Category Archives: Lord of the Rings Online

September in Review

The Site

I got another WordPress.com achievement.  Go me.

A New Record!

I think I hit that largely based on the impending death of Raptr, which is a bit sad when you consider it.  Still, go me.

Also, I got quite a spike in traffic this month from the Warzone event in EVE Online and from being linked in a post over at PC Gamer about the Circle of Two heist/betrayal.  The latter used my LOL Keepstar screen shot and nicely linked me as the source.

LOL bubbles at the Keepstar in 68FT-6

The Warzone event traffic, no doubt representing people trying to figure out how the event worked, seems indicative of CCP perhaps not thinking things through.  Or at least not communicating sufficient information about the event, especially in light of how past events under The Agency banner have been run.  (And how easy they were relative to Warzone.)

Anyway, one of my search terms of the month below is dedicated to CCP.

One Year Ago

It was the tenth anniversary of the blog.

I was looking back at day/night cycles and full zone respawns of yore.

My wife’s Pokemon Go account was hacked, but I recovered it pretty quickly.  That post brings in a lot of search engine traffic looking for ways to hack Pokemon Go accounts.  So many bad people.

Daybreak announced that both EverQuest and EverQuest II would be launching Kunark focused expansions, with Empires of Kunark slated for the former and Kunark Ascending for the latter.

Smed was taking his Hero’s Song project back to the crowdfunding arena again, this time via Indiegogo which, unlike Kickstarter, lets you keep the money even if you don’t meet your goal.

I was going on about problems EVE Online has getting new players to stick with the game… again.  We also had the YC118.8 Update which revamped a the look of mining barges and some frigates, among other thing.  It also launched the Purity of the Throne event that had me chasing white skins for Amarr ships.

There was also the ascension of Caitiz of House Tash-Murkon to the Amarr throne.  All those ships are still lined up in Amarr for some reason.  Did they have to wait a year for the first Jubilee?

And Alpha Clones would soon be a thing, so I was wondering what you could do with one.

In post-Casino War events the Imperium finished conquering Delve and a state of normalcy was starting to come to pass.  I also got my last ship out of Deklein.

And then there was World of Warcraft where the Legion expansion was off and running.  There was even an app for it.  I started off slowly as I figured things out and moved clockwise around the Broken Isles.  That didn’t stop me from checking up on my Draenor garrison though.

And then in one of those bullet point posts that I always hate a year later when it comes time to do the summary I covered Star Trek Online going to consoles, Legends of Norrath card packs, rewards for Omega players in EVE Online, and the then upcoming EVE Vegas.

Finally, No Man’s Sky launched, capping off yet another dismal episode of fan behavior.  After getting death threats for delaying the launch, Hello Games finally shipped the game only to have the fan base explode even more so when it was discovered that features that were straight up said to be in the product… multiplayer being the prime suspect… were not.  Still, it made a lot of money and features have since been added and it got its own Honest Game Trailers video.  There is, no doubt, lessons to be learned here.

Five Years Ago

The World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria launched, adding a panda race to Azeroth, right on Ultima Online’s 15th anniversary.   I think the shark jumping trope jumped the shark that day.

I was falling out of WoW myself, though still not allowed to unsubscribe. Being locked out of the Theremore event due to item level helped kill any enthusiasm I had for staying with the game.

Torchlight II showed up.  I was still waiting for the Mac OS version so I could play with my daughter.

In the land of EverQuest, the Rain of Fear expansion was announced, while EverQuest II went straight to truth in advertising and revealed an expansion called Chains of Eternity.

On the Fippy Darkpaw server, Omens of War went live and was finished.

SOE was talking about some form of Wizardry that was online.   PlanetSide 2 was planned for the end of the year… sort of.  And then there was Player Studio and all that implied.

The next chapter in the Darkfall saga was announced.  And they had a new game/expansion or some such.

In EVE Online, the CSM was looking for a way to… well… screw most of the people who actually vote for the CSM.  I stranded my null sec Drake in Jita and I compared Traffic Control to a hostile FC.

In a more serious vein, the real world reached into our game took a fellow player.  Even tragedy cannot displace idiocy though.

My goal to get my fourth class in Rift, a mage, to level cap before Storm Legion had me in Stonefield.

BioWare, not done with their trend of announcing public metrics they eventually failed to meet, committed themselves to a new content schedule for SWTOR.  Later we found out that “adding items to the cash shop” counts as new content.  Meanwhile, I pondered the SWTOR lore choice.

The Lord British saga continued as he opted to jump in bed with Zynga!  He, of course, expressed great fondness for Zynga, while I wondered what his sith name would be, since he was clearly going the Anakin Skywalker route.

I remembered Spaceship Warlock.

Free to play was still under discussion.  An article in Game Developer Magazine included the warning to not assume profitability just because people are going on about revenues.  And yet all I hear about are revenues when it comes to free to play.

The people at Stormpowered Studios started in against marriage.

And the blog turned six and felt very clever about it.

Ten Years Ago

I summed up my first year of blogging.  I also participated in a meme… back when that wasn’t an picture thing… about the power of four.

Auto Assault was gone, another NCsoft title shut down.  I was wondering if Tabula Rasa might follow suit.

I started thinking about what an expansion would look like for Lord of the Rings Online.  I was also browsing in Othrikar.  But I was more curious as to why the game just wasn’t as much fun as, say, World of Warcraft.

On the Wii it was Mario Party 8 and the Virtual Console.

In EVE Online I finally fixed the sound driver issue that was making the game crash. Hah, I used to run EVE with the sound on!

In other New Eden events, I was flying the Mammoth as a hauler to support mining ops in my Retriever.  Jet can mining and training up to Mining Barge V and salvaging.  I was also getting lost with the corp and station interface.  Another wish list there.  At least I found the “warp to 0” options quickly.  I still wasn’t quite sure what people meant by “tank” in the game though.

I was still running missions and had advanced to cruisers on that front.  And I was losing them as well.  I also had to queue to log in because there were 21K people in the game.  Traffic control was coming up as well.  CCP was working on the issue.

Our summer vacation from Azeroth was over with the return of Earl.  We were back to running instances, starting with Zul’Farrak.  Of course, then we realized nobody had the mallet, so we had to go get that.  I still have it in the bank.  I was also out searching for mithril.

SOE announced that their combined Station Launcher would be available for beta soon.  I don’t think it ever left beta before it was finally scrapped.

I was reminiscing about the Thundering Steppes in EverQuest II, a zone I was playing in less than three years before.  Early onset nostalgia I guess.

There was the loaded question about who counts as “press” in a world where blogs exist.  People seem determined to embrace arbitrary rules on that front, something that always leads to suppression of opinions with which they disagree.

And finally there were naked zones and wondering how to make PvP (and PvE) better.

Twenty Years Ago

Ultima Online launched.  Raph Koster has some accumulated memories of the game from over the years and a link to a video… and then he wrote some more about the game as it came about, what influenced it and what it influenced.

A little title called Total Annihilation also launched 20 years ago today.  With a real three dimensional environment and line of site constraints, it was ahead of its time and remains an underrated title to my mind.  Cave Dog, the developer, went bust ages ago and, through the twists and turns of the video game business, Wargaming.net of World of Tanks fame now owns the rights to the title.

Most Viewed Posts in September

  1. At the Camp in 68FT-6
  2. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  3. The Agency Warzone Extraction Event in EVE Online
  4. Running some Warzone Extraction Event Sites
  5. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  6. Alpha Strike in New Eden
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. The Imperium Buys a Keepstar
  9. EQ2 Wire to Shut Down after Nine Years
  10. Top 25 EVE Online Corporations Graph – The End Number
  11. Missions and Content on Demand
  12. Quests, Missions, and Return on Investment

Search Terms of the Month

mallet of zul’farrak
[Still in my bank somewhere]

eve learning curve
[It is still a thing]

how to get to scarlet monastery
[Do people still walk there?]

torchlight 2 updates 2017
[That seems unlikely]

do you need to play pvp in mmorpg
[Only in the good ones]

future everquest game
[Maybe some day]

i’m thinking of resubbing to wow 2017
[Me too…]

eve online warzone extraction wtf?
[A question asked by many]

EVE Online

Well, after the CO2 betrayal caper things got sort of quiet.  I tinkered with alts and did some of the Warzone Extraction event sites, but there wasn’t a lot to draw me to New Eden after the camp at 68FT-6 drew down.

Guild Wars 2

There is a new expansion and people I know are playing which makes me sort of thing about maybe trying it some more.  I patched up at least.  My highest level character is 41 and hanging about in Harathi Hinterlands, which has to be the most Azeroth sounding zone in the game.  Otherwise, not a lot to report.

Lord of the Rings Online

I managed to get through another month of avoiding Mordor.  Seriously, I bought the expansion, have the character boost, but have not stepped foot into that dark land.  Then again, I hear it is brutal solo.  I did try to carry on with a character I boosted to level 95 previously.  However, the first place he was sent out of Rohan was the paths of the dead, which was also pretty tough for somebody still getting back into the swing of the game.

Minecraft

One of the members of our server built some giant monuments in the game, something I have been meaning to do a post about.  However my own efforts there have been somewhat desultory.  I log in, I work for a bit on the rail line I have going to the north mansion, then I log off.  Also, Minecraft Overviewer still hasn’t been updated for Windows, and I miss being able to update my map of the world.  The pain of open source and waiting for somebody to step up and do a build for you. (I’d give it a shot if you need a full version of Visual Studio.)

Pokemon Go

No big changes as the game carries on.  I still make sure to catch a Pokemon and hit a PokeStop every day.  There are rumors of third generation Pokemon showing up some day, but nothing concrete yet.

  • Level: 29 (+0, though I am closing in on 30)
  • Pokedex status: 189 (+1) caught, 222 (+3) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Gyrados, since the new legendaries are nigh on impossible
  • Current buddy: Magikarp… only 80km more to get enough candies for a Gyrados

Also, after months of saying she really wanted a Snorlax my wife finally had one hatch.  One evening she was reading a game message aloud, “Snorlax has battled hard…” and I was all, “When did you get a Snorlax?”  It had come from an egg earlier in the week and she hadn’t even noticed.  She just started putting it in gyms as soon as it showed up.

Pokemon Gold & Silver

I picked up a copy of Pokemon Silver from the Nintendo Store and started off on that adventure.  We’ll see how Pokemon from 1999 compares with Pokemon from 1996 and 2016.

Coming Up

Well, as I mentioned earlier in the month, there will be no more Raptr tomorrow.

Potshot had been tinkering with Medieval Engineers and, since it was on sale (and had been on my wishlist for a while), so I picked up a copy as well.  A post about it seems likely should I be able to engineer anything.

After the decapitation of Circle of Two in EVE Online we seem to be in another consolidation stage in the south end of null sec as former members of the alliance settle in with new groups.  Things will likely remain quiet for a bit on that front.

Still, we have the Life Blood expansion to look forward to as well as EVE Vegas, which I will be attending.

We’re likely to get more details about the upcoming EverQuest and EverQuest II expansions.

And, while BlizzCon itself isn’t until the first week of November, speculation as to what Blizzard will be talking about will no doubt be a hot topic in October.

I am sure something else will show up next month, but I can’t think of anything else at the moment.

August in Review

The Site

Despite there being no official Blaugust event this year, I went through and posted every single day this month all the same, sometimes more than once a day, ending up with 38 posts this month, the most I have done in a single month in the last few years.  Does Blaugust bring quality as well as quantity however?

Meanwhile, I managed to get a double hit this month from CCP Phantom’s This Week in EVE post.  The weekly post is linked in the EVE Online launcher and you should be clicking on it every week if you want to keep up with the game.  Plus it includes links out to the community.   In issue #163 a couple of weeks back there was a link to both a post I wrote here and one from my EVE Online Pictures blog

One interesting bit about getting the link is that the new EVE Online forums shows how many people clicked on a given link in a post.  So, for example, the link to the picture post on EVE Online Pictures showed 752 people had clicked on it at some point.

Link click counter… with mouse over text that also says 752

This represents something of an opportunity to check WP.com blog stats.  If the EVE forums say 752 people clicked on it then I can match that up with what the WP.com stats say for that post.

Of course, in attempting to reconcile this, we’re back to usual disconnect when it comes to web stats.  At the time I took that screen shot indicating 752 clicks WP.com was telling me that the post in question had a total of 1,032 page views, leaving a 280 click-wide gap between the two numbers.

Now, not everybody who clicked on the post came from the forums.  My posts there get linked over on EVE Bloggers and Total EVE.  And even in the forums there is the German version of the post where it was linked as well.  Still, I couldn’t make the numbers add up, or even come close.  So we remain stuck with the premise “all web stats are lies.”

One Year Ago

It was really Blaugust, so I was posting every… single… day even though it was supposed to be the “super relaxed” version of the event.

After spilling Mr. Yoshida’s delicious sauce over my ancient cell phone, I finally joined the smart phone boom with an iPhone 5S.  Of course, that meant playing Pokemon Go, something my wife does better than I do.

I tried to come to grips with the constant whine that every MMORPG should cater to every single play style by asking if any MMORPG had ever managed to find a new audience after launch.  I remain unconvinced that it has ever worked.

Blizzard was telling people that World of Warcraft was still the number one subscription MMORPG. But after their vow of silence on subscription numbers, that brag seemed a bit empty.

In the game though things were looking up as the pre-Legion expansion event , the demon invasions, proved to be a boon to leveling up alts as they built up momentum.  And I still had that level 100 boost with the expansion to look forward to.

And then WoW Legion launched and it was on to the Broken Isles and class halls and what not.

I speculated what WoW expansions would look like if they were done like Pokemon games.

The Stormhold server in EverQuest II was facing a unlock voting crisis over the Rise of Kunark expansion.  It failed the first two votes, and failing a third would put votes in a moratorium for a while.  However, it passed on the third try.  I also shared my secret EQII shame.  Of course, with the coming of WoW Legion I was out of the game… like Legends of Norrath… just in time to miss some deals.

In EVE Online we had the YC118.7 update.  I was wondering if better PvE could save the game, though I remain unsure as to what “better” would really look like.

I was also celebrating my ten year anniversary with EVE Online.  Meanwhile CCP had a free to play plan lined up for New Eden.  It looked like it had some holes in it though… which we later learned it did.

Down in the southwest of New Eden the Imperium had set up shop in Sakht and was banging on the door of Delve, dropping citadels, blowing up citadels, and fighting LUMPY over sov timers.  Despite threats to keep the Imperium down for good, the locals in Delve got very little support in their fight and we were into the region shortly.

Back up north I was able to slip my last belongings out of the newly quiet system of Saranen.  Meanwhile, Executive Outcomes, which rode out the struggle as part of the Imperium, parted ways once the Casino War was over.

And somewhere along the line I found the time to get out Half-Life 2 and give it another spin.

Five Years Ago

Star Trek Online was totally not dying and Star Wars: The Old Republic was totally not a failure as it shed more customers and announced it was going free to play.

Then Vanguard suddenly went free to play ahead of schedule, no doubt trying to get in early and avoid the crowd.

It was announced that NCsoft would be closing down City of Heroes.

Torchlight II gave us a launch date.  But not before giving us a date for a date.  But there was no date for the promised MacOS version.

Turbine delayed Riders of Rohan, but continued pushing the crazy stuff you would see.

SOE decided that you can afford integrity only after you pay the bills, and threw in with lockboxes.  What happened to the implied social contract?

Guild Wars 2 went live at last, thwarting Blizzard’s nefarious scheme.

I was paid up on my 1 year subscription for World of Warcraft, but Blizzard wouldn’t let me cancel further payment.  They must have been concerned about subscribers, having dropped more subs than SWTOR had left.

Speaking of year long commitments, Trion liked that Blizzard idea so much, they did it themselves and gave us an ugly mount for it right away.  Oh, and they got rid of faction group restrictions.  What population problems?  The instance group started on its attendance slide, with just four of us trying Runic Descent.  At least we had instant adventures.  Or was that instant levels?

In EVE Online, there was a revamp of mining ships.  I listed them out and wondered which would become the most popular.  In the end, the Mackinaw won I think.  All the while CSM7 seemed intent on proving that the thing they loved most in EVEOnline was themselves.

Meanwhile, having been asked by TEST to leave the war down in Delve, the CFC got into a scrap with Northern Coalition over moons.  We fought in Venal and some monkeys lost a titan.  We were staging in QPO for a thrust into Tribute with the goal of taking a forward base at UMI-KK.

AWESOMESAUCE.LIVE was announced.  Only the fact that it was later cancelled preserved my faith in humanity.

Finally, I took the crazy train out of Barstow and threw out a few movie reviews.

Ten Years Ago

I won something in a contest!  A Warp Drive Active Shirt!

And speaking of EVE Online, I started down the training path to get my alt flying a Hulk.  As with most such ventures, it began with mining in the modest Bantam frigate and the oddly shaped Osprey cruiser.  Also, our corp, the Twilight Cadre was founded.  I also wrote up a piece on how to find an agent in EVE Online (without external resources) that was one of the most viewed posts on this site for quite a stretch. It only took CCP four years to make the whole thing less convoluted.

I also had a wish list for the game that included ship skins and a training queue.  Got those… eventually!  And I was deep into learning skills. Then there was a post about RMT and how CCP was already selling ISK, if indirectly. And I was still doing the Revelations expansion new player tutorial.

The instance group was still in Lord of the Rings Online.  There were updates expanding the game and all sorts of offers to get people to subscribe.  I was more annoyed by that horse dialog you get when mounted and how understated leveling up could be.

I received a copy of the first issue of EQuinox, the official EverQuest II magazine.  It was… thin.  And it had a dark elf on the cover.  You would think there were no other races in Norrath with all the play dark elves get.

Meanwhile, Qeynos harbor was full of rumors about Sarnak!

Legends of Norrath was announced at SOE Fan Faire 2007.  I was not there, but I listened to the presentation live while IM’ing with Darren about what we heard.  I never actually played LoN.  I am just not the collectible card game kind of person.

I purchased the Richard Garriot’s Tabula Rasa Pre-Order box, only to find that getting into the beta, as was promised on the outside of the box, was not as easy as I had hoped.  You had to get access to the beta forum to get the information, and the beta forum was not letting people in!

In a strange turn of fate, I happened to take a look at PlayOn on the very day they posted their WoW Random Guild Name Generator.  So I posted a quick link to it, which in turn became my most viewed post for a long, long time.  The popularity was related to some Google algorithm which put up this site on the first page of searches related to guild name generators.

CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson stirred up the “why so much fantasy?” discussion about MMOs and I put out my own views, to which I now just link back whenever the discussion comes back up again.

I listed out five signs that would herald World of Warcraft becoming truly mainstream.  We did get an Azeroth version of Monopoly eventually.

On the Guild Wars front, the final expansion for the game, Eye of the North, launched.  It differed from the previous two expansions in that you did not need to own any of the Guild Wars boxes in order to play.  Yes, everything came in boxes back then.  I still have the Eye of the North box.

And, finally, it was ten years ago when TAGN hit the 100,000 page view milestone.  We have had a few more since then.

Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Covering another Keepstar Deployment
  3. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  4. The August 2017 EVE Online Update brings the Lucky Clash Event
  5. In Search of the Thousand Dollar Video Game
  6. Marching North to War in New Eden
  7. Is Raptr Dead or What?
  8. Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire Expansion Announced
  9. Fortizar Down in Hakonen
  10. Replacing the G15
  11. Delve – Still Ratting, Still Mining, Still Manufacturing
  12. Alpha Strike in New Eden

Search Terms of the Month

why did i get plex on my eve account
[The Aurum conversion man!]

how to get back to draenor
[Can’t you just recall to your garrison?]

why dont i like raspberries
[Because they taste bad]

hull tanking 2017
[Yes, it is still a thing]

eve online biomass female
[I am not sure I want to know…]

EVE Online

There was a deployment up north.  We spent a couple weeks in Hakonen stripping the local markets clear of things we need and supporting the in-game economy by seeing to it that many ships were destroyed.  A pity that, on balance, they were mostly our ships.  It wasn’t really a war though, just a way to go get some fights and do something as a coalition.  Keeping the troops entertained is part of the job of leadership.  And then the situation changed in the south and we came home again.

Lord of the Rings Online

Gosh, I started off all gang busters on the Mordor expansion this month, didn’t I?  I got my characters in shape, bought the expansion, pondered the Aria of the Valar boost, and then didn’t do much.  I have logged in a couple of times to sort of stare at the boost and to tinker around, but I am still nowhere near Mordor yet.  Maybe next month.

Minecraft

There was a bit of a resurgence in Minecraft this past month.  I got back on and continued working on the rail line from the northern mansion back to the main settlement.  Probably more interesting on the server was that Panadar took on making some rather epic monuments in our world.  There was a threat/promise from my daughter that her and a couple of her more trustworthy pals might come and play on the server.  And then they decided to play Escapist 2 instead.

Pokemon Go

I carry on with the game, having passed the one year mark.

  • Level: 29 (+0)
  • Pokedex status: 188 (+3) caught, 219 (+5) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Gyrados, since the new legendaries are nigh on impossible
  • Current buddy: Magikarp… only 123km more to get enough candies for a Gyrados

War Thunder

As noted, I was getting the flight sim urge, so I patched up War Thunder and let myself get thrashed soundly and repeatedly until I could stand it no more.  I did unlock a couple of revisions of the IL-2 Sturmovik (the plane, not the game) so I could go do ground attack.  Mostly though I got shot down a lot.

Coming Up

September and anniversaries loom, the most important of which is my wedding anniversary.  The lesser of the anniversaries will involve me posting a bunch of statistics which we know, if the lessons of the top of this post are heeded, are dubious at best.

Events are heating up in the south of New Eden.  Once Delve has been cleaned up I am sure we will be getting involved in that somehow.

While we have to wait until November for Pokemon UltraSun & UltraMoon, we will be able to play Pokemon Gold & Silver on the 3DS via the Virtual Console before the end of the month.

We’ll probably get some hint as to what the 2017 expansions will be for EverQuest and EverQuest II if things follow the usual pattern.

In LOTRO maybe I will actually set foot in Mordor.

We’ve reached the end of the Fantasy Movie League season, so there will be no more of that for a while… unless you join my league and help me make it a thing.  That might convince me to carry on, though you have to hurry and do your first week picks by tomorrow at 9am PDT.

And my daughter is trying to convince me to come play Escapist 2.

Otherwise I cannot think of anything new launching or other events or updates that might interest me.

For Whom Will the Valar Sing Their Aria?

After the move op north in EVE Online I opened the Lord of the Rings Online launcher, started it patching, and went to bed.  I suspected it was going to take a while.  It was certainly still chugging along when I took a peek when I got up to use the bathroom later.  One does not simply log into Mordor.

Mordor, we have an eye on you!

But by the time the morning came the launcher was ready to let me log in.  That sent me to the character selection screen where I could behold the wonder of the character model update.

At least you can tell the difference

My thought there was mostly hoping that they didn’t spend a lot of time or money on that update.  You can see the improvement when you’re zoomed in close, but somehow I doubt you will notice it on other characters you pass in the world unless you’re one of those people who have to get up in everybody’s face.  Ah well.

From there I got myself into the game, dug out the code that Standing Stone sent me, opened up the LOTRO Store, and plugged it in.  I was rewarded with a success message.

My redemption validated… or something

I am not sure what “Premium Access DNT” is, but at least I recognized “Mordor Standard Edition Mordor Standard Edition” to be correct, if repetitive.  I could not bring myself to shell out for the more expensive packages.

The game also game me a pop-up of the sort when you are given or finish deeds.

Mordor Account Item Claimed Yes

You couldn’t actually click on it or anything, just dismiss it.  But I guess they felt that was necessary.  There was also the standard email from their payment service, Xsolla, which always makes me wonder, “Who is Xsolla?” when I see that name in my email.  I suppose getting a return address that says “Standing Stone” or “LOTRO” would cost extra.

So I was set.  Sort of.  I still needed my character boost, which did not show up with the transaction.  That had me a bit worried, since the top story in the launcher was about people having problems claiming their boost.  Joy.

However, logging out of the game and back in resolved that.  That wasn’t in the instructions that came with the purchase of the expansion, but I seemed to recall it being mentioned elsewhere.  And “turn it off, then back on again” is the universal first step for tech trouble shooting.

Once back in the game I found what I was looking for in my inventory.

The Package of the Valar

Now the big question: Which character to boost?

Yes, I managed to get a blog post out of every “which character should I boost?” situation.  But this one has a bit more edge to it.  While I think I will likely go with my champion, if I make the wrong choice I am a bit stuck.  Standing Stone has not yet added the Aria of the Valar to the LOTRO Store.

Moreover, when they do get around to adding it, I suspect it will be quite pricey.  In the last week they changed up the other boosts they offer, returning the level 50 boost for 3,995 TP.

They removed the level 50+ to 95 boost, which was 2,995 TP, leaving the all levels to 95 boost in the store for 5,995 TP.

Given that pricing, I expect that the Aria of the Valar boost to level 105 will be more, likely ringing in at 6,995 TP when it shows up.  Translating that to real world money is a bit of a chore, as SSG, and Turbine before them, engage in the usual scheme of base points, bonus points, and more points per dollar for the more dollars spent.  But calling it $70 wouldn’t be totally off base to my mind.

Current LOTRO Point pricing

So I want to choose wisely because currently there is no second choice, and when that option does appear it is likely to be expensive.

Of course, I appear to have time to think as the LOTRO launcher stopped being able to contact the game last night, so I couldn’t log in and use the Aria of the Valar even if I wanted to currently.

 

Quote of the Day – Activities in Mordor!

This new end-game system allows players to pledge their allegiance to one faction at a time. Pledge yourself to the Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, or Men, and unlock rewards through activities in Mordor, including a unique story arc! Players will accrue Allegiance Points which advance your character along a given Allegiance. These points can be earned through acquiring items found in Mordor, completing repeatable quests, and more.

-Allegiance Mechanic, Mordor Release Notes

Here we sit, waiting for the Mordor expansion to go live.

Keep an eye open for Mordor!

The launch was planned for Monday, but was postponed until today.  Now we have entered the period of downtime, after which the expansion should be available.

Nothing left to do but wait and wonder and look at the patch notes for Update 21, which covers the expansion.

Of course, that leads me back to what we’re going to be doing in Mordor, how we’ll be interacting with the main story, and just how far we might be asked to stretch canon.

Mucking about with the core of the stories has been, as has been brought up elsewhere, has been a concern of mine since Lord of the Rings Online was announced.  Almost eleven years back, about ten posts into this blog, I was already writing about those concerns.  How was Turbine going to handle building an MMORPG with thousands of people wandering around while keeping the linear framework that is the story itself?

The team has done a pretty good job so far.  The player sees the story advance.  You get to interact with some of the key actors in the story, but they aren’t strewn about the landscape to bump into over and over again… except in Rivendell… no matter how far you progress you can still go back to Rivendell and find everybody still hanging about.

Most of the time as a player you are occupied with subordinate tasks, things that move the story along behind the scenes, but which wouldn’t get you a mention in the book.  And so it is that you spend a lot of time helping the quartermaster corps of the local Dunedain contingent by slaying bears, boars, wolves, and the occasional servant of Sauron.

So while there was no chapter about the brave battle against the tomb robbers of Esteldin, if there had been my character would have figured prominently.

Once in a while you get to be an uncredited extra in a key scene in the story.

Of course, the flaws of the MMORPG genre are manifest in the game.  The servants of Sauron pop up again as soon as you wander off… as does the mass of wildlife you spent all that time slaughtering to help provision the various outposts of the free peoples.

And their outposts are many.  It was a bit much in the early part of the game.  I don’t recall Eriador being that densely populated.  And the game moved along, the population density became more out of character.

While Moria was a delight to explore, the dwarves did seem to be devoting a lot of time and resources to fixing up their old home when there was a war raging.  But at least they had a reason to be there.  I’m not sure why Mirkwood has so many people wandering about.  If any place was more barren of life… save the odd dark squirrel… and spiders and elves at the far end… it was Mirkwood.  But you cannot run an MMORPG zone without a half dozen quest hubs.

So I do wonder what we will encounter in Mordor, and when in the timeline of things we shall be doing that.  There is, after all, no time between the battle at the Black Gate and the destruction of the one ring (spoiler), the former only ending with the latter.  The up front promise of the release notes…

Witness the fate of the One Ring and Sauron! The Epic quest line reaches a major milestone, and remains free to all players.

…is pretty much the end of the tale save for the cleaning up afterwards.  We can’t even go find Frodo and Sam, really, as the eagles arrive and whisk them off to rejoin the remains of the fellowship.

Still, I am keen to see Mordor, even if the tale there is going to be another series of supply runs for the free peoples and some sort of post-war favor buying system.  Tourist of Middle-earth, that’s me.

I still have yet to decide which character is going to get that level boost into the expansion.  I had best decide soon.

July in Review

The Site

I got another mighty blog achievement this month.

Seventeen in one day… oooooh

I think the lesson here is “kitten posts mean more likes” since that is where most of the likes showed up.

One Year Ago

Pokemon Go was everywhere after it launched.  Everywhere.

I listed out the NBI Class of 2016.  I haven’t gone to check how many survived the year.

Daybreak turned off the last PlanetSide server and the game was gone… though it lingered on the server status page for a while.

Daybreak did launch a pair of special event servers for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  I was keen enough to go earn the special mount on the EQII server.

There was strange news for Turbine as their parent company, Warner Brothers, announced that they were transitioning into a mobile app development studio.  We wondered what that meant for Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

In Minecraft I was tinkering with maps and night renders while Aaron created a huge map room in game.

In World of Warcraft I managed to unlock flying in Draenor.  Just in time too, as the 7.0 patch was already pre-loading.  Soon the garrison gold mine would be turned off.  And then it hit, bringing new features.

In EVE Online the Casino War was winding down.  There was a Keepstar to chase, the alleged hellcamp, and some sovereignty exchanges in Pure Blind.  That wasn’t really going anywhere though.  We killed four titans in Okagaiken and blew up a CSAA just to show we were still fighting.  But in the end we admitted defeat and began packing for our trek to greener pastures.

Our destination was Delve, ever the region that calls to Goons.  I mean, look down at the “five year ago” section below. We were attacking the region then as well.  But first we had to get through Rakapas.  I was there for a bit before I ended up soloing my carrier down to our staging in Sakht, accruing the maximum about of jump fatigue possible.

I also hit 160 million skill points while the Blog Banter spoke of malaise.

Five Years Ago

In New Eden my hear went “Boum!

Elligium took its pandas and went home.

Blizzard set the date for Mists of Pandaria.

There was a Steam Summer Sale.

I was wondering if Torchlight II could live up to its potential.

Ultima Forever!  A shot across Lord British’s bow.

Rift decides to sell mounts for cash.  It wasn’t like they were going free to play though.

Let it be noted that not all Kickstarters fail.  There was the Defense Grid expansion Kickstarter.  I kicked in, they built it, I played it.  Simple as that, and much better than any 99 cent app I have purchased.  And I still get a free copy of their next Defense Grid game when it comes out.

I wondered aloud if nostalgia servers… official ones… would remain the sole domain of EverQuest.

Meanwhile SOE was talking about Vanguard’s free to play plan.

I was underwhelmed at the so-called “reskin” of Qeynos in EverQuest II.  The sorrow of Qeynos knows no end.

In EVE Online, there was war in Delve… again… if only I could get there.  There were battles in 49-U6U, C3N-3S, and DSS-EZ, a conga line in 319-3D (where we also watched the alliance tournament), and a flying titan in F2OY-X.  The tiny Wallpapers Alliance held out longer than Nulli Secunda, before being crushed.

Then having done the heavy lifting for TEST, the CFC was asked to go home.  TEST was going to be its own alliance, but we would all remain the best of friends in the big blue donut of love.  Anyway, it was time for a convoy back to Deklein.  Somewhere along the way I got a warning from CCP for causing lag.

And there was also a link to a list of things to do in EVE Online.

Ten Years Ago

Hey, it was the Revelations expansion in EVE Online that was news a year back, and I was running through the updated new player tutorial. It was a huge improvement, though I ran into a glitch or two.

The instance group was still off in Lord of the Rings Online for the Summer, though we were having issues at The Great Barrow when we weren’t playing Truth or Dare.

Vanguard was already planning server merges. 13 servers were being reduced down to 4.

EverQuest II got its own magazine… again (okay, it was an SOE magazine for Station Access subscribers the first time around, but it had an EQ2 scantily clad dark elf on the cover!)… in the form of EQuinox. And they were offering Rise of Kunark beta access to subscribers!

Dr. Richard Bartle, keeping to his strict regime of “one controversial fanboi enraging quote every summer” said he would like to improve the MMORPG species by turning off World of Warcraft Seemed kind of mild after the next year’s entry and reaction!

Perpetual was making crazy-insane statements about Star Trek Online… like no Galaxy-class starships for you! Ships that size were planned to be “space cities” and quest hubs. Back then I told Cryptic take note: If I cannot aspire to be Captain Kirk, I am not sure I want to play! Or just go read Tipa’s post on the subject.

The end of Auto Assault was announced by NCsoft and I took note and pondered a (silly) solution.

I stopped in front of SOE headquarters for a picture. (Mirror universe Wilhelm, with goatee.)

Microsoft finally announced a warranty extension due to the “red ring of death” problem with the XBox 360.

And Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw did his fist Zero Punctuation video.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. From Alola Pokedex to National Pokedex in Pokemon Sun
  2. Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?
  3. The Corrupt Developer Career Path
  4. Delve – We Mine Things and We Rat a Little Less
  5. Dual Monitor
  6. We’re on the Road to Mordor
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Given the Boot in Fallen Gate
  9. Producing Mechanical Parts
  10. Kitten Time
  11. Two Days to Delve
  12. The July 2017 Update Brings Revamped Strategic Cruisers to EVE Online

Search Terms of the Month

casino wars eve
[No longer a thing since casinos were banned]

wow insider
[Also no longer a thing since AOL canned it]

candy crush users hate update june 2017
[Not according to SuperData Research]

les informations sur la xl actinet
[I am not sure what an “actinet” is, XL or otherwise]

wii little big planet
[Sorry, that is a PlayStation exclusive]

EVE Online

The Reavers deployment ended.  Fun was had, but it is over.  Then there was mucking about in Delve, a capital op, and the usual bout of trying to figure out what I should train next.

EverQuest II

Well, as seems to be the pattern so far this year, my MMORPG flavor of the month seems to be exactly that, a month-long venture at most.  I started off on the Fallen Gate server, got to level ten in time to get the special mount, added a couple more levels, and then stopped playing.  Good thing I only subscribed for a 30 days.

Lord of the Rings Online

The promise of the Mordor expansion and the end of the War of the Ring after more than ten years of fighting and grinding grabbed my attention, and suddenly I was patching up LOTRO… as if you can use “sudden,” “patching,” and “LOTRO” in the same sentence… and trying to get reacquainted with the ins and outs of Middle-earth.  So I guess we have the next flavor of the month.  Will it last any longer?

Minecraft

I haven’t done anything in Minecraft this month.  Part of that was just having other games to play while lacking in any real project to focus on in our world.  The other part was that the latest version requires an update to the Overviewer application I use to make maps of the world in order to plan.  I really depend on that app a lot.  Unfortunately, the person who has done that in the past has moved on so the Windows part of that project is effectively dead.  Such is life with open source.

Pokemon

Pretty much the same situation as Minecraft, I ran out of things to do and stopped playing.  I keep an eye on the game and grab Pokemon when there are download events, but otherwise I am on a break from the game.  That probably isn’t a bad thing.  A new version is coming out later this year so maybe a break now will mean I’ll be refreshed and ready to go when that lands.

Pokemon Go

The recent update to gyms has gone pretty well for me.  I am earning a lot more coins thanks to the fact that there is a gym next to my office that trades hands during the day, but if you’re the last one in you are safe overnight and will get the full 50 coins.  So I went from earning maybe 10 coins a week getting into the old style gym to 100 or more with little change in effort.  Of course, this makes me wonder if Niantic is being too generous.  Are remote gyms unintentional gold mines?  Otherwise, I made it to level 29 and, thanks to the experience boost during the one year anniversary, made some good progress towards level 30.

My basic stats this month:

  • Level: 29 (+1)
  • Pokedex status: 185 (+11) caught, 214 (+17) seen
  • Pokemon I want: Gyrados
  • Current buddy: Magikarp… only 147km more to get enough candies for a Gyrados

Coming Up

Will there be a Blaugust this year?  If there is one, it won’t be Belghast driving it.

ANet will be announcing the next Guild Wars 2 expansion tomorrow.

In LOTRO the Mordor expansion looms.  I plan to simply boost into Mordor.  However, I won’t be doing that today.  The expansion has been delayed for the moment.  Can we blame Daybreak yet?

In a break with tradition there will be an game update for EVE Online in August.  The only item on the list for it so far is killing of the Captain’s Quarters to help clear the way for a 64-bit client.  While I won’t miss the quarters, I should probably go for one last visit before they’re gone.

In the Imperium, there is word that we will be deploying somewhere looking for a fight.  We’ve been given lists of doctrines and ships to bring, but no destination or time frame yet.

The Blogger Fantasy Movie League is getting into its final weeks, with the 13 weeks finishing up at the end of this month.  We shall see who the winner will be… actually, it will be Liore… maybe somebody will take second place from me.  Given how I did this week it seems possible.

The Man from Annuminas

In preparation for the coming Mordor expansion, and specifically what plans our potential group should have come the launch, I have been back and playing in Middle-earth.

It is the usual mixture of wonder and exasperation.

I got out a champion in our guild who was in the midst of Evendim, one of my favorite zones in the game.  Sigwerd the man champion, for men are men and human isn’t a word of Middle-earth, still dressed up in a selection of cosmetic gear from past expansions and the Lone Lands.

Sigwerd in Evendim

The chest piece is clearly from the Lone Lands… dyed olive green… but I cannot remember where the hooded fur cloak came from.  Just don’t tell PETA, they’ll sue me claiming the former owner of the pelt holds its copyright.

Anyway, the idea was manifold.

I wanted to get back into the game itself, with its various quirks.  I wanted to get a feel for the state of the game.  I wanted to try out a class I might play going forward.  I wanted to work with the new talent tree thing.  I wanted to get a sense as to how quick levels were given that one of the possible plans was essentially “walk all the way to Mordor.”  And I wanted to enjoy myself.

It is no doubt a telltale of my somewhat conservative nature that I like to go back and run through enjoyable zones and quest lines.  As I have noted in the past, nothing makes you feel more like a ranger… or in this case a champion… of Middle-earth than going through a zone like you own the place.  This is as opposed to wandering about the place half lost with the map up and muttering something about, “If that is the goblin camp over there, then the wolf den must me off to the left.”

I must have more than a dozen characters beyond level 30, so the Lone Lands is like a second home to me, with Evendim not far behind.  Once a zone known primarily for the amount of swimming you had to do in order to get around, it was revamped and given a boat transport system and a re-work of quests, all of which turned it into a great zone.

Looking out on the lake

I picked up where I left off with Sigwerd… left off about six years ago… with him picking up the quest trail in Ost Forod.  He was level 35, so ready for the quests there.  I ran through those, then the quick set on the island of Rantost, then up at the north end of the lake, before picking up at Men Erain and what I consider the start of the grand finale of the zone.

Evendim map

Men Erain starts in with tombs of the Kings of Arnor and leads you into Annúminas, the highlight of the zone.

The ancient fallen city, once the capital of Arnor, is such a great area.  When you arrive there are not many quests handed to you, just a couple of general ones that will take you about the area.  But one of the quests teams you with the ranger Orchalwë.  He travels the ruins with you and, as you reach certain points, give you additional quests as well as assisting you when fighting.

Sigwerd and Orchalwë in the ruins

The whole thing is so organic in its way that really puts me in the game.

And you need the help of Orchalwë.  Many of the mobs you face are elites.  While they aren’t too tough… you can solo one, though it takes some effort… they often come in groups of two or three and singletons wander about leading to surprise adds.  Three at once was a tough fight for me, even with Orchalwë throwing me a heal now and with me having taken the Martial Champion spec, which is a damage dealing tank.  Any mistake and the wheels come off.

However, the elites do not become locked encounters, to use the EQII term, when you tag them. (Also similar to how WoW handles named mobs in Legion.)  This is very handy as it encourages casual group efforts.

Sigwerd versus an elite

At a couple points I was standing, looking at an objective when another player of showed up, their own copy of Orchalwë in tow, and we were able to take on the area and finish the local quests.

The whole thing is so well done, perfect for a small group like our, it makes me wonder why more of the game isn’t like this.

Not that there are not flaws, the first of which is that Orchalwë goes away if you finish his main quest, something that left me in the lurch before I was done with the zone.  That is the reason I am soloing the elite in the screen shot above.

Finishing up in Annúminas, though without having hit all the possible quests, left me almost level 41.  I learned a few things along the way.

The first was that after picking a spec I really should have assigned points to the skill tree.  That would have made life easier.  Still, I managed to muddle through with a small set of default skills.  Once applied my available points my options on the hot bar expanded.

Champion skill at level 40

The icons haven’t changed much since I made my humorous/mocking post about them over eight years ago.  They are still hard to see and when I can see them they still don’t tell me what a skill really does.  The one with the box communicates, as does punching Amy Tan, but the rest still could mean any number of things.  As I understand it, the fact that I have what might be termed a “vintage” monitor means that it isn’t as bad as it could be.

And second, don’t hit the “x” key or your camera will lock in on whatever you are targeting.  I did this by accident during a fight and spent the next 30 minutes trying to figure out why I had lost control of the camera.  I had to Google the issue to fix it and then unmapped “x” from that function.

On the key mapping front, I had to map both “b” and “i” to open my bags because by this point I can never remember which game uses which and my brain seems unable to cope with this.  LOTRO uses “i” by default, but I kept hitting “b,” so I changed the key… and then I kept hitting “i,” so clearly I have some bad wiring as well.

However, I remain impressed how often I end up getting LOTRO Points for completing deeds.

Hey, more money!

But while the world is still quite worth touring, I did run into more graphical glitches than I expected.

The haunted pixellated forest looms!

More on point to planning, I did get a bit of a feel for leveling up.  With VIP blue bar daily and a 25% experience booster from a past expansion in the pocket equipment slot it was easy enough to get a level a day with a reasonable play session of about an hour.  The blue bar goes away pretty quickly, so doing two levels a day means more than double the play time.

Also, I did this under ideal circumstances.  As noted, I feel like the hero in Evendim and I know where to go for any given quest more often than not.  So, operationally, I was very efficient.  That efficiency drops off considerably past Evendim however.

That means going will be slow, or slower, past a certain point.

I think we could, as a group, power on through to level 50 by doing every last thing in Evendim, including the three person version of any instance, picking up the latter half of the Trollshaws, and then pressing through the Misty Mountains.  The last has Goblin-town, which is another ideal place for a small group.  We’d still probably need to hit Angmar or Eregion to get to 50.

At 50 we could decided to try Moria or get a discounted Blessing of the Valar boost to level 95.

Going much farther than 50 however means postponing Mordor for a long time, and getting there through all the content between there and where we stand would likely test our stamina as a group and the life expectancy of the game.  There are a lot of zones between us at level 40 and Mordor.

And even the ten levels between the Blessing of the Valar and Mordor might be a challenge.

Anyway, the plan is still under discussion.  We have at least another week before the expansion lands, and maybe a bit longer given the tentative launch date given with the pre-order.  I likely won’t feel pressed to buy anything until this coming weekend.

Moving Forward to Mordor

As I mentioned last week, the Mordor expansion for Lord of the Rings Online is coming and may be here as early as the end of the month.

Mordor, we’re simply walking in!

I even got a note from Skronk saying that he an Enaldie might be up for a return to Middle-earth, which would give us just enough of a group to do instances.

Of course, there are some issues to overcome.  We haven’t played as a group in LOTRO since late 2011. We’ve done Rift, World of Tanks, Need for Speed: World, Neverwinter, and a couple more runs in World of Warcraft since then.

A metaphor for our group, featuring our group

Our kinship, Murder for Shire, was on the Firefoot server, which is now gone.  I moved the guild to Landroval, which was one of the few choices back when they did the server merge.  That seemed like a good place to start, though we could also use the kinship we formed on the Windfola server back at launch.  Somebody just has to move that guild to another server, since you can no longer access the old servers any more.

Six characters still on Windfola

The characters on other servers might not be required.  The group of three we had on Firefoot, guardian, minstrel, and rune keeper seems pretty viable in the classic tank, healing, DPS format.  At least once we figure out how to play them.  A lot has changed since 2011.

That, however, is all trivia, things we could wrap up with a bit of practice and maybe a Google search or two about the whole spec/talent tree thing LOTRO has going now.

The key question is: How do we get to Mordor?

Obligatory Boromir meme

The thing is, a decade into this war, we’re still standing around in Evendim fighting tomb robbers and pondering whether to head into the Misty Mountains or Forochel next.  So we have a decision to make.  What path will we take to Mordor?

Simply Walk

First on the list is to simply play through to Mordor.  That route means we see the whole epic story line through to the end.

Pros:

We won’t miss a bit of the story!  Complete play through!

Cons:

Where do I start?

We’re in our low 40s and Mordor is level 105 I think.  That is a good sixty levels to go in a game that has softened up the level curve some, but not so much that we could make it there, as a group, this year.

Doing this also requires all of the expansions, which I believe only I own, so there would be a cost.  And while Moria is an excellent zone and worth seeing, after that things are bit less certain.  I found Mirkwood tedious and formulaic without much to recommend it.

And, honestly, our past history is working against us.  We are, as I repeat, a decade into this game and only have a group of level 40 characters to work with.  We’re not the fellowship of the ring, we’re Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and Trillian mucking about in cocktail party for a bit then buggering off for something else.

Blessing of the Valar

Second option on the list is to use the current boost available from the LOTRO Store, the Blessing of the Valar.  This boost gets you to level 95 and puts you on the road to Gondor.

Pros:

Gears us up, gets us all to the same level, puts a bit of cash in our pocket, puts us into content none of us has seen, gives us a run through the direct build-up before Mordor, and keeps us the hell out of Mirkwood.

Cons:

At 5,995 Turbine Points, the Blessing of the Valar is a bit pricey, plus there are still expansions to purchase I bet, though I couldn’t tell you which ones.  We could cut that price down a bit as the Blessing of the Valar Upgrade, which requires you to be level 50, drops deal to 2,995 Turbine Points.

Seems like a bit of a waster when the Mordor expansion comes with a level 105 boost.

Also leaves us with ten levels to get through in Gondor, the quality of which I cannot speak to.

Scenes Missing

Go directly to Mordor, do not pass Gondor, do not collect 200 farthings.  The expansion comes with a booster to get you straight there, why not use it?

Pros:

No mucking about, march straight into the black lands ready to stick your sword into the heart of the foe.  We’ll be all caught up, geared up, and playing with the critical mass of the player base that has otherwise been hanging around the black gate wondering when the next bit would show up.

No need to buy anything besides the Mordor expansion.

The content available seems to be sizable, with five zones and another ten levels.

Seems to be the plan best matched to the historical record of our efforts in Middle-earth.

Cons:

Kind of like reading Fellowship of the Ring to just past Weathertop, putting it down, then picking up Return of the King and starting in again just after Shelob’s lair… or maybe even after the battle before the black gate.  I’m not sure where during the timeline of the story we actually enter Mordor.  Are we just the clean up crew, set to mop up the remaining orc holdouts?

Certainly key plot points would be skipped.  But it isn’t like we haven’t read the books I suppose.

Forward to Mordor

I suppose the ideal path would be something like what Star Wars: The Old Republic did, where they gave you an experience boost so you could just do your personal story without side quests to advance.  Something like that for the epic quest line would be ideal.  However, that does not appear to be in the offing.

So that is what we are looking at.  It will be just the three of us I imagine.  Neither Bung nor Earl were much for Middle-earth, and Earl is still banging away in the Broken Isles.  He is dedicated to WoW in a way that a tourist like me never is.

The other choice is which edition of the expansion to buy, though that isn’t a tough choice at all.  Sure, I’d like everything included in the Ultimate Sucker’s Bundle, but $130 is just too much for that.  If that were the $80 package I might be convinced, but as it stands I don’t care about making a high elf character and the title is cool, but not that cool.

People have been upset about the Mordor expansion pricing, to the point that it has Syp arguing for free access to elves.  But the only way to send a message is to not buy something if you think it is over priced.  I’ll take the $40 expansion and be on my way.

Of course, all of this means EverQuest II and the Fallen Gate server will drop by the wayside as I jump games after a month yet again.