Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category


Jocelyn, The Achievment Monger….

March 15, 2011

… aka, why can’t she just play the game like normal people do…?

I completed a bunch of achievements with my gaming buddy Utu. He is, in case I haven’t mentioned him before, my partner, my best friend, my co-conspirator and one of the best persons I know. I am lucky to have such a great guy in my life.

There are several easy achievements to get while still low level. A few in Freemarch and some in Stonefield. I dragged Utu all over the world this afternoon grabbing a few of them. Took us about 90 minutes in total, but I think we could have went even faster if I hadn’t killed Utu twice jumping into things too fast.

First achievement we grabbed was called A Quick Escape (click the link for the guide). It was relatively easy and can be done while questing in that zone as well. It consists of simply jumping off the middle part of the bridge out of the burning town called Smith’s Haven in south-eastern Freemarch.

We then went over to Lake Solace and swam down until we found the Freemarch Puzzle for the achievement, Sleeping With The Fishes (click the link for the guide). Solving the puzzle was fairly straightforward and easy – I even buffed us with water-breathing as there was a line to do the thing. Opening the chest got me a blue tanking shield with some impressive spell power and endurance stats. Utu got a tanking staff with only spell power and endurance – a real head scratcher as he is a mage and needs int more than anything. Guess Trion wants us to PVP.

We zipped out to Stonefield for the other achievements stopping occasionally to kill squirrels in Freemarch as I am collecting 20 Squirrel Tears for the Heartless title. Once we got to the Giant’s skull in Stonefield, we ducked inside and looted the red sparkly bag for Red Handed (click the link for the location). The miner’s agro on you, and they hit REALLY hard. So be ready for a bit of a mixup when you nick it.

Next on the stop was up the mountain for the four achievements everyone wants in this zone. The Spinning plates puzzle, the Dancing with Squirrels title, the Mountain Climber achievement and Plop! Which gives you a cool ‘Daredevil’ title.

If you go up the mountain just above where the chest is looted for The Mousetrap quest, you can make it to the first spot which is the spinning plates. Easy puzzle if you know how to do it, I linked it for you in case you are in a hurry to solve it like I was.

Next we moved up one side of the mountain for the Dances With Squirrels achievement. Simply walk over to their torch, and wait for them to dance. The torch ignites and you do your /dance emote and get one of the cooler titles in the game =)

On your way back towards the upland meadow that had the spinning plates make sure to head a little left until you unlock the exploring quest, mountain climber. Head back to the other side of the falls and then you edge your way out to the rock promontory and jump into the lake for the Plop! Achievement and the Daredevil title (super easy, and better explained on the forums. Click here for the pic guide)


Lord of the Rings Online – my perspective

April 15, 2010

    We can not get out. They have taken the Bridge and the Second Hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there. The pool is up to the wall at the Westgate. The Watcher in the water took Óin. We can not get out. The end comes. Drums, drums in the deep. They are coming.” ~ Ori, Book of Mazarbul

If you think that the above quote is exciting, then you already have an idea about how you will feel the minute you step into the game. From the very first “how to play” newbie tutorial, Lord of The Rings Online throws you into the role of a hero and lands you deep into the action right away. I loved how the makers of the game wed you to the lore and the storyline so quickly. Typical newb quests, such as killing ten goblins doesn’t seem so redundant when you are doing it to save your town from a second invasion like the one you just lived through.

I started off with a recommended starter character on Silverlode and was really happy with the ease that I picked up the game play. I absolutely loved the fact that they made a main healing class, the Minstrel, one of the easiest to learn. I quickly rolled a cool Elf Minstrel and ran around in pure bliss delivering Jack Black style Epic Rock-n-Roll riffs to slay the evil in the land. I tried a Hobbit Hunter on Brandywine for a little while, and then went back to Silverlode for my third character, an Elf Rune-keeper. Rune-keepers are billed as an “advanced class” but I found it very easy to play. The Rune-keeper is basically a mage with hots.. yes.. heals over time spells.. i know.. its crazy.. but there it is. I envisioned the night the devs came up with this class: it had to have been conceived either at the end of a long night after a particularly successful office party, or perhaps on some zen hippy retreat designed to inspire creativity through herbal brownies. I mean its crazy cool… its a freaking MAGE WITH HOTS for crying out loud. OMGZ… its wonderful and fun and enhances survivability in crazy situations. Which.. if you read on, you will see happens sometimes.

One of the coolest things about this game is, early on, is that its hard to get killed as a low level player if you are doing things the way you are supposed to. Many people make it to level 15 and beyond without dying once, and they even hand out titles every five levels to encourage the mini-competition. I made it to 16 on my Mini before Strider killed me in a group instance (I didn’t know it was for groups only – I may have been so giddy about meeting Strider I may have skipped reading some of the quest text), and I got to 12 on my Rune-keeper before a random questor died with a string of mobs chasing him out of some ruins. The evil Goblins chasing the now-dead player turned back and spotted me trying to squeeze by. I think I heard a “squee” of glee as they smushed me into bits. You see.. that’s one of the drawbacks to this game. Hostile NPC’s in the leveling zones don’t just tamely run back to their patrol points like they do in WoW if they aggro on something. They tend to chase you for for an unbelievably long time as you run screaming in terror across a zone. When they finally do give up and run back, if someone wanders into their return path, they take them out too. The concept gets a little painful if you try to just ride through a bunch of mobs to get to your questing area. Like most MMO’s, a player can pick up adds like velcro as they sail past them on their mount. But in LoTRO the questing zones are huge and spread out, and these mobs just don’t seem to want to give up. You can end up with a chain of a dozen mobs taking pot-shots on you if you try to blow through their turf. Same thing happens if you try to back out of a bad pull and back into a pat or a respawn. Things respawn VERY fast in this game. You will end up running half way to Bree before you get clear of them, or just end up being overwhelmed.

But us healers aren’t scared of death. We see it all the time. In fact we LAUGH in the face of death as we heal our friends to full health and save the day.. or something like that. In LoTRO death isn’t too bad either. The first time you scrubb it up and die, you get a choice of ressing right on the spot, or “retreating” a ways away to a graveyard (which is a cool circle of stones). If you choose to revive on the spot, you get a cool down that doesn’t let you do insta-revive again for a few hours. Subsequent deaths before the cool down is up send you directly to the circle of stones.

Some of the mechanics of the game are a little different and it took this WoW girl some time getting used to them. There is a glowing ring above a level appropriate quest giver’s head, and it glows a little redder if the NPC is ready to receive your quest. I found it hard to tell the difference until I got rather close, but some people have no problem with it. As well, if a NPC is a trainer or a Stable Master guy (you can rent fast transport between major areas, like the gryphons in WoW, only by land), the glowing ring is totally obscured by the square icon over their head which denotes that they are a utility NPC. Luckily there is a VERY good map system that allows you to set, or filter out Point’s of Interest (much like EQMaps addon) so you can see only quest givers or receivers in either your mini map or your main map or both. Its easy to set it up just how you like.

Aggro. You know and I know it ain’t cool. And its *ALWAYS* important to know which mobs are gonna flip out if you get near them and which ones don’t. Well, in the ten days I played this game I couldn’t figure it out. Other than “Signature” mobs, which are like micro bosses for solo questing and have a bright red outline around their nameplates and a red bar instead of a green life bar, there wasn’t any visual difference between hostile mobs and neutral mobs. Some Mobs with normal green life bars attacked me, and ones with yellow life bars sometimes did too. And they sometimes didn’t. It wasn’t easy to tell what they’d do. Generally if it was labeled “baby” or “young” bear/goblin/spider/whatever, it didn’t attack. But it sometimes could threaten to attack and if you didn’t move away fast enough. If you just stood there, it would taunt, then charge you. Oh! and the graphic when a mob went for you was rather cute.. It was this little puff of steam exploding over their head like they had just blew their top and were thinking, “That’s IT!! That hobbit’s getting a right good butt kicking!”.

That brings me to my next point. The graphics are amazing. No, really, they are. The bears really acted like bears; swimming in the rivers and standing up and sitting, etc. The trees moved slightly in the wind, and not all the leaves at the same time like a stiff solid object, but the leaves and branches flowed like wind was moving them around. I think the only graphics I wasn’t pleased with was the hair on the avatars. But since most people cover it with helmets anyway, Its kinda a wash. Another thing I should mention, on busy days when a lot of people were online, the connection for processing the data to my client was a little jittery and occasionally my camera would spin out of control and I’d find myself pointing a different direction – or worse – I once ended up with my camera pointing at the bottom side of my mount. Not a pretty sight.

Anyway, amazing graphics mean people need somewhat current computers to play this game. Which guarantees if you make it to end game raiding in LoTRO, there wont be a lot of mysterious DC’s in raid which are usually blamed on ISP’s and not ever on aging NIC’s and inferior memory cards. The UI is completely customizable and you can re size and move every element like chat screens, name plates, action bars, and warning windows, to a different place on your screen. And while its not as versatile nor convenient as many of the mods I run in World of Warcraft, it does mean that you don’t have to suffer with the type on the screen too small or the name plates on the far bleeding edges of your screen or other UI elements that people like to customize. I found the NPC selling system to be clunky and time consuming, but it was nice to be able to repair almost everywhere I went. I couldn’t access the AH or the Mail as a trial so I cant comment about that here, but I hear the AH is very pricey. A nice thing with the NPC vendors is that they let you lock items so you don’t accidentally sell things. As well, you can also sort and filter your sell-able items in your bags according to quality so you can get the bits and pieces we call vendor trash out of your bags faster. The fact that I didn’t discover this feature until about nine days into my trial is a little annoying, but not everyone is going to agree on which features are intuitive and which aren’t.

And lastly, I bring out the best point of LoTRO.. the community. With few exceptions, it seemed like a real great group of mature, serious MMO players inhabited Middle Earth. They came across to me as helpful and seemed fully engaged in the game, not hyper focused on besting each other with coolness and put downs. It was a nice change from the atmosphere that pervades WoW at times and only once or twice did I run across someone bragging about how cool they were in another game or ninjaing farming nodes and mobs. Most players seemed willing to help answer questions in chat, and when you could find enough people online, the chat channels were populated with people looking for groups to run things. I ran across lots of players with (mostly) lore-appropriate names like Linaric (the Elf Minstrel) and Miarien (Elf Rune-keeper), although there was a share of normal generic MMO names too. Didn’t see a single avatar called roflcopterpwnstarr though. Even LoTRO’s guild names seemed neat. I was impressed by the names I came across that ran the gamut from Silverlode’s famous casual guild called, “Fat Smokin’ Hobbits” to top raiding guilds named “Grey Host”. However, some days the newbie zones on the two servers on which I played were like a ghost town. On particularly lonesome days, I could hear the echoes in trade chat when someone asked a question and you’d go hours without seeing another player if you were out in the wild. While this makes for superior farming (all the lodes are mine!!) and solo questing, it sucks if you want to advance in the game past level 20 with the optimal character traits and skills. From what I was able to understand in the Lorebook, the way the LoTRO is laid out the devs keep you invested in the story by making completing the main quest line mandatory. Which, unfortunately, have group instance runs.

So, the question remains.. will I subscribe to LoTRO? Would I be willing to stop raiding in WoW to play there full time? Yes and no. I definitely will be coming back to LoTRO to play as a casual player. Even now I cant stop thinking about the game, and my trial ran out five days ago. I loved the story lines, feel entwined in the main plot and remain hopeful I can find a Kinship (Guild) that will want to help a scrubby healer with a few grouping quests and move me along in my leveling journey.

Will I leave WoW for this game when I reach level cap? At this point I can firmly say no. I will not. Although I have been told that the high level zones have more players, from what I saw in Bree and the Shire, LoTRO just doesn’t look like it has enough subscribers playing this game to make raiding on a full scale level a viable thing for me. Hardcore raiding is just as important to me as Casual-style questing and I love to fully explore every facet of the games I play. When I raid I **really** like pushing new content, getting world first titles and wiping endlessly… i mean.. ‘learning’ the fights before everyone else has written their guides and made their videos. I thrive on it to be honest. And unfortunately, I had a hard enough time meeting leveling players to chat with and make friends during my ten day LoTRO stint. Maybe I should delay the decision, but as things stand now, I cant imagine how empty things will be if I hit end game and wanted to start the gear grind in order to raid. Maybe subscriptions will pick up. Maybe the end zone areas really are dripping with awesome raiding and fellowship (groups)opportunities.

Maybe… Maybe… Maybe.

I am determined to find out ;D


The tradition of oral story telling

April 4, 2010

Some say that if a tale didn’t reach you via the written novel, that it doesn’t rank with the greatest stories of all time. But I say, it doesn’t matter if you learn of a story in a Tolkien novel, or related to you by a great story-teller like Michael Wordsmyth, or experienced in a MMO. If a story touches your heart and stays in your mind, and changes your very soul, that my friends, is the mark of a damn good story.

The story of Pamela Redpath of Darrowshire is one such tale. Offhand, I can only think of about a dozen stories, yes, most are in books, that move me to tears and send chills down my spine every time I experience them. This is one of them.

I am of the opinion, that in the coming years, this story will become one of those stories that people refer to when they talk about things that moved them in a special way. I encourage everyone to hear this tale at least once.



An angry crew

March 31, 2010

Was talking to a friend who runs the Angry Guild Leader site the other day. Seems a lot of angry people have a lot of things to say, mostly about World of Warcraft. Seems like a trend lately, with nearly every post I see on blogs about this mmo turning into a rant. What is it about this game that has made so many people unhappy?

Anyway, I looked up some blogs and found a considerable amount of ones that are titled the “angry” raider, gamer, whatever. In the interest of curiosity, I thought I would post them here. Most of them are not even active, by the way. Which just goes to prove you cant stay mad forever. ;D

  1. Angry Guild Leader –  the original, orange and black site with various game reviews, guild leadership tips, awesomeness, etc.
  2. Angry Raid Leader – a site where the guy stayed upset off and on for about a year, then tapered off. Now he is living in Vegas and doing the kind of stuff that people do in Vegas. (side note, if what happens in Vegas, STAYS in Vegas, what do the locals do?)
  3. One Angry Gamer – a blog where the guy posted every few weeks for a few years, then signed off. He reported that he worked his anger issues out and had other blog projects.
  4. The Angry Raider – lost his love for MMO’s, and thus, lost his anger.
  5. The Angry Gamer Blog – apparently the now-defunct parent site that spawned The Ban Stick, wherein the author discusses how he is going to be doing table top gaming again. Very soon. He’s also got a podcast and updates fairly often about various games. nice site.
  6. The Angry Butterfly – Because you should be able to raid end game and love your spec too. The site title says it all. A nicely written, fairly often updated blog about a gamer in World of Warcraft.
  7. Angry Healers – I love the name of site, for obvious reasons. The subtitle reads, ‘Letting you die of your stupid since 2009″. Interesting. She is still blogging and raiding, by the way.
  8. Angry Rant News – last post, August 2009. About Ozzy playing at Blizzcon. Apparently they got a sponsor and stopped writing in favor of pod casting. Looks like radio killed the blogging stars.