Posts tagged crafting

The Ups and Downs of LOTRO’s Update 11

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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.

 

LOTRO Update 11 Goodies

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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:

Metalsmith CraftablesTailor Craftablesmore costmetics

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.

Bullroarer snapshot

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.

One example of stats

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.

New Barter ItemsNew Barter ItemsNew Barter ItemsNew Barter ItemsNew Barter ItemsNew Barter Items

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.

 

LOTRO Update 9.1.1 Patch Notes

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I didn’t even realize there was going to be a patch today but there was and 2 things from this really jumped out at me.

First, I was surprised that they’re doing server side performance enhancements ahead of Wednesday’s extended downtime.  I’m all for them doing things, it just seems strange timing to me.  But hopefully it will help as I know since Rohan many (including myself) have been having issues.

It seems like Turbine is still dealing with farming issues (or at least that’s my guess) as loot is being completely removed from certain (they’re not saying which) public instances.  After all the initial issues, I’m surprised they didn’t do more but this seems like the logical step.

The other note in there is that the drop rate for legendary crafting recipes will be increased from the bosses in the Rohan crafting instances.  I’m assuming these are the “Horse Lords” recipes that for now are the best gear in the game.  Now we don’t know what it will be increased to or where it was at, but this does seem like a move to try and get these spaces some more attention.  Looks like they’re trying to put more of these out there for folks not running group instances, which I can’t complain about but again the timing is interesting with all the changes coming with Update 10.

Not too much else in the notes, but you can check them out on the Lorebook.

 

Hidden LOTRO Rohan Crafting Quality Tier

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I bring this topic up after a discussion in Google Chat pointing out that there are entire new quality tiers of craft-able items BETTER then the top guild obtained recipes.  I’m saying these are hidden as there isn’t any information on these anywhere from Turbine through either the developer diaries or the lorebook.  I’ll come back to this, but first the details on what we know so far.

As I’m sure many have noticed, single recipes no longer drop, but you obtain them from scroll cases representing the different disciplines. The “normal” tier 8 recipes are obtained from the “Eastment Cases” but there’s also an “Ancient Riddlemark Scroll Case” that contains single shot recipes.  These single shot recipes create Orange or Epic items that are significantly better then the top tier of the guild recipes.  However, they are single shot usage recipes and the Epic item is only created upon a Critical Success.  Not only does this put crafters back on the useful map but also makes Scholars relevant again as they’re needed for the critical success booster scroll.  So break out the rabbit’s foot, horseshoe, and any other good luck charms and critical success conspiracy theories as they’ll all be needed.  All around pretty cool stuff for those of you who enjoy crafting!  Details are still rolling in about what all is possible, but this thread on the forums has a good collection of the various armor pieces.  One thing that has yet to be confirmed is whether these are just for armor, or if there are jewelry items as well.  Also, most of the drops appear to be coming from the Hythbold public instances, but some have claim to have found them from both open world drops as well as Warbands.  I’m still working to grab as much information on this as I can, so please add any other sources you guys see in the comments!

Now I do have to go on a bit of a rant here, why are we JUST now finding out about this?  The community has been begging for something relevant for crafters and Turbine has given it to us, but failed to mention it anywhere.  Prior to learning of this fact I was pretty upset with crafting in Rohan as it seemed like a pointless chore to keep us busy.  But now, it is TOTALLY relevant as in many cases this Epic gear is as good if not better then even the Hythbold sets.  At times it amazes me how Turbine can do some things really well, and then totally screw up on some of the easy stuff.

Needless to say, I’m off to work on my crafting Winking smile

 

Riders of Rohan Day One Thoughts

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Yesterday certainly was an interesting day, that’s for sure, but overall for me personally, it was a good one.  Launch days are always challenging for MMOs and some go well while others are on the rockier side.  While this wasn’t the smoothest launch for Turbine, they were very good at admitting and communicating what was going on and some issues (Missing Store) were resolved while others (crashing and memory leak) had workarounds presented.

I had some issues patching, but in all honesty I think that’s to be expected for an expansion as big as Rohan.  However, I do think Turbine should REALLY consider going back to the pre-patch system they used to do as it would considerably reduce the server crush that was causing many of the issues people were having.  One suggestion I heard was opening up the patching or logins early for VIPs which would be a nice bonus especially for subscribers.

Once I got in game, I did a little housekeeping in my inventory and with my legendary items as well as turning in my crafted reputation items.  Happily using the pointer that you can now right-click to turn them in, only to realize I’m 2 items short.  But my cool-downs were up today, so I’ll finished that off soon enough and got to check out the new medium armor sets.  My Metalworker and Jeweler both had plenty to finish off their reputation so I picked up some of their recipes.  I have to say, the new armor styles look pretty darn cool as they’re starting to look a little more realistic and I’m and more lore appropriate.

Heavy Armor & Warden ShieldNew CloakMedium Armor SetNew Robe

Other then that, I started on the Epic Story as I wanted to wait on Rohan until I could buy the expansion.  Aside from remembering how much I hate that darn elven tree hopping town, I really enjoyed the epic line.  I won’t give any spoilers, but I liked the breaking of the fellowship session play and there are some cool stories in there as well.  I stopped the epic when I made my way to the shadows of the Argonath and went to go get my horse.

Cool Rohan SkyNice scenery

I’ve made it to 76 but still haven’t really done any mounted combat yet but am starting to get more comfortable on my horse.  Sadly I don’t have any cosmetics for it, so Huckleberry is just sporting the bare grey skin that everyone else has.  Other than class steeds and the Steed of the Night, anyone have any good suggestions for cosmetics for your horse?

Any big accomplishments out there for you guys?

 
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