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Archive for June, 2010

Wednesday lotro: buying time

Another busy week’s gone by and yet again my Lotro playing has suffered. I’m mostly settled in my new place and I’m slowly getting back to my normal schedule so there is hope things will quiet down and I’ll be able to get some more MMO playing time. Talking about getting back to normality, I’ve restarted painting my Salamanders army now that I’m done moving so the project is on again.

Getting back to Lotro I’ve decided to take the bull by the horns and take my time completing some items of my to do list before heading into Moria. I’ve completed the first part of book 1, advanced on my class quest only to discover I can’t finish it solo at my level and I’ve completed my crafting, leaving only a drop to farm from some stupid goblins.

Now that crafting is done I realise I had made it some sort of mental roadblock that I needed to do but didn’t feel like doing. Crafting on the whole in Lotro is boring as hell. It can literally take a few hours to do everything you need to do and most of the time I’m afk or watching videos on YouTube while my hobbit melts over a hundred ore. The thing is that even if it’s boring crafting can be incredibly useful. I have trouble seeing how I could live without my Lembas bread or without my Edelharn tokens that cancel death penalties.

Because of that I really wanted my crafting done but wasn’t looking forward to putting hours farming and crafting. Then a friend suggested the brightest idea ever! Just buy the damn ore and be done with it! So simple yet I was unable to see that solution because I’ve been drilled by numerous MMOs and Rpgs to hoard my wealth instead of spending it.  Now I’m 3 gold poorer(around 300 wow gold) but I’m done with crafting and I can get back into the action a few hours  faster. Simply pure win!

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Lotro: Northern Kingdoms lore!

Sometimes I figure I know way too much useless info. I’ve always been someone who loved to research whatever it is I’m interested in. Right now I’m devouring information on oil drilling for example. The end result is I know a ton of trivia knowledge. It also means I pretty much devoured everything Tolkien related I could get my hands on. Since GeeCee seemed interested in all the lore surrounding Evendim I tought I could put this post together on the lore of the Northern Kingdoms and how it all relates to Lotro. I had to verify a lot of the info in this post but if I missed something feel free to correct me.

Elendil,Isildur and Arnor

Arnor was founded by Elendil at the end of the Second Age not long before the battle of Mount Doom(the big battle at the beginning of the first Lotr movie) along with the Kingdom of Gondor. Arnor was the northern Kingdom and Gondor the sourthern one. Both Kingdoms were ruled by Elendil and then by Isildur and both were  considered part of the same grand realm. Shortly after the battle of Mount Doom, Isildur was killed by  orcs while making his way back to Arnor. His remaining son went North with his followers. The current Rangers are descendant of those people and they still bear the Pointed Star, the symbol of Arnor that you can find on most ruins in Lotro.

The Kingdom of Arnor at its peak covered most of Eriador. In game this translate into the following zones: The Shire, Bree-Land, Evendim, North Downs, Eregion, Lone-Lands and Trollshaws (up to the river Bruinien, just before Rivendell). Arnor’s capital was Annuminas on the shore of Lake Evendim. Just like in Gondor, the people of Annuminas built impressive tombs for their kings and nobles, to the point where the houses of the dead outnumbered the house of the living. You can see this clearly in Evendim where there’s more tombs than housing all around.

For this reason, the city of Annuminas slowly became depopulated and after a few hundred years Arnor’s capital was moved to Fornorst wich can be found in the western part of North Downs.

The three kingdoms

Shortly after the capital was moved to Fornost, civil war erupted between the three sons of the King of Arnor and the kingdom was split in three. The three kingdoms meeting point was Amon Sul (Weathertop) wich was part of Rudhaur but was contested by the two other kingdoms for the Palanthir (the seeing stone) it contained.

Arthedain was the western kingdom and consisted of Evendim, North Downs (western part),part of Bree Lands (Bree itself and the road north of it) and east of Bree up to Weathertop. Its capital was Fornost and it claimed it was the rightful heir to the kingdom of Arnor.

Cardolan was the southern kingdom and consisted of The Shire, the western part of Bree-Lands, part of Lone-Lands directly south of Weathertop and southern Eregion. Its capital was the Barrowdowns.

Rhudaur was the eastern kingdom. It ranged from eastern North-Downs down to vast majority of the Lone-Lands(WeatherTop and east of it), then east into the Trollshaws up until the Bruinien and then south into Northern Eregion.

At the time of the founding of the three kingdoms, Angmar didn’t yet exist but was populated by wild and evil men. The witch-King had been defeated at Mount Doom close to 850 years ago. Still Tolkien hints heavily that this was when he began to make his return and influenced the events that led to the civil war and the splitting of Arnor into three kingdoms.

Angmar

Around 400 years after the foundation of the three Northern Kingdoms, Angmar was founded by the Witch King in the inhospitable region north of Rhudaur. At first the Witch King presented himself as benevolent figure who came to civilize the wild men and was at first supported. It soon became clear however that the Witch King was anything but good and Arthedain and Cardolan banded together to fight the evil of Angmar. Rhudaur however supported Angmar, being now ruled by evil men of Angmar that the Witch King had placed. Banding together, Arthedain and Cardolan retook the name of Arnor.

Lotro has numerous references to Rhudaur as being evil mens in service of Angmar and betrayers. Most of the lore concerning spirits and ghost refers to them being men of Rhudaur doomed to roam Middle Earth for having broken their oaths and betrayed Man.

You can also check out a the cities of Angmar in-game and a few ofther signs of the time when the  Witch-King was trying to pass itself off as a good ruler.

The war in the North

The war that followed lasted for 500 years and saw most of the Northen Kingdoms completely destroyed. Angmar, supported by Rhudaur, had the upper hand for most of the war but the aid of elves and dwarves slowed them down and inflicted terrible damage on Rhudaur. Also, Gondor became heavily involved in the war, not wishing to see a powerful kingdom of evil establish itself in the north.

Barrowdowns, the capital of Cardolan was destroyed by the Witch King who sent evil spirits there. This explains all the undead you can still see walking around in-game in that zone.

Angmar finally succeeded in conquering all of Arnor including its capital, Fornost and the surivors of Arnor were forced to flee to Forochel. You can see the ruins of their settlement in-game around the ice bay.

The battle of Fornost

A year after the fall of Arnor, Gondor sent a great army to Fornost along with the elves led by Glorfindel (can be found in-game next to Elrond’s house, he gives the highest hope bonus in-game).  This army managed to destroy the Wich-King forces and drive them back all the way to Angmar where they finished wiping his forces. The Witch-King was then forced to flee to Minas Morgul in Mordor.
That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed the history lesson. I know I had a lot of fun researching all this.

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I haven’t played much Lotro recently and while I could blame moving for it I know it’s not the main reason, rather it’s because there’s too much stuff I could do and I don’t know where to begin. I’m torn between completing pre-Moria content or just saying screw it and head right in. Just off the top of my head here’s the list of things I’d like to complete before heading farther in.

-Finish first part of Book 1
-Complete my mastery of the Master level of my professions
-See more of the Forochel,Eregion,Angmar,Misty Mountains zones
-Complete my level 50 class quests
-Find the last page I’m missing for my class book

My big fear is that if I do all that I will gain way too much xp and overlevel content by too much once I hit Moria, wich would make it a lot more trivial wich is the opposite of what I want. On the other hand I figure that stopping to smell the roses is fine also and Xp be damned, it  won’t make the content less awesome even if it’s easier. In the best world I could stop my XP gain but it’s not possible here.

The small list above is just a small sample of everything I could possibly do. There’s dugeons I haven’t seen, reputations I’d like to grind(I know, weird… a game wich makes me want to grind rep), skirmishes I’ve barely touched… I’m literally sitting on a ton of content and I don’t know where to begin.

I figure that in the end I’ll do part of my list and I just need to get over the idea that I might not be able to do everything at the proper level. I’m thinking that too much content is a fun problem to have for once!

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ToR survival list

And we’re back! Sorry for the delay, I’m finally done with moving to my new apartment and can now resume normal life. With my recent move and all the info regarding The Old Republic I figure my life will be over once that game releases and as such I’ve started planning my survival kit for the launch since I don’t expect to leave my computer for at least a  solid six months. I wanted to share this list with you so we don’t all die within the first week.

1st step: Money!

Even tough we might not leave our houses for a long while, you don’t want power to cut out while playing or your internet to die. Since those services are given by third parties we will be forced to pay up. The first three essentials here are rent, Internet and electricity. Make sure you can pay for them. Because we will not be working it’s important to stockpile, consider selling non-essentials like cars, clothes and other non-essential furniture.

2: Get rid of obligations

ToR will require our full dedication and obligations like jobs, families, friends can only distract us. Consider divorce two months before game release and make sure she or he gets the kids and don’t ask for visitation rights. If you have alimony to pay add it to the money to be saved because prisons are notorious for not being MMO friendly.

3: Food and toilet paper

Now comes the hardest part, stockpiling food for 6 months. The classic options is army rations but canned foods are great too and provide much-needed variety as well as some essential vitamins and nutrients you might not find in ration packs. In the same order of thoughts, toilet paper will be a needed community despite commonly held  gamers stereotypes. Living in your own feces is counter productive to survival after all. With the vendoring of your furniture you should have enough room to stockpile all that is needed.

And with that I’m off to worship Bioware.

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Eregion… fun with Uruk-hai!

Eregion, the Lotro zone, not the whole area west of the Misty Mountains Tolkien described, is a bit confusing to me to be honest. Not in the layout or quests but rather what I think of it.

On the whole Eregion is all about Saruman and his Uruk-hai/orcs. The white wizard sent his forces south of Rivendell to intercept the Fellowship and it’s up you to clean up the mess he left after he failed miserably. More precisely, there’s a boat-load of half-orcs all around led by big, mean Uruk-hai and you have to kill them all.

And that’s the one thing I don’t really like about Eregion, even if the story does make sense it’s repetitive in the delivery. Go to village A, fight X number or orcs, then go back gather Y item and go back a final time to kill the Uruk-hai. Then do it all over again in village B. I know Lotro is mostly built around this kind of questing but usually the mobs change. This time around however everything stays the same and even the locations looks very similar.

And then there’s the terrain that reminds me a bit of North Downs…

Still, the story-telling of the zone is incredibly well done so it does make up a lot for the quests shortcomings. Plus the Uruk-hai are all pretty mean and a good cut above the orcs as it should be. Turbine did a great job here of making them feel like special and elite opponents. 

I’m not completely done with the zone yet so the Pass of Caradhras could prove real interesting as it’s one of Middle-Earth iconic location and there’s the walls of Moria I can’t wait to see.

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Wednesday Lotro: Level 50!!!

Sorry for the late hour I’m posting this but with me moving on sunday gaming time is becoming increasingly harder to come by. This means also that blogging is taking a hit until next week since I don’t know when I will be able to post. Also, I’m pretty busy drooling over the recent Star Wars: ToR news so my focus is way off right now. Still, somehow I managed to hit 50 tonight in Lotro!!

Level 50 is a big milestone for me for a lot of reason. First its the old level cap meaning I can access and complete all the release content and it means I’m officially out of the “newb” level range. In many ways this makes Lotro the second MMO I’m taking all the way to max level and it feels great to know that I can have fun and long-lasting fun in something else than WoW. Not that I want to rant on WoW but I was fearing for a while I’d be stuck with the “first MMO syndrome” for ever. Finally, it also means that I can head into Moria if I want to and start seeing what the big place looks like.

Right now I’m really torn as to what to do. On one hand I feel like rushing to Moria and just wallow in the biggest dungeon of them all or as my more rational side tells me, take my time finishing up the books, completing my class quest and getting that last book page I’m missing. There’s also a lot of content I haven’t seen yet in Forochel/Eregion/Angmar so I’m also tempted to give it more time… decisions…

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Faster you maggots!

I can picture it, a room full of developpers dressed in rags, skin taunt agaisnt their bones, eyes wild and a beard gone unshaven for too long. They’re bound to their desk by ball and chain to make sure no escape is possible. Behind them a taskmaster is beating on a drum to set the pace while the overseers are walking between the rows to whip those slowing down or remove the dead developpers so their work can continue once a new slave is found.

Welcome to WoW Cataclysm development!

I can’t be sure since I’m not actually working at Blizzard but lately, they have been showing all the signs of a software company under a lot of pressure to deliver a product. Like it needs to get out right now! I don’t have hard numbers to prove it besides a lot of circumstantial evidence, the latest of wich is the announcement that they will be cutting a lot of the new features of the Cataclysm expansion. When you’re in a hurry, the new features are usually the first ones on the cutting floor.

Then you add in the fact that they are loosing a lot of subscribers since mid-march(right about when Icecrown stopped being new and shiny) and that with summer, they are bleeding customers faster than ever before. According to Warcraft realm census we are looking at around 6 millions. I love Warcraft realm census since their numbers are usually pretty close the actual amount of subscribers when every little detail is taken into account.

If we assume 6 millions players, it means a 50% loss of the subscriber base down from the 12 millions they had in January. Now, imagine yourself as a Blizzard employee trying to explain to a board of investors that you lost half WoW revenue and that you expect to lose even more before the next expansion. I don’t expect it to be a fun and pleasant conversation. It’s hard to know for sure the exact numbers but 50% seems a fair assumption if I go by what my friends are seeing on their respective servers.

So it’s not really hard to figure out what’s going on right now over at Blizzard HQ. It’s all hands on deck to deliver Cataclysm asap and pray for it to fix everything or they end up loosing too many customers and won’t be able to recover back to their previous numbers. Blizzard motto of “When it’s ready” truly went out of the window this time around I think.

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