Author Archives: Corelin
So Sapience, the Community Manager of LotRO has announced that Raiders are less than 5% of the Lord of the Rings population, and probably more like 2-3%. I’m not sure what exact methodology was used to determine who is a “raider” but the two definitions I would consider most “normal” are: first, someone who has completed a raid, killed the bosses, looted the chest; second, someone who has completed a raid multiple times. Maybe does things on a regular basis. The second is what I think of as raiders and I would put this group around 2% of the population at best. There isn’t a lot of argument that raiders are a small part of the population. How small is a matter of some question but I’m willing to take Sapience’s numbers at face value.
Here’s the thing. Sapience is saying they don’t make raids because there aren’t raiders. He’s saying the root of the problem is the lack of raiders. That’s not the root. That’s the trunk. That’s not the cause, it’s the effect. Raiding in LotRO is nowhere near where it is in SWTOR or WoW or any other big name game, because the raids suck. Really Bad. The SoA raids aren’t terrible but they are dated. Really really dated. No one knew what they were doing back then, players or devs and it shows. The Moria raids were poisoned by the Radiance system and still don’t feel right, although they can be fun they’ve never really worked even after the disaster that was Radiance was removed. BG and OD were good raids. In fact they might have represented the golden age of LotRO raiding. Two worthwhile raids that people could run that justified a gear grind by granting access to good, challenging content.
Then there’s Risengard. It has the best raid in the game, ToO and the worst in the game, Draigoch. ToO has not been updated to the level cap and people run it. It is still fun, and still challenging. That’s a good raid there. Draigoch probably killed raiding. A buggy, confusing, poorly done mess that results in the boss bugging out more than wipe-quits and victories combined. And it’s still not fixed.
That’s why people don’t raid in LotRO. For the same reason that EvE players revolted over the lack of iteration. Because things get left undone and then the outcome gets blamed on the players. The Rohan raids were more like encounters than raids, they simply didn’t have any grandiose feel to them, and I doubt really affected people’s feelings on raids in either way.
Here’s the thing, Turbine can make great and innovative instances. School and Library probably have more runs per active player than any instance in any game. They are that popular, that fast, and that useful to the players. The Barrows are a lot of fun and the Misty Mountains quests are quite neat. When it comes to 3 and 6 man content the Turbine staff can go toe to toe with just about anyone. I’m going to run down the list of instances you can do on level at the current level cap.
- Great Barrow (3 Instances, 6 man)
- Inn of the Forsaken (3 man)
- Seat of the Great Goblin (3 man)
- Iorbar’s Peak (3 man)
- Webs of the Scuttledells (3)
- Bells of the Dale (6)
- Fornost (4 instances, 6 man)
- Halls of Night (3 man)
- Glinghant (6 man)
- Ost Elendil (6 man)
- Huadh Valandil (6 man)
- Library (3 man)
- School (3 man)
- Sword Hall (3 man)
- Dungeons (6 man)
- Warg Pens (3 man)
- Sammath Gul (6 man)
- Lost Temple (6 man)
- Sari-Surma (6 man)
- Northcotton Farms (3 man)
- Stoneheight (3 man)
So 26 choices at level cap. Twenty Six. All of them are fun, all of them are worth at least a run through, and some are worth going through on a regular basis for fun and profit! You can even get rewards for slapping hobbits!
That’s not even counting the Skirmish and (still buggy) big battles. Both of which can provide an interesting instanced challenge for 1-12 players. They may not be as intricate as a more traditional instance, but they are an interesting challenge and a big change from the current standard of Dungeons or Open World Quests.
Turbine can do good content, they just haven’t wrapped their heads around traditional raids, and they are blaming the players for it.
Ok, tabletop gaming talk time. I’ve been a table top gamer for SLIGHTLY less time than I’ve been a vidya gamer. My first minis were the famous “30 Space Marines for 30 dollars” box back when GW wasn’t in the running for “Most idiotic evil corporate empire on earth” and I’ve played ever since. Battletech, Every GW game out there, Johnny Reb, Age of Reason, Command Decision, X-wing, Warmahordes. You name it I’ve probably looked it over.
Leviathans very quickly earned a special part in my heart. This is an incredibly fun, not tortuously complex, immensely characterful game. Seriously, who doesn’t love Pre-Dreadnought flying battleships blasting each other to bits over Victorean Europe? It’s a great game and if you can find a copy I strongly suggest forking over for the (overpriced, and more on that soon) box. The miniatures are fascinating, and you will be fondling them gleefully, the rules are fun and the fluff is entertaining as hell especially if you are familiar with early 20th century naval personages.
But there’s a fly in the ointment.
That’s not true.
There’s some ointment on the wasps nest.
Leviathans has been mismanaged, unlucky, and royally screwed over since the beginning. Their kickstarter ran well, but since then. Woof. I’m not entirely conversant with the chain of events but whatever research they did on their suppliers apparently missed the fact that Don Corleone was less crooked, and Chicago less corrupt. Catalyst (which runs a shoestring organization to begin with) faced numerous… well… shakedowns in getting their product released, and ended up selling either for a loss or for a bare profit on the $100 dollar box set that staggered onto the market nearly a year late. They released three box sets, the core one, and two fleet box sets that never saw the shelves here for about 50 a piece. They contained the same miniatures as the big box, with variant ships. Some e-pubs followed and lots and lots of promises.
And that’s it.
The new factions? Not ready yet. More miniatures? Not even close. Now there’s just no way to even GIVE them more money to continue development short of waiting for another kickstarter. That will basically get us back to where we were 2 years ago when the product first launched. If it succeeds.
Recently the extremely clever and devoted developer of the game, one Randall Bills, posted a statement basically admitting that they had lost all control of the miniatures (renders, molds, everything) and that their initial production model had been a failure for many reasons (not the least of which being malfeasance by the mini producer) and everything but the rules needed to be done from the ground up.
It looks more and more like Randall needs a boss. Someone with more business experience to provide oversight, rigor, and experience to prevent the kind of catastrophes that have plagued this program since the first kickstarter.
The tone of this last message reminds me of Bruce Graw of Agents of Gaming. Bruce created a game called Babylon 5 Wars, based on the TV series, and it was a rather similar game to Leviathans in the way the game flowed. The game even had some pretty considerable success, which is amazing when I think on how incredibly difficult to assemble many of the miniatures were. It fell apart towards the end when the license for the game wasn’t continued despite Bruce’s considerable efforts and investment and the company disappeared like a soap bubble.
Both companies were exposed to point failure, that is one single bad player in the scheme could ruin them. Bruce didn’t have much control over it, his whole concept required a partner to play along, but Randall didn’t have to use that company, and he could have given himself surety that protected him from getting screwed over like he did. Especially after it happened once.
Both companies had major supply issues as well. B5W minis would show up with molding flaws that were simply ridiculous, enormous bubbles, or concavities, detail so worn away that ships looked like metal bricks, B5W was not immune to issues with their producers, and Bruce had to spend a lot of time cat-wrangling.
B5W suffered an ignominious demise because of these problems. Leviathans seems to be heading that way. I want it to succeed, I want to see the Germans, Italians, Russians, Austrian, American, and Japanese fleets sail the skies. I want more miniatures, I want the amazing mapboard to have neighbors, and I want expanded rules. I don’t want Leviathans to be a footnote, but unless they get some supervision I fear that Bills will be the next Graw.
So if you haven’t heard, there’s a book project on Kickstarter for a book on the history of the major players of EvE Online. 600 people have backed it already, with an average funding of about $22 each. He’s already beaten his funding goal of $12,500. Oh and it’s been going for about 8 hours. Some heavy hitters have already backed it, Mynxee drew my attention to it and it continues to draw attention and support. I rather suspect TheMittani.com will have a post on it soon and that will bring even more attention. And filthy lucre.
The first thing I thought after backing it was “I haven’t played EvE in a month. Why did I just back a book about it” and I realized something that I’ve known in the back of my head for a while. EvE is a spectator sport. I love baseball, I play softball. I love reading. My writing is a trial. I love the drama and heights of EvE, but I’m not temperamentally fit to climb those heights and battle in the arenas that are most interesting to me. But by god I’ll throw down my hard earned cash to read about the people that do have what it takes.
CCP has created as their main, and only really profitable product, a game that is more entertaining to watch than it is to play for most of even its target audience. Whether you enjoy the e-sport format of the tournaments, the news sources and outlets, or are eagerly anticipating the new book it seems like a lot of the best parts of EvE simply aren’t in-game anymore. The problem with this is that CCP doesn’t control the news sources, or the new book. They do have the graphic novel and apparently some kind of series that will come about because of this, but they need to get ahead of this cart. They can’t let too many opportunities to make money off this game now that WoD is dead as a doornail.
Just my 2 cents. I don’t deal in Isk anymore.
So I’ve more or less given up on EvE. It just doesn’t have the draw for me anymore. It’s too hard to find interesting people doing interesting things for me anymore. I’m not dropping the Corelin persona in my gaming however, I am adapting him, and the Lintu clan to other games. First up: FF XIV
So I’ve been a Final Fantasy fan ever since the very first game hit my old NES. I’ve played to completion every main sequence game except 8 (I cannot stand Squall) and played all the Tactics, Mystic Quest, etc. I never got into FF XI very much because it came too early for me to really get into. Boy did I get into XIV though. I played it after release when it hit the main stage like a rotten tomato. I don’t know what it was supposed to be, but it was a clean miss. It didn’t feel like much of anything, from a Final Fantasy game, to a Top Flight MMO, to a Grindbox game. It was just a wild mishmash, a Chimera launched malformed into the world. It was actually fun, but definitely not worth the $14.99 a month.
So Squenix bit the bullet, fired some people, moved others around, and reborned it. Let me give you my unvarnished opinion of it. First the good
- Graphics are great, this is a visually stunning game, that does full justice to the sort of majesty we have come to expect from a Final Fantasy game.
- The music is amazing. Seriously. Battle Music is better than world themes, but when has that not been the case with Final Fantasy? Let me give you A FEW EXAMPLES. Yes the last one is a bit odd.
- Fan service. 2 of those 3 songs are references to previous games. Battle on the Bridge is one of the more famous FF themes. Good King Moggle Mog is one of the crazier fights, especially as it has you smashing moggles, who are normally (literally) falling all over themselves to help you. Chocobos are huge. Goobues. Coerls. Primals/Summons/Name it.
- Long Global Cooldown. I wish they used this better but I love how that 2.5 second GCD gives you plenty of time to plan out your move and act or react to the fight rather than spamming through your rotation/priority tree.
- Enough Story. Rather than being a primarily story-drive game like Star Wars, or barely bothering with the story like WoW, this game finds a happy medium. The story is there. You will play through it once, but if you don’t want to pay attention, you don’t have to. I barely did until I got to bits I liked. I will mention that I *HATE* Western Thanalan.
- Combat in general is very good. Some of the animations are repetitive. Arcanists hold their book one way. That’s it. Kinda dull for 50 levels and countless dungeons. Ditto for all the magic users. Still there’s plenty going on. ALL the fights require you to think, move, and react to your opponent. All of them. That level 3 rat has an AoE that will make you very sad if you stand in it.
Now the not so good
- The game is a tiny bit cutesy for the “serious” gamer. It doesn’t always take itself seriously, and this includes ALL aspects of the game. If you beat Thornmarch and get moogle gloves before finishing your relic quest as a monk you are gonna look like this for a while.
Now that’s fine for some people. Including me actually. But sometimes you will be wanting to feel like a hardcore badass, and you are partied with three Lalafell geared out in full up Kawaii gear. You can zoom out and ignore it, but it’s still an issue, and an understandable one.
- The game bogs down in places. 1-50 isn’t smooth, and some endgame gear will be gotten all out of order. You will get your ilvl 80 weapon before you get much more than a handfull of pieces of other gear.
- Endgame on the whole was VERY week until a couple weeks ago, now it is smoother, but still could use some help. I do believe they are working on it, but it is more of a work in progress than it should be.
- It’s a very Japanese game. Grinding is a perfectly acceptable thing to put in for them, to the point where mindless repetition of quests or quest equivalents is just fine by the devs. In addition sometimes the game feels VERY different from a European/American MMO. Be it WoW or LotRO or SWTOR these games have a lot in common. This game defies some of that. It’s not all comfortable for us Americans, although I do like changing things up, sometimes I want to know WHY things are a certain way.
- I don’t like the crafting.
- I don’t like the gathering.
- Housing is expensive. *Really* expensive.
All in all it’s very fun. The community is quite helpful, and jerks get called out more often than they don’t. That’s big for me. The staff is responsive to petitions, and other than the occasional grindbox segment, the game is just fun. Seriously watch that Gilgamesh fight and tell me that doesn’t look like a blast.
Later this month I’m going to talk about how bad I am at World of Tanks, and since it’s Sexual Assault Awareness month I will probably talk about why everything you were told about consent is school is horrible. Till then fly safe, enjoy your game and be excellent to each other. In addition I’m working on the old podcast and streaming with Matt from the podcast on occasion.
Also: Gonna need some new art.
Ok, this is a follow on the my post $ensational(ism) from the other day. And since I used the Dollar sign there, I’m throwing the Cent sign here. At the end of $ensational(ism) I threw out a statement that hadn’t really been introduced or supported, and I didn’t really like leaving it out there. It’s kind of an itch that I need to scratch.
Battles don’t happen in a vacuum. There’s a rich context for them. There’s a reason for them, and that reason tells part of the story. For example let’s look at the Halloween war. N3 booted Solar out of that bastion of Russian Rodina, the Eastern Drone Regions. Because EvE has always been at war with Eastasia. In fact I think this poster could be a great EvE recruiting poster:
So N3 has gone after the Russians. PL is backing them because they are bored and getting paid (presumably) Goons are backing the Russians because the one thing the Goons will almost always do is help the Russians and the only people the Russians can be absolutely counted on to help is the Goons. They have had each other’s back for a long time.
Added to the fun: PL and Goons have a deep and complex relationship. Frenemies is probably too strong, but Friendly Rivals certainly isn’t too strong a term. Their mutual history runs a long damn time, and includes a lot of knives in a lot of backs. Right now they trust each other in that way you trust someone who you know is planning to knife you at some point, just not this week.
On to the point. Right now CCP is seeing a huge rush of people trying out EvE due to the media coverage of B-R. These players joined because they saw huge space battles, they saw huge numbers of players, of dollars, of explosions. Right now a lot of them are finding out 2 things. First: This game is COMPLICATED. Second: You can get into a lot of content in a hurry if you make the right connections, but it might not be for you, and even if it is it might not be the best thing. CCP has sold people a game where you fight battles with thousands of players, in a universe where you can make a mark forever. What they didn’t mention too loudly was that there’s not many battles that big, and except for the statue, the odds of you making your mark in any lasting way are pretty small. Sure you can be bold, lead, and do great things. You can also get chased out in ignominy in three weeks.
Now just in case you are a new player looking for tips, here’s some for you:
- Don’t fit warp core stabs. Just don’t.
- Ask questions. If you don’t get answers you can understand, ask again somewhere else.
- Find a community to be a part of. You don’t have to actually join a corp, but you really should start making friends ASAP.
- Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose.
- Try different things.
- Ask for help.
- Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
- Don’t fit stabs.
- Fill the slots on your ship.
- 1 tank per ship please
- Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose
- and Don’t. Fit. Stabs.
Thanks to some considerable success at work I’ll soon be coming into a good chunk of money, part of which I plan on using to buy plex. BTW thanks PL for dropping the value of PLEX. I hope you will consider my need to make isk before you whelp your next fleet of Titans.
Seriously though, I should have about as much isk as I have ever had, finally giving in and briefly being a wallet warrior. There’s quite a few things I plan on buying, and I’d like to throw out the list to see what suggestions I can get from the peanut gallery. So here we go
- Naglfar – Always been my favorite dread just for the aesthetics. The fact that it’s total FOTM adds considerably to my desire to pull the trigger
- Black Ops BS – Leaning towards the Panther, but entertaining the thought of a Sin. Anyone care to advise me on which hangar queen is most desirable?
- Fittings for 1 and 2. Honestly I’ve been looking at a lot of Nag fits and it almost seems like you want 2 or 3 full sets of fittings depending on what you are doing, is that correct or am I just seeing the most fail killmails.
- A solid warchest of money to engage in arbitrage. I have never really figured out a good income stream for EvE, but this seems like something I can do before work, and that I can do more or less on my own. I’ve tried missions, incursions, and while I can do them, it just doesn’t seem that good. I know there’s not a lot of great routes still out there but it seems like eve-central can make even humble old me do a decent job on trading.
- ALL THE T1 CRUISERS. Seriously I’m about ready to fit up 10 from each race, load them into a carrier and jump them into lowsec. Even if I lose them in job lots I can just start over if I’m making a decent amount of money on #4.
- The alliance shopping list. Every alliance has one, I figure as long as I’m hitting the candy aisle I can pick up the veggies.
I’m mainly looking for opinions on 1-4. I could in theory drop into any dread but the Phoenix because… fuck the Phoenix. I *like* the nag, it’s powerful, versatile, and most importantly: Vertical. I could be sold on the Rev (I figure being the toughest guy in a small gang has its advantages) and ditto on the Moros (still versatile, and who doesn’t like stupidly large damage numbers) but I’m leaning nag.
For BLOPS, there seem to be a lot of choices. The Panther has the Minmatar advantages of speed, and a total lack of Cap dependency, The Sin gives you a swiss army knife if you go gunless in the highs, or a solid beatstick if you shield tank it, and throw down with guns and damage mods, The redeemer has the tank and I always love firin’ mah lazors. Ripard’s Widow fit looks like the FOTM and a good one at that.
Obviously fittings are important. Both of the above ships will be the first I’ve had in their respective categories. I’m trying to avoid my tradition of losing the first ship in any given category within a week, which has held true for everything except carriers and command ships. Seriously. I need to not be losing these.
Finally money making. I am terribad at this. It’s embarrassing. The most success I ever had was manufacturing T3s. This required a lot of moving parts, and while I was quite good at it, and made boatloads of money, a lot of my profit came because I was freeloading on someone else’s POS for R&D and manufacturing. Not really an option at the moment. I also had a couple embarrassments when it came to transportation. Most of these were “You left the epoxy in Jitamart asshat” but one of them was of the “Hey the gankers figured out your schedule asshat” variety. I actually own a researched Archon BPO, and I could probably be doing copies of that just on the side, but without the component BPCs I’m not hardly making a lot of money on that end, even with them I’m not sure about the profitability of the beast these days.
So I throw it to you long-suffering readers. I should have a good load of isk. What to do with it?