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Showing posts from January, 2009

TF2 Balloon Race

In need of a bit mindless shooting fix I got in a few rounds of the Team Fortress 2 custom map "Balloon Race" last night. Its a very fun map with a little bit of strategy to it. The aim of the game is to capture a set of control points which you can only get to by flying there in an airship. In order to make the airship fly one or more players must stand at the wheel in front of the ship. If you die you instantly re-spawn back at base but you can jump down a hole and immediately get tele-ported to the ship. Its alot of fun combining the race betwen points with all out firefights at the control points. I think it is a lot of fun but I have seen the map criticised as imbalanced because if one ship gets a bit of a lead it can be very hard to catch up. This mainly happens becuase a lot of players have no clue how to play and dont bother standing at the wheel to get their boat moving. THere are actually pplenty of starategies you can try. You can try to snipe the helmsman (whi

In Middle Earth No-one can hear you scream

Look who Throg bumped into in the depth of the foundations of stone: Certainly reminds me of this bloke: Alien Not sure what chapter of Tolkien those guys come out of but Lore buffs need not be too disappointed. Right in the middle of the lake in the Foundations you come across a shard of a bridge. This is none other than the remains of the bridge of Khazad Dhum that collapsed when Gandalf fought the Balrog. These then must be the very depths where that epic battle was fought. I haven't come across any other signs of the conflict yet but who knows? There is a nest of those alien creatures on the eastern side of the lake in the Foundations of stone. Throg needs to get in there to complete two quests: Warding Runes and An Unacceptable Diet . While he can handle one or two of them with relative ease three or more is a challenge they all have special abilities (like spawing nasty darklings). Three times Throg has been overcome while trying to work his way in. I try to pull caref

Test Your Gamer Ethics

A couple of recent experiences have got me thinking about cheating in games. Is cheating in games even immoral, it is after all only a game? Can developers turn normal behaviour into cheating just by labelling it an exploit? What if cheating doesn't impact on other players in a negative way - is it still wrong. What about the old adage : "It's only cheating if you get caught"? What if everybody is doing it? Is it even possible to meaningfully cheat in a single player game? I am no moral philosopher but I guess that every one has to form their own answer to questions like these. I did try to put together some sample scenarios though to get me (and you) thinking about the "ethics" of gaming. Feel free to suggest other morally ambiguous scenarios please. 1. You have got to the last level of a single player shooter but you can't overcome the end boss. You find a God-Mode cheat on Google that allows you to kill the boss and see the end of the game. Do you

Lotro: Getting to Grips with End Game

Throg's first weekend as a level 60 allowed saw him make some forays into MoM's end game. For most of his kinship end-game at present means running a selection of 6 man instances in "hard mode" in order to collect radiant armour pieces. Throg was lucky enough to get a place on one such run into the "16th Hall instance". I am told the 16th Hall is one of the longest of the Hard Mode runs. It took us around three hours to do two runs but we were only five for the first run (including a noob Champ - me) which slowed us down a bit. Nothing particularly challenging: Lots of rooms, lots of multiple orc pulls and three bosses spaced through the encounter. Aside: On the very first pull I managed to embarrass myself self by grabbing too much aggro and getting killed! I have no excuse other than it has been a while since I played in a fellowship and I was rusty. It was a rude awakening to the realities of aggro management and was probably a necessary lesson. After

Lotro: A Champion with a Shield

A Champions primary role is all out melee damage but in Glory stance a Champion swaps dps for survivability and threat generation which allows them to do a pretty good job of tanking. Its not quite as simple as grabbing a shield and popping glory however. Glory mode has drastically reduced power and fervour generation which forces the Champion to rethink their whole skill set. A recent moment of panic when Throg was almost made main tank for an instance run made me realise that I have never practised with a shield didn't really know how to use one. Rather than practise in a group putting others at risk I decided to do some solo work with a shield first just to figure out what skills did and didn't work. I equipped a nice heavy shield that I got from Lothlorien quests and set off to the nearest orc camp to learn the ropes. Observations from using a shield in Glory mode: 1. DPS is unsurprisingly way down . Instead of fervour's damage bonus you get glory's damage pena

EVE: Skill trainng queue revisited

I while back I wrote a blog post requesting an EVE skill training queue that was picked up by Massively and a few other sites. It generated quite a bit of comment on both sides of the argument. Newer players were generally in favour of a skill queue while more experienced players seemed to prefer the status quo. Perhaps this is another case of old timers who have learned to live with the current system not understanding why newbies should get an easier deal than they did back in the old days. Although I am not playing EVE at the moment that post still generates the occasional comment. This morning an anonymous commenter posted a detailed proposal for a scheme in which you pay a fee to put skills in the queue, the fee being dependent on the both the length of the queue and the value of the skill being queued. I think that is a brilliant idea. Such a fee should help to dissuade afk character farming by making it unprofitable. The suggestion was posted anonymously so I cannot give prop

Lotro: Throg hits 60

Throg actually hit 60 a few days back but life has conspired to keep me away from the blog. I brought him to the edge of Lothlorien for the last half level which was a good choice. Nice to be out in the sunshine again and there are good quest rewards to be got from killng orcs there. Some of the quests are marked as small fellow but don't let that put you off - they are soloable with careful pulling. Minor gripe: a few players were farming the orcs for drops making it harder than it should have been to complete the quests. My requests to fellow up were rudely turned down. Aside: It seems that the orc camps in Lothlorien are one of the few fast respawning level 60+ spots in Lotro at the moment and are therefore favourite spots for farming. However there is a better choice: The library of steel single player instance can can be farmed repeatedly for the cost of 1 adamant crystal (exit or fail the instance to reset it). It also has level 60+ mobs and being a single player instance d

Lotro: Gearing up for end game

Throg has crept up to level 59 and with the XP bar to 60 filling up fast I thought it was time to take stock of his current gear and stats to make sure he doesn't disgrace himself in the end game dungeons. Most of the stuff he is wearing comes from mid 50's level quest rewards and is a bit below par for end game. For starters there was his legendary axe. I had been lucky enough to get a near perfect level 55 Third age axe with golden fervour bonus, golden aoe damage bonus, golden rend pulses, silver extend on defeat conditions plus a few other nice things. I cannot imagine a better set of legacies so I held on to the axe for a long time. Unfortunately it is impossible to squeeze more than 38DPS out of a level 55 axe so with a tear in my eye it had to go. I replaced it with a so so level 59 axe that has a golden fervour bonus and not much else. I used my accumulated store of weapon XP relics to quickly boost it up to 44dps, quite an upgrade from the level 55. From what I can

Lotro: Unrequited Dwarf Lust

Ever since finding a distinctly feminine axe in the remains of Balin's Camp Throg has been asking every adventurer he meets if they know of the whereabouts of the dwarven womenfolk. His search took him to the 21st hall and on to Orc Watch in the Redhorne lodes. From there a lead sent him deep into the lodes where he finally stumbled upon a tunnel infested with crawling insects. Hidden at the end of that tunnel Throg came across the door to a chamber that could only be the fabled hideout of dwarven femininty. Imagine first the excitement mingled with trepidation of our randy hero as he turned the delicately gilded handle and pushed open the door to that chamber. Imagine then his utter dissapointment on discovering that the womenfolk had fled and that the chamber itself was now infested with crawlers. In a fit of frustrated rage he slaughtered every bug and sliced open the maggots cradled in what had once been dwarven creches. Throg says he has gotten over it. After all a s

Welcome back to Lotro

Despite the almost invisible launch of MoM it seems that a bit of a "return to Lotro" trend has started. Quite a few of my fellow bloggers (including Tipa , Wilhelm2451 , Melmoth , Thalian , Khan, Scott , Sente and Van Hemlock )are playing and blogging about the game again. I expect that this surge of enthusiasm will pass as such things ususally do. Some of those who got bored before will get bored again and leave but some will hopefully stay to savour all the new content that Turbine has added since launch time. I don't want to say too much about this. These are all articulate folks and are well able to write for themselve. What I will say is: Welcome back.

Subscribing to blog comments + a request for help

Thank you DM Osbon for bringing my attention to the "notify me of comments via email" feature of Wordpress. If like me you sometimes lose track of the comments you leave on other folks blogs then this feature is a godsend. I checked the blogs on my daily reading list and most don't seem to have this feature. Perhaps it needs to be enabled, if so then please do it for your own blog. I use blogger and it seems that blogger also has a "subscribe to comments" function but I can't find how to enable it. I notice that Tobold's blog has a "suscribe via email" button on the comments page and I know he uses blogger but I cannot find a way to enable the same button for my blog. Perhaps it is there but I can't see it because the blog is my own ans I am automatically subscribed anyway? If this is the case then please let me know. If not but if you know how to enable it then please let me know how to do it. Edit: I have just spotted the "Subsc

Lotro: The Watcher 1 Throg 0

After a week's holiday from mmorpgs thanks to Far Cry 2 ( not great ) and Dead Space ( great ) I logged back into Lotro last night. It was a fairly productive session. I managed to complete all my quests in the Waterworks of Moria getting about half way to level 59 in the process (or rather getting to level 58.5). The Waterworks is an interesting region at the very bottom of Moria (bottom = South in Moria's curiously non Euclidean world geometry). This is where the dwarven residents of Khazad Doom used to pump their water from and as you might expect the place is full of engineering works and great water wheels. Nothing works properly any more and the expeditionary engineers are struggling to get the stuff back online. Before they can do that they need your help to deal with the not too friendly wildlife who have moved in including giant spiders, salamanders and toads with a few fungus infected Goblins thrown in for good measure. There is a whole bunch of quests in the region

Dead Space - Creepy Spaceships.

Now this is more like it ... Dead Space: A creepy spaceship populated by nameless monstrosities who have infested the crew and converted them into shambling horrors. This game reminds me of Doom, Unreal System Shock 2 ane even Half Life. These were the titles I cut my gaming teeth on and in some ways playing Dead Space feels like coming home for me. Neither the concept nor the plot are very original but I feel at home in this space horror setting and I am really enjoying it so far. I have seen criticism of the mouse control scheme for the PC version but I have gotten used to it. In a third person game aiming and shooting will never feel as intuitive and smooth as a first person shooter but it hasn't hampered my enjoyment so far. The game even has a limited upgrade system, not as sophisticated as that in the System Shock games but enough to add a bit of choice as to how you play the game. Ammo and health packs are fairly limited even on "normal" difficulty setting s