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Showing posts from August, 2009

A pug to remember

I was strolling through Esteldin when an unasked for invitation to a fellowship flashed across my screen. Unasked for invites from strangers are never a good sign but I was feeling adventurous in the O Henry sense and decided to follow where the finger of fate pointed. "What Quest are you on" I asked in a tell. " The Defence of Trestlebridge " came the reply. Noting that I also needed that quest I clicked accept to the waiting invitation. There were two others in the group. Not enough for a serious attempt at the defence but a start. I wrote a quick greeting into fellowship chat explaining that I also needed the quest. "What quest are you on" typed the fellowship leader. "The Defence of Trestle-bridge" I typed again. "Can you not talk? Say something" demanded the leader. Thinking that he must mean voice chat I scrabbled to find my headset. This turned out to be pointless because neither of the other members had voice chat enable

In mmorpgs a lone hero will never be rich

Monday night I logged in to Lotro to play Ceoldir my Loremaster alt. It was quite late when I started so I had missed the peak time chance to do groupy stuff but I wasn't in the mood to do any of the the typical kill ten warg solo quests. I managed to amuse myself for almost three hours by soloing through the dangerous region of Angamur. This was fairly tricky even for a LM because the region is full of elite wights and shades who are immune to many of a Lore masters tricks including the default mezz "Blinding Flash". I had a few deaths but eventually worked out a reasonable routine based around my new favourite skill "Cracked Earth" . Kiting the mob while waiting for Cracked Earth's root to apply provided plenty of opportunity to stumble into adds so it kept me on my toes. I enjoyed the session but it was very unproductive in progression terms. I was killing stuff very slowly so I got no more than a quarter of the way through my original quest and the

FEAR 2, for the record

I spent about 14 hours over the weekend playing through FEAR 2. I can't really give much of an opinion on the game because I find it is already slipping from my memory. I take that as a bad sign. There must have been enough in it to keep me playing till the closing credits but I do remember feeling that the game hadn't progressed at all from the original FEAR.

Lotro: Cracked Earth

Oatbarton and it neighbouring Goblin camp was certainly a growing up experience for my level 29 Loremaster. While struggling to solo these difficult quests I learned that LM's are not invincible. I also learned quite a bit more about how to use my skills especially one sublime skill called " Cracked Earth ". Cracked Earth is not only a very useful multiple target root, it is also one of the most cleverly designed skills I have ever come across in an mmo. In the first instance Cracked Earth is a ranged spell that roots up to five targets within a 7m area. While rooted they cannot move although they can attack you if you get too close. Very useful against those groups of melee mobs that can make life so difficult for a lone Loremaster. Now for the first clever bit: It is not an instant root. It takes ten seconds for the root to stick. When I first got the skill and tried it out I was very disappointed. Ten seconds is lots of time for angry mobs to run up to you and start w


As a father of pre-teen girls one is sometime required to bear the unbearable. Thus it was that I set off with my two princesses this evening to see Bandslam the movie with a leaden heart and a heavy sense of duty. I had sat through enough iterations of High School Hannah Montana to know that any musical set in a high school marketed at pre-teen girls was going to be an excruciatingly painful experience. How wrong I was. Band slam is actually very good. Its like High School Musical has been hijacked by the Breakfast Club. This is a sharp and funny movie. It does descend into schmalz at the end but I guess that's a requirement for the target audience. A major feature of the movie is a really good soundtrack. Instead of computer generated tween pop it has real music by real musicians like David Boweie and the Velvet underground.

Um...perhaps I spoke too soon.

Remember I crowed about how uber my Lotro lore master was. Remember how I suggested that the combination of crowd control, pets, debuffs, healing and damage made him an all round solo killing machine. Well ... I think I have just discovered his Achille's heel. Having hit level 29 Ceoldir set off towards Evendim in order to continue levelling into his thirties. One of the very first quests I picked up was "Goblins and Spiders" an on-level solo quest which required me to check out a spider corpse in this nasty Goblin camp: Notice all those Goblins. Sure they are lower in level than me and sure they are normal and even some swarm type mobs but there are LOTS of them and they are aggro linked in groups with regular patrols and they respawn very quickly. Ceoldir's crowd control is totally inadequate to deal with such numbers. To make matters worse they hit hard and fast in melee which interrupts Ceoldir's skills. Once more than two of them started whacking at

"Trap the Cat" or "My Wife the Genius"

If you have a single frivolous bone in your body you have probably stumbled across "Trap the Cat" which has been frustrating flash gamers around the world for the last few weeks. It is a maddeningly addictive puzzle game in which you must encircle a cat before he can escape. After several hopeless attempts during which I always seemed to be one circle behind the fleeing cat I resorted to Google and finally learned how to do it. Even with this stolen knowledge I am still not perfect. Depending on the layout of initial dots I can probably trap him about half the time. Anyhow, my wife likes this kind of thing so I decided to show her the game, perhaps guiltily anticipating schadenfreude at her mounting frustration with such a difficult puzzle. As expected she took to the game immediately and after one attempt I could see she was hooked. I sat back, deciding to let her struggle for a bit before magnanimously stepping in and demonstrating my own (unearned) prowess. She trappe

Giant Problems

Svalfang is an evil Giant who terrorises North Eastern Bree lands. He is a solo level 30 elite in a region populated by level 20'ish mobs so I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to try out Ceoldir's ability to solo elites. Soloing Svalfang seems to be quite the rage and I encountered two others trying to tackle the giant alone. While on the prequest Ceoldir saw a level 29 minstrel struggling with Svalfang. The minstrel was almost overcome but Ceoldir chipped in and gave a hand. Later when returning to do the quest proper Ceoldir saw a level 29 guardian going toe to toe with the giant. The guardian was putting up a better fight than the minstrel and it was neck and neck. I stood back and watched but it looked like the Guardians morale was about to hit zero first so I threw in one emergency heal. Giving unasked for heals is always risky but the guardian seemed to be happy rather than upset so I think I judged it right. Anyway finally it was my turn. I attacke

Meet Ceoldir

Meet Ceoldir the alt I spent most of the free welcome back week levelling up. Thanks to the reduced levelling curve and and XP bonus for the week Ceoldir has gained 9 levels in just under 30 hours of play and now sits at the heady heights of level 26. Up to now Throg a level 60 Champion has been my main Lotro character. Throg is a fiery red headed dwarf who thinks that the best solution to any problem is to hit it hard with a big axe. Despite his temper he is a staunch friend and unwavering ally of the cause of good. He despises the dourhands for sullying the name of dwarves and has cracked many a dourhand skull to show them error of their ways. Throg is not really one for fancy armour (it just gets in the way of a good swing) but he is fussy about the sharpness of his axes. I love Throg's character and if I had more guts I'd probably try to role play him but I am perhaps a little tired of playing a Champion. The Champion is a straightforward melee role who can dish out sust


"Hi there, Thank you for your payment of 75.00 GBP for LOTRO. Your game time has been extended accordingly, and your next payment is due before 01/01/70." Codemasters welcome back week hooked me after all despite my misgivings about timing . I logged on last Monday to say hello to my friends in the kinship and here I am a week later with almost 30 hours of playtime under my belt. I have left Lotro twice before and have come back to the game each time after a few months break so I decided that the £75 lifetime subscription was too good a deal to turn down. I do have some misgivings. I really don't want to get back into playing one game all day every day. However fellow bloggers like Tipa , Van Hemlock and Wilhelm2451 have shown that it is possible to play an mmo and enjoy it on a less than exclusive basis and this is what I hope to do. I know this will require a certain amount of discipline and I also realise that this almost certainly means that I will miss out on ce

Audio Engineering with Silicone Sealant

I bought a new set of 5.1 speakers a while back but the subwoofer volume was way too high. It has an independent bass control but even on the lowest setting the subwoofer was unpleasantly loud and listening to any track with a bass component (basically any music created in the last fifty years) was painful. I managed to muffle it somewhat with the aid of copious amounts of wadding and duct tape but I was never really happy with it. When playing shooters for example I would invariably opt for headphones in order to avoid jarring noises from the gunshots. Well a few months have passed and the shininess has worn off the speakers so I decide I was ready to void the warranty by looking inside to see if I could rig the volume pot to have a lower range. I was an electronics hardware designer in an earlier life so I more or less knew what I was doing although I never really worked on audio systems. Getting into the sub-woofer box was easier said than done. First there was a ridiculous amount

Get a Lotro lifetime sub for €110 / £75?

An unadvertised feature of Codemasters Lotro Europe welcome back week is that returnees have a once off opportunity to purchase a lifetime subscription for only €110 / £75. This represents a considerable saving on the normal life time sub of €220. This offer provoked some discussion on the forums because apparently it isn't available to the faithful who never left the game. Understandably some long term subscribers are upset that departees are being offered a better deal than themselves. Anyway I am considering availing of the offer myself. Lotro is a game that I have already left twice and come back to twice. Having a lifetime sub will allow me to dip in and out of the game whenever the mood takes me without having to think about subscribing.

Insight into the mind of a Hardcore Raider

If you are reading this you are probably not a hard core raider, not really hard core anyway. Even the hour or so a day it takes to browse a few blogs and maybe pen a few lines of your own is just not compatible with the gruelling time schedule serious hard core raiding demands. Ethic's Brother Grim is a serious raider in one of he world's top raiding guilds. Today Ethic posted an lovely short interview with Grim giving the rest of us some insights into the world of the really hard core. The most striking feature of the interview for me is that how Grim belies the stereotype of no-life socio-path that raiders are normally portrayed as. He comes across as a well spoken (I assume young) man who really enjoys his hobby, who takes pleasure out of his achievements and who values the friendship and social aspects of the game. He really doesn't sound all that different from a guy who is into football or photography or Comic book collecting or any of a range of other more tra

Lotro Europe Welcome Back Week: Have they got the timing wrong?

Next week is a free "welcome back week" for Lotro Europe customers. I don't know how these things are normally done but according to Codemasters no signups or re-registration is required all I have to do is run the game. Nicely done. I will certainly try it (am patching my client as we speak) but I don't think I will stick with it. I am really not in the mood for an mmo at the moment. Personally I think the timing is off. August is still a Summer month with hopes of fine weather, long bright evenings and lots of other diversions on offer. I think that September would have been a better time, powerful back to school memories, back to Autumn, time to to put aside Summer's carefree pursuits and start preparing for the Winter months ahead. Other than September I would perhaps suggest the week after Christmas. A time when many folks have holidays and when attention is focussed on indoor leisure activities. On a unrelated bit of Lotro news Tony from MMEOW has drawn