Archive for the ‘LotRO’ Category

LotRO and Atlantica Online

For the past few days, I’ve been playing a lot of these two games.  Syncaine and Grimwell convinced me through their recent posts that Atlantica Online was worth a shot, and I have to agree with them.  I’ve only just gotten my main to 15, but I’m really enjoying myself thus far.  I rarely play turn-based games, but I’m finding this to be rather fun.  I’m not sure how good I’ll be at later levels when a lot more strategy is involved, but I’m curious to see.  There are lots of quests to keep you busy, so it doesn’t feel as grindy as most f2p games.  I do have lots of questions that I can hopefully get answered soon by finding a guild to join.  I think I’m on Mycenae server, so if any of you are on that, let me know.  If  you are interested in having  me in your guild on another server, I’ll consider starting over as it’s only taken about 6-8 hours to get to where I am.  But yeah, it’s the best free to play MMO I’ve tried so far, with Silkroad Online second.

As for LotRO, I decided that I wanted to give this another go.  I must say I was curious to try it with DirectX 10 with everything on max settings, too.  It’s truly beautiful, though I wouldn’t play it just for the graphics.  My champ was stuck at 36 when I logged back in, and I needed a place to start.  I managed to find a new quest hub in Evendim and that took me a little ways into 37 when I ran out of quests there, and I headed to North Downs to give Fornost another go.  Little did I know that it takes 4-6 hours to run the whole instance.  It ended up taking us closer to six because we had to switch toons out several times, but I did get all the way through to level 38.  I then found another chain in Rivendell involving a series of riddles that’s gotten me about 1/3 of the way through the level.  I really just want to start fresh on a new zone/set  of zones, which I’m truly hoping will revive my passion for the game.  I think I’m ready to head to Misty Mountains now, and soon after that Agmar, followed by Forochel.  In any case, I’ll keep you informed on this process.

On the horizon:

Darkfall — I’m curious see how this progresses over the next few weeks and months.  I’m not sure I’ll play Darkfall soon after release, but I really do hope it suceeds and provides hardcore PvP’ers a home, as well as an eye-opening experience to developers about new possiblities for the genre. 

Spellborn — As for Spellborn, I was deeply invested in this game before I got into beta, but my curiousity is coming back.  I might have to give this one a shot again.  The lore and combat have me once again intrigued, but I have too much on my plate right now to play.

Earthrise — I applied for this beta, and I truly hope I get in.  After getting a taste of Fallout 3, my love of post-apocalyptic worlds has been awakened.  Some great plans are in the works for this game.

Jumpgate Evolution — After failing miserably to enjoy EvE, I’m hoping this will be the solution.  I think it will be different enough that it could suck up a lot of my time in the future.  Another beta I’m hoping to get into.

~Kanthalos

“Just stick it out, it’ll be better in a few levels.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this, but it’s something that has been around basically since MMO’s were born. Most MMO’s tend to have a rough patch at some point or another where leveling seems much more like a chore than a pleasure. Some, like EvE, seem to be right out of the get-go. If you make it through the first few days or so in EvE (levels are a relative term in EvE since it’s more skill-based than anything) and you enjoy the mechanics and the overall feel of the game without feeling overwhelmed or what have you, then you’re pretty much good to go. Other games like LotRO seem to face this at about the 35th level mark. You get a good feel for the game and what it’s all about by the time you reach this point, but wonder whether it’s worth that extra push it requires to make it through some of those stale levels. Granted, they have added zones like Evendim to help alleviate this issue, but has this solved the issue completely? I’ll get back to this later.

While some games are better than others, and there are a wide range of issues that can determine whether you are affected by these troublesome levels, should you ever feel like you have to “stick it out” to get to more enjoyable content? Is it simply inevitable that these will find their way into MMO’s at some point or another due to the immense scale of these games, or should the developers be doing everything they can to make sure that they avoid these areas?

Now I’m going to get to the heart of this issue (at least for me.) When I got my champion to level 35 in LotRO, I immediately began to feel stuck. My quest log was littered with fellowship quests or quests that were too high for me to complete on my own. I have no problem with fellowship quests, and I actually enjoy them quite a bit, but when I struggled for several days to put a group together, I began to get rather frustrated. If I couldn’t complete these quests that I needed a fellowship for, this left me with only one option: grinding. Most of us know that mob xp in LotRO is meager at best, even with rest xp. Leveling is all about questing, which really causes problems for those who want (or feel to need) to grind a few levels out. I actually wouldn’t have minded this either, as I can enjoy a nice grinding session on occasion. So there I was, unable to find a fellowship, unable to grind, and unable to complete solo quests (due to a lack of them for my level.) With this weighing heavily on me during my time spent in game, along with the subscription ending in a few days, I chose not to push on. I did make it to 36 before I quit, but at that point, I didn’t have the urge to bust all the way through to 38 or so. That’s not to say I never will again, but I didn’t feel like I should have to force myself to make it through 2-3 levels just so that I could get to more rewarding and enjoyable content.

Even WoW, a game that I think did an excellent job of filling content for all levels, would have me feeling stuck from time to time, particularly in the mid-to-high 50’s range. At least in WoW, the option to grind was there should you choose to take it. While it usually isn’t as effective as questing, it at least gives you the option to a) get out of a patch where you don’t seem to have enough quests or b) simply don’t want to do the quests that you have.

It’s all about having multiple options when it comes to leveling. For the most part, players aren’t going to want to do every single quest they are given, just like they don’t always want to quest at all. Some players prefer to instance, which can also be a great way to level while also allowing you to skipping through a bout of quests if that is the goal. Some players don’t like having a clear path all the time, or at all for that matter. Games like EvE are perfect for this style of player. That said, many MMO enthusiasts have tried at least once to get into EvE and simply couldn’t see the appeal before their confusion and frustration set in, and they gave up. One advantage EvE has in this area is that you can continue to gain skill points while you aren’t playing, which can be very beneficial as you are constantly advancing in one form or another.

So should we feel obligated to “stick it out” for a few levels (or skill points) to make it to a more enjoyable portion of the game? With the ever-increasing number of options we as MMO enthusiasts have, is it worth it for us to “waste our time” so that we can make it through the tunnel and back into the light (or deep space,) or should we simply move on and hope for better results with the next game?

~Kanthalos

Belated but big update

So… wow… here goes.

About three weeks ago, I grew to be very upset with the way things were going in my guild, and was on the downswing of my WoW stint, ready to quit. Progression had completely ceased and raid attendance was falling off dramatically, so I was done. That all changed however when a friend in the guild offered to transfer two of my characters as well as two of my wife’s characters to a server he’d recently been playing on with a friend. They were a part of a Karazhan guild who had everything cleared, but needed a few extra spots to fill. This was kind of a good thing for me in that it gave me a chance to play my resto druid which had been collecting dust, and it also gave my wife a few people to level her new shammy alongside (four characters all around her level) so she was excited. At first we were a little reluctant because we felt bad about someone else paying $100 to transfer four characters for us, but he kept insisting, and we finally caved and he transferred our characters over for us.

Now comes the truly interesting part. The day after we decided to transfer our characters, I logged on with another character on my old server who was in the guild to find a guild message of the day saying “******* is disbanding.” WHAT? Now I wasn’t happy in the guild, and I had called this several weeks earlier, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon or in such a fashion. The guild leader told noone (except his little clique of 6-8 players) prior to placing every character on probation so that they couldn’t speak to each other in guild chat or access the guild bank which he promptly transferred to his new guild which he’d formed and brought his clique into. Over the next few days he brought in a lot of the same players in as before, but instead of being up front with the players he didn’t want in the guild originally, he simply remade the guild and invited the players he wanted back. Several rejoined, but after talking with many of them, they understand how poorly the GM acted, and are seriously considering leaving, especially due to the fact that they don’t even have enough players to run 25-mans.

Now I’m shifting back to my new guild and server. For the first two weeks things were going pretty well, but now we are starting to have some issues with raid attendance in this guild as well as having a lot of members that we really don’t want to be associated with, not to mention an inactive GM, so we’ve made our own guild and taken the best members from the old guild as well. The problem now arises in that we need 3-4 consistent healers, which is what every other guild on the server is trying to recruit. We (the 6 players who left our old server for this one) have all been offered a spot in an really nice guild with excellent progression. I am currently in the process of moving, however, and am not sure I would be able to devote myself fully to a new guild, though. They told us to take our time and that there wasn’t any rush, so this is looking like a pretty appealing option.

So that’s the majority of what’s been going on with me in World of Warcraft. I have also been playing quite a bit of Mythos, patiently awating the addition of Zone 3, which offers a new zone, crafting, and PvP. I’ve also been itching to hop back into LotRO, but I’m putting that off because I have these two games as well as another beta to keep me busy. I will undoubtedly succumb to my wishes and experience gaming overload (I’ve also got Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Super Mario Galaxies to play on the Wii!)

~Kanthalos

Update/Initial LotRO Experience

Sorry for the break all, I spent several days with my fiancée since we are a few hours apart so I was a little too busy to do any real writing so I figured rather than doing a little half-hearted blog entry I would wait until I got back so here I am.

To start things off, a few days before I left I finally caved and bought LotRO. I know that it isn’t going to last me more than a month (or possibly two) but I figured it was worth giving it a shot. So far, its been pretty fun, I started as an elf unlike the Hobbit I made in beta so that I would encounter all new quests and locations (at least to start.) In three days of playing I made it to level 12, and so far the quests have been fairly fun. I will say that I get a bit frustrated when I complete quests and have to run something like 15 minutes to turn it in and get back to where I was to continue on, but it’s a minor complaint. As for the quests themselves, they aren’t revolutionary by any stretch, but they are decent. I haven’t gotten to the point of forced grouping yet, but I can see it looming in the near future, and I must say I’m not thrilled. I’m more of a soloer at heart who groups for the fun of it. I also enjoy a good grinding session from time to time which this game severely frowns upon as quests are about 75% of the experience you gain. I will say that the trait/deed system is rather interesting but still far from stellar. Attempting to stay away from a formal review as a) I’ve only played about 12 hours and b) you’ve read a thousand of them already I’ll just say that a month is all I expect to get out of this game, but that’s ok. I’m going to continue to say that EQ2 is the best fantasy MMO on the market right now, but refuse to play since my graphics card ruins the experience. I’ll be back later today with some stuff I’ve been stewing over about quests and/or player run events.

~Kanthalos

Asheron’s Call — Not What I Hoped For

Well after play for about a month now between the beta and a paid month, I must say that I’m not as pleased as I was hoping to be. I think the main problem with this was the mentality that I went into the game with, or rather, how my mentality changed after I resubscribed. Since I was unable to regain my old account, I started from scratch and my original intention was to simply run around to all of my old stomping grounds for nostalic purposes. This meant getting to about level 60, so that I could at least survive while running through the nasty stuff. This changed a lot when I decided to resubscribe. While I did go out to some of the old places that I wanted to see like Aerlinthe, the Direlands, and just general exploring, I haven’t spent nearly any time at all on that stuff because I wanted to get leveled quick so that I could experience new content instead. While you can level extremely quickly in AC in comparison to how it used to be (my first level 66 character took 2 months in-game, as compared to being level 70 in two days in game…yeah) it still feels like a drag sitting in the same dungeon while you watch your xp bar go up in a fellowship. I chose a UA character and have my UA skill way up, but I’ve been trying to get my magic schools up to the point that I can cast level 7 spells for myself instead of relying on buffbots, but in that process, I have gotten rather burnt out quickly. My old friends have taken me through a few new quests that are fun, but I find that I’m having to force myself to get on to play, which flies in the face of everything an MMO is supposed to be. For this reason, I won’t be renewing my payment next month. I’m considering hitting up LotRO, so we’ll see how that goes.

-Kanthalos

Building an MMO for the Future — Suicide or What?

I just can’t help but wonder what Sigil was trying to do with Vanguard building it for specifications that won’t even be possible for another 12-18 months. It’s true that technology doubles very quickly, I believe it’s 18 months, but still… is that any kind of way to advertise your game?

“OK everybody, we are going to have an awesome game for you to play 18 months after we release it! I know this doesn’t make any sense, but we actually need that 18 months to fix all the bugs that we failed to take out in the longer-than-usual production time we had to build this game. So even though there will be more than a dozen new MMO’s for you guys to play, we feel confident that you will be ready to try our game once you can buy a computer than can run it at more than 20 FPS”

I don’t know about everyone else, but that to me seems like exactly the message they should have slapped on the box of this game before it shipped. My only question is this; How many gamers are actually going to stick around for a year and a half waiting for this game to become playable, when there will be new games coming out left and right (LotRO, WAR, AoC, Spellborn, Huxley, Tabula Rasa just to name a few) that surely won’t have such high expectations of its players bank account to buy a top-of-the-line PC? It seems like this is the problem with EverQuest 2. I have a pretty decent computer… 2GB RAM, 2.8 Ghz Pentium 4 processor and a Radeon X600 256MB graphics card. It’s a decent computer and I can’t even play EQ2 on high settings or else my graphics card shuts down every 5 minutes or so. I’m not going to play a game that I know could look good with a great PC if everything looks blurry and faded on my PC, especially when the game came out over 2 years ago. Just use common sense Sigil. Sure, you will get a few new players when tech rises, but it won’t be anywhere near the 1-300k you probably lost by a) releasing too soon and b) asking far too much of your customers. Get it together, and hopefully other companies will realize that they need to build their game for today, not for three years from now so they can retain customers better.

-Kanthalos