game time is showing a trend of making these month in review posts even longer.  Just what everybody wanted.  Knowing exactly what I played means comments on more titles every month, and this month was especially confused with conflicting bouts of nostalgia competing with one another.  So the March list is the longest so far.

  • EverQuest 31.25%
  • World of Warcraft 15.87%
  • Lord of the Rings Online 12.94%
  • Path of Exile 10.60%
  • EVE Online 9.06%
  • Minecraft 5.73%
  • Diablo 5.72%
  • MS Solitaire 4.09%
  • RimWorld 2.45%
  • EverQuest II 2.27%

Diablo

Released on GoG.com as something of a surprise… was there any indication it was coming or did it just arrive one day… classic Diablo was something I had to buy.  I wasn’t sure I was going to play much of it, and certainly opening up this 1996 title reminded me how far we have come in gaming.  But there is a certain uncomplicated charm to it, and I ended up playing much more than I thought I might.  I have made it down to level 13 and am clearing that, though I had to take a break as the consta-clicking nature of it was making my hand hurt.  Click and hold for repeat attacks on a mob was clearly a feature we needed.

EVE Online

Operations in the east of null sec continue.  There was a bit of a swap or partners as Black Legion joined up with Fraternity.  Meanwhile, Pandemic Horde got a bit more serious about pushing back on our ops and we had some fights come to us in our staging.  Nothing huge or dramatic, though the month did end on a nice kill.  There were a couple of fights I might have written about had I not been swamped by topics already this past month.

EverQuest

Nostalgia fever.  I knew I would jump in for a bit for the 20th anniversary, but I wouldn’t have bet that EverQuest would top my play time chart.  All that travel time to the Scarlet Desert certainly added up.

EverQuest II

I did not spend much time at all in new Norrath.  I basically logged in to get the special gift they were giving out for the EverQuest 20th anniversary.  It was a painting for your home. which I hung up in mine.  Then I noticed how crowded with stuff my basic Halas apartment had become, so I started looking into upgrades.  I actually bought a larger Halas house, and now I need to get all my stuff setup there.  Moving is always hard.

Lord of the Rings Online

The Mines of Moria expansion opened up on the Legendary server and I started in on that.  That meant fiddling around in Eregion for a while before heading underground.  Once you’re in Moria there is no swift travel horse route back to Rivendell or Bree.  Probably a good thing.  I have consulted enough with Elrond.  Plus it is embarrassing to go back there and see Aragon standing around when he allegedly got into Moria ahead of you.

Microsoft Solitaire

I clicked on this during a fleet op where we were waiting on a black ops waiting to hot drop on a target.  It is something to fiddle with while waiting on things in fleets.  Basically, this time would have been counted towards EVE Online if I had just stayed in that window.  But who does that?

Minecraft

I wanted to listen to an audio book, but I cannot just sit and listen.  I have to be doing something while I listen.  That’s just me.  Usually I am driving.  But sitting at home and wanting to knock out the last couple hours of an audio book usually means playing a game, one that doesn’t have a lot of text to process, since that is single threaded in my brain.  Minecraft is about perfect for that.  I didn’t have a grand plan.  I just explored a bit and upgraded a couple of bases, digging mines and building infrastructure.

Path of Exile

I started off pretty strong on this when the Synthesis season dropped.  I made it into Act II and into the mid-20s level-wise.  Then Mines of Moria opened up in LOTRO and the EverQuest anniversary hit and Wintergrasp was back in World of Warcraft and that was about that.  It was just superseded by events.

Pokemon Go

The change to Team Instinct has made playing with my wife better/easier/more fun now that we’re on the same side.  We go battle over a gym in a part near us with another couple we know who is on Team Valor.  Neither side is above throwing berries remotely just to make those fights annoying.  We’re horrible people.

Also, made it to level 36.  Now to do the 2 million point climb to 37.  I need more friends.

Level: 36 (+1)
Pokedex status: 301 (+13) caught, 431 (+16) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have a several tasks to go in order to get there
Current buddy: Togetic

RimWorld

I started out the month playing this.  I thought it might dominate the month, being another game that you can sit and look at and tinker with pretty easily while you listen to a podcast or audio book.  However I fell out with it fairly quickly as other games showed up.

World of Warcraft

I binged on renewed and revamped Wintergrasp when it was the pick of the week for battlegrounds.  Most of my play time was probably during that week.  But I still long in every other day or so to pick up some world quests and do a few pet battles.

Coming Up

Tomorrow is April Fools.  Let’s see if we can get through it without being either a complete fool or a total wet blanket.

Google Plus will be  gone from public use come April 2.  Farewell to my three followers there.

I saw a mention that we might hear something soon about CSM elections for EVE Online, but nothing concrete.  I would have thought we would have heard something by now, as traditionally CCP starts talking about that around February.  But with the world tour schedule and CCP Guard having left, the CCP team might be a bit busy at the moment.

In game, the Imperium is not going to join in on the war in the east… unless you count SIGs and squads.  Then we are totally in on whatever happens.

In LOTRO I’ll likely carry on into Moria.  I’m over the threshold and hidden from sunlight already.

We’ll have to see if I carry on with EverQuest after the 20th anniversary month wraps up today.

Fiddling About in Eregion

Eregion.  Shit.  I’m still only in Eregion.

-Opening lines, Moriapocalypse Now

Not the there is anything enormously wrong with Eregion.  It is something of a middling zone.  Nothing much stands out about it.  The geography, the mobs, and many of the quests could have been copied and pasted from earlier zones.

It does, however, suffer from one big problem.  It stands between you and Moria.

Moria is the legend I want to find

Eregion is like a middle episode in a television season that doesn’t move the overall story arc forward much.  Sure, it lays down some ground work and probably provides some key details you’ll need to know for later, but it still feels like it is hanging about and going on longer than it should with its own little side tales.  Moria is the big event of the season, but first you have to muck about in the back story.

While the EverQuest progression servers were bogged down by the usual rush to get in, the LOTRO Legendary servers of Anor and Ithil were not under any similar strain.  Getting through to the first expansion had already weeded out the half hearted and the day trippers, leaving only the dedicate adventurers and the more hearty of the tourist class like myself.  So I nailed my colors to the mast… in the form of choosing a title… which I could change at any time… so not really nailed… but then again pulling out nails isn’t a huge effort either… and headed to Eregion.

Not sure why I was in Ost Guruth, but off I went

I had started in on Eregion a bit already while finishing up the volume I epic quest line.  You need to get in the initial quest count deed to be able to use swift travel to get to any of the hubs in the zone.  There are four such deeds, each unlocking swift travel for one of the quest hubs.  I had done enough quests to unlock the first two, which was enough to keep from having to take the long ride from Rivendell each time I needed to get back to Bree or Thorin’s Hall.  And you need to do that a few times.

Most of the quests tend towards the usual slaying of the local fauna.  Wolves and lynxes and such.  I think they straight up copied the lynx pelt quest from the Lone Lands.  And then there are the locals, the Dunlendings.  When I say that word aloud it sounds like the bank cutting off your credit line.  “Done lending!” said the bank manager.

Pretty sure I saw her at a Romeo Void concert in the 80s

They inspires neither fear nor passion.  And then there are the half orcs hanging about and the usual lying NPC escort quest.

As he walks slowly straight into some half orcs

Anyway, I ran the quest lines down to unlock the rest of the swift travel options and to get the invite to Echad Dunann, which is the stop just outside of Moria.

Map of Eregion

There you pick up the epic quest line again, which takes you into the Walls of Moria mini-zone.

Walls of Moria Map

There you piddle around with the dwarves, who are busy trying to get into Moria.  As we will see later, they are out in force and ready to infest Durin’s domain with quest givers, vendors, bankers, stable masters, and various other amenities of civilization.  But for the moment they are working on the door.

Somebody left a bunch of trash in front of the door

My job was to deliver lunches, collect wood, investigate various side quests, and warn the dwarves to stop throwing rocks in the mysterious black pool outside the door.  This last bit always makes me laugh as the dwarves in question are hurling stone after stone into the water like they were trying to fill the whole thing in before dinner.  At least they listed to reason, if too late.

Then why did I have to ask you to stop?

Eventually they all settle down, the doorway is cleared, and the work party has to stop for a moment to say some words before, you know, actually opening up the damn door.

Do you have to use that foreboding tone of voice?

And that is when the lurker shows up to start picking out dinner from the dwarf buffet table.  So it was time to run away, leaving the freshly cleared door behind.

All of which was the apparent necessary fore effort required to get you to Hundi, who has access to a cache of weapons of old, which are just the ticket for things like monsters lurking in deep pools outside of ancient dwarven ruins.

Hundi’s discount legendaries

Of course, Hundi’s gift loses its special nature when you find legendary weapons dropping like leaves in the autumn. I actually already had three in my bag from just running around Eregion.  As I said previously, I think WoW did the legendary thing better, making you do a little quest for a specific item then having you stick with it.  And I also think Blizz was smart to make that a one expansion exercise rather than trying to drag it along forever after.  But for a brief moment you can pretend that you’re getting something special Hundi.  At least you don’t have to go back to Rivendell and have Elrond and Glorfindel examine your new toy to give it their blessing.  The bureaucracy of the eldar is unending.

As a dwarf with a trait that boosts axe damage, I was kind of hoping to see an axe among the options.  However, for a shield bearing guardian you have only a sword and a club as an option.  As much as I like beating things with a club, I went with the sword.

So I had done it.  I had gotten my legendary weapon!

Only, as one does not just walk into Mordor, one also does not simply equip a legendary weapon.  First you have to go back to your home town and speak to somebody about the weapon.  It must be identified.  You then have to put some stickers on it or something.  Then, once they say you’re ready, you can actually wield the weapon.

So, weapon in hand, I took the swift travel options back to Eregion… you have to pass through the Rivendell travel hub of course… it is like the Atlanta of Eriador… to carry on questing. I wanted to put some levels on the weapon and so started in on the regular alerts.

Hey mister, your weapon leveled up again!

The alerts UI already loves to get on you about every little thing, so adding another did not thrill me.  And it is really bad at first because your weapon gets the first few levels nearly every time you hit something, at which point you have to stop and see how many points you have to spend on things to make the weapon better.  My usual first choice is raw DPS.  By default the weapon was worse than what I already had equipped.  Then I went after enhancements to bash related damage since about every other guardian skill involves you hitting somebody with your shield.

And then you get ten levels in and the alert says you have to reforge the weapon.

Every ten levels it is back to the shop

That means another ride back to your home town, some more instructions, and then back to Eregion again.  At least you get to give your weapon a custom name when you reforge.  I went with Cheese Slicer.

Back in the fields of Eregion I kept on going until I had the last swift travel deed unlock and had gotten a few more levels on the weapon.  Next up is a return to the walls of Moria and a bout with the lurker before heading back to Durin’s Door.

I’ll take what’s behind door number one

That is when the Mines of Moria expansion actually starts in earnest.

Moria Beckons

Moria, Moria, Moria, was there ever another expansion like the Mines of Moria?

The Mines of Moria

And today, should things go to plan… something of an ask for SSG given how last week played outMines of Moria should unlock on the LOTRO Legendary servers, Anor and Ithil.

Obligatory LOTRO Legendary graphic

A hopefully short and successful downtime is planned for today… it is supposed to be done before this post goes live… after which Moria will be unlocked.  The patch notes for the associated update give us the basics, including the bump in the level cap to 60 and such.  There will also be a special offer in the shop called the “Reclaim Moria Bundle” that includes quite a pile of items.  Honestly, I would worry about bag space on my main character on Anor were I to purchase it.

But nothing in that bundle calls to me either, so I likely spend my LOTRO Points on it.

And then there is my own relationship with the expansion.

It took me a while to get to Moria the first time around.  The expansion launched in November of 2008 but I didn’t step into the dark until nearly three years later.

Past Durin’s Door in August 2011

I blame that on… well… other games, my own laziness, and the fact that the gap between the Trollshaws and Eregion was pretty rough and very group focused back in the early days.  While I am not necessarily proud that I did the LOTRO Legendary journey almost completely solo so far, the fact that I could do as much as I did was largely due to changes made since the last time I played the game seriously.

As for making it out to the other side of Moria, that took another two years further and was done with a different character altogether.

Despite having some misgivings about the venture, I suspect that I will pick up where I left off in Eregion, equip one of the notoriously needy legendary weapons, and eventually step through the gate and into Moria.

The biggest problem will be finding the time to settle in and get it done.  As I noted in yesterday’s post, I have more games in play than I would normally consider.  Moria might have to wait for a bit.

Return of the Ring – LOTRO Up Again

Hello! Thank you for your patience during our extended downtime. All indications are that things are on schedule. Thank you for being here!

LOTRO Twitter, March 6, 8:35am

Famous last words?

Standing Stone Games had been reminding everybody via various sources, including Twitter, that both Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online would be down pretty much all of Wednesday, March 6th, for what was described as “data center work.”  Time to muck with the servers I guess.  And, as the quote above indicates, hours into the work things looked good.

And then things began to unravel and the time to complete started to creep forward.  Midnight of the first day moved to 5am of the next.  That became 11am, and then 5pm, and soon the time had moved into Friday and began to threaten weekend play time.

These things happen.  If you have a server farm and bring all the machines down… machines that have been up and running sometimes for years at a stretch… some small percentage are going to fail when you go to bring them back up.  And that leaves out any changes you might intend to make to them or the infrastructure while things are down.

A computer looks almost like an appliance, nicely packed away in a box.  But it is not.  It isn’t even close.  An appliance is a serious of parts… and even software… designed specifically to work together and do a very specific set of tasks.

Your computer is disguised chaos, a thousand points of failure flying in tight formation, hacked together from a bunch of components that mostly work together.  I’ve worked on the hardware end of things and I’ve had various suppliers show up to tell us that the part we use is being discontinued, but they have a replacement that is pin compatible and functionally the same… and then had that part stop production because it turned out that the old part was actually out of spec or our design only worked due to some unintended behavior of the part of some such and now we have to hire somebody to sit at the end of the line and hand solder a surface mount resistor on one of the pins on every single unit with the new part while we work on a redesign.  True story.

So I feel for those members of the team trying to get things back up and running.

And come Saturday morning there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel.  At about 5am Eastern or 2am Pacific time, the announcement went out that the servers were up again.

The game worlds have reopened. Thank you for your patience as we worked through these various data center issues in recent days.

LOTRO Twitter, March 9, 2:06am

But we were not done yet.

UPDATE: We are bringing back down the game worlds while we troubleshoot an issue with characters not receiving their proper account unlocks.

LOTRO Twitter, March 9, 2:36am

That persisted for a while, but about four hours later the servers were opened up again.

The game worlds have reopened. We appreciate your patience during this downtime, and thank you for being here.

LOTRO Twitter, March 9, 6:56am

That last one seemed to do it… but I held onto this post for another day because I wouldn’t be surprised if they found yet another glitch they needed to take things down to fix.

And, having gone more than two days past their planned outage, SSG has some offers for people to make them feel better about having been kept offline.  It is in the form of a FAQ.

Sales will be extended, everybody will get a bonus pack of various boosters, and VIP accounts that have logged in over the last 30 days will get 250 LOTRO Points.

DDO players will get something similar and have their own FAQ.

And so it goes.  They fared better that SOE did back in May 2011 when they were down almost 13 days, though that was due to a hacking incident.  And, of course, there is Alganon, which has been down since November 2017.

Now hopefully things will settle down a bit and SSG will get around to telling us when Moria is going to unlock on the LOTRO Legendary server.

February in Review

The Site

I was away on vacation for a week this month.  Did anybody notice?  No?

Well, me being away must have been good because total traffic was up when compared to January.  Not bad for a month with three fewer days.  Of course, it helped a lot that I posted about Burn Jita 2019.  That drove a lot of traffic here.  I don’t have a follow up post about the even however because I was away for the entire thing.

On other site topics, we learned back in October that Google Plus was getting shut down.  At the time we were told it would end in August of 2019.  Then, in December, Google found some more security issues, and that date was moved forward to April 2.

They knew enough to avoid April 1

With that new date rapidly approaching, Google has been warning people of the impending end for the service.  But April 2nd isn’t the only date in play.

Come March 7th, Google Plus will stop allowing external applications like WordPress to post to the service.  In advance of that WP.com has been warning its users that support for Google Plus publication will be terminated in advance of that date.

WP.com letting people know

So if you follow the site through Google Plus… and I suspect that might be as many as three people… posts there may cease as early as tomorrow.  This could be the last post to Google Plus you ever seem from me.  (Or from Richard Bartle, whose blog also publishes there.  For me Google Plus is pretty much the Richard Bartle tracker.)

Unlike Facebook, which cut automated posting to combat “fake news” (with little success, since ignorance is generally a grass roots affair), I won’t be bothering to sporadically post links to my posts following the demise of the integration.  So if you follow me there and want to keep reading my stuff, you will have to find another service.

Twitter maybe?  It isn’t so bad if you are careful about whom you follow.

The posts are also pushed to Tumblr as summaries, and I haven’t been banned yet as part of the great Tumblr porn panic, where the algorithm doesn’t know much about art, but knows if nipples are involved it must be porn.

One Year Ago

I was wondering if EA might be a better company if they were owned by Microsoft.

Trion Worlds announced that Rift Prime would launch on March 7th, putting it a good two weeks ahead of the previous estimated “spring” opening.

SuperData Research released their review of 2017 and it seemed to be missing a key title.

In World of Warcraft it was Battle for Azeroth pre-order time.  I bought it so I could start unlocking allied races.  Not that I needed more alts.  I also did a little raiding with leashes and got the Mr. Bigglesworth drop.

In New Eden the Monthly Economic Report showed a dip in activity , at least in overall NPC bounties, as we all turned to the Million Dollar Battle that January.

CCP was also proposing changes to the CSM election process as well as updating their game news RSS feeds.

The February update for EVE Online saw a change that allowed players to attack Upwell structures at any time and changed it so that unfueled structures only had one timer after hitting the shields rather than two.  That led to a spike in destroyed citadels.  There was also the Guardian’s Gala event and CCP still calling mission spaces “dungeons.”  The coming March update promised players a new ship.

In game I hit the meaningless milestone of 190 million skill points.

Actually out in space, Pandemic Horde gave up their space in Fade and Pure Blind to move to the Vale of the Silent, leaving a hole in null sec for somebody to fill.

Daybreak finally declared H1Z1 out of early access, but the battle royale market had already moved on.  Fortnite, significantly, was now available on PC and consoles.

And Extra Credits was going over the whole lockbox thing some more.

Five Years Ago

A lot of people got their panties in a twist about Steam tags.  It was the literal end of civilization as we knew it… for about 30 minutes.

EA handed over the running of Camelot Unchained and Ultima Online to Broadsword.

I spent some time with Warcraft III attempting to discover the pre-history of WoW.

There was Diablo III version 2.0, and the changes looked promising.

On the World of Warcraft front, we were still talking about Warlords of Draenor.  Pre-orders were announced an there was a rumor that the expansion would cost $60, which seemed a bit steep.  Also, insta-90s looked to be coming as a cash shop item.  Would all of that stem the tide on subscription decline?

Meanwhile, I finished the last of the LFR raids, witnessing the downfall of Garrosh Hellscream.  For all of the complaints about LFR, I enjoyed my raid tourism.  The instance group did Grim Batol, then made the jump to Pandaria before returning with slightly better equipment for Heroic Deadmines.

I was wondering why PvP seemed to be a requirement for all MMOs.

I got into The Edler Scrolls Online beta and declared it Skyrim-like enough for me, then never played it again.

Brad McQuaid’s Pantheon: Further Falling of the Fallen Kickstarter campaign was winding down, doomed to failure.  There was talk about what would happen next.  Plan B anybody?

I ran another EVE Online screen shot contest to give away some items from the Second Decade Collector’s Edition which I scored for free… after having bought it for myself.  And then there was the monument and drone assist and campaign medals and the repercussions of B-R5RB to talk about.

And I wondered what was going to happen with people being given free reign in Landmark.

Ten Years Ago

My 8800GT video card died.  That was the second one to go.

I had been looking at my dis-used GAX Online account and wondered what gamer social networking needed to be viable.  Since then, GAX Online has shut down.

PLEX showed up in EVE Online ten years ago.  It doesn’t seem like it has been around for that long.  And then there was the whole Goonswarm disbandment of Band of Brothers, and act that effectively ended the Great War, and which made the BBC news.  This led to talk of how much control players should have over their destiny.

In game I got the mining foreman mindlink as a storyline mission drop, I upgraded to a Raven Navy Isssue, and finally bought the freighter for which I had been training, and got some ships blown up in the Worlds Collide mission… again. There was EVE Vegas, which was just a player run meet up at that point.

I was still active in Lord of the Rings Online, playing characters on the Nimrodel server.  Looking for a class on which to affix the Reynaldo Fabulous name, I put up a poll on the subject.  While Minstrel won the poll, Reynaldo ended up being a hunter with a fabulous hat.  And when I wasn’t fooling around with alts, I was leveling up my captain who made it all the way to Rivendell at one point.

While over in Azeroth, it was revealed that my mom plays WoW.  I wondered at how active Westfall seems to be most of the time.  But the answer to that seems to be the Deadmines, which I ran my mom and daughter through. (No dungeon finder back then!)  There was a little pet drama with my daughter who wanted a raptor.  I also managed my first exalted status with a faction in WoW, the Kalu’ak in Northrend.  I wanted that fishing pole.

On the Wii, we had Wii Musicwhich was crap, and LEGO Batmanwhich suffered a bit from being yet another variation in the successful LEGO video game franchise.

And then there was the usual blog war shenanigans as somebody was still looking to blame WoW and WoW players for Warhammer Online’s failure to meets its subscriber goals.  I think we’re all over that now, right?  Warhammer did what it did on its own faults and merits in a market that was well known before they shipped.

Fifteen Years Ago

The aptly named Gates of Discord expansion for EverQuest launched.  While Smed called its bug-ridden launch “SOE’s worst mistake in five years” it did see the game to its subscription peak of 550K and introduced instancing as the default dungeon mode, something WoW would make a genre default soon enough.

The creator of the original Castle Wolfenstein game from 1981, Silas Warner,  passed away at… oh dear, my age.  I played that game a lot back on my Apple II.

Twenty Years Ago

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, arguably one of the best entries in the Civilization series, ships.  My only nit-pick is that it ran full screen at pre-set resolutions so, unlike its predecessor Civilization II, if you play it today it either has to be in a small window or distorted full screen on your likely much-bigger-than-1999 monitor.

Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance also launched, one of the better Star Wars titles.  But Star Wars was never plagued by bad titles the way Star Trek has been over the years.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Burn Jita back for 2019
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Rumors of Future Daybreak Projects and the End of EverQuest
  4. Burn Jita 2019 Kicks Off
  5. Burn Jita 2018 Aftermath
  6. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Trying Out the Guardians Gala Sites
  9. What Should EverQuest 3 Even Look Like?
  10. No Good Expansions*
  11. The First EverQuest II Progression Server is Coming to an End
  12. Activision Blizzard – Famine in the Midst of Plenty

Search Terms of the Month

is raptr dead or what
[Or what!]

darkfall unholy wars 2019
[Keep on dreamin’]

anything else like all access from daybreak
[XBox Live maybe?]

eve online passie tank vs buffer tank
[Passie tank better than a failie tank]

library of congress “server code”
[The Library of Congress server code is open source]

give usual predictions of new year
[Covered that back on the first of the year]

Game Time from ManicTime

Month two of time tracking with ManicTime. My gaming division of time for February.

  • RimWorld 37.58%
  • WoW 26.12%
  • EVE Online 20.09%
  • EQ 14.28%
  • Minecraft 1.24%
  • LOTRO 0.68%

LOTRO went from top of the heap in January to not much activity at all.  I also binged on a stretch of RimWorld, which replaced LOTRO at the top.  WoW and EQ, which were negligible last month, saw big boosts as I went to those places for my MMORPG fix. And EVE Online stayed about the same.

EVE Online

I was fairly active in fleets during the first half of the month as Liberty Squad brought “freedom” to the inhabitants of The Kalevala Expanse. (I have to look up the name of that region every time. My brain thinks anything that starts with “Kale” should end with “yuck.”)

However, for the back half of the month I was busy with other things, including being away on vacation last week.  As such I missed some big fights in null sec, all of Burn Jita, and the whole Guardian’s Gala event.  I heard that the latter was a bit messed up, but beyond that I couldn’t tell you much beyond it.

EverQuest

Nostalgia for times now 20 years in the past is swelling.  I logged in for a bit in order to get myself back up to speed on the game.  Or down to speed, depending on how you look at it.  That brought me through the Gloomingdeep tutorial.  Will that be enough of a warm up before the big anniversary event?

Lord of the Rings Online

I finished up Volume I of the epic quest line, putting a cap on my Shadows of Angmar experience on the LOTRO Legendary server.  Actually, I did that last month, but only got around to the final post this month.  After that I was sort of done with LOTRO for the time being, and haven’t bothered logging in more than once or twice since then.

Minecraft

I did spend a bit of time playing Minecraft.  I didn’t do anything complicated or start any new public works projects.  I just pottered around a base, improving it, building up some paths and such.  I just wanted to do something simple while listening to an audio book.  Minecraft is often perfect for that.  I am still waiting for the Village & Pillage & Panda update to hit.  It seems like we’ve been waiting for that for quite a while now.

Pokemon Go

Not a lot to report here.  I am closing in on level 36, largely due to several people hitting the “Ultra Friend” level, which is good for 100,000 points.

Level: 35 (+0)
Pokedex status: 388 (+3) caught, 415 (+10) seen
Pokemon I want: Meltan, but I still have a several tasks to go in order to get there
Current buddy: Togetic

RimWorld

I have carried on with RimWorld, and with the colony that had such a disastrous turn, about which I posted earlier in the month.  I’ll have to carry on with that story.  As I have said before, RimWorld has that “one more thing” aspect to it that will keep me up late when I had sworn I was going to go to bed early.  There is always something else to do.  Also, as an MMO player, having a game you can pause and walk away from is a nice change as well.  On the other hand, I think my pausing and walking away might be inflating RimWorld‘s play time stats.  There is always another problem.

World of Warcraft

Finishing up the epic quest line in LOTRO lined up just right with the start of Darkmoon Faire in WoW, so I went and did that since they’ve fixed the trade skill quests.  I also finished up both the exploration and quest line achievements for Drustvar.  That opened up World Quests for me.  While faction grinds are generally bad, taking them in daily four quest bites isn’t such an ordeal.

And then they had a week of double experience for pet battles, so I was in on that as well.  I do that with an alt, who is now level 112 but has never been into the BfA content.  Gaff also joined in on the WoW front, so there have been times with all of three people in guild chat, myself, Gaff, and Earl.  Earl is never not playing WoW.

Coming Up

EverQuest turns 20 in just over two weeks.  I’ve mentioned the special servers already this week, but I suspect that there will be other special things going on as well.  Gnomish things, among others I guess.

I expect that we’ll hear something about EVE Online CSM elections.  And there will be the monthly update.  Otherwise the low intensity wars in Perimeter and the east side of null sec seem set to carry on.

On the LOTRO front it seems like a lock that the Mines of Moria expansion will be coming our way on the Legendary server.  I am still not certain how strongly I’ll be in for Moria.

March otherwise looks to be a quiet month.  Spring starts towards the end, at least in the northern hemisphere, and of course daylight savings time starts in the US, for states that observe that (I wish California would opt out even though that would literally mean a bunch of work and testing with time zones yet again in my job), so I will be cranky(er) from sleep pattern interruption and people will be asking what “PDT” stands for again.

What else does March have in store for us?

Shall I Venture Forth into Moria?

The Lord of the Rings Online Legendary server has been a big success for me personally so far.

I went back, played through the Shadows of Angmar content, revisited old favorite places, and expanded my reach into things I  had not done in the past.  Op success.

Where legends are revisited

It wasn’t perfect.  I did most of the run solo.  Friends I had played with in the past were not interested in returning (having the lifetime subscription made returning easy for me, but I am not sure I would have gone if I had to pay) and I didn’t end up finding any sort of regular group.  I joined a Kinship, then never did anything with them.  I was moving too slow at first, so was behind the curve and not able to join in on instances with them.

And by the time I had caught up and was through with the epic quest line, I was feeling done with Shadows of Angmar.  Initial plans I had about alts and such faded after three months of focus on the game.  It was a “three monther” I guess.

But the Mines of Moria expansion is coming.  Standing Stone, in its usual indecisive, foot shuffling way, suggested in its recent producer’s letter that Moria will probably open up some time in March, that being the nearest of futures I suppose, all while avoiding making direct eye contact.

Given my general feeling of success when it came the run through Shadows of Angmar, I am seriously considering a return bout for the Mines of Moria.  But I am not sold on it yet, so I am going through the pros and cons of such a venture.

Pros

Refreshed – After a month away from LOTRO, I might be ready for a fresh expedition.

Moria itself – The place is huge and epic and really unlike any other MMORPG expansion that I can think of.  Has there ever been an expansion set almost completely underground?

New Discoveries – I’ve only been end-to-end through Moria and out into daylight on the other side once.  I am sure I missed something along the way.  I was getting antsy to get out towards the end there.

The Crowd – The one time I did make it through Moria I think Helms Deep was the current expansion, so I went through a very quiet version of the underground complex.  It might be nice to see it crowded with people.

Progress – It might be nice to move through the game with each unlock.  I own all the expansions, but really haven’t played much beyond Moria.

Lifetime – Hey, since I have a lifetime subscription, it won’t cost me anything extra.  I am already paid up.

Cons

Competition – March also sees the 20th anniversary of EverQuest hit, and when it comes to the nostalgia factor, EQ > LOTRO.  That does depend on what Daybreak has on tap, but there it is.

The Crowd – Honestly, there were a lot of people in Moria relative to how Tolkien described it.  The dwarves moved in pretty damn fast behind the fellowship, especially considering there was a war on.  What will it be like in that constrained space with tons of players milling about?

Moria itself – As majestic and wonderful and large and well appointed as Moria can be, it is still a goddam cave, and we don’t call somebody a “caveman” as a compliment.  In my one run through it I wanted to get to the end in part because I wanted to get outside under the sky again.  Ten levels in Moria made me miss the usual bear/boar/wolf tropes of Shadows of Angmar.

Eregion and Lothlorien – There is a bell curve of interest when it comes to the Mines of Moria expansion.  Eregion on the near side is nothing special, and Lothlorien on the far side is uninspired enough that I was tempted to go back into the cave after a bit of sunshine.

Legendary Weapons – Somebody will claim to like legendary weapons, but I am going with Stockholm syndrome when that comes up.  I hate legendary weapons and I wish Turbine had dropped the idea the moment we get out of the cave.  Having to constantly tend to the needy baby that is your legendary weapon is just unfun.  Identifying, advancing, reforging, adorning with gems and runes and whatever else, all of which requires you to go back to camp, is an endless chore.  And don’t get me started on all of the legendary weapons that drop that you cannot use, since they are class specific.  Just what I need, more inventory issues and something else I need to bring back to camp to deconstruct.

Progress to What? – The problem with getting past Lothlorien is that it just leads into Mirkwood, which lives up to its reputation from The Hobbit.  It is a dark and boring place… literally darker than Moria in my memory.

Conclusion

I am undecided.  My enthusiasm is at war with my pessimism.  I left Eregion alone once I had finished the epic quest tasks there and had done enough quests to unlock the first stable master.  And much of the zone is skippable if I recall right.  You just have to get on the right path to get into Moria and then into the hole.

I will likely start off down the Moria path.  Whether or not I end up persisting probably depends as much on other options as anything.  As I said, the EverQuest 20th anniversary has a possibility of providing a viable and even more nostalgic alternative.  Then there are some friends who are talking about giving Path of Exile a run when the next season of it commences.  And there is always WoW.  It is easy to slip into playing that.  I guess we will see by the end of the month where I fall on this.

Book XV Denouement in Eriador

Book XV is the final final act of Volume I of the epic quest line Lord of the Rings Online.  Getting past it wraps up the tale of the game before the Mines of Moria is unlocked.

They’re just making up their own legends at this point

We left off previously with Amarthiel defeated, deprived of the ring Narchuil, the lesser ring that corrupter her, and forced to watch her father, who had strove so hard over these last few books in order to save his daughter, struck down before her.

Mordirith awarded the ring to Mordrambor and they both left, confident in their victory.

There on the ground the narrator told us that Amarthiel was taken into custody, which ended Book XIV.

Book XV starts off with Elrond ordering an investigation of Amarthiel, who has decided to return to her original name Narmeleth, to see whether or not she poses a threat to the free peoples.  This got delegated down the Rivendell hierarchy until it landed back in my lap.

The first thing was to go out and speak with her at her prison in Delossad, where she had been held by her father previously… so lots of good memories there… and possibly where she murdered and took the guise of Sara Oakheart.

Setup for the final book

That sets you on a course through the next few chapters of investigating and reliving formative points, including when Antheron… Sauron in a fair disguise, name changed from Annatar probably due to Turbine not holding the rights to works outside of the trilogy… tempts her to the dark side by offering to teach her to make wonderful things.

Oversell much?

Feanor made the silmarils, the jewels which captured the light of the two trees, Laurelin and Telperion, which were deemed the greatest work of craft by the elves, the theft of which was the root cause of the problems of the Third Age.

Given that, I’m not sure a ring would really be beyond the imagination of Fearnor.  And while it is within every salesperson to shade the truth, you’d think one of the Noldor, the kin of Fearnor might smell a rat in that.  But given that they forged all those rings of power, maybe not.  Elves.

The highlight of this set of investigative and marginally informative interludes is that even the devs seemed to have realized by that point that making you run, ride, or recall all over Eriador was really getting old, so the quest chain actually teleports you around.  You accept some of the quests, like the one telling you to report in at Esteldin, and you just get sent there.

You still have to go do the ground work, find people, count noses, pick up a broken sword from a grave… I wasn’t aware that there would be so much broken gear and grave robbery when I signed up for this gig… but at least the whole series cut back on the whole need to travel to talk to somebody who will then send you off to do the actual task thing.

This all winds up with you and Narmeleth being sent off to defeat Mordrambor, destroy Narchuil, and throw down Mordirith, lest they overrun Eriador in the name of Sauron.

My thought on the plan was along the lines of, “Didn’t we get our asses handed to us by this duo a couple of times already, even when Narmeleth/Amarthiel had the ring helping her?”  I mean, our ace in the hole was the broken blade of the sword that didn’t slay Mordirith back in Book 8.  How it that going to work out well?  But you go where the plot dictates, so I followed Narmeleth into Gador Gularan.

Narmeleth at least dropped the “must walk very slowly” trait she used when in the guise of Sara Oakheart.  I will give her that.  But one of the elements of this instance was keeping her alive and, in the grand style of LOTRO escort quests, she showed all the usual subtly in passing through danger… which means she couldn’t have drawn more aggro if she had walked into an Orc bar in Mordor clad in her elven finery and took a whizz on the symbol of the unblinking eye.

Keeping her alive was a chore, as she chose to run headlong into every room like a tank in a WoW Dungeon Finder group, intent on grabbing ALL the aggro right away.  Fortunately, as a guardian, I can pull aggro back, but she seemed intent on swapping to target the mob I had the least hold on so as to beat on it until she got aggro back.

And to top that off, her speedy gait… literally running to the next fight at times… meant that she was headed into danger with half health as well.  This must be a painful instance with a hunter or a burglar.

Still, I managed to shepherd her through the preliminaries despite her death wish, only to have her drop the usual NPC bombshell when the big fight looms.

Wait, after all that you’re not going to get close to him?

Playing “the ring might still have a power over me” card, Narmeleth said she would be there ringside for the fight, but there would be no tapping her in.

There was a bit of good news to go with this however.

Wait, how many of us do you see?  How many fingers am I holding up?

For the square off against Mordrambor apparently only one member of your fellowship is supposed to get in there and fight him.  This was good news, to me at least, since doing this solo I had been buffed up to have the strength of a whole fellowship in a single dwarf.  In the classic Sir Robin, “That’s easy!” frame of mind I dove into the battle.

Fighting Mordrambor wasn’t really a chore.  With the buffs, and being a guardian, I was handling him pretty well.  Only after a while did I realize what the rest of your fellowship is supposed to be doing while one of you fights Mordrambor; protect Narmeleth.

I suddenly realized that her health bar was extremely low.  Fighting with my back to her I hadn’t noticed that she had attracted some mobs and was literally standing in the fire, quietly dying.  I ran back to her and cleared off the attackers, but her health bar was dangerously low.  After that I had to shuttle back and forth between her and Mordrambor.  But her health was too low to last, and soon disaster struck.

Me either… say something next time!  Also, get out of the damn fire!

So it was back to the start again.

This time, knowing her style, I immediately ran ahead to grab mobs before she got in the room, saving myself a lot of hassle in trying to rescue her every time the cave got wide enough for some orcs to hang out.

We faced Mordrambor again.  This time I positioned myself to fight him while watching her, running back and forth as needed.

I’m watching you… don’t stand in the fire!

Mordrambor just stays in his spot when you run back to her, which seemed pretty sporting of him.  It would have been easy for him to just stick me in the back while I was attending to other issues.

Forewarned of the dynamics, Mordrambor was defeated.  Narmeleth took the ring from him and, after the usual reminiscing over the power the ring gave her, tossed it into the molten pool, destroying it.

That left Mordirith.

He was deeper in Gador Gularan and, when we arrived, acted the smug host saying that our arrival was not unexpected.  The usual villain puffery.  And so we got stuck into fighting him.  His trick for the battle was to summon up people from past chapters in an effort to throw Narmeleth.  But that wasn’t going to throw me.

Slay Sara Oakheart? Dare I live the Middle-earth dream?

Those multiplied in number with each round, though the individual illusions grew weaker as they were split, so five Laerdans were no more difficult than three Sara Oakhearts.

Talk about your daddy issues!

After that played out… who was he going to use after Laerdan… Narmeleth called out Mordirith to come and face her like a… whatever he is… and he didn’t, knocking her down, stunning me, and taking control of the camera to keep it focused on him.  And then he proceeded to monologue.

Gloating villain mistake… soon you’ll be telling her your plans

During this whole speech the character models interact in a very odd way, with Narmeleth’s head lolling about, eyes open and an awkward look on her face, as Mordirith seems to move her about like he is rubbing her head on his torso.  I realize that it is just that the models… and human bodies… just don’t bend that way gracefully, but I have to admit I found it a bit distracting.

This ends in the expected way, with the delay letting Narmeleth rally while the content of the monologue only enrages her, letting her anger and determination combine so that when he starts making fun of her father she strikes.

In with the red currents!

She sticks him with the sword and he is reported as “thrown into the void… never to return” as Narmeleth lays there.  She declares that her time no Middle-earth is ending as well and asks me not to weep, though by this point I think she is delirious and mistaking relief with sorrow.

After that it was back to rewind up the chain of command, back to Elrond, who gives you an epilogue task that has you rooting around Laerdan’s room for a package he has left for you.  That awards you a cosmetic cloak, a mount, some legendary item experience (wasted, since I don’t have one yet), a portrait of Narmeleth to hang in your house (also wasted, as LOTRO housing does not appeal to me), and a title to commemorate your deed.

Champion of Eriador

And so it goes.

At that point I had pretty much accomplished what I had set out to do on the legendary server.  As with any run through content I’ve done before… some of it many times when it comes to LOTRO… I managed to go through some old favorites while seeing some bits I had not done before.

I had some idea about doing an alt or two through the original content as well, but at this point I am feeling more like taking a bit of a break.  I played pretty regularly over the last three month, logging in nightly to play over the first eight weeks at least.  That tapered off some towards the end as the end of the epic quest line came within sight.

I might go back and finish off some lower level deeds as the month goes by, but I doubt LOTRO will rank as high in my play time this month as it did last.

The main question is probably whether I will return for the unlocking of The Mines of Moria, currently slated for “March-ish.”  That is in doubt.  Most of my affection for LOTRO lays in the first fifty levels.  I don’t dislike Moria, but neither do I yearn for it or the annoyance of the legendary item system.  And beyond Moria there isn’t much to pull me.  I found Mirkwood a bore, its dark tedium a barrier between me and any further content.

But the main issue is that come March we will be getting into the EverQuest 20th anniversary events, and there is a distinct possibility that my focus will lay there rather than in Middle-earth.

So we shall see where I end up come the end of the month I suppose.