Updates! LOTRO, CoH, Glitch, SWTOR, and stuff

meand saruman

Most of my gaming time this week (sadly, not enough) has been spent in LOTRO. My impression of Isengard so far is that Turbine have done a good job of providing ‘more of the same.’ That’s not a bad thing per se, it means that the zones feel well designed, the storylines are engaging, the PvE flow is good, and I haven’t seen the servers this busy for a long time. I’m enjoying how the burglar plays, as long as I don’t compare it to any other class. There are a few minor tweaks that improve dps, and the new Isengard skills involve updates to existing skills which make stealth more appealing (can riddle from stealth, get automatic crits from stealth, etc). As a QK burglar, I’m happy enough.

Although there are definitely other classes which are tougher in PvE, what I love about my burglar is that when I die in PvE, I can usually stop and think and try another approach and then succeed. The class has a large toolset. And that’s one of the things I enjoy.

One of the things that works well for Turbine’s storytelling in these zones  is that Middle Earth legitimately has poor communications across the regions (unless you cheat and use a palantir or MMO mail/ chat channels). Also the ring quest is secret and no one is supposed to know much about the rangers. So this means that when you rock up to a village and no one knows who you are, but they see that you look like a seasoned fighter who has come in their time of need, it’s plausible. It also means that you end up feeling like the man/woman with no name, which is actually pretty cool.

I’ve encountered Saruman in an epic storyline (yes, I was expecting someone taller too), and I’m enjoying the swashbuckling look of the Dunland clothing, as modelled on my burglar above. And through the wonders of cosmetic clothing, she can keep looking like a female version of Errol Flynn for as long as I want. Wish I could get those boots iRL.

Turbine have a very cool dev blog about how they develop their epic storylines, recognising that players will want to visit key locations from the books and encounter key characters.

As we design the Epic Story for LOTRO, the biggest consideration is something we call T-Factor. The more Tolkien something feels, the more T-Factor it’s said to have. All the most iconic characters and places in The Lord of the Rings are considered to be the “Biggest T.” In all things, but especially in the Epic Story, we’re aiming for lots and lots of Big T.

I’m a great fan of tea.

City of Heroes

CoH is in full F2P mode now, and my beloved is encouraging me to jump back in and have a go. Because I used to subscribe, my account still has some of the veteran rewards, mostly costume pieces or minor (but quality of life enhancing) abilities. I hear a lot of good things about the F2P revamp and it’s definitely on my list of things to do when I have more time.

Anyone have any feedback on how the game is feeling at the moment?

Glitch

Other people have written about their experiences with Glitch, which is a side scrolling flash-based browser game with zones and crafting and things to collect. I’m struggling to really call it a MMO but I think it probably has to qualify. Lots of players can play simultaneously and communicate with each other, it has zones and quests, and customisable characters.

I hung out in the game for about an hour and found it fun but I’m not sure I feel very compelled to go back. I can understand why people compare Glitch with Facebook games (there is something of Farmville in the point-and-click and you-can-only-collect-cherries-once-per-day), but for me it has more in common with Kingdom of Loathing. And a fairly complex skill tree system that probably has more in common with EVE than anything else I’ve seen.

I will definitely aim to spend more time with Glitch, if only to understand better why some of my friends like it so much. I don’t really find much of interest yet in the virtual world, which probably says more about what I like in MMOs than anything else.

It is free to play and you can spend money to buy credits to customise your character etc etc. I have 3 spare invites so feel free to leave a message if you want one.

SWTOR

Anyone else excited about SWTOR? Among the blogs I read, I sometimes feel as though I’m the only one. I haven’t seen the beta so I’m just basing this on what I’ve read, but really, if you like Bioware’s RPGs and are expecting more of the same with full voice acting, Old Republic setting, sub model and extra MMO-like stuff borrowed heavily from WoW which you may or may not like, and find that appealing I don’t see a reason to pass on it. I’ve said this before but I do expect a LOT of the storytelling in this game, and since that’s one of my great interests I can’t wait.

I know there is a large probability that I will be bored after 3 months, but I now know that this is because I’m /usually/ bored of a new MMO after 3 months. The test for me is whether I want to dip in again after having played at the start and taken a long break.

In my case, given the current workload, I think it may take me longer than 3 months to get to max level anyway.

WoW

In my view, the main issue with WoW is (and maybe has always been) that the devs can’t quite settle on which type of customer/ player they are aiming at. This means that if you find one expansion or patch is absolutely perfect for your playstyle, it’s practically guaranteed that this will change on the next content update. Blizzard really struggle on the idea of providing more of the same.

Over Wrath and Cataclysm, they seem to have been changing tack more and more often, so it’s not surprising if the player base (which usually reacts to changes approximately a year or so after they happen) is feeling restless and uncertain. When I say that the player base has a delayed reaction, I mean that social structures designed for one type of play tend to endure even after the game changes.

This is why raid guilds continue to fall apart. WoW hasn’t really been that holy grail of hardcore raid games for awhile, probably not since TBC. This is because part of the hardcore raid appeal was being able to see content and lore which others didn’t, and hard versions of existing raid instances don’t really fill the same niche.

I actually think that they’re now settling into a new model, and hopefully they’ll stick with it long enough that people can at least decide where they’re at for more than one patch at a time. The new model is: new or returning players can jump in at any patch and easily gear for raiding, raid and instance content available via PUGs to all players, and hard modes for hardcore players. There is a squeezed middle here but as Tobold says, maybe they aren’t the player base you’re looking for. With WoW, you always have to ask: who is this content aimed at?

The new Looking for Raid finder is going to be great for anyone who wants to see the last raid of the expansion (and kill Deathwing) and isn’t in a hardcore raid guild. The LFR version of the raid is going to be easier than normal mode (which is likely to still be pretty hard, if Firelands was anything to go by) and should fill the purpose of getting everyone to see the content.

I don’t know how this will affect raid guilds but I suspect casual raids in particular will be hit hard. If you have the choice of raiding regularly with a casual guild that struggles through the normal modes or hitting up the LFR (which has no raid lock so can be done multiple times per week if you’re desperate to grind it and gear up that way) I think people will tend to drift to LFR unless the social aspect of the regular raids is stellar.

As to why they put in a special legendary weapon and questline just for rogues, I have no clue. I imagine part of the questline will require hardmode raiding, so that narrows the possible user base even more. Having legendaries be rare is fine, but a whole epic questline just for one class still feels like an odd way to go about things to me.

Another thing to note is that the new instances will be dropping gear of equivalent level to normal firelands drops. That probably signals the death of firelands raids once the new patch drops.

EVE

Syncaine thinks it is awesome that the CCP CEO has apologised to EVE players and decided to actually focus on creating content that they want.

I think that if I was playing a sub game where the only new content I’d had for a year was something lame that NO ONE wanted, I’d expect an apology too. And if they’re so bad at listening to the player base (less large than you’d think given the number of players with two or more accounts) that they need grandstanding tactics by players on an egoboo to draw their attention to basic things like this, then why are they running an MMO in the first place?

The nearest equivalent I can think of is that LOTRO had a fallow patch when the devs were working on the unannounced F2P conversion. That was shocking too, but at least people could see that the F2P conversion was actually done in the best interests of keeping the game viable. Unlike a new CPU-eating character generator used only in a single room for each player.

One of the side effects of the rise of the F2P model is that it does make players think about what they expect from a subscription model in a game.

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31 thoughts on “Updates! LOTRO, CoH, Glitch, SWTOR, and stuff

  1. WoW-wise, I think it’s interesting how much more sense it would make to the outside world (e.g. us) if we knew what ball Blizzard devs were following. They have access to the internal numbers, and I think it would be kinda ridiculous to believe that the gyrations we see are not directly addressing the numbers they see. Imagine if it turned out TBC had a 50% churn rate, and Wrath/Cata dropped it to 30% – theoretically a vast improvement that no outsider would ever know about.

    Then again, I can see the counter-argument that once the devs start following the numbers instead of leading them, the war is already lost.

    • They do seem to be trying to be more open, given all the recent Ghostcrawler watercooler chats. But I’m not sure they really address the general roadmap.

  2. CoH-wise, I downloaded the new installer, tinkered with the revised character creator (all the same stuff as before, just somewhat better organized overall, although I do miss the option to see the details of all the powers in a powerset before making my final choice – if it’s still there, it’s non-obvious), ran the new unisex tutorial, which is a lot more streamlined than the old hero/villain tutorials (you make your alignment choice about two-thirds of the way through), then ran into a looping error trying to download the assets for Atlas Park. The installer downloaded them, claimed a version mismatch, deleted everything, re-downloaded the character creator and tutorial, then hit the same problem with Atlas (and Mercy). After four or five tries I gave up and uninstalled, so can’t comment on the changes to the low-level game (or anything else past the tutorial).

  3. SWTOR-wise, I’ve noticed the bloggers I’ve read for a long time being down on the game as well. “More of the same” will apparently be the kiss of death… But I am excited about it too as are most of the folks I know who are actively playing at least one MMO right now. I have noticed that those who seem completely burnt out on the genre are likely to be in the “meh” column. When they do articulate exactly how they want the games to change (some don’t or can’t).. no loot, twitchier combat, no linear quests, for example — I don’t see much in the game they are looking for me or my other friends. If they want to play some other type of game completely, more power to them, but I’ll stick with the unwashed masses.

    I am excited and will in all likelihood spring for six months — my usual “give the game a chance” sub choice. If they DID add a lifetime sub, I’d spring for that to round out my three favorite IPs. I have always felt I got my money’s worth with LOTRO and STO lifetime subs. I’m spending what gaming time I have right now in STO because I’d set up voice activation as a Geek thing, so it is possible to play with a broken arm. ‘}

  4. CoH is still mostly the same game you played before, with a lot of things making you think “they really got this right.”

    -You now get travel powers at level 4 (and they now require no wasted prerequisite powers).
    -The fitness pool is now inherent at level 2 (yes, full stamina at level 2).
    -Any AT can be played on either faction.
    -You now get full xp when you exemplar down level.
    -All teams now automatically force team members to sidekick up or exemplar down to the team leader’s level (meaning all teams have everyone fighting at the same or -1 level, regardless of actual level).
    -If you promote someone else as team leader, the entire team changes level (so you can immediately do someone else’s missions of a different level).

    The vast majority of powersets are available for free, likely any you remember. It is only a few of the newest ones which require VIP (or a one-time charge).

    With your veteran rewards, you will likely get 2 attack powers which are very useful at lower levels, and a couple of respecs, in addition to all the costume slots, etc.

    When you play for free, you are given 2 character slots (actually, I was given 4, which I assume is through veteran rewards, but I can’t vouch for what you’ll get). You “use” each one to “activate” either an old character or a new free slot. If you enjoy playing alts, even with 4 this does feel limiting. You can buy 5 more slots for $20, but that seems drastically overpriced to me (it’s more than the whole subscription!).

    The consignment house/black market (aka auction house) is probably the worst economic/market system in any online game. However, this means it is easily exploitable for buyers. As a seller, just vendor any enhancement you can’t use (even if it would be super useful to someone else). This is actually a relief in practice, because you don’t have to worry about any “lost profit” or anything when you don’t screw with auctioning.

    That’s all I can think of right now, but I’m sure there’s more. It’s free, so I see no reason not to check it out yourself.

  5. The Rogue quest legendary is probably down to an effort to get more people play Rogues. They began dropping to the least played class somewhere round the start of WotLK and DPS equalisation despite not really having a significant mechanical change since Vanilla.

    And, thinking on it, it mostly comes down to the fact they’re a difficult class to do anything ‘cool’ for. Their gear tends be fairly subdued unlike big loud shields and staffs and plate armor. Consider the last really iconic looking rogue weapon was way back in Molten core, for example.

    So, yeah. A legendary seems as good a place to go as any.

    • Why does it matter if more people play rogues? I don’t believe in leaving a class underbalanced so if there are balance issues they should be fixed, but surely a pure melee dps/ stealther was always going to be a minority enthusiasm?

  6. > Having legendaries be rare is fine, but a
    > whole epic questline just for one class
    > still feels like an odd way to go about
    > things to me.

    It doesn’t matter if the legendary is only for one class or if it would be an item which every class could use. In the end it would still be only one single player per raid doing it.

    Having legendaries be rare is fine, but a whole epic questline just for one PLAYER PER RAID still feels like an odd way to go about things to me.

      • I’m just saying that if they’d put in cool epic questlines for all classes, it would do a lot to draw people back, rather than have most of them sitting around thinking, “Why them and not me?”

      • But how many people did the caster staff draw back in? How likely was it to get back into raiding and be selected by your raid as the wielder of this awesome legendary?

        Legendary questlines will always be “Why them and not me?” for the majority of the player base. That’s why I think they are stupid. There should be rare legendaries or awesome questlines that can be done by everyone.

      • The thing being people are going to complain and be resentful about whatevers implemented anyway, so why take that into the equation at this point?

        It’s also worth noting that since the announcement of the legendary, on the servers I’m on at least so take that for what it’s worth, there’s been an upsurge in the number of rogues a lot of whom are wearing BC raid gear, which kind of tells you something about the state of rogues, compared to before when you were lucky to see a rogue and even luckier to see a non-pvp one.

  7. I wish I could be excited about SW:TOR; really I do. I have my suspicions as to why it just isn’t doing it for me, but the fact that I wasn’t a BioWare fan to begin with is probably a large contributing factor (not that I actively dislike what they do, I just can’t get into single-player games and so my attempts at DA:O and KOTOR 1/2 were abortive and I didn’t experience all the great stuff everyone else gushes about). In addition the more I learn about GW2 the more I wish SW:TOR had leaned farther in that direction than the WoW one, and it’s taken what little wind was remaining out of my sails.

    Then again, it took 5 years for LOTRO to click with me (another game I really wanted to love but just couldn’t find a way to until now), so who knows what the future holds?

  8. To my mind …there is only one playstyle Blizz is interested in currently with WoW, and that’s raiding. And this is why I left the game.

  9. From everything I see about swtor it looks/sounds awesome. Maybe I’m biased because I love mmo’s, played WoW for years and also loved kotor and bioware games. Even if it isn’t perfect at launch I have enough faith in bioware that they will improve it with each patch.

    If I remember correctly, there was a big uproar when the game was announced because it wasn’t a singleplayer game. Since those same people can no longer make that complaint without sounding like they’re five steps behind their own asses they’re venting their negativity and anguish at being forced to play an mmo by bashing it.

    Another big reason for the negativity is that bioware has been inviting the people who did not preorder to the beta at a ratio of 10:2 by multiple surveys. The result is they’ve invited the people that don’t plan to buy or play the game, but happened to have forum accounts. Smells like an EA marketing strategy to try and milk every last subscriber that was executed in the most dickhole manner possible as far as a games pre-release reputation is concerned.

  10. One of the best phrases i hear describing WoW these days was ”mixed messages”. It’s so true. ”We want raids to be hard, no, casual, and hard, no, casual, medium and hard! We want heroics to be a tougher, guild based effort-no, no we want to push LFD now…” and that’s just some of it.

    The problem is, they seem to be struggling to save-and I use the term save very, very VERY loosely-if wow were to lose half its subs next month it would still be the biggest MMO out there, it’s not going away until they pull the plug- the game from something that I feel they really can’t save it from, and that’s age. They’re basically trying to fight old age right now and it’s, IMO, a losing battle. No matter what they do to the game it’s no longer new and shiny. Now, if they were to give the game a complete and total visual overhaul I suppose it could drag in some people who like a lot of pretty in their MMOs, but it wouldn’t change the fact they’re still trying new things again and again. Even then, the new visual coat of paint would be hiding that the car is still a 1980s pimp caddy-it’s tough, it’s going to last a long time, and some people really like them but it’s *old*.

    I also think they’re afraid if they don’t change at all people will leave faster-and this is likely true, however, they can’t seem to get that changing too much can have the same effect. They have no sense of balance anymore it seems that I honestly think they had before. Changes came but they were slower and more moderate.

    I admit to being very curious to what we’re going to see at Blizzcon this year in terms of the WoW panel.

  11. I’m glad at least one blogger I’ve come across can understand why Glitch can be called a Facebook game. A recent post on Massively scolds all of us who would speak such blasphemy. It has nothing to do with the fact that you can Facebook connect, but everything with the click-click time-sink nature of the game. I found it disappointing that there were absolutely no character animations aside from walking and jumping… just waiting for bars to fill, for every activity. Seems an awful lot like Facebook-style games to me.

    • That’s because Beau has really strong biases and he tends to play different types of games in the first place, I don’t think he’s a great MMO reviewer because he’s not really able to see things from other points of view.

      • Amen, sister! He’s a terrible reviewer for that reason. It reminds me of a line from a Saturday Night Live skit years ago, “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!”, except in his case, replace “Scottish” with “F2P”.

        I have zero desire to play Glitch based on what I’ve seen.

  12. It’s interesting that you have been feeling like most of the SWTOR blog chatter has been negative, as most of what I’ve been reading (blogs and twitter) has been on the exuberant side of the scale.

    I’m getting antsy waiting for SWTOR to launch, and have been dabbling in a few other MMOs (tho nothing is sitcking), and even put in some time on my neglected WoW alts. But after 5 1/2 years with WoW as my primary gaming fix, I’m waiting for something else to truly grab me the way it did initially. I’m hoping that SWTOR will be that game.

    • Yeah, I’m sure it says more about the blogs I read than about the general vibe for the game :) MMO dinos are possibly more likely to have ideas about their perfect virtual world which would be the apex of MMO evolution and to get wound up when a new game doesn’t seem to be going in that direction.

      When I’ve seen them demonstrating it at conventions, it’s been massively popular. And I KNOW Bioware, KOTOR, and Star Wars in general have huge fanbases, and I’m sure story-based RPGs do also.

      I suspect strongly that for all the vibes around Guild Wars 2 (and I also think it sounds great), many people will also be disappointed with how similar to WoW it feels in play when they get to try it.

      • I’m personally not so sure that GW2 is going to be very similar to WoW. I mean, okay. I suppose you’ll have abilities you can put on a bar, but many, many MMOs have that, including ones that are nothing like WoW-I’ve been playing Rusty Hearts, for example, casually, and you can put abilities on a bar in that.

        If anything, GW2 seems to be going for the ‘anti-WoW’. No fixed roles, scaling content, loot for everyone, non gear-reliant PvP, sidekicking, emphasis off generic quest grinding and so many other things seems like it’s trying to actually do things that people who are sick of the WoW model have been asking for.

        The only thing I can potentially maybe see is that it falls into trying to be as much not WoW as possible that it ends up feeling like WoW, only not WoW. If that makes sense. :p But I honestly thing, while GW2 will feel like an MMO, I am not seeing too much WoW-Cloning yet in it. At the same time, I’ve been going on videos, reviews, and the like-I haven’t gotten to try any of the demos from the cons, but even then it seems that it’s a lot more active than a typical bar rotation/priority system kind of thing. Actually, I remember, Spinks, didn’t you get to try it at Gamescom? How exactly was it a WoW-clone from someone who got to try a demo firsthand? Was it a ‘hotbar’ based combat that felt like it or?

      • Argh, had a reply and then accidentally erased it ;/

        I did enjoy the GW2 demo and am really keen to try the game. It reminded me more of Warhammer Online than anything else (which I still think is an under rated game that brought a lot of new and innovative tweaks to the basic MMO model), and I think that if people are really tired of the old DIKU MMO this may not be different enough to really satisfy them, even with the interesting new takes that Arena net is bringing to the table. I know I only saw a very basic low level version of the combat system but it wasn’t immediately feeling different to any other MMO.

        I am particularly intrigued by their ideas about the multiple guilds and social interaction, and the underwater stuff. And of course the art looks absolutely stunning. I think it will become evident that the game is going to be more like WoW than GW1 in many ways.

        For storylines, I think Bioware will do it better. Switching spec by switching weapon is an interesting mechanic but unless you are required to do it often in combat (in which case this will feel a lot like FF13) it’s very similar in concept to spec switching in WoW.

  13. Samus sums up CoH nicely, pretty much the same game but with some welcome tweaks. I wouldn’t solo in there for extended periods, despite some new (to me) arcs with a bit of interesting story stuff the fundamental gameplay is a bit ho-hum on your own, but for eight-person AoE-heavy mayhem it’s still glorious. Van Hemlock has a group going on Mondays, if anyone fancies.

  14. I wonder if some of the SWTOR skepticism is related to Rift. My impression was that Rift got alot of positive talk, but once out didn’t have enough (for some) to differentiate it. The fear is that SWTOR will fall into the same trap.

  15. Botched updates-wise, I had to think of WoW’s infamous “voice patch” 2.2. It felt like it was in development and testing for ages, and voice chat was the only big feature it rolled out with. A feature that to this day, I have seen in use maybe two times. People don’t want to talk to random strangers, and organized guilds still have ventrilo, because it’s not bound to certain activities in a certain game.

    You think that would’ve been pretty obvious, but somehow it wasn’t to whoever was in charge.

  16. Pingback: Exaggerations… » How to Murder Time

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