Monday, December 22, 2008

There And Back Again

With Station Access canceled, and EQ1, Vanguard and SWG removed from our computers, we did decide to reactivate LotRO for the time being. They had advertised this deal where if you got their recent Moria expansion for $29.99, the monthly subscription would be $9.99. But it turned out that was an error that founding members were viewing this pricing. But after talking to a rep on the phone, they did honor the $9.99 deal. Anyone who was a founding member at the $9.99 rate will have to call Turbine to reactivate. There is some bug in the system when you try to reactivate your account online. But no big deal. After being on hold for a few minutes, they were pretty quick at resolving the issue.

I have heard a lot of good things regarding the Mines of Moria and would really like to experience it, but the expansion is for 50+ and our alts we left behind were 39. While we could grind them out some levels to catch up, neither one of us liked our classes nor the server we were on. The tank and healer combo served us well in other games, but not here. His guardian and my minstrel were very ineffective. We killed slowly, his taunts never worked well, and once I was getting hit, I couldn't channel off heals. So we died often.

But the expansion brought with it a new version of the tank and healer, the warden and runemaster. The wardens use this new gambit system where using combinations of attacks opens up new attacks. It's a bit more complicated than their previous classes and involves some memorization regarding knowing what combos activate what. The runekeeper can play the role of healer or damage dealer, or do both less effectively. The more you heal, the more powerful your heals become. The more you hurl damage spells, the more powerful they become. If you go back and forth between the two in a fight, neither are very powerful. There is an attunement bar that shows your current effectiveness for both abilities.

So we started fresh on the Landroval server. The community seems very nice and the general chat channel is usually pleasant, more so than EQ2 general chat. Low level areas are still very active and I see people everywhere. The early level money frustrations are still there. When you only have 25 silver, 5-15 silver horse travel, 6 silver repairs, and several silver to train is really steep. So we'll be hoofing it for awhile and just letting our armor decay. I'm trying to avoid the things that annoyed me previously. I'm not going to grind mobs for traits and no pie delivery quests while trying to avoid hungry hobbits.

I took a jog over to the various housing zones. I won't be able to afford even the small home for awhile, but the neighborhoods were very nice. There are four housing areas, each racially themed (dwarves, elves, hobbits and humans). You are not restricted to your own race's community, but can only have one home per account. Supposedly it's cheaper to repair in neighborhoods and you receive a direct gate there. It seemed similar in some ways to DAoC housing. Your items you place in the home are limited to certain hook spots, and you can place trees and such outside your home.

I don't know if we'll last long enough to hit 50 and see Moria, but at the moment it's a nice occasional diversion. Here are some shots from the housing instances:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

RMT Has Arrived in EQ1&2

Servers in EQ2 came down this morning to patch in SOE's new Station Cash which they are offering in both EQ1 and EQ2. After you have added cash to your account with your credit card, you can then purchase items in game using the new Marketplace tab.

I took a look at the few items they have. It was certainly nothing game breaking and included some ugly appearance armor sets, experience potions and some pets.

Part of me isn't bothered since I could care less about any of these items. Maybe they are just breaking us in gently before adding the nice stuff. But considering how stingy they are with character slots, and many of us are already paying $30 for Station Access just for more alts, another part of me is annoyed. But I guess it was just a matter of time.

TCoS - Not Looking Good For US Players

While news that Acclaim would be the US publisher for The Chronicles of Spellborn was a disappointment for many, their non-informative, uninspired website is even more disappointing.

The artwork links lead to empty pages and the forums are generally empty with much moderator locking going on. Their website looks like something you'd see three years before a game is released, not weeks before. Europeans have had to deal with crappy publishers in other games so I guess it's just our turn. :P

Considering the download will be free, I still intend to try it. Hopefully, their servers function better than their website.

EQ2 - Working the System

One of the fun aspects of EQ2's mentoring system is being able to participate in lower level content with friends but as a more powerful character. Even though technically you are at the reduced level of whoever you are mentoring, you still retain a portion of your higher level abilities.

Since the dungeons in the latest expansion could not be completed by many casual players, the mentoring system has been put to use. It was assumed that bringing in a lower level member to mentor would make the dungeons more manageable. Unfortunately, the dungeons didn't scale down well initially, and the level 50 mobs were hitting like level 70 mobs. So players unmentored, making the mobs gray to complete the missions.

While some complained on the forums about this, it didn't seem to really be too much of an issue since you can only do each instance once a day, meaning it will still take weeks to have enough shards for one piece of armor. And with mobs being gray, there are no drops to be had. We've been doing some guild runs but some members have already lost interest. While the dungeons were interesting to figure out and see the first time or two, after that it's just a repetitive grind to get shards.

But the option to obtain shards this way may soon not be available. Seems people have been selling space to enter cleared dungeons for lots of platinum. While this sort of thing has been going in EQ2 for years and really is nothing new, devs have stated on the forums they are looking into this situation. If they remove mentoring capabilities completely from TSO dungeons, there will be a lot of unhappy players.

My hope is that they tweak down at least 3 of the 20 dungeons so they are manageable for casual players. By casual I mean wearing mastercrafted gear and not having the absolute perfect group setup. We are running these with a full group -- one healer, three tanks, and two dps. We're told we need to dump the two other tanks for another healer and dps. I'm not dumping anyone. A full group with a tank and healer should be enough for a dungeon crawl. I don't think anyone really enjoys doing these dungeons gray, so I really do hope they come up with some other options.