Posts tagged Free to Play
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.
The patch notes are live for folks to check out as the servers should be up soon-ish. I’m not going to post them in full, but a few highlights:
<Update> Don’t forget there’s a new batch of top tier guild craftables as I mentioned previously <Update>
- I’ll be curious to see how the new Mounted Combat works, as well as what new mechanics are there in Wildermore like Aaron has mentioned. I like the concept of mounted combat, but more attention needs to be paid to the content for it to be anything more then a gimmic.
- We’re getting Hobbit Presents, so more incentive to log in a do stuff daily – or so Turbine hopes.
- A little more incentive to pay your rent – foreclosures after 6 months, so if you’re looking for a house, there should be some new openings coming.
- Turbine is really pushing Mithril Coins, and I expect them to almost completely replace Turbine Points for purchases.
- Yet another Legendary Item reset – so don’t forget to spend your points!
- I like the rested XP now applies to all gained and not just monster kills, but I’m not sure I quite understand all the potential impacts and/or limits there.
- Sorry Captains, but “Defeat Event Cooldown” reducing bonuses will no longer stack
- All sorts of class tweaks
- Another new barter coin – Warband Barter Tokens which can be used for the legendary pocket item upgrades
What else jumped out for folks?
Also, if you haven’t already, you might want to check out the 2 recent dev diaries on Mounted Combat and the Epic Story as these actually do go a little deeper then some of the other diaries out there.
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.
It has been a busy day, but many of the expected announcements either haven’t come or have not come in the way expected.
First up, the Player’s Council announcement initially scheduled for the 19th (tomorrow) has been delayed to give more time to the review process. This doesn’t really phase me too much, but certainly with the rest of today’s items I could have fun speculating (and have on twitter).
The first big item of the day was the announcement of the Hobbit Presents, which I’m not even going to talk about since the FAQ raises more questions then it answers and even basic things are ambiguous at best. Why can’t Turbine put out actual information that makes sense instead of a rushed out announcement followed by a stream of Dev posts on the forums either contradicting the FAQ or just confusing things? As an example, it still isn’t clear if non-VIPs can obtain items from the Gold boxes, to me that’s a pretty cut and dry question that they’ve tried to answer in 3 separate places with each one providing a slightly different answer. Personally I don’t really care either way about this system, but for me there are better uses of development resources.
And finally, probably the biggest piece of news that only came via a comment in the Present thread is that Update 11 should hit Bullroarer tomorrow! Who knows how long it will stay there, but at least there will be some patch note goodness to keep up busy and distracted from the other fiascos.
The initial build hit Bullroarer yesterday for Update 10, and we also have some patch notes. There’s a decent amount in the notes, but also a number of things that are not in the notes, so I’m expecting not only Dev. Diaries to clear things up but also a couple other builds before it goes live. Here are the notes, but I also wanted to discuss a few items in more detail.
There’s a lot of debate on these new Mithril coins but in all honesty I don’t really care that much. The biggest thing that bothers me about the whole is that it was the first thing they decided to talk about, really ANOTHER currency added to the game is the most exciting and pressing thing for Update 10? But this really has very little impact on me since I don’t use those items and it will actually clear up some inventory that I was hoarding from lottery winnings, so there is that bonus. But I am wondering what’s behind this move and if we’ll see more of this kind of consolidation going forward.
The other big “new” item in here is all the combat system revisions. We already knew about the Warden changes, but we also get news about the Critical Effect changes, power changes as well as stat changes for Will and Fate. I can kind of understand where they’re going with all this and the general idea behind it, but it certainly seems like a whole lot of change coming and I just don’t have all that much confidence in Turbine’s ability to do system changes like this effectively. Every major combat revamp has taken at least another patch or two to actually get working, and I’m not even convinced the previous revision was understood since many are reporting issues with existing content. Essentially the changes boil down to the following:
- Wardens are now Agility based (we knew this from the dev chat)
- Agility provides 1 point towards Critical Rating
- Fate provide 2.5 points towards Critical Rating and is the main source of in-combat power regen
- Will no longer determines power pool but provides 2 points towards Tactical mitigation
- Power grows at a set rate per level
- Champs get 6 points of Parry from Might instead of 4 parry and 2 block
However, even with all these changes there will be no changes to existing armor sets (outside of Warden Hytbold sets) as all new armor sets will be built around this model. So I wouldn’t spend too much time or effort getting any armor (or jewelry for that matter) until after Update 10 hits.
In addition to all these changes we’re also getting the 3 raid “wings” as they’ve been described, a new 6 person instance, and scalable versions of the In Their Absence instances.
Other then that, there’s a lot of other little things here and there but I think those were the big three items I pulled from the list. I’m always happy when we get new content, I’m just worried that the shear amount of combat changes will make either this content or other content unplayable.