[LOTRO] Release delayed for Rohan, NDA dropped

Another brief post: The next LOTRO expansion has been pushed back from the beginning of September to October 15th.

But what is more interesting is that Turbine have dropped the NDA so beta testers have been coming forwards with their opinions on the new expansion. And the buzz is very positive indeed. I’ve picked out a few quotes here:

They have captured Rohan perfectly. The art and the music is incredible. It is all greens and browns, rolling hills, crystal streams.

My favorite part of the expansion so far is Volume III, Book 7 of the epic quest. I won’t spoil anything for you, but I’ll just say that this is the closest we’ve come to the Fellowship in a long, long time, and MadeOfLions and his team have done a great job of really bringing the story to life. It is probably the most immersive experience I’ve encountered so far in LOTRO.

This expansion really reminds you you are playing Lord of the Rings. It is lore central. Which leads me to the incredible job @MadeOfLions has done with the epic Book 7, which for me is the best book of them all.

I haven’t been this excited about an expansion release since Mines of Moria. It may be buggy still, but I absolutely am addicted to Mounted Combat. Rohan is an amazing, expansive region.

As someone who loves cosmetics and the cosmetic system, I am really overjoyed that my character can now dress up his horse to exactly fit his current outfit. You can mix and match blankets, head gear, back gear and leg gear and dye them in a lot of different colors, and then use different saddles as well as specify different colors for your horse’s coat and mane and tail to create the perfect horse for your current look.

The music is great. (Kudos to getting Chance Thomas back. The recycling of old zone music for Isengard was horrible and very low class. This, on the other hand, is very top notch. Bravo.)

The new mounted combat system is going to be the make or break part of the expansion. Beta testers mostly seemed to really like it, although people also noted that there was a learning curve and that since players are expected to level their new warmounts, there is a lot of grinding in the expansion. People also noted bugs and hoped that Turbine will be able to use the extra time before release to get those sorted out.

But mostly I wanted to highlight that amongst all the other MMOs being released this autumn, it may be that Turbine are onto a winner here and LOTRO players may want to check this one out when they have time.

[SWTOR] So the NDA is down, ‘open’ beta weekend looming. Also GW2 and Torchlight 2 delayed. What’s a girl gonna do?

I’ve been racking my brains on what to say about SWTOR as the fansite NDA went down last week and my RSS feed filled up with previews and opinions from people who have already experienced the beta.

I’ll link to a few here, it’s just a subset of the many good posts out there since most of them reiterate similar points.

Randomessa’s reflections (she discusses why she won’t be playing the game when it goes live.)

It turns out that I simply do not have the patience for staying in one environment that Bioware demands of me. […] I love me some well-crafted and portrayed lore and cutscenes, but at least in most MMOs I’ve played I have a variety of locales I can move through in a relatively brisk manner, or, barring that, a variety of activities I can undertake to advance, even within the same environment.

Keen and Graev on their plans for playing SWTOR but skipping the endgame. (To be fair, I don’t think the endgame was available in the beta so this is based on conjecture.)

SWTOR is worth buying because it has the qualities of every other Bioware RPG.  If you bought Dragon Age Origins or Mass Effect and had fun, and you like or tolerate themepark MMOs, then SWTOR is no different. From what I have seen, I fear the end-game will be just like WoW.  I’m not a fan of raiding for gear and I don’t like repeating the same raid over and over.  That truly is the end-game for me now — that’s where I’ll end playing the game.

MMO Gamer Chick writes a very thorough preview and explains why she loved it, but also notes that it isn’t a revolutionary game.

I’m a gamer of fairly flexible tastes, and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I had with this game. Despite some nitpicky issues I had, in general my overall view of SWTOR is extremely positive.

[…] as you level up, the combat gets a lot more interesting. By the mid 20s, I was really getting into it. And by 50, I was having a ton of fun.

[Planets] are HUGE. So huge, you will be crying tears of joy by the time you get to buy your first speeder. Quest indicators on the map are almost a necessity; otherwise, the game is so big you’d never be able to figure out where to go.

Kalliope focusses on the tradeskills:

My overall impression of professions in SWTOR is that they closely model WoW crafting. There are a few improvements such as the reverse engineering ability, the enhancement option and crew missions, but the skill levelling and procurement processes are quite similar. They also seem to have the same gated structure to the levelling process that makes crafting prohibitive to non-adventurers in most games.

Rohan @ Blessing of Kings enjoyed the game a lot but has issues with some of the mechanics. (I think this is pretty much a given for a Bioware RPG.)

The quests and storyline, and general solo play is amazing. I really enjoyed that and I look forward to fully exploring the game when it releases. Also, I’d like to reiterate that I loved Light-Side Sith.

But mechanically, it feels like there are a lot of design issues. These don’t really matter for solo play, but I think the crucible of group and endgame play will expose a lot of flaws.


Mostly I am finding that my previous expectations of the game are borne out by players. So top marks to Bioware for sending out the right messages with their hype. All I ask of hype is that it be entertaining and not give misleading impressions.

One note that Randomessa highlights in her post is that the different class storylines play very differently. She was conflicted in that the class whose story she preferred wasn’t the one whose combat gameplay she liked best.

I strongly suggest to prospective players that you pick your class based on the storyline. That’s going to be the strength of this game. Don’t end up saying ‘I played an X even though I liked the story that goes with Y better.’

I know my goal during open beta weekend, if I have time, is to play enough of the classes to get a feel for which story I am going to find most compelling.

Delays in the pipeline

In other news, Guild Wars 2 sounds as though it’s likely to be at least a year out from going live based on comments made during NCSoft’s latest earning call. Although if their beta is still due to start this year, that would leave them with an unusually long beta ….

Torchlight 2 is officially delayed now as well, I wish Runic all the best with the game and look forwards to play it when it does come out. But it’s bad news for them if they can’t get T2 out before Diablo 3.

Blizzard finally flexes some NDA muscle

Yesterday Blizzard decided to clear up what  a Non Disclosure Agreement actually means, and asked mmo-champion to remove the Cataclysm Alpha information.

Two points come to mind first:

1. The NDA isn’t just a legal agreement

When a beta is under NDA, in the gaming world it mostly means in practice that people agree not to talk about anything they have seen or heard from anyone else about it. Think of it as a gentleman’s agreement with the vague possibility of legal action behind it. Truth is, any legal action is going to ask, “how much damage in $$$ did this leak actually do” and it would be hard to  justify that a gaming NDA leak made much of a difference to the bottom line. As a lot of people have commented, it may actually raise interest and awareness.

So if we keep the NDA, it’s either because we can’t get the information or else out of a sense of goodwill. So for all Blizzard have likely sent legal letters to Boubouille (owner of mmo-champion), they equally could just have asked him formally to take the information down without any threats at all. Most fansites would comply.

So what does an NDA really signify? Just that the game is at a stage in development when the owners would rather people not discuss the details – probably because they’re either still in flux or they’re worried about bad reviews. In this case, bad reviews won’t be an issue. WoW is WoW.

And if you run a blog or fansite, all you need to decide is whether you support that or not. It’s nothing to do with whether you actually signed a legal agreement. “This game is in NDA” signifies a stage in development.  I’ll prefer to comply with NDAs –– obv. much easier when I’m not in the beta anyway – unless they’re doing something which I feel I need to break in the gamer public interest.

2. You know, Blizzard have actually released a lot of OFFICIAL information about Cataclysm

If we could stop talking about half-cut priest talents and new screenshots of Mulgore (which look surprisingly like the current version) for a moment, there is a lot of official blue information around about Cataclysm.

  • We’ve had class previews – which did mention a lot of the talents that people are busy ‘analysing’ from alpha build.
  • We’ve had previews of zones.
  • We’ve had previews of instances.
  • We’ve had previews of the new races.

I don’t see any special reason why people need to go searching out alpha data on warez sites that will infect their computers with dreaded lurgy (this was one of the arguments in favour of leaks being on ‘official’ fansites). What more could they need to know? You really want to see half-baked talents that are probably going to be tweaked several times even before beta?

Also, I freaking hate the argument that ‘well, if we didn’t leak it they’d just go and get it anyway from more dangerous sources’. It’s like saying that software vendors should just give away their code because people will only go pirate it and the poor pirating babies might pick up a nasty virus along the way.

Hello? If you go pirating software or poking around for alpha leaks, then don’t complain if you pick up a computer virus.