Thursday, August 30, 2007


Looking at my stat counter, I notice quite a few hits have arrived from searching for "eq2 vs lotro". I saw a question posted on forums today by someone who recently left LOTRO and picked up EQ2. They were wanting to know what they would find in EQ2 that was not in LOTRO. Amidst the "SOE charges for everything, while Turbine gives free updates" debate, I attempted to answer the question that was actually asked. Since I no longer play either game, I thought I'd expand on that answer in hopes of giving an unbiased (somewhat) comparison. So for those of you who landed here in your EQ2 vs. LOTRO pursuit, here goes:

1. Armor/Weapon Upgrades - There are more options and more availability of decent items in EQ2. For similar upgrades in LOTRO, you will have to obtain them as rewards for group quests. Those who prefer full grouping and feeling they've "earned" their armor, might prefer LOTRO. Those who prefer having more options available, whether it be through purchasing via the auction house, obtaining from quests or raids, or crafting armor for themselves, might prefer EQ2. Without a doubt, armor drops off of npc's are more plentiful in EQ2. In two years' time in LOTRO, this may well change.

2. In-Game Expenses - Armor repair and auction house fees are negligible in EQ2. In LOTRO, along with travel expenses, these costs put a large dent in your wallet on a daily basis.

3. Graphics - The graphics of EQ2, along with the zoning will stress your system more than LOTRO. So if you have an older computer, LOTRO will perform better. One graphic style is not better than the other. They are just personal preference. EQ2's landscapes and structures have more a photo-realistic quality, while LOTRO has more of a painted fantasy feel.

4. Travel Times - With the harbor bells, speedy griffons and horses, travel will be quicker in EQ2. Both horse routes and player run speed are pretty slow in LOTRO. Some prefer longer travel times and consider it "meaningful."

5. Crafting - Crafting is by far more rewarding in EQ2. The items you make are useful, is not that costly to level, and you can make a very good living doing nothing but crafting. If you wish to be a pure crafter in LOTRO, you will need some high level friends to help you through the required crafting quests. To earn a reasonable profit, your best bet is to sell the raw resources rather than finished product.

6. Dungeons - If you enjoy a raid-type experience with a high likelihood of failure, but that can be done with six players, LOTRO would be more your style. If you like a dungeon crawl with a small group of not necessarily optimal classes, then EQ2 it is. We often duoed certain dungeons in EQ2, killing named mobs and acquiring nice upgrades for ourselves. This was not an option in LOTRO.

7. Grouping - If you want to find a group quickly, currently LOTRO will offer you more opportunities here. This may change down the road as the game matures, but as it stands now, groups are plentiful. As long as you're not picky about which quest is being worked on, you should have little trouble finding a group.

8. Experience - The way experience works in LOTRO is a bit unforgiving. You really need to kill npc's and complete quests when they are equal level, or con white. If you kill a blue, you take a big hit to experience. If you kill a yellow, the extra gain is so minor that it's not worth the effort and armor repair. Quests and deeds work the same way. Although with deeds, there is no stated level, so you have to guess what level it might be and complete as soon as possible or risk getting little experience. In EQ2, killing blues and greens is a very viable way to level, and taking on yellows is even better.

9. Classes - There are much fewer classes to choose from in LOTRO, but the ones they do have were done fairly well. I often thought I'd like to carry my captain or loremaster from LOTRO and bring it over the the EQ2 world, as I seemed to enjoy them more overall than the classes in played in EQ2. The only thing I didn't like are required class quests. EQ2 had them at release and eliminated them later. But some people like that sort of thing.

10. Collection Quests - Just one of those things EQ2 has that few games do and just an option of something different to do besides experiencing or crafting. I loved finding those shiny things on the ground! My husband, on the other hand, would have never wasted his gaming time on looking for those things. So he benefited from my finds. Again, not everyone's cup of tea, but there as an option.

11. PVP - Ok I can't offer too much as I don't participate. EQ2 has separate PvP servers for this. LOTRO has monster play which is part of all servers. The monster players have complained loudly of their gimpiness and have recently been bumped up 25% effectiveness. Aside from temporary trolls and rangers you can buy with your points, and all the complaints I read about "flippers" and who has the most stars, I know little else.

I've probably left something off that I'll remember later, but these are the differences that stand out to me. While many tout LOTRO as the game for casuals, I find EQ2 to be more friendly to casual play, particularly if you have short spurts of play time. Both good games in their own right, offering different styles of play depending on where your interests lie. Just as EQ2 evolved into a different game than it was two years ago, LOTRO will likely make some changes in the next few years as well.

Monday, August 27, 2007

One Down, Two to Go

I finally gave up and canceled LOTRO. I had taken three weeks off while playing SWG and came back for a few hours after the most recent update. I just can't bring myself to play anymore. So many seem to proclaim this as the game for casuals, but I see it as just the opposite. If you like to raid, but would rather do it with six people instead of 40, this is the game for you. If you like to solo or play in small groups, forget getting any sort of armor upgrades. That's just part of what was bugging me. But really it's just that I had no fun, and the quests felt like a chore. I was going to try to stick it through until the housing this fall, but based on how everything else is setup, I have this sneaky suspicion it's going to be ridiculously expensive to buy and to maintain.

Two games in the news this week pretty much sealed the deal I won't be playing. I was already a bit ho hum about Age of Conan. It just seems that everything coming from the dev's mouths lately is pushing the sexual features of the game. So sex gives you a buff now? Judging from the amount of posts that have been deleted on the forums regarding this topic, they continue to attract more of the crowd I want to avoid. I'm not a prude and don't mind sexual undertones. Heck, I used to run a virtual roleplay world based on the Gor series. But I think they would have been better off to let players discover those features themselves and promote the better aspects of gameplay. These guys seem so focused on this, they come across as giggling virgins. If anything, they've alienated more adults and particularly females.

I pretty much had assumed a few weeks back that The Agency would be operating under the "pay for your loot" model after hearing Mr. Smedley discuss moving away from subscription models for future games. But now it's official. No thanks. I will never play an MMO that operates under this model. And if this is the wave of the future as he seems to think, then I guess I won't be playing much. But I honestly doubt everyone else will be joining the bandwagon anytime soon. So if you're rich, you can have all that you want, and if not.....hmm this sounds sort of like the real world which I play to get away from.

They most likely will be successful in the Asian market with this model, but it will be at the expense of the North American and European market. Yeah they'll have their elitists who can buy their way through the game, along with those who never pay for games and beg the rich guys for their stuff.

Ok time for more coffee. I'm feeling a bit cranky.....

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Game to Cure MMO Addiction!

Spotted this recently and thought I'd share!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Star Wars Galaxies - Is It Still Fun?

Well it's been a couple weeks now that I have been back to SWG. What I wanted to focus on was if the game is currently fun to play. I thought it best to put my existing characters aside initially and restart as a new player experiencing everything for the first time. This is not a post to bash the NGE and mourn over what was lost. There's been plenty of that for the last two years. I just really wanted to focus on the game in its current state.

Something I want to address that I mentioned in a previous post is the gold sellers spamming you on arrival. Having looked into the whole situation, I have a little better understanding. When I played EQ2 prevously, the 14-day trials were limited to the starter island. Since free trials are often the route of gold spammers, there really was not much they could do being stuck on that island. I was told SWG initially limited their trial to the space station tutorial, but the station is so small and there is nothing to do there beyond the quick tutorial; so it really was not a fair representation of the game.

Initially, GM's responded and would boot the spammers, but five minutes later they created a new account and would be back. So unless they pay someone to sit at entry point 24 hours a day on all the servers, not sure how they can get around this unfortunate situation. There is an option to turn off all chat by /afk players, but it is not selected by default. So any new players will just have to deal with this until they get their bearings.

I'll just highlight what I think works and what needs tweaking.


1. Legacy Quest Line - When you first arrive in Mos Eisly as a combat class, you will receive a comm message on who to talk to. This begins the Legacy quest. You will be sent to various bunkers and caves to complete objectives such as breaking into the computer or killing mobs. Through this quest line, you will first receive a landspeeder and then later a faster speederbike. It will also provide you with various weapons of your choice.

You know how in other games you are sent two zones away to kill something, return to the npc who sends you all the way back there again to kill something else? I yell at them "why didn't you have me do that while I was there already?!" With these quests, you get there quickly by speeder or shuttle. And while you are at your target location, frequently the npc speaks to you via the comm telling you what to do next while there. One evening while we were playing, my husband mentioned reading about an upcoming game that would be quest-based that he won't be playing for that reason. I reminded him that we were currently questing in SWG. He said "Yeah, but these aren't grindy." Just so.

2. Combat - Bang Bang Bang, fast and furious. What else can I say?

3. Returning Vets - I would say about half the people I've spoken to have been pre-NGE players who just returned within the last two months. I had visited SWG very briefly about six months ago when I had Station Access, and the population has most definitely increased since then. The Mos Eisly cantina is usually fairly active and the Theed cantina is beginning to see a resurgence (Flurry server). Also, wherever I have been questing, more often than not, other players are there doing the same thing, making it easy to group up.

4. Class Fun and Goodies - I had logged in my former Teras Kasi and speced her to Officer to see what sort of things classes get at later levels (she is 57). I went out to the field to look over my abilities. Hmmmm, medic supply drop...wonder what that does? "Clicks button" A guy pops up on my comm and tells me supplies are on their way. Within a few seconds I hear the sound of a ship and spin around to see one flying in at me and dropping a box at me feet. Ok now that was way too cool :) I opened the box and it was full of stimpacks that group mates could take out to use for self heals.

I had another skill called Reinforcement which says it calls a pet to aid me. In flies another plane and out comes a soldier ready to assist me. Where else do you see stuff like this? I know I never had before and just absolutely loved it.

5. Entertainer - A big two thumbs up on the entertainer changes. I had both a master dancer and master musician at one time. Now, along with Image Design, the three are rolled into one. They have been given wonderful buffing abilities...stats, increased experience, reactive heals, tradeskill buffs, just to name a few. The buffs are required to be given in such a way that can't be macroed, so gone are the afk buffers from the past. They've been given the ability to make their own props (decorative swords, ribbons, glow sticks, etc. you wield while dancing). Also, just as combat classes do, they gain hitpoints and stats as they level, so those thugs who used to harass me in town now know better!

I logged in what was my master musician and was dismayed to find her a level 1 entertainer. I filed a petition and within a couple hours I was bumped up to level 50. Unlike combat and tradeskill, the entertainer levels very quickly and I reached 90 within two days of at keyboard play. A great way to meet other players. Having a lot of fun with her.

6. No Money Sinks - *glares at LOTRO* Previously, SWG was already not much of a money sink game. Buy armor, weapons, and then fluff stuff like housing and furniture. The Bazaar has always been very reasonable to use. It is even less so now given that they have removed item decay. Not good news for crafters but since much of the good stuff drops off mobs, the permanent decay doesn't make much sense anymore. So money hoarders rejoice!

Items They Should Address

1. Targeting - Oh boy where do I start with this one. So you see a thug, you left click it and bang bang and you stop shooting. Meanwhile he starts running different directions shooting at you. You frantically try to follow him with your mouse while left clicking till dead. This is the default UI. I went into options to have a look at keyboard settings. Seems I have to type "Y" to auto-lock a target and program my own key in for auto-fire since there is none by default. I chose the space bar. So I type my "Y" (only needs to be done once per character, not per session), left click to begin shooting, hit space bar to continue, and good to go using special skills. Phew! Oh but wait. I targeted another player who was standing in front of the mob. Click, click, click trying to retarget. Oh, I have to hit escape first to clear original target and then click!

I noticed I kept accidently attacking and firing my weapon. I discovered the right mouse button is keyed to secondary attack. I'm one of those who use my right mouse to look around, etc. while moving. So everytime I adjusted the camera or spun around with it, bang bang bang. Ok disabled. To be honest, not sure what a secondary attack is anyway. Guess I'll be fine without it.

I loot a few things and want to put some in my bank. It's been so long I forgot how to open up the bank. Left click? No that just shows the money. Right click? Didn't work. I look up the keyboard settings again. I see "Summon Radial Menu". Yeah that looks like what I'm looking for. And for that they have assigned the tilde key. The tilde key?? Well that explains why there are no creature resources for sale on bazaar. How many new players know to use the tilde key on creatures they have killed to harvest hides, bones, and meat? You see, when you kill an animal, there's the regular loot that you left click for and then there's the ummmmm tilde key loot.

I can understand having to use half your keyboard for maybe flying a spaceship but for regular gameplay it seems a bit much. Granted, after two weeks, I'm getting the hang of it and in the swing of things. But given that their intent was to make the game enjoyable to a wider audience, this should be high on priorities.

2. Grouping Levels - When my husband and I played together pre-NGE we had both mastered our professions and were able to kill mobs together. However, his profession choice resulted in his being a level 80 combat profession while mine is level 57. We attempted to group together for some missions and neither one of us got experience. I learned that you can only group with someone within five levels of you.

It's my understanding SOE has been adding things to SWG to entice pre-NGE vets back in. Now why would you bring us all in at varying levels and none of us can play together? I can understand the 5 level restriction on other games. But when you've modified your game so that everyone is scattered level-wise, you need to address that. Either make everyone who had a master combat profession all level 80, or let us group together.

I thought I would make an attempt to catch up to him. I grabbed a couple missions and headed out. I looked at my bar when I was done and it hardly moved. There is no way I am doing this by myself for 23 levels so I'm abandoning her for the time being.

3. Crafters - I had a master tailor previously and wanted to see what it was like to start again. The first few levels went by quickly, but at about level 20 it became a grind. I made it to 24 and couldn't take it anymore. I was still making the same pet food I made at level 1 earning the same experience for it. While my combat player was given the legacy quest which gained her two vehicles, my crafter was told to make a few items for people and then they sent me on my way. I kept returning to the original quest giver every few levels to see if he offered more but he'd tell me he had nothing for me at this time.

At level 15, I got a pop-up of an item received. Oh did I get my vehicle maybe? I looked in my inventory. It was an item to put on display in my house. Given that I was about as dirt poor as they come, that would be sitting in my bank for quite some time. Finally at level 19, the original quest guy had an option for me to say I need a vehicle. I had been hoofing it quite far to gather my resources so it was a welcome gift. I sold a few backpacks and some pet food, but it seemed clear that this class seemed more geared toward the player who had an existing character with money to fund the leveling up process.

4. Another Quest Line After Legacy - Those of us stuck in the 50's are a bit clueless as to where to go and what to do. And we also need a way to get armor and weapons, as the generic stuff we logged into has left most feeling pretty gimpy. If you really want to pull the vets back in, offer something similar to Legacy as an alternative to mission grinding and a means to gain armor and weapon upgrades. These missions really have been a lot of fun and I don't mind leveling this way.

So in summary, is SWG fun to play in its current state? HECK YEAH. And to be honest, it has been more fun than I've had in more recent MMO's. I'm a little concerned about hitting the later levels. I've heard when Legacy stops, it turns into a grind. So at this point I'm not setting down any houses yet and settling in. But I sure do plan to continue to play for awhile yet. It really has been a pleasant surprise and not at all the doom and gloom that often gets portrayed.

For anyone returning to a combat profession, I'd suggest starting over. You can now have two characters per server, so you can start on the same server as your original if need be. Starting anew will really give you a better perspective on the current game and result in less frustration.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Zuroth Online

Another new sci-fi MMO, Zuroth Online, is in the works, scheduled for 2008 or 2009 release. Planned features:

- Ranged and melee combat professions, entertainers, crafters, and certain specialty professions.

- Space combat.

- Battlefields for factional PVP which allows cross-server battles.

- Skill-based, no levels.

- Players can mix, match, and drop professions.

- Player housing and cities.

Hmmmm, something about this is all very familiar :)

They will be using the Multiverse platform. I had downloaded Multiverse a few weeks ago to take a look at their demo worlds and some others that are open to the public. I might be wrong, but I got the feeling this is the way to go when you're building the game from your garage with some buddies.

I wish them lots of luck. Given the similarities to pre-NGE SWG, they may very well have a large following.

Friday, August 3, 2007

From Middle-Earth to Tattoine

Though I tried to focus on the fun stuff, the negatives still kept getting in my way so think it's time for a little break from LOTRO. In a way, the whole leveling process reminded me of end-game EQ but minus the awesome rewards. Most of the group quests to me are no different than hour to fill the group with just the right classes and then two to three hours muddling through elite mobs. Having only an hour and a half of uninterrupted play in the evenings and no desire for this type of play anyway, this leaves me with the Auction House to obtain my gear. Since the AH is so expensive to post items to, unless I know my item has a very good chance of selling within two days, I vendor all armor drops. And I'm guessing many others do too since there is very little to be found for sale. At level 39, I am still in level 21 pants.

So with my class trainer having no skills to offer after level 40 and there being no items to save up for, there's just nothing to look forward to. The Evendim expansion to me was a bit disappointing. It was supposedly the expansion with solo quests to get you through the 30's. More than half of the solo-designated quests were not soloable at all. Unless you are a class that can handle four to five mobs on you at once, you really need a friend or two to get these done. The zone is so dense with mobs, you can't take three steps in any direction without being ganged up on.

But anyways, being the glutton for punishment that I am, last night the other half and I resubscribed to SWG. I had Station Pass several months ago and had retried SWG for just a few hours. It was so unfamiliar to how it used to play, it was really hard to get back into. But my husband's been mentioning it often so here we go again. I only just logged in briefly this morning on the Bria server. My chat screen was immediately filled with spam from four afk players advertising their gold selling websites. I could not believe how blatant they were about it. This would not be tolerated in EQ2 so not sure why SOE is permitting it here. I've gotten tells and mail messages in other games but to be standing in the center of town shouting?

Ah well, I still intend to give it a fair shake. I at least want to level high enough to get out of Tattoine and onto prettier planets. If anyone is currently playing, please let me know!