Posts tagged Podcast

Challenging the Status Quo


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.


Saying Goodbye to CSTM


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.


The Secret World Issue 4 Teasers and More


Over on the Flash Point Podcast, they just posted an interview they had with Funcom’s newly promoted Game Director Joel Bylos.  The two hosts and Joel spend about 45 minutes talking about a wide range of topics including quite a few submitted questions and it really is worth a listen.  One thing that really strikes me about Funcom, and one of the reasons I’m such a fan, is how open and willing they are to talk about these topics.  We’ve heard tons of audio and video interviews with the team and there have been all sorts of written interviews that are not just fluff pieces of marketing speak but actual real information.

One of the first topics they discuss are the various issues Funcom has had to endure and like I talked about earlier, Norwegian laws do dictate a lot of what they have to release.  However, it is also a conscious choice they’ve made as a company to be up front about problems and admit their mistakes.

This led very nicely into the discussion on zone progression and some of the issues people are running into.  Joel admitted that they probably didn’t handle the difficulty curve all that well as Kingsmouth and Savage Coast are a little too easy which then means people get absolutely hammered when they hit the Blue Mountains.  In addition to looking at that, they’re also brining out Starter Decks with Issue 4 to help people find “good” builds that are easier to obtain as they’ll only contain abilities from the inner part of the skill wheel.  This should help people who are struggling with the openness of the skill wheel to more or less guarantee that they’ll have something that works.

They are also working on improving the PvP system, although Joel did admit that open world PvP is pretty much off the table.  But Issue 4 will bring changes to Fusang and they’re also kicking around ideas for PvP events.  I’ve also seen this in a couple of places that they’re really trying to amplify the faction battles and make that more of a part of the game.  Joel pretty much admitted that this was an area that they didn’t quite hit the mark on and are going to focus on bringing more tension between the factions.

As for the new auxiliary weapon coming with Issue 4, I’m pretty sure if I read his hints correctly that we’ll be getting a chainsaw.  I’m not real sure how I feel about, but then again I still don’t have my rocket launcher yet so I’m not entirely sure what all I’m really missing Smile

On the heals of the 3-day trial and the 50% off weekend, they’re about 2 weeks away from another announcement regarding the trial periods.  Joel didn’t go into details, but I would expect them to expand on that system somehow and perhaps roll in some sort of referral program.

A couple of other things they touched on:

  • Looking at creating puzzle raids as another group activity which could be really fun considering how hard and how much work they’ve put into the existing puzzles.  There are a couple of times when Joel really focuses on different ways to play this game and they want it to be viable and fun for those who just want to follow the story and/or solve puzzles.
  • They’re REALLY focusing on horizontal growth and are very opposed to the vertical treadmills so many other games are following.  I really hope they’re not only able to stick to this but create meaningful and fun ways to grow our characters.
  • Some very interesting thoughts on other games including Guild Wars 2, Rift, and of course Pandas.

Like I said earlier, I would highly suggest taking a listen as I didn’t pull out everything in that episode just some of the big items that jumped out for me.  I’m very much a believer in this game and the team and these kinds of interviews only make that belief stronger.

Anything that jumped out for you that I didn’t mention?


NBI Wrap-up and Tools I Use



I wanted to try to get this post out before things ended, but I’ll sneak it in as a combo post.  Plus I’ll also toss it out as an open question for bloggers and readers on cool tools/apps they use for similar tasks.

First off, I think this was a very cool idea of Syp’s to jump start some folks and also get some new views sprinkling around the web.  He’s put up his own summary of the event as well as the listing of all the new blogs.  I’ve gone through and added some to my reader and plan to revisit to see which ones I’ve missed.  My Reader can never have enough gaming sites to check out Winking smile

I really do hope this has helped not only spur on some new folks but also trigger new ideas for all of us.  I’ve already been kicking around a number of ideas for things to write/talk about as well as some fun projects to tackle.  My lack of writing lately has nothing to do with a lost passion or enjoyment of writing just a combination of a whole host of RL factors that are really kicking my butt lately.  But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I don’t think it’s the on-coming train.

Of all the posts that have come out during this month, one thing I didn’t see too much of were the technical details of how folks blog and I figured I’d toss out some of my favorites and open up the comments for other ideas/suggestions.

  • For my actual writing, I use Windows Live Writer as it just makes laying things out easier and handles all the image uploading for you.  I’m not sure what the future holds as this is being phased out by Microsoft but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it Smile
  • I use Evernote for all sorts of things, but mainly as a note taking tool and web clipper for things I want to come back to.  Very handy as you can sync between machines and devices quite easily.  Great for brainstorming!
  • Most in-game snapshots are fine, but if you want to tweak them I personally use a tool called GIMP that’s an open source package that allows for all sorts of image manipulation while not being terribly complicated.
  • For video editing, I’ve had good success with Avidemux as it again does all that I need it to do without being terribly complex.
  • For all my audio needs (podcasting and video voice-overs) I use Audacity.
  • And last but not least, for video capture I use Fraps.  This is the only tool I use that costs any money, but for a lifetime fee of $35 it is well worth it.

Overall I really try to keep things on the free side, but in some cases that’s just not possible.

Any suggestions or other questions about how I do things from a technical perspective?


Episode 29 – Chat with Rose








This episode is a pretty free-roaming conversation between myself and Rose, who is one of my cohorts over on Silverlode.  We hit on a number of topics all around raiding and the end-game including but not limited to:

  • Custom Chat Channels
  • Favorite experiences/fights
  • Raids vs. Skirmishes
  • Traits and Deeds
  • Plugins
  • Online maps
  • Beta experiences

As you may have caught at the end, Rose did give a couple shout-outs which I also wanted to echo as I’ve had nothing but good experiences with both groups:

As always, feel free to leave feedback and/or suggestions.

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