Tag Archives: MMO Transport

17,726 Files and No Horse

I had seen, via Random Battle, Keen & Graev, and Potshot, that Turbine had a special Christmas present for some of its Lord of the Rings Online subscribers.

A level 25 mount.

Since one of the down sides of LOTRO is that the distances and the cost of public transport make travel either annoying or expensive until you hit level 35 and can buy a horse (buying a horse is also annoying and expensive, but at least it is only annoying and expensive once), getting a FREE mount at level 25 is actually a big deal to me.

So, as long as you were a founder or a life time subscriber to LOTRO, you got a new, level 25 horse for the holidays. Actually, you get a mount for any of your characters that are level 25 plus any characters that cross level 25 at a future date.

Not a bad deal.

While I have not played LOTRO much since the instance group reformed in World of Warcraft, I have peeked in once in a while.  I am both a founder and a lifetime subscriber and I have at least one character over level 25, so I wanted that horse.

But, since I have a new CPU at home, that meant installing LOTRO from scratch.

And when I say “from scratch,” I am not kidding. I could only find the disk from the beta, so I had to start with a really out dated set of files.

It installed, and then the patching began.

17,726 files to be updated!

Oh my. That is a lot of files.

At least it wasn’t at some peak time, like the release of a new expansion. It only took a few hours to install the update. I started the update before I went to work and it was done by the time I got home.

I logged in, once home, and ran from Bree up to the horse fields to find the NPC who was giving out the horses.

It turned out to be the same NPC who starts the quest to get your horse at level 35.

Unfortunately, with the level 25 mount enabled, the level 35 quest also shows up. For no good reason, I figured that I had to do the quest to get the lower level horse as well, so started on the quest.

The first stage of the quest involved carrying a sack of grain back down to Bree. Talk about accentuating the annoyance of distance in the game.

I delivered the grain then logged off, determined to pick the quest up at a later date. I still wanted the horse, but I wasn’t in the mood for the quest at that time.

Later that night, I ended up talking to Potshot and he told me that I did not have to do the quest, that there is an option available which is essentially “give me the damn horse already” for the level 25 mount. At least I had only done the first stage of the quest. It does seem a bit careless to let the level 35 quest show up for somebody who is only level 28.

A couple days passed by and I decided to get my horse. A new patch was up by then. Mercifully, it was nowhere near the number of files I had just updated.

It introduced another problem however.

Since that update went in, I have not been able to run LOTRO successfully. Within two minutes of getting into the game, the a video fault occurs (judging by the sudden appearance of a red pattern over the display), the game locks up, and I have to reboot my CPU.

No doubt this is somehow related to the relatively new 8800 GT card in my system. And, no doubt, somebody is going to tell me that I need to update the drivers so that it will work with LOTRO. Feel free to supply the appropriate forum thread in the comments.

The problem is that EVERYTHING ELSE is working just fine.

No problems with World of Warcraft, EverQuest, EverQuest II, EVE Online, or any of the other applications I run.

Being old and grumpy, I am not inclined to try to fix a problem with an application I rarely use that might cause issues with applications I regularly use.

So I do not have my level 25 horse yet. But it will be waiting for me when I decide I want it.

Level 58 in Kunark

I was going to lay low on EverQuest II for a while.

I did actually resist for a bit.  I stayed away for the first few days after Rise of Kunark came out.  I did not want to go through the same routine as last year, when Echoes of Faydwer came out, of waiting for patches and updates on that first night.

I certainly would never take time off work for the first day of a release. (*cough* Kendricke *cough*)  I learned that lesson back when Gemstone went live on GEnie back in 1988.

I also have a new computer on order and figured I would be doing a whole bunch of re-installs anyway, so why download stuff twice, right?

But then I started playing around with the new SOE Station Launcher on Thursday after work.  I downloaded the beta, got it up and running, and started chatting with Gaff while he was in-game.

He told me where to catch the boat to Kunark (at docks in Antonica or the Commonlands) and said he was running around in game exploring.

I let the beta Station Launcher patch me while I was having dinner and came back to it to find EQ2 all patched and Rise of Kunark installed.  (There were still no copies of either Rise of Kunark or Secrets of Faydwer on the shelf at Fry’s on Friday morning, but I did the digital pre-order for RoK this time around, so I was set.)

The beta Station Launcher wouldn’t launch EQ2 however, so I had to start the old launcher, patch it, and launch via that. (The new Station Launcher has not had that problem since.  I don’t know if it was a “doesn’t work the first time” bug, or if patching the old launcher changed anything, but it seems fine now.)

I logged on with Blintz, saw that he was closer to level 58 than I thought, and started him on a trip from Kelethin to Antonica to catch the boat to Kunark.

I thought they might have used the dock to nowhere at the Northwest corner of Antonica, but they did not.  The ship for Kunark pull up at the dock with the bell used for travel in Qeynos. (And the same is true in the Commonlands, the dock with the bell for travel in Freeport is the spot.)

There were a lot of people hanging around the dock when the boat arrived, and there were six instances of the initial Kunark zone, Kylong Plains, when I got there.  A busy place!

No new ship model though.  We are stuck with the same ship they always use.  However, if I were going to list out priorities for the game, a new ship model would be pretty low down the list.

They did spruce it up with new sails.

Here is Blintz on the Freeport boat in Kunark.

The boat to the Commonlands

The boat to the Commonlands

And Blintz on the Freeport bound ship looking at the Qeynos ship pulling out of the docks at Kunark.

The boat to Antonica

The boat to Antonica

I took Blintz around and hit some discovery experience near the docks, getting to my goal pretty quickly.

Level58Kunark2007But then I took the boat back to Antonica, headed to Qeynos Harbor, and then road the carpet out to the Desert of Flames to work on a quest or two out there.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in Kunark for Blintz yet.  The smallest mob I saw was 10 levels above him.  So if I want to do much with this new expansion, I either have to create another alt or level one of my characters up to level 70.

Port Side Ride

Missing the boat.

In EverQuest, back in the old days, missing the boat, especially that Freeport to Butcherblock boat, meant a very long wait.  Long enough that, some nights, being seconds too late for the boat meant a complete change of plans.

When the boat showed up at the dock, the shout of “BOAT!!!” would go up, so that everyboy who was waiting would have a chance to make it.  Nobody wanted to be left behind.

In World of Warcraft missing the boat is not nearly as bad as the early days of EverQuest.  The routes are short, so if you don’t make the boat, at most it is a few minutes wasted rather than a night’s plans.  Plus you almost never fall off the boat zoning, a real hazard some nights in early days of EQ. (They did not call that zone between Freeport and Butcherblock “The Ocean of Tears” for nothing!)

Still, I hate to miss the boat.

I hate to be running up the dock, headed for a stale boat, a boat that has been in sight since I was close enough to see it, a boat I know is going to start moving at any second.

Am I far enough away that you should pause a second to summon my mount?  Do I just go for it?  Did the ship just move?

That was the position I found myself in the other night in Feralas.

I was headed towards the dock with my hunter.  I could see the boat sitting at there as the end of the dock resolved into focus.

I had aspect of the pack up.  I was making a bee-line for the dock.  All I could do was press on and hope for the best.

Up onto the dock.

Down the planks to the boat.

And just before that point, that place on the dock where you know you’re going to make it, the boat began its smooth glide away from shore.

What to do?

I was already angled to hit the boat at the far corner of the dock and I could see that the deck would be too far past that point to get aboard by the time I got there.

I was going to intersect the boat just ahead of one of the windows that stick out along hull.

Stick out.

I could see, in a moment of clarity, that the window just ahead of me stuck out quite a bit more than I had previously noticed.

So I jumped for the window.

And made it!

At first I figured I would fall off, so I kept running against the ship, just to make sure I stayed stuck to the side.  You hate to make a leap like that and then just fall off because you relaxed.

But as we rounded Sardor Isle (which always makes me think of the Island of Sodor) and closed in on Feathermoon Stronghold, I relaxed a bit and found I could stand on the window.  So I turned around a took a picture.


My pet made it as well.  You can see his feet and his tail sticking out of the window frame.

So that was my heroic deed of the night.  Sure, I also slew some giants, elementals, and a few yeti.  But I do that every night.  That night I jumped and grabbed hold of the port side of a boat and road it to its destination. 

Travel in Norrath – Voyage to Faydwer

In EverQuest II there have been a number of different variations and restrictions on travel throughout the realms.  There have been enough changes as to make you wonder if things might not have gone better if they had kept most of Norrath a single continent.

In the beginning there were bells.  There were bells in the city to allow you somewhat easier travel between all of the many zones that make up Freeport and Qeynos, including the tier 1 adventuring zones.  Then there were bells on the docks in the Thundering Steppes and Nektulos Forest that would allow you to move between the two or reach zones like Feerrot or Zek (from the Thundering Steppes dock) and the Enchanted Lands (from the Nektulos Forest dock).

However, those zones with bells in Thundering Steppes or  Nektulos Forest,  like the Enchanted Lands, were restricted.  You had to reach a certain level (30 in the case of EL) or complete a rather challenging quest for early access.  Fortunately for me, the busy alchemist, either your trade skill level or your adventuring level were all you needed, so I had access to these zones before I could adventure in them. (Which did not stop me from doing the Zek access quest.  I did not know that trade skill level worked at the time.)

There were still other bells in some of these zones to get you further along into additional zones.  For example, on the far side of the Enchanted Lands there was a bell to Lavastorm that was guarded by a group of mobs.  If you couldn’t survive at least running past them, you could not go to Lavastorm.

Then, once you opened up these zones via quest or level, you could buy a very expensive (at the time) ticket in Qeynos or Freeport to get there, thus avoiding the long run from town to either Thundering Steppes or Nektulos Forest.

Well, the tickets travel were expensive (at least back in those days, when spending a gold for travel seemed like a huge waste), so SOE came up with another plan.  There was a smuggler ship that would sail you to these zones at a discount price.  The catch was that, rather than instant travel, you were transported onto a ship and had to fight mobs that spawned on the ship while it sailed.  Then, after a fixed amount of time had passed and minimum number of mobs had died, you were teleported again to your destination.

I suppose this seemed like a good idea to somebody, but it did not last very long.  There were just too many silly things about it.  You teleported to a ship.  You fought mobs that just appeared out of nowhere on the ship.  You teleported off the ship.  You did not buy a ticket.  Instead, you bought an object that represented where you wanted to go, but which was labelled and identified as though it was a ticket.  And, finally, the price of passage wasn’t a huge discount over the going rate at the main bell in the harbor.

Eventually we hit what I will call the rationalization of the bell system, which remains in place today.  From Qeynos or Freeport you can buy a ticket to either Nektulos Forest or Thundering Steppes.  From those two dock areas you can access bells to all of the other major locations.

When Desert of Flames came out, flying carpets were added to the dock areas of Qeynos and Freeport that would wisk you away to the new lands.  When Kingdom of the Sky came out… I have no idea what happened initially, but I am told there are spires that run on a timer ala EQ that get you there.  And the Fallen Dynasty adventure pack (which actually looks pretty neat) added another bell to the dock in Nektulos Forest.

Which brings up to Echoes of Faydwer.  Boats are back.  See the boat?

If you have played World of Warcraft, this boat routine might seem familiar to you.

If you did the old tutorial for EverQuest II… or did the Zek access quest… or sailed on the ill fated, previously mentioned “fight club” discount passage smuggler ships… or a couple of other things I have probably missed… the boat itself will look familiar.  Does this bring back any memories?

To get to Faydwer you have to run out to the end of the dock in either Nektulos Forest or Thundering Steppes and wait for the boat to arrive.  Here is the boat pulling up at the end of the dock in Thundering Steppes:

One nice thing about the boats is that when the boat is docked, the dock master will tell you exactly how long until the boat departs.  You also get a message in your chat window that lets you know how long until departure when you jump aboard the boat.

In Nektulos Forest and Thundering Steppes the boat does not spend very much time in zone.  The boat appears out of nowhere pretty close to the dock and zones out pretty soon after departure.  This isn’t a scenic voyage, at least at this end of the trip.  I would estimate that the boat spends around two minutes total in either of the two zones, with a little more than a minute of that time spent docked.

Then you zone.  I wish I could say something nice about zoning in EverQuest II, but I cannot think of anything.

On arrival at Butcherblock you do get a more scenic entry.  You sail through a channel, the shore on one side and a series of small islands that are clustered in the middle of what would otherwise be a bay on the other side of the ship.  It is pretty and Butcherblock itself is impressive.  Here is the dock:

I would guess that the boat spends no more than five minutes in zone at this end of the voyage.  Add that in with the time to zone and the boats make a full circuit in under ten minutes.

When you dock in Butcherblock in one boat, you will likely see the other boat pull up or depart while you are there.  I am not sure why SOE decided there had to be two boats.  Thundering Steppes and Nektulos Forest are equally accessible to both factions and only a bell apart.  The two boats are, of course, identicle.  Here is the second boat in Butcherblock as seen from the first:

I will give SOE some points for attempting to make travel, if not more immersive, at least less immersion breaking.  I always felt the bell system was something of a travel cop-out.  This keeps you a little more “in” the game without going to the boat system that used to be in EverQuest.  Still, it seems like a half measure.  There should be a better way to travel that does not break immersion in the game and gives on a sense of travelling in a big world without making it a huge chore.  Maybe Vanguard will show us something new.

And maybe SOE will get a new boat some day.