Posts tagged instances
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.
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.
Shockingly enough, there’s a known issues list already posted. Pretty significant especially when there’s so much in there regarding loot not hooked up, which was one of the main selling points for this update. Seems like a minor issue – and I don’t understand why Turbine springs a release with no warning when there are this many “little” things un-resolved. Granted, it probably will take them time to wrap everything up but it seems like another pass of polish would’ve done quite a bit of good and not let the community down at all.
I was a little surprised that they sprung Update 10 on us yesterday, mainly because there had been so little PR for it. Pretty much the VERY light “developer diaries” were the only things leading up to this update, without too much fanfare. Maybe Turbine feels guilty that many people paid for this update almost a year ago, but oh well. There’s not much that’s in the notes that we haven’t seen from the pushes to Bullroarer so this should mainly just be a compilation of those patches. The full notes can be found here, but I picked a few that jumped out for me:
- Mithril coins are in – don’t forget to log into your alts to gather all these up
- All sorts of Critical Damage changes – hopefully this isn’t too broken
- Tons of power changes – there were mixed reviews of this on Bullroarer, but expect to need to do some tweaking to adjust to the changes
- Fate is now the leading contributor to critical rating
- New 6 man (Bells of Dale), and 3 new 12 man raids (Flight of the Lonely Mountain, Fires of Smaug, Battle for Erebor)
- In Their Absence instance cluster is now scalable
- Warden’s are now agility based
- All sorts of PvMP changes
- Forced emotes have a toggle now so you won’t be impacted by them
- No more defeat dread
- I’m still not sure why this was removed – was it really that big of a deal for people?
- Tasks and quests can now be completed in a raid
- I don’t get this one either – seems like this creates more potential farming issues like the Hytbold areas
- Trail foods can be made at ovens now – another “why did this take so long” thing
Overall it is good that they’re adding more instance content, but the massive system changes are always scary since they never seem to get them right the first time.
What are folks most excited about with Update 10?
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.
The second build hit Bullroarer today and it included quite a few additions that were not there previously. You can find the full patch notes here, but there aren’t too many changes mainly the finishing off of the changes they had already announced:
- Fate determines out of combat power regen, not Will
- Quests can be completed/advanced in raids
- All sorts of class tweaks – mainly power related
- Various Mounted combat tweaks, again mainly power related
- All sorts of creep changes – shockingly enough, power related
- Freeps now get Battlefield Promotions while in the Moors based on rank which boosts Power, Morale, and Damage
- only active while in the moors
- Various tweaks to the new instance spaces
- New Armor sets at the skirmish vendors
- Warden sets flipping over to Agility (even existing Hytbold sets, which is nice)
As for the sets, we get not only one set per trait line but also two tiers of those sets. The first tier is simply deed gated by completing Tier 1 of the various raids. The second tier is obtained by trading in the first tier piece and two separate drops from the raids. The Tier one pieces cost:
- 2600 – 3500 marks
- 673 – 807 medallions
- 31 – 92 seals
I have no clue what the drop rates for any of these will be in the new spaces, but I’m sure folks will be finding out soon. Also, since the gear is deed gated, we don’t yet know what the level requirement is for that deed – but I’m sure someone will find out for us.
As for the stats on the gear, Tier 1 is essentially the same as the Hytbold sets with slightly different stats and bonuses but overall just as powerful. Tier 2 is a step up, but not a significant one, although it does include an additional set bonus. Below are some snaps of the pieces as well as some comparisons to the existing Hytbold sets I’m wearing. I’m not sure these are final as especially the Captain one is clearly not finished. Personally I love the looks of the sets and will probably be working towards them for that reason, but there are some nifty set bonuses that are intriguing.