New Secret World Video


I’ve been off and on following this game as the concept of it is pretty intriguing since the central theme revolves around organizations like the Templars and Illuminati.  There’s been bits and pieces of it that have come out, but this new video covered over on Massively not only looks very cool but also provides some insights on how the game will work.

The video shows gameplay footage which I really appreciate as it gives a good feel for how things with look and work.  We get the idea that there’s going to be significant voice-overs in the game, now whether the whole game (or your character even) is voiced is still TBD but I do like having that aspect as it really helps with immersion.

Another aspect they show-case is just after the character creation there’s an origins sequence (not sure how long it is, or how interactive it is) that shows how you achieved the powers you selected.  I’m curious how many different options there will be as this could be a pretty daunting task for them with all the possible combinations.  This really does not only help with immersion but getting to feel more of a connection to your character.  This concept could be one of the cooler ideas I’ve seen lately on the character creation aspect and it really has me very interested in this game.

The other way they get you hooked into your character’s progression is via a “time-machine” instance early on which takes you to the future to play as a more powerful version of yourself.  Sounds like not only some good story telling opportunities but it gives you an early preview of the bad-ass you can become.  Another cool idea to give players a feel for “end-game” right up front as well as also giving them some grouping options early.  I’m wondering if they’re doing an instance finder kind of thing for this first instance as that would be a very good thing for them to do.

And finally, there is some discussion on how progression will work in the game which isn’t totally new but is different from many other games.  There are no levels, instead it sounds like you’ll gain more powers and those powers will gain strength over time.  You can have 7 active powers and 7 passives but it also sounds like this is also rather flexible in that you can change them as you progress.

Overall this game seems to be shaping up well and I’ll be paying much closer attention to it in the future.  If you interested, check out the link from Massively or I did post the video below as well.

Developer Diary – Vault Changes


I’ll keep this quick as I just wanted to make a couple comments on the latest Dev Diary on the new Vault. I really like the new vault and since I will most likely be buying more slots it will become much more useful.  With all the icons, it can get hard to find things sometimes so the filters really do help.

However the part that I really wanted to point out was the discussion on the beta feedback.  This new vault caused a HUGE uproar and I was quite impressed by how Turbine not only responded but let the players vent.  This to me is the main reason why there are NDA’s as if that news had hit live, people would’ve gone even more ballistic and many would have not come back or at least the damage would have been done before Turbine had a chance to flesh out the system.  In addition (I know this will come off as me being a fan-boi) but Turbine does seem to be more than willing to let people disagree with them and that the main reason they shut down threads is do to flaming.  They didn’t completely change their course but I think their compromise shown below is a very good attempt to satisfy everyone.

It will take a bit to get used to the new vault, but overall it will be a more flexible and scalable system.

More LOTRO Video Resources


There’s been a number of new (or maybe just new to me) videos posted over the past few days that I wanted to comment on and share.

First up, I know many of you are interested in the Lua scripting so in addition to the video and information I posted previously Merric from a Casual Stroll to Mordor has put up a great video.  His video focuses on just a couple plugins and seems to hint that he’ll be doing more of them, this review touches on the Plugin Manager and Hunter Travel Window.  I think the Hunter Travel window will definitely be one of the must-haves for any Hunter or Warden.

Next up for those of you looking for tips or hints from running the various Instances, Middle Earth Chronicles has started a new section of the blog with a good collection of videos.  Go check out their Instance page and make sure to send in any videos you may have.

In addition check out Carlosjuero’s video showing some of the new UI tweaks over at LOTRO Reporter.  Many I had seen, but I totally missed that you can now color code your quest helper on the map overlay.  Good stuff and really walks through all the new tweaks available.

And finally but certainly not least I’ve been quite enjoying the video podcast published by the Uruk Hunter.  Not only some good information but he also does comment his videos quite well.

Go check those sites out if you haven’t already, and I’ve also updated my Blog roll appropriately.

Recent Developer Diaries


Turbine has continued to pump out Dev diaries and I’m a bit behind I’ll admit.  But since the NDA has been lifted, I think much of this information is out there but it is always good to see how the Devs see things and get a little more insight on their process.

First up from last week was the Volume 3 Book 2 Quest Line diary talking about that portion of the epic line.  I specifically didn’t do these quests on Bullroarer as I wanted to save them for live.  I’m pretty excited about this portion of the story as not only do we get to follow the rangers path but also get to learn more about their stories.  And of course, there’s the Ranger Session play that’s always enjoyable 🙂  The new technology to show and hide people based on your quest log sounds really cool and I’d love for them to roll that out everywhere as it is a bit lore-breaking to see folks in the wrong areas.  The other big news item in this diary is the announcement that we’ll be able to re-play all the various session plays as much as we want.  There are some really fun ones, so I quite like this idea for quick play-sessions.

The other diary was today’s release of the Wardrobe System, which for me is one of my favorite features of the F2P roll-out.  I probably have a few bags on all my toons that are purely cosmetic and many are storing the same items.  This will not only allow for more storage of useful items but another way to share items between characters.  I’m glad they walked through the usage of the system as I’ll admit it took me a bit to figure it out – putting items in is easy as you just drag the item and it puts a copy into the wardrobe.  You can then feel free to delete the one in your inventory if you want.  To equip though, you need to drag the item directly to the slot on your character panel and not to your inventory.  It is also nice that you can store various color variations using one slot and just use a pull-down to select which color as opposed to each color taking up a slot.  And finally, the requirements to wear the cosmetic items have been loosened such that you don’t need the level or reputation to wear them but you will be limited to armor types.  For instance, you won’t be able to deck your Minstrel out in heavy armor but your Captain will be able to cosmetically equip your Champion’s Rift Set.

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.

I’ve Crossed Over to the Dark Side


No, I’m not playing WoW (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I realized as I’ve had no motivation to play my Runekeeper that I’m really just more into melee classes.  After all the ribbing and trashing I’ve given Champions I figured I should give them a fair shake and actually play the class.  Plus I haven’t been through the starter zones in a while so I figured it would be good to check them out again since all the revamps.  If I had known we were so close to the F2P launch I might have waited until then, but oh well I’m too hooked now to go back.

Below is a shot of me warming up in Trestlebridge in my new level 18 heavy armor.  As an aside, I don’t remember it looking as good when I leveled my Captain but maybe it just shows that I prefer looking at females.

Why doesn't the Grocer have Marshmallows?

I’ve made it pretty much through all the Bree-land content which by far is still my personal favorite starter area.  The zone certainly does flow much better and they’ve eliminated some of the more annoying random out-lying quests.  For instance, tweaking the quest outside of Staddle such that you kill bears for the trader’s item and not neekers is MUCH better.  I always hated that quest as it just didn’t seem to work very well in the general flow, but there were a number of other similar quests that were tweaked as well.  The Barrow Downs stuff seemed to work much better as you didn’t have to run around to find the quest-givers not to mention that you don’t have to run back to Bree to turn-in.  The quest givers in general are all in much better locations and definitely vector MUCH better then they used to.  I found myself wondering at various times when I would go to a particular zone, and sure enough in a few quests I would get sent that way.  Even with the changes, my general approach to Bree really hasn’t changed.  I go through and do every quest there except for the Old Forest – not because I don’t like the area, as it is one of my favorites, it just takes a while to do and overlaps level wise with some of the other areas.  I like the new change to the “go see so and so somewhere far off quests” as they now also offer a return port to where you started from.  This allows you to go to that far off place, grab one quest there as a place-holder such that you know what level range that area is.  I know there are lots of resources out there (like MMorsel’s Level Chart), but having it in your quest log is a pretty good reminder.  The re-working of the quest lines to remove fellowship quests is nice while you’re playing like I am but I’ll admit I’m not sure it is good to have the Great Barrows as the only fellowship quest.

As of now, I’m about mid-way through 21 and am probably going to do some of the Trestlebridge quests as those are level 21s while the Epic line and Forsaken Inn quests are level 22.  So I probably will be bouncing back and forth but since I’m mapped in Bree (where you need to go to train) I think it won’t be too bad.  I’m probably going to continue to proceed through the Lone Lands and North Downs in this fashion such that I can maximize the experience and not get burnt out in either zone.  I’ll be curious to see how far into the 30s this will get me as I know there are some tough level pockets in there.  However, with the Champ being pretty DPS heavy, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do some of the higher level quests such that I can jump up to a zone even if I’m not quite at the right level.  One thing I’m haven’t done on this toon is crafting as I just wanted to focus on actually playing the class.  But maybe I’ll change my mind and pick up the Armsman profession (that would be the logical thing to do) or possibly a Scholar (but that sounds painful).  Having high-level alts I can pretty easily purchase mats off the AH so it wouldn’t be nearly as painful of a grind, but we shall see.

As for Champion class, I have to admit I’m really enjoying it.  Granted, in the teens all classes are fun to play but I think the Champ better fits what I enjoy.  I imagine that I’ll be playing my Champ similar to my Warden in that I try to grab as much as I can and pray I can survive 🙂  That certainly does get me into a bit of trouble as Champs are a tad squishy, especially in medium armor, without much in the way of oh-crap buttons.  I expect on-average the Champ will be faster in this methodology then the Warden, but I will have higher repair bills (and more travel time) as I will die often I’m sure.  I have no idea when I died first, but I have quite a few times which hasn’t been a big deal as I usually out level my gear before I need to repair it.  For the most part, I’ve been focusing on trying to build Fervour up before AoE’ing as that way I can get my self-heal off if I need to.  I not using the skill that adds 3 Pips up front as I’m thinking it is better to save that for when I need it, but maybe that’s a bad idea.  Mostly I’ve been running in Fervour stance, but I’m starting to play more in Ardour as it seems to be more survivable for my style.  I’ve mainly been dual-wielding as I’ve always liked the look of that fighting style, plus I do have my Captain if I feel the need to wield a big stick 😉  After hitting 20, I’ve noticed it is a bit easier as I can better pull with the bow as opposed to body pulling everything since you can’t control adds nearly as well that way.  This is my first DPS class I’ve played in an MMO so I’ll be curious to see how I enjoy it, and if my Warden experience is any indication (that was my first tank) I may have opened up a whole new can of alt-aholic worms 🙂

I wasn’t sure how I’d like the class, so I haven’t yet set up my Strategic Commander for it but once I get that rolling I’m sure I’ll have a much better rotation going and use more of my skills.  I notice I have a hard time using everything on my tool-bar as I really struggle finding things unless I get used to where they are.  For those who are curious, the Strategic Commander is a left-handed mouse that has programmable buttons on it.  I don’t use it for macros (although it can) I just use it as a more convenient way to use skills and movement controls.

As for gear, I did craft myself a set of Heavy Armor that I could wear when I hit 20, and I have another in my vault for when I hit 22 as I’ve heard (and can appreciate) that gear makes a pretty big difference for a Champ and especially with my kamikaze attitude.  I haven’t been worried about trying to crit on the armor, but I’m sure when I get into my 40s and 50s I will start to care.  Around that same time is when I’ll start out-fitting her with better jewelry and cloaks as I have Guilded SMs in those professions.  I’ll probably start to stock-pile some of the guild items such that I can have some critted sets all ready to go.  I don’t have a weaponsmith (or a woodworker) but I’m not too terribly worried about it quite yet as I’ve been able to find some reasonable things off the AH.  And I do know a few so when I get higher I can bug them for stuff.  I haven’t really decided what weapons I’m going to shoot for long term but I really like axes and I’m thinking a main hand spear with an axe off-hand would be cool, but perhaps sword and axe is the best combo.  I know I do need to pick up a horn and a rune, I just haven’t had a chance to find one on the AH or have someone make me one.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to bring this character up to the level cap, so you’ll be hearing a bit more about Champions as I progress, and certainly feel free to toss out pointers!  I did pick up some good tips from Merric in this post and discussion but I know I have lots to learn.  And don’t worry, I’m not shelving my other 65s I just haven’t had as much night-time availability for un-interrupted group play and there’s only so many dailies and skirmishes I can do, even though my Captain does still need quite a bit of work…

Updated: LOTRO Free to Play Launch Date Announced


So we finally have a date!!  Turbine has announced September 10th, 2010 as the launch date for the Free to Play system.  Now I’m assuming this means we’re also getting Enedwaith but it isn’t explicitly stated just that they expanding the epic story line.

In addition, there’s a pre-release for current and previous subscribers starting September 8th.  This post also confirms that Enedwaith is part of the release.  I like pre-releases as it should help on server loads quite a bit.

I’m glad it is happening this quick, but once again Turbine has picked a launch date around my vacation when I’ll be spending time with my family but certainly I’m not going to complain with a earlier launch date then what I expected.  Now I just have to start planning out what to get in the store when it launches 🙂

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. 🙂

New Treasure Category on the Classic Skirmish Vendors


I saw a thread on the Minstrel Board about these new items and figured I’d go check them out.  The way it works is that each instance “cluster” now has a Treasure category for it that has various weapons, shields, and jewelry available for barter.  I’m a bit torn by this honestly as I do like the chance of randomness in instances but this does give a reliable way to achieve what you’re looking for.  For the most part, I’m ok with this split implementation they’re rolling out with F2P in that the current instances will be “random” and the level scaled instances will be more deterministic in their loot.  The other nice thing about this implementation is that you do have a list of what’s available as opposed to wondering if/where something drops.

There’s a bunch of drops there, so I’m just going to post some of the higher end gear.  I’m also not posting the various weapons as honestly I just don’t know if they’re viable compared to others since I haven’t looked at off-hand items at all.  I’ll have to do some more checking on the comparisons to my current gear but there are some nifty items.

The other cool thing is that they’re adding in the resist potions and food that were previously only available as a one-time quest reward for various Helegrod instances.  I always saved these as I figured there’d be a good time to use them, but currently you can only get a fixed amount and they’re BOA.

Annuminas

Mirhigil – Necklace – intriguing for a melee class

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Golden Spear-Head – Pocket  – Attack and Resist boosts

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Feredilloch – Earring – interesting item, not sure who this would fit

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Silver-Strand Necklace – another decent melee class item

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Armband of Giants – struggling with this one, might be a tank or Minstrel item

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Ring of Fulfillment – Looks nifty for a moors MinstrelScreenShot00435

Wall of Annuminas – I know little about heavy shields but the 805 Morale heal looks handy

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Arastan – Medium Shield – Nice ICPR and some other interesting stat bumps

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Flame-Ward Shield – Warden Shield – No ICPR but some other nice stat bonuses

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Eregion

Mentors Earring – A highly desired earring for many classes because of the crit boosts.

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Tattered Bookmark – Interesting pocket with Fate and Resists.

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Beaded Gemstone Bracelet – Nice tank bracelet but lacking ICPR.

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There are also barter options for some of the housing cosmetic drops.

Helegrod

Skull of Thorog – HUGE housing item that I’ll admit I can’t wait to get – it is expensive though 🙂

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Necklace of the Worm – Intriguing for a tank but probably a hefty morale hit

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Cold-Bear’s Canine – Pocket – pretty nice for a caster type

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Cold-Bear’s Claw – Pocket – maybe for a hunter or RK

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Daeramath – Warden’s Shield – not too shabby of a shield

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Stoutwall – Heavy Shield – Again, I don’t know much about heavy shields but the common damage negation is always nice

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A Couple Other Place to Find Me


Just a quick update this Monday morning, but I should have another post out today with some new goodies on the Skirmish vendors over on Bullroarer.

I posted a new version of my traits discussion over on the LOTRO Reporter which took a slightly different approach from the post I did here a while back.  The one over on LOTRO Reporter is a bit more high-level while the post on this blog is more detail oriented.

I also joined @Theobor on his latest episode of the Gondor Awaits Podcast chatting about Minstrels, so if you’re interested in my take on that class head on over there.

Also of late I’ve started working on a new toon as I came to the realization that ranged classes aren’t for me.  So after all my bad mouthing of them, I decided to work on a Champion to see how they play out.  I’m only to level 12 but so far am enjoying the class, nothing like running into lots of mobs and mowing them down.  But I anticipate that mentality might get me into a bit of trouble soon 🙂  I’m not sure how quickly or how much I’ll play my champ but you’ll probably see a bit more Champ focused posting here as I go.