Posts tagged ‘lotro’

Cryptic Connection Woes

Blaugust 2015 Day 31

My multitasking experiment has hit a speed bump. It’s hard to rotate through three MMOs when two of them are having connection issues. According to the Neverwinter community manager, Cryptic is having an issue with their ISP. As someone whose been on the phone with Comcast twice in the last seven days and having a technician come out Thursday to check the wiring both inside and outside, I can sympathize. At least they’re taking care of players and extending active events.

I didn’t play any games last night. Yesterday’s Golem Arcana write-up took longer than I expected, and I burned quite a bit of time on YouTube and Reddit, but I did get some LotRO in on Sunday that I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post. My return to Middle-Earth had made Wininoid nostalgic, and we got together with a pair of low level characters (Loremaster for him, Champion for me) and completed the post-tutorial quests in Comb. I hadn’t done any of those since the last revamp was done. I don’t expect I’ll spend a ton of time on alts though, as my main goal in LotRO for the multitasking experiment is to get my hunter, Brynulf, back to the level cap, and more importantly experience Isengard and Rohan.

Tonight’s plan will be to check in with STO and Champions and see if I have any luck. I’d at least like to review my completed duty officer assignments and schedule some new R&D projects. Failing that, I’ll probably end up in Kerbal Space Program again. I still have a Jool moon lander to put in orbit and dock with the Kerbol Explorer 1.

Meandering towards Isengard

Blaugust 2015 Day 27

I played LotRO last night, continuing my multitasking experiment. I nearly cut my play session short though as the next quest I picked up after completing some small errand quests involved a solo instance required me to help four NPCs defeat multiple waves of enemies for 8 minutes. By about 2 minute remaining mark, all of the NPCs were usually dead and my Hunter would be overwhelmed shortly after that. After three attempts I almost stopped for the night but I decided to give it one more shot and barely managed to finish the quest. It was so close that I actually thought I’d failed it again. I didn’t realize until I attempted to talk to the quest giver to reenter the solo instance and got the completion dialog instead.

The cool thing though was that quest was the last one for the current area. I had one last quest which involved riding to a different area and talking to an NPC and then riding back, I’d forgotten how much of that type of busy work was in LoTRO, and then it was off to the south into the Gap of Rohan. More specifically to the Heathfells which are beautiful. I’m pretty sure that’s Isengard in the distance, if so it’s my first sighting. The Gap of Rohan outlines three different regions, so I doubt I’ll get to Isengard quickly unless I decide to skip content. I have time though.

lotroclient 2015-08-27 00-01-40-44


Back to Middle-Earth

Blaugust 2015 Day 18

I started my multitasking experiment last night by logging into LotRO. I had actually been in just the week before to make sure that all of my characters had recent activity so I wouldn’t lose names when the server merged closed, so I didn’t have to wait long on the patched. The game still takes a while to actually connect in, which is annoying and familiar, but pretty soon I was back at a camp in eastern Dunland.

Brynulf is a Hunter. At some point previously I had cleaned up his inventory and quest log, so all I really had to do to get him playable was re-select his specializations and reassign points to legacies on his Legendary Items. About fifteen minutes and I was set to resume some long forgotten quests. Even though there were some new abilities and the specialization tree had changed dramatically from what I remember, actually playing my Hunter was not too different. The biggest change was that focus points used to go away the moment your character moved, and they don’t now. Or at least not as quickly. I’m honestly not quite clear on that yet, I was more interested in playing than spending time studying. The same skill combos worked well, and I fell into my old combat patterns pretty quickly: generate focus, big double attack, focus attack, DoT, quick shot, melee to regenerate some focus, focus attack again, finish with melee if needed.

I completed a half dozen quests and moved down to what I think is the last quest hub in Dunland before moving into the region around Isengard. I’m excited to see it, but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow given the rules on my experiment. I’m not sure if I’ll do Star Trek, Champions, or Kerbal tonight. Probable STO or KSP, with Champions I want to start a new hero so my first play session will mostly just be in the character creator and I’m not quite in the right creative frame of mind for that.


Blaugust 2015 Day 17

I’ve been thinking more since my post on reconnecting about trying to get back to juggling multiple MMOs. I definitely don’t want to drop Star Trek Online, but my nostalgia for both LotR and Champions has stayed with me the last couple of days. That surprises me as I usually have an urge to catch up on a game and often don’t get more than five minutes into the game after updating the patcher. My problem though is how to actually switch between games. I’ve found two ways that work for me when I want to get something done. Either I have to do it everyday, like with Blaugust, or I have to focus on one thing until it’s done, which is how I completed all three Mass Effect games.

Since MMOs never finish so unless I want to pick concrete goals out that won’t work.  I also can’t try to rotate through all three MMOs on a daily basis, that seems like a good way to get nothing done in any of them. I could make a schedule and rotate through games, but that is probably will do a better job of sucking the fun out of playing than anything else. Instead I’ll leave myself open to playing whatever sounds good on a given night but limit myself to picking from the games that I haven’t play in the last 24 hours, until I’ve spent long enough in one game to finish a quest or level. So that way as I progress through Champions or LotRO, I can still pick up dailies in STO if I want to, but only if I’m actually playing other games.

And since there’s no time like the present, I’m going to pay a visit to Brynulf on Landroval and get my hunter ready to go adventuring.


Blaugust 2015 Day 15

There are currently 10 different MMO game launchers on my desktop, or technically 13 since the Arc launcher covers three games (Star Trek, Champions, Neverwinter) and Glyph has two (Rift and Defiance). Out of that list of 13 games, Star Trek Online is the only one I’ve played with any regularity this year. Most like Marvel Heroes and Firefall I occasionally get an urge to jump into, but there’s only two that I get nostalgic about and am considering trying to reconnect with: LotRO and Champions.

Lord of the Rings Online was my first ever lifetime subscription purchase. It was the first game that I ever hit max level with a character. As a Tolkien fanatic, it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to walking in Middle-Earth without taking a trip to New Zealand. Sadly though the game’s graphics haven’t aged well, especially the character animations which were always the weakest part of the game. Every time I log into Landroval, it seems like I spend a couple of hours reassigning refunded specialization points and legendary item points, before playing for a little bit and then logging out for another long absence.

The recent server closure announcement has me wondering if I should refocus on the game if for no other reason than to get my main/original launch character, Brynulf, back to max level. Head south and see Isengard and Rohan at least once.

Champions seems to be mostly on maintenance mode now. Perfect World isn’t really pushing the game even within their own launcher. Arc’s Games tab currently has eight games rotating through, both Star Trek and Neverwinter are the first two and Champions isn’t even in the list. Most of the news on the site is about sales and lock boxes. The one piece of news that is content related mentions revamping the event system to make sure that they are more regular running.

Despite all that, I have a lot of fondness for the game. While City of Heroes was my first super hero MMO, I never liked how powers were restricted by archetype. Champion’s free-form system was so much more interesting to me because I could more easily make thematic builds. Truth be told, I also like the graphics better in Champions, which I didn’t expect to originally. I’ve tried a few times before to get back into the game, but always by picking up on of my current characters, and it’s never worked out. Too many systems in the game have changed to jump back into the middle of things.

So, if/when I do try next, I’m going to roll up a new hero and see if I have better luck.

Expectations and Resolutions for 2013


In January 2012, I’d resolved to post directly to the blog more and edit less. I had an especially bad habit of leaving posts to languish in my drafts folder for months and then deleting them because they weren’t topical anymore. While I did get better about editing, I didn’t post straight to the blog much at all. So I’m renewing the same resolution to be more brave about my posting in the coming year. At least that’s going to be my excuse for any typos people point out.

Upcoming Games

There are a few MMOs that I’m anticipating:

  • City of Steam
  • Defiance
  • Elder Scrolls Online
  • Neverwinter

City of Steam is my novelty game. It’s a steampunk setting with a F2P model using a browser client. I missed a few chances to play in the closed beta, so I can’t say anything about how it plays. I’m a little concerned that they’re relying on just the setting to differentiate the game from other MMOs instead of trying to refine and improve the genre standard mechanics, but that’s based on superficial research on my part.

I’m pulling for Defiance partly because it’s by Trion. I’ve continued to be a fan of how Trion’s developed Rift even after I wasn’t actively subscribing to it (although I did resubscribe when the Storm Legion expansion was announced), and I’d like to see them continue to succeed. The other reason I’m hoping it does well is there’s a real dearth of science-fiction MMOs and I’m hoping this one doesn’t suffer the same fate as Tabula Rasa. I really don’t think that’s likely, considering how invested both Trion and SyFy are in the game and tie-in television series.

Elder Scrolls Online is my dark horse game. I was originally pretty pessimistic about the game’s chances, but my opinion has since become more optimistic based on developer interviews. Of course talk is cheap so who knows if ESO will fly or fall, but I’m hoping that it does well just so I can explore Tamriel more widely than I’ve been able to do in Skyrim.

Of all of the upcoming MMOs, Neverwinter is the only one that I’m genuinely excited for. Prior to going to GenCon this summer, this game was in the I’ll-play-it-when-it-comes-out category but I was really impressed with out beautiful the demo was. The environments were detailed and interesting, and the animations were fluid. The gameplay itself was very action oriented, and reminded me slightly of Torchlight and Gauntlet. Add all that to a supercharged version of the Foundry software that’s currently in Star Trek Online, and I’m not only excited to play the game Cryptic is making but also see what kinds of modules players build. There’ve been some really excellent missions done in STO and I hope that Neverwinter will inspire the same amount of creativity in it’s players.


Outside of those few new games, this year is going to be all about the backlog. Anyone want to take bets on how long that lasts?


Champions Online has been making a lot of changes and I really want to roll up a brand new hero to see what’s changed with the game since 2011. I know there’s lots of new powers and custom pieces, plus they recently added vehicles, and have just started hinting a some big new content releases.

Lord of the Rings Online has the whole Riders of Rohan expansion that I’ve not touched yet, plus I still have about a third of the Rise of Isengard expansion to finish.

Rift has had a huge amount of new content added, I just need to sit down and force myself to rebuild all of the roles that’ve been reset on my Mage.


Even though I completed Dishonored, I was working on replaying a few missions with full stealth/zero kills. I’d also still like to do a second playthrough as more of an assassin than a ghost, but I’m going to bump that down to the bottom of my list for the year.

I’d only gotten through about a third of A Game of Dwarves before I was distracted by some other game.

I haven’t played that last three DLCs for Mass Effect 3.

I never got back to Skyrim last year like I intended, not to mention there’s been one major DLC released for the PC with another one announced.

I’ve barely gotten into Torchlight 2.

I loved the demo for XCOM enough to preorder the game, but I haven’t launched it since it released. I played Dishonored first since I wanted to make sure I finished that, and got distracted before I could even start XCOM.

Plus from my Steam there’s Orcs Must Die 1 & 2, Legend of Grimrock, Anno 2070, SPAZ, and the Back to the Future series all of which barely makes a dent. I also have a few Kickstarter backed games that are in or nearing the beta stages that I want to contribute playtime to like Castle Story, Timber and Stone, and the Banner Saga multiplayer.

Other Hobbies and My 2013 Resolution

Outside of games, I also have some more Star Trek ship models to assemble and paint, plus my long suffering Nanowrimo novel from 2010 that I still want to finish.

Having so little free time with so many demands is the core of what I want to work on this year. I’ve been in the habit of surfing along with my moods and interests and just spending time on games and projects as my id dictated. While there’s not really anything bad about going with the flow like that, it hasn’t been good for finishing projects. So this year I’m actually making lists of games and other projects I want to finish and sorting them in the order I want to tackle them with the intention of focusing on one at a time. I’ve already had some success at that, since that’s basically how I’ve finished all three Mass Effect games, Red Dead Redemption, and Dishonored. My problems nearly always stem from trying to multi-task between games and other hobbies.

Wish me luck.

Middle-Earth travel plans delayed slightly.

The Riders of Rohan expansion snuck up on me.

Despite reading dozens of articles and seeing lots of mentions on Twitter, I didn’t actually realize how close the launch was until Sunday night. I was catching up on my news and saw the goodie bag reminder from Goldenstar, so I logged in to reopen my home and do some preparation on my main and a couple of alts.

I had planned to log in last night to behind my adventures among the Horse-lords, but it was taking so long to patch the expansion (wish there had been a pre-patch available) that I decided to play some Dishonored while I waited. The next thing I know it’s 1 am.

When Rise of Isengard launched, I ended up making only a brief trip to Dunland where I did a little sightseeing and then headed back to Mirkwood and Dunland to finish the Epic Story quests that I’d skipped. It was nice being in Mirkwood and Enedwaith which were fairly quiet while the launch crowds were in Dunland.

My current plan is to do pretty much the same thing with Rohan. During my last period of LotRO focus, I’d gotten to the border between Dunland and Isengard before being distracted by Skyrim, and I’d like to avoid opening gaps in my Epic Story quests on my main character (who’s the only one above level 30). There’s a decent chance though, that I’ll have so much fun with mounted combat that I won’t want to head back.

Besides the mounted combat, I’m really looking forward to seeing Turbine’s open tapping implementation and how well it works compare to what I’ve gotten used to in Guild Wars 2. I hope that it is so well received that Turbine applies it to old zones as well, even though I realize that’s a massive amount of work. ArenaNet’s design has led to a very cooperative and mostly friendly community, at least in my experience, and I would love to see that same spirit brought to Tolkien’s world as well.

Random things.

Couple of things I wanted to mention.

Thing One

Had you told me last year that I would still be putting hours into Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer game, I would have said you were crazy. Yet that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, even though I’m not typically a fan of shooters.

Why? Two reasons that I’ve come up with. First, I really love the ME universe and the multiplayer is a way to stay engaged with it. Second, I’ve come to realize it isn’t actually the shooters that I dislike, it’s their competitiveness. ME3’s is cooperative against bots. After hundreds of matches, I’ve yet to run across any of the type A-hole personalities that I associate (rightly or not) with games like Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, or Counter Strike.

Thing Two

Guild Wars 2 has its head start this weekend. I’m excited to play but it’s a low-key kind of excitement. I’m looking forward to playing but if ArenaNet came out tomorrow and said they were delaying headstart for a week or a month, I wouldn’t mind in the slightest.

I haven’t been thinking about the game much, or keeping the patcher updated, or coming up with the character names I want to use. Yet I am excited enough that I’m planning to stay up late and to try to get into the headstart as early as possible.

Possibly my excitement has been blunted by getting to play in a few beta weekends (the stress tests always happen when I’m working). I’ve already had the chance to explore the starting areas and try out different races and classes. I’ve already settled on an Asura Elementalist as my main (at least initially) and the guild I’m planning to join has already chosen a server.

Thing Three

LotRO delayed its expansion until October. I’ve seen a lot of surprised comments about that. I’ve also seen a few comments believing that it was done to fix bugs and improve the game a bit more before release. I’m sure Turbine will use the extra time to improve the game, but I don’t think that was the reason for the delay. September is already super crowded and since Blizzard has already set their expansion date in an effort to compete with ArenaNet, it would be stupid of Turbine not to push the release a bit and give themselves more space.

Locked Boxes

So yesterday Massively did what they should have done instead of their pseudo-news post regarding STO developer Borticus’  comments on lock boxes, and published an editorial in their regular Perfect Ten column and that focused on lock boxes. While I’m not a fan of lock boxes myself, I can see where market realities make them a necessary evil, but it’s most definitely a slippery slope.

Anyway, as Justin says in his article, lock boxes are gambling. You are paying real and/or in-game (varying by MMO) money for a chance to win a prize. That’s no different from a slot machine in Vegas, buying a state lottery ticket, or buying a raffle ticket at a school fundraiser. But like many other activities, gambling itself isn’t wrong, it’s that it can be abused.

I take issue with Justin’s second point though, where he mentions that the house always wins. This is the point where I think lock boxes diverge from other examples of gambling, since it’s not costing the developer anything to “pay out” like it is a casino. I also don’t see any sinister intentions behind not publishing odds. Truthfully, I don’t think developers know with any certainty what the odds are on winning a particular item from a lock box. Random number generators can be a little goofy at times, and I guarantee if they did post odds that there would be lot’s of players double checking those odds and raising a ruckus if their results were at all different.

I also disagree with his comment about feeling like deleting a lock box was a waste. I have the opposite reaction. I enjoy deleting lock boxes in Star Trek Online because I know I won’t be opening them, the Exchange is saturated with them so they don’t sell, and they take up valuable inventory space.

I do agree that the legality issue is in its early days, and hopefully the practice doesn’t get any games banned from some countries. Like F2P itself, I think lock boxes are a trend that’s going to be around for a while and if you can’t ignore or tolerate them, then you’ll need to take a break and wait for the direction of the industry to shift again.

Lock boxes are tacky, but in my opinion they are more jarring to see in Lord of the Rings Online than STO. Fair or not, Middle-earth is a more serious setting in my mind and I have less tolerance for commercialism in it than I do with STO or any other MMO. But even as tacky as they are, I don’t see lock boxes as tarnishing the F2P model. Personally, I find Turbine’s habit of putting items in their store to fix not-fun gameplay mechanics rather than actually fixing them much more tarnishing than lock box keys. I can ignore and delete boxes after all, but it’s much harder to ignore the progressively ridiculous number X of monsters I have to slay for deed Y.

As far as public sentiment and private actions, I think it’s really a wash. It’s the same reason why no one can really gauge the overall reaction to the end of Mass Effect 3. Unhappy people are motivated to be vocal, and happy people have moved on. Lot’s of MMO players claim to hate lock boxes and post daily on forums about how much they hate them. But forum goers are a small percentage of players in any game, and I would bet money that a size-able number of those haters still buy keys and open boxes. In the end, all a developer has to go on is their metrics. They know how many accounts they have, how many players that have on a nightly basis, how many boxes are dropping, how many keys are being purchased, and how many boxes are being opened. Apparently those numbers point to lock boxes being worthwhile, otherwise they’d be gone.

Honestly, I’ve gotten bored with the entire topic and its surrounding drama. It’s been beaten to death and nothing new’s been added to the conversation recently except for one thing. Lock boxes are only one step removed from RMT. So far MMO developers have been pretty careful to make sure that money only flows into the system, and I assume that’s to avoid government regulation and taxation (not/never been/don’t want to be a lawyer so I could be wrong). Blizzard though has started to experiment with that in Diablo 3, and I’m sure if that goes well then we’ll see the practice tried out in MMOs as well.

Looking Forward to 2012


Before I get into what games I’m looking forward to, I wanted to mention some personal and blog related things. My wife and I are expecting our second little Kae to show up sometime in June. I’m sure that’s going to kill any time I have to play MMOs for a few months. I really dislike logging into an MMO, when I don’t know if I’m going to get pulled away at a second’s notice. When my son was born, I focused mostly on single player games, since I could pause it and go do father things without worrying about ruining anyone else’s game.

Not playing MMOs will either mean that this blog goes silent for a few months, or you’ll see tons of posts as I’ll have lots of time to read, think, and write.


Last year, I tried an experiment with posting consistently on week days. I wasn’t perfect about it, but I did well enough to consider it a success. I stopped doing that mid-summer though once it started to take the fun out of writing. I don’t regret doing it though as I developed some good habits and even got to the point where I started to feel antsy if I hadn’t written anything by the end of the day. Kind of like those healthy people who talk about missing the gym. I guess anyway, I’ve never felt that.

Anyway, this year I’m trying a new experiment. I write a lot from my phone and from work, basically anytime that I get an urge to put pixels on a screen. Most of the time though, those posts go into the draft folder and never emerge. I always intend to edit and publish them that night, yet rarely ever do. So this year, I’m going to try skipping the editing stage as much as possible. After all, if there are any really stupid grammar or spelling mistakes, I’m going to be much more motivated to fix them if the article is public, and this way I’ll not have any regrets about not getting an opinion or idea out in a timely fashion.

So now you know, if the blog stays empty it’s just because I have no ideas and not because I’m a lazy self-editor. Finally, let’s talk about some games.


This is the first year in a while, that I’m not really looking forward to much. Mass Effect 3 is basically my whole list for the year.

I believe this is a good thing though, because my backlog of unfinished, never played, and never installed games is getting embarrassingly massive. I still haven’t gone back to Skyrim and finished my first play through. I have the last DLC for Mass Effect 2 to finish. I’ve barely touched Minecraft since the 1.0 release in November. Then there’s my Steam library, let’s just not even start on that.

So while there’s not much new I’m looking forward to, I’m still excited for single-player and offline gaming this year.



While I do still have an active subscription, I’m not planning on renewing it in April. As I mentioned in my 2001 review, I had a ton of fun with the game, but between feeling so behind with all of the content updates and most of my friends playing other MMOs, I have no interest in going back.

Champions Online

I fully expect to keep playing in Millennium City off and on as Cryptic adds new story missions and new power sets. Honestly, I’ve already started eyeing the launcher as they’ve added some cool new costume options recently as well as the Earth and Wind power sets. The cool thing about this game is I have no expectations for the coming year, so I’ll enjoy whatever comes.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’m playing a ton of TOR right now. I have a Jedi Knight Guardian in the mid 40’s (level cap is 50) and am nearing the end of the story missions. This means I’ll hit the mythical end-game soon. Generally when I do that, I start an alt and lose interest in repeating content after a few days. This is followed by moving on to another game. With TOR, I’m hoping that having some fresh class missions will be enough to keep me interested and get a second character to 50. We’ll see if BioWare manages a first in my gaming history.

Interestingly, I’m already feeling like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of TOR, so if I do end up cancelling my subscription, I’m not going to feel bad about it. I suppose that because the game really has felt like playing KotOR 3.

Looking at the rest of the year, I hope to still be playing in June but I kind of doubt it given my history at level cap. Obviously once the baby get’s here, all bets are off.

Lord of the Rings Online

After taking most of the year off and then getting in a solid month, LotRO has been on hold since November. First it was Skyrim and then it was TOR keeping me from playing. Eventually, I’ll return to Middle-Earth and resume my hunter Brynulf’s journey into the Gap of Rohan. It may well be the fall, but it seems like I always go back to LotRO eventually, and that makes me happy.

Star Trek Online

After an extremely rough year, I really hope that STO turns things around. The F2P launch is happening (today actually), and the long awaited Featured Episode Series Four is coming as part of the second anniversary of the game.

Past February, I want to see a permanent Executive Producer hired and I really want to see the monthly Engineering Reports and Ask Cryptics restarted. I know there have been a few new hires since the PWE acquisition, but I’d like to see the team continue to grow, and start seeing that investment payoff in more regular updates of new features and new story missions. If we get to December and have seen Featured Episode Series 4, 5, and 6, I’ll be very happy. If not three FE’s (which D’Angelo doesn’t think is likely), then I want to see more single mission story content added.

One thing I do want to clarify though, I’m not at all disappointed or upset with the Star Trek development team at Cryptic. I think they’ve done as much as possible given some pretty difficult situations over the last six months (if not longer).