GW2 Roundup: All Of This Has Happened Before. Plus Fractals.

I felt the time was about right for a Battlestar Galactica reference. Plus, it’s actually appropriate – Zubon’s really nailed it today with an example of how MMORPG history repeats itself, and is doing so again in Guild Wars.

Plus, we’ve got Psychochild’s epic examination of the game, more on fractals, and more…

  • Psychochild continues his dissection of GW2 from the point of view of an experienced developer – fascinating stuff in here” If we had infinite resources that were available everywhere, there would be no need for economics because there would be no scarcity. This is basically what has happened to GW2’s economy.”
  • Zubon gives us a spot-on example of a game that initially developed in a way spookily similar to Guild Wars 2“The PvE was relatively relaxed, the community was more positive than average. There was a lot of play and exploration below the level cap, and the endgame content was structured around single-group dungeons, although content did exist for larger groups of characters to tackle together, if you were up for fighting a dragon.”
  • Clockwork looks at the new Fractal dungeons, and unusually has more than a few issues with them“”Lets split the community into 40 units within each server!” – Said no wise developer ever.”
  • Keen writes a short piece in support of Guild Wars 2’s new direction with Ascended gear“The problem ArenaNet ran into is that they violated their own “Manifesto” (like a constitution for their game) and created a gear-grind when they said they wouldn’t.”

Enjoyed today’s roundups? Please consider sharing them with your fellow players!

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Exciting new games, but which one to choose?

Hugh‘s away for a few day’s break, so the supply teacher is taking the class again – over to Johnnie.

Even though I love gaming, and MMOs in particular, I’m pathetically traditional in many ways. WoW is my game of choice, and has been for several years. I’ve dipped my toe into other gaming waters occasionally, but I’ve been pretty happy with Azeroth. Recently, though, I’ve found myself logging on less and less, and eyeing up other, sexier games with a lustful glare. That’s why it’s so nice that other bloggers are writing about their experiences in non-Azerothian locations: I can see what I’m missing.

  • Zubon at Kill Ten Rats has a great general post about how many games force you to be a bystander rather than a participant. This has become an increasingly big problem for me in WoW (perhaps exemplarized by the “PCs do all the work and Tirion goddam Fordring takes all the credit” storyline at the end of Wrath). Call me crazy, but I want to be the one who kills the bad guy. I don’t want to be the sidekick who stands at the back, cheering on the NPC hero as he gets to kill the bad guy. As Zubon says

“I’ll take fighting at the side of the Fellowship and being second banana there, and I’ll take being the hero of the B-plot while the Fellowship saves the world. I’ll not take being second banana in the B-plot.”

It’s a really great post, and eloquently sums up many of the frustrations I’ve had with recent gaming storylines.

“Maybe it was Tera’s action combat, or perhaps a general ennui with the genre as a whole, but I couldn’t find any spark of enthusiasm for Rift whatsoever. … The game was still as pretty as ever, but again, the incredible fidelity of a game such as Tera, whether you can stomach its design decisions or not, leaves other MMOs looking like so much aged tarnished brass.”

  • Guild Wars 2 is the game that I’m really excited about. If I’m honest, I wasn’t really too enthused at first, but after researching the game for a few of the Melting Pot’s info posts I’m totally sold. It’s been great to read accounts of the various beta weekends. Both Ravious and Hunter’s Insight have reviews of the latest changes. GW2 is looking excitingly pretty and pretty exciting!

  • GW players, incidentally, might be interested to hear that qq & pewpew are giving away 300k of in-game gold. All you have to do is reblog the competition stating what you’d do with the cash.

All of this is completely immaterial, though. I know exactly what game I’m going to be playing next. Mechwarrior Online didn’t appeal to me at all … until I saw Razer’s concept for a dedicated hardware controller. Woah, boy. It will be mine. Oh, yes. It will be mine.

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In which costumes are admired, digital items take up mental space, and Johnnie buys a pretty dress

Hugh is still on a break, touring exotic foreign cities and eating fancy food, so Johnnie is stirring the Pot once again.

Despite the fact that I’m a huge Tolkien geek, I’ve only ever really paddled around in the shallow end of Lord of the Rings Online. Recently, though, I’ve been playing a lot more, and I’m starting to get attached to my characters. One of the things I love about LOTRO is the costume system, which allows you to display one item whilst retaining the stats for another (similar to WoW’s transmogrification system, but better). The cosmetic appearance of my MMO characters is very important to me – it was only last week that I uttered the now-legendary phrase “Ooh! I can buy a pretty dress! I love this game!”, which caused Hugh and Rebecca no end of amusement – but I’m obviously not the only one. There are a lot of LOTRO blogs out there dedicated solely to cosmetic outfit design, and the best of them are really very good indeed. Take a look at LOTRO Savvy’s recent Scarlet Soldier design, for example. Absolutely top notch stuff.

The LOTRO Stylist has gone even further, and is actively redesigning her wardrobe during a raid :

As my Kin progressed through the different wings in Orthanc I often felt like my Rune-Keeper was not dressed appropriately. I usually switched between her casual dress outfit and her Draigoch armour. I personally don’t care too much for most of the Draigoch armour, especially the big emblems on the chest pieces. For Saruman, though, I finally put together a worthy battle ready outfit.

It might seem strange to attach so much importance to what is, after all, just a collection of pixels. For those of us who play MMOs and love our characters, though, it’s perfectly understandable. Perhaps Cynwise’s latest post goes some way to explaining why. Cyn’s trying to clean up some ‘digital detritus’, and has found some things harder to discard than they should be:

Characters weigh on my mind. Leveling characters, especially, but character in general. They take up mental space. They have … presence, even when they’re not doing things. I like having them around, I like having them available, I like trying out new things, but …

Digital things can take up space.

The Reluctant Raider certainly agrees with that assessment. She’s recently made the transition to a new server – a process which was surprisingly traumatic. Cynwise’s post hit home :

So. Now I’m in a new place, with new people. I’m hopeful and I’m generally happy. I miss people but that is normal. There will be new people. I need to remind myself that I don’t have a set number of people I can be friends with. I can be friends with more. It’s not like Blizz’s ignore list. I can befriend more then 50 people!

I spent some time reading Cynwise’s lastest post. And I loved it. This is exactly it. Cynwise GETS it. … My brain is filled with my characters. Each of them are unique and I feel different when I play them. My druid is the most comfortable but if I’m feeling sassy, I log my priest on. Who I’m playing says a lot about my mental space. It is like a canary in a mine. You can look at it and be ‘ah, she’s feeling alone or sad or anxious or happy or sexy’. I love that.

How do you identify with your characters? Do you have a particular item you just can’t bear to get rid of? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Warning: LoTRO’s Slayer Deeds may cause drowsiness or extreme tedium.

Ah, the grind. No matter what the MMO or how hard you try to avoid it, sooner or later you’ll reach a point where the only thing between you and your desired objective is…

About 20,000 dead boars.

Today, it’s LoTRO’s turn to pour the beans and start turning the handle, as Merric from A Casual Stroll To Mordor explains why the apparently-innocent-fun Slayer deeds in the free-to-play MMO have turned his casual stroll into more of an endless trudge

“I started looking at some of the deeds on the list and scratched off items such as Moria’s Arms of the Watcher and Angmar’s Champions of Urugarth (final) due to their (theoretical) time and (possible) group requirements. So, with a plan in mind and my club in hand, I decided first to take on Bree-land’s Sickle-fly Slayer Deed and start on my journey of ranking up my Discipline to 12! I could see my end goal in sight!

And an hour later I was bored to tears and I still hadn’t completed the deed. A half an hour after that my Deed was completed and I was a little frustrated at how long the endeavor took. More than a bit concerned how long it was going to take to actually get to rank 12 of Discipline, let alone 5 other virtues. I then promptly moved my character to the Lone-lands and logged off. Later that weekend I logged in and after running a couple of dungeons with some kinmates I decided to dive into killing Bog-lurkers in the Lone-lands it and utterly hated all one-and-a-half hours of it.”

Merric loves LoTRO, that much is clear, and he does an extremely good job of both laying out the problems and presenting the mitigating factors in this post – a flaming rant it isn’t. But nonetheless, he makes his case extremely well – it would appear that for the end-game LoTRO player looking to experience the top raid content, there’s one hell of a lot of boar-killing in your future.

This is the kind of post that influences the direction of a game’s development – I hope we see change soon.

Have you ground endlessly in LoTRO? Or isn’t it as bad as all that?

If you love Stroll to Mordor – or any other MMO blog – nominate them for a Piggie Award .

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To Use The Force, or Protect The Ringbearer?

With the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic comes hard choices for a lot of us, looking at our limited MMO-playing time and deciding how we’re going to split it now that there’s another contender on the scene. Can you afford to spend the time to play SWTOR as well as your existing MMOs? Or will your current MMO – be that WoW, LoTRO, RIFT – have to fall by the wayside?

A Casual Stroll To Mordor addresses this problem from a particularly compelling angle today – Vraeden, a LoTRO player right now, but a dedicated fan of the Star Wars mythology, talks about the decisions he’s making, what he hopes to get from SWTOR, and what the new release will mean for a smaller MMO

“Are all of the LOTRO players going to try out SWTOR? Probably not. But how many subscribers can LOTRO lose and remain viable? Some will try it out and not like SWTOR. Maybe it’s the mechanics. Maybe it’s the community. Maybe they simply don’t like the fact that it’s very much like WoW.

I think many of the moves Turbine has made with LOTRO have been specifically designed to countering the release of SWTOR. I think the free-to-play/micro-transaction pricing model is specifically designed to get MMO players who don’t want to be locked into a regular subscription fee.9 The 12 months for $99 seemed like Turbine’s attempt to lock player into LOTRO for a year, so even if they left for SWTOR, they were still generating revenue. Even WoW went “free-to-play”, although it was really more like an extended trial period, and not truly F2P, and they have introduced their own set of micro-transactions, even if there isn’t the all-pervasive store that is found in LOTRO and DDO.

I haven’t talked to anyone at Turbine, and I don’t have any inside information, but I’ve got to believe that there is a plan to keep LOTRO subscribers and players once SWTOR comes out and they have an idea of how many of those players are coming back and how many might be gone for a substantial amount of time.”

I really enjoyed reading this article. From the discussion of the various scales of fictional universe (although oddly, I think Vraeden underestimates the pull of LoTRO) through the difficulty of deciding whether to, effectively, abandon a community you’ve grown to love, there’s a broad sweep here and a lot of interesting points to consider. I’d not really thought about how SWTOR would affect the smaller MMOs, but now it occurs to me that we’re looking at a pretty major quake throughout the MMO community – and whilst WoW will weather the storm, albeit diminished, I wonder how smaller games like LoTRO, RIFT, and maybe even rival space game EVE Online will actually cope.

Are you struggling with adding SWTOR to your gaming life? Are you worried about how its launch will affect other games?

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Two from LoTRO, two from WoW: Orcs, soloing instances, names and the news

If there’s one MMO that seems to be advancing fast in playerbase these days, it’s Lord of the Rings Online. And as we see more and more LoTRO bloggers and blogs coming online, expect to see more roundup posts on the Pot that aren’t just WoWing goodness!

So, today we’ve got two posts from LoTRO, and two from WoW…

  • WoW: Ratshag is looking at Cataclysm’s events from a historical perspective“Nothing would distract the brave King and Warchief and their true allies from their noble goal of seizing control of an abandoned Kul Tiras prison. Clearly, they had both learned the lessons of Wrathgate and eschewed any notion of working together against a common foe.”
  • LoTRO: A Casual Stroll To Mordor has a lovely pictographic examination of Orcish life and culture“They’re also well known for their musical skills. Be careful though, they might use your head for drumming when they get excited.”
  • WoW: Matthew McCurley goes through the most popular character names players use for each race“Interestingly, Night Elf names mostly reference druids and druid forms, which isn’t too surprising since the Night Elves were the only race available for Alliance druids until Cataclysm introduced the Worgen.”
  • LoTRO: Hard on the heels of a similar WoW guide recently, Doc Holliday offers a detailed guide to soloing old LoTRO instances“Soloing group content might not be for everyone, but personally I find the challenge pretty exciting in and of itself, and the rewards can be surprisingly good too in terms of deeds, crafting materials, gold and, for the later instances, IXP runes and relic boxes.”

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The Problem With Hearthstones

There’s one thing I’m hoping for in WoW’s Mists of Pandaria, almost more than any other feature, and it’s this: I hope that when we’re dumped, shipwrecked and dripping, on the shores of Pandaria, we’re stuck there. Without a hearthstone.

Hearthstones are just a huge problem for developers trying to instil a range of emotions in their players, notably negative ones. It’s very hard to make a player fear for his character’s future, worry about being able to escape from captivity, or simply just feel isolated, when with a click of a button we can be back in Stormwind. It’s like having a personal teleporter to Cheers.

Why am I ranting about this now? Because Killed in a Smiling Accident’s Melmoth has been running through what sounds like it could be powerful, involving content in LoTRO – if it wasn’t for that damn Milestone

“Betrayed and turned over to the orcs of the White Hand, we find our captive heroine transported to deep within the fiery orc-infested dungeons of Isengard. Will she survive the hardships of the dungeons? Can she rescue her fellow captives? Will she find a way to break her bonds and return to the surface to warn the advancing Rohirrim? Find out in this week’s exciting episode of A Warden’s Adventuuuuuuuures in Duuuuuuuuuunland!

“Orright ya filfth, we’re gonna get ya t’working, hard, until that pretty white elf flesh is all flll… uh?! Burr… where’d they go?”

[Back at the Prancing Pony in Bree]

“So you just used your milestone teleport?”

“Well it was just sitting there and off its cooldown, seemed almost rude not to.”

“Huh. Another pastry?””

Melmoth’s on fine comic form today – this is a “don’t read while drinking” post. He starts with the problem above, and considers its ramifications, running right down to the logical conclusion – which I won’t spoiler…

Great writing, and it makes a great point. Check it out!

Would you like to be stranded by MMOs sometimes?

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Why Minstrels and Captains make perfect sense as LoTRO healers

Every so often on the blogosphere, a really great post comes at you out of left field. It’s not about current events. It’s not about a class you particularly play, or a game you’re super-deep into. But it’s just awesome.

Such is the case with A Casual Stroll To Mordor’s brilliant essay today, tackling a subject that I’m sure has been a problem for a good half of Lord of the Rings Online players. In LoTRO, there are no priests or druids casting healing spells and resurrections. Instead, all the healing’s done by a guy with a nifty line in songs – the Minstrel – and another guy who shouts a lot – the Captain.

Shouting and music as healing? Whut?

Well, as CSM’s writer Vraeden explains today, they actually make perfect sense even compared to how things work in real life

“Before wireless communications, or even before wired signals like the telegraph, the principal method for a commander to communicate with his subordinates and orchestrate a battle was through music, usually drums or horns, that could be heard above the roar of battle3. Often the commands they could give weren’t very complex (ie-forward, retreat, halt), but that was the most effective way to tell a large number of soldiers what to do. In addition, each unit often had their own “code” so that they could tell whether it was their regiment being ordered to advance or the one two hills over.

If the advance was being sounded, that would mean your side was doing well. If you heard a horn sounding the retreat, maybe it was time to panic. Drums were used to keep a cadence and set the pace (march, quickstep, double-quick, etc.).

In some cases, music was played to buoy the spirits of an army, and this is the key to tactical healing as it applies to LOTRO. In some cases, bands would play as soldiers would march by and in to battle. In a few cases, musicians played on the field, some being more successful than others. At the Battle of Dargai Heights (in what is now Pakistan), George Findlater, a piper with the Gordan Highlanders was awarded the Victoria Cross for playing his pipes as the Highlanders and Gurkhas advanced and carried the day4. If you’ve seen The Longest Day, you saw piper Bill Millin playing his pipes (in violation of standing orders from the English War Office) as the First Special Service Brigade landed on Sword Beach.”

This post is stacked full of interesting historical detail, as well as an in-depth look at how the combat system in LoTRO differs from other MMOs in order to tie in with Professor Tolkien’s work and how he perceived issues like death in Middle-Earth.

If you’re at all interested in the game, Lord of the Rings, or just want to find out how a crazy idea like healing lute players can actually make sense, I heartily recommend this article!

What do you think? Do Minstrels and Captains make sense now, or does the twangin’ triagist still look silly?

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Possible security breach in LoTRO – change your passwords!

News is filtering out into the LoTRO community that there may have been a security breach at Turbine, the owners of the game. Whilst the full extent of the breach really isn’t known, it’s possible that usernames and passwords amongst other things may have been compromised.

Nerdy Bookahs has a summary of how the news has developed – it’s sounding like a decidedly curious affair, with postings on the official forums being deleted, alleged screenshots of a breach floating around the Internet, and generally the feel of some kind of conspiracy thriller

“All in all, it seems that there could be/could have been a security issue on the official Lotro forums. The forum database could have been “open” and granted access to usernames and passwords. The user who reported about it on the unofficial forums had apparently posted on the official forums prior to that but that posting got deleted. No reply from Turbine to him or to anybody else who asked about it.

Then yesterday evening (European time), the Lotro forums went down. Several hours later, we got one tweet about it: “The LOTRO Forums are currently unavailable. We do not have an ETA for their return at this time.””

This really isn’t looking good for Turbine. I’ve heard bubblings about this issue for a couple of days now, but the Bookahs are the first to put all the pieces together. It sounds like this could be a major embarassment, not to say a PR disaster, if the full facts aren’t revealed pretty soon – particularly since the person who originally whistle-blew about the issue – and subsequently had their postings deleted – has proof, and has been posting it.

In the meantime, I recommend anyone who’s playing LoTRO should probably change their password – I’m off to do that myself right now. If you use the same password for multiple games and sites, you should probably change it on all of them – it’s a pain, but better safe than sorry. These days I use a password vault program – LastPass is one good option – to ensure that I’m using a unique password for everything, and I’d recommend doing the same for most online gamers. Sadly, whilst game companies are awesome for a lot of reasons, their security really doesn’t seem to be one.

And we’ll keep an eye out for updates and developments on the situation! Personal worries aside, it sounds like this could be a very interesting – if alarming – story starting to brew up.

What do you think? Security breach, or Something Else?

Article Source: Nerdy Bookahs, at http://nerdybookahs.wordpress.com/ .

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Some Long-Expected Blogging

It’s not all WoW, all the time in the MMOsphere, even with the announcement barrage that Blizzard seems to be keeping up these days. And for one MMO in particular, today’s a rather special day.

Yes, in Lord of the Rings Online, it’s time for a particularly enthusiastic party, as September 22nd brings around the birthday of both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. And, appropriately enough on this particularly Hobbity day, there’s a bunch of interesting LoTRO news and comment out there:

  • Procrastination Amplification’s been trying LoTRO out, and has briefly summed up three interesting points for anyone who’s planning to try it – one good, one bad, and one ugly“As for Moria, I still haven’t seen the inside of it. The quest chain required me to level the weapon to level ten before being able to enter. While it is beyond level 10 now, the tasks I took upon me when it was clear I couldn’t get to Moria yet still aren’t finished.”
  • Killed In A Smiling Accident’s Melmoth has taken a break from Fighting The Forces Of The East to plant some flowers – and it’s not been going too well“The maddening part of this quest, however, was the countdown bar. Each planted marigold required a bar to count down for three years. Or maybe seven seconds. Time dilates when you’re watching a countdown bar in an MMO; it’s much like waiting for a kettle to boil only the steam is coming out of your ears instead.”
  • And A Casual Stroll To Mordor is engaging in a really cool charity event – on the 23rd of September, they’re walking – yes, walking – all the way from Bag End along the infamously difficult and dangerous path to Rivendell“On the traces of Frodo and his friends, our team of writers will walk from Bag End up to Rivendell, and maybe beyon. For every donation made to Child’s Play, our Fellowship will take one step further towards the healing house of Elrond.”

I’ve been playing LoTRO myself recently, and it’s very obvious that the game’s growing fast – the starting Elf zones on Dwarrowdelf yesterday were about as busy as the WoW servers a week after Cataclsym. I’m looking forward to more LoTRO features on the Pot soon!

Have you seen anything interesting in or about LoTRO lately? Any LoTRO blogs we should follow? Let us know below!

All quotes taken directly from their respective posts.

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