Category Archives: LotRO
So FF XIV, LotRO and EvE all have one problem in common. They have great communities. I’m not kidding. They all have great communities. And that’s a problem at times.
Tonight I was running the monotonous drudgery that is Dzemael Darkhold. I’m not sure whether it’s the worst dungeon in FF XIV (Cutter’s Cry is close and some people hate Aurum Vale just as much) but it’s not a fun dungeon. I was helping a FC mate through it, and he had only run it once so we were going to clear things thoroughly and rather deliberately. I wasn’t going to race through and I wasn’t going to skip lots of things. We got a DPS and a healer through Duty Finder and off we went. And immediately the complaints began. Now I’ll take complaints from a healer. It friggin sucks to have your queue be this dungeon, and to have a group wanting a full clear. Then our DPS started bitching. About everything. I invited him to keep talking if he wanted to wait for another 45 minute DPS queue.
By the end I was heated. I was upset at the way I and my EXTREMELY new friend had been treated by these guys. They were rude, inconsiderate, and constantly pushing for bigger pulls and faster clears even though the healer was going OOM as soon as I pulled more than one group at a time. They kvetched like my grandmother when I forget to call (which… I need to do) and were all over the place hitting targets and pulling extra mobs. It was a fiasco. The bosses went down easily, which is a bit of a surprise in DD.
What made it that much more painful is that this game has a great community. 99% of the time you’d get supportive people giving advice, then hearing what your intentions are, and why you are doing it this way, working with you instead of against you. We had one of our DPS sitting out a fight because he didn’t think we should bother with side rooms.
EvE has people who will shit up the game sometimes, and some of that is to be expected in a game, but others will take things too far. Out of game threats, homophobic slurs, asshattery that frankly demeans the community and the insulter far more than the insultee. And yes I’m making new words here. You don’t like it make you own blog.
LotRO has people that will use any excuse, bug or other opportunity to harass the large RP community, and finding people for raids can be… ugh. Also the line between casuals and elitists is SO thick it’s a lethal weapon. You can get whomped by it because someone thinks your legendaries are crap. I’ve only run into it once or twice but MY GOD is it awful.
And all of these things are made worse because the communities in these games are SO GOOD. The podcasts, blogs, news sites, vlogs, forums…. everything. It’s so good! There’s so much content generated by the community and it all helps a lot. Even divisive people add a ton through both what they generate and the spin off comments and hate that adds even more entertainment. It all adds up to a situation that when you get genuinely toxic people, people who have no interest in helping others meet their goals, who just want to do their thing or who actively seek to destroy other people’s experience.
Ok rant over. This weekend I’ll talk about getting our new guy geared up once he hits 50 on Dragoon. That’s right folks. Dead Dragoon jokes incoming!
So two of my favorite games are FF XIV and LotRO. They have something in common and it’s something I love and hate about the games. That thing is the legendary / relic weapons. These are weapons that can grow with you (theoretically). These are really iconic systems in both games, and there’s been a lot of words spilled over both systems but hey, I’m all about beating dead horses so grab a club and let’s get to it!
Legendary weapons are unlocked through a level 50 quest that everyone runs at 45. The initial weapon lasts you until about .01 seconds after you turn 51. The weapon you ground so long to get will then be broken up for spare parts. No kidding. Imagine if Bilbo had gotten Sting, then picked up St1ng and Stung or whatever and realized it was .3% better and said SEE YA WEAPON OF LEGEND, broken it into pieces and used a couple of those pieces on the new weapon. Then the rest of the fragments get melted down into more fragments. This is the most EvE like part of the game with level 100 weapon development often involved hours of planning with spreadsheets, tons of bag space, more hours of grinding, and lots of money (real or in-game) and a lot of luck. You can spend a lot of time working on a first age weapon only to get totally hosed by it having only 3 base major legacies. 4 is considered good (or useable) and you can buy one extra for each weapon. I’ve seen one with a base 5 and everyone has HEARD of someone who got 6 majors but I’ve never seen it on any weapon you would want to use (and it’s diminishing returns anyway by that point) but anytime you spend hours and hours raiding or dozens/hundreds more grinding to get items to make a first age only to get screwed by an RNG mechanic…. Fuck that. The system doesn’t feel very legendary and without a lot of planning and work you can go down a road that requires you to redo a lot of the planning on the weapons. There’s also more grinding to upgrade the legacies to make them cheaper to level up so you can level up more legacies and if this doesn’t make much sense… well… that’s why I say it doesn’t feel legendary. It’s a great concept with meh planning and poor implementation leading to a real mess.
Ohhhh Relic Weapons. First you grind. Then you grind A LOT more. Then you grind some more. Then there’s some building of your weapon. Which involves a metric ton of grinding. Then you grind some more. Then you give up and find a group to run final coil and get a better weapon anyway. Let me talk a bit about the grind. Just to get the base (ilvl 80) weapon you need to: Get a broken weapon. Buy/Make and then upgrade/pay someone to upgrade another weapon. Fight a Chimera (one of the more annoying bosses for melee/tanks). Run Amdapor Keep, which used to be a real pain in the neck and is now very fun due to how much damage a group can have. Kill 24 beastmen with a poor version of the weapon you want, kill a Hydra, which is an annoying boss for EVERYBODY. Kill Ifrit (cake). Kill Garuda (pie a la mode). Kill Titan (fuck fuckity fuck fuck this can be a nightmare). Buy some oil (hope you have some soldiery handy) and finally COLLECT YOUR WEAPON. That’s step one. The next step involves grinding soldiery (can be done in an evening) to upgrade to the ilvl 90.
Ok. You’re done with the easy part. Now you have to farm Fates to get Atma. Fates are open world events and Atma are random drops. Supposedly around 15% but at one point they were as low as 2%. This can easily eat a whole weekend just to upgrade one weapon and you will find that, for the item level it has very low stats. There’s a reason for that. Its power hasn’t been unlocked yet! You need to grind more soldiery tokens to get books, then do what the books say to unlock the power. This can take a week or so now, but it could take forever back in the day when there was a weekly cap on soldiery that was less than what you needed to get a book.
Done yet? Nope. Time to grind more Fates, and while you are at it there’s now two levels of RNG hell. First you need Alexandrite to drop, then you use the alexandrite to meld specific stats into a weapon to increase secondary stats that you choose. Great! I get to pick my upgrade path! Only Alexandrites aren’t a guaranteed drop and the melds can fail meaning I need even more of them. Grind-fucking-tastic.
Then you need Light. Light isn’t nearly as random and while it will be another grindtastic hell to get it all done, at least the RNG gods can’t shit all over you for hours on end.
Not done yet though. Now for the Zodiac Brave step. 400k gil (Which I actually have now, miracle of miracles) 80k grand company seals (you should actually have this by now if you’ve been paying attention) 6400 MORE soldiery tomestones. Which you won’t have. Drop from 15 dungeons, which frankly should get you a lot of the way to that 6400 soldiery, crafted mats (hint they ain’t cheap) desythesized mats (even less cheap) and some gathered mats, which are cheapish all things told. Oh and some random other mats that you probably have sitting in your bags anyway.
Now for the kicker. You can get alternate weapons that will be just fine. One of them is frankly an upgrade to my way of looking at things, dropping a useless stat for a useful one. Some of the weapons are truly phenomenal (there’s one for every class) some are a bit meh. They do look amazing and will hopefully lead to better things later on but for now I’m underwhelmed. I completed step 3 today, and will start gathering books this week. I’m looking at about two weeks of this (!) to get my weapon better than the one I already have, and even then I’ve got one stat I just don’t want on it, then on to alexandrite. I don’t feel like I’m working on something legendary, I feel like a hamster on a wheel. A heavily randomized and slow wheel.
Fine Fine Fine What do you Want?
Well that’s the real trick. I love how LotRO gives you access to the system early. I would love to find a 1st Age Weapon in Moria and bring it with me all the way. I want it to really level up with me as I move along. Especially because the Moria weapons look GREAT. I would open them up even earlier. Most games have a point where the leveling process drops off a cliff. I mean really really harsh. For WoW it’s the 30s and 40s and LotRO this is around 25. FF XIV has it in the 30s. You know what would spice this up? Starting on your legendary weapon. It’s one thing to have a grindfest at endgame when it’s grinds on top of grinds, but if you spread it out over levels upon levels, well, it’s not so bad. You can have it undergo a marked increase in power as you reforge it. Especially in a system like FF XIV where each class only uses one weapon type. In a game like WoW or LotRO you might have to invent some deus ex machina stuff to get around people wanting to switch to a different weapon or different type of weapon (1h vs. 2h for example).
So start it earlier, spread out the grind. Now I want control. Primary stats only please. Let me chase down questlines for secondary stats, let me infuse it with power from the blood of my enemies, let me quench it in the nameless depths below the deepest caverns, or temper it in the heat of the hottest volcano. Let the weapon become part of the characters story. Make it an Excalibur, a Sting, an Anduril, an Icingdeath, a Durandal, something of power and mystery. Something that gains the traits the wielder and creator wants, not some arbitrary set.
I want it to feel legendary. The best results should take time, but more importantly, skill. Want the highest, most powerful version? Be ready for challenging content, raid tier and solo content that is demanding and puts you through trials to earn the right to carry the greatest weapon, not just get carried by friends, but mastering your class, playing at a high level and earning the best rewards. Doing normalized content, where the challenge scales with your level and gear so you can’t just overpower it. I want to walk into town with my glowing blade of light and have people KNOW they are dealing with someone who knows what he’s about.
FF could start the quest with the Ifrit trial, granting you a weapon from the otherwise dropless fight. It starts with mediocre stats but as you progress you infuse it with more power, with optional quests to grant you more and more stats and slots for secondary stats. Unlocking the last stats and the highest upgrades should take truly legendary levels of skill, but it shouldn’t require endlessly doing a low return on time invested task.
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.
Seriously. Turbine announces that Helms Deep will require people to pay for the expansion to continue the storyline and an element of the LotRO playerbase LOSES its SHIT. Turbine has once again shown us that developers are just griefers that took it to the big leagues. I haven’t seen tears like this since the death of can-mining. This is right up there with the Vaga losing its frill. Let’s go right to the trenches. A wonderful thread called “The Last Straw for FreeToPlay”
Ive been reading some of the forum posts about HD and I am horrified
The Epic Storyline..is now for VIP’s only.
Thats it, FreeToPlay is now FreeToSuffer
Turbine fix it, or you’ll lose all your people to RIFT, DDO, RoM and WoW.
OP getting us off to a nice start. Bring out the tear buckets! Never mind that it actually ISN’T a requirement that you subscribe (VIPs are subscribers) never mind that he is ignoring the fact that you can (all for free) download the game, set up your account, and follow the Fellowship of the Ring from (Bree/The Shire/Ered Luin) all the way to the Eastenmet of Rohan, without paying a damn penny. Never mind that you can pay for every expansion with an in-game currency that you are more than welcome to grind out fulfilling in-game activities. This git doesn’t even get that leaving LotRO for DDO would be as effective as leaving Aion for GW2. It’s the same company.
For me it is not about what is free and what is not free, it is the fact they gave a promise and are now going back on it. It is also not the first time they have done so. When they were talking about F2P and the store they said it would not sell gear but now it sells low level gear. When they said they were bringing the low level gear to the store they said it wont sell end game gear, now I have lost all confidence in that claim.
Also if you make a promise but are unable to keep it at a future date, at least apologize for not being able to keep it.
Yeah, that level 25 set of armor they sell so you can skip a few skirms or some of the sillier price jumps in the auction house is just a horrible tihng.
Now here’s one that isn’t that much better in “context”
A better car analogy is that Turbine is like a car company requiring that you buy the Ferrari before they’ll even let you have a test drive. Those VIP Access fees are non-refundable, of course, unlike a purchased Ferrari.
If playing to level 85 in a game isn’t a “Test Drive”… what is? Although I have heard you can join the battle WELL before 85, I’m sadly ignorant to most of Helms Deep.
There’s more, both in that threads and in the bittervet threads elsewhere. LotRO is at a point where the game is coming up with increasingly innovative systems to keep itself afloat. I would love to see another game that has a system as complex as the Legendary Item system for LotRO that lets you build up your own unique weapon. Sure it’s old, and could use an update so you really do build and develop it like you want, but it’s still an amazing system. Now let’s look at Skirmishes. Scale-able instances, that scale along three axes, player level, party size, and a tier, all of which provide an individual adjustment to the balance of the encounters. Sure the bosses are “single mechanic” bosses with a few exceptions, but the challenge is quite real. Mounted combat. MOUNTED. COMBAT. THAT WORKS. Go ahead. Find THAT in WoW. PvP! actually. Screw the PvP. Now they are going to add big huge battles!
And that’s the crux of the issue. Huge battles don’t come cheap. Doing them right is expensive. Capturing the right flavor, while giving the PCs the ability to influence things… is a HUGE challenge. I imagine it required a lot of resources to develop, program, and playtest. Sure Turbine wants money for you to play with their new toy! They developed it, poured hundreds of hours into it, show some appreciation you git!
So the old Fancy Hats crew got together in LotRO to run the Great Barrow instances. We had an interesting group, I’ve played off and on since release, one of us had played since Beta, but had lapsed a couple years ago, another was new to LotRO but not to Theme Parks, the last one has literally never played a theme park style MMO.
This has presented a challenge to me and to the others as his progress gets tripped up by things that most MMO players haven’t even really thought about in years. Things like combat/non-combat states, inventory management, grouping mechanics, and party composition/the “Holy Trinity”
Which brings us to tonight. I had my lowbie Guardian, along with a
Sith Lord Runekeeper who was a bit ahead of us level-wise, Minstrel, and Hunter rounding out the Fancy Hats contingent, joining us literally as we set out was a higher level Burglaer, who happened to be a Role-Player. We ran through “The Maze” with a couple issues. First progress was rather slow, I had forgotten how to set up targeting assists, I was trying to explain some concepts to my erstwhile minions, and of course our Burglar buddy wasn’t on teamspeak so we had to type to him to let him know we hadn’t all gone AFK.
This confusion led to our one wipe of the evening. I was trying to explain how we were going to pull one of the first big rooms when our RK inadvertently threw out some
Force Lightning PERFECTLY EXPLAINABLE WITHIN THE THE LORE OF THE BOOKS NATURAL LIGHTNING THAT HAPPENED TO SPROUT FROM HIS FINGERS UNDERGROUND. 20 Silver if you can guess where I fall on the “Are Rune-Keepers Canon” debate. With full-room aggro we were quickly very hard-pressed and at level 23 my guardian simply didn’t have the threat-management to keep the healers up, or even himself without burning through all my potions and cooldowns. The wipe happened slowly but there was no chance at surviving that pull. Especially with the mini-boss happily joining in the affray.
Recriminations were kept to a minimum, mainly an admonition to watch pulls. We steamrolled the rest of the room taking our time to make sure our pulls were done cautiously, and the room itself gave us a perfect example of how “Not to Stand in the Fire” Hordes of worms showed up and promptly went into a writhing spasm of death, dropping copious puddles of green goo that melted our poor
Sith Lo RUNEKEEPER into a vaguely elf-shaped puddle. One quick song from our Minstrel later and he was rallied and ready to go. We pressed on and simply steamrolled the final boss. It was actually a bit embarrassing. We went back to town for a quick re-set and delved straight into Thadúr.
Thadúr presented us with the most frustrating encounter we would hit. We didn’t die in it. We didn’t come close to dying during it. However several members were ready to pull what little hair they had left out before it ended. The encounter centers on these small, fairly tough lights that spawn in sequence. The first one triggers the second “wave” of two, spawning at random locations, which must be defeated within seconds, 15 for the first and maybe another 5 for the second. The next is a group of three with a similar pattern, and finally a group of four. The problem is that some people didn’t understand the encounter, others simply lacked the muscle-memory to help much in pulls, and as frustration set in we quickly lost any semblance of unity.
Those who know me know that I tend to be rather terse in voice during fights. I was very frustrated myself, no less than my minions certainly as I was more-or-less leading things and things were going poorly. Finally we got the idea ready, and our Hunter, despite almost no experience in MMOs managed to get the pulls handled. By shooting each of the mobs and dragging them in close it allowed our burglar and myself to hammer down and transfer DPS efficiently leading to us FINALLY staggering out of the room, leaving only our dignity behind in tattered shreds. Thadúr himself was an afterthought, a simple single-mechanic boss requiring us to burn down adds between vulnerable periods.
Sambrog was simply a cakewalk. While we spent lots of time with the tank AND healer stunned we simply didn’t find anything that could challenge our party enough to slow us down. Murder and Mayhem followed and we ripped through the dungeon so fast we barely noticed it. All in all it was a pretty satisfying afternoon. Defeat barely rared its’ ugly head and all of us had a good time and even learned something, not always easy when you’ve played a game for five years.
Next week we plan on pressing through and evening up the level gaps hopefully, as well as some sight-seeing. Hopefully I remember to take screenshots this time as well.