Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Way Late News Announcements... at 11.

Seriously, I've been a wee bit busy and haven't had the chance to mention this, but Chance Thomas is returning to score the LOTRO soundtrack for Mordor.

Considering I really liked his previous work for LOTRO, I'm happy to see this.

Here's the link to the livestream interview and announcement:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Speaking of Anniversaries...

...Age of Conan is 9 this year.

Yes, the MMO that garnered more discussion about it's M rating --and the accompanying violence and nudity-- than anything about Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age setting is about to hit double digits in age next year.

I, like a lot of players, got the 9th Anniversary e-mail which included the goodies of an instant L80 for all accounts that were in good standing prior to the event's start, and I figured "why not?" My Barbarian was still mired in the mid-50s, and the grind that I'd need to do in order to get simply to L60 seemed daunting enough that the lure of having a max level toon was simply too much to pass up.

This time, I decided I'd try something a bit closer to a more traditional MMO class, the Conqueror melee DPS class. I also decided to balance the masculinity of my traditional Cimmerian Barbarian with a female Cimmerian Conqueror.

It was during the character creation that I became reacquainted with one of Age of Conan's more eyebrow raising aspects: bust adjustment.

The fact that AoC has that isn't necessarily the issue here, since Aion has it as well, but that AoC felt the need to go in the direction of what I'd call the voluptuous model of female toon design. While AoC's female design allows you to adjust the body to go from practically emaciated to heavily muscled, the bustline pretty much starts at a "C" cup and goes all the way to "you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me".

Because apparently that's how Cimmerians roll.

Cimmerians are not easily amused.*

The oldest mini-Red stopped by right after character creation --and, thankfully, after I'd put the gear on the newly minted toon after zoning in-- to check out the scenery.

"At least the gear covers her up," she said with a critical eye. "I was thinking that there'd be almost nothing there."

I snorted. "That's because I'm wearing heavy armor. There'd be a lot less there if I was playing a Necromancer or a Barbarian."

"Still, it could be worse."

Then another new L80 toon ran by, gearless.


"Yeah," I said. "Like that. You can make all of the gear disappear in vanity armor." I demonstrated by removing leg armor and a few other pieces in the vanity armor tab. "You can always tell the oversexed teenage boys by the lack of armor the female toons wear."

"Absolutely. Why do you play it, then?"

"Because I really liked the Conan short stories and I enjoy the world that Robert E. Howard created, warts and all. And in spite of the obvious oversexed nature of the women, the MMO does allow female toons and NPCs to be powerful people. Plus, the scenery is amazing."

I headed out to Connall's Valley for a view from the waterfall atop the village.

Like what I remembered, the new graphics card handled the scenery at max levels with aplomb. I still shake my head as to why LOTRO has issues when SWTOR and AoC don't, but that's something I can't control.

Far below is a Cimmerian village.

AoC was as beautiful as I remembered when I played it more regularly.

"Wow," the oldest mini-Red whispered.

"Yeah. The scenery is pretty amazing."

"Why'd you stop playing it so much?"

"It was getting too grindy. You know how it is grinding deeds in LOTRO? That's a walk in the park compared to AoC's grinding for levels. And on top of it, the respawn rate is so quick that you have to spend so much time fighting through an area just to need to fight back when you're done."

"That sounds like you have to group up to get even basic things done."

"That's about right. And when you play late at night, your grouping options aren't necessarily the greatest." I scratched my beard, considering. "Still, I might have to give it more of a go now with this toon, since she's already at max level."

My oldest patted me on the shoulder. "Good luck, Dad."

*What, you expected me to post Larethe as she was when she first zoned in? Sorry, but no. While I'm quite aware that over in Europe toplessness isn't considered as big a deal as over in the States, I'm still not planning on crossing that line.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The End of one Road, but another Road is Just Beginning

This past weekend brought several big events, only one of which was MMO related.

First, mini-Red #3 graduated from middle school and will be joining her brother at high school this fall. To put this in perspective, she had just entered 1st Grade at elementary school when Souldat and I started PC back in the Fall of 2009, so the majority of her life I've been blogging about MMOs.*

She still has that same tank-like attitude of "come at me, bro!" that she's displayed in gaming, and her drive is for perfection in whatever she tackles, whether it is gaming or playing percussion. I've occasionally thought about letting the rest of her companions in the Drumline know what they're getting with her, but then I smile and shrug and say to myself "Nah, let them find out for themselves."

Second, mini-Red #1 has graduated from high school and will be attending university in the fall. As you may have surmised by reading the blog, she is going to major in Music Performance. I know she's got at least four years of college ahead of her and then potentially graduate school, so only the first part of her educational journey is complete. But still, she's persevered in the face of adversity and I'm really proud of her (and her sister). She's had plenty of mentors along the way, and they've helped her at critical junctures in her education, and I'll always be grateful for their work. I can freely acknowledge that I don't have any real experience with dealing with someone so obsessed with music and making a difference in people's lives, so their assistance was invaluable.**

Finally, mini-Red #1 finally finished the LOTRO Shadows of Angmar Epic Questline, several years after she began playing LOTRO. She was stuck for the longest time on an instance in Angmar, where it's an escort quest that the NPC she was escorting kept dying because (as a Hunter) she couldn't pull either DPS down the enemies or at least pull aggro quickly enough. Pairing up with her brother, she was finally able to get over that hump and keep going on the Epic Questline. She already knew what to expect, because a (now banned) player on our server started blabbing to people randomly about spoilers in the story, but even then the instances after that point still brought out the feels. She also wasn't thrilled that the final boss fights took well over 15 minutes each to win, but win she did and that was that.

In a way, mini-Red #1's success in overcoming obstacles in real life mirrored her eventual in-game success, and I don't think it strictly an accident that both finished at roughly the same time.

I just certainly hope that her university experience is better than what people experience in Moria...

*She's even breached the topic of "when can I start dating?" with us, which freaks me out even more than the mere fact that she's going to be attending high school this fall.

**But in taking after my own heart, she (as well as the other mini-Reds) have developed a love of studying history. I can now talk about historical topics with them and they can hold their own in the discussions. I guess were's multi-talented geeks....

EtA: Added a word to correct a funky sounding sentence.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Late Thursday Humor

It's still before midnight, so it counts.

Anyway, Dorkly occasionally strikes comedy gold with RPG/gamer memes.

And without further ado, 20 Out-of-Context D&D Quotes That Accurately Represent The Game

Like this:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Is Someone up for a Story?

I've been thinking a bit about the rise of livestreaming video games, from the Let's Play videos to the "Teens Play" series to the rise of Twitch.TV. Not that great a surprise, given that people will watch others play video games in much the same way we used to crowd around someone playing Gauntlet or Galaga at the video arcade back in the 80s and marvel at their (lack of) skill.

That said, geek icon Wil Wheaton has been producing his own version of Let's Play for boardgames and RPGs for a few years now. The series, called Tabletop, presents Wil playing games he finds enjoyable with several friends/acquaintances. It gives people a chance to check a game out and see if they're interested in playing it in a lighthearted manner.*

Wil's most recent episode of Tabletop explores a pencil and paper RPG that I've recommended in the past for people who want to stick their toe into the RPG hobby but without being overwhelmed by numbers and tables: FATE Core.

FATE Core uses what is known as the Fudge system to handle random events in the game: four regular six sided dice with two minuses (-), two plusses (+), and two blanks. Minuses and plusses cancel each other out, so you could potentially end up with -4 to +4 as your range. No fuss, no muss. FATE also emphasizes story over mechanics, so the GM works with the players to tell a great story.

Well, enough ado about FATE Core, here's the episode:

Oh, and did I mention that Felicia Day plays with Wil?

*Plus that table he uses, from Geek Chic, is simply amazing. If I had the money AND the room.....

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Happy Anniversary, LOTRO!

It feels kind of weird wishing LOTRO a happy 10th anniversary, since it feels only yesterday that I was wishing the same for WoW.*

The mini-Reds love the Anniversary events and are always pestering me to get more involved, so this time I took a break from grinding deeds and ran across the length and breadth of Middle-earth in the gigantic scavenger hunt that the devs put together for this special occasion.

And crack some skulls.

Being L81 but only up to the Rise of Isengard and the Great River expacs and quest packs, I was kind of shut out of completing most of the scavenger hunt events, but I still crept along as best I could without aggroing too many enemies. Unfortunately for me, I discovered that even neutral animals out in the wild would come from miles around to chase after me if the level difference was high enough, and when I poked my nose out of the Rangers of Ithilien's hideout, I was looking at the scenery only about 10 feet from the opening to discover a deer zipping at me from points unknown.

At least my toon can outrun a deer down a twisting passage if given enough of a head start.

After that little surprise, I decided that asking for a port to some of these locations was not a good idea, because I'd be a smudge on the ground quicker than you can say "WTF??!!!"**

Nice view. Of course, Frodo was a bit distracted
when he was at Amon Hen.

But that didn't stop me from making it to Amon Hen and then attempting to skirt across the length and breadth of Rohan. (And collecting all of the stable locations.)

Not exactly the length and breadth of Rohan,
as it's the Great River, but I found this really cool.

Still, for long time players this was a trip down memory lane that they'll not soon forget. And even though I started up an account shortly after LOTRO went F2P, I didn't really start playing seriously until long after, about 3 years ago.

If there's one thing that I wish about the 10th Anniversary event, it's that it would last an extra week. I'm not that into collecting stuff from the event as far as gear and fashion is concerned, but for some reason the firework event has been very soothing to me, much more so than in years past.

No, this is not an archive screen capture.
I just like fireworks.

Maybe I'm getting old, but... /shrug

I can live with that.

*I blame kids for my amnesia.

**I have had that dubious experience with roving threats. Once when I was shuttling back and forth from Annuminas as part of the endgame for Shadows of Angmar, I parked my toon in what seemed to be a pretty secluded area, free from enemies, while I went to go grab a beer. I came back a minute later to find that I'd been killed, with a roving threat gloating nearby.