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.
2) Syncaine over at Hardcore Casual (who seems to be more Hardcore than Casual these days) poses a great question: Why are MMO's more fun in beta? He hits a lot of nails on a lot of heads. As a "career" beta tester I looked at my list of betas and analyzed how much I enjoyed each. Truth be told, I loved every beta. The other truth to be told is that I only end up buying a fraction of the games that I test (although I always test and participate fully), and those with subscriptions I rarely last a few months even if I do buy it. The Beta test, as argued many times before me, really lets you know the vision and long term potential for a game. Both in how it plays out and how devs communicate. Go read the article, it's good stuff. Along those same lines Left 4 Dead gave away a bunch of content lately - the new Survival Mode, which is tons 'o fun. How does that relate to Syn's article? You enter the game knowing, knowing 100% you can't "win", and that eventually you, and all of your friends are going to die and you have to start fresh and new. It's brilliant, and the purpose is to just live as long as you can, work together as best as you can, and accomplish whatever goals you can before your time is up together and life as your toon knows it is done. I love the mode.
3) The cruise ship threw me on a life raft to fend for myself. My Shaman reroll is nearing 74, and I am in Grizzly Hills (after doing EVERY quest I could in both the Fjord and Dragonblight). A sad thing happened to me at the end of Dragonblight - I had no where to go. No where to turn. No quest to lead me to my next event. I entered Northrend at 68 and went through the first few levels with tons of rest xp - and I just hit a point where I had no quests to do, no one to instance with, and no direction on where to go next. Isn't that the point of the cruise ship? Talking to guild mates I was told to go to Grizzly Hills, which I did, but I also discovered I was too low of a level to take any quests from the hubs. I had to go to a webpage, search all quests in the zone that start at 72, and piecemeal my way to 73 (with a bunch of mob grinding once I ran out of lvl 72 acceptable quests) to which I had to go back to the internet to find lvl 73 quests I could take. I am going to run out again and have to grind - this will full rest xp. Yes, I am still having fun, but yes, just pointing out that if you have a zone to zone quest progression system where you lead a player from one area to the next I definitely shouldn't have to have quest sites bookmarked to figure out where to go next. You put Peggle in the game, please put Thottbot or Allakhazams next so I can enjoy your guided tour of Northrend.
4) The beta I have been doing (see point 2) has been fun. Ton's of work to do, a lot of weaknesses, bugs, and crashes, but it is a fresh new world - with some interesting new twists and mechanics. Far too early to tell how the game will fare, and because it is in Alpha stage I am not going to pick on anything (see Syn's article again - free passes for programmers and devs at this stage!) The gameplay has promise. I am in my personal Phase 1 of testing - I have my own "scheme" when I test. I spend the first 10 hours just playing - no reading beta boards (except for announcements), no asking questions, just play and see how intuitive the game is and what I can figure out on my own. In Phase 2, I spend more time reading than playing and compare the self learned experience vs the information available. Stage 3 I take everything I have learned and start fresh. Stage 4 I bug hunt, analyze metrics, gameplay balance, etc. Stage 5 I start telling developers what they have to do to fix the game (tongue in cheek there, my friends.) Of course, since I read the beta announcements daily if there is anything specific the devs want (which they usually do) I do it - but only after I have given the game 10 "noob" hours, have read every post on the board, and hit Stage 3 ish. It's not scientific by any means but it gives me the fresh perspective, the jaded perspective, than the honest perspective. It has worked out well for me in the past.
I have been oh so swamped lately with work and getting to chip into gaming here and there amidst the madness has been a very welcomed break. Reminds me why I love the hobby so much.