Playing Second Fiddle : LOTRO

In my “bounce around in many titles” mood and mindset I did go back to Lord of the Rings Online. As mentioned here (often) but worth the review – the Warden is a class I strongly identify with thematically. I had big issues with the fact that you couldn’t play the Warden without the expansion even though there was no new starting area for them – and that turned me off of trying back in the day. Still, I actually invested in the opportunity in 2014 finally, got to level 5 on a human Warden, realized that at some point I would want to head West so rerolled an elf (my true calling, sorry  Syp!) and didn’t get out of the “tutorial area”. Around level three. At the time I didn’t even know it was a tutorial area until just last night it told me “finish other quests before this one because this one takes you out of the tutorial area”. Clarity is a benefit.

Dream sequences always win positive reviews

The graphics are not, of course, and there is a weird, floating movement I feel (and find) just running around doesn’t feel natural. Combat seems to play out that everything is off the global cooldown – so when I am trying to get a Warden combo in it’s special attack / auto attack / special attack / auto attack / finisher. Feels like it would be smoother if I could skip the auto attacks. It’s not terrible, of course, just something I noticed felt off that I was waiting to do things while things were just being done automatically.

I was being harshly unfair when I noticed that her lips weren’t moving when she talked in the dream sequence. It looked unnatural. Then, OF COURSE I remembered that she didn’t speak out loud in the dream sequences in the movie either. I don’t even remember which came first. I definitely don’t remember if she mind-spoke in the book or not. Either way, at that point, I was able to be proud of them for sticking to the movie script and then unsure which came first. Maybe the movie copied LOTRO?




This part of the pre-tutorial ending dream sequence is the bit that made me go AHA! and remember that in LOTRO, you aren’t the hero. You are the supporting cast. This is a new territory to be explored in common MMO land where I have saved the world a thousand times (or every time?) in most other games. I actually appreciate that of the game but still thought it would be nice to support directly. Perhaps I do get to at some point. I hope I get there.

Bonus points to hit to other popular and big plot points in Middle Earth just to remind you what is going on. While I just recently (last paragraph) mentioned that I didn’t mind being the second fiddle, at the same time it is hard to play a story out when you already know how it ends, no? No matter what I am doing there is something much more important going on and no matter what I do, the outcome is already concluded. The movies are already out! Is that stuff Canon yet? Now I feel less comfortable with that position and whether that is a good thing or not. Perhaps they should have gone pre Lord of the Rings and hit the major conflicts not covered in the movies (books. I mean books. I did read them. When I was 12.). None of this matters of course. Just thinking out loud. I just got off a 7.5 hour flight from france and now on a 2 hour train ride to get home.

The final instance is not all dream sequence (however) and we do get to try and stop a necromatic event. The exciting part here (of course) is seeing Dwalin from the Hobbit’s Journey! The second trilogy movies that made him really famous. Again, I find myself happy to see a familiar name and then back to pondering timelines between LOTRO expansions and movie releases (while still not being bothered enough to google it to find out for myself. More fun trying to guess / sort it out.

Then the map, of course, which is one of the most unfriendly maps to use I have seen in pretty much anygame in the last decade. That is fairly explained that LOTRO is over a decade old. I will, of course, give it props for having a great style to it though. Feels like a King’s Quest map, if that game had any.

All in all, despite the tongue-in-cheek post I actually had a lot of fun. There is so much comfort in the levelling game and early levelling is always the most fun. Not sure of the staying power here, but I will dip my toes back in much quicker than the four years since last time.

So, This Happened : DDO

Dungeons and Dragons Online was a game I pre-ordered. Not-so-secretly I really miss Pen and Paper games. I have no friends who play them, or connections to groups who do, but the one thing PnP games have over their PC variants is active imagination. In PC games whatever happens is pre-programmed. That is very, very limiting.


Bio Break had a post about the DDO Ravenloft expansion. I remember playing in several campaigns based around the area in pen and paper format and really enjoying them. Looking back on my blog I had already started, and quit, DDO before I had started blogging. And here I am, reinstalling. First and always the fun part is remembering your login information. Which is handy when you have had the same gmail address since day 1. Once retreived, through Turbine, I was pleasantly surprised to see this:

I am PREMIUM! Whatever that means. Truth be told, I don’t remember the last time I logged in. All I know is that I signed up in 2006. That’s amazing, almost 12 years to the month. I am sure that will give me tons of login rewards, points, dragons and whatnot when the game patches up. I am really going into this blind. My last, fond memory of DDO was my Paladin hitting level 9 (I think). I am putting that guess up here right now to see how right (or wrong) I am when the game is patched up (this is currently happening while I type. I figure a ‘live blog’ version of my re-entry into this game would be fun.)


Launching the patcher, this took me quite by surprise:

Uh, Daybreak End User Licence Agreement? Isn’t it Turbine? I accessed it through my Turbine account. I don’t even remember reading Turbine selling this to Daybreak, but then again, I think they are just partnering. Ugh, OK, a bit confused although I feel like I know the answer and am just having a case of the Monday foggy-blues. (For the record, I am writing this on a Wednesday). Of course I agree, and then get the option to download 3 gigabytes of HD graphics, which of course I do. And then I wait.

[11:43 am]

I do see that shared storage is for sale and that makes me wonder what else is for sale. Of course, I don’t even know what is involved in the base game, or anything added since uh, 2006, so no buying for me (for now). Although I really want to see what Ravenloft has to offer I still need to understand if I am even going to play this game. I have time and patience to sort it out. This is both the beauty and wonder of old MMOs that keep going – there is a sense of familiarity and newness all in one. As things patch up I am constantly trying to remember pieces of the game and my memory of it. I really wish I was blogging back in 2006 as I would love to go back and read my thoughts and how they compare. Instead, which is also as fun, will be fresh and new thoughts with a small bent memory.

[12:13 pm]

I’m patched and logged in. Something to say about modern day times when you can think about playing a game, and have it fully downloaded and patched in under two hours. We are spoiled, I tell you. The down side? What server did I play on? I need to log into each one, don’t I…

So I start at the top. Not sure why they are in that order, but I seem to recall the name Khyber – but I am still jsut going to go in order. I am treated to login video that I accidentally skipped when trying to resize the window, and the first sever loads up!

Of course, there is no “back to server select screen” I have to close down the game and re-patch, and re-log in. Convenience was not important in 2006, apparently.

The second server I have success!

Well, sort of. That is definitely a character, but not the character I remember playing. I knew it wouldn’t be so easy. Still, finding a character feels like progress! Onto the next server. Right after I exit, repatch, re-log in.

On the third try, I find my main. Still named Braack (that was from my EQ days) and while my guess was level 9, I am only level 7. That tells you something, doesn’t it? How we always remember things bigger and better than they were? And while I do recall being an elf (or maybe half elf?) I don’t remember making myself a red-head. I never play red heads. Still, ENTER adventurer, and go forth!

Greeted by Maude, “Serving Wench”, in a bar.  A pop-up window tells me I have 28 points to spend and hitting left click to try and pan the camera makes me swing my weapon and leave it out, ready. A glowing hook. It also shows I am part of a guild! I had totally forgotten being a part of Sunder and I am going to go visit the web page to see if they are still alive and kicking. Nice of them to not kick me after 12 years, and no, no one answered my call.

Look at all the hot bars, abilities, potions – so many things to explore and things to try. I am excited to go back exploring.

What a wonderful gaming world we live in.

Birthdays and Forums

My birthday was yesterday!

I was reminded of such while driving home from a hockey game at 12:04 am by 2K forums. While I was appreciative of the well wishes I did have to chuckle a bit. The last time I posted or visited those forums was in 2008.

We at 2K Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

Thank you 2K Forums. I did only sign up there to deal with a game breaking issue for me with Bioshock. Still, it’s the thought that counts! A good opportunity here would have been to say “we haven’t seen you in a long time, maybe some of these posts will interest you?”, or even “here is $10 off one of our games at Steam in celebration!”. A little silly to send me a one-liner during a marketing opportunity.

They weren’t the only ones – thank you Dungeon and Dragons Online!

We at Dungeons & Dragons Online Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

Wait.. that looks awfully familiar. Are they sharing boards? Maybe using the same software? Aren’t you free to play now – why not give me a message to entice me to maybe download and try the game out again! Maybe some free currency to get me started! (I did really enjoy it at beta test and launch.) I don’t think I have played since then either.

Not to be outdone, a game that I played more than the others (and have tried to promote on this site often, even though I haven’t played in a while) was the good folks at the Project Reality Forums.

We at Project Reality Forums would like to wish you a happy birthday today!

I don’t remember the last time I posted there either, it has been so long. Although I did re-download the game recently. That message (besides being identical to the other two) could have been so much better with a “check out our latest patch / video / update” message as well.

Finally, I did get one from a board I have checked recently!

Happy Birthday from your friends at Cruisers Forum; we wish you all the best in the year to come.
May your boat be leak free.
May your sails be in good repair.
May the winds be fair, the weather kind and
May your days be filled with the exquisite pleasure of new adventures, fabulous destinations and excellent friendship.

Happy Birthday!

If they were selling anything, I’d probably buy it. Look, a modicum of effort was given. It probably took them 5 minutes to set that up. I have been toying with the idea of buying a sailboat so have been reading a lot there to understand what I would be getting myself into.

If a general interest forum can do that, companies that live or die off of sales probably could too. The constant reminder that for digitally native companies they leave a lot to be desired in terms of customer engagement. These are easy misses, low hanging fruit, and entry level marketing think.

My other takeaway here is how few forums I actually sign up for now (well, since 2008, apparently) since most information is more readily available elsewhere. Also, that a whole slew of other forums didn’t bother to wish me a happy birthday – probably because they sorted that I stopped visiting there at some point. In 2009 when I brought this up I had received birthday wishes from Pirates of the Burning Seas and Warhammer Online as well – but they have a fair excuse for missing it this year (and all years upcoming!)

Dry Spells and Random Stuffs

This happens to me often with gaming – I hit dry spells.

This occurs when life gets too busy and/or games get a bit dry for me. Thankfully, right now I am in the former – just busy. This, in turn, makes blogging more challenging because if you aren’t playing then there’s not much to talk about. And if you do have time you would rather be playing instead of writing about it.

We call these, “first world problems”.

I’m 25 rubicite away from the final crafting upgrade in EQN:L and its probably a solid 3 hour burn/zengrind. Excitedly, there is a patch on Thursday that promises new biomes – SNOW! I love the outdoors and my favorite backdrop is a lake, but also love winter sports/shenanigans so hey, I’ll take a frozen lake and snow. This raises a couple quick conundrums.

One is that I like my claim, and where I am. There is a ton to do with it and we are only a couple patches away from claim expansions which makes it a whole new world for building. My good friend Mehlan has joined the game and claimed beside me so logging in now I find him there, waddling away, so I can say hi and hang out. So for those two reasons alone, not moving.

The second is hopefully they have meaningful seasons – has any game? I don’t recall. Why can’t I have my lakeside cottage.. and winter wonderland for half the time? Something tells me to add that to the “captain obvious yet awesome” list of what would make the same-old MMO the new-awesome MMO. (See: combat mechanics, leveling mechanics, endgame content, equipment issues . etc.)

Oh, EQN:L tip if you are feeling lonesome, /join general (chat) – people are connecting there and always a stream of chatter. Makes the nights fly by.

I’m starting to wonder if I really am done entirely with World of Warcraft – usually I play out the expansion to the end but the daily grind of the uh, daily grind quests of MoP had me leaving early in the expansion. Now I feel less connected to WoW than ever and I wonder if that slide means the end and no Warlords of Draenor for me. My friends still play and I miss their chatter (and envy their dedication).

I didn’t get far in Diablo III – level 20 I think? Before I realized this game wasn’t as fun as the first two. The potion chugging loot-fest just got boring fast. I heard there have been some nice changes so I may check it out again. I did pay for it, after all. Something tells me I may like the Crusader class but there better be a trial or something – not shelling out more for a game that didn’t capture me in the first place.

Speaking of games I didn’t finish/start, GW2. Level 37 was my breaking point. I read a lot of bloggers who love it but I now feel I am so far behind the story that I missed out on the game. Is that the danger of too many updates?

I was >< that close to becoming a LOTRO blog for a while and even queued up the Warden (after much bitching about it) but alas, right now its EQN:L or bust. And bust it is.

Again, the worries and problems of a modern day adult gamer. Too much to do, not as much time to do it. Somehow manage to blog about it though.

Reroll and Random Thoughts

After the grand level of 8 on my “Return of the Warden” project I rerolled to an Elf. I was reminded early in the Man-questing campaign that I was mortal by Elondrialle (sp) and I said screw that!

No, no, no and not because I secretly yearn for Legolazz leetness or anything either. My LOTRO main (back when I paid for it) was a Hobbit, and going through the Man campaign I started remembering the quests and storyline – I had played a champ as well. Dwarf was out (can’t be a Warden) so Elf was left. So, I became immortal and rerolled.

Some other LOTRO observations:

  • I can use coins to warp to quest areas faster (mithril I think?) so the FTP elements are starting to rear their ugly head…
  • I am still only using in game resources and man, after so many years there is a LOT to learn. I love the complexity of MMO’s but forgot how much you really had to study, google, read, and spreadsheet out to be optimal in a MMO. Even sub ones. Can’t simplicity be just as beautiful and engaging?
  • The daily login prize is giving me food, drink, and clothes.
  • The animations/graphics/movement/flow are better than I remember them. They probably haven’t been updated but pretty smooth.
  • I love the non-stylized world. Feels gritty, foreboding, and yet appropriately beautiful.
  • I see about 1 person a login session at best – which is cool, but feels very single player-ish

Some related thoughts:

  • I have been stopping to smell the roses a lot more in LOTRO than other MMO’s. Not because its closing down anytime soon but because I am in no rush! I have no goals in LOTRO but to experience the game. No raiding guild waiting for me to fill a spot, no friends to quest with (I am on Gladden if you get bored *cough cough*) and no plan or agenda. Just playing.
  • I have been looking at things in a different lens also – someone actually created this stuff! When I see a nice piece of map layout or a specific troll-turned-stone and sun is shining on it – well placed, I take a look, soak it in, and appreciate that someone thought to put that there and built it.

That last point is my final thought of my blogging week – the people behind the games. I really appreciate the talents and efforts who create the worlds we play in. That probably deserves its own post (and I’m sure I’ll write it in the future).


I have a bunch of items in LOTRO that are flagged as non-junk – supposedly I can turn them in and get daily rewards for doing so. (tattered hides.. battered hilts..) unfortunately for me, I am only using in game resources to learn my way around LOTRO. No websites, nada. So, learning that these can be turned in from a fellow player, I decided to embark on looking for WHERE to turn them in.

Sometimes, being lost gives you neat experiences. I was in Archtet, the starting town (still) and as I am looking around I see a woman arrive in a balcony window. She just sits there. I try interacting (nothing) and then she walks away.

I tried to get into the building to go meet her. Who put her there? What function does she serve? I can’t enter that building, and I can’t interact with her, but it was just a nice add in to make the world feel more alive. Well done.

My standards sure have dropped to be amazed these days.

Over Rewarding

I get something nice just for logging in everyday in LOTRO. I got a pair of gloves yesterday that were literally 10x better than the ones I was wearing.

I mean, I know people want little wins.. but instant success is many steps past deferred success and does absolutely nothing for anyone. I could almost justify a logging in reward if:

  • you had to group with someone for 10+ minutes to get it (enhancing community/grouping)
  • had to complete x number of quests (living, breathing world – I have only seen two other actual players so far in LOTRO)
  • you got a free gift for buying something in the LOTRO store (supporting development/costs)

As it stands now, I just have to log in, click the present on the corner of my screen, get my reward, and log out. Once a day. It doesn’t do anything really for anyone.

Of course, unless LOTRO is going to start marketing how many millions of players LOG IN everyday


Turbine Loves Me!

So I started my Return of the Warden adventures in LOTRO. I have no friends that play LOTRO (that I know of) and I really haven’t played since launch (2007) except for a quick jump in when it was free to play Mines of Moira – which allowed me to test drive the Warden. To which I never played again because Turbine wouldn’t let me play a Warden without paying for it.

The warden was one of my 4 favorite MMO classes of all time from my quick play of it. I finally caved and gave them $8 and bought the warden. As you see from the crazy link-love above, I have always really wanted to play and like this game I just haven’t found the traction with it. It’s late in this game’s life but I am going to give it the old college try.

I was greeted back in LOTRO with some surprises!

First off, two cloaks

Cloak of the Peace Keeper, War-Cloak of Isildur. I have no clue why I got these – but very nice to have a cool cloak when I log in. I am guessing that it has to do with either beta, or pre-order, or maybe both.

I also have 6 gift boxes – one for every year! A 1 year Gift Box, 2 year, etc. These yielded (in yearly order)

  • Anniversary Fireworks (GB1)
  • 90 Min +5% Damage buff (GB2)
  • 10 Battle potions of Restoration (GB2)
  • 3 sturdy steel keys (GB3)
  • Festive Azure Clothes (dress, trousers, tunic, cloak) (GB4)
  • Festive Azure Steed (GB5)
  • Festive Azure Caparison, Halter, Saddle, and Accessory for the horse (GB6)

All in all, a nice welcome back. Now I am going to go kill things, and do a good old MMO Quest-a-thon. I am actually looking forward to old school, non-dodge combat and normal questing. Hopefully its zen-like. I am going to read all quest text and see if I can be immersed in Middle-Earth.

After 5 levels, two quick comments – one is that I am ridiculously overpowered for my level, but two is that there is no looting in the traditional sense. You kill stuff, and you have a loot menu that you can go to anytime, and click “loot all”. you have one hour per item to loot.

I like that part. I also like how they throw a major character at you in the beginning tutorial. Strider was mine, and I am running quests for him throughout the first part. That is a nice connection with the main story and movies.



M2P – Motivation 2 Play

I haven’t had a chance to dig into LOTRO: The Warden’s Return (self titled) with all the fun holiday shenanigans on the go. I have been playing Hearthstone daily and I have noticed a curious reoccurrence to my playing pattern. I just play to finish the daily quest(s).

This doesn’t make a ton of sense to me because the reliance on daily quests to advance in WOW made me quit the game.

This does  makes sense in one regard – it isn’t WOW and  since it is beta, and I’m not spending money in the beta (although they are offering you a free, special card if you give them money during beta – limited 1 per player) I can only advance myself in a couple methods. One is levels, which you get a bit of XP every game. From what I can tell levels only help to get free, class specific cards (which you can get other ways as well). They are reskins (gold) from regular old cards. Most of that is not motivating for me. A gold framed card with some moving graphic elements is just as handy to me as the plain one that does the same thing.

The second advancement is by getting new packs of cards (5 to a pack) and there are two ways. Spend $$ (which I already shared I am not willing to do in this beta) or get points. You need 100 points to get a deck of cards, and there are two ways to get points without spending money.

1) Win three games. Not in a row or during a specific time frame – every 3 games you win you get 10 points. So 30 wins for a deck.

2) Finish any quests that may be available at the time. I have had three at the most, and I believe you get one a day. So if you skip a couple days you have a few extra quests waiting. In my experience, these quests give 30 to 60 points so it is always worthwhile to do. They also do a good job of forcing you to play other characters as some quests are win X games as a Y (Paladin, Shaman, etc.)

Matchmaking is feast or famine depending on who else is on at the time so you might win 3 in a row and then lose 10. It is a slow grind to 100 points. So the wins in (1) above are just in the normal time frame of trying to complete (2).

(2) is the way to go. I log in, do my quests and then….

Logoff. After getting the efficient points I find there isn’t much else motivating me to play. Don’t get me wrong I’m having fun but there isn’t anything else to do after that. There is RANKED play but right now that is filled with people who have these crazy cards I can’t get without spending a lot of money or a ridiculous amount of time doing activity (1). I am limited on what I can do with (2).

This makes me think about other games and what has M2P in the past and it was a combination of leveling, gearing, and people. Definitely not in that order.


LOTRO – Friends With Benefits?

I still don’t get LOTRO. It’s confusing.

Is it free to play? Why are they selling expansions? I still want to try playing the Warden class past level 10, because it is the only class in that game that interests me (I have tried them all). But I can’t, because I have to buy the expansion OR pay for the character class. What if the class sucks by level 20?

I know, I know – companies are supposed to make money but for some reason they don’t get me. I paid a lot of money to League of Legends this year because they didn’t make me pay up front. They earned my dollars through my enjoyment. I love the Lord of the Rings books, and universe, but I’m not convinced on the game. Let me play the class I want and if the game is any good, I’ll give you some money.

Would you rather con $5 up front, or earn $100s over the long term?

I know this is nothing new. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I could have been paying and playing this game since 2009.

Tuesday Smorgasboard

It really doesnt.
It really doesn’t.

Lots of little gaming going on. Will touch upon them.

1) LOTRO revisted: While I am trying to organize friends to go through the trial, nothing concrete is set up although a little interest and a couply people hopping on Brandywine. I said this before and I will say it again – the fact that LOTRO doesn’t allow you to play their two new classes WITHOUT buying MoM is a terrible design decision and puts me in a bad mood immediately at the character creation screen. I wanted to test drive the Warden for the trial again – it made my list of favorite fantasy classes although I only got to level 10. My beef with this is that the characters start at the exact same spot as the previous character classes so not having them available upon start is just a silly money grab. I am trialling the game to see if I am going to resubscribe – let me choose the character I want to play. The high end zones included in MoM have no impact on the class selection – it will be months before I even get to MoM – so let me play them dammit! To be fair, they do  have a 10 day trial for MoM – but on the welcome back weekend I can use my old box (that I paid for). Maybe I do want to resub, and maybe the game is fun enough to buy the expansion (when I get there) – but it will be awhile before I get there, and I want to do it as one of the new classes. We are off to a poor start, me and LOTRO. So I rolled a Champion, and if all goes well I am going to have to drop $40 bucks on an expansion and reroll to a character class I want to play. Shame on you, Turbine.

More random stuff after the break.


Non-Epic Fail, Content, and RMT – Oh My!

Last post I talked about having a peek at LOTRO again, the current darling of blognation. I was drawn to give it a shot because of the handy dandy free trial after their new expansion, Mines of Moira. I had no delusions of grandeur of seeing the new content, but rather was curious of the trickle down effect to what changes this game has gone through since it’s release. I was especially excited to try out their new Warden class – reminded me very much of the 300 spartans – shield and spear. I dl’ed the trial, signed up, and off I went.


LOTRO – Worth a Second Look?

I had purchased the game when first released and played up to level 10ish but was immediately sucked back into WoW with the Burning Crusade expansion (I was a GM of a progression guild at the time. No time for two games!). Going through some old emails I found an old buddy key I had – that was never used, so thinking of firing it up for the 10 day trial and seeing how things are. Intersting thought there, Wow:BC coincided with LOTRO, WoW:WOTLK with WAR, so I am going to suppose that the next WoW expansion will be released some time around the Bioware KOTOR MMO launch. Anyway – getting off topic.

I have been bouncing around blogs not in my regular reading rotation and have read a lot of positive reports about how the game is carrying along. Curious if anyone out there (who reads this) is currently playing, and can recommend a server and some LOTRO tips to improve the (no doubt) 10 day solo experience while the rest of you run around the Mines of Moira. If you don’t mind giving me your in game name, so I can bother you with noobish questions along the way (and have someone to chat with in general, you know, MMO and all that) it would be greatly appreciated.