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Showing posts from June, 2007

I'm off on Holidays....

... for six weeks!!! No computer and no Lotro. I am quite looking forward to the cold turkey. It will be interesting to see what has happened in Lotro after I return. I guess most of the server will have passed me by. I hope it won't be difficult to organise fellowships. If I come across anything interesting on my travels Ill try and sneak into a web cafe to update this. In the meantime - enjoy the Summer.

Will Lotro (or any MMO) ever have a GAME OVER screen?

In my glimpse into the future Throg finishes Lord of The Rings online and is rewarded with a "GAME OVER" screen. The books that Lotro follow come to a conclusion so why shouldn't the game itself? Of course I don't think it will ever happen and not just because the scouring of the Shire is a pretty unremarkable event on which to end and epic adventure. Commercial logic dictates that the developers of a game must keep us playing and paying subs for as long as possible. I am a reasonably fickle gamer. I have never stuck with one game for more than a few months. When I play a single player game I generally try to struggle through to the game over screen or at least finish one of the main campaigns. The traditional pay per month MMORPG doesn't offer that kind of uplifting parting of ways. No matter when I decide to leave I will always leave a failure - forced to sneak out the back door with my tail between my legs. This may explain why I can never see myself go

Throgs Lotro Journal 24th April 2008: The Scouring of The Shire

Warning: Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't actually read the Lord of The Rings (shame on you!). What a night. Following repeated wipes over the last few weeks Throg and his kinsfellows geared up for yet another go at the Battle of Bywater Raid instance. The large battle was tough as usual but for the first time the raid managed to completely surround the ruffians preventing any from escaping and pulling in additional adds. The raid's burglars used a co-ordinated sequence of conjunctions to to replenished all power bars to almost 100% just before the last of the ruffians was downed. This turned out to be vital because following a short cut-scene the raid was immediately catapulted into the confrontation with Sharkey and Wormtongue. Correct positioning was absolutely critical to this phase of the battle. The bosses have to be kept apart to prevent them unleashing their devastating AOE conjunctions. In addition it is absolutely essential to balance the damage on both bosses b

Lotro: Need Before Greed

One of the changes in the Shores of Evendim patch is that the default Roll/Pass options for loot distribution in pickup groups has been replaced by a need before greed system. When a rare item drops fellowship members are give the choice of Need, Greed or Pass. I assume that anyone who hits need gets priority over those who hit greed. There is much pontificating on the forums about the ethics of when you should or shouldn't select need. Personally I think it is too complicated for the average pickup group. Need before greed relies on an honour system where people are expected not to pick need on items they cannot actually use. However it only takes one player who is greedy or uninformed to break the whole system and upset everybody. This situation is aggravated by an annoying quirk of lotro: The same right click that is the default method of initiating an attack is also the default method of looting a corpse. Oh and did I mention that the default loot roll threshold on lotro i

Lotro note: New Patch and a bit of Dragon Slaying

The Shores of Evendim content patch went live for Europe yesterday. Thanks to Turbine / Codemaster's foresight in allowing the patch to be pre-downloaded offline I was able to get into the game with only a minor install delay having downloaded the patch the previous night. Very impressive performance for a major patch day. The forums are full of commentary on the changes. Naturally those with complaints are the most vociferous but it is probably too early to trust anybodies first impressions. UI scaling was promised but I couldn't find an option to scale the skill buttons. There is a welcome option to scale floaty names. The large fixed floaty names used to obscure all the action in fellowship battles and I generally turned them off. The new scaleable fonts used are not quite as readable as before but at least they can be scaled to the size you want. There has been a number of complaints about Champion damage and combat morale regen getting an undocumented nerf but I have to

Does an MMORPG need to Tedious to Be Good?

Logging into Guild Wars again was interesting. Beautiful crisp graphics with no lag. Fabulous responsive combat. I have to admit I was tempted to put lotro aside for a while and jump back in. I won't though but I had to think for a bit to understand why. First off I must explain that Guild Wars is one of the best PVP games out there but I amn't really into PVP. Nevertheless Guild Wars also has a truly terrific story based PVE game. If you haven't played the game recently you would be truly amazed at how the game has developed to make life convenient for players. You can fast travel anywhere for free. Total respecs are free. You can change to a new secondary class at will (for free). Missions can typically be completed in about an hour and if you can't get human companions you can bring npc henchmen and heroes instead. Why then is the game not as immersive and compelling as a traditional full blown MMORPG? One reason is that the world does not have as many frills

Guild Wars Guild Drama Update

I logged into Guild Wars last night to see what had happened to the website. My suspiscions were confirmed - it was the work of a disgruntled former member who happened to be admin of the alliance website. I am happy to report that it is business as ususal for the old fogies. They have even got the old forum back up and running. There was a bit of good natured banter about the incident but everyone has clearly moved on.

Guild Wars Guild Drama

I haven't played Guild Wars in a while but I still peep in on my old alliance's Website every so often to catch up. It was a pretty good website too. It had news, a forum, polls, competitions and a shout box. Not any more I am afraid. The link for the website now leads to an abusive message about the alliance. This is not really my business any more but natural curiosity has prompted me to try to figure out what happened. Of course the whole thing could be the work of disgruntled pvp opponent who posesses leet haxxor skillz but I think not. I am pretty sure this is the unfortunate outcome of a genuine case of Guild Wars guild drama. Let us start with some history. This particular group is one of the largest communities in Guild wars with over 800 active members last time I looked. Since this number exceeds the individual guild limit they formed an alliance of guilds who for all intensive purposes act as a single guild. The reason for the large membership is simple enough -

Lotro: The Honeymoon is Over

Lotro had a terrific start, great timing, effective launch, great reviews and a lot of enthusiasm from early players. Two months in I think it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over. Some players have already worked through most of the available content while others are getting bored. Just look at some comments from the blogs on my blogroll: Tobold: "I still like Lord of the Rings Online, but I'm not quite that enthusiastic any more." Zoso from MMOG Musings: "After a bit of Lord of the Rings Online over the last few days, I'm not sure I'll spend much more time in Middle Earth. It's fun enough and all, but really just more of the same old MMOness." and perhaps most damning Tipa from West Karana: "Lord of the Rings Online being a bore (but a pretty one) — I didn’t even last through my free month" I suspect this sense of ennui is fairly widespread. I have noticed that Throg's kinship channel has gone very quiet these days. Th

Apologies to Bill Harris

Bill Harris was kind enough to email me back pointing out that "Some of Sony's ads are among (his) favorite ads of all time". Apparently a few others spoke up in defence of "This is Living" so Bill posted a clarification on his blog here . To paraphrase Bill doesn't find the first (Hotel) video clip offensive he just thinks it is bad marketing. He is offended by a second clip from the same campaign featuring an old performer reminiscing in which there is a highly dodgy reference to "the delicate fingers of 1000 Thai Boys". Apologies Bill if I misrepresented you the first time. I don't know whether they are bad marketing or not. There is an old adage that no publicity is bad publicity but when a large part of your market is parents buying your product for their kids that is not exactly true. Parents (myself included) are are obsessively protective of their kids and a whiff of scandal around the product could see major retailers removing Play

Playstation ad "This is Living" generates controversy

EDIT: I may have misrepresented Bill Harris's views in this post - please read subsequent post for clarification. Bill Harris regularly posts about the console wars in his excellent Dubious Quality blog. In his latest post Billl takes Sony to task for their PS3 advertising video "This is Living - Uncut": Not Safe For Work . I have to agree that it is a pretty strange ad for something that a lot of folk will buy for their kids. It reminds me of a David Lynch film with bizzare characters and surreal images. In contains adult themes, images of nudity and sexual acts. Bill Harris and others have cited this ad as proof that Sony have completely lost the plot. And yet... I will always owe Sony a debt of gratitude for the work of genius that was their " Double Life " advert for the original Playstation in Europe . Quite apart from the fact that it is a superbly realised piece of visual poetry this ad was in fact a liberating moment for me. I am an older playe

Lotro Lifetime subscription available to all

There is a very minor flap over at the lotro-eupoe forums about Turbine/Codemasters announcement that all players will now be able to avail of a life time subscription offer. Previously only founder members (those who got the pre-order package) could get a lifetime sub. Apparently some founder members are upset that a privilege they thought reserved for themselves alone is now available to the masses. I am a founder memeber but I have absolutely no time for this opinion. However in an attempt to be fair I will try and look at it from their side. I do remember when signing up as a founder member I had to make a decision whether or not to go for a lifetime subscription. I had played the game for a week pre-order and knew I liked it but I didn't know if I would be playing for the year or so that would make lifetime subscription a good deal. The impression given was that if you didn't choose the lifetime sub straight away you would never get another chance so that did create a

Collision Detection in MMORPGs

According to MMORPG.com one of the most highly anticipated forthcoming MMORPGs is Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning . The general impression I get is that a lot of emphasis will be put on PVP. I haven't done much pvp myself and I never got into the whole Warhammer scene so I guess I am not exactly waiting with baited breath. One point does interest me though and that is the fact that Warhammer will implement collision detection. Collision detection isn't exactly new, Guild Wars implements it very well and in my opinion it is one of the features that elevates Guild Wars combat model head and shoulders above most MMORPGS. If collision detection is properly implemented then it brings a whole new fluidity to combat. Suddenly position and movement are everything. Enemies can be blocked from moving to advantageous positions. Support characters can be protected by standing in front of them. In Guild Wars it helps unify pvp and pve play. There is no taunting mechanic in Guild Wars

Thoughts on Grouping in Lotro

I am writing instead of playing because my server crashed and I am frozen out. It was quite bizarre in that I was in a fellowship when each of us became frozen in place. We could chat and look at menus we just couldn't move. Once character was perpetually running on the spot. I had gotten stuck earlier today in Bree and logging out and in again solved it that time so I tried that but now I can't log back in. A blog post from Lost in The Grind got me thinking Grouping in Lotro. Sean from LITG comments that he spends more time in fellowships than doing solo quests in Lotro. While my balance is probably more 50:50 I am definitely spending more time in groups in Lotro than I did while levelling up in World of Warcraft. There are few reasons for this: First off the Epic quest line that everybody aspires to complete has many fellowship quests including mini-instances that are a real pleasure to do. This gets everyone used to fellowing. Secondly even though there are still pl

Lotro Journal 3 June 2007: Throg's New Hat

Throg is not a happy dwarf. It started when shade Danassen offered a helm of intricate craftmanship to whomsoever could take ten satchels from the hill-men of Rhuadar ( Proof's Burden ). Now you might think that following the Brudhraw incident Throg would think twice before accepting another commission from a shade. Well you might think that but you would be wrong for our hero is not a dwarf for thinking twice when it comes to risking his mortal existence and so it was that he he was the first to raise his axe in support of this commission. Needless to say Danassen ommited to mention that these hill-men live amongst the noxious vapours of the red-swamp. Neither did he dwell upon the fact that the fervour of their devotion to the Red Maid combined with continuing exposure to the swamp's evil influence had imbued each with the strength of three. Undaunted the bold Throg called together a motley crew to tackle these devotees of the red-maid. The fellowship laid slaughter all aro

Turbine CEO Jeff Anderson talks Lotro on Shacknews

Thanks to Drugh (in German) for pointing me to a terrific interview with Turbine CEO Jeff Anderson on Shacknews. The interview is of full of juicy nuggets. Jeff discusses the way that the Book 9 content patch (shores of Evendim) will be targeted at levels 35 to 45. I know that the lack of solo content at these levels has frustrated many fast leveling players but as Jeff points out: "Book 9 focuses in on providing level 35-45 content, and most players aren't really at that point, so we just want to continually be ahead of them, providing new, free game content to keep them excited about where the product is going." I've been playing 3 hours a day since launch and Throg has just turned 30 so the timing of the expansion is just perfect for me. With regards to future expansions Jeff suggests that book 10 will follow on about two months after book 9 (August) and book 11 is due in October. In other great news he says that book 10 will definitely be free just like book

Throg's Lotro Journal 1 June 2007: Svalfangs downfall.

It puzzles Throg why big folk are so frightened of giants. Dwarves are used to dealing with those of larger stature than themselves and in truth a dwarf is like to give a Giant a tougher fight than either elf or man. While the dwarf hacks at the giants knees the behemoth must bend near double if it hopes to land a blow on the dwarf. Such thoughts no doubt influenced the ranger Amlan when he asked our good dwarf to deal with a troublesome giant who had taken to waylaying travellers in the Brandy Hills ( Giant Problems ). Throg was quick to accept the challenge. Indeed he had already encoutered Svalfang while retrieveing Dob Sandheavers pack ( Big Problems ). On that occasion Throg had been forced to hide from the gargantuan so it warmed a dwarf's blood to think of tackling the creature head on. Throg set out in the company of a doughty kinsman burglar. They marched across the Bree fields and over the Brandy hills to Svalfang's forest abode. It was clear for all to see that th