Archive for the ‘Lotro’ Category

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I’ve been toying with the idea of looking into LOTRO lately. My earlier outburst was out of shock, so I ventured in after the latest ‘let’s fix the game’ patch.

So I logged on, ran about, replaced some gear, got more will, got more fate, but my power bar just stayed the same. Feeling like I’d just wasted my evening I ended up checking out Global chat and the forums.

The amount of unrest over fixing a bug was unreal. I get why people where upset, a raid had been launched and as per the first age symbols where dropping on T1. This then lead to groups farming the three raids to gain the shiny symbols.

So Turbine said NO! The fix was made and the fans then started to feel upset. So what do you guys think that Turbine should do? Just leave it as it is? Fix the problem?

My answer is none of the above. I want Turbine to either fix the content before they launch it to stop this problem because let’s face it, this always happens. Or abolish the T1, T2 and T2HM system completely. I guess this means abolishing all legendary items, and I am all for that.

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Why would it? I may hear you ask. Well the raids are made in structured for gear progression. T1 – Third age legendary, T2 – Second Age, T2HM – First Age. Meaning the better the weapon the greater the progression.

I started playing LOTRO after the launch of MoM so I am used to nothing other than legendary weapons at end game. But after playing other MMO’s I have come to the conclusion that these weapons are nothing more than a grind fest. Put in a game to make me feel like I need better all the time.

Now I don’t think that there is particularly anything wrong with this at all, but I do feel that getting a fantastic first ager at level 65 a month before the launch of ROI and feeling the need to crunch it as I got to level 75 is just wrong.

Gear should not be a chore, it should be fun. The days of the Rift and Helegrod should still be among us, and this is coming from someone who was never around then. Frodo had Sting from the moment he left Rivendell, we never had to hear about him stopping to crunch his weapon or to add relics to it as he wondered middle earth now did we?

Written by Emma McHugh

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Now I am a powerholic in LOTRO. My minstrel has always had stupid amounts of the stuff. But Turbine has actually just crossed the line with me at the moment.

The big wigs at Turbine have decided to take stat bonuses off all gear. So my +will or +vitality for x number of pieces has now gone.  So I have went from having over 13000 power (I did say it was ridiculous) to having just below 8000 power.

My power pool has always never been enough for me, I always wanted bigger, better power, more tactical mastery and as long as my health was enough to withstand little damage I was happy.

I just feel like they have ran over my character with a dump truck, and left her split in half in the middle of the road. I don’t want to rage quit over this but Turbine are making it pretty hard. I have no doubt that taking away all my beautiful power will help them in some way but damn it they could have done it using a slow process. Not just ripping off the proverbial Band-Aid leaving the whole leg to sting.

So from this day I am boycotting LOTRO until Ardhuial has her power pool back intact. Suddenly I feel like I am in a Liam Nesson movie, “If you do not return her power to me I will be the last thing that you see.”

Written by Emma McHugh

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Since my days of playing World of Warcraft, through to my five year stint in LOTRO, I was an avid subscriber to the mmos I chose to play. I purchased the boxed, installed the games and month after month stumped up the required asking price for a subscription because I thought that the games would benefit from my financial support, plus the fact that f2p was never an option at that point as a valid business model for the games companies. These days however, almost every major mmo has a f2p option with others going f2p soon or already in the process of transitioning from a pure subscription business model to a hybrid of the two. A few mmos that are on the horizon are even going pure f2p, which you could have never imagined two or even three years ago. Creating a game in this way would have been seen as suicidal and just looking to fail. Not now.

When LOTRO moved from subscription to a hybrid, offering f2p to people who wanted to experience the world of middle earth and grind points to make purchases, or even buy points using real money, a lot of people thought it would spell the end of the mmo when in fact, Turbines revenue increased drastically. SWTOR moved from sub to hybrid model less than a year after it’s release due to a huge drop in subscriber numbers. I’ve never seen the game so busy now. Even Tera has recently moved to a f2p hybrid model and reports are that player base and income has almost doubled.

This beggers the question.. would a new, pure subscription model game be profitable and last?

There is a whole host of games out there, Triple A titles at that and a lot of them run a hybrid model where a vast number of the player base don’t necessarily play as f2p, but play as the hybrid where they spend money every so often and buy points, which they can spend on items or unlocks which are specific to their characters or play styles. I would say this is more considerate for people who don’t have extra income to expend every month of a game subscription and can buy parts of the game as and when they need them. There is also a section of the player base who just hate being tied into a contract, which is what subscribing is. Yes, it’s only a month to month rolling contract but it’s still a contract and that just doesn’t sit well with some people. Some games offer a lifetime pass, lotro being a good example of this. When the game was released they offered a lifetime subscription for £150, which basically means that you never pay a subscription again. All you pay for is any expansions that are released. GREAT DEAL!! you may say but not for the game company who has now switched to a hybrid model and no longer makes money from those players except once a year when they release an expansion. Turbine don’t like these people, lets at least be honest about it. Yeah sure, they give lifetime members 500 turbine points a month to spend in the store but they contribute nothing in terms of value to Turbine and lotro. People who still subscribe also receive those 500 points but contribute monthly to the running costs of the game and it’s upkeep. The people who spend real money on points are the cash earners for the company. 

But getting back to my point, With games on the market that offer f2p and hybrid models, which seem to be attracting the largest volumes of players due to these facts, I don’t think a game with a pure subscription base would get anywhere near enough revenue to be able to sustain this model, or even enough players to make it worth while.

What do you think?

As a little something extra,I’m going to list a few games which have changed from Subscription only to hybrid models so you can see the vast scope of this change of gaming business models.

LOTRO / Star Trek Online / SWTOR / Rift / Aion / Age of Conan / DDO / Tera / Final Fantasy XIV / The Secret World / DoTA 2 / League of Legends / Dust 514 / MechWarrior Online / Neverwinter (Yet to be released) / Planetside 2 / World of Tanks

These are just the BIG games, which could be described as A, AA or AAA titles. There is a further 4000+ games out there that are f2p.

Why would anyone pay a subscription anymore?

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With Turbines servers being down for over 50 hours and with no idea when players like myself will once again be able to click the enter Middle Earth button. I begin to ask myself what if the servers don’t come up. What will that mean?

Well for someone like me it will mean that I should have left LOTRO when I said I was going to leave, which for those of you who don’t know was just after I bought the Riders of Rohan. That would have meant that I would not have gotten to level 85, grinding Hybolt and the crafting instances. But then again even though I feel as if I should have left the game back then, I actually did play the expansion and do everything. I maybe didn’t quite get my monies worth but I still play the game today.

With updates every few hours which basically say “We are working on it, the game will be with you as soon as it’s ready.” Does Turbine need to do better? With conspiracy theories spreading like wildfire around the forums (to which I myself participated blaming the dwarves for digging too deep because sorry it’s always a dwarf) does Turbine need to step back and explain why it is taking so long? My answer is yes! The players will respect you for keeping them in the picture and it saves the play based getting angry.

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Turbine should have learned by now. With it being almost six years since LOTRO launched. With changes impacting us all and Turbine continue to make the same mistakes. Maybe we are the silly ones for putting up with their complete lack of good customer service, but while I play other games and see the distinct comparison I begin to wonder how I put up with it. From being afraid to say anything on the official forums about lag before the delete button gets pressed I wonder how this community, including myself is enjoying being trampled on.

I do wish that this game was run by any other company; even Blizzard is looking appealing to me at the moment. I am beginning to remember why I wanted to leave LOTRO and Turbine behind i.e. the complete lack of communication as well as the communistic ruling on the forums. What can I do but sit here shaking my head. Should I give up a game and a main character I love just because it is run by the worst gaming company I have ever encountered? I just checked the Facebook page of The Lord of The Rings Online for any update and what I saw was again another message saying the same thing they have been since 8am (GMT) yesterday.

I do not want to just seem hateful in this post and I know a lot of people are working hard to fix the problem. But old memories come back to me such as;

  • The free to play denial.
  • Leaving Codemasters behind but denying it.
  • The lag. This was all the I.P’s fault.
  • The deletion of anything on the forums relating to someone asking for information on when the game is going to be fixed.

So what would happen if Turbine decided it wasn’t worth the manpower to fix it and LOTRO, DDO and Asheron’s Call all got deleted? Well nothing, as you would not have a legal leg to stand on. All thanks to the terms and conditions. So it could be “Au revoir  Middle Earth” with not so much as an explanation.

Now isn’t that itself just something to freak out over?

Written by Emma McHugh

As with all computer based systems or websites, sometimes they have to come down to be fixed/updated or for general tuning up to make them run effectively. This has gone on since as long as I can remember and is very much embedded in the online gaming culture, particularly with the MMO genre of games.
Servers are taken down and patches are applied to the game servers which allow players to download and play the latest build with all the new loot and bug fixes but I’m sure you understand the concept of patching a game so I’ll just skip over the rest of it for your benefit.

Turbine, host and owner of the Lord of The Rings Online (or LOTRO) announced more than a week ago that on Wednesday the 13th of Febuary that they would be taking down their servers for back-end system maintenance, which would last twelve hours then the servers would come back up and everything would be fine.This was to occur on not just LOTRO servers but for all of Turbines online games (Dungeons and Dragons Online and Asheron’s Call) and is perfectly understandable and acceptable although as always with mmo games, some people did voice strong opinions against such measures as it would cut into their game time.  However, what these people failed to read was that in the terms of service for LOTRO, which you must agree to in order to play the game, There is a section which states..

“Turbine may change, modify, suspend, or discontinue any aspect of the Game at any time. Turbine may also impose limits on certain features or restrict your access to parts or all of the Game without notice or liability.”  
 
Which is exactly what Turbine have done. they have suspended the game so they can do this essential work on their back-end servers, but as always people will complain.
 
Anyway, I’m getting a little off-track here.
 
This period was later postponed until Thursday the 14th of Febuary (Valentines Day) which seemed to please a lot of people as they would be spending this time with their loved ones but once again, people complained and asked for compensation for losing game time.
After the period started, it was quickly extended to twenty-four hours of downtime and that things were going fine, despite this news. However, approx four hours before this was due to finish the player base was informed via twitter that they would not make the twenty-four hour deadline and did not have an ETA for the servers coming back up, which is still within their rights to do. The player base, of course has erupted into acts of stupid posting and rage aimed towards the LOTROcommunity team, whom has absolutely no say in how the servers are maintained and are only there to relay the messages onto the players.
 
This beggars the question, do people even read the terms of service before they ever sign up to playing a game or do they just click “I Accept” and go on in ignorance of the actual conditions which you agree to partake in the product that the company has contracted you to.
 
Should people who don’t read and understand the Terms of Service automatically have their contracts voided and be banned from the game? Isn’t agreeing to and signing a contract, which is what you do when you click on “I Accept“, without first reading and understanding it not cause for dismissal from the contract?
Or are Turbine going easy on the players so they keep paying them?
This time last year it seemed that nothing could pull me away from Lord of the Rings online, apart from the odd day playing SWTOR (which I still play to this day).  I was nothing but happy with this MMO. I would spend hours grinding reputation, crafting, levelling characters, raiding, talking to the friends I played with. It seemed that nothing could take me out that game. Nothing could tease me away from it. I was one hundred per cent not interested in any other game. Until the lag made it impossible for me to do these things that I love, but that is for another thread. I began looking and speaking to my fellow gamers. I began to pay complete attention toGuild Wars 2. It looked awesome! I couldn’t believe how blinded by LOTRO I was, people had tried to show me how great it was but I just wouldn’t listen. I brought out the credit card and paid for two copies that day. The beta weekend had just started so when people where playing I was downloading the client on two PC’s.  I never played until the next day and what I saw just baffled me to begin with. Everything was just so different from your generic MMO clone. Now don’t get me wrong I had not just played LOTRO and SWTOR up until this point, but I had also tried GWAionRiftDDO, and had a brief 12 hour shot of WoW. The first experience of this game smashed them all out of the ballpark.
This experience made me look around me. I wanted to experience it all. I did not want generic clones, or the holy trinity. I wanted to see what I was missing, see the game’s that I was not paying my full attention too. LOTRO’s lag issues though frustrating was the best thing to happen to my gaming life. I started paying more attention to SWTOR, with the storyline and space combat grabbing my attention and seeming new and shiny. I wanted to never be blinded by one singular MMO again. I was not content with open tapping, everyone receiving loot, open world environment, crafting changes, voice acting, space missions, and the ability to play a character how you wish.
So I heard about The Secret World going pay once play forever. I’d looked at this when it launched and thought it looked brilliant. But I did not want to pay for a subscription, especially when I had just bought GW2 which had no subscription attached to it.  The big appeal to me here is that I can role one character and be whatever role I want. I was an altaholic, always bringing up alts so we’d have the correct balance in raids. Do not get me wrong, I am not moaning about it. I was not held at gun point with someone screaming in my ears, “LEVEL A LORE-MASTER… HURRY UP!”.  I enjoyed it. But this game made me think that I would never need an alt because I could just level up every weapon within the game. Also there are no physical levels, you level up within your secret faction, be in Dragon, Templar or Illuminati. It is also an open world environment, with loot sharing and open tapping.  It is also set right now, so things that are global phenomenon’s such as Gangnam style are actually within this game. Its real world setting also seemed like a big change for me, and I enjoy wandering around London and using Google maps to see if it really does look like it does within the game.
So now with the MMO genre smashing down the very bounds that once made them all similar but with different settings what do you think? Do you feel saddened that all new MMO’s seem to be moving away from the bounds that once held them? Do you hope that new games to come are different from their counterparts or do you wish they’d all just stop bring out stuff that seems shiny and new but in your eyes is just a distraction from grinding end game until the new patch comes out? With even LOTRO jumping onto the open world environment train what will be next for MMO’s within the next year to come. 2012 changed my gaming life, let’s hope 2013 adds to my experience and the open world environment will not become the new generic clone.
Written by Emma McHugh

Reputation Grinding…

 
 
With the next SWTOR patch introducing a Galactic Reputation system into the game, I have found myself pondering over my past gaming experiences of faction reputation and if it is a good idea to include such systems into games.
Lets get back to basics here. Reputation systems are a way in which the developers can increase content via a grind system which makes players achieve points towards ranks and eventually rewards by making them repeat certain content or via grinding mobs for drops.
This system has been used in many games and through personal experience of the system in LOTRO, I can say with an honest heart that it’s not one of my favourite things to do. Throughout my past and present gaming, grinding is not something I like to do. I can admit that it is sometimes a necessary task, in order to get that extra 50 morale via a trait you grind for, or in order to wear a specific item of armour or even cosmetic clothing but for me it just takes away from the fun of the game by taking up my time doing repetitive content.
I remember back playing LOTRO when the game was first released and in order to gain reputation with certain factions you ended up having to kill mobs for hours, hoping for item drops which you could then trade in for reputation points with the appropriate faction. The rewards for gaining maximum reputation were good, well at least some of them were but I know a lot of people who did it just because they are addicted to completion and just HAD to have that reputation bar full for each and every faction in the game. With LOTRO getting older and adding more content, the number of factions grew to a point where it was just getting stupid. The latest expansion pack contains four new factions, taking the total in the game to twenty-six. Sure, you may think that by the time the newest expansion arrived that most players would have all the other factions already completed, thus reducing the grind to just four further factions but the kicker is that these factions have to be gained on every single character you create, if you want to have full completion on all of them.
That is just insane in my opinion.
Thankfully those good people at Bioware have taken the new Galactic reputation system and tied it in with your legacy, meaning that you only have to gain the required reputation for each faction once. by making this account wide, they have greatly reduced the perceived grind requirement to just one character.
Another good part is that they have also tied it in with daily repeatable quests which you can run at level 50 on specific planets and also to general heroic quests which are scattered around on all the planets in the game, although at the moment of this going live only Voss and Belsavis heroic missions will count towards their factions. Hopefully more will be added into the game at a later point.
A friend of mine said something while discussing this on a post on our guild forums which fits the SWTOR system perfectly in comparison to the LOTRO  system.
“One grind to rule them all.”