Rohan Next Paid Expansion?
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Quite the Non-LOTRO Weekend
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I didn't make it to Lothlorien yet. I've been side tracked by my other method of reducing burn out - and that was play more with my kinship members. Last time I logged in it was mostly "hanging out" with them.
I've been camping the AH house as of late as well trying to complete my collection of the new soup recipes for the cooking profession. I got all the level 50+ recipes collected, working on lower levels. Hasn't been any for the Journeyman tier on the AH at all, and I have three or four total from Expert, Artisan, and Master tiers. I'd like to get these as soon as I can so I can update my cooking guide, which is woefully expired. My local version is more up-to-date than the one I linked but still... need those recipes.
Interested in getting a group together in my kinship to do my class quest (Hands of Healing) for the legendary trait, which is probably the only one I'd really use unless I was needed to tank. The last one, the Lead the Charge set, is fairly useless in my opinion. Got another 60 captain waiting on that quest too. Need to do a Fil Gashan run. Seems to be an unpopular instance with many of my kinmates so we'll see how far this gets any time soon. Might pug it when me and the other captain are around.
Lastly, I'm trying to get a local friend interested in the game. Been sending him screenshots lately and he says he's "really interested" but doesn't want to commit to a monthly fee and the lifetime membership is too expensive at the moment. I'm unemployed or I'd offer to pay it for him with him paying me back whenver he can. Oh well - his computer wouldn't let the game look nearly as nice as mine does - which would be a bit of a let down after the screen shots I've been sending him.
Oh, one more thing. Going to try and get FRAPS working one more time for LOTRO. I desperately want to create some video. Nasty out of memory crashes.
The Road Goes Ever On
Friday, March 27, 2009
Like all my fellow LOTRO bloggers, I wish the newest the best of luck. It's easy to start a blog. It's hard to keep it going.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
What I really want to do is ask a few questions: Has the community as a whole become more jaded to the game? Has Book 7 spurred the largest "outrage" over changes? Is Turbine going in the wrong direction with this game?
Let me tackle the last one first. It could be argued that they have always been going in the wrong direction with this game. The MMO project using the Lord of the Rings IP used to be called Middle-Earth Online and promised to be more freeform and sandboxy than the focused and steered LOTRO. I followed the development of MEO for a while and was excited about the sandbox type environemt that was talked about. I got distracted and lost track of the game and in that time the development switched to a different company with a different vision and LOTRO was born. I got a beta invite in August of 2006 and jumped in head first. I was hooked. It was Lord of the Rings. The game would be huge. I didn't care anymore about the sandbox that was never born - the fact that they managed to capture the magic of the lore made me a believer.
That belief has continued largely unabated since. There might be inklings, however, of a more mass commercialization of the game in the form of pleasing the masses at a cost to the integrity of the lore and even existing mechanics. It's never been a secret that Turbine would like LOTRO to be the second most sucessful MMO in North America (behind WoW of course) and to do that you might just need to make it more WoW like, even if it hurts some of the positive things that makes LOTRO unique. I agree that I'd like to see LOTRO succeed on that level. I don't agree that it needs to mold itself after WoW in every nook and craney. Are Turbine going in that direction? Maybe. I would have once said no but we'll have to see how things go in this second year and after the second expansion. This is when LOTRO will go through adolecence. It'll start to mature. Will we see LOTRO find it's own place in the MMO world or will it follow after it's "big brother"? Is Turbine going in the right direction? Right now, only time will tell, but I think there is a chance it could be not quite what some of us more endeared to the IP and original vision want.
As to the apparent sudden influx of complaints post Book 7, there might be truth in that if we look as sheer numbers of people voicing complaints. But are these the same people that have always voiced complaints or are they new? Are these people that have previously been postive about the game? Are the people who post positive feedback just not talking anymore? It's very possible, post the release of Mines of Moria and an assumed influx of new players, that the percentage of negative feedback hasn't changed, or has even gone down.
Ultimately, are we more jaded now to LOTRO than last year at this time? For me, there are new systems that didn't quite live up to expectations (housing, legendary items, reputation) but there are also gems (lore consciousness, world design, group play). Am I more jaded? I think I look at things more critically now that I write about LOTRO regularly and listen to more varied opinions. But I don't think I'm any less enthusiastic and I always, always try and keep my feed back thoughful, respectful, and positive. I do not complain without saying at least why I dislike what I do and will try my hardest to come up with a different idea. Sometimes the last part doesn't always work, but hopefully my overall attitude is contageous.
Welcome Back Weekend
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
No wipes, so that was good, but we did lose our minstrel once. Only death though. He said it was his fault but I don't know precisely what happened. Otherwise a successful run. We did it on normal mode as far as I can tell because there was no drop for radiance gear. Either that or it's in the lower section that we didn't get to. This is my first time in the place so I wasn't completely cognizant of what was going on.
Which sort of leads me into a bit of a side topic. I'm an awesome solo player with my class. I know what I can do, can't do, what skills to use, when to use them, etc. Why do I excel at soloing? Because I've had practice. It's how I play most often. But when I get in a group, I'm much less competent. I felt like a sore thumb despite our general success. There was a moment where I had a poison DoT on me and I didn't even notice. Not until I was at 1/3 of my morale. I wasn't even watching the chat either, and two people had said I had a DoT that needed dealing with. I hit up a potion and our minstrel healed, but the fact that it turned out alright isn't the point - the fact that it happened is. Now, what's the best solution? How did I get good at soloing? I need more group play practice.
As a captain, my role in groups, aside from buffing, isn't always the same nor always clear-cut. Depends on the fight, depends on what other classes are there. Honestly, I'd rather just take orders and hit what they tell me to hit and watch what they tell me to watch. Funny that, because the definition of a captain is the one who gives the orders. And I was the only one using voice chat (they all could hear me though) so theoretically, if it weren't for my inexperience, I should have been the one calling the battle. But I have trouble seeing everything that's going on. My class roll requires that I do most of the time. I'm uncomfortable not knowing how to play my class the best in group settings. I feel like a noob sometimes. Here's hoping I get more practice in and can improve my game.
However, if we're able to tap into this, why can't we see what I did want to see?
The Spring Festival is Here!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Each season has it's own festival with each of the four races in Middle-Earth having their own particularly activities and celebration. This year's notable activity is the hedge maze near the Breefields north of Bree. There are a few different activities you can do in the maze and all are quests repeatable, but with cooldowns. A couple of the notable ones is a dwarf who wants you to post confusing signs within the maze to... well, confuse people. I had to laugh at that one. Another one is a hobbit who wants you to round up some chickens that have gotten loose inside the maze. As a lover of hedge mazes, I had a blast doing all these quests. And there's a special title for those who complete all the quests.
Each quest will gift you with a hedge leaf that can be turned in for prizes at a nearby trader. For farmers there are three potted plants recipes you can get. Also included are some housing items, a cosmetic item, and two items you can use to slap people with. Yeah, I'm not joking. So, check out the Breeland hedge maze north of Bree!
I ran through these yesterday to get a taste of what they were like. Each instance has a bunch of crafting nodes in them for forester, scholar, or prospector. They are in Zem Melek, Durin's Way, and the Redhorn Lodes respectively. The nodes are on a cooldown timer completely seperate from the three quest givers (per instance) you'll find outside the crafting instances. These quest NPCs have repeateable quests, every 12 hours, that reward you with barter items that can be traded for Lothlorien gold leaves, which themselves are barter items that can be turned in for goodies in Lothlorien. A little complicated, but whatever. This is where those trader icons come in - they're the guys that give you the leaves for your quest rewards.
The instances themselves are well designed, artistically, and fairly linear. There are little deviations in your path that lead to dead ends that frequently have those crafting nodes. The quests are straight forward. Kill 20 of the invaders, find 8 of the lost objects, and kill the leader. The instances will have three different random mob types that will be the invaders: cave claws, grothburg (the bugs), or goblins. The bugs and cave claws are the easiest, with the latter giving you Extraordinary Hide drops, which are a pleasant side crafting oriented side effect. I don't use them myself so I'll either give them to kinmates or sell them on the AH. You can get a stack of 50 and a bit more if you get two instances with the cave claws. The goblins are the hardest because of their ranged attack type mobs. As a captain, I have no ranged weapon so I have to get in melee range. This can be a pain sometimes, but that's the nature of my class and not anything against the crafting instances.
Like the IXP instances, these can get just as boring after a while, even with the variation in mob types. If you're a crafter, it's worth going through if you need materials. If you're not a crafter, or one who can use wood, scholar nodes, or metals, it's not really worth your time except maybe for the barter items. I haven't been out to Lothlorien yet to see what exactly these can be turned in for and if that is worth the grind.
All in all, a good addition but nothing really spectacular.
Angmar Night Sky
Dread Statue Guards
Breeland at Night
The Prancing Pony
Inside the Prancing Pony
The Midgewater Marsh
Forsaken Inn and Weathertop
Monday, March 23, 2009
I plan on recording the numbers 3 times per day: 8 AM, 1 PM, and 6 PM. Basically I want a morning, afternoon, and a primetime read. All times in Pacific of course. I'll record every day for one week (7 days) to see if there are discernible patterns. I might even make this a month long project. I do have a job prospect on the horizon that might take me out of the all-day free time "bliss" I've been in recently, but hopefully I can manage to record at work should I get the job.
Oh, and when I checked the numbers at 10 AM this morning, there were 380,332 people logged in total. Honestly, that's a lot more than I thought were subscribers, let alone players. I'm sure these count free trials that are logged in, but how many of those are there? One conclusion I know I'll find is that LOTRO is healthy.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Sorry for the rather abstract philosophical post. I think I need to move into Lothlorien content now that Book 7 is out. I am definitely not a dwarf. I think I've had enough of Moria for a while. Give me open skies and beautiful landscapes. Honestly, this is one of the top reasons I fell in love with this game - the "natural" scenery. Carved rocks, even beautifully carved rocks, cannot sustain me - even to the point of adversely affecting my gameplay. Then again, sometimes we just need a bit of a change of pace, regardless of whatever it is we're doing. Lothlorien, here I come!
Urugarth Run Complete
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The run was fun, but long. We started around 6, 6:30 and ended a little after 10... so about 3 and a half to four hours. Took a small break in the middle. Quite a bit of fun getting that stuff done. I'd hate to do it too many times. I'll go again if there's ever a group again and I'm available because I still have uruks, beasts, and marching orders off orcs for more deeds as well as more quests. My silly completionism. I'm not really pushing to get these quests done though. If they don't get done, I won't be upset. Now, I'd love to say I got all the moria quests done...
Most Populous Servers?
Friday, March 20, 2009
I think we all knew Brandywine was the most populous. Landroval surprises me, actually, but then again, with this IP, its certainly possible we have a large RP community (don't do it myself so I don't know) that infuses the unofficial RP server with life. And then there's my home, Elendilmir. Being most populous means very little, except in this case where it's a bit of a nuisance. So, in a completely illogical way, I'm proud. Then again, maybe not so much. If we're having growing pains (could be what these issues are, or something just broke - computer things do that from time to time) then that's a good thing in my eyes. More people means more money. More money means more resources. More resources means more game. Yay!
Sounds like they have a fix in the works, so that's good to hear. Minor annoyance for knowing that LOTRO is doing well.
Entrance to the First Hall
Jaxom at the Great Abyss
The Pit of Khazad-Dum
The Chamber of Mazarbul - before the battle
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I went three for three on killing master elites for quests. First was Bloodwing on the western side of Angmar. Two adds came in but I managed to down Bloodwing and run for it, barly making it with 198 morale left. The next was an elite master Angmarim up in one of the towns there on the westertn side of Angmar. Don't remember the name off hand now but there were two other elite Angmarim next to him so I had to kill those two than run away letting my elite master reset. Then I ran back and killed him with the other two out of the way. Finally was the Silk Lady north of the Malenhead swamp (or however that's spelled). She was a pain because as soon as I hit her 6 spiders came out of nowhere to attack me. Thank goodness they were normal or I'd've been dead. But I managed to kill them all, and with my on-death skills, kept myself alive. Between Revealing Mark and my HOT on Muster Courage, I managed to stay alive. She seemed to have trouble hitting me. And having her summon spiders in the middle of the battle actually helped where I could use my on-death skills again, notably Rallying Cry and heal myself.
Then I went into the caves in Northern Malenhead. And died. Too many elite worms. Oh well, I knew my luck couldn't last. I'll be going through more of it later tonight or tomorrow, clearing as many as I can. At some point I'll bug one of my kinmates, probably a champoin for the dps and armor, to help me.
I'm still going to look at the new starter zones at soon. I did enable the quest tracker today, which apparently is a "beta" feature. Honestly, I think that just means they have too many bugs in it to justify a "full release" but didn't want to yank the feature after much hype. I like it. Sure, some might see it as easier, but when I was running through Angmar and hadn't done the quests in ages, it really helped to remember where things were at. And you don't need to use the feature, so I think it fits the best of both worlds. And really, doing quests by finding the locations "the hard way" is simply a matter of personal pride, not really affecting gameplay or "gimping" the players that use the tracker. So, kudos to those of you who continue to find quests the old way. I don't really have qualms about using the tracker. I still have to fight the same mobs, and I still get my story fix, which is one of the big reasons I play this game.
LOTROCast Episode 4
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
That's not to say there's a lack of Book 7 impressions out there. If you subscribe to the combined LOTRO blog feed, linked on my sidebar, you'll get a good dose of Book 7 impressions and more to come I'm sure. Kill Ten Rats has a couple of observations that are worth reading as well. Lothlorien appears to be a fairly peaceful place, a zone of respite after the long dark of Moria. I think that's a wonderful change to what we experienced in Moria and holds very true to the books. Judging by the impressions of Lothlorien so far, I think Turbine might have nailed it. I'll have to see for myself, of course...
And over the next few days I should be making some observations about some of the other Book 7 content, namely the crafting instances, the quest tracker system, and the the starter zone content revamp. The rest will have to wait until I get myself out to Lothlorien, but like I said, I like to take my time absorbing the content. No need to rush.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
As with every patch, Book 7 comes with known issues. Sometimes I wonder why some of these bugs keep showing up. A matter of priorities I guess. A few humorous things I'd like to draw attention to. My last post was too serious. Hehe.
Fell-Glass Spiders can appear invisible on High Material Detail setting.
Appear invisible? Oxymoron alert!
The Stable-Master in Combe cannot swift-travel to Michel Delving. Out of spite he has denied you the ability as well.
Oh Turbine, you make me giggle.
As I haven't played through any but one of the instances, I'm not able to comment well on the issues within them, however I did hear they were fairly buggy and had some exploits. However, as Kill Ten Rats points out, one person's exploit is another person's creative thinking. I have to err on the side of the development team however, as it is their definition that ultimately counts. They are the ones defining the game, and while the player base is experiencing that definition, everything is ultimately in their hands. I think we as players get too caught up in an entitlement mentality at times. And here's where capitalism comes into play. If we as players don't like what we're experiencing, we go elsewhere. So the development team's job is to strike that balance - guiding the game where they think it needs to go but in a way that the players like. This doesn't change who is in control, however, who sets the agenda. The developers choose to listen to the players because it's good business, but that doesn't mean they're any less responsible for the direction the game goes.
Okay, now it's time to get personal. I have a goal of getting the radiance gear from these instance runs. I haven't done many so I'm not experientially familiar with the timesinks involved. I only know that by educated guessing and second hand conversations. Despite my goal, I'm conscious that it's unlikely that I'll experience this content in full. I just don't play often enough and don't have the patience for what's involved in getting groups together. I prefer to group with my kin because it's relatively painless and I don't have to work hard to do it. But getting a static group of six players together for six hours minimum for one of six instances is hard. It's not hard because the content is necessarily hard. It's hard because it takes time. Game time is part of free time and free time is a luxury. Most of us have to ration it, myself included, despite my current unemployment. I have to face reality hear and realize I'm not the type of person this content was designed for. I'd like to be the type of person, because I'm really am a completionist, but when it really comes down to doing the deed, I just don't have the will to make that time commitment. Quite frankly, there are more entertaining and fun things I could be doing with my time, some of which don't even involve LOTRO. So while I'm a big fan of the game, I think I'll use my time to push for completing the epic storyline. I love story so that's where I should focus. Gear, instances, what does it matter? I'm experiencing Middle-Earth am I not? Is a 36+ hour gear grind really Middle-Earth or just a game mechanic for those of us with more time and the personality to push through such things?
And with this realization, I also have recognized that I'm not doing the activity that I've gotten most enjoyment from - grouping with my kinmates just because we want to do content. Many of my recent play sessions have involved solo experiences, and those are not the most memorable moments by and large. Where I find most joy is playing with my friends. So, I'll drop the goal of getting the radiance gear and put in it's place play with my kinship. If they're doing instance runs for gear - sure, that's what I'll do, but if they're doing the epic story, that's what I'll do. It's a game for goodness sake. Play it, don't work it. Right?
Yet Another Book 7 Preview
Monday, March 16, 2009
A Little More Attention
Sunday, March 15, 2009
So no instance runs. However, I did do some solo quests, one of which is part of the level 58 Captain quest for the Hands of the Healing legendary trait. All solo so far and I don't know what the future holds for that quest, so it's all new to me. Did a bit in the Flaming Deeps and then talked to three NPCs scattered in other parts of Moria. I also worked on part of the epic quest: 2.3.x. I got to chapter 9 which is a session play: We Cannot Get Out. I forgot that was the session that was borked and you cannot complete it. Figures, so I had to quit the session and at that point I took a break for dinner. Unfortunately, I got side tracked watching TV and didn't log in the rest of the eveing. For all I know more of the kin could have been on and I might have gotten some instance runs in. There's always another day.
And in between all that I did some exploring, particularly in Nud-Melek and the Flaming Deeps to find some of the exploration deed locations. I love exploring, particularly if I have an objective in mind (like a quest location). For example, I know A is here and I am at B, here, so how do I get there? Moria is awesome for that because of all the multiple levels. You might be underneath what you want to find but have to figure out first, if there is an underneath, and how to get there. One quest I did out of the Redhorn Lodes was like that. Good fun.
I'm still purchasing my Sublime Jewelry set. I have two more pieces to get (one if I win the auction I bid on yesterday). I really should take a break and save up for another chest in my vault so I have more space for my food stuffs but I guess I'm being vain. Besides looking pretty (yes, I know you can't see the jewelry on your character) they give me nice stats. Speaking of food stuffs, I've been using my guild recipes to cook stacks of critted restoration food (morale and power) and selling them on the AH. I'm making a profit so that's really a first for me with food and the AH. Thank goodness for guild recipes. And with the lowering of the cooldowns with Book 7 (yay Tuesday!) I'll be able to put them up more often and get coin even quicker.
So here are my goals:
- Purchase 1 more vault space
- Complete Sublime jewelry set
- Run instances for Radiance armor set
- Clear out (complete) lower level quests and deeds in old zones
Great Gear Guide
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Kill Ten Rats Talks to Jeffrey Steefel
Friday, March 13, 2009
Ravious over at Kill Ten Rats talks to Jeffery Steefel, the executive producer of Lord of the Rings Online. While this link isn't exactly a traditional interview question and answer, he summarizes the talk he had with Mr. Steefel. Basically it's a more in-depth talk about the lore side of Book 7 and a little bit of what we'll see next.
More Book 7 Screenshots
Thursday, March 12, 2009
March 11th Dev Chat Transcript
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Question: In the Bullroarer patch notes, you stated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to design content with IHW at 100% [damage mitigation]. Could you please expand on this? Do you believe there is a place in [the] game for a 100% damage bubble? Will you be giving captains additional group survivability tools to compensate for this significant loss?
Answer: There were cases where the In Harms Way skill was being used with other skills that trivialized or completely negated content in the game. Our content team did not have any reasonable way to address this - doing so on their end would have meant a severe reduction in the amount of content they could produce over time, due to having to compensate for every 'scenario' that would occur. We chose instead to address In Harms Way, which we believe to be the root cause of concern with this particular issue of trivializing game content. We do not believe there is a place in the game for a 100% fellowship wide damage bubble at this time, so we changed the skill. Making the skill have a 50% damage reduction still means that the skill on its own could be useful, since Captains (via various banners) tend to have a lot of morale. Spreading out the damage for their entire party becomes a preventative tool vs. a panic button, but it also means the skill can be used without pairing it with another. As always, we will be evaluating the change over the course of Book 7, and we will be monitoring your feedback in case we need to make changes.
Welcome to the wall of text. There's a lot there. Where to begin....
First is the point about the negating of content - basically being so overpowered that content became trivialized. I could see how that potential was there but I personally never ran into that situation. I always found the skill usage to tread the fine line between saving a wipe and wiping anyway. If things are going really bad, not even the IHW, LS, and SOM combo would save you. I'm not sure I totally buy this, but since I cannot know for sure, I'll accept it.
Second, there was no other "reasonable" way of addressing the issue. Okay, if I accept the first point, I have to accept this one. And I'm not a programmer or know their tools so I cannot say what's reasonable or not.
Third, they do not see a situation that merits a 100% damage mitigation. That goes with number two - since they seemed to have trouble designing content for such a situation.
Fourth, the skill is now useful on its own without the use of Last Stand or Strength of Morale. Okay, this is the kicker in the "argument" I think. Because of the way In Harms Way was working (100% damage mitigation) I always assumed this skill was never meant to be used on it's own (unless you'd like to sacrifice yourself for the good of the group - which I happen to not be adverse to and have used the skill to that end before). Given that we get Last stand and especially Strength of Morale, I was convinced things were working as intended. Perhaps they were, but as things progressed, they stopped. It's like many features that saw a change with Mines of Moria and now Book 7 - long term feedback changes. Do I like that IHW can now be used as a separate entity? Does it justify the change, that regardless of what you call it, reduces it's effectiveness? I'm willing to accept this new advantage - this trade off. But I haven't tested it yet. And it's still on the test server so it can be changed. I can't know if it will work as intended. Perhaps, as an offhand thought, it should only be reduced to 66 or 75%.
Lastly, IHW as a panic button or preventative tool. I think these aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, I say such a still is a natural panic button and should be forced into being a preventative tool. We're inclined, with cool-down timers, to save INW for the right moment, and the right moment often takes the form of a panic situation. We can't know it's the right moment until the time has passed for preventative measures. And there are a host of other skills that operate much more effectively as preventative skills than IHW.
And now, I have to admit a feeling of loss over the epicness that was IHW. I felt powerful, I felt useful, I felt effective. So does everybody that has an overpowered skill or even class (I'm not saying Captains are overpowered). Compounding that feeling was that I was saving the whole group - it is one of the only times that a Captain is on the "front lines" so to speak, actively saving the bacon. The DPS, tanking, and even healing get all the glory usually. Buffs are in the background, not as noticeable. But when the IHW, LS, and SOM combo was hit, everybody knew the captain was doing something spectacular. We were pulling through. It was our small reward for being the quiet guy in the back that was subtlety helpful. I reveled in that roll, but I also reveled in coming through.
That's not to say that we can't have an epic moment like that, or that IHW will no longer be epic. It'll just be a little less epic and it remains to be seen if it's a 'bad' change or not.
The second item I want to talk about, or rather point out is that Under the Banner managed to get a question in about fansite and blogging tools in relation to the Lorebook. We've of course been having a discussion around this blogosphere about that issue. It sounds to me like they're open for further discussion but the question was to large for the dev chat environment. I definitely encourage my fellow bloggers to follow up on this question. I haven't been the one taking the lead on this, but if anybody needs me to do anything, let me know.
That's all I got for now. I apologize for spending so much time on the Captain issue, but I can only write about what interests and affects me. Playing a captain, this definitely falls in that category. I hope it was entertaining anyhow. Happy adventuring!
Power recovery from the Blade of Elendil/Improved Defensive Strike has been reduced.
This is obviously for captains. Honestly, the power recovery isn't that significant to begin with. It's hardly even a level 60 skill (average) worth. So reducing it doesn't seem necessary. If anything it should be increased. Unless it was first increased for Book 7 and now it's decreased again. I don't remember mention of it in the original patch notes though so...
This is really just a "whatever" item. It's not worth getting worked up over but it's one of those changes that doesn't seem to really mean anything. Part of me wonders if they can't be trying to fix some issues that actually need fixing ya know? Sorry to sound so cynical. I really love some of the changes in Book 7 but there are times where one should be critical, even of one's own favorite game.
Here, let's end on a happy note: I love the humor in these notes. I laughed out loud and the Boromir cloning.
Like I said, this is the first step and I'm certain we'll be brainstorming even more ideas to build community here.
Future Book Update World Speculation
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Still, there's a good amount of content to be had from this massive volume. I take this time to make some conjecture on where we might go with future landscape additions from free book updates between the Mines of Moria expansion and the next paid expansion (presumably in November if Turbine holds to their schedule).
We should look at past update patterns first as a model for what we could see this year. There were two major landscape additions post launch. First was the Shores of Evendim and second was Forchel. Landscape additions were not present in all books, though counting minor additions such as the Misty Mountains and the Trollshaws, we saw about half the Book updates include some sort of world update.
Considering the expected timeline until the next paid expansion (shorter than between release and Moria by the way) and the fact that Book 7 has a world addition, I would guess that we'll see only one zone addition to the game before November. The question, of course, is where.
In the Shadow's of Angmar, the main enemy and antagonist came from Angmar (although there was some of Saruman's work in Breeland and the Shire). As such, the new zones dealt much with Angmar's influence on the land - especially Forochel. These zones were added in close proximity to Angmar as the threat would be greater the closer you got to the enemy stronghold. Expanding South and/or towards the western shores would move the players farther from the immediate threat. It would have been more difficult to justify the story going that direction as well as higher level zones. (I think some of these Southern Eriador locations would be better suited to alternative advancement zones equivalent to the North Downs, Lone Lands, and Trollshaws.)
I have to admit I'm missing crucial information in the form of the complete story of Volume II. I've only completed through Book 3. But knowing the LOTR and a bit of the world's history, I can say that a plausible enemy focus would be Dol Guldur - to the east of Lothlorien. We're still too far away from Isengard to feel the full force of that threat. And it would a better focus for a Rohan expansion (more on that in a minute). Mordor is even further away. Mirkwood poses some considerable natural dangers in addition to whatever might be infesting the former stronghold of Sauron. It's close to Lothlorien, where we've just finished up with the epic quest in the soon to be released Book 7. It's a logical place to go for a landscape addition.
As to what we might see in the next paid expansion... well, we always, always have to remember where the fellowship is going. From Lothlorien they went south on the Anduin until the Falls of Rauros and from there split up - five going west (two in captivity) and two going east. The next resting place is Edoras, in Rohan (Sam and Frodo are a much more complicated endeavor and would be hard to guess about regarding expansions at this time). Therefore Rohan is a logical subject for the next paid expansion, including Isengard and Saruman as the enemy focus. Fangorn is also in that make up - which will be cool to see as it's like the Old Forest on steroids.
So, those are my best educated guesses at this time. Like I said at the beginning, I'd love to see some more additions to other parts of the landscape that we're less familiar with - if only to further flush out my fantasy of having a full Middle-Earth to live in, but in all honesty, we're more than likely going to follow the fellowship to the foot of Mount Doom before we see some of the peripheral content
Stratics Chat March 11th
Monday, March 9, 2009
The LOTRO Blogging Community
Sunday, March 8, 2009
I'd like to see a post aggregator (much like Google Reader does for blogs, which is what I use to keep up on the ones I follow) either integrated into each blog's sidebar or perhaps a unique site that is functions only in this manner. I suppose an integrated feed might accomplish the same thing, but whatever the system, it needs to retain the individual identities of each of the blogs - to retain the benefits of all of them. We each have something unique to offer and the community would only suffer should that uniqueness disappear in a well meaning attempt to build cohesiveness.
Right now, I endeavor to mention blog posts that I find particularly stimulating (not that all of them aren't worth reading) but I cannot link to all of them all the time. It would bloat my posts and push my own content into the "margins" so to speak. As it stands, I have about 1/3 original content and commentary and 2/3 linked content from other blogs, Massively, or the official site. It's something to think about as an emerging community.
In the mean time I have redesigned my blog roll. It is now divided in two. First is as best of an aggregator as I can manage for the LOTRO exclusive blogs. It includes the name of the blog, the title of the most recent post and the date posted. I thought about including a snippet, but I think that becomes too much text and overpowers the rest of the sidebar functions. The lower blog roll is for all other non-LOTRO or non-exclusively LOTRO blogs but still related to The Middle-Earth Adventurer's interests.
They're Sprouting Like Flies!
Friday, March 6, 2009
A Bit More About Crafting Instances
Thursday, March 5, 2009
So yesterday I logged in finding myself at the Orc-Watch in the Redhorn Lodes. I looked around at my quests and decided I didn't want to do any of those. I'm feeling a little burned on Moria, so, taking my own advice, I decided to change up my activities. Instead, I went out to the Misty Mountains intending on clearing out the rest of the Goblin Town quests plus one quest to kill the Thunder Lord giant.
I did this giant quest first, barely able to solo the guy, who was an Elite Master. I managed to only take on one other giant while I was killing him and I didn't need to fire either Last Stand or Strength of Morale. It felt good to accomplish this.
Then it was off to Goblin Town with four quests. I finished the GT exploration deed, Bilbo's Buttons deed (got to Honesty tier 10 with these), and all but one of these quests. Turns out that I can't solo this guy because of the troll that's right next to him. Total of three mobs. I died trying. Oh well. But hey, maybe one of my kinmates wanted to help me. And that was the start of an epic adventure through GT and a couple other zones in Middle-Earth clearing out the last quests in the Misties, the North Downs, and Forochel.
My kinmate pulled up his level 60 champion and I wept at my relatively woeful DPS. But that's what I needed. I had to burn through the mobs before they burned through me. And that's what we did. I can now say that the Misty Mountains are 4 deeds away from being 100% complete - Bears, Trolls, Giants, and Worms. Granted, I'm only on the first part of trolls and giants so I have 6 really. It'll be a while because both these mobs take forever to kill solo.
We then headed to the North-Downs for an epic duo of Master of the Black Tide. This quest involves clearing out the tent atop a hill in Dol Dinen full of orcs and trolls. Any mobs in the tent will aggro you if you attack the boss so you can't just go straight up and kill him. We had to clear the tent. And we did, bloody carnage we did. It was amazing. I wish I had the presence of mind after the battle to take a screen shot. Bodies of trolls and orcs littered the floor. I was totally amazed we got all the mobs down before respawn. It got a little hairy for a moment when we got five adds, two of which were trolls, but we made it. It was glorious. Kudos to my champion kinmate who made all the difference. Epic. The Northdowns is all the Fornost quests away from 100% complete.
And lastly we finished off my last Forchel quest which puts that zone four deeds away from 100%: Grims, Sabertooths, Worms, and Dwarves.
All in all, a wonderfully productive evening, even if I got no other reward from it (except the coin) that I would immediately use. And of course the company of a friend. I have to say mate, your willingness to help me on these quests and deeds that you didn't even have is a testament to your quality as a person. Thanks again for all your help.
"In a lot of ways, designing Lothlorien was very much like designing the Shire back before release. We have to be true to the books so we need to design content that's based around the essential character of the land." Aaron Cambel, Live Content Producer, LOTRO.
Didn't I say somewhere (can't remember which posts so no self-link) that Lothlorien should be handled as delicately as the Shire? I'm so happy to see this comment. I wasn't particularly worried about the design of the zone. I can't think of any zone that hasn't been designed to fit within the lore of the IP. It's all been great. But that they keep their heads with it is wonderful.
The other item of note in this preview is an additional detail of the reputation system. To summarize, there is the chance that you can lose rep with the elves. You have a morale choice presented to you in the form of a quest or quests as well as "protected" creatures who's death will lose you rep. This is a wonderful new dynamic to the rep system that I think should have been there from the beginning. It's a direction that the rep system needs to go in order to be more robust, more exciting, more interesting than just a simple grind for rewards. Give players an interactive choice and you have much more compelling content. The MMeOw blog also has posted some thoughts on this feature.
There are few items of note I'd like to talk about that have come out of this dev chat. First is about raid content and the following comment from Jalessa:
"Our progress in our raid sets in the future is something that we are continually discuss[ing] and plan[ing] out. We will continue to use radiance as a requirement for future raids, as you have seen with our current Moria sets. We also plan to improve set bonuses and item bonus amounts."
I made a post a while back about gear checks, and why I like LOTRO because there's not really a gear check in the game. Sure better gear means you do things faster etc, but it wasn't required. Decent gear for level 50 meant you could viably complete the Rift or Helegrod. Requiring radiance gear for raids here on out is a gear check of the purest form. You will absolutely die without the radiance gear because the dread is too much. Yes, this is already in the game with The Vile Maw watcher fight. Raiding wasn't precisely casual before, but it's significantly less now. At the very least you have to complete six instances six times each. That's 36 instance runs, 36 times you have to find a fellowship, 36 times you have to commit. All for six pieces of gear.
Of course, one might argue that casual players don't need to experience this content. It's not casual content and there's plenty of casual content in the game already. That's absolutely true, but what made LOTRO different than, say WoW was it's embracing of all content for all players (within reason of course). Perhaps that was a pipe dream, impossible to achieve. I thought they managed fairly well with Shadows of Angmar content, notably raids. Add this to some of the other changes in Book 7 and I feel like LOTRO is going the route of WoW on a few things that might not be the best way of going about it. Just because WoW has 11 million players doesn't mean it does everything right.
I'm probably being unfair to say the devs are coping WoW consciously. They more than likely came up with the ideas on their own. But I'd like to see this game go a little bit of a different direction. Something a little bit unique. The casual friendliness, even in upper level content, was one of those somethings.
The second item is a comment about the XP curve change by Jalessa:
"The change was primarily focused towards our low-mid level players, in an effort to make our game more approachable to the casual user."
There's that word casual again. But that's not what I want to comment on this time - more the abstract level range mentioned here. I put up a post about the level 30 wall the other day (along with links to other blogs talking about the subject) and I think that the xp change could address this problem. Furthermore, it was mentioned Orion is looking over the mid-range content to see how to make it less linear. Honestly, I think the best solution is a new set of zones to duplicate the progression. I'm not sure how redesigning the content at the lower levels will make it any less linear. You still go from the same zone to the same zone.
Lastly is a lighter comment about festivals by Keth:
"In addition to another horse to try and win, there will be a hedge maze for you to try and find your way through. This hedge maze will be instanced, so you'll never see more than a handful of people in the maze at a time."
I love hedge mazes in real life. I'm probably overly excited about this feature of the festival. But I love that they're coming up with new "light" activities to do for these. It's a lot of fun and a good change of pace from the normal questing/deeds/instances. Oh, and yet another horse? We'll need our own stables at this rate. Give us a horse ring! Ya know, like our key ring. I suppose you could call it a stable. A horse rings sounds... odd.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Now, I'm a ways away from the wall both in terms of my level 60 captain and my alts (which are at most level 12). It's been a while since I've dealt with the wall. I was reaching the wall when Evendim came out. And yet, between my eastern North Downs, Trollshaws, and Evendim questing, I did feel a bit burned out. When there's content that gets a bit repetative as well as a linear solo progression, you can feel burned. But I got through it. I slowed down, I didn't play as much, but the itch to play never really left. I just stratched it much less. I guess that's something unique to me. Not just me, but to my situation. Many players lose the itch completely. I'm not sure how to avoid that. I avoided it because I love the lore. I love the world. And, despite some holes, such as this wall, the game is overall very well designed and polished. That kept me going. And it's my first MMO. There's an intagible quality about one's first experience in anything that leads them to almost romanticize it. I trie and be objective about this game, but truely, I have a biased love for it, regardless of my critiques or concerns.
So, the best way to avoid the wall is to pace yourself. If you're feeling burned, take a break for a couple days. And when you come back, only do a handful of quests. 2, 3, 4, maybe five. That's it. Go to a different activity next. Like crafting. Or maybe there's a deed you want to finish. Work on that. But don't do any one activity for an extended period of time. This, in my opinion, is what leads to burn out and can lessen the impact of the wall. Basically, instead of speeding full force into it, just stroll on up and give it a tap. It's still there but it didn't hurt nearly as much.
For Turbine's part, I hope to see them give an alternate direction out of Bree. The city acts as a wonderful quest/player hub and I don't think it should lose that functionality. However, instead of the lone-lands/northdowns/evendim/trollshaws progression, let's go say... south. Lots of room down there on the map. Get a duplicate 18 to 48 progression to Eregion and the Mines.
What about Turbine's stated goal to include an epic book in each zone expansion, free or otherwise? Well, I don't think a lower level zone is mutual exclusive to the continuation of the story back in Eriador. There are a lot of creative people over at Turbine that should be able to come up with a legitimate reason to send the players back to the southern areas of Eriador. And that story can be at the level cap or close to it depending on where the epic story terminates when such additions are made. So, there's a little bit of high level content in an otherwise low level zone. There's ways to build the zone that shuts off this part of the content. You can instance it, you can put it in a remote valley/area. Heck, even seeing a couple level 60 (or higher) mobs patrolling an area is enough to deter a level 30 from sticking his nose in. Just make sure these mobs don't count towards deeds that would normally be completed at a lower level.
There are ways around the wall now. Or there are ways to make it hurt less. And in the future, I hope Turbine considers something like what I've said above. I hope they don't get too much tunnel vision to Mordor and forget that there are other parts of the game that can make as much impact to your players as moving east.
So I finally came to the conclusion. I want the content of The Middle-Earth Adventurer to be relevant and fresh. Therefore my blog-roll should point to blogs that do the same thing. I've as such decided that blogs that haven't been updated for over a month will no longer show up on the blog roll. This will not eliminate many of the blogs on the list either, but it doesn't compromise any of the other goals for the blog roll: relevancy, regularity, quality, etc.
This does not mean I have stopped following those blogs. As soon as they update, they'll be back on the roll. And you can still find them, if you've forgotten the address, via my profile and the list of blogs I follow. Let's call the blog roll a selected list and my profile the comprehensive list.
Captain's banners "have discovered unforeseen reservoirs of buoyancy and now float in water."
First off, I love the random humor that shows up in Turbine's patch notes. Secondly, this is awesome. Obviously not as life-changing as many of the Book 7 updates, but as a captain, I will tell you this is a very good thing. I noticed this most poignantly in the Waterworks where oftentimes I found myself fighting creatures in "deep" water, where my banner would fall all the way to the bottom. Most of the time, this wasn't far enough to remove me from it's AOE, but on occasion, the water was deep enough for the banner to despawn, leaving me with less morale and morale regen. A captain lives and dies by his buffs, so to have even a small problem like this fixed is a good thing for us.
Warg-Riders now count towards the Moria Warg-slayer deed.
This is another awesome. Those warg riders are a pain to kill as a melee class. Having them count both towards gobs and the warg deed makes it a little more tolerable. I've finished my gob deed, however, but I still have a little more incentive to take on this buggers after Book 7 launches.
Reduced cooldown on crafting-guild recipes.
This makes me happy. Very happy. As a cook, my crafting takes longer than most to give me significant income. Because it's so easy, relative to other vocations, cooking is often given to alts and many players use their own cooks for food - limiting the demand. Furthermore, profit margins are rather thin due to this low demand. Having the craft-guild recipes that would give me a full stack of the superior version of food greatly reduces the production cost, allowing me to sell for even more attractive pricing but also give me a greater profit. Reducing the cool-down on these recipes allows me to put the goods on the market faster.
Certainly this will probably reduce the viable selling price. More incentive for cooks to craft their superior stacks means more potential competition on the AH - and thus lower prices. Still, I don't think it will hurt that much. A good thing, in my book.
New cooking recipes - soups and stews!
These new recipes will give cooks the ability to craft soups and stews which boost resistances: fear, poison, disease, and wound. I'm excited about this, though I'll have to tick off another slot in my bags and hotbar for these. A necessary evil. I don't know how much of a resistance boost we'll see from these. Hopefully Turbine finds the right balance, though I'm sure they'll be lower than most people will hope for.
Minimum level for fish recipes.
Apparently these didn't have minimums, which is odd. Not a big deal. I don't craft fish recipes because the time-sink in order to get enough fish is prohibitive. Basically, it's not worth it.
Deconstructing a legendary item at max level will now return the relics to you.
This is big. At least for me, who lost 3 tier 6 relics by deconstructing my level 30 emblem. Good move here. Before, if you wanted to retain your relics after the last reforge, you couldn't slot them into your max level legendary. If that legendary was still worth using, this means you wouldn't get as much out of the item as you should. It didn't make sense. Glad to see this fix added. Still, I am bummed that I lost my 3 relics. Took me long enough to build up relic forging to get to that point. *sigh* Tier 8 is so far away.
Monsters that burrow will no longer do so when close to death, "because that's annoying."
Amen! Pain in the butt and annoying is right. I honestly thought this was an intended behavior. I suppose it could have been anyway. Glad that's changed. It actually makes a difference if you have more than one mob on you. As a captain, I need to have a mob die to activate my "on death" skills, one of which is a fairly significant heal. This might be the difference between life and death, and when I couldn't hit the mob and kill him, it was a problem. I'd usually switch targets (why waste that time trying to hit nothing) but that meant I had to switch back and then back again. This takes time, attention, and sometimes I click the wrong thing and I'm wasting more time - not to mention morale and power. Good change.
Warg-Riders will no longer use their Hamstring/Ride-by-Attack unless they are attacked.
That makes these buggers a little less obnoxious to fight. I would change up my skill progression by avoiding using an opening Battle Shout. This is a ranged skill but two melee skills are gated behind it. So, I would hit a Warg-Rider with a ranged skill but then have to run - very slowly because I'm hamstrung - to the warg to use the next skill in my progression. Pain in the butt, and if the Warg decided to run again, I'd lose the chance to use those skills. Both of these have the potential to give me very good supercrits. And there's yet another skill gated behind those - one that is my mob-buff cleansing skill. Basically, these guys are a pain. should be a little more manageble now.
That's it. You'll certainly notice I skipped a lot of notes. I clearly concentrated on the ones that affect my captain (who, if you hadn't guessed, is a cook). That's necessary. For one, I wouldn't know what I was talking about if I covered other classes, and two, it would take way too long to read and comment on every single note. And many of them aren't worth commenting on. I hope you enjoyed my patch note coverage. This won't be the last time I talk about Book 7 changes, however. Other bloggers might inspire me to a topic, and there's always upcoming dev diaries and forum posts.
I hope UtB puts up more video previews. It is an excellent way to discuss the upcoming Book 7 content. And you will now see Under the Banner on the blog roll here at The Middle-Earth Adventurer.