Aion: Day One

September 30, 2009 at 4:36 am | Posted in Aion, Priest | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Not the game’s Day One, but my Day One.  Thanks to the vagaries of Amazon’s delivery policies, I got the game on Monday.

First there is my own little montage of installing and patching after coming home from work, followed by creating an account.   Interlaced with scenes of me sorting out the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, doing a little light tidying, and making a brew.

Then, onwards to game! I created a Priest, and whilst the character creation options are less in-depth than some games, there’s more than enough options for me.  Gone are the days when being thoroughly visually unique was important to me.  I chose basic options.  Got me a funky hairdo though.   Not as crazy as some, and not the ‘fro (any game that offers a ‘fro as a hairdo can’t be evil), but still funky.

Then I think I clicked in the wrong place, and joined the Dreaded Queue.  Which meant I could do some more light chores, and even play some Mass Effect on the Xbox.  The queue initially said 5-odd hours, but I was only queueing for 45 minutes give-or-take, so that meant getting to play a game I enjoy, but rarely have time for, and grinding even *more* Fiancee Rep.  I don’t know about you, but for me that’s classed as a win.

After aforementioned Dreaded Queue (which I don’t mind. I’ve no rush to get on, and the only reason I keep mentioning it is because I like typing the word “Queue”. Queue. Queue. Heheh) newly minted Priest Hawley got to see the world.

And it is pretty.  Really pretty.  I’m an anime fan, and Aion has all of the looks of some of the newer, cooler, cgi’d stuff.  I even recognised some of the hairdos, and they must use the same tailors.  Same goes for the mobs; I’ve never brutally murdered such good looking, well-realised monsties.

Yes, the quests were generic.  Go here, kill x whatevers, collect x thingies.  Talk to Jim.  I got to level 6, which didn’t feel like a chore, and then created a couple of alts.  The important part for me was finding out whether or not it was fun.  And it was.  It was lovely seeing a new game, and a new world.  So it’s nothing new? So what.   It’s an atmospheric world, and it might be more style than substance, but at least it’s good style.

There’s no new healing mechanic, and I didn’t get into any groups (admittedly I wasn’t looking for any hot group action, but wouldn’t have refused it) but I did get to wander ’round buffing people at random.  Now that’s something I’ve not been able to do since Everquest, so that was a wonderfully nostalgic thing to do.

Will I play again?  Yes.  I’d like to see where it goes.  I suppose I’ll need to find a legion at some point, because it’s the people that make MMOs special.  But I can take my time doing that.

Will it have the same long term draw of other games I’ve played?   No idea.  Yet.

Cheers,

Hawley.

Fighting the Good(?) Fight

September 28, 2009 at 6:00 am | Posted in Aion | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Pretty soon I shall be playing Aion. Or maybe that should be Aion: The Queue For Eternity…

Now, seeing as I’m a heal-freak the only real investigation I’ve done (apart from is it worth shelling out for?) is what sort of healers are in the game. So I know little about the background world of Aion, apart from the fact that it’s hosting a war between the Elyos and the Asmodians.

Which are most certainly NOT angels and demons. No.

Just like Loremasters aren’t wizards. And Rune-Keepers aren’t wizards. No. No. We’re fine here, all fine…

Personally, I’m only vaguely religious, so I couldn’t care less what a game uses to visualise its “Them and Us” mechanic. I’m also not a 12 year old with angry parents who think a game is going to be just the first step in my route to sexual perversity and satanism. I like to think that I’m smart and savvy enough to separate fantasy from reality. Others might differ. Diversity of thought is a wonderful thing.

Why the waffling preamble?

Well, I need to choose a side. I am a subversive Special Snowflake. Many players might want to choose the cool side, so they can be one of the cool kids. I like the dork side. I want to be the online equivalent of the nerdy kid with the braces and the pocket protectors.

Why?

Easy. I’ve spent so many years being fashionable I couldn’t be fashionable if I tried. The only times I *am* fashionable are when I accidentally tap into the fashion zeitgeist, at which point I feel a bit stupid and self-conscious for a while.

So I tend to overreact and deny fashion. But there’s more to it than that. It’s easier to rise to the top if you don’t have much competition, and I am a lazy slacker. If I’m competing against the hordes of cool kids, I’d have to work at it.

Now for some excessive sweeping statements and injudicious pop-psychology. Sorry.

Spinks is correct in a lot of her statements regarding choosing sides in PvP games.

Players want to be on the badass side, and kicking arse is a bad guy schtick. However. Many World of Warcraft players I know created their first character on a PvE server, and chose Alliance. They then created a second character on a PvP server, and chose Horde. The main reason stated was that they wanted to “see the other side”, but they could have done that on one of the many other PvE servers…

Maybe it’s because when we choose our first character, we choose how we want to be seen. So we choose a “good” guy, a stylised representation of who and how we want to be seen. And for when we want to go and pick on other people, we choose a “bad” guy because we can then divorce our actions from who we are:

“I’m not griefing you because I’m a bad person. I’m griefing you because that’s what undead rogues do”.

I’ve never had a problem with divorcing my in-game actions from who I am. I’ve been role-playing on table top and rubber-swording it for decades now. I’ve played saints and sinners, liberators and tyrants, angels and demons. And all the grey goo in-between.

I think things are beginning to change. Part of it may well be a reaction to the massive imbalance between Horde and Alliance on PvE servers, but I also think that as MMO players are maturing, they’re hitting the rebellious teenage years. Which means dressing in black, unwholesome flirtations with black makeup (most of the blokes I know have no concept of the terms “Cleanse”, “Tone”, and “Moisturise”), and listening to angry music in their room.

I’m pretty sure that this means that the Asmodians will be popular. Heck, all that black spiky armour, the black feathered wings, the smouldering looks from dark glowing eyes; even I’m getting moist.

But. And this is an important but. I shall be choosing Elyos. Playing “bad” is easy. It’s far, far harder to be a genuinely good person than it is to be anything else. It’s easy to pretend to be good but be evil underneath (“I’m doing it for their own good” is almost as good an excuse as “I was only following orders”), and it’s really easy just to be casually evil due to acting in a selfish manner.

But being genuinely good means analysing every possible action and every motive for action, before choosing a course of action. It also means (usually) not looking as cool as the cool kids, because let’s face it, bad is cool.

Popular culture also helps. Fantasy authors are deconstructing your dad’s Good Versus Evil tropes, and giving us a darker, more gritty modernity. George R R Martin and Joe Abercrombie (other authors are available) are taking “real” people, and putting them in moral situations where they won’t necessarily choose good. Heck, The Blade Itself numbers mass murderers and torturers as part of its ensemble cast of anti-heroes.

Personally, if I want evil, I want unremitting evil. I hate the wishy-washy post-modern bad guys that have to be empathised with. I hate the “but loves cats” sort of bad guy. This extends to the backgrounds of the “bad” guys. I can see why games designers want to put a better spin on their evil playable races, but if I’m going to play “bad”, I want honest evil, the sort that can only exist in fantasy, rather than the reality we see around us. If a fantasy bad guy wants to destroy the world, I don’t want it to be a metaphor. I want world destruction.

And I want to play my part in it! So, there we have it. I don’t want to pose as bad. And I don’t want to hang around with the cool kids. In any game. I’d prefer to be dorky but honest, and be a good guy.

Cheers,

Hawley.

And It Has Wings

September 26, 2009 at 11:40 am | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Okay, I’ve cracked.  After reading a few reviews of Aion, I’ve decided to get it, and see what it’s like.  As ever, there is more than one reason for this decision.  And being poor was not enough of a negative force to stop me; I shall just buy neither sweeties nor toys for the next 6 weeks or so.

Am I making the wrong decision?  Well, I’ve pondered with tea in hand (which also helped to top up my moral fibre) and I’m pretty sure that I’m exchanging thirty shiny pound coins for a month of finding out if I like Aion.

Why?  What’s the draw?

Well, the reviews I’ve read were pretty conclusive.  This is supposed to be just “more of the same, with prettier graphics”.  So, is this a sure sign that I’m thoroughly shallow, and vulnerable to the gaming equivalent of a common strumpet with a pretty face and a well-turned ankle?

Call me a reactionary old fuddy-duddy, but I believe in the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  MMO gaming doesn’t seem broken to me, so I can’t understand this constant demand for innovation.

Let me ramble a little on this one.  Anecdotally.  One of my last forays into First Person Shooters was Bioshock.  It didn’t bring anything new to First Person Shooters.  Run around, shooting stuff.  Carry a variety of weapons, with which to shoot stuff.  Follow the railroaded story through the railroaded areas, and get to the end.  From a gameplay point of view, there was not a single new concept in there.  Yet not only did I play it through to the end, I got caught up enough in it to get Righteously Angry.  I *cared* enough to feel emotion about the game, in a positive fashion.

It did this through superb work from the writers.  The world was fully formed and excellently realised.  The story line was engrossing and engaging.  And I got to carry a Webley, and shoot stuff with it.

So a game with absolutely no gameplay innovation gave me a fabulous gaming experience.

And it’s this fabulous gaming experience that I look for.  I can’t care less whether a game is innovative or not, as long as it’s fun to play.

Ultimately, I’m getting Aion: The Really Long Subtitle because I want to see how it plays, and whether or not I’ll enjoy it.  It’s the reason I got World of Warcraft, it’s the reason I got Lord of the Rings Online.  Both of which I’ve played for long periods of time.  Okay, it’s the same reason I got Everquest 2, but hey, sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.

If the reviews I’d read had said it was a lame horse fit only for the glue pot, I’d be backing off and leaving it.  But the reviews I’ve seen haven’t, and that’s enough for me to have part with my hard-earned, and make up my own mind.

And it has wings.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Playing Doctor

September 24, 2009 at 8:03 am | Posted in healing | 6 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

I had a revelation today.  It was sort of niggling in the back of my subconscious, sitting next to all the thoughts of what I’d do if I had a lightsaber, or an X-Wing, how much weight I’d gain if teleporters existed (the fear, the fear), and where would be the best place to hole up in the event of zombies deciding to walk the earth.  Y’know, the important stuff.

It was the fact that the first thing I check out in a new MMO is what healing classes are available.  Not what classes, but what *healing* classes.

Now I like to think that I’m a reasonable, balanced individual with only a few completely random and unsubstantiated biases, so that when I check things out I do so from a rational standpoint.  I investigate, I research.  And from a neutral starting standpoint.

Yet here I am allowing what information I can find on healing classes to influence my first impressions of a game.

Is that right?

Well, apart from a few blips, most of my MMO “main” characters have been healers of one sort or another.  I like playing healers.  They suit my style of play, and make me feel happy-joy feelings when I can try out a new style of healing play.  So it’s not really that surprising that I look to see what classes are available for my playing style.

So yes, the first glance at what healing classes are in game does have a huge influence.  There’s no point investing time and effort in a game if there isn’t a class that I want to play most of the time.

I enjoy playing alts.  Some of them even get past the starting zone.  But it’s rare that they do, especially when I’m levelling my main, which nowadays is invariably a healer of some sort.

One could also add that the lack of innovation in online gaming has also helped my condition.  Now, that’s a whole different can of worms, and my opinion is that if I can’t think of any innovations to put in an online game (genius thinker that I am) then I don’t get to moan about any games that come out that can’t think of any innovations either.  Whilst we have mindless violence in games, we’ll have Holy Trinities (or Holy Quads, depending on how lucky the Crowd Controllers amongst us are).  That’s fine by me.

It’s not my sole reason for judging a game, but a healing class that looks like it will be fun to play is something that will get me looking at a game in a more than cursory fashion.

I can be so shallow…

Cheers,

Hawley.

The Seekrit Post

September 22, 2009 at 7:58 am | Posted in Aion, General, The Secret World | 8 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

Last night I decided to have a look at a couple of games heading to a server near me soon, and ended up joining The Templars.

Well, I was just having a look, really.

My curiosity had been piqued by Ysharros’s adventures in Tha Seekrit Wurld; it’s always fun looking at games, and daydreaming about all the possibilities that they offer. And I’m finding it really hard to call it The Secret World since Ysharros made me giggle muchly.

I’d had a look at Aion, and was mildly interested. The concept of combat in flight is nice, but I’m just wondering if it’s going to be hovering in place blasting spells off, as opposed to standing on the ground blasting spells off. I’m also somewhat wary of NCSoft’s fantasy offerings since I had a brief look at Lineage 2.

I didn’t play Lineage 2 for long. I chalk up my negative experiences in Lineage 2 to a small number of annoying players, rather than a bad game, but it was still enough to put me off playing the game for any appreciable length of time. I shall see what the reviews of Aion are like, and if any of my friends are intending to play it before I decide to part with moneys. Yes, I’m far too experience-biased. It’s one of the reasons I don’t play SOE games any more. And cry every time a good looking game gets tagged by them. Looking at you, Pirates of the Burning Sea.

Then I had a look at Tha Seekrit Wurld (heheh. Heheheh). I went on their website and took the Which Flavour Do You Like? test, and ended up with Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie: In your face, and not too subtle. Or “The Templars”, as the site called it.

One thing it did do was make me sit up and wonder about the various groups that are at the core of the PvP mechanic. Previously I’d just seen marketing artwork and dismissed the various uniforms and outfits. Well done Funcom, credit where it’s due.

I must admit to a certain amount of over-analysis when it comes to choosing a side. Like so many, I love the sure Special Snowflakeyness of choosing the least popular side. So I shall investigate the differing factions a little more. Probably in another post. Too much rambling here already.

I also like putting on my ANGRY face when doing these sorts of tests. I think it’s because I am, on the whole (and as mentioned previously) a humanist. I *like* playing the humans, so when I see a game background that talks about fighting squacky monsties bent on eating people’s faces off, my protective gene wakes up and starts looking for a shotgun. It makes me want to boot down doors, aim for the face, and laugh maniacally as I save humanity from such squamous and rugose terrors. No, the ends do not justify the means…

That makes me a Templar, it seems.

So at the very least, Ysharros, you’ll have someone to beat up.

None of this is hiding the fact that I really, really hope Funcom get this one right. I enjoyed playing Age of Conan (the bits that worked, that is) and whilst it had its major flaws, I felt that there was more to it than some pretty pictures and some awful gender politics (and a bucket-load of bugs, flaws and mistakes). Target-less healing was one of the lovely things I saw. Cones are cool, and for more than just ice-cream or roadworks.

Here’s hoping that Funcom’s attempts to change the way we look at, and play games, works this time. I’m really hoping that the class-less system works; the last time I saw that was in Star Wars Galaxies (can you see why I don’t play SOE games any more?), and I’d love to see another game where character progression is not tied to killing monsters (Oh look, having just killed this Nastypainydeathosaur[1], I’ve now learned how to make +2 Chainmail Hoodies and Plum-Cola!).

There is a large part of me that wonders if this classless concept tied to PvP will lead to cookie-cutter builds with a flavour-of-the-month feel, but I’m not too worried about that. For a start, it will mean I really stand out with my focus on healing stuff. Furthermore, those builds tend towards the solo, whereas it doesn’t matter how good your build is if:

a) You can’t play that well, and

b) I have 20 mates pounding you into the dirt.

Because I’m rubbish at looking for new games (being the instant-gratification sort, I hate waiting for that whole alpha/beta/open beta cycle to finish, yet really appreciate it when a game is not released early), I’m wondering if it’s worth checking out reviews for Aion, and possibly ordering it for Friday’s release.

I shall ponder. Tea shall be required for this one.

Cheers,

Hawley.

[1] The Nastypainydeathosaur was discovered near Preston, Lancashire in 1924, by a small child who was out walking what was soon to be a very disappointed dog.

First to get de sugar…

September 17, 2009 at 5:32 am | Posted in healing, raiding, Shaman, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I had an entertaining conversation the other day, which made me ponder the nature of online gaming, with reference mainly to World of Warcraft (but there is a certain resonance with other MMOs).

I was asked by a level 80 Shaman: Where do I get my level 80 gear?

Now, that’s a question isn’t it?  I was pootling around Dalaran wearing 4 out of 5 items of (I think) Tier 7.5 gear, which means Bright Orange! and somewhat over the top in the style stakes.  So I was an obvious person to ask.  I was someone obviously wearing a tier set.

In a nutshell, the conversation was this; chap wanted to know where to go to get the items, and then how to get into a raid to get the items.

I shall now leave the chap and conversation, and instead ponder some of the thoughts that slowly bubbled up through my brain in the couple of hours following…

Is it easier for healers to get into raids?  I think so.  Most people enjoy dishing out damage, so they play dps characters.  And I think some feel that healing is a chore.  It doesn’t help that when things go badly, it’s generally the healer that gets blamed.  So healers get the twin bonus of less people competing for the role, and the fact that without healers, no-one goes raiding.

Should a hybrid class with healing use that to get into raids?  In this respect, I think it’s something that World of Warcraft players brought upon themselves, so yes I’ll use it all I can.  I play a Shaman.  I can be melee dps, ranged dps, or healer.  So whilst the class is, effectively, two thirds dps, one third heal, most only see the one third heal.  So I can happily have a class that can solo with a minimum of effort, and raid in a role I enjoy.  Win for me!

Should hybrid healers be able to change to another role once in a raid?  That depends on your raid, but with most things being so gear-oriented, the only way to perform to required standards in a raid is to have good gear.  And that means having more than one outfit.  But once in a raid, it’s easy to get that second set of equipment, and once in a raid it’s a scary amount easier to swap roles, or even characters (with attendant class swapping).

Is raiding, or Tiered equipment, a right?  No, it’s not.  But it’s a real shame that so much of the focus of the game at maximum level (I hate the term “end-game”.  It has far too many negative connotations for my liking) is towards raiding, and grabbing hold of tiered armour sets.  It’s a powerful draw, and there is a remarkable amount of peer pressure when it comes to being decked out in purpz.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Revolving Doors (and contemplation)

September 16, 2009 at 5:25 am | Posted in Grouping, Guilds, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments
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Wotcha everyone,

If a week is a long time in politics, it could quite well be forever in raid communities…

On Friday I wrote a post that I can thankfully consign to the recycle bin of history.  Mainly because it was admittedly whiny, with me feeling very sorry for myself.  The reason it can be thankfully discarded is because events of the weekend moved quickly, and resulted in the post becoming redundant. 

Here’s the short story:

Over the weekend, I left my raid community.  All of my mates had left it, and the only reason I had joined it was because they were in it.  And yes, one of the reasons I had been able to join it was because they could stand up and state that I was likewise a stand up chap and all-round good egg.

Now I’ve left them.  I did actually think long and hard about it, and decided that I’d rather do other things than raid with people I don’t know so well.  It’s not that they’re bad people, or even bad players, but when it came to staying, the negatives outweighed the positives.

Then, to prove the universe has a sense of humour, just as I’m working up to telling my raid community that I’m leaving, I get asked if I want to join the guild that my mates are helping to set up.

The rambling thoughts begin here:

I’d rather PUG with strangers than raid with people I don’t know well.  Yes, because I’d feel like I was just hanging around with these people because I wanted the phat lewtz, rather than their company.  Call me strange, but I like my friendships (real world or online) to be more about enjoying each other’s company than about what epixxx they can help me get.  PUGing for stuff just seems more honest.

The timing makes me look like I’m leaving them for the cool kids.  Which stinks, but hey, that’s timing.  Besides, is there a cooldown on joining another guild?  Is there a period of time one should wait after leaving one grouping, before joining another?  Who exactly *is* writing the MMO Book of Etiquette?  And who is reading it?

It’s alright if you’re invited.  And it must really stink if you’re not.  Hey, I felt rejected I wasn’t asked immediately, but I’m just passive-aggressive with rejection issues.  I suppose it’s similar to being a multi-platinum selling musician in a huge band, and some of your musician mates decide to set up a super-group, but without inviting you.  “Sorry, Dave has baggsy’d guitars already, and we all think you’re rubbish really”.

Being beaten with the Casual Stick.  I’ve seen it far too much to care about the term “Casual” when it’s used in online gaming.  It’s only casual if you do what the consensus wants.  If you try and change things, you’re *literally* worse than Himmler.  And should you leave for pastures new?  *Literally* worse than Hitler.  It shouldn’t be like this.  A casual group (guild, kinship, raid community, whatever the term used) should know that they have no recourse when players decide to act in a casual manner, or decide to leave if it’s not for them.  The benefits of a relaxed, casual atmosphere outweigh the potential loss of players who want to play in a more demanding atmosphere; it’s not fair to judge them as a result.

Raid Communities are the sum of their parts.  So if those parts leave (or have stopped working) they fold.  A mass migration like this could kill a raiding community, just as it could kill a guild.  But this is also time for those players who have been on the periphery of a community to stand up, be counted, and have the opportunity to take a more active role.  Stagnation is a bad, bad thing, and can kill a community far easier than renewal.

Millenial Fever.  Announcements of impending expansions cause all sorts of upheavals; Cataclysm is quite an accurate name, for once.  Only alts go over old content, so moves are already afoot to see as much of the Wrath of the Lich King content as possible.  For some that means exchanging casual 25-man raid groups for stripped-down, lean-mean-fighting-machine 10-man special-forces raid teams.  I can see why.  Finding and organising 25 players can be like herding cats, and just as rewarding.  Ten like-minded individuals is far, far easier to manage.  Being someone who sets his own achievements rather than relying on Blizzard (or Turbine, or any other games developer) for them, I’m somewhat bemused by them, but for others they are a powerful draw, and now there is a time limit.

Sooo…  Here I am.  Raid-less, but with possibility of joining another.  Older, wiser, more enriched thanks to my experiences.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Bandwagons Part 2

September 15, 2009 at 5:21 am | Posted in LotRO, Mirkwood | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

For me, at a rather impressionable age, Mirkwood was one of the standout parts of The Hobbit.  Giant spiders (Arachnaphobic, me), dying of hunger, and escaping nasty elveses in barrels.

When I created Ataulf, I decided that there was absolutely no contest whatsoever; he just had to come from Mirkwood.

Yeah, I suppose I’m a Mirkwood fan.

So hearing about Siege of Mirkwood made me do a little happy dance.  But that’s not long and rambly enough for me, so here is some more rambling for you.  I’m only commenting on what stuck out for me, rather than every part of what’s been released:

The Price; To be perfectly honest, $19.99 will probably turn into £19.99 in Britain, thanks to the rather strange and arcane way that exchange rates sometimes work across the Atlantic Ocean.  I usually blame that Bermuda Triangle thingy, but I digress…  Twenty shiny pound coins for content that doesn’t signify a full expansion for many players?  It’s a bit of a no-brainer for me.  I really like the game.  I remember, back in the dark ages of the last millennium, paying £70 per month on new pc games.  These would be finished with one way or another by the next month, leaving me free to spend £70 on another two games.

MMOs give me a lot more lifespan to a game.  Scarily so.  And yes, we pay subscriptions, but the average subscription is going to be a fifth of what I used to spend.

An extra 20 shinies?  Well, that’s a plate of calamaries and a couple of beers in some European cities (guess who spent a long weekend in Madrid a couple of weeks ago?  Go on!  Guess!)  (You’re right!  It was meeeeee!), which just goes to reinforce just how stupidly cheap a hobby online gaming is.

Even when you factor in such things as buying an entirely new upgraded pc base unit every three years it is still, on a per-hour basis, the cheapest hobby I have.  And I have a lot of hobbies.

Add to that my recent addition of a lifetime sub, and currently Lord of the Rings seems like it’s paying me to play.  So twenty quid will be nothing for me; I have job, and that means being with salary.

The Mounts:  Yeah, whatever.  Because of previously stated ineptitude with in-game currency, Hawley only got his mount at level 46, and I’m still more used to running to places than in getting the horse out.  Cheaper horses would be better for me, but with the best will in the world, I hardly get excited about mounts in any online game.  Unless it was an Ent.  Oh, the happy dance that would be seen, if Ents were to be mounts…

I apologise to any lore-junkies that might be somewhat enraged by thoughts of Ent mounts.  Moving swiftly on, I have known more than one player who would give his or her mount a name, regardless of the fact that the game would not allow them, so this is, as far as I’m concerned, vindication for their efforts.  My own statement, when asked what my mount was called, was: “I never name anything I might have to eat”.  Might have to name it now.  Then again, food that used to have a name always tastes better…

Skirmishes:  Now this seems like it could be fun.  Warhammer Online taught me the error of my ways with regard to new concepts in online gaming.  Before release the Public Quest System just smelled of BAD, yet became one of my favourite things in the game.  I like to think that I can learn from experience, so I’m looking forward to something that sounds like a cross between PvP (just without the vP, and more of a vE), and the fabulous set-piece instances that Lord of the Rings does so well.

Hearing that we’ll be able to tailor these instances by level size and difficulty is really, really good news.  I look forward to trying all of them out at release.

The customisable soldier is something that really did surprise me.  I think they’re an astonishing idea.  I know that Guild Wars (of which, admittedly, I know little) has npcs that can be hired, but this sounds more like a modifiable almost-pet.  I’ve got this picture of a particularly aggressive tamagotchi in my head, but that’s probably not what they’re after.

I shall probably ramble more as we get closer to release, although I must admit there is a large part of me that is hoping that Arbitrary will do her frankly arcane, amazing and quite spookily fast job regarding links to juicy new information.

She really is splendid like that.

Cheers,
Hawley.

Bandwagons Part 1

September 14, 2009 at 4:44 am | Posted in Captain, LotRO, Minstrel, Runekeeper | 6 Comments
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Wotcha everyone

Siege of Mirkwood, eh?

There’s going to be a scary amount of leakage, comment and Prophecies of Nerf and Doom about what’s coming up for Lord of the Rings with the next paid expansion, so why should we be left out, eh?

Well, apart from the Prophecies of Nerf and Doom.

I’ve really enjoyed my time in Middle Earth so far, and whilst there are things that I wouldn’t have put in the game if I were one of the almighty developers, I feel I can look back, judge them by the content so far, and be pretty sure that they’ll continue to put more fun in the game.

Besides, I have a lifetime subscription, so I’m unlikely to be going anywhere soon.

What will this new and exciting expansion mean for Minstrels, Lore-Masters, Runekeepers and *cough* Captains?

I’ve no idea, really.  But I think I’ll be following the leaks with some interest.

Cheers,

Hawley.

Of Kinships, and rejoining them.

September 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Guilds, LotRO | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Wotcha everyone,

After raiding peaks and troughs, it was more of a peak with no trough in Lord of the Rings Online.

When I finally broke and decided that life without Minstrel was no life at all (or something) , I didn’t really know how much time I could devote to Lord of the Rings Online, so rather than immediately start looking for my old guild, I decided to play solo for a short while.

This allowed me to do a number of things, at my leisure.  It allowed me to come back, bimble around and figure out how to play the game again.  It allowed me to rapidly jump between alts to scrabble for enough loose change to be able to pay off the debts on my house (the one under the tree.  I love hobbit housing).  It allowed me to sit back and enjoy the change of pace, whilst adjusting my real life around playing, and vice versa.

However, that didn’t mean that I’d forgotten my old friends from The Silent Minority, so one of the first things I did upon arrival in Middle Earth was to look them up.  And got a lovely warm welcome and was asked when I’d be rejoining, which was more than touching; the approval of one’s peers is most certainly the only Win that counts in online gaming.  Since that time I’d been bimbling around solo, or even joining in with ad-hoc groups to complete quests (look at me, Ma! I’m socialising!).

However.   I think one of the things that grabbed me and reminded me that it was time to rejoin were the events of Monday night.  I’m in both a guild and a raid community in World of Warcraft, and being in a guild is a sort of default for whatever game I play.  Massively Multiplayer, and all that.  I suppose that the possibility of change just shocked me out of my complacency, and that made me re-evaluate my solo status in Lord of the Rings.  So I thought about it, and realised that of my play time, Lord of the Rings is the game I play most at the moment.  It’s not a favoured child thing; it’s just the way things are.  And the hours I’m playing means that I can join a guild without feeling like I’m just mooching lovely Guild Goo, without providing anything in return.

The Silent Minority have a very active and aggressive Broom of Doom policy, and quite frankly I applaud that.  I also applaud the fact that any Broomed ex-member can rejoin quickly and painlessly, so that was great.   Net result is that after a hearty welcome, I’m now a member of a Lord of the Rings Online Kinship again.  The pace of life is much, much faster than when solo, but I’m also looking forward to fully re-entering guild life.

Cheers,

Hawley.

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