Monday, November 23, 2009

EQ2 Sentinel's Fate: The Return of Odus...err Otis?

Snatched from the EQ2 Forums, I thought this was cute and had to share:

EverQuest®II Sentinel's Fate(tm) - His origins revealed.. His destiny fulfilled. At last we discover the truth!

The sixth expansion of the groundbreaking franchise, EverQuest II Sentinel's Fate is an all-in-one compilation pack which transports players into the universe of Mayberry, with the iconic legends of long past. The fabled home of Otis, filled with epic adventures, magnificient jail cells and limitless content provide the ultimate MMO experience for new players and seasonsed veterans alike. Sentinel's Fate presents the next chapter of the EverQuest II legacy which will allow players to find out the mysterious origins of Otis and uncover his ultimate destiny and how they tie in with it.

* Achieve your greatest potential with a level cap increase to 90
* Discover two expansive new overland zones, the Town Center and the Fishing Hole
* Battle through 12 epic dungeon additions including the town Jail, Floyd's Barber Shop and more
* Experience the origins and fate of Otis through 400 new quests
* Conquer five new Heritage quests with valuable new loot such as the Sheriffs Badge and the Deputys One Shot Crossbow
* Equip over 2,000 new weapons and pieces of armor and special items such as Floyd's Razor, Goobers Wrench and much more.
* Add all new alternate advancement abilities to your arsenal of powers
* Defeat hundreds of new dangerous and cunning creatures
* Includes Legends of Norrath(tm) strategic online trading card game and the Drunkards Walk scenario

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Open Beta and "The Big Patch"

Last week Alganon went into open beta and released a large patch a few hours prior. I was hoping this might be "the" patch that would really polish some things up. But unfortunately most of the patch consisted fluff additions such as emotes and mail icons. Any actual fixes really wouldn't be evident to anyone just starting the beta.

What many perceived as a nerf to the healer class, was supposedly a fix. The fix was to add pushback so spells would be interrupted when you are hit. So instead of nuking, I am having to rely on my wand and hit them to death. It's not an impossible feat unless there are multiple mobs, but it certainly isn't very fun. The magus class was difficult to play already since all their abilities are not yet functional. Now they are fairly impossible to play.

So I shelved my healer for a bit and decided to try a class unaffected by pushback -- the soldier. And I got to view things from the perspective of those just entering beta. Back when I started, two out of the first ten quests I received weren't functional. And I learned they still aren't functional. There's an issue with any quest that involves harvesting or picking up a specific item. The item never respawns if someone else has done the quest. And you have to wait for a server reset for it to spawn again and hope someone else hasn't picked it up.

As a healer, I was pulling with nukes and never really had much difficulty engaging mobs. As a soldier, I didn't have a ranged item yet, so was having to run up and hit the mob. And the mobs were ignoring me and walking away. I'd chase and hit an attack. Nothing. It was taking me several attempts to actually engage the mob. So for those just coming into beta, their frustration is really understandable. This kind of stuff should have been more a priority than adding emotes. I hate to be gloomy about a game I actually do like in many ways, but based on open beta numbers, I'm not sure they'll have enough subscribers to function.

In other news, Turbine has tempted me once again with their continual emails. They offered a deal where if I subscribed for three months at the $9/month rate, they'd give me the next expansion free. So both of us loaded LotRO up once again. And much like Keen, I'm a bit at a loss on how to play. For some reason I always have trouble relearning my class when I come back to LotRO. I've got hotbars full of so many darn abilities. It really takes me a long time to get back in the swing of things. And unfortunately, the game still doesn't like the SB X-Fi soundcard. Both hubby and I are still getting the blue screens of death we had previously and have to play with sounds completely off. We're not playing often but we'll see how long we last this go around.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alganon - Digging Deeper

With the launch delayed for a month, I thought I'd take some time to do a bit more crafting and exploring.

Unfortunately, the more I got into crafting, the less I liked it and decided I'll be strictly gathering on release. For anyone that played EQ2 on launch, remember that crafting interdependency they initially had? You know...the one where you needed products from other crafters to make items? It caused much frustration for many crafters and high prices for adventurers, and eventually was done away with. Well it's seeing the light of day again in Alganon. While on paper it may seem like a neat idea to form a lovely crafting community where we all work together, most hardcore crafters just end up creating alts to get the job done more efficiently, cheaply, and quickly. The casual crafters give up in frustration.

But the crafting frustration doesn't end there. Using EQ2 again as a reference point, now imagine that in order to make mastercrafted items, you will need transmuted components. So you will either have to take up transmuting as well, or buy those transmuted items from the broker. Only instead of transmuting, they call it salvaging here. And it's nearly every bit as painful and expensive to level as EQ2's transmuting. Fortunately though, the quest rewards and dropped armor I've received so far seem to get the job done well enough, that I won't be too concerned with not having crafting in my future.

So on to adventuring. I decided to backtrack through some lower level zones to completely open up my maps and see if I might have missed some things. I love finding those off the beaten track places and there were many. There were many places that quests just never lead me to, but that had perhaps some special item to click on. For example I found an altar-type structure hidden in the side of a hill. On the altar was a book, and I was to share my findings with a certain npc. I love large, open worlds like this, just waiting to be explored. In this regard, it reminds me more of Vanguard and LotRO. And it's this sort of exploration that is lacking in more recent games.

Rather than starting at the bottom of some map and quests taking you northward up the same road from quest hub to quest hub, quest hubs are more randomly placed and you're not always lead directly there. Some places I only learned about from city npc's while I was visiting to do some banking. And it pays to revisit the towns you've moved on from on occasion, as I've been given higher level quests from there sometimes as well. And with the study system, I've had even more quests open up to me.

The game keeps growing on me as I continue to level, but unfortunately, there are still bugs. On November 11, they are going into completely open beta. That's just a couple days away and although it's come a long way, there's still work to be done. So for anyone that wants to give it a try then, I'd suggest giving it more than a couple days try. And do expect there to be some bugs and crashes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Upgraded Engine for DAOC!

Ok not really.

But Silakka has been working on their own personal project upgrading DAOC to to the Crysis engine. Check out their site for screenshots and more videos.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Alganon Launch Delayed

Looks like they decided to try to polish a few more things up. Launch is now scheduled for December 1.

Slightly disappointed that I can't get started next week but probably a good decision in the long run to get more kinks worked out.

Alganon Beta Review

With the NDA lifted, I thought I'd share my thoughts on my experiences in Alganon. I'm referring to this as a beta review, however, since the game hasn't officially launched and updates are still in the works. Since I will be subscribing, I will do another review a couple months in.

Even though I'd been in beta for awhile, I've only really been able to fully test this past month. The reason? My graphics card. I had an 256MB ATI Radeon X1300PRO, which just wasn't cutting it here. The lag made it difficult to get much done; and it was a chore to play and test. However, as luck would have it, hubby's card went out. While he was out getting a new one, he picked up one for me. Nothing high end and it was fairly cheap. But I upgraded to a 1 GB ATI Radeon HD4650.

What a difference that made. My fps went from 15-20 to 50-70. My performance issues were very minimal and I found myself having fun. Ok now on to specifics:

Character Creation

There are two factions, the Asharr and Kujix. Unfortunately, there are only two races at this point -- human and Talrok. There are four classes -- soldier, ranger, healer, and magus. Each class can specialize using ability points. A ranger, for example, can be a decent healer if they spend their points in that line; and a magus can actually tank if specialized that way.

Once you have your race and class chosen, there is also a family to chose. The families have specific names but they are oriented around being either an achiever, competitor, explorer, crafter, or socializer. It's really just a way to hook you up with some other players with similar interests from the start and you'll have your own private chat channel.

General Game Play

Depending on your race, there are two different starting areas. The Asharr area is green, lush, and heavily forested. I did the majority of my testing here as a healer. The Kujix area is very yellow and sandy and did remind me a bit of WoW's horde starting area. My fps was much higher here, presumably because of the minimal landscape. And I heard some folks have less performance issues here in general.

Combat was fairly standard with no down time. And that was a big factor in my enjoyment. I absolutely hate having to stand around waiting to regenerate, or spend my limited newbie money on concoctions filling my small bags and having to stop, sit and drink. To me it's just tedium and darn annoying.

There are portals that you need to first open up with a quest. Each hub has a portal, as well as the main city. There are mounts; however, they were too expensive for me to try out. From what I saw the Asharr can ride a mule, while the Kujix get a boar.

Quests objectives are marked on the map making it relatively easy to get things done. Having trouble with a quest or seeking other game-related information? They have a built-in library system where players can submit information they've discovered. It's a bit like an in-game wiki, but you don't need to minimize your screen to search outside the game. I found it to be very handy. I was dabbling in crafting and needed an item dropped by mobs. I searched the item name and it told me all mobs that dropped it, along with level range.

Also, there is a studies system where you can advance certain skills even when offline. You pick what you want to start studying and you can queue up other skills as well so the studying continues overnight.


In beta we could pick up an unlimited number of crafts. However, it is my understanding you will be limited to two on release. Just by looking at the craft names you might assume that tailoring is for the magus/healer, leatherworking for rangers, and blacksmithing for soldiers. But this is not necessarily so. Each of these three crafts makes armor for all professions. But the stats will be different. So before you choose a craft, you may want to investigate which of the three is more appropriate for your play style. There is also an alchemy profession, as well as harvest-type abilities where the nodes show up on your mini map.


Graphics are more along the lines of WoW and Runes of Magic, rather than say EQ2 or LotRO. Character models are ok. I could create a fairly attractive human female with long hair; however, the Kujix females were a bit ugly. Although my Kujix ranger did have a pretty cute tushie. But considering the low-end graphics, the required system specs are fairly high. So even though you may be able to play WoW, that may not be the case here. The required specs are 2gb ram, 4gb hard drive. So that right there will unfortunately exclude many players in a Vanguard sort of way.


I've always been a fan of good game music. I don't put music cd's in while I play; I'd rather hear the game environment. And the music here doesn't disappoint. In some places the music is quite beautiful and I keep my music volume turned up.

But other sounds I found to be annoying. The skill-up sounds can be loud. And the combat sounds of my healer starts to get to me after awhile. I tried turning combat volume down but it hasn't made a difference, so I just had to grit my teeth and get used to it. My ranger on the other hand just made pleasant plunking sounds, so I might rethink my class choice on release.


I've been a registered member of the Alganon community since 2006. As a game goes through various development stages, usually the community changes as well. But I have to say, except for the week that the Fileplanet floodgates were opened, the community for the most part has remained stellar. Yes, there are the occasional fanbois who chide anyone who even mentions any sort of WoW comparison or just makes any sort of complaint about the game in general. But for the most part everyone gets along and is welcoming and understanding to newcomers.

One evening in game chat, folks were discussing their ages. Surprisingly, a good portion of those online at that moment were 40+. Or maybe not surprisingly. It may be that us older gamers have enough on our real life plate that we're just wanting to relax and have fun. Bugs aside (and I'll get into that later), Alganon is probably one of the most stress-free games I've played. Maybe too easy and simplistic for some gamers, but at this point in my life, it suits me.

"Niche Game"

I hear this term all the time when describing Alganon and some wonder what the heck is so niche about it?

As I've already stated, it's stress-free game play and much easier than WoW at low levels. It's probably more akin to the EQ2 or LotRO early levels as far as managing mobs and no down time. Every class can solo and you don't need a perfect group composition to manage tougher mobs.

The community is small, older, and close-knit. There's some seriously nice people here and many are here because it's smaller.

The team is hands-on. I never beta'd a game before where developers were visible in game and asked how things were going in the game chat channel. Some that were having issues subscribing got personal phone calls at home. And I like the idea of hired staff to role-play with the community.

It's currently a PvE focus. Most of what's come out the past couple years have been PvP. PvP will be added at some point, but for now it's one of the few PvE-only options.

Some say there's nothing new here. They've copied the studies system from Eve and the abilities from WoW. But I don't like those games, so why can't I have those ideas in a game I actually enjoy?

The Bugs

As much as I'm enjoying my time here and intend to stay on, there's no denying there are some bugs. I've heard some say they haven't had any; and I've heard many with bugs I have never experienced at all. Here are just some things I personally encountered.

Log-in/Character Creation - When I first try to log in, I'm stuck at the image that says "loading". I have to ctrl-alt-del out and my second attempt always gets me in. No idea what is causing this. I've just gotten used to having to log in twice. While I had no issues creating my healer, when I created my ranger the screen froze at "sending request to server". Again had to c-a-l out, but when I went back in my ranger had indeed been created.

Novice Crafting - There's a craft called "novice crafting". I've never been able to make anything in this particular craft. The creation slider advances across but it doesn't actually make anything or use up components. And once I use novice crafting, it bugs out my other crafts which can only be resolved by logging out. To be honest, I don't really know what the point of novice crafting is. It seems to overlap with some of the other tradeskills.

Lock-ups - They don't happen often, but in combat occasionally everything freezes and I need to log out and back to correct. Fortunately, it seems my character leaves immediately as I've never logged in to find myself dead.

Slow Rendering - I don't often hear of others with this issue, but while mobs appear instantly, objects can take a long while to show up for me. I'll be running through what appears to be an open field and find myself stuck inside a tree that wasn't there a second ago. When I first come to a town, it's just full of npc's in an open field. Sometimes it can take a couple minutes for all the buildings to form. And it seems like I have to walk to a certain trigger point to get them to spawn.

Server Crashes - It was happening about once every few hours in beta.

UI Size - Not everyone has this problem but I've been unable to resize my resolution. I select the resolution, hit accept, but nothing changes and it resets to default.

Those are pretty much the major bugs I've experienced. I've heard some having issues with mobs warping or attacking from distance, but I haven't had that happen. Fights have gone smoothly for me.

The Future

Despite the bugs, the game has come along tremendously from when I first started beta. The team is extremely polite, helpful, and responsive. I like these guys. But let's be frank here. If Blizzard or SOE released this game like this right now, would I play? No. So yes, the team is partly influencing my decision to play.

I like the ease of game play and I like the classes. I know PvP will be introduced at some point. Maybe then my class will be nerfed and I won't have fun anymore. Maybe they'll make things harder because people complain and I won't have fun anymore. But here and now, I'm having a good time, so I will subscribe.

At some point they will be adding deities that will be played by in-house staff hired specifically to role-play with the community. Supposedly, they will be leading us into massive battles against the other faction. I want to be here to see that.

On October 31, they will have an event called "The Dawning". These events will unlock new instances we haven't seen in beta. And we'll be able to purchase special items and armor only during this event. I sure hope more than copper drops during the event so I can afford these items!

This pretty much sums up my experiences to date. There are a lot that had negative experiences and this game definitely isn't for them. But hopefully, some might understand why some of us are enjoying ourselves here. And I truly do look forward to seeing how the game develops in the future.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Still Here!

For anyone wondering, I am still among the living. Real life has had me a bit preoccupied. As some of you might know, I have a non-verbal son with autism. That's been a challenge in itself but now he's going through puberty and doing "boy things" in public. Doc says this is actually normal thoughts for even typical teenage boys. So parents of teenage girls, hide them until they are 18.

And then there's been the potty training. At 15, he's in diapers. I finally found a school willing to work with me on this so we're trying to undo 15 years of a habit. It won't happen in a day, a week, or even a month, but I'm seeing progress. His school day is very short so this stuff has been taking up most of my day. And when the evening comes and I have a couple hours free time, blogging just hasn't been a desired activity, particularly with other things going on in the household such as layoffs, blah blah. But now he's doing great in so many ways that I have more bits of free time and my brain can actually focus on other things.

So for anyone still here after that boring real life spiel, now on to gaming stuff. I've still been in EQ2 during this time. Our guild reached max level and we upgraded our hall to the big castle in the sea. Was a lot of fun decorating while still trying to keep performance manageable for everyone, so anyone with an EQ2 account please stop in to visit anytime! And some exciting news. If any of you have the current edition of Beckett Massive Online Gamer, our guild is featured on the last page. Yay for Ancient Disorder! The guild is doing well. We had the typical summer slump where a lot of us have more fun enjoying the outdoors than our computer chairs. But now that the weather has turned cooler, old members and a few new ones have been making their way back to EQ2.

Turbine keeps tempting me with mail messages to reactivate my LotRO account. If I reactivate, I can do so at the founders $9.99/month rate, plus get the next expansion completely free. I'm sure I'll end up leaving again at some point but something about this game tends to have me wanting to try yet again.

And then there's Alganon. Despite some of the negative publicity generating in certain forums, I have preordered and intend to play. I'll be playing on the Asharr side if anyone else is interested. Once the NDA is lifted, I'll share a bit more information, as well as my adventures in game once it goes live.

I'm debating on jumping over to Wordpress. I had issues with the site a long while back but testing things out there to see if it's worthwhile to move.

Ok that's enough updating for now!

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Flagship MMO for SOE

SOE recently advertised they are seeking a Lead Game Designer for what they are referring to as a New Flagship Project. Their use of the term "flagship" has me curious what they might possibly have planned. I would consider their current flagship to be Everquest, versions 1 and 2. John Smedley did mention in a previous interview ... "when we say "the EverQuest franchise," we'll be visiting that world again, and we're definitely in development on some things."

So if it is another version of the world of Norrath, how would they do this differently? They will want it to be more profitable than the other two, so most definitely not as hardcore as EQ1. And I would also think it would be less graphic intensive than EQ2 to cover a wider audience. And based on SOE's current trends, it might not be a subscription model.

If not Everquest, then what else would they have up their sleeves to warrant being referred to as flagship? The other themes they have in the works are action spy, comic book hero , and DisneyWorld. Might they do something fresh and new or use a pre-existing ip? Fresh and new is always a risk. With all the current and upcoming offerings, it really will need to offer something unique. But pre-existing ip's sometimes put limitations on where the game can go due to lore or franchise restrictions. Inquiring minds want to know!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"And they call it a mine. A mine!"

While we were braving blizzards in Forochel, the dwarves had been setting up bases inside Moria and making it a bit more hospitable. So with legendary weapons in hand, we decided it was time.

While we've spent several play sessions in Moria already, we've only seen a very small fraction of the place. My feelings are a bit mixed at this point. Visually, it's an impressive place to see. And aggressive mob placement is reasonable so that you're not constantly having to fight just to take a few steps. But getting around has been a challenge. There are steps and ramps in all directions. While you might see your quest objective in the distance, good luck figuring out how to get there. We've wasted quite a bit of time just running in circles and not getting anywhere.

One quest hub in particular, which contains the npc's needed for upgrading legendary weapons, has been a hot bed of player activity. The zone in general is pretty crowded with players, some not always on their best behavior. And it's a bit laggy. But overall, it's been a neat experience and definitely something different than anything I've ever seen before. I think if we can get a better handle on the zone layout, we won't be quite so frustrated.

In other news, I finally maxed my Rivendell faction. This is the only faction I've bothered with since I was able to gain faction by turning in scholar-created items. I wanted Rivendell faction purely for cosmetic reasons. I was able to purchase an elven dress, along with a couple statues to place outside my home and a map table for the inside. Yes, I like my fluff.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Continent of the Ninth

Although not really news for some, I only just recently heard about Continent of the Ninth. Again, this is another site written entirely in Korean so I've only been able to gather bits of information from other sources.

Word is that it will have some similarities to Guild Wars, in that you can enter instances solo or with a group. Monsters supposedly are smarter than in typical MMO's. They adapt to your actions and if you perform actions that create noise, such as jumping into an area, they can hear you and will attack. There are 20-30 minute dungeon runs that can be set by difficulty. Also, most are speculating that system requirements will be high.

Here are a couple screenshots and a video. The combat in the video might seem a bit over the top but they make taking out groups of mobs at a time sure look like fun:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tera, The Exiled Realm of Arborea

I came across a couple Korean MMO's in the works. While I typically am not a fan of MMO's produced in this region of the world because of PvP and item shops, I heard these referred to as PvE-oriented games, so thought I'd at least take a look.

I'll discuss the other later, but the first is Tera. It looks stunning, particularly the city shots. I understand it will be pay to play, there will be no targeting of mobs, and the world is seamless with no zoning. This is being developed by Bluehole Studio, founded by former NCsoft employees. There will be six races and eight classes. It will be marketed globally, not just in Korea.

Per MMORiot, "PvE and PvP are two patterns included in the whole battle system. However, these aren't implemented as a separate system. Gamers can see that this is a system working as one. For example, in Warhammer Online, PvE and PvP have different levels. This makes sense conceptually, but from a gamer's point of view it does not work very well. This game will try to make a seamless difference between these systems to make the game more enjoyable." I'm not really sure what that means, so whether it will in fact be open PvP I have yet to determine.

I'll be keeping my eye on this one. Here's a couple screenshots as well as a video:

Monday, February 16, 2009

MyAlganon Beta Launches Today

MyAlganon Beta went live today. For anyone that might be interested in participating in open beta, registered members of MyAlganon will receive priority access. Closed beta is scheduled to begin in March (*crosses fingers*), while open beta is tentatively scheduled for May/June.

Some more specifics on the game, as well as recent screenshots, can be found in today's interview at RPG Vault. Some highlights from the interview:

- "We are working to create a stronger community base - more solid than our predecessors' - by giving people a centralized place enabling members to interact with each other, even outside the game (e.g. MyAlganon). We also want players to be able to actively contribute to the exploration of the world by allowing them to scry things like creatures, items and places within a grand library that serves as an information repository. Why ask them to go to an outside source to get information on an item or creature? We will provide it in-game, and recognize those who participate in gathering it."

- "We've developed the Alganon Study System that will reward players not just for playing, but for subscribing, giving them the ability to grow their characters in the "background" even while they are not in the game. This will let them "compete" with power users by actively managing their subscription studies; a year down the line, even if they didn't put in eight hours a day, they will have studies that no one could have achieved without the same year of diligence. Additionally, we improved interaction with the world and other players via the creation of the Family and Domain Objective / Deities / Crusades systems."

- "We are the only home-grown privately financed MMOG company that I know of in the US that has built the client, server, tools and core technology from scratch. We didn't sub-license anything. We spent the years necessary to build the "right" foundation for a true MMOG, and that choice was one of the best we could have made."

- "We're in a great position right now. Being privately financed, we aren't under the gun of a VC or publisher. This allows us to design the game we set out to create, and gives us flexibility in our release schedule and in choosing a distribution partner. 2009 is going to be a very exciting year!"

This was just a small portion of the interview. Please check out RPG Vault for the complete interview. Also, there is some new gameplay footage that you can view when you go to the MyAlganon signup page.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

EQ2 TSO - Mission Complete

A couple weeks ago I realized I had accomplished everything I set out to do with The Shadow Odyssey expansion. Just two months after the expansion's release, there was no reason for me to return to these zones. In contrast, I still visit zones from RoK, the previous expansion. It might just be for harvesting or working on writs for the guild. But I am still getting good use out of Kunark zones.

The Moors of Ykesha was the overland zone and the first part of the expansion we tackled. We finished the quests here after two weeks. There is really no reason to harvest or complete writs here. The zone is just too tightly packed with mobs and this can be done much more conveniently in Kunark.

Next we moved on to the mission dungeons to outfit ourselves in shard armor. Some were kind of neat the first time; others were frustrating. But after we got the routine down and figured them out, it was a repetitive chore. After two months, I had acquired all the pieces I wanted that were upgrades.

In between the missions, I also worked on the new crafting missions. I acquired all the crafting and harvesting gear I wanted. So there is no reason for me to continue working on the missions. Besides which, I honestly can't tell any difference in my skills with the gear equipped.

For me, this has been the shortest lasting expansion EQ2 has ever released. I'm sure many would disagree and are continuing to enjoy the dungeons. But I guess it all boils down to play style. For how I play, it felt more like a couple mini adventure packs, rather than an expansion.

They do have a free Lavastorm revamp coming up in which they are adding some level 80 solo and raid content, as well as a new crafting zone. So even though the expansion doesn't have anything left to offer us, looks like new content is still on the way for this year. And I'm still hopeful about this year's expansion!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Moria Preparations

At the suggestion of Yeebo, we headed over to the Moria entrance earlier than we originally planned. And what sound advice that was. I hadn't really understood this whole legendary item thing and all that was involved. I also hadn't realized the prerequisites that were involved before gaining entry to Moria. I had wrongly assumed that since I purchased the expansion, I could just waltz in. But that's not the case.

I am not usually a fan of access quests. I was glad when EQ2 removed them as I just won't do them. So when I saw that I had to complete a series of epic quests just to gain access to Moria, I thought I might not see the place after all. But it turned out the whole series was soloable and enjoyable even. At level 48 though, I might have had some difficulty with certain parts. But as a duo, we had no problems.

The dwarves are intending to retake Moria and you are asked to assist them in clearing the rubble outside the door, along with several other tasks. At one point you travel back to the past to see Moria in its former glory and also witness the beginning of its destruction. I really did enjoy taking part in that. But even after completing the epic, you are still not quite ready for entry. You are given your first legendary weapon and must raise it up to level 10 first. You kill mobs to level it. Each time it levels, you receive a certain amount of points which can be spent to add class specific skill bonuses to your weapon. We finished off some quests in the area and the weapon leveled fairly quickly. We did zone inside to at least have a look around and obtained a second legendary item to level.

We were still a bit low level to be in there so we decided to finish up or clear out our quests in Angmar, Misty Mountains, and Forochel. Angmar quests were entirely deleted. The zone is bleak, as it should be. But with other options available to us, I'd rather quest in a place less oppressive. We had several quests involving Goblin Town in Misty Mountains, so we started running out there from Rivendell....and running.....and running. We had to fight through quite a bit of mobs to get to our quest objectives, so our small bags filled quickly and unlooted corpses had to be left behind. After completing the first round of quests, rather than run all the way back, we bid farewell to The Misty Mountains. My husband complained about how this game runs you to death. I understand that quicker travel would make the world seem smaller, but we are getting annoyed often at the slow travel.

I hit level 50 and now we've moved on to Forochel. I like the zone and we've got tons of quests here left to do. Once we finish this off, then it will be time to head back to Moria.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quest Overload

I didn't have too much time to play LotRO this week, but I did ding 48 over the weekend. I remember the early 20's being a bit rough to get through as there didn't seem to be enough quests within my level range to do. So I worked on traits and just killed mobs over and over.

But now in the 40's I have so many quests in so many areas that my journal is full. I honestly don't know at this point where I should really be going. I have a full set of quests in Angmar, Forochel, and Misty Mountains. And now the new zone Eregion has opened up with more quests.

They seem to penalize you for not doing quests when they con an even color and the experience granted dwindles away the longer you wait to do them. For example, say I complete a level 48 quest at 48 and get 4,000 experience. If I do that same quest instead at 49, I might get only 2,000 experience for it. So it seems we should just move on to Eregion and put off or forget the others. I've only seen half of Angmar yet and haven't even been to all the quest hubs. There is supposedly some faction quests to the north somewhere. Although why I want the faction, I'm not sure. Forochel we only touched briefly on at the entrance and have tons more quests further and yet another faction. Misty Mountains I may still want to work on, as that is Rivendell faction. Rivendell is where I go for my scholarly pursuits and they have a pretty spiffy dress on their merchant, so I would like to work this one up. The options at this level are tremendous and overwhelming and we likely will just delete the majority of them.

All these factional items we're looting, given the skimpy bag space we're alotted, get to be annoying. We actually are disappointed when we loot armor, since it takes up an inventory slot that won't stack and doesn't sell on the broker anyway. So trips out in the field tend to be pretty short since we need to head back to town to sell frequently.

So where we head to next login I just don't know. So many quests!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gatheryn - First to Use HeroEngine

A long while back, I followed the progress of an mmo in the works called Hero's Journey. What set this one apart at the time was that Simutronics, the company behind it, was also developing their own engine for it. So rather than being stuck within the confines of someone else's engine, they were building their own to make the game their way.

They started showing off their engine at tradeshows and even won some awards for it. Other companies started showing an interest in licensing it and Hero's Journey got put on the back burner as Simutronics' focus switched to the engine itself.

I actually forgot all about them until I heard Gatheryn, an mmo I mentioned a few weeks ago, will be the first on the market to use this new engine. Release is scheduled the first half of this year already, which I find pretty surprising. This has piqued my interest even more for Gatheryn. I'm really interested in seeing what sort of new things are in store with this engine.

Other mmo's that will be using this new engine include BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic, Colony Studio's Universe Online, and some unnamed mmo planned by Stray Bullet Studios, the company currently running Shadowbane.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Alganon - New Years Update

David Allen has posted an update this week regarding the current status of Alganon. While they have been keeping things somewhat quiet over there to avoid too much hype too early on, they have now begun releasing more details.

Release is scheduled for this year, with beta to begin this Spring. In February, they will be releasing the MyAlganon community system. It looks to be something similar to MyLOTRO, where you can find members, guilds, blogs, etc.

One interesting feature will be a grand library located in both capital cities. While you must visit the library in person to contribute information, you will be able to access the library's information from anywhere in game. Here is where you go to look up a quest, item, or creature information. Also, there is a studies system that progresses your character even when you are offline. However, you can only have one character studying at one time. The studies system will apply to both adventuring and crafting. There are abilities that can only be gained this way, so that long-term players will have an advantage even if they only get to actually play a few hours a week.

Although the core game revolves around PvE, there are two factions and there will be battlegrounds on both PvE and PvP servers. Neither side can group or guild with one another; however, you will be able to create characters on both sides on the same server.

The graphics are not as high end as some may be accustomed to based on some of the more recently released mmo's. But I usually don't have too much issue with graphics, as long as my character looks reasonable. I still haven't had much of a good view on the female avatars, so I'll have to wait and see how they've turned out.

I've been following the progress of Alganon for three years. I'm not letting myself get overly hyped as I did with Vanguard, but I definitely plan to be trying it out.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wheel of Time MMO

Red Eagle Games has announced that they will launch and operate an MMO based on the world and characters of Wheel of Time. Electronic Arts will be handling distribution. Red Eagle also is partnering with Universal Pictures to produce at least three films based on the series.

The first few books in this series are some of my absolute favorite reads. I was so enthralled by it at one time, that I had recreated Tar Valon and a few other WoT places of interest back when Active Worlds was a bustling place.

I'm not sure what sort of classes they can create aside from Aes Sedai and their Gaidin, but I'll certainly be keeping my eye on how this MMO progresses. The movies I'm not so sure about. Aside from LotR, it seems fantasy films are never done particularly well. So not getting my hopes up too much there.

Fairwell to the Fellowship

One of the things I noticed upon my return to LotRO was that key figures had moved from their previous spots and offered new quests. The story line of the fellowship was advancing. I was sent to see Aragorn and Boromir to see if I could assist in their preparations for departure. They sent me on a few errands, after which I entered a private instance. Words were exchanged between fellowship members and with me as well, and then I watched them all go. It was all so touching, I almost got a bit teary-eyed and wanted to join in after them.

It left me wondering what their plans are for continuing the story. Will they reach a point in the fellowship's journey and then stop? I can't imagine they'd see it through to the end or we'd be left in a more pleasant world, killing just boars and neekerbreakers.

I really enjoy these type of private quests involving you in the story line. But the bugs lately have been a bit frustrating. Since our return, both of us have been experiencing crashes to desktop and blue screens of death. I have never had a bsod in any other game before. And then there's the rubberbanding, which I haven't experienced since SWG. I hit certain paths where I cannot proceed forward and keep getting bounced back. I either have to circle around a different way, or if it's an enclosed path where I have no other options, I just have to camp. A check on the forums shows this has been occurring for a couple years now.

Last night was a new type of bug. My husband and I were in Misty Mountains. I needed to run back to Rivendell to pick up a quest. So down into the valley I go, into Rivendell and I find the quest giver at the marketplace. She sends me to Elrond. I run up to the main house, zone in, and up the steps to zone into Elrond's library. He sends me to Gloin back in the Misty Mountains. I zone back out of the house, get stuck on the zone and get disconnected. I log back in and find myself back at the valley entrance with no record of my having gotten the quest.

So back down I go, pick it up again, back to Elrond, zone out successfully, and start running up the hill when I'm just frozen in place. I look over at my husband's screen. He's still killing stuff so I know we've not been disconnected. But his mobs are standing up straight when they die, and when he attempts to loot them, receives a message that they have too many hitpoints for that action. I can't use any abilities and still can't move. Eventually, I receive a disconnected from server message.

I log back in and there I am again at the valley entrance with no record of having picked up the quest. Grrrrrr. I called it a night at that point. I think I have a lot of patience, but this gets aggravating. Particularly, when I've not experienced this in other games. I really hope that was an isolated incidence or my time here will be short.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Continuing Adventures in Middle Earth

While we initially started out with a warden/rune-keeper duo, I had started a warden of my own to solo with and he a hunter and eventually we hooked up to duo this pair instead. He kept mentioning how he wish he had his higher level hunter from our previous server here so we each decided to transfer one character. I decided on my 39 captain. She was also a scholar and I remember enjoying rummaging through ancient ruins to collect artifacts.

Even at this level, money is still difficult to come by without some sort of farming. So while I still didn't have a horse as it seems a waste of money to me (you get knocked off when a mob hits you), I just had to have a home. So I settled into one of the Elven neighborhoods:

Furnishing options are very limited, as is the placement. For example, you can't have a table with chairs around it. You can place a table on the large hook in the center, and maybe have one small chair on a small hook against the wall. But the home came with storage that can be shared by my alts, as well as anyone else I designate, so that was a plus. And I did get to plant those trees and bushes on the outside.

We checked our journals to see where we had left off in quests. We had a couple things left in Evendim to do. And after a bit, I recalled why I disliked questing here. Most of your time is spent doing this:

Swim at slow speeds to this island and that island, then back to this one and way over to that one. So we moved on. We found a new quest hub in the Trollshaws. This is one of my favorite zones. It is just beautiful and I love the music throughout the zone. And lots of wonderful ruins for my scholar. We were standing atop one of the ruins just yesterday. Looking out in the distance, we spotted a place we hadn't seen before. We thought we had been everywhere, but must have missed a path somewhere. So we set out exploring to find our way to reach it. I commented to my husband that this is one aspect of the game that I love and is missing from others. The world is huge and there is so much to explore and see. Many places have no quests that ever lead you there. They are just there for you to find on your own.

I noticed my husband logging off from EQ2 to play LotRO much more frequently than me. I think this newfound interest can be attributed somewhat to their new reputation system. He's a faction hound and likes working up factions. I do it if that particular faction offers me something I want, but he does it just cause. Overall, we are definitely enjoying our experience in LotRO much more this time around.

We both hit 42 this weekend. The road to Moria doesn't seem so far off now.