Little Things Make a Big Difference

The patch notes for Book 8 are out, and while there are lots of nerfs and other changes people are concerned or upset about, there are some small but nice improvements.

One bright note in Book 8 is a change to buying stackable items from vendors.  Up until now, you’ve had the option of either buying one or buying a full stack.  As a hunter, I always like to keep a full stack of travel rations.  Often I’ll get down to about 20 left and want to stock up, but that means I either need to buy a full stack of 50 and take up an extra bag slot until I use the 20 I had left, or I have to buy 30 rations individually.  Book 8 will add two options:

  1. Holding ALT when purchasing will pop-up a dialog and allow you to specify a quantity.
  2. Holding TAB will fill all of the stacks in your bags.

The TAB option will be perfect for me, I’ll just need to be sure I only have one stack of travel rations or I could end up carrying 100 around instead of 50.

Turbine is also adding a new /ui command to allow users to save and load layouts.  This is nice for people (like me) who have lots of alts (I’m using all seven character slots).  Now I can save my hunter UI layout and load it on a new character without having fiddle with rearranging all of the windows manually.  I can also setup different layouts by resolution so when I switch from my desktop to my laptop and back I don’t have to manually readjust everything.

The maximum stack sizes of consumables have been increased: food to 50, reputation tokens to 100, traveling rations to 100, crafting ingredients to 100, potions to 50.

There’s also a crafting revamp coming with details in an upcoming dev diary.  Some of the changes mentioned in the notes though will be nice:

  • Optional ingredient drops will have clearer tool-tips, the drops will be simplified, and resource nodes will be able to produce them.
  • Lots of adjustments to minimum level requirements for crafted items.
  • Make All button added to the Crafting window.
  • Common crafting ingredients that are sold by vendors will now say so in their description.

None of these changes is big, but small things like the vendor stacking change can be a daily annoyance and fixing them will only make the game better.

As the patch notes say: It’s the Little Things That Count

Ered Luin Revisited

I haven’t been to Ered Luin since the game launched.  My first character was an Elven Hunter on Gladden that I got to 15 during the head-start week.  I ended up re-rolling a Man Hunter on Landroval after I read on the forums that it  was going to be the unofficial role-play server.  So it’s been nearly two years since I’ve spent any time there.  I have an Elven Rune-keeper, Calenel, that I’d started but only played to level 8, so Book 7 seemed a good time to get back to him and see what kind of changes Turbine had worked out.

First thing of course is the XP curve change, I killed a rat and dinged 9.  Pretty nice.

Celondim has been streamlined a bit.  I remember a fair bit more running from Celondim to Nen Hilith and to Limael’s Vineyard and back again.  Now there is a quest NPC that sends you out to Nen Hilith and then is a small quest hub of four NPC’s that the mouth of the dell.  The same thing Limael is now at the tower on the hill just before her Vineyard instead of back in Celondim.  So now instead of two or three trips out and back, it’s one.

Duillond has a bit more running, but it’s still much improved.

As Calenel reached the teen levels, I noticed I couldn’t find any elites and had no trouble soloing all of the quests I was given.  I was especially surprised to find that you can solo all the way through the Prologue now.  I’m working through the Bree Prologue quests on a Man Warden character and there are still Fellowship quests towards the end of that chain.  I’m interested to see if Turbine changes the Bree and Shire prologue quests as well with the next content release.

Overall, the new zone is much more streamlined and enjoyable.  I’m not sure why the Prologue quests were made solo-able but it might point to a general shortage of low-level players in the Ered Luin region.  It’s certainly nice to be able to join a Fellowship as an option, but not be blocked.  I remember the Lone-lands being especially bad for that, I would login with a quest log full of Fellowship quests that no one was doing.

Max Level Again

Back in October I hit max level in Lord of the Rings Online for the first time ever in an MMO.  Well two days ago on my birthday, I took a vacation day and brought my hunter from just a little way into level 59 up to 60.



The nice thing is I’m only half way through the Volume 2 quests, so I’ve still got a lot more to do in the expansion.

The Greatness of Moria

Everyone in the MMO blogging community seems to be on a big Lord of the Rings kick lately Michael, Darren, and John (among others).  As a long-time player, I’ve been very pleased with the response the Moria expansion has gotten.  LoTRO really hadn’t garnered much attention prior to November, so it’s great to see the pendulum swing the other way, even more so since it’s so well deserved.

How good is the Moria expansion?  Let me answer by mentioning that I am a huge Warhammer 40K Dawn of War fan.  I own the original game and all of the expansions.  It is the oldest game I have installed on my computer that I still play on a semi-regular basis.  So of course, I’ve been looking forward to DoW2 and I was excited to learn recently that Steam players who bought Soulstorm were going to get an early preview.  Last night when I launched Steam I found that the preview/beta was available for download which I immediately started.  My plan then was to spend an hour or so in LoTRO to wrap up some crafting and turn in some quests, then log out  and try DoW2.  So three hours later at 1:30 am, I logged out of LoTRO and went to bed.  I didn’t even think about the demo until I was browsing through my Google Reader feeds this morning.  That is how good the Moria expansion is.

New Year Update

Nearly midway through January and I’ve barely posted.  Hmmmm. I have some articles I’m working on, but they aren’t ready yet, so let me just leave you with a quick rundown of what I’ve been playing:

  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Fallout 3
  • World of Goo
  • Fable 2
  • EVE Online

My EVE time has been solely limited to training since the end of December.  I had been doing a bit of mining both as a way to replenish my wallet and since its pretty easy to do when I’m busy with the baby.

Fable 2 has sat on the shelve since my initial run through.  I had started two more play-throughs intending to try out the other two endings, but no more progress on that (similar to my KoTOR and Mass Effect plans in the past).  I did pop in recently on my original character and buy up some more real estate with the funds he’d been saving up.

World of Goo is an awesome game. I highly recommend it if you haven’t already tried it, and for pity’s sake please buy it.  It’s not that expensive and its produced by a tiny developer.  If you don’t like DRM, this is a way to both vote with your wallet and have some fun.

My main two games since Christmas have been Fallout 3 and Lord of the Rings Online.  I had been playing Moria quite a bit up until the holidays, but took a week off from MMO’s to dig into Fallout 3 while I was on vacation.  It’s a good game although very empty, which I suppose is part of the point.  My only problem with this game is it reminds me of why I so rarely play shooters.

So since coming back to work on the 2nd, I’ve moved back to my primary game of the last six months.  I’ve advanced to level 56 with my hunter and am really enjoying my time with Moria.  My only disappointment so far with the game is how small of an area of Lothlórien is accessible.  I did a fun run from the Twenty-first Hall through Durin’s Way t o the First Hall and then out the eastern gate.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much to do east of the Misty Mountains yet.

So that’s been my gaming time for the year to date (really including time since mid-December).  Please stay tuned, there’s more comign shortly.

Quick Update

Haven’t posted in a bit, between the holidays and the new baby, my gaming time has been severely limited.

I’m popping into Eve every couple of days to queue up another skill.  I don’t have a real goal in mind just now, so I’ve been using the new certificates to fill out some of my level 1 and 2 skills and get them up to 3-5.

The rest of my playing time has been devoted to LoTRO.  I’ve completed the entrance quests to get into Moria, but before I got too involved there, I decided to go back and clean out some of my old quests.  So I went back to Forochel and finished off the zone.  Next is Angmar where I’m still on Book 7.  I want to finish the rest of the Books before I really focus on getting into Moria full-time.

I hope to get a few more posts in before the end of the year, but if not Happy Holidays.

Moria D2

After a great first day, I was looking forward to playing again.  While I did spend some time with my hunter, I did not get a chance to play my Warden any further or create a Rune-Keeper.

With my hunter I did finish the Dwarven Expedition quest line, which is gone once you unlock Moria, and several more chapters of the Book 1 quest.  My initial encounter with the Watcher was fun, and the session play flashback to the fall of Khazad-dûm was excellent.  I also received my first legendary item.  When you get your first weapon, in my case a bow, you have to get it identified.  For me, this involved a trip to Thorin’s Hall.  I’m hoping that other classes don’t have to make that same trip, since it is about as far away from the Walls of Moria as you can get.

In Thorin’s Hall, I identified and equiped my bow and then slotted some settings, gems, and runes to add some different bonuses to it.  Slotting these items into the weapon is semi-permanent since you can’t get them back out without having the weapon reforged, although you can slot someting new but you’ll lose whatever is currently in that slot.

After your legendary weapon is ready, then next step is to get it to level 10 by fighting anything that will give you experience.  I mapped back to Echad Dûnann and picked up several quests to get started on levelling my bow.  Like with a new character, the first few levels with a new item come pretty quickly, then the experience curve gets a little steeper.

Moria D1 – Play Experience

You can read about the UI changes for Moria here: Moria D1 – UI Changes.

As a hunter, anytime a new area is opened I check around for the fast travel intro quest.  I was in Forochel so I got the quest to travel to Eregion from an elf wandering the frozen city of Sûri-kylä.  Next, I went to Bree to the Prancing Pony to turn in my preorder tokens for items.  The preorder items were ok.  Mostly just cosmetic but in-line with most of the previous bonus items.  Finally, I travelled to Rivendell before getting on my horse for the short ride through the Trollshaws to Eregion.

Riding into Eregion initially, you come over a ridge into Glad Ereg and the elven camp of Gwingris.  Glad Ereg looks much like any other hilly woodland in Middle-Earth.  I wasn’t sure how packed the new area would be, especially given the fact that Moria itself must be unlocked, although I was hoping that it would be heavily populated (meaning that the expansion was selling well).  Eregion was heavily populated, but not so much that I couldn’t complete quests. From Gwingris in Glad Ereg I explored south into High Hollin and Low Hollin, finding the camps of Echad Eregion, Mirobel, and Echad Dûnann.  Echad Dûnann became my new base camp, as that’s where the fast travel quest giver is located as well as the entrance to Moria and the dwarf who gives the Volume 2, Book 1 quest to open the gates.

While Eregion is a beautiful zone, it wasn’t until I entered the Gates of Moria area to start on the Expedtion and Book 1 quests that I had a Weathertop moment.  Basically that describes anytime that I see a landmark in the game that I loved from the books.  Early on in the game, I enjoyed visiting Hobbiton and similar places, but it wasn’t until I entered the Lone Lands and first saw Weathertop in the distance that I really had an emotional involvment in the game.  I had a similar moment the first time I rode around a mountaint corner and saw the valley of Rivendell layed out in front of me.  With Moria, it was climing the stairs to be confronted with the Black Lake.  Even before seeing Durin’s Door, just seeing the lake and the darkened atmosphere was a great moment for me.  Turbine has completely nailed the feeling of these iconic areas, and it made me even more excited to open Durin’s Door and see the interior of Moria.

After working my way through most of the Expedition quests and the first three chapters of Volume 2, Book 1, I decided to try out one of the new classes.  I created a Warden and played through the introduction and the first two quests in Archet (created a Man of Rohan).  It’s wasn’t long enough to know whether or not I’m going to enjoy the class, but it is enough to know that I might.

My next play session, I plan to get through a few more chapters of Book1 and then try out the Rune-Keeper.

After the first few hours, I’m extremely happy with the Mines of Moria expansion, and judging by the chat conversation on Landroval last night, it will only get better.

Moria D1 – UI Changes

Weeks ago I pre-ordered the digital upgrade from Turbine and registered both the pre-order and expansion keys.  Once it became available, I torrented the Moria update patch, and then on Monday installed it.  So, when I got home from work on Tuesday around 6 pm I was able to launch the client right away with the intent of getting some time in on the new content.

Unfortunately, Turbine was in the middle of an emergency patch and the servers weren’t scheduled to be back up until 7:30.  Oh well, that gave me time to do some stuff around the house and take over baby duties from my wife for a bit.

After checking back around 7:30, I found the servers were up and I logged in.  First thing I found out was I was overdue for my housing upkeep, so I pushed enough silver into escrow to carry me through the end of the year.  Then I was ready to play with my level 50 Hunter, who was currently in Forochel.

There were some small UI changes to accommodate the new trait and legendary item buttons.  The icons on the left-side of the bottom-bar were staggered up and down instead of in a straight left to right line.  I liked how Turbine reorganized the bottom-bar without making it any bigger.  I’m always trying to minimize the UI as much as possible so I can see more of the world.

The Legendary Items window is going to remain a mystery for a while since I haven’t yet completed the Volume 2, Book 1.

I like the new Traits window.  It’s a much clearer presentation of the information and it makes traits easier to manage.  At a glance I can see all of the virtues I have slotted and with a quick mouse-over to see what each one does.  I especially like the ring icon displayed on any virtue which has an available deed linked to it.  So I can click on a virtue I’m interested in advancing and jump straight to the deed I need to work on.  Awesome.

There are also quite a few new deeds.  It seems like every time I used one of my abilities I was getting a new deed popup.  Most of these new deeds unlock new class traits.  Also all of thetraits have been reorganized into three sets along with set bonuses.  So, now if I slot two or more traits from a set, I get an additional bonus.

A UI change I wasn’t expecting was moving a lot of the quest item junk from my bags to a quest bag.  There’s really no bag space to look at, but the items show up in the quest log for which ever quest they belong too.  Unfortunately some items didn’t move, since anything that needs to be used or traded needs to be accessible.  Overall a definite improvement and one of the features from Warhammer that I was hoping other MMO’s would copy.

Another minor change was upping the number of active quests from 40 to 43.  Not a big increase, but still appreciated.  I constantly have to cancel quests to make room for new ones.  If only there was no limit.

That’s it for the initial UI impressions; I’m going to break my initial play experience out into another post.

Moria T-7 Days

Only seven more days until Mines of Moria goes live!

Unfortunately, I have had no time to play games recently.  My son, Lukas, was born on October 31st (yup Halloween baby), so my evenings have been dominated by diaper changes, feeding schedules, and anything else I can do to support my wife.

This means that any games I play cannot require more than one hand and must be pausable, so no MMO’s.  We’ve also had a lot of company staying with us, so no Xbox for me since the living room is always in use.

I did get to play World of Goo (which I got through Steam) for about 45 minutes on night.  I was trying to get the baby to sleep and needed something to keep me awake.  But that’s been it for the last 12 days.

My son will only be 18 days old when Moria releases, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can get a full hour of play-time during the first week.  I may not be able to do much with my Hunter, but hopefully I can get some time with the new classes.