Monthly Archives: March 2010

Fraps follow up


I posted yesterday about the new Fraps release and while I had tested it out a little bit, I hadn’t actually tried creating a video for upload onto YouTube.  I decided that as I was working on my Rune-keeper I would take a video of the scenery on the way from Saeradan’s Cabin to Candaith at the foot of Weathertop.  This was my first time on that new horse route so I was curious how it would take the player, but I figured there would be some good sight-seeing along the way.  I captured the entire trip on Ultra-high visual quality (DIrectX 9 though) so things do look pretty spectacular, see for yourself below:

I especially liked the part riding by the Bree festival as you get a good view of the hedge maze!

(edit) So most of this post is outdated but I’ll keep the rest of it as there are some other things in there too.  But Fraps released version 3.2.2 which should resolve this problem with Avidemux.  I haven’t tried it yet, and I will still potentially use the little GUI tool I mention below for batch processing. (end-edit)

Now the downside to this was I stumbled across a new feature of Fraps in a not-so-good way.  With the new “on-demand” recording feature they’ve put the MUST_USE_INDEX flag in the header of the AVI file and unfortunately some tools can’t recognize that flag.  And of course, the tool I use Avidemux is one of the tools that has this problem.  I do like Avidemux as it is a free open source application that’s not only flexible but intuitive (for me at least) and allows for lots of options in compression in addition to some video editing tools.  I posted on the problem on their forums and was expecting a “we’ll get to it in a future release,” but not only did I get quick feedback but a workable solution to the problem!  Now granted, it is a bit of a kluge in that I run a “pre-filter” app (that is now my new batch mode too as I routinely hit the 4GB file size cap and need to stitch videos together) that feeds the videos into Avidemux where I can then edit them as I wish.  So for me, running at 1440×900 resolution by default Avidemux works great as it allows me to use MPEG4 compression such that I get a reasonable file size with good quality.

Certainly Avidemux isn’t the only tool out there, but it is free and works for me 🙂  The Fraps support folks (also incredibly responsive) pointed me to VirtualDub which also looked pretty good and is free as well.  However, I didn’t have enough options for compression nor could I get DivX to work for my videos.  But it is certainly a simpler process that could potentially work very well depending on your machine setup.  The other tool I’ll mention which I found via a twitter recommendation from the folks over at CStM, is AVS which is a collection of a number of video processing packages.  I tried this tool out and it looks really slick and incredibly full featured and isn’t terribly expensive at $59.  It also has zero problems with the new Fraps format and seems to have all sorts of different compression schemes that worked great for me.  At some point down the road if I decide to do something more tricky with videos then I currently do, I may go back and check out AVS but for now I’m happy with my solution and work-flow.

Just wanted to put this out there as it caught me off-guard and I had a couple of folks ask about how I did things.

Fraps version 3.2 Released


So I just got this update from Fraps a few minutes ago and thought it was really cool.  One of my issues with Fraps has always been that if I forget to turn it on I tend to forget completely and have missed things from time to time.  Or I forget to turn it off, and the only notification I get is the nice Windows warning that my hard-drive is full 🙂  But with version 3.2 they’re releasing “Loop Recording” which will basically always buffer the last 30 seconds of action, even when you’re not recording!  So, once you turn this on you’ll only have 30 seconds worth of capture stored but have the option to start (and continue) a recording from an event starting 30 seconds ago.  This will essentially work just like a DVR and provide a sort of “always-on” recording capability without requiring terabytes worth of hard-drive space.  My $37 investment keeps getting better all the time!  Be on the lookout for even more YouTube uploads from me in the future…

Weekend news


So things have been a bit slow on the news side, but hopefully now that PAX is done we may hear some things from Turbine on what all they have planned for us down the road.  There were a bunch of folks (including myself) who sent a nice long list of questions to Merric and Goldenstar from CStM and they’re in the process of pulling all the info together. I’m not expecting anything earth shattering after Sapience’s comments on the forums, but we shall see.  However, Patience did chime in on a conversation between me and @wickedpt on twitter “@wickedpt Just because we are not talking about something yet doesn’t mean we’re not working on it. Stay tuned. :)” so I suspect they’re just phasing the news updates between DDO and LOTRO.  I would expect to start seeing some new diaries and such starting to filter out as we near the end of the Spring festival, although due to the horse issue that might get extended a bit.

In game for me I’ve been enjoying the spring festival doing the dirty work for the dwarves and their Ale Association.  I just hit the first tier of reputation with them and I’m curious to see what’s available from that kindred vendor.  For this festival, I’m just focusing on my Warden but I may grab a few of the rewards/items on my Minnie as well.  I have saved most of my fortunes, so those titles should be pretty transferable – and they’re also relatively cheap on the AH 🙂  Sadly though I didn’t get in too much time with my RK so she’s still stuck at 20 (or maybe 21) but I’m interested to not only see the new Lone Lands but also see what it is like to run Skirmishes from the start and not from the level cap 🙂

On Friday I mentioned a new website (well new to me) I stumbled across lotro.mmorsel.com and today’s tip was one I really wanted to stress.  The tip is regarding using the fellowship assist options to better coordinate attacks between DPS classes.  This has been in the game for a long time for raids, but didn’t come in for fellowships until more recently and many still don’t know it exists.  As a tank (and a healer) I can’t stress how important and helpful this setting is when used properly as it makes everyone’s job that much easier.  Not only does it provide a way to select the proper target, but it also gives the tank and healer a good gauge on how the fight is progressing without having to switch targets.  By focusing all your DPS on one target, not only do they all drop faster but it makes tanking that much easier as you only have 1 mob to compete with DPS on and then you just have to out agro the healer on the rest.  Using the fellowship assist not only can you set up the tank’s target and the main target for DPS, but you can also do things like designating targets for crowd control or other such tasks.  In groups that I’m not leading, I always make sure that not only is this turned on and used by the leader, but that everyone in the group has it up and knows what to do with it.  So if you haven’t used this tool before, next time you’re in a group check it out!

I still have a piece in work on comparing not only the different tiers of skirmishes but also comparing the Rift to other skirmishes as I’m now very convinced it is by far the toughest skirmish out there, excluding the Barrow Downs one of course 😉

Very happy its Friday


This has been a long week not only because of the Spring Festival but for my real life world as well, but I did want to share a couple of links while I’m thinking about them.  I also do have some non-LOTRO updates I’ll get out over the weekend but I’m holding off a bit to gather my thoughts better.

First up is my shameless plug for my article over on the LOTRO Reporter covering the journey from level 30 to 45. For me, this is where the class really started to get me addicted and wanting more as I just couldn’t believe the things I was able to pull off.  I will probably do one or 2 more level pieces before tackling some other topics like raiding, PvP, etc.  Feel free to offer suggestions if you have them.

Now as many of you have read over the past few days, I’ve been quite enjoying the Spring Festival and have hit most of the quests in the various zones.  However, one thing I haven’t done this festival is any of the Inn League pub crawls as I’m already Friend with them and I don’t think there’s a reason to progress any further.  However, Duvelmoortgat from the LOTRO forums has a fun idea for mixing the pub crawls with the new Ale Association quests into one big massive drunken adventure through the Shire.  I haven’t tried it out yet, but check out the post for all the specifics.  I may have to run a normal pub crawl first just to get my bearings straight as I’m not that knowledgeable in the Shire.

And finally, I stumbled across the lotro.mmorsel.com website while following the #lotro hash tag on twitter  There are some detailed guides up there on the various zones in Middle-Earth, topics like Radiance, leveling guides, crafting, making gold, and many more.  I have only looked through some of it, but it looks like quite the resource!  If you’re new to LOTRO or haven’t played in a while and want to catch up on all the changes it certainly is worth a few minutes to check that site out.

New Festival Fortune Cookies


So I had a bunch of leaves and was curious what some of the food items did, and I happened to pick up the “Extra Deliciously Tasty Biscuits” which are barterable for 3 leaves for 2 biscuits.  When you eat one of these leaves you’ll get 1 of 50 possible fortunes, so they’re basically fortune cookies, or fortune biscuits ;).  They are broken up into 5 different deeds and getting all 10 in that deed gives a new title.  The cool thing (I wish I would’ve read this sooner) was mentioned on the forums is that all these fortunes are tradable.  Not only are the titles fun, but the actual fortunes themselves are have some cool lore comments as well.  So, go stomp some shrews, then find a group to eat and trade fortunes to work towards the titles!  Here’s a list of the different deeds, titles, and some of the fortunes I have found:

  • Oddly Familiar -> Same old Song
    • Bah, that would only have been a scratch… come again!
    • Truly, your heart hold no fear brother
    • Tra la, tra la, tra lilly, tra la, red with blood… where life has fled.  Pretty flowers… so bright red… la, la, la lilly, la, la …
    • I bring terror to the sties of Budgeford, these sties are mine!  Ba ha ha ha… fear my wrath, Bolgers of Budgeford.
  • A Storyteller’s Snippets -> the Peculiar
    • What have I got in my pocket?
  • Fateful Foretellings -> Writing on the Wall
    • Wonderful luck will come your way today
    • Terrible luck will come your way today
    • Maybe you should ask again later
  • Excellent Advice -> the Enlightened
    • Shadows are darker then most places, so you will not be able to see as much when standing in them
  • An Adventurer’s song -> the Poetical
    • The road goes eve on and on…

Spring Festival notes


So I put up a few posts, videos, and snapshots yesterday of the festival – if you haven’t seen them check out as I was mainly shrew stomping and enjoying the kegs.  Today I wanted to put out a couple of updates and share some posts from others.

Outside of my efforts yesterday, I was back in festival mode today.  I did some more shrew stomping to finish off collecting the items I wanted (the table and the hat mainly) as well as finishing the shrew title.  However, the depressing part of that was once I finished there’s an advanced title “Tamer of the Shrew” that’s for stomping 400 shrews.  That does only work out to 40 games which is roughly 3 hours of non-stop stomping.  I may end up doing it as I have to admit it is working as a good stress reliever for me 😉  I’m also starting to work on the dwarven Ale Association quests as I’ve seen some of the posts/videos and find them quite amusing.  Here’s a video from KurganNazzir showing one of them:

First up of the links, if you’re unsure of where to go or what all to do check out CStM’s Spring Festival guide as they have pretty much all the info you could need.  And CStM does post this as well, but the hedge maze map was a HUGE help for me, so if you’re as lost as I was you might want to check it out.

Sadly, the festival is not without issues.  There are 2 main ones that have been reported.  The first is that apparently the new horse is bugged in some way such that they had to remove the vendor, here’s the thread as well as the post from the devs. The other issue is that if you log off during the “Invitation to the spring festival” you will lose the quest as reported by Sapience here. I’d suggest keeping tabs on both threads if you’re still waiting to get your horse.

Following on the horse theme if you want to stock up on your leaves and horse tokens but are having issues with the plank jumps in the horse races, check out LOTRO life’s post on completing the races without the jumps.

The other post I wanted to mention was a post by Branadoc over on Sneaky hobbits about skirmishes and the festival. I always enjoy reading how others find the festivals and I’m especially interested in how others find skirmishes.

And finally, just posted as I was writing this I saw Turbine’s Welcome Back weekend announcement from the 25th to 29th of March.  In addition to the free play, there’s also a 5% XP bonus during that time as well.  I will probably be working on my RK some during that time to take advantage of the extra XP 🙂

LOTRO Festival Drinking games


Ok, whoever is the genius behind the LOTRO kegs needs a raise 😉  A previous version of this keg, the “Sinister Inn League Keg” which is obtained from the Spring festival in the Hedge maze would transport you to various places throughout Middle-Earth including places like the Giant’s Needle which is a tad tricky to get down from.

(Edit)

So, to further clarify where these kegs come from.  The Sinister Inn League Keg comes from the Hedge maze and is a reward for the quest “The Green Challenge” obtained from Tob Sandyman, where you have to find a relic of the Inn League.  He’s standing with the rest of the quest-givers there at the entrance to the maze.  You first have to find the item, then find your way out while drunk.  There’s also the Inn League keg  that’s a reward for the “Bullroarer’s Challenge – Advanced” which has teleportation powers as well.  This quest is up in Brockenborings and may require you to do the quests at the Statue just NE of the horse point, otherwise the quest is further to the east.  This is the quest that requires you to way along the fence while drunk.  I believe the Sinister version is just a little more “un-kind” with the places it puts you as I tried the Inn League and didn’t go anywhere too bad – just a bit remote.  Both of these quests are repeatable, so you can do them again to either get the keg again, or for leaves.

(end-edit)

Well with the new festival they included a Moria keg version that is barterable for 12 tokens.  I ended up taking a few trips with the keg and each location kept on getting better.  By far my favorite is the spot in the Great Delving complete with a fire, sleeping bag, and empty glasses!  I took a quick video of 2 of these locations, including the drunken effect and some a bunch of screenshots.  I included some captions, but feel free to add your own 🙂

First a snap of my Kinship hall with all the kegs…

4 kegs, which to choose

This is a shot from the regular keg, a nice pig hovel in the shire.

Joining the pigs

Here’s the video of the Foundations and Redhorn locations.

These next 2 are from the same location in the Foundations as the video above:

long way downcool view

Possibly my favorite is this one in the Great Delving as there’s NO way to get here other then the keg.  So not only did the put these locations in they actually took time to build out little areas.

who else has camped here?I got a bit tired and took a nap...

Here are a couple of shots from the Redhorn location:

My minnie wondering how to get downVery close to the Grand Stairs

As good as the Great Delving location is, the one in Nud-Melek has to be the scariest possible way to awaken from a drunken stupor.

nice goat...don't roll over

very impressive view

Now how bummed would you be as a dwarf if you knew all this beer was out of your reach just above the 21st hall 😉

Glad I brought my mug!This mess was here when I got here, honest

In addition to doing a bunch of drinking today, I did manage to finish off a couple of Spring Festival deeds on my Warden, so I was pleased with that.  I’ll probably continue the festival more throughout the time it is up but I’m not real sure how much I’ll do on my other toons.

Spring Sprung TraitSpring Dandy Trait

LOTRO Spring Festival


So for those of you in twitter-land you probably know that I’ve been enjoying the Spring festival and have been quite busy.  The shrew stomping is a lot of fun and I took a couple videos of my successful runs through both the kill 10 shrews and the 1st to kill the enormous one.  One thing I’ve noticed is that many try to use normal AOE skills or lay traps to gain an advantage.  Tapping the shrew with damage doesn’t grant credit nor does it prevent someone else from stomping it – so there’s really no need to do that at all.  The first video is pretty tame as there weren’t that many online at the time.

This video is a bit more crowded and chaotic and notice that the enormous shrew did set off the hunter trap but I was still able to tag it 🙂

One other thing to point out, the quest for killing 10 shrews actually has a couple of options.  The first time you do it there is only one quest giver, but either tied to successful completion of that quest of the enormous shrew you also get access to the “Practiced” and “Elite’ gardeners that reward you with more leaves.  So as soon as you can get those, I highly recommend using them as the quest is the same but with better rewards, and you can only have 1 active at a time.  The Leisurely Gardener just requires you to stomp 10 shrews before the round ends, the Practiced Gardener asks you to do it in a quicker timespan, and the Elite Gardener has a same small time window as the Practiced and in addition asks you to plant seeds to try and prevent the shrews in the first place.  Sadly I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice what the trigger was for those additional quest givers.

This 3rd video is my last run with the quest from the Elite Gardener.  I was a bit stressed at the end as I was short 1 shrew but I did luck out and have the enormous one spawn right under me 😉 so I got him too…

(edit – all three are up, just not finished getting all pretty)

In addition to the shrews, I did finally complete the Bullroarer’s challenge and am now sporting a massive new weapon – my beer mug 😉

I ran both horse races successfully and amassed enough tokens to purchase both horses, here are the screen shots of them for those who are curious.  You’ll also notice the shrew statue and the beer mug in these shots, and the magical clover fields that can grow in snow 😉

Original Spring Horse

New Spring Horse - Blue-roan

There’s also a post on the forums about these horses as well and a twitpic from @KurganNazzir.

The Bree hedge maze is also back open, but after getting horribly lost a few times I’m pushed that off for a little bit later such that I can devote the appropriate time to it.  I still am missing the sinister keg and there’s also a Moria keg that I want to add to my house, so I’ll be working to get both of those here in addition to some of the other goodies from the vendors.

And finally this morning, I did check out some of the new Dwarven league starting from the dwarves there in Thorin’s Hall.  Apparently they’re not real happy with the Inn League monopolizing all the beer drinking and are plotting against them.   I stole some beer recipes but got sidetracked and haven’t done too much more to aide in their plot against the hobbits.  Not that I’m against the hobbits – but there’s nothing wrong with having more beer, right?

To my knowledge, it appears that the only way to get the leaves required for the items are the horse races (6 max per day), the hedge maze (quite a few different quests there), and the shrew stomping (max 10 per run, and it goes off just about every five minutes).  So if there are lots of things you want, better get your stomp on 😉

Updated Captain guides


So I know I haven’t played mine much lately nor really talked about him, but there was a new guide posted on the forums which has sparked some good discussion as well as a mention of an old guide being updated as well.  Here’s the link to the recent guide by Cithryth as well as the link to Elborigorn’s guide.  Cithryth primarily focuses on a grouping/raiding Captain while Elborigorn’s is a bit more inclusive to include all the roles a Captain might have to fill.  So, if you have or are leveling a Captain both treads are good reads for ideas a build suggestions.

Getting back into a LOTRO state of mind


I’ve been very distracted this past week, but things are starting to get back more to LOTRO.  Part of my problem in LOTRO has been a lack of motivation as I currently don’t have all that much left to do on my mains.  I know I do have things to do, but without time to raid, I’m not sure it is really worth it.  So I probably will continue on some of those paths but also think about either working on my Captain (level 62) or one of my alts – most likely my Runekeeper.  I have another post in the works on skirmish difficulty that will probably come out in the next day or so as well as my next segment on the LOTRO Reporter covering the Warden’s journey to level 45.

For this post, I mainly wanted to share various links and blogs that I’m come across the past couple of days.

First off is a good detailed walkthrough of the epic quest line in LOTRO up through Volume 2 Book 6.  So if you’re stuck somewhere in the line, or are returning to Volume one and want a recap of what’s happened I’d suggest a read as certainly the story is one of the best parts of the epic line.

In addition to the epic line, one of my favorite parts about LOTRO is not only is attention to the lore but also the subtle hints that are dropped throughout the game.  There’s a long thread up on the forums (sprinkled with dev postings) talking about the Palantir of Osgiliath and its part in the epic line.  There are some spoilers in there if you haven’t finished Volume 1 book 9 (I believe) but there is some very interesting comments and discussions in there around that very important aspect of the story going forward.

The next 2 posts are concerning the Dol Goldur instances, so if you’re not running those you can skip to the next paragraph 🙂  I have yet to run the BG 12-man raid, but there’s some good discussion on Morgaraf’s agro wipe up on the forums.  I mention the agro wipe here as from what I understand threat management is a big part of BG and needs to be considered not only in this fight but the final boss as well.

Now I have run into this one numerous times, but there’s some good information and discussion about the Sword Halls sorcerer, which is the fire boss with the annoying flame trails that chase you.  Interesting points about the flame mechanic and the ways to interrupt it.

And finally, I wanted to give a shout out to a couple new blogs starting up.  The first being the Uruk Hunter which is a blog started by Saks talking about his journeys through Middle-Earth on the Vilya server.  And second (only because they’re actually a blogging duo) is the Khazad Guard which is a husband and wife alt-aholic duo who chronicle their dwarven adventures.  Fun stuff on both of their sites, so make sure to check them out.