Category Archives: General

Interesting Age of Conan Announcement

I originally saw the headline “Premium Subscription Campaign” and thought maybe they were following Turbine’s model and looking at a Free 2 Play system.  I was pretty excited about that as I do like AoC (see my previous post on it) and their extended trial but I just couldn’t get past the high price point if I want to move past the starter zone.

However, AoC isn’t going F2P at all, what they’re doing is incentivizing people to buy longer subscriptions up front.  Usually most do this by simply offering a cost discount, but AoC’s adding in-game perks to these as well.  Now many of these perks are consumable but they do seem pretty darn powerful including teleportation, healing potions, and xp boosters.

At first glance, I don’t have a problem with this but the more I think about it I”m wondering if this is Funcom dabbling in the Cash shop arena?  But, in doing so they’re asking people to shell out quite a bit of up front cash which seems a little strange.  Or is this an indication that they’re having funding issues and they’re trying to get more money now to stop the bleeding?

I’m not real sure on the motivation, but I thought it was a very interesting subscription announcement that I can honestly say I won’t be taking part of at all.  I have a lifetime sub for LOTRO and have gotten my money’s worth from it but I’m not sure I’ll do long-term subscriptions in another game as they seem way too risky these days.


New Dragon Age 2 Trailer

So I debated a bit about posting on this based on my disdain of pretty looking trailers and my frustration with the previous Dragon Age support and DLC, but I decided it warranted a quick post.  To recap a little bit, I’m still a big fan of Bioware and absolutely loved Dragon Age Origins.  However my main issues have come from their support and rollout of content which makes me leery  about their ability to support an MMO.  Their decision to push out more DLC as opposed to fixing some major gameplay issues was a big issue for me and concerns me quite a bit for their future games.

With all that being said, I will continue to watch Dragon Age 2 as I really do enjoy single player RPGs as they’re a nice distraction from MMOs or during periods when I’m stuck without a good internet connection.  I am intrigued that they decided to only have one character option as opposed to all the diversity in Origins and Awakenings but that should allow them to focus the story a bit more.

On to the trailer, I certainly recommend checking it out as like other trailers it does look VERY good.  If this is anything like the previous Dragon Age trailers the skills we see here will be similar to the skills available in the game, just not quite as flashy.  So there seems to be lots of fire and summoning ability and this character seems to be a mix of a mage and warrior which could prove interesting.  It strikes me as something along the lines of a Spirit Warrior that wields a huge sword but can utilize some sorts of “magic.”  I’m curious if this is representative of one class or a combination of a couple, as it seems like they might limit some of the re-playability of DA:2.  But there’s still LOTS of time to flush things out as the release date isn’t until March of 2011.

Just like The Old Republic, DA:2 is one of the games I’m eagerly watching but by no means are either of them automatic buys.  Depending on how the next 6 months or so go with their information roll-outs I may decide against them, or at least not buy on launch day. 🙂

Cinematic Game Trailers – Do They Work?

It seems like many of the highly hyped games are producing very high quality cinematic trailers to help get people excited for their upcoming releases.  For the most part, I do enjoy these trailers but I’m starting to wonder what they really tell us about the games themselves and are they doing more harm then good.  It seems like many of these trailers are given lots of room to expand on what is possible in the game such that they look cooler and tell a better story.  Even from a purely graphical nature these trailers are incredibly misleading as the games never look as good as what they can show cinematically.

The trailer that touched this off for me was the recent DC Universe Online trailer from Comic-Con (which is very cool btw), but I see Star Wars the Old Republic as one of the biggest culprits.  I’m sure there are others doing this exact same thing, but SWTOR sticks out for me mainly because of the effect these trailers have had on my interest for the game.  I know many like myself were absolutely floored when the Deceived trailer hit and then were even more in awe with the recent Hope trailer.  In case you haven’t seen them, check them out here:

Some REALLY cool stuff and they get me really excited about this game.  But there are quite a few things that you know just aren’t or can’t happen in a game, for instance, using your hands to block a light-saber.  Also, all along we’ve been hearing the SWTOR is all about Story and will be a completely different game-play style from all other MMOs without the traditional group dynamics, which these trailers reinforce.  But, for all they’ve shown in the trailers it really doesn’t tell us much about the actual game.

That is until they released the Multiplayer Demo @ E3 that shows us actual gameplay and some of the group dynamics.  This was possibly the most disappointing video I’ve seen in a long time as not only did it look nothing like the trailers (not that I expected it to) but the gameplay is exactly like any other MMO with the traditional tank, healer, and DPS roles.  Now when I look back at the trailers, I don’t even connect them with SWTOR I just see them as some cool Star Wars videos because they are so far removed from what the game actually looks and plays like.  With all the money spent on these trailers by the game companies, couldn’t there be a balance somewhere to put some of that into the game as opposed to something which is arguably un-related?

Maybe the core of my real question is can too much hype be a bad thing?  It seemed to really hurt a number of titles like Vanguard, Age of Conan, and Warhammer Online to name a few and all these new cool trailers are just amping up the expectations.  With such high expectations, the level of potential disappointment continues to grow such that for many there’s no way players will be able to enjoy the game as they’ll keep wishing it was more like the trailer they saw.

For me, I have pretty much stopped following SWTOR other then reading headlines from various bloggers, and at this point I”m not even sure I will play it.  The one piece that might change my mind is the pricing model – if it is a traditional MMO subscription I’m pretty confident that I won’t play it.  But if they do some sort of hybrid model or something different then I might be more willing to check it out.

To wrap up, is it better to show a trailer along the lines of what Turbine did for their recent Mirkwood launch:

which is shot using only footage from actual game-play, or use a cinematic version that your game will never live up to?  Or does it come down to the surrounding messaging to portray the trailers as what they are – cool videos loosely based on the game they’re tied to?

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New Tron Legacy Trailer

I really haven’t been in LOTRO all that much this past week as a combination of RL, lack of in-game events, and also catching up on a few other things, but I should have some posts up this weekend regarding all the news of late.

But, one thing that I wanted to post on that I saw this morning was the new trailer for Tron Legacy at Comic-con.  I have quite fond memories of not only the Tron movie but also the various games it spawned so I’ve had this movie on my radar for a while.  However, I must admit until this trailer that I was very skeptical about it.  But this trailer changed all that real fast as it has me really fired up about this movie and I’d love to see what other tie-ins come out for it.  The trailer not only has some very cool visual teases but gives more of the story, which I was very concerned about.  I didn’t want just a remake of the original (which was kinda what it seemed like from the previous trailers) but something that ties into it, updates it, and expands on it.

I’m not sure Tron would fit into an MMO, but it certainly would be an interesting IP to try 🙂  And certainly would be very well set-up for PvP

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Enedwaith, beta, and subscription news

Well in some cases it does help to be a bit delayed in getting news out as sometimes numbers do change and fluctuate especially when subscription numbers are mentioned.  Yesterday, Mordor or Bust posted an article from the PatriotLedger which originally stated 200K new LOTRO subscribers since the F2P announcement – but that has since been clarified to be 100K-200K beta applicants, via Turbine.  Now, while not quite as impressive as new subs, when you consider that subscribers were automatically signed-up (and hopefully not counted in this number) that’s still a pretty good sign of new blood to the game.  So my thoughts are this will be a pretty substantial influx of new folks to the game and some portion of those will certainly transfer over to subscriptions, or buy things through the cash shop, which will bring new revenue and resources to Turbine.  Most people peg the current subscription base around 250K to 500K for LOTRO (still hard to figure out) this will most likely mean about a community twice the size it currently is.  Which yes, will bring some annoyances but will all the tools we have to get around those, I’m more excited for all the cool people who will be joining us!

The other piece of news lately that has stirred some commotion was the article over on Massively where they get to sit and chat with the Turbine folks about the new toys and such coming with Enedwaith.  If you haven’t read the article, I highly suggest it but I figured I’d share my thoughts on what we’ve learned so far.

  • There seems to be lots of focus and effort on helping people learn the game.  From the re-works to the intro tutorials and the UI tweaks I think that will be a big help for people just hopping in to the game.  Plus hopefully they’ll get to some of the annoyances us current players have.
  • The whole instance thing is exciting, assuming they don’t screw it up.  I like the idea of an “instance join” mechanism and of course the scaling mechanism.  Now the scaling is similar to Skirmishes but you can’t change the group size, only the level of the instance.  They’re also breaking up some of the longer instances into wings, which was part of the initial confusion as these were quoted as entire instances when in fact it is just a part of one.  So far I’m all positive, the scary part for me is the rewards as I want these instances to be rewarding and not just diversions.  I don’t expect to get the highest tier radiance gear but I want stuff that could actually benefit my character and not another skirmish mark grind for runes and relics for my LIs.
  • And finally they did talk about Enedwaith which everyone should be happy to learn is a happier more open place!  It is a large zone with a pretty good amount of quests (over 160) so this should provide a nice alternative for folks who are scared (or tired) of the dark.  It also is the continuation of the epic story which I’m quite addicted to and can’t get enough of.  I also found it interesting (not knowing the lore) that we’ll see quite a few different Middle-Earth cultures including men and hobbits.  Also, there’s a race specific quest line mentioned which will be interesting as well to see how that plays out – sadly I only have men so I’ll need others to fill me in on what I’ve missed.

Nothing but positives from the news side of things for me, but there still are lots of unknowns so we’ll still have to wait and see how everything fleshes out.

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Mystery Science Theatre 3000 does Lord of the Rings

So I just finished watching the 3 clips Rifftrax (one of the companies created by the MST3000 guys) have posted and I figured I’d share for those fans of MST3000.  For those of you not familiar with MST3000, it basically is 3 guys cracking jokes and other observations during the movie.  You can download the full track from their website and then play that while watching the movies.  Each of the 3 clips is about 10 minutes so you can get a good feel for what you’re in for.  All three movies are $11.99 or you can buy them separately for $4.99.  Sadly the track’s are just for the theatrical version and not the extended cuts 😦 but that’s still a whole lot of content!

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Power Leveling and LOTRO

So all this talk about the new Free to Play announcement for LOTRO has me thinking, which in certain cases can be a bad thing 🙂  I also listened to the All Things Geek podcast where they were quite unhappy with the announcement, check out the comments on my F2P forum wrap up post for the link and my thoughts on that.  However, one thing they harped on that got me thinking was the issue of power leveling and I wanted to expand on that a bit more.

Part of what got me on this topic was thinking about what kinds of things would I want to buy from a cash shop.  There are some nice ideas already posted (wardrobe, storage, char slots, etc.) but what if I run out of cool things to buy?  I’m not sure this is a logical thought but it is useful for discussion.  I also was trying to think of things to buy that wouldn’t cheapen in-game accomplishments.  While it might be nice to buy radiance or my uber legendary weapon, I don’t think that would be good for the game.

To back up a step or two, power leveling is the process where you leverage a higher level character to “pull” you through the content in a quicker fashion.  Sometimes this is a paid service (legality is quite questionable) and other times it is just a friend.  I will admit I used to do this quite frequently when I had 2 accounts back in the Dark Ages of Camelot days.  I used my second account to quickly level characters on my main account and vice versa.  In DAOC you could get someone to the cap pretty darn quickly depending on how dedicated you were to it.  This is a little tougher in LOTRO as so much of the experience gain is based on completing quests and they also have a pretty good system for splitting up mob experience.

But the other option that could become possible is allowing power leveling as purchasable from the cash shop.  When I first thought about it I was 100% against this idea as it could allow someone to zoom to the level cap and get there much easier then I did.  But as I thought more, I actually would like the concept to level up my alts, and only alts.  And even then, I’m not talking about an insta-65 I would just like something to shorten the road a bit, or increase the speed limit.

How could a system like this be implemented to help me out, but yet not ruin the game entirely?  I would propose a gated system such that you have to do certain things in the game before power leveling became an option.  For instance, you must have two characters at the level cap before the option even opens up – I’m using two as that’s what I currently have 😉  Then perhaps a tiered system where based on how much you do in game, you’re granted a certain number of power “levels.”  And maybe those levels scale as well such that it is cheaper and easier to jump from 10 to 20 then 55 to 65.

Another idea that came from my days in DAOC was the weekly free level you could get.  Essentially if you leveled at least once during the week you could auto-level up on the given day (Monday for example) but this system was disabled somewhere around level 47 (cap at the time was 50).  Perhaps an option to “buy” into this kind of leveling system that’s only available when you get a character to the level cap.  Or the ability to buy these level-ups individually from the store based on some limited availability based on in-game accomplishments.

The other service I’d love to see in this same manner is a deed “transfer” or maybe just the ability to unlock traits for your account and not just the individual character.  So once you complete the requirements to activate this system you can earn a certain number of deed transfers from your character to your account or transfer said deed to another character.  I know this concept has been proposed lots of times before, but maybe the cash shop will provide an option to not only implement it but gate it appropriately.

I don’t want to trivialize the game or the content but I’d like to make it such that I can maximize my enjoyment of the game.  I’d like to be able to tailor my experience in game to match what I like best such that I continue to play 🙂  Maybe deeds is a little less game-breaking but if done properly I could live with some manner of quickened leveling available through the cash shop.  I’d love to hear what you think and I’ll be very curious to see how the store looks and evolves in the future.

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Awesome Forum post with all F2P questions and answers

Ok, I thought I was done posting about this today – but one last post as I just stumbled across a great resource on the forums.  If you have any questions about the news from today, you should check out this thread from Eluros as it pretty much covers everything including the awesome news that beta starts on the 16th of June!!

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Downside to the F2P announcement

Ok, I do love the move to F2P however, this does come with a significant downside – Turbine has confirmed that there will be no new LOTRO content until this fall.  I really wish Turbine would’ve separated the Volume 3 Book 2 content out from the F2P switch as we’ll end up going almost 6 months without any new content and even that content was completed almost immediately after it launched.  I’m actually thinking we’re looking at almost a one year gap between game content as I don’t think we’ll see this update until the November time-period which would put us just about the same time as the Mirkwood launch.

For much of the player base we’ll be stuck with the same exact content we’ve been doing for the past year.  I’m just real worried that this will kill off a lot of people and really sour them on the game in general.  I don’t think the prospect of F2P will offset this lack of content for many players.  Sure some will come back, but it could be a pretty painful chunk that decide to leave.  And it will take a while for the new influx of F2P people to make much of a dent in the higher end (level 30+) player base.  Granted, this may give players like myself a chance to get more toons all geared up but without groups that may prove challenging.

Now the beta does provide a bit of a diversion for folks but it won’t compensate for playing on our “real” characters.  Certainly I’ll be anxious to see how the pricing models work and help test out the acquisition of in-game points.  The end-game content will be intriguing as well, but I’m mainly worried about the point stuff.  Of course, that’s assuming I get into the beta 😉

So unless you want to roll an alt (or a few alts) or get into the Beta, I’m guessing this will be a slow summer for LOTRO activities.  Basically my love for the F2P news is almost offset by the news of no content updates for a lengthy period.

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Loving LOTRO’s move to Free to Play

Ok, so I’ve had a chance to digest this a bit with the help of everyone on Twitter and the various blog posts so I think I have my thoughts reasonably gathered on this topic.  Up front, I wanted to highlight the work Patience (@70ms) and all the other Turbine community folks are doing on twitter as they’ve been all over this responding and clarifying all the various tweets and questions posted.

I think the first thing everyone needs to do is relax a little bit and give this time to not only sink in but time for Turbine to release information on the pricing structure as well as the in-game point reward systems.  These two will have a massive impact on the effectiveness of this change and will most likely be the focus of the upcoming beta test.  If you haven’t read up on it, there are quite a few posts out there summarizing the change including my previous post which has all the official Turbine posts in it as well as the excellent summary from CStM.  And of course, I’m sure I’m missing about 50 other blog posts out there but I’m sure everyone in my blogroll will have a post up shortly on this topic 😉

With that being said, my initial take on this is nothing but positive.  Assuming the points are well balanced (ok, that might be a big assumption) everyone wins in this move.  Just to clarify, I’m a lifetime subscriber and have been a part of this game since closed beta.  My subscription has long since paid for itself, and even better is that now I have the option to use saved up or the Loyalty Reward points for expansion packs such that I can continue in my exact play style without spending another dollar on LOTRO.  Now I will admit, for those that recently signed up as lifetime members this might be a larger pill to swallow but I do think this will pump some serious life into the game and make that subscription even more valuable.  Looking at this another way, with all the new “micro-transactions” coming out ($25 sparkle pony) one can only imagine that Turbine would’ve hopped on this trend as well and now current subscribers can get those items for free.

I love the fact that the items they’ve mentioned so far (storage, cosmetics, wardrobe, and mounts to name a few) are all fluff items that won’t impact gameplay but also are some of the most annoying aspects of the current game.  I’m tired of deleting items or selling them because I’ve run out of space and I’d love to be able to store more then 2 cosmetic sets so these will be great for me.  I’m sure as we learn more there will be more things available, but it will probably be very similar to what is available from the DDO Store.  You can get a feel for the points pricing as well, which look pretty reasonable to me.  There are some things that I don’t agree with, but it actually looks like just another alternative to the skirmish points system.  The only real questionable item for me in the DDO store would be the “Tomes” which offer a permanent stat buff, otherwise most are temporary and as such are just like in-game food.  Now the ultimate would be some way to trade or convert all the barter items we currently have into Turbine points!

There’s been some concern about DDO having items available to trivialize the game but my belief is that LOTRO is a different enough game that while those might exist it really won’t make much difference.  And honestly, in some cases I might like something like that to help level up alts quicker and easier.  At the end of the day, I envision that the only people really upset about making the game easier would be those raiding or out in the Moors.  And both of those areas are so heavily dependant on player skill that items most likely wouldn’t be able to compensate.  Seriously, do I really care if someone can get through the lone-lands easier then I did?  However, it could provide those same players an option to get other toons of theirs up to the appropriate levels quicker which would give them more reasons to play more.  The main reason I have many alts I don’t really play is that the thought of just leveling all that way is quite daunting, so any “buff” I could get would be quite welcome.

This move will open the game up for more people and also provide folks with a more casual option to play, which will allow people to come and go as they please.  This will overall boost the general player base which is always a good thing.  You’ll be able to bounce back and forth between the tiers as you please without having to worry about losing anything, some months you might stay at the free option and others you might pay for.  Sure there will be some people that we wish weren’t in the game, but with user channels and such you can pretty effectively block that crap out.  Plus, notice that on the chart chat is limited for non VIP players, so perhaps user channels will be a VIP feature only?  I’d much rather have the option to block the annoying folks, then not allow the “good” people the option to experience more of the game.

They’ve also set up a nice balance such that people can customize their account how they want.  So if you want to just have one toon experience everything you could stay on the free model and upgrade with in-game points to see the different content as you level.  If you absolutely love the shire and just want to check out all the class, you can do that too.  If you want to buy a horse, you can earn off your gold cap such that you can save up to buy your pretty mount.

Overall I”m very excited about this shift, sure there will be some growing pains, but hey that’s what beta’s for!

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