Tag Archives: Anor

LOTRO and a Legendary Launch

Yesterday was the launch of the Lord of the Rings Online Legendary server, and it was quite an event for a game that otherwise has felt a little tired to me of late.

The legend live on

Yesterday I posted a list of potential events that might happen with this launch.  I was right on a few, but off base with even more, including my first one.  The server was pretty much up on time.  Somebody tell Daybreak about that.

I was working from home yesterday due to being on call for jury duty… again… so was able to kick off the launcher to see if the server was up on time.  And sure enough, it was there.

Anor up at 17:00 UTC

It was a good thing I patched earlier in the week.  I heard that patching was going really slow at times.  But at least it did not die.

And within five minutes it had gone from red to green.  People could log in.

Anor live at 17:05 UTC

I figured I would log in, create a character, then log out and come back later.  The server had other ideas however.  While I missed the mark on the server being late, I was spot on in there being a queue.

Well, I guess I will just wait

Being in the queue I put that in the background and went back to work.

I checked back in about an hour and found my position hadn’t changed.  Thinking something was wrong, I closed the launcher and opened it up again, only to find my position in the queue had doubled with this maneuver.  I was at spot 3,335.  It was going to be a long wait.  So I put it in the background and continued on with my day.

Four hours later, as my work day was coming to a close, I found myself still in the same spot in the queue.

Meanwhile, the LOTRO team had put out an update.  They knew about the queue problem and that the overwhelming response was going to get them to put up a second server the next day, so we would have Anor and Ithil, sun and moon, with free transfers available between the two for a limited time.

A later follow up pulled the Ithil server launch in to 23:00 UTC yesterday.  I am not sure if there had been calls for a second server in the forums, but I was surprised they were ready to go on this.  Yay for planning.  The second server was online early even.

Red 5 standing by

The update also said that they had fixed the queue problem, but I am not sure that the concept of a queue was really clear to them.  It still seemed completely broken by the time I was done with work and ready to play.  Logging out and back in put me as high as 4,800 in the queue.

However, adding up tidbits from the forums and some advice from Roger of Contains Moderate Peril, who was in and playing already, I was able to come up with my own queue beating method.

I opened up two launchers.  I logged in and got in the queue with the first launcher.  Then I logged in and got in the queue with the second.  If the queue number was the same or higher, I used the “logout” option from the menu and logged in again.  If the number was lower, I swapped to the first launcher, logged out, and logged back in until I got a lower number.

This seems insane, or at least just dumb.  Yet, somehow, this worked.  As I ping ponged back and forth between the two launchers the numbers kept going down.  It was slow at first, but I would say after about ten minutes the numbers started to drop.  When I hit triple digits I was very happy, and double digits were not that far off.  And then, finally, the launcher logged me in!

Then I had to figure out what I wanted to play.  I hadn’t actually thought much on that.  But, when in doubt, I tend to have a class that I feel is the default in most games.  In this case I went with a man champion, which is the most ret pally class in LOTRO I think.  Plus I know those skill icons so well!  I didn’t even fiddle with his appearance, I just wanted to jump into the game and play, so I was quickly in the tutorial.

This was when the weight of years began to tell.  The first thing you do is get a weapon out of a pack on the floor, though in my case it was worse than the default weapon I started with.  But in getting it out of my bags, I realized that they were already full of stuff.

What is all of this stuff?

There is the ring from the pre-order and the Glass of Aglaral from the special edition along with anniversary gifts, years 1 through 11 inclusive, plus bonus items from various expansion pre-orders and specials.

One of the nice things about LOTRO is you get bags right away.  The downside is that is all you get for inventory space.  And with over a third of my bag space taken up, I was feeling the need to get to a bank.  But first I had to do the intro.

That went smoothly enough, and I exited into what I thought was Bree.  I thought that because it was so full of people.  But no, I was not yet at Bree.  This was Archet, the starting area outside of Bree.  It was full up, and had multiple instances of itself running.

Dynamic layers for all my friends!

Like so much else, I had forgotten about dynamic layers, the phasing/sharding technique that Turbine put into the game at some point after launch.  I suppose I just haven’t been in a zone that needed it for a long time.  So that spread people out some, but the starting zone was still pretty packed.  I was glad to see that somewhere along the way they also changed how mob credit worked.  Everybody who tags a mob now gets credit for the kill, which was helpful because the local fauna was being hunted to extinction.

Archet hasn’t changed much, but it has been years since I was there, so it was a series of “Oh yeah, this quest!” moments as I ran through.  I was interested to see that they had even restored a few quests specifically for the server.

The blue text declares this a restored quest

The above example actually gave out duplicate rewards when compared to the quest that replaced it. (The objectives were pretty close as well.)  But that suited me.  I got the Protector’s Helm for the stats and the Plumed Hat for the style.

The fashionable champion about Bree

I had also forgotten how pretty the world is.  I know I mention that from time to time, but it had still been diminished in my memory, so seeing the flora and the reflections in the water and all that was still surprising.  My current rig lets me have all the graphics cranked up.

Character models are still what they are though, even after the improvements.  If there was any more clipping they’d have to call it a barber shop.

I carried on got that “specialization needed” alert, meaning it was time to pick my class traits.

Champion Choices

I went with the martial champion option this time on the theory that DPS would still be good but being able to tank at some point might be helpful.  I still moan about these skill trees.

I also unlocked my riding skill, and had a selection of mounts in my bag ready to choose from.  I saw a lot of people riding, though I was surprised it wasn’t more.

After Archet I headed to Combe to continue on down the quest chain, though not before riding off to Bree and the bank to empty out as much of my inventory as possible.

Back in Combe I also stopped for a bit to remember how to play music in LOTRO, one of the all time great features of the game.  I bought some instruments.  I played Istanbul (Not Constantinople) on my lute and got some applause.  I also fiddled around with a fiddle, a new instrument since I last played.  It is very good for classical music.

Playing some Vivaldi

Then it was back to the quest chain.  There were occasional problems with mobs being cleared.  No wolves in the wolf den, no Blackwolds and Bauman’s farm, no bears to find a stolen pack from.  But most of the time it wasn’t an issue.  And there are a number of quests where the constant traffic thinned out an otherwise grindy level of mob clearing one might otherwise have to do in order to reach a quest objective.

The main pain was harvesting.  I, of course, had to pick a crafting profession.  I went with weaponsmith, which means mining ore.  But ore nodes were heavily contested as people ran or rode to them as soon as they popped.  I won’t be making many bronze weapons in the near future.

I finished up my evening closing in on level 11.  I am not sure if my champion is really going to be my main.  I’ve done that class more than a few times, so I might try something else.  But it was good fun to be in the early game again.  It is fun and brings back lots of good memories, so I feel good playing.

And we’ll see what the queue is like tonight.

Others writing about the launch and the server idea in general:

 

LOTRO A Legend Overwhelmed

Who is going to say this sort of server isn’t popular now?

Most popular legend in Middle-earth

Official word from the forums less than two hours after the Anor server went live:

We are aware that players are experiencing a significant queue to get into the Legendary server Anor. The server has been near or at its available concurrent capacity since launch, so people in queue may experience a longer wait until someone logs out. We are also aware that the queue numbering system is not displaying correctly, but the queuing is taking place as intended.

IN THE MEANTIME, we are working quickly to get a second Legendary server ready. Ithil is expected to be available for log-in tomorrow.

We know many players want to play with their friends, so we will for a limited time be offering FREE character transfers between Ithil and Anor. These character transfers are not yet available, but will be when Ithil opens. Note that other limitations such as wait time between transfers do apply, as do typical transfer naming rules.

We are thrilled and humbled by the overwhelming response today, and are continuing to work hard to maximize server availability.

So we’ll have two servers up tomorrow.

A further update from the forums:

We will be opening our second Legendary server Ithil to the public at 6:00pm Eastern (-5 GMT) tonight! This should help alleviate queues. Additionally, we will be enabling free transfers between Anor and Ithil tomorrow. We will have more information then.

We have also fixed an issue that was causing the queue (when in effect) from properly counting down.

So there will be a new server up soon.  As for the queue issue, I don’t think they have actually fixed anything.  Reports are that the queue doesn’t updating and is not working.

 

LOTRO Fresh Start Server Goes Live Today

I know I’m being somewhat high strung, but the whole “legendary server” thing sticks in my throat a bit.  I’ve seen enough other runs at this sort of thing and the effort here seems low.

And not low effort just compared to the amazing plans for WoW Classic or how Jagex handled RuneScape Classic or the work Daybreak has put into its progression servers for EverQuest and EverQuest II. I think even Trion did more with Rift Prime, and they were on the edge of going out of business.

But you get what you get.  Maybe success here will inspire further refinements later.

A Legend in our own PR

There are enough good things with the server that I’ll get over the hubris of the word “legendary” at some point.  A fresh start server has its own potential.  All the early zones full of people will be nice to see.  And there is something to be said about a subscriber only server.  As with the Daybreak runs, you end up with a crowd that really wants to be there.

And we do get at least one change to differentiate the server.  According to SSG, the experience gain will be adjusted in order to slow it down a bit.

Yes, you will gain XP on the Legendary server at a slightly different rate. The goal is to make sure you don’t outlevel quests in a given zone too easily, but that progress through the game also isn’t cumbersome.

This is another item of fine balance, because the standard live server XP slope leaves you outleveling zones long before you’re through.  This is understandable in an older game with so many levels where people are often running alts up.  But now we’re only going to level 50 and everybody will be on their main and there to see the old sights.

However, it would be easy to crank that meter over too far, ending up with advancement that feels like a slog or, worse, the quest chain leveling faster than the player.  We’ll have to see how that goes.

The server itself has been christened Anor, after a small town in northern France… wait, no… it is named after the sun… Anor is the Sindarin word for the sun.  No doubt SSG has bright hopes for the server, thus the name.

The whole thing is set to open up at 17:00 UTC, which is noon on the east coast of the US and about fifteen minutes ago out here on the left coast, assuming it launched on time and this post went up when scheduled.  So if you’re hearing about this server for the first time now, you’re already late!

Also, if you haven’t patched yet… yeah, you’re not playing any time soon.  The LOTRO patcher is just awkwardly slow.  It isn’t Runes of Magic bad, but it isn’t anybody’s ideal world.  I installed and launched Destiny 2, which weighs in at 81GB, about 5x faster that the last LOTRO update patched.

Anyway, I’ll be trying to log in later in the evening Pacific time, so I won’t have anything to report today.  But that won’t stop me from pondering the likelihood of what might happen today.

  • Server Opens Late – Very Likely

If SSG has the server live at exactly 17:00 UTC I might concede them the legendary title.

  • DDoS Attack Keeps People from Logging In – Minuscule

Who hates Middle-earth that badly?

  • Login Queue over an Hour Long – Almost Assured

There will be the traditional rush for the server when it goes live, and the load will continue to rise as we get into US prime time.

  • Server Crash – Even Odds

I suspect that this might be the highest load on a LOTRO server since they went free to play.

  • Patching Slows to a Crawl – Quite Possible

There is going to be a lot of people patching, and SSG just pushed a big update last week.

  • Patching Fails Altogether – Probably Not

I’m going out on a limb on this, because the patcher and the whole LOTRO web site was down for over an hour last night.  I’m assuming they were just working on something to prepare for the launch.

  • Starter Zone Crashes – Unlikely

I think SSG is pretty solid here, though for the Shire I might go even odds.

  • Hobbit with Immersion Breaking, Semi-Obscene Name – You Think?

I’d honestly be disappointed if that didn’t happen.

  • Starter Zones Denuded of Quest Mobs – Mais Oui!

Yeah, this is just gonna happen.  Be ready and patient.

  • Somebody Gets to Level 50 by Tomorrow – Of Course

Only if they don’t get there by tonight.  Don’t pay them any mind.  They’re just going to have to roll another character anyway if they want to play with other people.

  • Calls in the forum for a second server due to crowds and queues – No Doubt

Pretty much standard item from the checklist for this sort of server event.

  • SSG actually rolling out a second server – Very Low

I don’t think SSG has that in their plans.

  • SSG Web Site Down – Possible

It is down as I am writing this the night before.

  • No Crowds At All – Slim

SSG has done a poor job at getting the word out, but those who pay attention to the game have mostly seem to have heard by now.

  • Drop in Population on Live Servers – Of Course

Most of the people interested in this server are probably already playing LOTRO.  Over at Daybreak their progression servers are their most popular.

  • Complaints about the server in world chat – A Sure Thing

The problem with calling it “legendary” is that is that it sets an expectation that it might be something more than what is on offer.  And people won’t read the announcement and FAQ.  Just mute world chat.  That is my plan.

  • Waiting for the Weekend and Being Happy Logging In – Seems Likely

Seems like the best plan for anybody not ready to run the gauntlet, though the following weekend will make it even easier to get on quickly I bet.