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Showing posts from April, 2007

Throg's lotro adventures 30 April 2007: The Old Forest

The disease that struck down Throg and so many of his fellow adventurers passed as quickly as it came allowing Throg to offer his services to some of the hobbit's who had shown him such hospitality during his illness. The Shire of the hobbits may be a gentle place but the old forest that lies at the boundaries of their lands most certainly is not. The denizens of this forests include bears, wolves and giant spiders but perhaps the most troubling of all is that the trees themselves have become malevolent and have developed the ability to bludgeon unwary passers by with their branches. Little wonder that the gentle hobbits of Buckland had need of a worthy dwarf adventurer to deal with the dangers of such a place. Throg's first venture into the forest was not entirely glorious - he blundered into a glade of elite malevolent oak trees. Perhaps enraged by the sight of Throg's axe one of these took an instant dislike to our good dwarf and set about battering him. Throg's axe

Lotro Journal 30 April 2007: A brief history of Throg

No adventures to report today as poor Throg has succumbed to an unpleasant ague that appears to have afflicted most of the population of Eriador. I thought I would take this opportunity to fill you on some of Throg's personal history and how he came to choose the life of an adventurer. A good place to start is with his name. Throg is not a usual name for a dwarf and indeed it is not his given name. His given name is Throgli and he hails from a long line of Throglis, miners of iron in the Blue Mountains. Throg does not use his given name any more. He has chosen to be called Throg ever since he was a child who's beard was not yet long enough to touch the ground. The reason for his choice is connected to his choice of profession and that is the story I will now tell. As a child sporting a half grown beard Throgli was unfortunate to be gifted with a particular bandiness of the legs. Three of the older children, cruel as only children can be, chose to latch on to this trait and t

Throg's Lotro Journal 30 April 2007: A Sojourn In The Shire.

In order to get to Bree-Land from Ered Luin Throg had to pass through the gentle land of the Shire. The Shire is a scenic haven populated mainly by hobbits. While hobbits are of normal stature they appear to be in general less muscular than dwarves and you couldn't imagine a hobbit having the strength to wield a battle axe. The good hobbits of the shire showed great hospitality to our dwarven friend and he can certainly attest to the merits of their pies and ale. Throg was less taken with the obsessive smoking of pipeweed. Certain older dwarves have taken to the habit but when a friendly tavern-keep tempted Throg to try a pipe of his finest weed poor Throg was given to coughing and spluttering for a good five minutes. Once the coughing subsided the vapours from the pipe did engender a certain mellow calm and gave Throg a new insight into why the hobbits are such a peaceloving folk. Mellow calm is all very well for farmer hobbits but not the stuff for a dwarf champion in search o

29th April 2004 Throg's Lotro Journal: Leaving Home

Today has been a momentuous day for Throg. After joining a fellowship to assist Avorthal clear the Goblins from Rath Teraig (Assault on Rath Teraig) he has made his mind up to leave his homeland of Eruid Luin and base himself instead in the land of Bree. Eruid Luin will always have a place in Throg's heart but as a level 15 champion Throg felt he had outgrown the place and little remained there to challenge him. In sharp contrast to the symmetric simplicity of Thorin's gate Bree is a confusing sprawl of a town. Poor Throg is struggling to get his bearings among the mess of streets, walls, gates and alleys. The folk who require the assistance of an adventurer reel off place names that are completely meaningless to him. He is currently looking for an inn called the Prancing Pony where he hopes to find information on the whereabouts of a Ranger by the name of Strider. Throg doesn't know for sure what this is all about but the involvement of the great wizard Gandalf makes hi

Thoughts on Lotro Repair Bills

Lotro has high repair bills for amour and weapons damaged in combat. After many complaints turbine have patched the game to reduce repair costs somewhat (not sure if this patch is implemented in Europe yet) but the basic principle of high repair costs still remains. As Throg pointed out in his advice on minimising repair bills many items are cheaper to replace than repair. I am not too bothered. In my experience stuff doesn't degrade all that quickly. Unless you play recklessly and die a lot most stuff lasts just about long enough till you get a replacement. Tobold made the same observation in his blog a while back . In fact I think this is a really interesting game design decision with intriguing implications for the game economy. Think about it IT IS CHEAPER TO REPLACE THAN REPAIR. This creates a constant demand for new stuff. That will hopefully stimulate a healthy crafting economy. Throg is still levelling up and is naturally replacing his stuff fairly regularly anyway but I

Lotro 28th April 2007: Throg is a cheat!!!

Poor Throg has been accused of cheating!!! Screen-shot here: and here: to prove it. I put my hands in the air and admit: "It's a fair cop guv". So before you assign me to that particular dustbin reserved for players who have been caught cheating please let me explain myself. The mini instance "Rescue by Moonlight" is on the Epic Quest line so you need to complete it to progress. You have to fight your way the port of Kheledul to rescue Avothol from the Dourhands. It is full of level 11 and 12 elite Dourhands - so at level 15 Throg had no real trouble going through the mission with a fellowship group. Unfortunately due to some hiccup which I don't yet understand I didn't complete the quest despite completing the mission and now I have to do it again. At level 15 Throg can solo a level 12 elite so I thought I'd try going back alone. Moreover I had been through this port prior to the mission and I knew there was a network of canals that would allow m

Newsflash: New York Times Scooped by MBP

About a week ago I posted an article about an bit of improvised research that I did on the relative success (or failure) of next generation consoles in Ireland. As an aside to that piece I mentioned that from my observations in game shops PC gaming appears to be making a comeback. Well apparently the New York times thinks so too . It's not every day that you scoop one of the world's most prestigious journals! NYT actually gives Microsoft and their Games for Windows initiative a lot of the credit. I wondered whether or not confusion caused by the next gen console wars might be the reason. Whatever the reasons as a dyed in the wool PC gamer I am delighted. You can keep you game pad and cheating auto-aim. Real men get headshots with mouse and keyboard control.

Re-inventing the wheel

The world is in a tizzy over the prospects of climate change caused by the increasing concentration of green house gases in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the main culprit. Back in the 1970's I had to learn the concentration of various gases in our atmosphere for junior chemistry and I still remember that CO2 was 0.03%. Today that figure is closer to 0.04%. That's a pretty big increase in 30 years so you might imagine that a new invention aimed at capturing dioxide from the air would be a good thing. Global Resarch Technologies claim to have invented just such a device . Yet I am not convinced. For one thing where is the energy to manufacture and power these things going to come from - and will generating that energy not entail even further emissions of CO2? For another thing the device claims to produce a pure stream of Carbon Dioxide from the air. What exactly will be done with this CO2? My real objection though comes from a nagging fe

Lotro Journal 26 April 2007 - Throg wants to feel special

Relaxing in the tavern last night after a hard day's questing Throg was witness to a heated argument between two of his fellow adventurer's. It started when one sturdy hunter who was a little in his cups boasted about the fine job he had done one week earlier clearing cave claws out of Rockbelly pit for the good dwarf Orodin. A younger adventurer, perhaps inadvisably, chose this moment to butt in: "You couldn't have done such a good job for just last night Orodin asked me to go and kill the cave claws you left behind." Brawls in dwarf taverns are hardly an uncommon sight but Throg was feeling a warm glow from the ale and in his contemplative mood the subject matter of this spat set him thinking. Why is it he wondered that every adventurer he meets on his travels seems to have an almost identical history of feats and accomplishments. Indeed when he talks to a fellows of similar age to himself it often turns out that they are embarked on exactly the same commision

Throg's first horse ride.

Our dwarven friend had saved up enough silver to afford a little treat last night. He decided to try the new pony riding service from Thorin's Hall. The journey itself was thrilling but uneventful. For someone who is used to waddling along four feet off the ground the speed and exhilaration of a ride on a galloping horse is quite something. Unfortunately there was some unpleasantness with the stable-master in Thorin's gate. He wanted to charge Throg 12 silver to travel to his intended destination of Gondamond yet Throg saw others being charged only 10 silver to travel to the more distant destination of Duillond. Even when Throg pointed out that the Duillond route passes right by Gondamon the man refused to lower his price. Clearly this huckster was trying to cheat our young friend but I am happy to say that Throg had the last laugh. He paid 10 silver and jumped on a horse bound for Duillond before the shyster realised what was happening. As the horse sped past Gondamon

Throg's lotro journal 25 April 2007: Saving money on repairs.

Our would be champion dwarf hit 13 last night but sad to say he has not yet learned to watch his back. He is licking his wounds from two defeats at the hands of the Dourhand dwarves in Kheledul (The fourth Gear quest). At level 12 Throg could handle one or two LVL 11 dwarves but three were just too many. He really should refrain from adventuring in darkness for it is all too easy to blunder into more than one can handle. The dents in Throg's pride from these defeats are nothing compared to the gaping holes left in his armour so our dwarf friend is spending a lot ot time at the menders. Repairs don't come cheap and Throg has picked up a few tips for minimising repair bills that he is happy to share with fellow adventurers: Throg's first rule of repairing is never ever use the "Repair All" button. This is a slick sales gimmick by the trader to try to get you to repair stuff you don't actually need. After an evening adventuring your bags are likely to be full of

Naked Miners in Eriador

Throg has heard of prospectors who mine ores full time for a living. Apparently the most dedicated prospectors eschew armour and head out almost naked into the wilds. The thought of these miners braving the elements in their underwear makes Throg Chuckle. They claim that this is because armour would hinder their work and slow them down but Throg suspects that parsimony is their real motive and that these exhibitionists are simply too mean to pay repair bills. I don't think our sturdy dwarf will be modelling his long johns in public any time soon. For one thing they have seen neither air nor water in at least five years and for another Throg may be stout of heart but he is small of stature. He prefers to rely on the thickness of his breastplate rather than the swiftness of his little legs to keep him alive in the wilderness.

Throg's LOTRO Journal 24April 2007

Poor Throg has little to report today as he is licking his wounds from a series of bad beatings last night. He set off an a simple enough quest to clear out some spiders from the region of Rath Teraig. Unfortunately he let himself get distracted and on no less than two separate occasions was jumped and chased off by some very poweful elite Goblins. You would think that two hidings in one day would be enough to teach our doughty dwarf some sense but he went back for more. This third time he avoided the goblins but as it was dark he blundered into the spiders' lair and came across the spider matriarch. This level 15 elite chewed him up and spat him out. We can be thankful that dwarf flesh is not to a spider's taste so Throg lives to tell the tale but his armour is pretty badly dented. Our poor dwarf was horrified to learn how much silver it would cost him in repairs particularly for his magical items. In his hasty escape from the spider den he stumbled across the Elven Oasis

Lotro: Which subscription package

I am definitely going to continue my adventures in Tolkienland by purchasing and subscribing to the retail package available from tomorrow. The question is which subscription package should I opt for? Turbine are offering a one time opportunity for pre-order customers to purchase a life time subscription to lotro for €149. This compares with a regular monthly fee of €9.99 for pre-order customers or €14.99 for later subscribers. Given that I have never played one game for longer than 6 months founder membership is almost certainly a bad deal for me, particularly as further discounts are likely to be available for 3 month and 6 month subscriptions. Nevertheless I am considering founder membership and here is why. I guess I feel that not having a monthly subscription will change the way I play the game and may in fact increase my enjoyment of it. The once off purchase will be a sunk cost and once it is paid I can choose to play or not play as I see fit. I will be free to pick up the game

Throg's LOTRO journal 23 April 2007

Edit: Oops this entry is being posted a little late - I somehow managed to leave it in drafts for a couple of days. It will probably appear out of sequence. As an aspiring champion Throg is at his happiest cleaving heads off shoulders and generally causing mayhem. The more refined arts of crafting and commerce are not exactly his thing. It wasn't too much of a surprise then when he called into a smith to repair the dents and scrapes in his armour to find that he had barely enough coins to cover the 20 silver bill. Luckily his bags were full of junk that he had picked up off the battle field and vendors seemed happy enough to pay him for assorted toes and bones. I have no idea who actually uses this stuff. Perhaps they end up on a string around some gentle townfolks neck as a kind of good luck charm, who knows. Throg may be tough but he is not completely dumb and he realises that he needs a more stable source of income to finance his adventures so he devoted some time to skilling

22 April 2007 Throg's continuing adventures in Tolkien land

Another day another level. Throg retired for the night after adventuring his way up to level 10. He has pretty much finished all available quests around Thorin's Gate region and the Vale of Thrain including his first fellowship quest - clearing the Goblins out of a ruined fortress near Nogland (Villains in the Vale). Our aspiring hero soloed the majority of the goblins (level 7 as opposed to Throg's level 9) but thought better than to tackle the elite level 9 chieftain on his own. Luckily a fellow adventurer agreed to join Throg in a fellowship to take the dastard down. Now circumstances have brought our young champion to the mighty dwarf fortress of Gondamon. This place was originally built by the elves I believe but has long since been refashioned by the dwarves to the needs of a race of smaller stature. The area around Gondamon abounds with villains and monsters of level 10 and higher so I have no doubt Throg will find work for his trusty axe here and indeed his quest log

LOTRO Dual Wield Damage Penalty

One of the characteristics of the champion in Lotro is the ability to dual wield weapons. Turbine make a lot of this in their description of the character . Quote: "Champions can use various weapon styles, but focus on using two weapons simultaneously." This is not obvious from the champion skill set however because some key champion skills give additional damage depending on the main hand weapon damage per hit. An extreme case is Brutal strikes which gives damage of 3 x main weapon damage plus a bonus. Obviously a big slow two hander will do better here than two smaller single hand weapons. Turbine recognised this issue in patch 1.12 and tried to rebalance by reducing the fervor requirement for Savage Strikes and Brutal strikes by one point when dual wielding. I cannot say whether this has balanced the skill based damage between one and two handers but it does go some way towards addressing it. A more basic question is whether or not the raw DPS of dual wield is more or

Throg's Lotro Journal 20 April 2007

Would be dwarf champion Throg is taking a well earned rest after adventuring his way to within spitting distance of level 9. Most of his progress came through questing in the Vale of Thrain. Throg went there initially on the advice of Tindr to warn the citizens of Noglon about possible water shortages but once there he found work clearing the vale of wild cats, bears and goblins. It was in the Vale that our sturdy dwarf first tasted the bitter sweet tang of defeat. Spurred on by overconfidence he made the mistake of tackling three Goblins at once. Poor Throg got a right pounding and was forced to run for his life. That defeat has cost him the chance of gaining an "undefeated" title but to be honest I think it is for the best. Far from being cowed by the experience he has learned from it and has become at once more sensible and yet more courageous. Having been defeated once and living to tell the tale he is no longer afraid to take a risk when the potential reward justifies i

The Console Wars - An Irish perspective.

I am cheating here. I originally wrote this as an email to Bill Harris in response to his blog comments on PS3 sales figures but then I thought I may as well use it to pad out my own fairly lack-lustre blog. Anyway it would seem that PS3 is crashing and burning on a worldwide scale. I am not a console gamer but I really hope the situation isn't as disastrous for Sony as sales figures suggest. I will always be grateful to Sony for their inspired Playstation advertising campaigns which were the first that I am aware of to recognise that intelligent adults play games. I live in Ireland on the periphery of Europe and I have tried to get a local perspective to complement the figures that Bill gives for for Japan and the USA but I am afraid I don't have great sources. I have managed to put together a picture from games sales charts and combining that with my own obervations seems to present a slightly different picture to that in the US. Latest game sales charts for Ireland are

Lotro notes 19 April 2007

After a day of server down time I eventually got to adventure with Throg again last night. Biting the bullet my doughty dwarf accompanied Dwalin to the Skorgrims Tomb instance. Skorgrim is thoroughly bad egg from olden days who was about to be re-incarnated. Fighting shoulder to shoulder with the mighty dwarf Dwalin Throg did his best to stop this arcane rite. Sadly they were too late but they did manage to run Skorgrim and his dourhands out of Ered Luin. No doubt we shall meet the evil Skorgrim again but for the moment all is peace and harmony in Ered Luin. Completing this instance graduates Throg from the introductory sequence into the game proper. The first thing he did was visit the mighty dwarf city of Thorin's Gate. Coming from humble origins Throg was overawed by this underground metropolis but I however got a strange feeling of deja vu. An underground dwarf city with auction house, bank, mechants and trainers. Yup it was like being back in Ironforge from World of Warcraft

Another game for my shrink wrapped collection

I dropped into a GAME store on my way home from work and picked up a copy of Paraworld for the princely sum of €2.98. By all accounts Paraworld is an OK but not great RTS. It has Dinosaurs in however so it could probably keep me entertained for an hour or two and for less than €3 one can't complain. But...When exactly am I going to get around to playing this? I am already juggling Guild Wars, Company of Heroes, Battle for Middle Earth II and Lord of the Rings online. The sad truth is that Paraworld will join the large collection of games on my shelf that have never even got out of the shrink wrap. I have hundred's of PC games in my collection but if I am honest I have never even installed half of them. I am a sucker for a gaming bargain but it aint much of a bargain if it never gets played. I wasn't always like this. I used to be diligent - struggling through a game until I finally overcame the last boss. Nowadays however there are just too many games and too little ti

MMORPG Trade Skills

I am not an accomplished crafter in any MMORPG but recent posts on Tobolds blog about crafting in WOW and LOTRO got me thinking. There seems to be a fundamental problem with many crafting professions in mmorpgs that it is impossible to make a profit from crafting untill you reach the highest levels. Typically the raw materials you need cost more on the open market than the products you can make for them. This seems entirely contrary to normal market behaviour - if an item makes a loss why would anybody produce it? A contributor to Tobolds blog called Gnomersky very insightfully pointed out that the root cause of the problem is that crafting an item gives two rewards - it gives the item you produce but it also gives the skill advance. People who wish to advance their skills in crafting are forced to make many many low level items in order to advance to a higher skill level. They then offload the products of their skilling up onto the market and are happy to take what they can get. The

LOTRO Journal 17 April 2007

Throg my Dwarf Champion hit level 6 last night and is poised to leave the newbie starting zone of Thorin's Gate. He retrieved a letter from the elf Elrohir in the Goblin infested Mirkstone Tunnels and can now "finish" the introduction quest sequence after handing it in. I am putting this off because I want to complete the deed "Friend of Ered Luin" that you get from doing sub quests that are given out by random characters scattered around the zone. I have 6 out of 10 of these quests done - now I need to search for the remainig four. I am worried that these quests may no longer be available after I complete the introductory sequence. The Goblin infested Tunnels are the only mildly dangerous place I have come across in Thorin's Gate. It is full of fast respawning Goblins of up to level 5. At one time I got jumped by four at once. My champion is a deadly killer but can be overwhelmed by multiple foes. Luckily there were plenty of other players in the cave and

Lord of the Rings Online

I bought the pre-order bonus for Lord of the rings Online MMORPG. That allows 10 days of play in advance of the official release. It may seem a bit rich to charge for what is effectively a game demo but I did get some free stickers an exclusive in game items and I can keep my character if I convert to a full subscription later. I have only spent a few short hours in the game - I created a Dwarf Champion (a sort of melee damage dealer) and played him up to level 5 last night. The game has been reviewed (generally favourably) by many better writers than myself so I will give some first impressions rather than attempt a full review. First off I enjoyed my few hours - the game seems fun and the controls were very similar to World of Warcraft so it was easy to get going. Quests are easy to find and the beginners area I am wandering around presents few problems. If anything life is a bit too easy - so far I haven't met any challenge that came close to killing me in my first five levels.

Nerf, Nerf, Nerf, Nerf.

Anyone who has played an online role playing game for long enough to become attached to a character will understand the gut wrenching feeling of despair and frustration when the developers choose to reduce the power of one of your favourite skills or items (nerf). MMORPG forums are full of angry posts from players threatening to leave the game because of a nerf. I myself have been recently touched by the nerf bat in Guild Wars. I spent some hours developing a Mesmer build to adventure in the difficult region known as "The Underworld". One of my key skills has just been nobbled which means I have to go back to the drawing board. I can vouch for the fact that it is annoying and frustrating and yes for a while I thought about abandoning the game completely. What is particularly frustrating is that the skill being nerfed not because of the way I am using it but because it could be overused in PVP play. I don't do PVP - why am I being punished? Developers usually explain

Total War Tutorial Trouble

I picked up Medieval Total War 2 on Friday. I got the collectors edition (complete with silly figurine) for €29.99. This is something of a bargain as the ordinary edition was selling for €44.99 in the same shop!!! In installed it today and started on the tutorial. I guess I don't entirely need the tutorial because I have already played a lot of Rome Total war but I like to be sure I amn't missing anything. I remember struggling with the tutorial in Shogun Total War and in Rome Total War. Surely they will have got it right this time I thought. Sadly, No. The tutorial in MTW 2 sucks. It starts out with good intentions - you get a restricted version of the game engine to play a limited campaign. Helpful guides are at hand to talk you through the action. Unfortunately if you stray one step from the scripted sequence then the tutorial gets completely out of sync. At one point I was supposed to lay siege to Nottingham. Inadvertently I clicked the wrong spot and couldn't get b

Linux in a virtual machine

Woo hoo I'm writing this using Firefox on Linux running in a vitual machine on my Windows XP computer. About a week ago a work colleague had to resort to a virtual machine to get a piece of software running that was not compaitble with his new Vista laptop. That sparked my interest so I thought I would play around a bit. Every virtual machine needs an operating system so I thought I'd have a go at getting Linux running in a virtual machine while I was at it. Since I had limited experience of either virtual machines or Linux I could kill two birds with the one stone. Linux comes in many flavours but the flavour of the month for noobs like myself is called Ubuntu . It's an easy to install complete package using the clean and simple Gnome interface. Better still I happened to have an install CD from Ubuntu version 6.06 that I had downloaded a few months back but never got around to using. My first choice of virtual machine was Microsoft Vitual PC 2007 . This has the great ad