Brackish Waters

how my gaming and life coalesce.

The woeful cry of the Unsubscribe button

For the past three weeks I have been playing LotRO and EQ2 in tandem and on Sunday I was forced to make a decision between the two. My month long trial of Everquest 2 had come to an end and my recurring bill to Turbine was set to post to my account on Monday morning. A tough decision indeed and one that has come up much to often over the last year.

It was clear to me that our group was losing interest in Middle Earth over a week ago, but I really didn’t want to confront it as I had invested a large amount of time into my character there and still had a lot to do in terms of the story-line quests. We are all in our mid to high 40’s and have experienced a majority of the content and have also had a boatload of fun doing it. Yes, there are still areas like Carn Dum and the rest of Helegrod to explore, but maybe its because the horizon is so clear on what to expect that we have lost the will to continue. The feeling of “more of the same” is a contagious sentiment and in an effort to prevent it from spreading among us, we almost subconsciously stopped playing together for about a week.

When I make a decision to unsubscribe from a MMO its always about the money. Its really never about the game, because if I was either financially independent or the game itself had no recurring fee I would continue to keep the game on my hard-drive. Even some games that are in the perceived worst of state when released can change, and I really wish I could support them while they go through that evolution.

One of the largest of such changes is that of Everquest 2. While I have no prior experience to judge this progression, there is the consistent din that travels the internet always referring to EQ2 as an example of what SOE can do and may possibly do again with Vanguard. I have written a small amount about my travels so far in this world and I plan on doing more as I have I have not only chosen to continue playing in EQ2, but I also managedEQ2_HolyTrinity to drag along the rest of the holy trinity.

So, my goals have changed a little as of now in EQ2. What was once a singular expedition into the lore of Faydwer and beyond, has evolved into something similar to that of Troy’s podcast – EQual Perspectives. My two companions are big Everquest 1 veterans and I am now the noob under their wing. I still have yet to realize what I have got myself into by convincing them to return to the EQ world, but I believe I got a nice taste of it last night. The two of them went on about some zone-chasing-thingamabob that murdered 200 children and had them up for two weeks while they waited in line for a chance to camp it and retrieve the Boots of Shit Kicking. Something along those lines, I don’t know.

When those Everquest 1 people start reminiscing, I have found it best to just let em get it all out and then offer cocoa after they have finished. Better results with the kind that has marshmallows too.

I still plan on returning to LotRO (famous last words) as my wife was still having a good time there and so are a couple of my friends. I was in a great guild, so if you play on the Firefoot server and are looking for a nice group, be sure to check them out. There are alsoHI_1 atleast two more articles I have written that I have been putting off, one being our last run on Sunday through Haudh Iarchith.

I have enjoyed my time there, and in retrospect, I am not too upset about leaving. I had a lot of fun and did more quests than I can imagine. I was a bit burnt out on the Lord of the Rings lore even before I bought the game and yet they did a remarkable job in dragging me back in and making me feel like this was the Middle Earth that Tolkien had described. I say, “Well done!” to Turbine.

Tempt me, and I may be back sooner than you think.

September 19, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, EQ2, LOTRO, Rants, Vanguard | 2 Comments

She could steal your heart

I love Labor Day.  I ate way more than I should have, drank a bit more than usual, and played some great games of Seafarers of Catan. Then, somehow in all the debauchery, I managed to get my Burglar in Lord of the Rings to level 47.  I have been waiting for this level for a long time.

This, by far, has been the most grueling level to gain.  This had nothing to do with the game play itself, it still has produced plenty of quests to do solo and the option to grind out mobs in Angmar is all the more appealing.  No, this was because of the loot I had waiting in my bank since I was level 44.  Hawt Burglar

The leggings and the chest piece were sitting in my vault for more than a level, taunting me with their red outline, barring me from use. (Thanks Celemdir!) The swords I managed to pickup last week for a measly 500 silver a piece add a nice damage specialization that should help with the wraiths in Haudh Iarchith.  Overall, I am one hawt Burglar right now.

You may have wondered before why I said that grinding out mobs was somewhat appealing to me.  Without getting into the grinding debate, I will say that LotRO does offer the ability to level up at a decent rate, solely by grinding out mobs.  Let me give an example.

At level 45, all classes gain access to a series of quests that allow them to get some great armor and weapons.  These are one of the few class quests you get in LotRO and by far the most time intensive.  If I can recommend any one thing to +40 level players, its to hold on to every purple colored item you get.  Place them in the bank or send them to an alt, or better yet, check on a good site to see if you may need this for these coming quests.

These quests (as a burglar, you begin with two at a time) compel you to gather largeRam Duath numbers of rare and unique items from level +45 areas.  At level 46, I was soloing white(equal level) and yellow (+1 level) mobs for anywhere between 300 and 400 experience per kill.  Considering that the quests I currently had were only netting around 3,000 exp on average, I found it much more worthwhile not only to camp the mobs I needed for my class quest, but also to grind out the remaining experience for level 47.  On top of getting the items and great experience, I also filled out two deeds for a nice trait.

I should explain that the experience above includes the rest experience modifier.  I can’t remember how much that is at the moment, but if you find you have run out of rest experience, you can purchase more by using your destiny points.  There is a small symbol on the top right of the mini-map that allows you to toggle the destiny point display.  Click this and then press the “Spend Destiny” button.  In here you can find a variety of short term buffs, none of which I have found more worthwhile than the rest experience.

I usually play with a small group of friends and find it better to do quests rather than camping an area because it keepsDrink to 47 us going.  If we had no goal in mind, I’m afraid we would sit around a NPC village talking all night in chat.  As it was, I was forced to celebrate alone with the Butterbur in Bree.  Thanks for the drinks Barlimur.   Hopefully tonight we can meet up and head back into Haudh Iarchith and find out what lies beyond those wraiths at the end.

September 4, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, LOTRO, RL | 1 Comment

What are you, Chicken?

I really wanted to give a great rundown of the new session play for Lord of the Rings:  Lotro Chicken Online, but I haven’t had as much interest in playing through the quests as I previously thought I would.  This isn’t because the content is lacking or poorly done, it seems to be integrated fairly well into the game.  The major flaw I see with the “chicken-play” is the fact that you cannot group with anyone while playing.

Turbine should know that MMOs are all about players interacting with other players and facing challenges in the world together.  Why would they leave out this major component to play?  Session play looks fun!  The story and abilities the chicken gets are hilarious and make me want to keep going and doing more, just not alone.

I tried the quests as soon as my game finished updating and after spending an hour locating where in the Shire I needed to find the NPC to start the line, I called over some of my friends.  We all got there, finished what would appear to be the last quests in our hominid form and moved over to talk to the first chicken.  Before we zipped up our chicken suits, we planned where in the farm’s courtyard we would all meet and exchange our new chicken names.

It seemed obvious they would ask us to enter a new name because we had to do the same when creating our Creep (Monster Play).  Turbine took a much easier approach to this and inserted a ” ~ ” before every characters name.   I guess this is because chicken characters are not permanent like your monster play character, so I find no fault in this.

Like I mentioned before, we had no way of grouping with each other, so it became a massive web of /tells going back and forth between the group of us.  Very hectic.  We managed to stay together through the first couple quests, but once we were instructed to find various places in the Shire to talk to other chickens, there was little we could do to prevent us from becoming separated.

It was a good time while we were together.  I would look behind me at various times and see chickens popping up through the grass, each trying to get an extra step from the mouthes of the numerous wolves chasing us.  We searched for worms together, visited towns we had previously been to as hobbits,  and at one point tried to take on a boar.  I wouldn’t recommend doing that last one.

We will try to give this another shot using our guild’s ventrillo server and hopefully I can write more than a brief introduction and rant about the system next time.  Until then, I’ll work on some chicken puns.

August 29, 2007 Posted by | LOTRO, Reviews | Leave a comment

The Girth of Middle Earth

Last night I reached level 46 with my Burglar and I think tonight could be my first experience with the Reputation Barrows LotRO raid experience. This is good times in Lord of the Rings Online! I have yet to reach the plateau that many speak about, but that may be because of the group of friends I play with almost every night. We are the epitome of the holy trinity. We have been able to defeat almost every encounter we have come across and persevered through some of the longest battles I have ever participated in.

Last night, it was different and we never saw it coming.

I logged in to see my friends already grouped and in the instance called Haudh Iarchith. This is one of the new instances that had been added in Book 10 and houses a lot of undead. The denizens here drop a certain item that can be turned in for the Bree-land faction quests, and for once, the dungeon was fairly empty.

We started exploring the eastern branch and killed a number of spiders and one signature that had some decent loot for once. Somehow in our discovery we ended up back at the main chamber and this time we decided to head straight in and take on the 7k morale (hit point) skeletons.

This branch was a bit harder than the first and we frequently found ourselves facing 6 mobs at once. We made it to a large columned hall that held a small stairway in the back. It was loosely guarded and extremely inviting. We fought our way over and headed up the stairs as quick as we could. Even though we could face multiple mobs at once, the respawn rate here was a bit fast. This is probably running high due to the large numbers of players who usually farm this new area.

We found two skeletons and two wraiths at the top of the stairs, nothing unusual. What we didn’t realize was that the wraiths had a protection on them that negated almost all of our damage dealing! It turns out that this protection could not be broken by any fellowship maneuver we performed and common damage weapons were completely useless. The songs used by our Minstrel could hit for full damage but little good that was doing as her attention was needed to heal the two of us. Beleriand and Dwarven damage were hitting for less than half and the regeneration of the wraith more than made up for this. In the end, we retreated.

This was probably one of our greater defeats as we had never encountered a mob that could resist our dps or endurance so completely. It may be a week before we return there and exact our revenge but the weapons are being created and the auctions are being scoured. Every advantage we can get to bring the trinity back to its nice streak will be found and we will be made whole.

Atleast until I get us killed again.

Smokie SmokieDev oopsie!

On a lighter note, here are a couple screenshots of the interesting tile work in an area called the Lone Lands.

Thats no fossil.

– 10/01/07 edit-

For those of you who may be interested in learning about the rewards of Bree from working in Haudh Iarchith, you may want to check this thread in the official forums.

If you are interested in finding a map to this location, you can try MEHQ’s map of Bree and look to the left of the “S” in Barrow Downs, you should see the white dot for the POI at LOC: 35.2S 55.2W.

Hope this helps some of you!

August 28, 2007 Posted by | Adventure Journal, LOTRO | 5 Comments

Hearts and minds

Sethanon over at Wife-Aggro.com, brought up a really good point about reputation rewards in his newest podcast episode. He and Ragemore were talking about the recent addition to Lord of the Rings Online of the regional reputations. They cited a note made by the developers stating that they did not intend for their system to exclude players from grouping together but instead offer an alternate avenue for players to explore.

This idea that reputation advancement should net actual in game rewards like armor or trinkets always bothered me but I don’t know why. I never found myself itching to grind out boring quests or kill counts for factions in WoW, and I probably won’t be doing in LotRO. However, it really sounds like this isn’t where Turbine is taking the game anyway.

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August 21, 2007 Posted by | Brainstorms, LOTRO, Rants, Vanguard | Leave a comment

China recruits Flanders

Ned Flanders DevilThe past four days have been anything but my regular routine. I have been bewitched by the Book-that-must-not-be-named.

 

After spending 4 hours on the porch swatting away various bugs and accidentally using my coffee mug as an ash tray two times, I went inside and sat on the couch to read. Its nice to be on the final book now as I have spent the last week reading Book 5 and 6 for the first time. I stopped reading the series after someone in WoW spoiled Half-Blood Prince for me and I never had the inkling to pick it back up until now. Something about the finality of the story drew me back in. Also, having all of the books in the room tempted me like having the entire series of a TV show on DVD, you know you wont have to wait 6 months to see what happens next.

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August 3, 2007 Posted by | LOTRO, RL | 2 Comments

SOE is trying to seduce me

Yesterday I received an interesting email from SOE in which they were trying very hard to pull me away from my current game to start anew in EQ2. They started off the message by acknowledging the fact I no longer subscribe to Vanguard and noted that they are working hard to meet the changes the community is demanding of the game. This scares me because it was those late comers to the beta that got the developers to change the Death Penalty to the state it is in now. They didn’t have altars or the ability to call your corpse in beta.

The email went on to really entice me though. It offered Everquest 2, all of the expansions, adventure packs and an opportunity to play until September for free!

YIKES!

Very tempting my precious.

I am enjoying LotRO a lot right now and do not see myself actually downloading this to jump in. You can’t say you didn’t try though SOE. Don’t worry though, I didn’t plan on returning to Vanguard until atleast September anyway. Ill give you the 3 months you may need to clean this up and I will be back.

-Brackish

July 20, 2007 Posted by | EQ2, LOTRO, Vanguard | 3 Comments

Another Feed Bag?

The other day I walked into my house to the sound of my son screaming with joy. Lotro Chicken Apparently my wife was doing the laundry and instead of trying to fight off my son while folding a sheet, she placed it over two of our computer chairs. It draped down over both of them creating a small tent and my son found this to be the greatest thing in the world.

He proceeded to gather all of his toys in the room and drag them into his new fort, hiding them in corners and in every cranny the sheet was making. We joined in by adding pillows and laid down a blanket for a nice soft floor. We watched him for about 40 minutes moving in and out of the fort so excited about this new look to the world.

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July 13, 2007 Posted by | LOTRO, RL | 2 Comments

The One Ring to fool them all?

Over at MMO-Gamer, there is a second part of the review for Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online. This review covers the post level 25 game and goes into a lot of detail as to how Turbine does not deliver. The writer is blunt, honest and in some cases quite funny about the disappointment both he and his guild feels. However, is this truly a fair assesment of the state of the game of LotRO?

Lets just fire right off and nail his first point that he is level 50. He is in an established guild and has obviously been putting in more time than the larger portion of the player base. Turbine appealed to the crowd who were more akin to a casual style gameplay and I attribute this to the large amount of quests that remain uniform in difficulty throughout the levels. When he said this in the first paragraph, I just got the feeling he was going to be hard to appease.

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June 28, 2007 Posted by | LOTRO | Leave a comment

VOIP Elite?

I think I am being spoiled by the implementation of integrated voice chat. I find myself limiting those I group with to only people who use the system. Its become a luxury I do not think I am ready to part with and will require any MMO I play to have in the future.

I pretty sure I know why I use it and prefer it over chat, but its more than just not having to type. Maybe it is the verbal freedom to vocally thrash those players in a pickup group when they perform poorly or inadvertently “Need” a drop. Maybe its the affirmation I receive when the 90 pound buxom rogue to my right is actually Lenny from the Bronx chewing down on 2 hot-dogs and washing them down with a six pack. It could just be the fact that some people respond better to commands heard rather than written.
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June 26, 2007 Posted by | LOTRO, Rants | Leave a comment