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Showing posts from November, 2008

Lotro: A Busy Weekend for Throg.

Highlights included: - Doing everything up to the final chapter (book 15, Chapter 12) of Volume 1. Most of book 15 consisted of riding up and down (and up and down) the high moor. I love the book quests but I wish Turbine would cut out the pointless padding. At least the final chapter is supposed to be a great challenging instance bring the tragic tale of Laerdan and his daughter to a close. I will wait till I can organise a good kin group for this. - Getting into Moria after completing Book 1 of Volume 2. It's a very impressive massive underground city. Crumbling now of course but I caught a glimpse of its earlier splendour from doing a session play quest where I got to run away from the Balrog who trashed the place. I did a few easy quests in Moria and took my first goat ride but at level 51 most of the quests were still yellow/orange to me indicating that I needed to level up a bit first. - Back to Eregion and I did all the quests from Echad Eregion getting up to level 52 in

Curious Observation

I logged into Team Fortress 2 tonight for a bit of mindless shooting and a curious thought struck me. Team Fortress 2 is as good and as fresh as it ever was. Call of Duty 4 on the other hand (the other great multiplayer shooter from last year) feels a bit old. CoD 4 is a terrific game but it was designed to keep you entertained until Cod5 or Cod6 came out. TF2 on the other hand was designed to last for a long time and it shows.

Poetic Spam

I know I shouldn't give this publicity but one particular spam commenter made me chuckle. Following a link back to the computer generated blog behind a recent piece of Spam I was surprised to discover that it was full of poetry. Original computer generated poetry. Here's a sample: saying, - she said Marvin, almost pathetic sense in that it Damogran, - said Ford, - Did the other Vogons. a large table with a moment that Benji mouse. - said Arthur. - OK, sure you need that, renewed worse was later one of wildest dreams... the last Id While it may be that the top chess playing computers are now better than humans I think it is safe to say that it will be a few years yet before a computer wins the Nobel prize for literature.

Lotro: Where have all the group quests gone?

At level 51 Throg has comleted almost every quest in Northern Eregion as well as Book 1 of Volume 2. I guess he has done about 40 quests and completed 10 or so quest chains. In all of this there was only one group quest (can't recall the name but it involved killing the Elite Master Wood Troll who was responsible for corrupting the holly trees). A few quests mis-labelled "small group" were in fact easily solo-able as they involved killing lone signature mobs only. Where are all the group quests? I asked in Kin chat and a player who has already got to level 58 (time to empty that bucket Amfi ;)) surprised me by confirming that most of MoM is in fact soloable. Hmm... A defining feature of the early days of Lotro for me was the number of great quest chains which started with solo quests and ended in one or more tough group quests with high quality rewards. This pattern persisted through the Lone Lands, North Downs, Trollshaws and into the Misty Mountains. It fell apart a

Lotro: Throg' s First Legendary Weapon.

I have been pretty good at avoiding online guides for MoM so I had only hazy notions about legendary weapons when Throg was offered his first one at the end of volume 2 chapter 1. To be honest I found it a bit confusing at first. None of the weapons on offer looked particularly impressive but I had to choose one so, Throg being a Dwarf, I picked the axe and then brought it to the dwarven forge master for identification. The related quests left me with a basket of upgrade bits (called relics) so I duly set about populating three upgrade slots (setting, rune and gem) with the best relics I had. A scroll alllowed me to name the weapon and change the damage type. So far so good but it was at this point I spotted that my legendary weapon also comes with inherent bonuses (called Legacies). Sadly this axe has a useless set of legacies including several bonuses to the virtually unused "Hedge" skill and a bonus to the least popular "Ardour" stance. I regret wasting my best

DM Osbon's "The Agency" interview

If any game is going to knock WOW off its pedestal as the dominant mmo it will need to do something that WOW doesn't do and cannot easily copy. One likely strategy is the console MMO. There is a persistent rumour about Lotro being ported to consoles but I am not convinced they will be able to simplify the interface enough to fit it onto a console. A game that is designed for consoles from the ground up is more likely to succeed I think. Sony seems to think so too and their new MMO "The Agency" is being designed for PS3 and PC (notice which comes first). The game has been described as "pick up and play" and an "online persistent shooter" both of which suggestions seem to be at odds with the game's claim to be an mmorpg but nevertheless we have been promised that the characters will develop rpg like abilities. DM Osbon over at Construed has snagged an interview with Matt Staroscik , Game Designer & Lead Writer for "The Agency" and

Lotro: Fun in Eregion

I had a busy real life schedule last week so Throg has only been able to sample the Mines of Moria content in small doses. Nevertheless what I have seen has been good so far. After following a few quest chains in the eregion region Throg has made his way down to the ominous black pool at the entrance ot the mines proper. The pool is fetid and ominous so Throg decided to dive in and see if he could wake whatever creature lived in its murky depths. The Watcher was clearly not tempted by one slightly dented dwarf and Throg made it to the othe rside without so much as a nibble. Perhaps we will meet the infamous creature later. I believe I need to complete the first chapter of volume 2 to actually get into the mines but I held off completing that while I dealt with a bunch half orcs who were harassing the dwarven expedition into the mines. These "expeditonary" quests are interesting in that they are only available before the expedition departs - i.e. before you complete book 1. T

Kicking the Corpse of PC Gaming

For some time now I have agonised over whether or not to upgrade my gaming PC. I doubt if my existing 3 year old hardware will be able to cope with next years games but as I watch the centre of gaming influence desert the PC for consoles I have developed a gnawing feeling that I am backing the wrong horse by spending more money on PC gaming. PC hardware prices have never been cheaper (at least in euro zone) so I could go out and invest in a new graphics card as a prelude to a complete system replacement. Alternatively I could use the cash to buy an Xbox. Yet today I see an article in the Inquirer suggesting that the market for gaming hardware is booming . Perhaps there is life in the old dog yet. One interesting point from the article is that the high price of HDTVs is proving a disadvantage for consoles. That is a significant issue for me actually. If I get a console I really need to get a TV to play it on unless I want a nightly fight with my wife over whether or not she can watc

Lotro: Mines of Moria goes live

Throg's first view of the new region of Pend Eregion: Nothing else to report really as I had to go to work minutes after this was taken. I didn't expect to be playing at all today because my copy of MoM hadn't arrived. I patched the game anyway (2 hours even after applying the pre-downloaded patches) before I set off for work. Then just as patching was finished the postman arrived with my copy of MoM. Needless to say I just had to log in for 15 minutes in order to see the new zone.

Throg does Thorog (or rather Thorog does Throg)

Since witnessing the grotesque resurrection of the dead dragon Thorog at the hands of Drugoth it has been on the minds of Throg and his fellow adventurers to travel to Helegrod where the beast had alighted and to consign the undead lizard back to the abyss of death. They had put off tackling the creature because the kinship does not have the roster of 24 active heroes that estimates suggest would be required to down the beast. Also an extraordinary outbreak of Balrogs's in Eastern Angmar has commanded all attention in recent months. Now that Gandalf's fellowship are setting forth from Rivendell towards the Mines of Moria it seems likely they will need our aid on their travels, therefore it was decided to team up with friends from another kin to try and deal with the unfinished business of Thorog. Throg gathered with his companions in Rivendell where spirits were bolstered by the news of yet another Balrog's demise. Hearts filled with hope, they set forth to Steps of Gram a

Iron Grip Warlord

Thanks to Melf_Himself for bringing my attention to Iron Grip Warlord an independent game from Isotyx. The first map can be donloaded and played for free including online play while the full game costs $24.95. Well worth the price in my opinion. Iron Grip Warlord is a curious hybrid of rts, fps and tower defence game set in a steam punk universe. It has standard rts elemetnt of resource gathering (by killing stuff) and structure building, you also play in FPS mode yourself as one of the troops. The tower defence bit comes from the fact that you must defend your base against an endless succession of enemy troops and armour who thread their way through your city to annihilate your base. In practise it plays like Company of Heroes on acid and is a total blast as you run around building, repairing and shooting all the while trying to plug gaps in your defences. Best thing of all is that it is designed for multiplayer co-op mode which is tremendous fun. I have only played disorganised

Did Lotro Screw up in its Implementation of Titles?

Some time ago in a post about artificially creating value I discussed the way that Guild Wars dangles hard to get titles in front of players as carrots to keep them motivated while World of Warcraft dangles epic gear with uber stats. At the time I felt that titles and other vanity rewards were a better way to go because they don't create an unbridgeable gap between hard core and casual players. Lotro has gone in for titles in a big way. Just look at an incomplete list of titles you can get within the game here . It seems that you cannot trip over the corpse of a dead wolf in Middle Earth without earning some new apellation. Some titles do indeed represent major achievements like defeating a raid boss but there are so many glorious sounding titles for minor achievements that all titles have become devalued. Many players don't even bother to display their titles and fewer still care what the various titles mean. Contrast this with Guild Wars where titles are harder to come b

Review an older game: Sacrifice from Shiny Entertainment

Zubon over at Kill Ten Rats has thrown out a challenge for bloggers to review an older game. I think it's a great initiative. I do have a problem though I am not very good at reviews. I am well able (and often willing) to give an opinion but there is a world of difference between a hastily scribbled opinion and a well thought out, systematic, structured review. In the sister blog to mindbending puzzles I get around this difficulty through the use of "instant book reviews" which allow me to dress up my half though out opinions as a kind of quasi-review. Its a lazy cop out but it works so I am going to use the same formula here. Therefore I now present the mpb instant game review of Shiny's action rts: Sacrifice released way back in 2000. Sacrifice from Shiny Entertainment. This 2000 masterpiece remains one of the most beautifully crafted PC games of all time. Everything from the storyline to the sublime array of creatures and spells just oozes creativity and a

Predicting the Gastronomic Singularity

Proponents of the technological singularity hypothesis predict a near future event in which in which advances in artificial intelligence will fuel an unprecedented step change in technology which will utterly change mankind and our place in the universe. I am pleased to report the discovery of yet another near future singularity but this time one which will have an altogether more satisfying and wholesome outcome. In a moment of ease I found my mind wandering back to memorable meals of my recollection. It soon became apparent that while I could recall quite a few memorable meals in recent times (staring with a particularly satisfying breakfast this morning) I could recall fewer and fewer memorable meals from times gone by. Spotting the similarity with the "time between paradigm shifting events" which underlines the technological singularity hypothesis I immediately decided to apply the same analysis to gastronomic events and I present here the fruit of my labours: First

Lotro: Book 12 revisited and some fowl play

Yesterday evening Throg joined a kinship group to help a colleague complete Book 12 of Volume 1 . This was the last book I completed before taking a break from the game and I remember it being particularly challenging. Last nights run through was very smooth though a far cry from the multiple wipes I remember from the first time around. It was so much easier in fact that I have been trying to figure out what made such a big difference. I reckon several factors came together: We are all a bit more experienced with a number of players who have already completed the book, our gear is bit better all round (lotro is not particularly gear intensive but every little helps) and we were all using Ventrilo voice chat. The group consisted of a minstrel, two captains, two champions and a lore master. There was no guardian to steal aggro from so the two champions went to town with all out area of effect damage and cut through hordes of mobs in rapid time. Normally this would be a suicidal strat

Lotro: Book 14 Complete

Throg managed to complete book 14 last night with the help of some generous kin fellows which sets him up nicely for the release of MoM and book 15. Chapter 12 ( The skin of Bregmor ) still proved somewhat trouble-some and we wiped once to the rapidly re-spawning adds of the Nemesis level end boss. The second time around our dps heavy group (Guardian, 2 Champions, Hunter, Captain and Minstrel) managed to fight our way through but it was skin of teeth stuff. There were several deaths including the main tank and Throg ended up tanking the boss. I suspect the only reason we survived is that one of my colleagues realised that not all the adds respawn. Killling the non respawning mobs reduced the damage to manageable proportions and allowed us to overcome the encounter. I think I am learning to play my champion well enough but I still lack the ability to read a fight like this in order to plan a good strategy. This is probably due to lack of experience but I will salvage some pride by

Lotro:Torhammas

Throg is not a dwarf to turn down the prospect of a good fight so when a fellow adventurer asked for help in overcoming the wayward mammoth Torhammas our champion friend was quick to volunteer. The four strong fellowship consisted of a guardian, a hunter a second champion and Throg himself. Despite the lack of healing this DPS heavy group made short work of the Mammoth. The Guardian grabbed the beasts attention and held it while Throg laid into it from behind. The other Champion and Hunter quickly despatched the mob of Gauradan's who tried to come to the creature's aid. Fair dues to the doughty guardian who not alone endured the full fury of mammoth's tusks and bone crushing feet but also managed to hold the mobs attention while his three heavy hitting companions unleashed their full fury. Throg did catch the monsters eye at the very end of the fight but that was probably for the best, the brave guardian's armour being somewhat dented by that point. After the battle d

Bamboozling Cash Machines

Cash machines (ATMs) in this country love €50 notes (€50 is about $64 or £40 at current exchange rates). Requests for hundred's of euros are usually dispensed in wads of €50's and though most machines also dispense €20's stocks of this lower denomination run out quickly giving rise to a "please select a multiple of €50" message. I guess that keeping the bulk of cash in one large denomination simplifes operational logistics but it does not mesh well with my personal spending habits. I tend to use a credit or debit card for most purchases over €20. When I spend actually currency it tends to be of the loose change variety: €1 for a newspaper, €2 for a cup of coffee and so on. I can assure your from personal experience that it is a rare vendor who has the professionalism to keep up their customer friendly smile when proffered a €50 note for a €1 purchase. The foregoing has led to my becoming an accomplished practitioner of the ATM Bamboozlement game. The aim of th

Lotro: Book 14 Highs and Lows

Low: Chapter 1 Being sent all around Eriador on errand missions. High: Chapter 1 Ending with a challenging but do-able instance. Low: Chapter 2 - That @£$$%% Elf Laerdan. After all I have done for him! High: Chapter 3 - Hmm... Laedan's diary, lets have a peek. High: Chapter 4 - While reading Laerdan's journal I imagine yourself to be an Angmarim soldier guarding the tower that Throg and his companions assaulted way back in Chapter 12. Yes its a trivial quest but the concept is way cool. Low: Sadly the instance ends just before the "good guys" arrive. I was looking forward to seeing Throg bursting through the doors to attack me. High: Chapter 6 - Another scene from the journal this time I imagine I am the Elf Laerdan fighting hordes of enemies in order to save my daughter. Laerdan is tough but he is totally outnumbered. This must be one of the toughest solo quests in the game. I took me three goes to complete but I really enjoyed it. (Spoiler - if you are