Massive Hobbits Invade the Great Barrows

Monday, August 31, 2009

As per player vote, Massive Hobbits stormed the Great Barrows yesterday in two waves. We had a total of 8 people that visited the GB, but with a fellowship max of 6 that presented some problems. So me and Gibbi sat out the first run. I chose to wait for the second run for a couple of reasons. First was food. I was hungry and dinner was on. (Mmm BBQ chicken!) Second, we have another YouTube uploader in the Massive Hobbits kinship - Guarigione. So he recorded the first run, and me the second with Kabbage.

It has been quite a while since I ran the Great Barrows with my kinship on Elendilmir. Over a year I'm sure, so remembering where everything was at took a bit of mental will power. And a map. This posed a bit of a problem for the first run - it's definitely an adventure to get lost in the Great Barrows. Despite this and a wipe, they rallied for the win against Sambrog. Lucky for me and Gibbi, we had four fellow hobbits who now were certified GB experts. Would you believe well-versed novices? How about Hobbits promised pie at the end? Yes, that was it, pie for a hard day's work.

Do check out Guarigione's videos. Mine will be up tomorrow at some point. I was experimenting with adding some titles and ran into a few hic-ups there.



Sunday, August 30, 2009

I mentioned that Sambog was nerfed. That's only in the Chapter 11 instance. He's still the same bad wight dude in the regular Great Barrows run.


A Casual Stroll to Mordor

Friday, August 28, 2009

I didn't even know it was possible to casually stroll to Mordor. Someone should have told Frodo! Someone by the name of Merric and/or Goldenstar, the authors of the new blog A Casual Stroll to Mordor, and hopefully a podcast to go along with it. Yay! More LOTRO podcasts, and look, it's co-hosted as well. Always a plus when it works. Definitely check them out and I'll put them up on the blog roll. I look forward to hearing how it turns out. Good luck guys!


Bounty Quests Problem

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rather than post the exact same thing as LOTRO Chronicles, I'm just going to direct you to that post. Basically, I (and many other people) were right that the Bounty quest rewards were "overpowered". Rather than nerf the IXP they're probably going to change the timer to 3 days instead of the 15 hours or whatever it is right now.

EDIT: As pointed out by a commenter, I was only half-right regarding the reasoning behind the upcoming bounty quest changes.


Random Screenies

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I got a stack of screenshots I've been holding onto, neglecting to post, so here is a random screenshot post for ya, in no particular order. The first two are from Jaxom, the others are my recent adventures with Kabbage.

Eregion at Night 1
Eregion at Night 2
A Tranquil Scene
Breeland Moon
Breeland Vista 1
Breeland Vista 2
Castle on a Hill
Fire! (Caught someone had lit a campfire on the West Bree Stables! Oh no!)

These last two are taken at the same time I made this video of the third jump. Unfortunately, that third jump was also the one where I went splat!

Don't Jump! 1
Don't Jump! 2


Hunt for the Ring

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visions of the Ring, an excellent map-centric site, has a new interactive map up: The Hunt for the Ring. It's an excellent overview of Frodo's journey and the peripheral characters from Bag End to Rivendell. I highly recommend checking it out as it does an excellent job of geographically grounding that part of the journey. It can sometimes be difficult to place all the characters, where they traveled, etc.

What I'd really love to see is an overview of the game's sequence of events within this timeline. Unfortunately, I think there might be a problem considering the distances involved - i.e. the player travels a lot more than is physically possible within the timeline available. There is a bit of that for a portion of the timeline and it's an excellent way to relate it to what's going on in LOTRO's storyline.

Also, can't wait until that site's Expansion Map is updated as well. It's sorely out of date at this point. Regardless, well done over there at Visions of the Ring!


Bone-Man is a Pansy

Heyo! What a blast Massive Hobbits had with Chapter 11. Then Monday night we went off into the southern barrows completing a host of quests, old and new. One of those was Bone Man, previously a fellowship quest, now definitely soloable, or if not that, in a duo. We had a full group blazing through wights, barghests, crawlers, rats, ect and Bone Man was no match. Indeed, this wight had mere seconds to see a horde of Hobbits before he experienced a second death.

What struck me at that moment was a bit of disappointment. I understand completely why some of this content has been made soloable. Indeed, a host of games from WoW to Everquest have done the same thing with old content - made it easier. Why? Because more players are at the cap and finding a group for harder lower level content is... well... harder. The very nature of the game makes the content fun at the beginning of the lifespan, and less fun later. And yet there are those rare occurrences such as with Massive Hobbits that a group does exist for low level group content - and there's little to none of it left. Even though I understand, and even agree with the way Turbine has changed the lower content, I still have to feel a bit of loss for an epic Bone-Man. Or Sambog in the GB.

None the less, we're not without hope. The Great Barrows proper is fast approaching, the quests only two or three levels above our own. And while the questing has been made more accessible (one run instead of two), the challenge has not necessarily been reduced.

I wonder if we'll see this trend continue, with only the notable instances retaining their group status and open world group quests going the way of the dodo.


New Experiences Reveal Social Gameplay

This is a "sort-of" continuation of my Conflicted Kinsman post. I've realized that I'm currently having considerably more fun with Massive Hobbits than on my main. I decided to stop and consider why that might be and I've come up with a couple reasons.

First, Jaxom is at the end-game and yet is not participating in much of the end-game content. For example, he's currently off deed grinding out Trolls, Giants, and Bears in the Misty Mountains. That's pretty much a solo affair for a level 60, but not a very fast activity either. In other words, somewhat boring. Now, you may argue here that I could indeed participate in the Moria content if I wanted. And you'd be right, to an extent. But more on that in a bit.

Second, my play with Massive Hobbits is structured differently than my play with Jaxom. In fact, I'd consider it an opposite style of play. With Massive Hobbits, the premiere front running activity are the group nights. The activity in the mean time is to prepare for those (or crafting, as Kabbage has been preoccupied). With Jaxom, there is no set schedule of activity, and he mostly solos and will group when the opportunity arises. It's all spur of the moment.

Back to the argument that Jaxom could be having more fun. I think the overarching theme with that is missed opportunities. When I was leveling Jaxom, I was also going to school and was mostly lagging behind my kinship. Real Life (TM) got in the way. Oddly enough, it was the same case with going from 50 to 60 - except there was no excuse, per se, for me to not play as much or level as fast. I just didn't. Essentially, I missed the opportunity, largely, for playing in a more structured environment with Jaxom. Kabbage, on the other hand, got lucky and found structure that fits my play style.

None of this is to say that I cannot change my behavior with Jaxom. I could very well insert some structure into my play, and even a bit into the kinship. Perhaps I've never felt the need, or maybe the freedom to do so. Now, getting a second wind in LOTRO, and with a slightly different style, I do.

The point of all this is to do more that exhort my experiences, but also address the intangible, yet all-too-real social aspects of MMOs. The biggest difference, beyond the superficial play-style, between Kabbage and Jaxom is the social experience. This is not to say I'm more or less social with one or the other, but by the unique nature of individuals, the group is different. There's different personalities, there's different dynamics, and this leads to a new experience. It's purely a result of the people involved. Add a different dozen plus people and you will get a different experience.

Deeper than the alternate structure and play style is the social fabric of the group. It's ultimately this that will decide if a person will stay with an MMO or not. Sure we will use legitimate excuses like "combat is repetitive", "quests are poorly written", etc, but these only get in the way of the social game. MMOs have a greater challenge to not only get the game mechanics right for their own sake, but also for keeping their players within their created social circles.

It's perhaps easier to see this by looking at the opposite of an MMO - a single-player game. Let's take Oblivion, a fantasy RPG - something that can be argued as a good comparison to LOTRO. Both are strong on story, with the edge going to Oblivion because of it's single-player nature (a statement I ask you to take as granted because arguing it here would be tangential and make this post overlong), both are fantasy RPGs, etc, etc. There is no social gameplay in Oblivion. Replayability is in exploring different classes, perhaps different content. On the whole, not bad for a story-driven game. LOTRO does have social gameplay which essentially adds another dimension to the game.

Think of the potential to stick with a game as one would consider three-dimensional space. A point would give you one "unit of gameplay". You play it, you're done. Absolutely nothing new a second time. A line would give you, for the sake of argument and easy math, 10 units of gameplay. You can replay it ten times with there being a bit of new content, but you're still experiencing a lot of the same thing. A coordinate illustrates this well with one number always being the same on the line (0,0); (0,1); (0,2); ...

Let's move into two dimensions with an x and a y axis. Now your coordinates change in both numbers, but many times you see the same numbers for either coordinate. This is like adding more replayablity, more options. Instead of 10 units of gameplay, we now have 100. How about three dimensional space with an x, y, and z? We're looking at 10,000 units of gameplay - exponential growth. That's like adding the social game into the mix of other game mechanics. What's the difference between 10,000 and 100? It's gives us so much more gameplay that the only way the other game mechanics can factor is if they destroy the social experience.

Alright, let's take a step back from the esoteric. Simply put, the social experience rules an MMO. Where I once was experiencing burn-out, I'm now very much into the game. I'm doing all the same content and yet I'm finding new adventure. Why? Because it's a new group of people. Plain and simple.


Massive Hobbits Week 2

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another week has past. Massive Hobbits are still getting fatter! Too much pie... wait, there can never be too much pie.

Anyway, this week the readers over at Massively voted us to do the rest of Book 1, culminating in the Chapter 11 instance in the Great Barrows. Turns out this quest was made considerably easier since most of us had last done it. Signature mobs throughout instead of elite. That meant Sambog's master elite status was greatly diminished. We owned him. Or rather, Bombadil did. Did you know he's a Rune-Keeper!?!

And that brings me to my next point: I made a video of our little escapade through the dank tombs of fallen warriors - as promised. So, if you're wondering why I call Tom a Rune-Keeper, just check out the video and you'll see. Or, if you've done the instance, I bet you can guess. But that's not all! There's bonus material too - an outtake. Poor old Kabbage, hardened Burglar, had his wits muddled not by brew, but by a prancing, dancing, dandy... er, Tom. Luckily he got the brunt of the jokes rather than Kabbage.

I definitely look forward to next week's adventure. Book 2 might not be on the docket since it starts with a level 26 quest (solo). Man, there's a big gap between the two. I think I might suggest waiting for the kinship. Not sure where the revamp to this part of the game is in terms of release (Orion was only just talking about it) but Book 2 does get a facelift. And perhaps we'll get to do a Rivendell run since that was number two in the vote.

Besides the grouping, Kabbage has also been burning as fast as he can through the Jeweler craft, leveling to make some appropriate level shinies for himself and his kinmates. Really, I have to comment on the wonderfully generous people in this kinship, sending on mats to Kabbage and even making him some armor. I really appreciate all the sharing.

Happy adventuring!


A Conflicted Kinsman

Friday, August 21, 2009

I have a problem. I am now a part of two kinships on two different servers. And they're all a great bunch of people. I has assumed that I would probably go back to my original kinship on Elendilmir once the Massive Hobbits adventure was over in a couple months. (I still log into Elendilmir from time to time as it is.) However, like I said, Massive Hobbits are a great group. I would feel bad leaving them all. So, what's a LOTRO adventurer to do when he's got two adventures going on at once?


Massive Hobbits Week 1

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looks like a week has come and gone since the last check in with Massive Hobbits. Well, not quite, but the next write up has been posted over at Massively. Do head on over there and read the wonderful narrative about Gibbi and his friends.

I unfortunately could not participate on Sunday when Massive Hobbits invaded Breeland. By the looks of the vote thus far (don't forget to vote on the next adventure), we'll be finishing up Book 1, although I'd love to see us make a Rivendell Run as well, since that won't take as long as the Book 1 questing.

Kabbage has been attempting to level his Jeweler profession in order to supply the kin with some nice jewelry. He'll be hard pressed to keep up with the leveling curve, however. I've been spending a lot of time during the week just gathering mats and crafting. We'll see how that works out. I'm not one to beg for mats from my kinmates, but if any of them read this, they're more than welcome to send Kabbage copper and silver ore. And any recipes too.

Last on the agenda is finding out where everybody is at for Book 1 and catch up. I really should run through the prologue in the Shire first, so it looks like I'll be putting crafting on hold for a bit.

Happy adventuring!


We Are Massive Hobbits!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The kinship is born, with a good number of Hobbits and a couple men, dwarves, and a lone elf. Or maybe it was two elves and a dwarf. I can't remember. In any case, here's the portrait (before the end of the night we had a few more join). Floaty names are on so you can see who's who. The only name not shown is mine. Just in case it's too hard to make out the overlaping text, the group is, left to right, starting with the big folk:

And you can find the full kinship roster on MyLOTRO as well. By the way, the name was suggested by a reader over at Massively. And a brilliant suggestion at that.

Thanks everybody for turning out, it was a blast. Look forward to playing with you all again. And hopefully I'll have the presence of mind to take more screenshots. When we do some of the more... interesting instance runs I'll probably pull out the video capture.


Obsoleting Content

With Book 8 Patch one, a set of level 60 bounty quests have shown up in Esteldin. A new Dwarven NPC will issue 5 different repeatable bounty quests to kill a particular named mob in five different locations in Middle-Earth. From these quest you get a set amount of item xp, plus a heritage rune with more ixp.

Yesterday I set out with a couple of my kinmates to do these quests. Three are soloable but two require a small fellowship. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm came through right then and blew out the power and I didn't get them done. (Amazing lightning strike right across the street, by the way.) Today I jumped back in to complete the three solo quests. From those three quests I managed to level my legendary weapon from 30 to 33. It would take considerably longer grinding the xp through kills and deconstructing trash legendaries. Or even running the ixp quest circuit in Moria.

These five quests have singlehandedly made obsolete all other methods of accruing item xp. I'm not complaining that I can get some mucho item leveling done (15 hour cool downs) but I have to wonder if these quests aren't a little "overpowered". New content is one thing, but when the new content completely invalidates the older content, I have to wonder.

Certainly the level 60 raids have made the level 50 raids useless in terms of tangible reward, but even then these raids are worth doing if you're a player who simply likes to see the content. Run through them once, or as many times as it takes to complete the quests. Repeatable content is a different animal.

Okay, maybe the ixp quests in Moria aren't totally useless. They do give you the weapon/class item modifiers, so if you need one of those, run that quest. I might suggest raising the rewards from those quest by giving out heritage runes as well so they can compete. I'll let the devs decide what value these runes would be to balance with the bounty quests vs time to complete, effort involved, etc. But I think they need a little beefing up. Or a scaling back of the bounty rewards just a bit to be more in line with the effort required.

Wait... Seriously... Did I just ask for a nerf?


Follow-Up Radiance Q&A

Orion posted a follow up mini-Q&A on his blog today regarding the Radiance changes. Do check it out for even more information and perhaps one of your burning questions was answered.


Radiance Changes Coming

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes, yes, yes. This is a good fix we've been waiting for. While not quite perfect (no alternate method/alternate radiance gear), taking a bit of the grind out of the radiance instance runs will help out tremendously. Amlug has posted a blog update talking about the new barter system for radiance gear coming Soon(TM). And as a wonderful tease at the bottom he mentions a change to the way Radiance/Gloom and Hope/Dread interact. I'd love to see a bit more detail on that one, but hey, we can't get everything all at once. I wouldn't have anything to write about tomorrow now would I? Do check out the post for more details.


Our Merry Band of Unnamed Adventurers

Wow, I actually logged into LOTRO today. I have a good excuse though. I've joined up with Gibby the Hobbit played by Shawn from Massively. I figured it indeed was a good reason to get back into LOTRO for a while. Start fresh.

Getting involved in any activity in LOTRO is also a good excuse for blogging. I'll be chronicling my adventures with our merry band, hopefully to include screenshots, and depending on the situation, video. Furthermore, when I can, I'll be using Twitter to send out mini updates of what we're doing that very moment. Of course, be sure to follow the official updates over at Massively as your votes each week will shape the adventures.

Today saw the first day of the adventures, at least for me. I jumped in as a Hobbit Burglar named Kabbage. I've not played a Burglar before, beyond level 6 when I tried it out just in the starter instance last year. I've also not been into the Archet starting area since it was revamped and I must say, despite the previous polish, this area now gleams brilliantly. The flow is much better, with a series of minor tweaks making all the difference. The day brought us to the finishing solo instance and tomorrow will see the start of Shire adventures. I must say I'm looking forward to questing in the Shire once again. It's one of my favorite zones to simply look at, let alone play in.

Developer Clover was nice enough to stop by as we began our fun to take a screenshot of me and Gibbi. I'm on the far right, Gibbi's center and Clover is left. I believe she also gifted our fearless leader with a nice starter cloak similar to the one's Founders receive for new characters. Now he's all set to vanquish some boars (which is what we were doing when so kindly interrupted).

Joining us later was another Hobbit Burglar by the name of Rotolo (hope I got that right). Three hobbits venturing across the landscape had to inspire great feats of courage in all little folk. And indeed it inspired us to ponder "wouldn't it be great if everyone that joined us take a hobbit along?" Only the future shall see.

Happy adventuring!

EDIT: Add into the group a Hobbit Hunter by the name of Bortho played by @seanmc74 as well as Dwarven Champion played by @BlueKae of BlueKay.com.


Gibbi the Hobbit

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

So I was rather late on the poll for Shawn's new character in Massively's Choose your Adventure. Gibbi the Hobbit, a Warden, will be trekking across Middle-Earth in search of adventure. There's still an opportunity to shape Gibbi, as he has yet to choose a crafting vocation. The poll is at the bottom of the page linked above.


Choose Shawn's Adventure

Shawn Shuster over at Massively is about to begin an adventure into LOTRO. Beyond his normal LOTRO playing that is. This time he's doing it as part of a choose my adventure series, where the readers of Massively get to choose what Race, Class and server he will play on. Oh, and gender too. I'm surprised by that last one because I might have expected more votes for a female toon... just to mix it up, or play along with the typical gamer guy stereotype ("dood, I'll make him play a chick!!1!").

Anyhow, get on over there and vote for what you think Shawn should play in LOTRO and what server he should play on. And then keep watching for how the adventure takes shape. I know I will.


Book 8 Patch 1 Notes

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Most of you already know about the Book 8 Patch 1 Notes but I thought I'd link them here on the off chance someone does not know about these yet.

The big news, of course, is the crafting of legendary weapons, called "Reforged". That's not to say crafters can reforge legendary items as a gameplay mechanic, but from a lore perspective, it would be... less epic if everyone and their cousin could make legendary weapons from scratch. So we can merely reforge them. Still a tremendous feat in and of itself.

Not sure yet how these recipes are acquired, be it rep grinds, random drops, or the vendors themselves. Regardless, this is an excellent addition to the game. Crafters really got the short end of the deal with both legendary items and radiance gear. Now they'll get a little bit back. Can we see some crafted Rad gear though devs?


MMeOw is Going Big

If you follow the LOTRO blogs, then you're already aware of this, but I have to mention that MMeOw.net is getting some more writers. How many? Not sure, but two new writers have introduced themselves already. I'm really excited to see what some fresh faces can do to MMeOw. Not that it wasn't a great blog to begin with, but when I see a blog like Kill Ten Rats, with multiple authors, I see a vibrant community within the blog itself. Then I see an even more vibrant community in its readership. MMeOw could become that specifically to LOTRO.

So, I wish the new writers good luck, as well as Tony and insist that everybody reading this keep an eye on MMeOw.


NPC Profiles

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Whole slew of NPC profiles up on the main page. Not all posted today, but I have neglected to mention them, mostly because there's hardly any worthwhile information there, but since there's a bunch, I'll just run through them:

Taskmaster Nursufum
Quartermaster Apsduf
Tyrant Tharbil
Tyrant Barashish
Taskmaster Raulik