DocHoliday's MMO Saloon http://docholidaymmo.com LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View Sun, 03 Aug 2014 16:06:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 So yes, I’m still around http://docholidaymmo.com/2014/08/03/yes-im-still-around/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2014/08/03/yes-im-still-around/#comments Sun, 03 Aug 2014 16:06:34 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=5050 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

There have been a few reasons why I haven’t been very active here, but the biggest one being that there just hasn’t been much that I’ve been interested in writing about lately.  Couple that with the fact that I really didn’t have the time to troubleshoot why my site was broken (super stupid and [...]

DocHoliday
So yes, I’m still around

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

There have been a few reasons why I haven’t been very active here, but the biggest one being that there just hasn’t been much that I’ve been interested in writing about lately.  Couple that with the fact that I really didn’t have the time to troubleshoot why my site was broken (super stupid and easy fix btw) I just didn’t have the bandwidth or desire to do much writing.

Over the past few months, I haven’t done much gaming at all.  I’ve pretty much given up on LOTRO, and I’ll probably do a bit of writing on that here in the near term but the game has just gone in a direction I don’t enjoy.  I am playing some TSW and still greatly enjoy that game, although Tokyo is VERY hard and quite the adjustment, again more on that soon.  Probably the only real consistent gaming I’ve been doing has been with Football Manager 14 (FM14) as I dropped my “cheating” game and have restarted with an attempt to play a more legitimate game.  My progress has been much slower, as to be expected, but I am enjoying it quite a bit more

But lately, fueled by the BSC days, I can barely contain my excitement for the upcoming game Camelot Unchained.  I will admit I am a backer, but this game has grown so much that my expectations are continually growing.  I’m sure there will be decisions that I won’t agree with, but so far everything they’ve put out is very intriguing to me and I can’t wait to learn more.

So that’s it for now, more to come soon as now that things are back working I will be writing more!

 

DocHoliday
So yes, I’m still around

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Turbine Tries to Explain Epic Story Flip-Flop http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/09/13/turbine-tries-explain-epic-story-flip-flop/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/09/13/turbine-tries-explain-epic-story-flip-flop/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 18:29:07 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=5001 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

In a post that should have come before Sapience made the admission that the epic story would no longer be free, MadeOfLions tried to explain the reasoning behind the changes made with the Helm’s Deep Expansion.  I was pretty harsh on them for this announcement mainly because they didn’t admit the [...]

DocHoliday
Turbine Tries to Explain Epic Story Flip-Flop

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

In a post that should have come before Sapience made the admission that the epic story would no longer be free, MadeOfLions tried to explain the reasoning behind the changes made with the Helm’s Deep Expansion.  I was pretty harsh on them for this announcement mainly because they didn’t admit the real reason behind the change.  I still don’t think this announcement is really true, but it as at least a better attempt.

I’m not going to re-write the entire post, but I do highly suggest you check it out.

I have issues with a couple of parts of it, first with regards to Isengard.  MoL says that epic story was developed assuming the Epic Story would be only included as part of that expansion, not free like it was.  That’s fine if its true, but that part was never communicated to the community and with the changes to Moria and Mirkwood, as well as Rohan, not to mention multiple Turbine quotes on the subject, we became accustomed to the free epic story.  I don’t understand why the story behind Rohan’s development wasn’t told, but perhaps that’s just because MoL wasn’t a part of it.  It almost seems to me like Turbine is trying to forget Rohan completely.

The other issue I have is that MoL claims the only way they could deliver the story and big battles in all their glory was to charge for the story, I just don’t get that rationale.  If I were to buy the expansion I’d get the story, so why wouldn’t you want to make it as good as possible?  Linking the story to the expansion doesn’t impact those who buy the expansion at all, if purely inflates the amount of people who buy the expansion.  Personally, I think it would’ve been better accepted to charge for Big Battles then the epic line using that same logic.

The final thing I posed to MoL on the forums was why if this is such an epic story with these massive battles that forced Turbine to make the hard decision to break their promise, are they only allowing 2 months to test it?

The reality of MoL’s post is that Turbine doesn’t have the team to do all the things they say they can and have in the past, and unless they start bringing in more money we will continue to see changes with this game.

 

DocHoliday
Turbine Tries to Explain Epic Story Flip-Flop

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LOTRO Helm’s Deep Pre-Order Debacle http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/09/13/lotro-helms-deep-pre-order-debacle/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/09/13/lotro-helms-deep-pre-order-debacle/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 16:24:20 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4996 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I don’t really like making my first post in a long while a rant, but I just couldn’t help it.  There are so many things I feel are wrong with this announcement that I needed to write about it.  I have been expecting this news pretty much any day since the middle of June, so I can’t be terribly [...]

DocHoliday
LOTRO Helm’s Deep Pre-Order Debacle

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I don’t really like making my first post in a long while a rant, but I just couldn’t help it.  There are so many things I feel are wrong with this announcement that I needed to write about it.  I have been expecting this news pretty much any day since the middle of June, so I can’t be terribly surprised it came yesterday.  I’m also not surprised by what was actually in the announcement, but I was really hoping that Turbine would change its model from previous expansions.

Sure, Isengard was their best expansion ever, and one that I snatched up the legendary pack for immediately.  However, we’ve never heard a peep about how Rohan did and one can only guess that it didn’t do all that well.  I know from my own highly scientific polling, most people were either not getting the pack or using their Turbine points for it, like I did.  What Turbine failed to do with that pre-order was include items that people really cared about and wanted.  After 6 years, I think players are getting tired of titles (does anyone still care what title they show?) and have more cosmetic items then they know what to do with.  Combine that with the fact that we can only show off one horse at any given time, it makes it hard to really need all these extra things.

With Helm’s Deep, I was really hoping they’d include some other sort of item in the pre-order packs.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what that would be – but I feel they should have tried something to switch things up from a model that clearly isn’t working.  One highly controversial item that would’ve tempted me is the rumored XP item that has been leaked.  I personally would love a way to bring a couple of my alts up to level cap but the prospect of leveling them is more then daunting and not something I have any intention of doing.  That to me would be the perfect “convenience” item, paying real world money to shorten my time in game.  And while they may not have learned anything about previous pre-orders bonus items, there’s more later about a trick they did pick up on

Next up would be the pricing, I again was hoping for something more along the lines of the Mirkwood model.  Not necessarily as confusing, but the base pack around $20 with a fluff option for another $20.  Instead what we got was a base of $40, a few more cosmetics for $60, and a horrifically overpriced Hobbit themed add-on for $40.  That hobbit pack includes:

  • 3 Star Lit Crystals which is 1195 TPs in the store
  • Scroll of Delving which is 195 TP
  • Relic Removal scroll which is 195 TP
  • and a Premium Relic pack which is 2000 TP (updated for all characters this is 3495)

So that totals 3585 TP, which is roughly $35 and if you’re in the US toss in an extra $13 for the movie ticket and it’s a pack valued at around $48.  It does appear that these items will still apply for your level 95 LIs, but no answer from a dev to the forum questions on this explicitly.  Even though the community has answered that store versions currently are not level bound, I would like a blue-name clarification that it will be that way with Helm’s Deep as well.  Clearly, if you’re not in the US this pack is not a good deal, and even in the US if you get a sale and/or a double point weekend (or stipend) it is probably better for you to pass on this.  After a twitter comment, if you play multiple characters, the relic pack is actually 3495 TP for all characters, so this does become a $63 value which is a better deal.

We still don’t know all that much about the expansion, even with the flurry of press articles.  If you actually think about those articles – what additional information came out that you didn’t know prior to the article?  At least with this expansion we don’t have to worry about the price and/or inclusion of an Instance Cluster since there is none.  However, at this time we still have zero information about the availability of using Turbine points to pay for the expansion, something we learned very quickly with the Rohan launch, later that day even.  This part doesn’t make sense to me since Sapience said they held off on the announcement to figure out a way to make the Hobbit pack international – so they had all this ready a good time ago and had to know this question would come immediately.  And after thinking about it a bit more, the fact that they’re floating the story that they didn’t announce the pre-order based purely on a freebie tie-in for a portion of the community is also a tad insulting.  If they really wanted to announce it, they would have (like they’ve done before) and make changes or inclusions along the lines.  But based on these prices and the fact that I’m sure there are many lifers like me with a healthy stash of TP, I highly expect the TP price for this expansion to be very high.

Getting back to Turbine learning their lessons, they did have an ace up their sleeve that they didn’t roll out until specifically called out on it, and this of course is that the Epic Story line which has been available for Free for a long time now (not quite since F2P launch) will only be available to those who purchase the expansion.  Here is Sapience’s initial response to the question as well as his follow up justification for the change.  <Update> Significantly after the fact, a slightly better explanation has come from MadeOfLions.  <Update> Initially I jumped to the greedy thought, but I’ve now come to realize what really bugs me isn’t that they’re being greedy (I still think they are) but that they’re not being honest or consistent in why they’re making the change.  If they had admitted it was a business decision to make the change, I would have been totally fine with it.  However, they are claiming that because Big Battles are such an integral part of the story, they need to charge for both of them.  Never mind that Helm’s Deep isn’t that big of a part of the books that LOTRO is based on (unlike the movies) as posted elsewhere but Turbine previously has included new technologies for free since they are so integral to the Epic Story line.  Legendary Items, many skirmishes, and Mounted Combat were all new technologies that significantly changed the game but since they were tightly integrated into the Epic Story line they were included for free.  No matter what real reason you think is driving this decision, the public answer clearly doesn’t make sense or justify what they’re doing.

The final piece of this announcement that truly boggles my mind is the date, November 18th.  If we look at past expansions, Rise of Isengard had almost 5 months of closed beta testing, without an instance cluster, before its launch, Riders of Rohan had 3 months but still pushed that launch a month and split up its instance cluster into 2 pieces to be launched significantly later.  This expansion will only have 2 months of closed beta testing, which is incredibly short considering that they’re introducing a “new” instance and rewards system as well as a complete and total revamp of EVERY class.  They haven’t updated every class at the same time since Moria, and not since Mirkwood have they actually succeeded in rolling out any kind of instance cluster at launch time, let along one that’s using “new” technology.  History shows us that both of these are both things that Turbine historically has trouble with so you’d like to think they’d want to make sure they did it properly.  I look at this in two ways, one cynical and the other incredibly pessimistically.  The truth is probably neither of them, but we’ll never know that.  From the cynical side, this is done to ride the wave of the Hobbit build-up to the second movie and get in before the holiday season kicks off in full gear, and was a date set by WB long ago.  Even if it launches at that time, I expect numerous patches and various things to be quickly closed off due to bugs and/or exploits.  As for the pessimistic view, this game is turning into an easy daily facebook style game, where difficulty has no place, so they don’t have to worry about class interactions or Big Battle difficulty at all.  They can just make sure classes work on their own and make the battles super easy and they’re done and ready for launch.

Riders of Rohan was the first expansion I didn’t pre-order on the day it was announced, and in fact I waited and bought it with Turbine Points.  Initially I wasn’t even planning on buying the Helm’s Deep expansion at all, even with Turbine Points, but now I’m not so sure since they made the epic chance.  Part of me thinks this is a clean time to part ways, but after almost 7 years in this world that is a hard thing to do.  Depending on how they handle things going forward I may cave and buy it with Turbine Points, but this announcement has really shown me how little Turbine understands the community.  The Player’s Council certainly has their work cut out for them.

 

DocHoliday
LOTRO Helm’s Deep Pre-Order Debacle

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Turbine’s Communication Issues http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/10/turbines-communication-issues-2/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/10/turbines-communication-issues-2/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 14:36:28 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4992 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I waited on making this post as I wanted to give Turbine added time to release their next round of twenty questions, however if anything those questions further exacerbate the issue as myself and others see it.  I’m not claiming to speak for the entire community, but I know at least many, and [...]

DocHoliday
Turbine’s Communication Issues

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I waited on making this post as I wanted to give Turbine added time to release their next round of twenty questions, however if anything those questions further exacerbate the issue as myself and others see it.  I’m not claiming to speak for the entire community, but I know at least many, and certainly I believe the portion of the community Sapience was addressing on Monday.  In answering the posts over the weekend, Sapience was a little bit snarky in responding to the community by explaining how much they’ve pushed out to the community and failing to understand why the community continues to ask the same questions.  I think this comes down to a few things.

The classic quote “I do not think that means what you think it does” comes to mind with regards to communication.  In order for communications to be successful, they need to not only be sent out, but received in some fashion.  One way communication isn’t all that successful, and I think Sapience’s post pretty much points out that there’s a disconnect somewhere.  Turbine needs to realize not all of their players read the forums, I’m guessing a pretty low percentage actually and probably about that same amount follow sites either on the web or through some sort of social media.  However, even those following in some fashion inevitably miss items as it can be hard to catch every single item that is ever posted.  As an example, it is a REDICULOUS process to even try to obtain updates on when a dev makes a post – the ONLY way to do it is check the dev tracker constantly or use a horrendous Yahoo Pipes setup that thankfully someone put up and shared with the community.  Even that dev feed can get cluttered with things like store sales and out of game events.  Providing a way to filter those out and subscribe in some fashion would be quite helpful.

Another aspect is using leading statements without providing any sort of clarifications or follow up information, a few examples:

  • announcing pre-orders for the Rise of Isengard expansion (first expansion to not ship with an instance cluster) and not inform the public that an instance cluster wouldn’t be available for another 3 months.
  • announcing pre-orders for the Rise of Rohan specifying that the cluster would be delayed, but delay the inclusion of that cluster with the purchase of the expansion
  • and just recently – there will be an update between Update 11 and Helm’s deep, but not specifying that it would only be bug fixes and not additional content.
  • these are just a few examples of this

I just don’t understand why Turbine continues to be as vague as they are with these kinds of issues considering how poorly the community reacts every time.  We knew in closed beta for a LONG time there would be no instances in ROI – why not release that and get ahead of it?  What was the point of not explaining how people could obtain the instance cluster with RoR?  And why not just be honest and say the only updates between Update 11 and Helm’s Deep will be bug fixes?  These are all examples of poor customer relations and leading the customer along a false path for fear of upsetting them with bad news.  Well guess what Turbine, while we don’t like getting bad news, we really don’t like feeling like we’ve been lied to.

Then of course there’s the recent – we’ll just ignore this question was ever asked and hope that it goes away as it pertains to things like the content license.  It is a simple factual question, even the question of “what content do you have a license for” took years to resolve and I’m still not sure I know the answer.  Sure it may be a very complicated arrangement and may in fact be in an incredibly nasty negotiation period (purely making this up for dramatic purposes) but you can admit the facts with something along the lines of “Our current licensing deal extends through 2014 and we’re in a constant state of evaluation of the future,” that simple statement acknowledges the question but still doesn’t back anyone into any corner or impact any potential negotiations.  The license issue got even worse as Sapience and the official twitter feed promised to settle the issue definitively in the 20 questions coming up.  Turbine has a history of this kind of teasing, and sadly it is becoming more and more childish and less exciting each time they do it.  Their answer was that they “plan to support LOTRO for many more years to come,” not only is this incredibly vague but there are a whole host of other things Turbine planned to do (or not do) that they went back against:

  • not going Free to Play
  • no gear in store
  • new PvMP map with Isengard
  • more frequent updates with F2P
  • I could go on, but I think you get the point

Not only does Turbine’s track record not speak to well for us just blindly trusting them, but any agreement like this is a two way agreement and who is to say the Tolkien estate wouldn’t grow tired of what’s going on and pull the plug on the game’s license?  After the various tweets, I was really hoping for something substantial, but instead we just got some public relations nonsense that addresses absolutely zero concerns of the community.  What did that statement say that wasn’t something we didn’t already know, of course Turbine wants to continue the game as it is a way for them to stay employed and continue to make money for WB.  I have to question those who think this statement from Turbine is any sort of binding contract with the community.  I would have been happier if they would have hid behind the ongoing contractual discussions and not wanting to disturb them then the crap we got.

While I’m on the list of those questions, I find it incredibly insulting that Turbine has the nerve to redicule the community for asking the same questions multiple times, when they themselves pick and answer the same question multiple times.  Why not keep a consolidated list somewhere (go and find all the dev chats, trust me I tried, its damn hard) not only for the community but for yourselves such that you know which questions you’ve already answered and not pick those unless there’s a significant change.  Let’s pick on the deep meaty answer they did provide this time around regarding instance difficulty.  That same exact question and answer has been repeated numerous times, on various forums including live and bullroarer.  What would have been really interesting would have been how that process has changed as the game has evolved or how they roll in the feedback from Live into that process.

Finally, the waffling back and forth on issues when coupled with all the above completely muddies the water and makes it incredibly hard to understand what’s really coming or planned.  For example, mounted combat instances have been asked about numerous times and each time we get a different answer.  From not on the roadmap (which means no since the roadmap goes out quite a few years), to we’re actively looking at it, to there are much bigger issues that need to be tackled first before we look at that option.  What’s worse is that some of this waffling has been by the same person!  All three responses individually would be perfectly fine answers, as would be stepping up and acknowledging that you’ve provided a different answer before but things have changed for whatever reason.  At this point, while I want certain things in the game and aspects addressed, I’d be happy to have a consistent answer, or if the answer changes own the fact and you could even admit that player feedback caused the change in opinion.  I’m pretty sure there are others like me that keep asking questions (like the mounted combat one) simply because we don’t know what answer we’ll get.

My initial draft of this post was still negative, but this recent round of questions and the buildup to those questions just made the whole problem worse.  I honestly don’t know what Turbine can do to reverse this trend but while some claim (and possibly rightly so) that F2P was the downfall of LOTRO, personally I think this horrendous string of communications has done more harm to the community then anything that has come from F2P.  When you think about it, quite a few of the F2P issues could have easily been lessened (I won’t necessarily say solved) if they had done a better job of getting in front of the issues.

I’m still hopeful the player’s council will help allow Turbine to actually listen to the community as opposed to just randomly blasting out data that they hope we’re interested in.  But I think a more important concept would be to have a little more accountability in acknowledging what’s been asked and what they’ve said previously.

 

DocHoliday
Turbine’s Communication Issues

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Turbine’s Communication Issues http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/10/turbines-communication-issues/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/10/turbines-communication-issues/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 14:36:28 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4992 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I waited on making this post as I wanted to give Turbine added time to release their next round of twenty questions, however if anything those questions further exacerbate the issue as myself and others see it.  I’m not claiming to speak for the entire community, but I know at least many, and [...]

DocHoliday
Turbine’s Communication Issues

]]>
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I waited on making this post as I wanted to give Turbine added time to release their next round of twenty questions, however if anything those questions further exacerbate the issue as myself and others see it.  I’m not claiming to speak for the entire community, but I know at least many, and certainly I believe the portion of the community Sapience was addressing on Monday.  In answering the posts over the weekend, Sapience was a little bit snarky in responding to the community by explaining how much they’ve pushed out to the community and failing to understand why the community continues to ask the same questions.  I think this comes down to a few things.

The classic quote “I do not think that means what you think it does” comes to mind with regards to communication.  In order for communications to be successful, they need to not only be sent out, but received in some fashion.  One way communication isn’t all that successful, and I think Sapience’s post pretty much points out that there’s a disconnect somewhere.  Turbine needs to realize not all of their players read the forums, I’m guessing a pretty low percentage actually and probably about that same amount follow sites either on the web or through some sort of social media.  However, even those following in some fashion inevitably miss items as it can be hard to catch every single item that is ever posted.  As an example, it is a REDICULOUS process to even try to obtain updates on when a dev makes a post – the ONLY way to do it is check the dev tracker constantly or use a horrendous Yahoo Pipes setup that thankfully someone put up and shared with the community.  Even that dev feed can get cluttered with things like store sales and out of game events.  Providing a way to filter those out and subscribe in some fashion would be quite helpful.

Another aspect is using leading statements without providing any sort of clarifications or follow up information, a few examples:

  • announcing pre-orders for the Rise of Isengard expansion (first expansion to not ship with an instance cluster) and not inform the public that an instance cluster wouldn’t be available for another 3 months.
  • announcing pre-orders for the Rise of Rohan specifying that the cluster would be delayed, but delay the inclusion of that cluster with the purchase of the expansion
  • and just recently – there will be an update between Update 11 and Helm’s deep, but not specifying that it would only be bug fixes and not additional content.
  • these are just a few examples of this

I just don’t understand why Turbine continues to be as vague as they are with these kinds of issues considering how poorly the community reacts every time.  We knew in closed beta for a LONG time there would be no instances in ROI – why not release that and get ahead of it?  What was the point of not explaining how people could obtain the instance cluster with RoR?  And why not just be honest and say the only updates between Update 11 and Helm’s Deep will be bug fixes?  These are all examples of poor customer relations and leading the customer along a false path for fear of upsetting them with bad news.  Well guess what Turbine, while we don’t like getting bad news, we really don’t like feeling like we’ve been lied to.

Then of course there’s the recent – we’ll just ignore this question was ever asked and hope that it goes away as it pertains to things like the content license.  It is a simple factual question, even the question of “what content do you have a license for” took years to resolve and I’m still not sure I know the answer.  Sure it may be a very complicated arrangement and may in fact be in an incredibly nasty negotiation period (purely making this up for dramatic purposes) but you can admit the facts with something along the lines of “Our current licensing deal extends through 2014 and we’re in a constant state of evaluation of the future,” that simple statement acknowledges the question but still doesn’t back anyone into any corner or impact any potential negotiations.  The license issue got even worse as Sapience and the official twitter feed promised to settle the issue definitively in the 20 questions coming up.  Turbine has a history of this kind of teasing, and sadly it is becoming more and more childish and less exciting each time they do it.  Their answer was that they “plan to support LOTRO for many more years to come,” not only is this incredibly vague but there are a whole host of other things Turbine planned to do (or not do) that they went back against:

  • not going Free to Play
  • no gear in store
  • new PvMP map with Isengard
  • more frequent updates with F2P
  • I could go on, but I think you get the point

Not only does Turbine’s track record not speak to well for us just blindly trusting them, but any agreement like this is a two way agreement and who is to say the Tolkien estate wouldn’t grow tired of what’s going on and pull the plug on the game’s license?  After the various tweets, I was really hoping for something substantial, but instead we just got some public relations nonsense that addresses absolutely zero concerns of the community.  What did that statement say that wasn’t something we didn’t already know, of course Turbine wants to continue the game as it is a way for them to stay employed and continue to make money for WB.  I have to question those who think this statement from Turbine is any sort of binding contract with the community.  I would have been happier if they would have hid behind the ongoing contractual discussions and not wanting to disturb them then the crap we got.

While I’m on the list of those questions, I find it incredibly insulting that Turbine has the nerve to redicule the community for asking the same questions multiple times, when they themselves pick and answer the same question multiple times.  Why not keep a consolidated list somewhere (go and find all the dev chats, trust me I tried, its damn hard) not only for the community but for yourselves such that you know which questions you’ve already answered and not pick those unless there’s a significant change.  Let’s pick on the deep meaty answer they did provide this time around regarding instance difficulty.  That same exact question and answer has been repeated numerous times, on various forums including live and bullroarer.  What would have been really interesting would have been how that process has changed as the game has evolved or how they roll in the feedback from Live into that process.

Finally, the waffling back and forth on issues when coupled with all the above completely muddies the water and makes it incredibly hard to understand what’s really coming or planned.  For example, mounted combat instances have been asked about numerous times and each time we get a different answer.  From not on the roadmap (which means no since the roadmap goes out quite a few years), to we’re actively looking at it, to there are much bigger issues that need to be tackled first before we look at that option.  What’s worse is that some of this waffling has been by the same person!  All three responses individually would be perfectly fine answers, as would be stepping up and acknowledging that you’ve provided a different answer before but things have changed for whatever reason.  At this point, while I want certain things in the game and aspects addressed, I’d be happy to have a consistent answer, or if the answer changes own the fact and you could even admit that player feedback caused the change in opinion.  I’m pretty sure there are others like me that keep asking questions (like the mounted combat one) simply because we don’t know what answer we’ll get.

My initial draft of this post was still negative, but this recent round of questions and the buildup to those questions just made the whole problem worse.  I honestly don’t know what Turbine can do to reverse this trend but while some claim (and possibly rightly so) that F2P was the downfall of LOTRO, personally I think this horrendous string of communications has done more harm to the community then anything that has come from F2P.  When you think about it, quite a few of the F2P issues could have easily been lessened (I won’t necessarily say solved) if they had done a better job of getting in front of the issues.

I’m still hopeful the player’s council will help allow Turbine to actually listen to the community as opposed to just randomly blasting out data that they hope we’re interested in.  But I think a more important concept would be to have a little more accountability in acknowledging what’s been asked and what they’ve said previously.

 

DocHoliday
Turbine’s Communication Issues

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Updates on the LOTRO Team Changes http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/08/updates-on-the-lotro-team-changes/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/08/updates-on-the-lotro-team-changes/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 16:21:17 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4990 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

Sapience did provide a couple updates out to folks this morning in response to the Aaron Campbell news, although not much more then name dropping, to clarify what’s going on with the LOTRO team.  In his brief post, he mentions:

Kate Paiz is still the executive producer
Derek Flippo still is the [...]

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Updates on the LOTRO Team Changes

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

Sapience did provide a couple updates out to folks this morning in response to the Aaron Campbell news, although not much more then name dropping, to clarify what’s going on with the LOTRO team.  In his brief post, he mentions:

  • Kate Paiz is still the executive producer
  • Derek Flippo still is the Design Director
  • Hannah Foell who has been a producer for a while now, will pretty much take over solo for Aaron’s communication duties.

For those of you wondering, we have seen Hannah in places we used to see Aaron as recently as the LOTRO Reporter Update 11 Preview.  Their Update 10 Preview was both Aaron and Hannah, so perhaps that was the grooming session for her.

Certainly this is a step up for Hannah, I’m still not sure about Aaron.

Nothing else of note from Sapience though, so we’ll continue to wait.

 

DocHoliday
Updates on the LOTRO Team Changes

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Who’s Left on the LOTRO Team? http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/08/whos-left-on-the-lotro-team/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/08/whos-left-on-the-lotro-team/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 15:05:57 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4987 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

News was made last week as Aaron “Rowan” Campbell announced he is taking over as the Senior Producer of DDO, leaving the LOTRO team without a Senior Producer.  It has neither been confirmed or denied on the LOTRO forums, and similarly, there’s been no mention of what’s going on with Kate Paiz, who [...]

DocHoliday
Who’s Left on the LOTRO Team?

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

News was made last week as Aaron “Rowan” Campbell announced he is taking over as the Senior Producer of DDO, leaving the LOTRO team without a Senior Producer.  It has neither been confirmed or denied on the LOTRO forums, and similarly, there’s been no mention of what’s going on with Kate Paiz, who last posted in January as the Executive Producer for LOTRO.  There’s a couple of things I wanted to touch on about this news, the obvious and then what I found after a little more digging into things.

I wonder if this is a promotion for Aaron, a lateral move, or a demotion based on what has happened (or rumored to have happened) with LOTRO.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I always looked at LOTRO as being the bigger title for Turbine as compared to DDO.  Certainly you can read all sorts of things into this move and maybe they’re looking to Aaron to pump some life into DDO or something along those lines.  But the way it was announced – nothing on the LOTRO side and just a short introduction on the DDO forums, seems a little odd.  I would think if they wanted Aaron to carry on his “success,” they would want to pump him up a bit more and set him up a bit better.  Or the flip side, Turbine’s PR does have some issues so maybe they’re just doing their normal fantastic job.  Also, as has been raised elsewhere perhaps Turbine is seeing more competition in the D&D realm with Neverwinter Online and Elder Scrolls Online and they wanted to try and confront that.

With this announcement (or lack thereof) I started looking at other Turbine products checking to see who else was around.  Rumor has it the acclaimed dev Zombie Columbus has been working on Turbine’s MOBA Infinite Crisis for a while now, and he’s been joined by Frelorn and Celestrata per their dev tracker.  Jeffrey Steefel (former Executive Producer for LOTRO) has also been working on IC for a while now.  The only person making posts on the LOTRO side lately has been Sapience, so he’s really the only one confirmed to still be kicking around.  Also, I’ll point out that just because people are working on other titles, there’s nothing that says they’re not still working on LOTRO – they may be some re-use of technology or just a temporary assignment to help smooth out a rough patch.

Perhaps the reason why Turbine hasn’t been very active with regards to LOTRO news is that there’s some shuffling of personnel going on (similar to the recent restructuring of TSW Developer Funcom) and they’re still waiting for the dust to settle.  There’s been a number of interesting discussions on the official and unofficial forums, but in recent typical LOTRO fashion, nothing official from Turbine.

No matter what’s going on, I expect we’ll here something from Turbine this week about something ;)  It has been rumored that the new forums will launch this week, and on the optimistic side we could get something regarding the Helm’s Deep expansion.  I’ve been waiting for a while now for the pre-order announcement in conjunction with the closed beta start date announcement, so the end of the week would be the soonest I would expect something along those lines.  That Helm’s Deep announcement might be made by either the new producer, or Paiz, which either way would be a logical time to lay out and discuss the future of LOTRO.

What do folks make of these changes, and when do you expect to here something more about Helm’s Deep?

 

DocHoliday
Who’s Left on the LOTRO Team?

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Challenging the Status Quo http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/02/challenging-the-status-quo/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/02/challenging-the-status-quo/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 04:06:29 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4985 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I think I’ve written and deleted this post at least half a dozen times as I’ve really been struggling with this of late.  As a bit of a back-story, I was incredibly upset with how some people handled the recent “Troll” post and I struggled with how I wanted to handle it.  I’ve taken quite a bit [...]

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Challenging the Status Quo

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I think I’ve written and deleted this post at least half a dozen times as I’ve really been struggling with this of late.  As a bit of a back-story, I was incredibly upset with how some people handled the recent “Troll” post and I struggled with how I wanted to handle it.  I’ve taken quite a bit more time then normal as I just couldn’t come up with a way to accomplish something useful, without just ranting about someone else’s work.  I’m sure some will be able to figure out what I’m actually referring to, but hopefully this is broad enough that no one takes it too personally.  And if you do, just be happy I didn’t post what I originally wrote.

The core of my concern was that the “Troll” post could (and was) be taken as either a total troll post, or as a joke and just as quickly dismissed without too much more discussion.  Taking one of those view-points and discussing it purely on that concept is doing exactly what you shouldn’t do on the internet – Feed the Trolls, not to mention wasting peoples time  However, if you actually want to dive into some of the questions that were raised in that post, then you can actually start shifting the discussion to something that could benefit the entire community.

The overarching question raised in the “Troll” post surrounds Turbine’s lack of communication with the community.  And we’re not talking things regarding game balance or other tough questions but relatively cut and dry questions, things like do you have a license for the Hobbit?  When do the licenses expire?  What does Turbine gain from NOT answering these kinds of questions, if anything they’ re fueling the fire for the conspiracy theorists?  Now based of of their horrible handling of the past two expansions, I can sort of understand why we haven’t heard anything about Helm’s Deep, but why not at least continue the discussion by tossing out dates when we might hear something, instead of childishly teasing the community that they know something we don’t know.  Some people claim Turbine has never talked about things openly, and while there certainly has been limits it has become even more closed off in recent history.  And while they may historically not talk about things, why not try to shake things up a bit?  Dismissing the argument purely based on the history is passively accepting whatever Turbine wants to put out, and not actively asking for more as a customer.

I have a feeling that there’s some serious pressure over at Turbine and they’re at a real crossroads with the LOTRO franchise.  It has been making money for them, but we haven’t heard any sort of “ra ra” news from them in a long while.  Nothing regarding sales numbers, activity, expansion pack orders, etc. and before you chime in that Turbine doesn’t share that, they will when it is good news.  They were quick to point out how big a success the F2P transition was and how awesome the Isengard XPack sold.  Personally I feel that Rohan sold significantly less copies then Isengard and Turbine is trying to figure out how to best position Helm’s Deep to right that ship.  If you look at some the only updated source of speculative data (Rohan launched at week 121), there’s no significant jump with Rohan like there have been at other times.  While Rohan had some cool pieces, it didn’t splash big enough or in a big enough pool to really make enough of a difference.  Another area Rohan missed the mark was their pre-order as there just wasn’t anything worthwhile for many people, and again I think that’s why they’re “delaying” the announcement as they want to make sure it comes off better then Rohan.  The inclusion of level 10 “content” is a direct attempt to not restrict the Helm’s Deep buying pool to people at level cap like Rohan did.  However, I think a bigger issue for them of late has been the complaints that there hasn’t been enough meat to justify the price points, and the handling of instance clusters has been a significant sticking point as well.  But here’s where Helm’s Deep is in a tricky spot, they’re also unleashing the class apocalypse (aka skill trees) and the complete revamp of every class is quite a daunting task that coupled with not only creating new group content for but also verifying all existing group content would be a massive effort that would require an extended testing period.  And of course, added into all of this is the horrid job Turbine has been doing lately with rolling things out without breaking unrelated items or just having to take multiple passes to actually fix something causes additional delays.  And again, we still don’t have information on whether things have been truly addressed (launcher) or why certain issues appear to not be correctly resolved (retroactive Wildermore deed rewards).   Another opportunity for Turbine to get ahead of things would be this new forum system we’re rolling to at some  point, as it sure would be nice to have some idea of whether or not there will be better security for these forums, or if we’ll still be tied to using the same user name and password as our live accounts.  Again, we know very little about these new forums other then “they look cool,” and not anything like “we’ve heard your issues” and this is what we’re trying to do to resolve them.  Overall, there’s a ton of things Turbine needs to be worried with and it seems as though they’re taking the ostrich path as opposed to having some level of communication.

Turbine appears to be trying to sweep certain things under the rug, and with their ability to pull things off their forums whenever and however they want, it falls to the community to attempt to keep them honest.  There are a couple of places that do this, the main one being the unofficial forums, but at times they get a little too “tin-foil hat” for my liking.  Unfortunately there seems to be either the all is well forums, or the tin-foil hat community site, without too much in the middle.  I haven’t been posting too much of late due to other restrictions on my schedule (new baby and new job) but I have been trying to seed others with information in hopes that they could pick up the slack.  However, it is evident that either they don’t want to or are afraid to burn any bridges so I will be reverting back to more activity here.  I can’t promise too much, but it is pretty easy for me to say that I’ll post more – simply because I really haven’t been posting.  But I’m going to try to post more questions and thoughts about the news and really not talk about things that are just information, or where I don’t see anything of interest to talk about.  I’ll also toss out the offer to folks that I’m more then happy to post thoughts or articles on subjects if you’d like another voice and don’t want to deal with forums.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I’m not doing this purely to bash LOTRO or Turbine or to get any enjoyment of such activity.  I truly do love this game and the community (for the most part) that has grown with this game.  I feel that with the all that has happened lately the community is in a bit of flux, and I want to try and do what I can to support and foster this community.  I personally don’t feel that there have been enough folks challenging Turbine but far to many either parroting them or making wild baseless accusations and not enough rational, thought out, and properly researched discussions.  That’s what I’m working to better provide for the community, and of course this will not be limited to just Turbine.

 

DocHoliday
Challenging the Status Quo

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Is the Secret World Turning the Corner? http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/01/is-the-secret-world-turning-the-corner/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/07/01/is-the-secret-world-turning-the-corner/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 03:21:25 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4982 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I was pretty surprised when I saw the posts concerning TSW’s rapidly approaching anniversary as it hardly seems like it has bee a year since it launched.  Many because so much has happened to the game and the company over the year that times has just flown past.  I’m not sure I can think of another [...]

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Is the Secret World Turning the Corner?

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I was pretty surprised when I saw the posts concerning TSW’s rapidly approaching anniversary as it hardly seems like it has bee a year since it launched.  Many because so much has happened to the game and the company over the year that times has just flown past.  I’m not sure I can think of another game that has had to overcome as much as TSW has, and I’m really hoping this latest batch of news is a positive sign that the team has moved past the turmoil and is stronger because of it.  I’m not going to dwell on the past, although it would probably be plenty of material for a novel, but instead focus on what’s coming up.

Joel kicked off the news batch with his June’s Producer’s letter where he does a bit of a recap of all that TSW has been able to accomplish over this past year.  For me the biggest thing he left off were the amazing ARG events the team has put out, which really are content updates, just in another form factor.  If you think about it that way, Funcom has put out 9 content updates, lost a CEO on launch day due to suspicious circumstances, gone through 2 corporate restructurings, moved the staff half a world away, and switched business models.  That’s an impressive year, but from everything they’ve put out (and they have to be open about their numbers) TSW’s model switch has worked very well and the game is striving.  I don’t care whether you like TSW or not, you have to admit to be able to continue through everything they have and be in the position they are now is quite the accomplishment.

Before I press forward, I have to comment on the two images in his letter.  The first one is the “Cover Art” for this episode and while it does look like a James Bond montage (as it should being the them of the update) I must say I’m a little worried about the teddy bear in the image.  I have a feeling this is going to end up more like the Holy Grail Bunny then a Ted rip-off Smile

Also, the two comic strips at the end tie in that little teddy bear and you just have to wonder if it is an evil bear, or a benevolent one.

If that isn’t creepy enough, well there’s the trailer for you as well:

However, before we get to the goodies of Issue 7, we have to survive the actual game’s anniversary.  I like this idea of building up to the new content which TSW has done an amazing job of in various other patches they’ve done over the year, and I’m excited to see how they do it for this update.  So there will be some nasty and powerful creatures invading the land that will challenge the players, but success sounds like it will grant some sort of cosmetic pet?  Also during the event there will be daily bonuses to things like XP, ability and skill points as well as an across the board 30% discount in the store.  I’m pretty excited about the store sale as I know I have a huge pile of points and I need to use some before they expire.  Which I might add, is quite a smart way to do it as otherwise they’ll be hard pressed to ever get money out of lifers again.  I know my ridiculous stockpile of points in LOTRO will continue to allow me to purchase pieces of Expansions that I want, unless of course they change that model.  There will also be gifts given to the players, but no details on what those gifts are other then there will be something extra for members and Grandmasters.  And finally, the game will be completely free for anyone who has ever played a Funcom title (hint go check out AoC for free if you want to get in that way) will be able to enjoy the event without having to buy the box.

The conclusion of the event is the actual release of the Issue 7 content, which seemed a little weird to me as I thought they already released Issues 7, but then I remembered this was another one of their split patches where the guts of the update go out earlier then the story.

Joel wraps up his article with some teasers for Issue 8, and I have to say I’m probably most excited about the new Scenario and Augmentation systems as they could go horribly wrong, Funcom has done a pretty good job with their system changes as well as taking what others have done and improving on them.  Scenarios could be a HUGE content improvement for TSW in much the same way skirmishes have helped out LOTRO and I think if done well with the right story tie could fill a void in TSW’s content.

All in all, some great stuff coming up for TSW and I’m really hoping this is the start of an even better second year in The Secret World.

 

DocHoliday
Is the Secret World Turning the Corner?

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Saying Goodbye to CSTM http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/06/29/saying-goodbye-to-cstm/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/06/29/saying-goodbye-to-cstm/#comments Sat, 29 Jun 2013 18:27:04 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4978 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I thought a few times on what to do for CSTM as they’re retiring from podcasting, although luckily they’ll still be gaming and on twitter so not completely gone.  I won’t be available to join the live show tonight, so I wanted to put up a post instead.  I thought about recording something, but I [...]

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Saying Goodbye to CSTM

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I thought a few times on what to do for CSTM as they’re retiring from podcasting, although luckily they’ll still be gaming and on twitter so not completely gone.  I won’t be available to join the live show tonight, so I wanted to put up a post instead.  I thought about recording something, but I just have too many thoughts in my head and it is much easier to organize in writing, then worry about trying to do it in writing and THEN make it through a recording.

I have enormous respect for what they’ve been able to do in growing their community and the quality of the material they’ve been able to put out.  I know many point to their festival guides, which I’m not sure folks completely realize how much work goes into those especially now that so much of those are gated behind daily achievements.  It takes dedication on their end as well as a contagious excitement that brings in others to help offset that enormous load.  That kind of time and effort certainly can take a toll and with a family, I’m can totally see how that would become quite the challenge.

The other huge resource they’ve provided to the community are all the round-tables they’ve done.  I joined in for the Warden and Captain ones and I know that I came away smarter about those classes so I’m sure many listeners learned from those as well.  I’ve heard many reference those as must listen for new players of whatever the respective class they’re playing.  Not only were they smart enough to do those episodes, but wise (and humble) enough to realize they needed to bring on others to help collaborate.  Its that spirit of collaboration that’s been a constant in the LOTRO community and I really think CSTM has done an amazing job of expanding and fostering that mentality.

One of the other things they’ve helped not only myself, but I know many others is the courage and support they’ve given to the entire gaming community, not just LOTRO.  They’ve done an amazing job of not only being approachable but also open enough such that folks realize that they too can blog and/or podcast.  They’ve done a very good job of welcoming and encouraging people to contribute to their site, and many of those have branched out either on their own or contributing in multiple locations.  In looking at the community, I’m sure there are quite a few who owe their start to CSTM and while it wasn’t where I started they certainly had a big impact on my progress.  Those lessons certainly will continue on, and although their leaving will be a huge blow to the community, because of all the work they’ve already put in, the community is in a much better position to carry their banner.

Both of our sites actually started up around the same time period and they were definitely one of the sites that really influenced and allowed me to do the things I wanted to do.  It was very comforting and nice to know that there was a resource out there that covered the news and special events (festivals) to such an extent that I could focus my energy on other aspects of the game.  It allowed me to write about the things I enjoy doing in game, and not have to spend time on things I didn’t enjoy.  I’ve had enough trouble trying to balance everything, and I know that if they weren’t around I would’ve struggled even more!

I want to thank them for all their hard work and passion they’ve showed over the years and wish them the best in the personal, professional, and gaming lives.  I’m not sure where the LOTRO community would be without their efforts, but it definitely would’ve been much worse off.  I know they won’t be totally gone, but they will still be missed.

And finally, they are leaving a significant void in the community and I’ll have more coming here soon as to what I’m planning based on a few factors, one of which being their retirement.

For all those of appropriate drinking age, I suggest raising a glass to their future and appreciation of their work that will continue to benefit the community until LOTRO retires.

 

DocHoliday
Saying Goodbye to CSTM

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Jumping Ship http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/06/07/jumping-ship/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/06/07/jumping-ship/#comments Fri, 07 Jun 2013 16:59:41 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4976 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I’ve been a bit quiet posting lately, and that’s mainly due to a lack of actual gaming.  I’ve been playing some FM13, but during the off-season of real football, my interest has waned a bit.  I’ve also struggled getting into the other games I’ve been playing, namely LOTRO, TSW, and RIft.  But my [...]

DocHoliday
Jumping Ship

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

I’ve been a bit quiet posting lately, and that’s mainly due to a lack of actual gaming.  I’ve been playing some FM13, but during the off-season of real football, my interest has waned a bit.  I’ve also struggled getting into the other games I’ve been playing, namely LOTRO, TSW, and RIft.  But my recent excitement about Camelot Unchained got me thinking about what I’m looking for in a game, and that then prompted my jump.

Back to Camelot Unchained, the Kickstarter has been funded and there’s a ton of stuff going on so far.  There have been a number of updates, including new animations and art-work, but what really got me going was the opening of the Founder’s Forums.  I haven’t been too active over there, but two things really got me thinking.  First off, there are (naturally) a ton of former DAOC players there and it really got me reminiscing about that game and the fun I had there.  I remember spending hours on end in PvP that not only meant something but had somewhat painful ramifications for death, nothing permanent, just travel time.  Then of course all the talk about what was and wasn’t going to be in the game and how various systems would work got me thinking about what I actually wanted to do in a game.

So this started me looking at what I wasn’t enjoying about the games I’m currently playing, and I came up with two major things:

  • I want PvP that not only means something but has ramifications that bring on that adrenaline rush that I just can’t get in a battleground.
  • I’m kinda over questing and doing things like reputation grinds or dailies.

The combination of those two thoughts, drove me to a pretty clear and simple answer – I’ve re-subscribed to Eve Online.  Now, I’m not saying I won’t go back to the other games, but I have lifetimes in both LOTRO and TSW, and Rift is going F2P and thanks to Raptr I now have their latest expansion pack as well.  So I can jump back to any of them with little cost impacts, heck I’ll even have enough VIP points in LOTRO for the next expansion whenever it comes out.

I ended up subbing for 3 months to try it out, and after figuring out which of my characters was better off, I started the process of allocating earned points from retired skills since I had originally played back when they had the “learning” skills.  I poked around at some guides for noobs, and then stumbled upon the whole “certificates” section of the character panel which has really helped guide me through what skills to train next.

My initial gameplan has two areas of focus at least while skills are relatively quick to attain – PvP and mining.  I’m only going to work on mining such that I can get the requisite individual ore processing skills, then I’ll switch and solely focus on PvP as mining will just be a side diversion for me.  I was lucky enough to get a couple of free ships, I guess since I’ve had an account for over 6 years, and I sold one for a nice chunk of ISK (nice chunk for a newbie that is) and the other works perfectly as a cheap mining vessel.  I finished the military agent quest line, and now I’m working on upgrading my questing acquired Rifter initially as a solo/ratting build just so I can remember how combat works and get a handle on that aspect.

Once I get my arms around all that, its off to find a Corp and start working probably on a tackling build, but I have to admit I’m intrigued by both the Covert and EW aspects of the game.

So far, I’m having a blast romping around in space and am really impressed by how smooth and fun this game has been.  It was a bit daunting at first, but there’s lots of ways (without even talking to anyone) to get a handle on what’s going on.  We shall see where all this takes me, but for now I think my home will be out in space.

 

DocHoliday
Jumping Ship

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The Ups and Downs of LOTRO’s Update 11 http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/05/18/the-ups-and-downs-of-lotros-update-11/ http://docholidaymmo.com/2013/05/18/the-ups-and-downs-of-lotros-update-11/#comments Sat, 18 May 2013 20:32:58 +0000 http://docholidaymmo.com/?p=4974 DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

For me Update 11 has been a bit of a mixed bag.  There are a number of cool little things they’ve put into the game and of course the new epic story line, but I can’t help but be overly frustrated by the lack of quality and revision control that Turbine continues to show with its launches.  There’s [...]

DocHoliday
The Ups and Downs of LOTRO’s Update 11

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DocHoliday's MMO Saloon
DocHoliday's MMO Saloon - LOTRO, Secret World, & Rift with an End-Game View

For me Update 11 has been a bit of a mixed bag.  There are a number of cool little things they’ve put into the game and of course the new epic story line, but I can’t help but be overly frustrated by the lack of quality and revision control that Turbine continues to show with its launches.  There’s also the slightly shadier aspect that I’m not sure I like or dislike, and that’s the continual push to have players log in every day.

Let’s start with the good parts, I’ve already talked about the zone and it really doesn’t disappoint from a visual perspective.  The whole footprints in the snow things is pretty darn cool!  I like the new housing tweaks, especially being able to pay for 20 weeks up front, in case you know you’re going to be gone (or forget) and that 5 weeks just isn’t long enough.  Foreclosure doesn’t impact me at all, but I think its a good middle ground way to get out of the corner they backed themselves into.  While the launcher has had issues, I do like the fact that it FINALLY respects your default browser when clicking links from within it.  I’m also quite happy with the way the epic line (not that I’ve done that much) mixes in your story with session plays to allow you to flesh out the rest of the story and allow us to check in on other areas.  The LOTRO story is quite geographically diverse, and this tech is a great way to show what’s going on without forcing us all other the map.  They also added in new craftable items for those who have maxed out not only their crafting skills, but their guild reputation.  I’m quite happy these don’t require any other reputation (like Wildermore) as it allows for folks with lower level crafting alts to still make usable items for people at the end game.  These items are a touch better then the Hytbold items, and offer quite a bit of flexibility with their multi-output options, so they’re definitely worth a look.  One other thing that I haven’t checked out, but was mentioned in the LOTRO Reporter interview was mounted fishing, and while you may or may not like the idea, the technology and concept behind it is quite intriguing and points to further growth and flexibility of the game engine, which is always a good thing.

Somewhere in the middle between the good and the bad is this whole new alerts panel thing, I’m actually ok with it, but that’s mainly because, thanks to the folks over on the LOTRO Google+ channel, I found out that you can individually scale the size of the alerts panel in your UI settings.  Without making it really small like I have, I think the cartoonish nature of the button would really bug me, but since it is now super tiny (yet still findable to click) it is one of those “out of sight, out of mind” updates.  They did add in some warbands and some other stuff for mounted combat, which while I agree is a good thing, but I still don’t think enough was done to make it anything more then a fringe side-game.  However, I have yet to see or read if any of the new warbands are challenging, or if they’re as much of a pushover as the others.

While there’s a number of pretty cool things in this update, sadly there’s also a LOT wrong with this update.  I’m still quite puzzled how this whole patcher thing wasn’t caught, but it still isn’t completely fixed – perhaps relying on the ancient .net 1.1 for so long and making such a drastic jump was just too much to pull off successfully.  There’s also the potential that there’s some nastiness that they had to code in to make the dreaded Pando Media Booster work with 1.1 that’s not playing well with whatever version of .net they’re using now.  Whatever the issue is, the fact that is has taken this long (3 days to patch) and it still isn’t resolved isn’t a good thing for Turbine.  The next big issue with this update are the broken quests which block you from proceeding in the story, there are now 2 that I know of with one being fixed.  Please make sure you check out this post such that you don’t get stuck in a position where you can’t advance further.  While I really appreciate and enjoy all the tricks and things they can do with phasing now, it seems like they forgot to put the proper checks in place to make sure that you can’t accidentally phase out someone you need for quest turn-ins.  Also, the music system is now broken, and this is troubling for two reasons:

  • timing is close to WeatherStock which is one of LOTRO’s biggest events that is noticed and picked up by media outlets outside of the gaming world
  • this happened when there were no updates to the system, meaning they don’t have a good system of regression testing to make sure that what worked in previous builds still works in current builds.

Finally, this update has once again brought us back to the time (Isengard did this too) where we no longer get virtue rewards for deed advancement or completion.  I really wish Turbine would just pick to something and be consistent about it, but all of the flipping back and forth on this in conjunction with the increase in available ranks just doesn’t sit well with me.  It is starting to seem like they are purposefully leaving options out of the game in order to drive folks to the store.  And let me be clear, I don’t have a problem with them having traits available in the store (I have bought them) but when you don’t include them in entire regions when they are in others (they’re in Rohan and the Great River, but not Isengard or Wildermore), it appears shady to me as if they don’t want too many options for players in game.

The other aspect that rubs me the wrong way is this shift to not only reward players for logging in every day but in some ways penalizing them for not.  Penalizing may be a strong word, but there are certain very clear advantages to logging in every day now that just weren’t the case prior to Update 11.  And I’m not just referring to the Hobbit Presents, which are just another addition along the same lines as festivals in that there are just certain things that are on a daily timer.  The big shift that I’m refereeing to is the new “VIP Perk” that is the change to rested experience.  Prior to update 11 you could “store” up to 20% of a level per day up to a cap of an entire level’s worth as rested experience, but now with Update 11 that cap is at 33%, but it can be refreshed daily and applies to all experience not just monster kills.  So this is really only a perk if you’re able to actively QUEST on a daily basis on whatever character you want to work on.  I’d suggest if you really want to take full advantage of this “perk” make sure to try and get in some good quest time on your alts, perhaps run a skirmish or two on them to get not only monster kills but quest xp.

Overall, I still think this was a pretty decent update for LOTRO but the bugs and lack of regression testing could pose some huge problems when they do their class overhauls with all these instance options and technologies as something is bound to break, and who knows when Turbine will not only catch it but be able to fix it.

 

DocHoliday
The Ups and Downs of LOTRO’s Update 11

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