Posts tagged beta
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.
Of course this is all subject to change, but there are some pretty cool aspects to Update 11 that I wanted to share with folks. I also will have a couple of suggestions for folks towards the end. Don’t get me wrong, Update 11 isn’t perfect and it won’t keep end-game folks busy until the Helm’s Deep expansion, but this update is better then what I was expecting. And I haven’t even done any of the Epic line, which always have good stories tied to them.
Visually, the area is quite stunning and unlike the other winter zones in the game – which is quite nice. Turbine always impresses me with how they’re able to keep creating different and unique zones. Adding to the beauty of the area, Turbine has stepped it up with their armor designs in this update. The end-game sets with Rohan were honestly pretty disappointing as the Hytbold sets were incredibly un-inspired. As some examples, check out some of the gear below:
Now as you can tell from these shots, we have all sorts of new tiers:
- new guild obtainable craftables
- requires mastery of the eastenment tier (double anvil)
- More reputation to obtain
- although this time tasks do boost reputation
- More barter items to gather, including another set of dailies
- some have likened the progression to Limlight Gorge
I also wanted to share a completely non-real item as I just thought it looked cool and I thought might be interesting to see if they actually use it anywhere.
I would be curious to see if they decide to do something like the weapon glow already in game for armor or shields.
In addition to all the cool looks of these sets, there are actually some interesting things going on with stats in this update. The guild crafted items all have 5 variants to choose from to give you lots of flexibility. I’m not sure about everything, but at least the Tailor, Metalsmith, and Jeweler items all have 5 options, which is pretty impressive. Granted, you won’t have set bonuses, but for many classes those bonuses aren’t that useful so here’s another series of pieces you can mix and match. Here’s an example of one of these pieces compared with the Hytbold piece.
This kinda makes my head spin a bit from a min/maxing perspective as there are now ALL SORTS of options to play with. As another example, here are the stats for the pretty eye-popped barterable bauble items available in the new zone.
So there’s some pretty cool stuff coming with Update 11, but it would really be nice if they find a way to squeeze in some sort of other update prior to the expansion. If they could do something like last year and add a couple instances and/or skirmishes I think that would go a long way. However, I have a feeling that the reputation grind is all we’re going to have to keep us busy until the expansion hits.
As for those looking for things to do, I’d suggest working on your crafting as the new goodies may require some work. First off, they all require mastery of the Eastenment tier (double anvil) where as the previous build recipes just required access to the tier, not mastery. Also, they do require the large guild items (the weekly cooldown ones) so it might be a good idea to stock up on those. Another option for you is that you can now trade up symbols such that small symbols can be turned into medium ones, and those can further be upgraded to large ones. I haven’t looked at the tasks yet, but it is possible there could be a re-use of item drops – but I’d honestly be surprised if they didn’t introduce new items.
While not a total cure-all for what’s going on with LOTRO, I really think Update 11 is a significantly good update that if more updates (and more often) were of this quality, LOTRO might be in a better state.
It was delayed a couple of times, but I have to admit I’m pretty please overall with the folks chosen for the council. I certainly don’t know everyone (I do know and respect both Silverlode representatives) but in all the places I’ve read (including the unofficial forums) there are very few criticisms of the folks chosen. Granted, it could be that people can’t make the connection between the character names and the forum names, but I still think the lack of push-back from the community is a good first step.
For those wanting to get more involved with the council, there are a couple of ways. My only suggestion would be to be understanding of the fact that the council members are bound by an NDA and as such may not be able to tell you anything, however some have already come out in various ways and made themselves available. They probably are also getting a few other requests coming into them, so it would probably be best to be patient and not take their lack of a response personally.
- If you’re on the same server, you could always hit them up with a polite tell or in-game mail
- there are some forum threads, one on raiders specifically, that you can either chime in on or DM individuals
- some of them are on twitter and have been using the #lotrocouncil hashtag
- I also expect there will be more official ways to get involved as they get spun up
Finally, this is a new thing Turbine is trying out and for me they’ve at least carried out the initial aspect very well. Now comes the tough part, what the council is allowed to do, is able to do as a community, and what, plus how frequently, they’re allowed to tell the rest of us what’s going on.
As for me personally, yes I did apply but looking back at it I’m happy I wasn’t chosen as I do have a means to interact with the team and the community. I have been part of betas and have impacted the development process, and will continue to attempt to do so. This is an avenue for another batch of folks to get involved and see what they can do. Of course, I probably will apply next time but I think we’ll all have a much better idea of what’s going on by that time.
I am skeptically optimistic about this whole thing, but today’s announcement does make me feel better about the potential of the Council.
I’ve been waiting a little bit to absorb and digest the releases yesterday as there are certain things that just don’t make sense to me. We saw 3 main pieces of news that I wanted to go a little deeper into.
After a delay hit last week, Update 11 finally makes its way over to Bullroarer for public testing. I will admit that I’ve only popped on the server for a little bit, so this isn’t any sort of thorough review of the update. For the most part, we knew much of what is in this update but I wanted to touch on a couple of things. I was a bit underwhelmed by the changes to mounted combat, as Rowan made it out to be a pretty significant change to the mechanics as well as giving the mount trees more options. At first glance, it really just seemed like the removed many of the basic traits and rolled them into the base mount. While I appreciate the change, I was hoping for more of an evolution. But, I will reserve full judgment until I play with it more and see the new content in case they added something spiffy there. I am (as always) happy to see new zones and am VERY curious to see where the story continues, and visually it appears that the new zone doesn’t disappoint. I did check out the new Hobbit Presents, and I really don’t have any personal issues with it – but at least now we should be able to get confirmation regarding non-VIPs and gold boxes. On my first roll I did win 50 Mithril Tokens, so I used those up for research purposes. The main thing that jumped out to me is that the gear in there maxes out at level 80, but there are Teal and Orange drops. Below are some shots of what’s possible to get, notice the orange item is not that far off from my Hytbold gear. In addition to this use of coins, there are new ways to spend them, which is all well and good but I’m just not entirely sure the rationale behind the change. We shall see how much of this build stays the way it currently exists and how many BR builds we get before live, but for the most part I’m liking the Update for what it is.
The announcement that shouldn’t have shocked anyone was the “official” announcement of the Helm’s Deep expansion. My biggest issue with this is that there’s NOTHING new in the announcement that we didn’t already hear last year from Rowan or earlier this year from Kate Paiz. Why make such a big deal about a “huge” announcement around the anniversary that you’ve already made? This announcement is almost identical to the ones for Isengard and Rohan, (Isengard Release & Rohan Release) but those were both a few months earlier in the calendar year. I was thinking possibly they might announce pre-orders and beta, but for each of those last 2 expansions (Isengard and Rohan) those announcements didn’t come until July – so this would certainly be early for that. I’m not sure what else I would have wanted to know, but this announcement just didn’t excite me much at all. Getting to the few details they did announce, I’ve mentioned before that I”m not a big fan of level cap increases so I’m not excited that they included one, but it probably is best with all the class revamp stuff going on. Probably the most confusing part of the announcement is the mention of Helm’s Deep content available starting at level 10! I’m not sure how this will actually work, but it smacks of a money grab that just wants to give everyone a reason to get the expansion and not just those at level cap. However, I can see this happening in a number of ways, but here’s my speculation. For those who’ve been around for a while, you may remember Book 14 of Epic Volume 1 (thanks to twitter for helping jog my memory) had a server wide quest turn-in gate on finishing the rest of the book. Essentially once enough people did enough of a certain group of quests you were able to tip the scales of the battle enough to un-lock the rest of the story. I’m reading into what’s in the release in that Turbine is doing something similar here with this expansion. Notice, no where in the release do we see the mention of instances, raid, skirmishes, etc. which I do NOT expect to be part of the expansion just like they haven’t been for the past 2 expansions. However, this server wide un-lock, could provide a neat tie-in to better “explain” the time gap between the content. They’ll know when the instance cluster should be ready, so they can just adjust the math such that it isn’t possible to unlock the content until it is ready. This would provide a way in which everyone could participate in some way without tossing level 10 players way out into Rohan. Another possibility would be to include session plays in some form, but I’m just not sure how they’d introduce those for folks that early on in the story.
The piece of news that’s probably getting the least amount of publicity is the changes coming to the forums. They’ve been hinting and talking about the change, even going so far as to tell people to export any blogs, but we’re now getting details of what’s coming. Long story short, everything not on the forums is going away. This includes My.lotro blogs, character data, programmatic access to the item and character databases, PvMP and skirmish leaderboards, the Lorebook, and probably a few other things that I’m forgetting. Everyone realizes that the whole system has issues, but this seems like a pretty drastic step. Sapience does reveal that the merging of NA and EU systems has caused a huge assortment of problems so it seems like this is a necessary evil. However, the more concerning part about the announcement is there’s no mention of any sort of upside for players, or any mention of doing something to address players concern over security.
One thing that these 3 announcements all have in common is a very confusing PR strategy that Turbine has embraced. Why roll out the bad news together with the two pieces of good positive stuff? Why wait all this time to “officially” announce the expansion? Why nothing addressing huge security holes that have already been compromised once as part of this forum apocalypse? I think many of the issues the community has stems directly from this lack of quality communication. I don’t know what specifically has changed, but I don’t remember them coming this frequently. Hopefully the Player Council can shake something loose, but only time will tell.
Unfortunately for those waiting for the next update to Bullroarer like I mentioned yesterday, they’ve run into an issue that will need to be fixed before pushing out to Bullroarer. Sapience believes things should be available by the middle of next week