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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.

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 🙂

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.

My new column

I case you’re not already following the LOTRO Reporter, I’ve started up as their new Warden columnist.  This will give me a chance to step back from the more incremental and end-game posts I do here and write from a broader perspective.

Check out my first post, starting a Warden which walks through the first 15 levels of a Warden.  Be on the lookout for my posts there every other week as I continue the series and add in some other ideas and concepts.

Any requests?

Alternate Advancement Paths

So just a day after posts (and good conversations as well) on both the Epic Slant and Casual Stroll to Mordor blogs, I saw this announcement on MMORPG.com on the upcoming expansion for Age of Conan.  Now I did try AoC but I just really couldn’t get into it – however, this new concept is VERY intriguing to me and I will be paying close attention to this as it is rolled on out.

To recap, the discussions on CStM and ES talked about both vertical (raising the level cap) and horizontal progressions and the advantages (and pitfalls) of both.  As they talk about the different ideas, I think one of the main points is that there needs to be a diversity in the methods of progression and that just raising the level cap isn’t enough.

What AoC is looking to do is create additional flavors of experience points that are gained in both PvP and PvE as well as an additional pool that’s a combination of the 2.  So each character would have normal XP for leveling and then 3 other pools they could progress.  As the characters gain these experience pools they can be used to buy Feats and Perks.  Feats are passive abilities that provide a constant buff while perks are useable skills that come in two flavors, major and minor.  Feats sound like you can have as many as you want, but you are capped at how many perks you can have.  Major perks will take up a larger portion of the “perk pool” which makes sense, but the exact definitions weren’t explained.  This system starts at level 20 (their current level cap is 80) with certain options open early while others being capped by level.

Another interesting part of this is that these points can be advanced while either online or offline in a similar fashion to how EVE works.  Granted, this out-of-game advancement is no where near as fast as in-game but still will provide a value and advancement paths for those who don’t play 24/7.  This concept is further explained as a way for PvE players to pick up feats of perks in the PvP tree and vice versa.

This is a similar mechanic to how PvP worked in Dark Ages of Camelot in that as you gained points in PvP you could use those to spend on skills usable in both PvP and PvE.  I always thought this was a great way to drive people to PvP but not necessarily penalize them for not.  It worked for me as I raided in PvE and PvP and I believed I gained equal rewards through both and those rewards help in both aspects.

I think this is an idea full of win for everyone and I’d love for LOTRO to adopt a similar mechanic.  Sure it is still slanted towards the hard-core gamers, but it provides enough options for everyone to benefit and utilize the system.  If they’re serious about the long rumored Monster Play revamp, this would be an awesome system to implement as it would give freeps more incentive to play in the moors but wouldn’t exclude non-PvPers from gaining those same rewards.  I believe this is the biggest issue currently in the moors as there’s really no carrot out there for PvMP, even the moors armor sets require you to PvE!  I’m thinking something similar could even be done creep side, but I’m not sure how that might work – maybe another way to get creep gold?

Now when I initially started this article I was purely thinking of the PvE and PvMP divide within LOTRO, but I think a similar concept could already be in place with both skirmishes and legendary items.  The problem is that there just aren’t enough viable options nor that same feeling of character advancement.  If they could somehow figure out a way to tie these existing systems into skills and/or traits I think they could accomplish a similar thing to what AoC is doing and really allow us to personalize our characters and meaningfully progress them.  Another thought would be to use something along these lines as another path to gain virtue ranks or even virtue/class slots!

Needless to say I’ll be curious to see how this plays out for AoC and if LOTRO gleams anything from these kinds of systems as we go forward in Volume 3.

History of time – according to Sapience

So for those of you who read the forums or even have listened to the various podcasts where folks like Sapience, Patience, JWBarry, Orion, and the rest of the Turbine crew have mentioned some reference to when something will happen you will enjoy his MyLotro post.  Basically Sapience lists out all the possible options for when they’ll get to something and what that really means.  So yes, in Turbine speak there is a difference between soon, Soon, and “Soon” 🙂

Although not terribly detailed (what would you expect?), it certainly brightened up my Friday morning!

Weekend reading

So per my usual, I do a lot of forum reading and catch up on my RSS feeds over the weekends and finish things up first thing Monday morning.  I use a tool called Evernote to compile my thoughts as I can update/share my notes from both of my machines, twitter, blackberry, and directly from my browser.  Also, I am finishing up a couple other posts that I started last week focused on grouping and the new end-game content.  If you have any ideas, suggestions, wishes, etc. please send them over.

MMOrpg.com has posted their review of LOTRO’s expansion, Siege of Mirkwood.  Nothing earth shattering but always interesting to see what others think about the expansion.  They mainly focus on skirmishes and the new combat, which are the main areas of excitement for me as well.

There’s a new post up on the LOTRO live forums that detail all the new traits, deeds, places of interest, etc. within Mirkwood.  Certainly some spoilers, but real handy if there’s something you’re struggling to find.  I just used this list to find on of the epilogue quest givers 🙂

One of the main changes with Mirkwood has been the changing of some of the percentages to ratings.  One of the questions that came up was ““What rating value” should I have to tank higher level mobs commonly found in the various end-game instances.  We can easily see what value caps against even level mobs but there’s little visibility to above or below mobs as they cap at a higher/lower number respectively.  Referred in that post is another post that explains the detailed calculations that have been determined from the game.  Both are helpful links for trying to decide which traits and which items/runes to use once you hit 65.  I still haven’t really figured mine out – but both of these have helped me narrow things down.

For those of you who like number crunching, I saw a link posted for another tool out there called Dashing heroes, which allows you to not only track damage and such but combine it with screenshots and videos.  I’m still checking it out, but it looked pretty slick and at only $9.99 it isn’t a huge price hit.  It has similar features to cstats but also adds quite a bit of additional functionality.

I also stumbled upon a new podcast this weekend called The Multiverse which is a general MMO Podcast but one of the hosts runs the Game by Night blog.  He is a fellow LOTRO player who’s on the Landroval server in the Council of the Secret Fire kinship.  That’s the kinship that Merric and Goldenstar (from CStM )are in as well as the Az from the Wizzard of Az.  The other blog on that podcast that I’m following (haven’t checked out the 3rd host yet) is Epic slant which mainly focuses on running a successful guild, and specifically a raiding guild.

Almazar from LOTRO Reporter shared (via twitter) Longasc’s Picasa web album which has a TON of really cool images from pretty much all the areas within LOTRO.  So if you’re curious what certain areas look like or just want to see some cool in-game shots its certainly worth a look.

As you’ve seen from my videos and screenshots, I use various different UI skins.  For those of you who haven’t used them Merric from CStM has a 2-part video series on them up on YouTube.  Check them out here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

And finally, for those of you like me who wish they had more time in the day – this post should be able to help you get more out of an hour.  Kinda scary how many of those I’m guilty of – but certainly helps highlight if you really want to get something done cut out the distractions.

News updates

A couple pieces of news today – Rohan confirmed and then un-confirmed ;), and more on the skirmishes.

As Tony over on mmeow.net posted, there’s an interview by Gamerzines (Link to article) with regards to the next steps for LOTRO.  For me, nothing terribly earth shattering here as Book 9 wraps up Volume 2, so naturally Volume 3 would be following rather soon.  I guess the good news here is that we won’t have to wait that long for Volume 3 and that Rohan is planned for next yearWhich falls into the “1 expansion per year” plan that we’ve heard before. Like I commented on Tony’s blog – it is encouraging that this timeline is being confirmed, but nothing really exciting here for me.  So now that everyone is scrambling to unconfirm the Rohan part, this really isn’t all that exciting at all 😉

The other news bit is regarding Skirmishes as Turbine has released another Dev Diary on the stories behind skirmishes.  Again, I didn’t really get too much new info from this but overall the system hold a lot of promise.  I really like the concept of bringing war to Middle Earth as it gives us players a better feel for the role we’re playing in this story and ties our story to the ring quite well for me.  I already mentioned my thoughts on ties to the epic lines, and hopefully the instances will be diverse enough to  draw me in to replay them.  I think part of re-playability will also be tied to the reward system which has been hinted at, but not specifically talked about.  The story and rewards together will determine how much people re-do the individual instances.

Rolled a hunter…

No, I’m not abandoning my warden 😉  I wanted to join some of the other bloggers/podcasters over on Brandywine in Cor Pethroni so I decided I would re-roll my first ever LOTRO toon (Iothonion) and check out a hunter again.  I haven’t played mine since open beta so I figured it would be  a nice change of pace.  And who knows, maybe I’ll roll another warden over there too…

I look forward to getting to know some of the other folks I follow and listen too and now I can actually mean it when I say see ya’ll in game 😉