Sally Forth in LOTRO – Episode 11

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This episode is a little different in that I primarily just cover the news and my takes on the Echoes of the Dead update.  I should be back on a normal schedule and will get back to my normal news and topic format.  Feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions for a topic.

Also, during this episode I do reference my interview with Aaron “Rowan” Campbell, so if you haven’t listened to that I suggest you take a listen as I do have a bit of a different take from others.

News:

Echoes of the Dead Update:

LOTRO Developer Diary – Battle for Moria

Berephon walks us through the much talked about and long awaited changes to the 2.5.5 Instance group.  This is part of the overall re-vamp of Volume 2 to make it soloable but it slightly different as they’re making these instances fully scalable skirmishes as well.  These fights shape up very well for skirmishes as they share many of the same characteristics, but this still was quite a bit of a change.  Sadly they’re not applying the same touches to the Angmar Battles or the Battle of Lothlorien, but with enough prodding who’s to say what’s possible.

He does a bit to explain why they went the skirmish route as opposed to just applying to the existing sage system. and the short answer is that the skirmish system is the proper place to handle all the right scaling issues.

As for the instances themselves, they occur in the same locations as the originals although slightly different is that with the skirmishes you need to initially do them in a set order with increasing difficulty in each instance, although none terribly difficult on Tier 1.

As for the instances, they do receive various changes:

The Battle of the Deep-way – The story is unchanged but works similar to the Siege of Gondoman with various waves coming towards the 2 control points.  Once 4 waves are defended there’s a final assault on the central point followed by the boss fight.

The Battle of the Way of Smiths – Again the story remains unchanged and the fight itself seems pretty similar with waves attacking one of the three forges.  The final wave appears at the Supervisor’s platform with the boss fight following at the Entrance Hall.

The Battle of the Twenty-first Hall – This instance seems again to remain similar but they did debate quite a bit about what to do with this story which again tells about the expedition eventually failing regardless of what efforts we and the Iron Garrison make.  Waves come to each of the various barricades before forcing retreat to the Northern Hallway with the final boss assault coming at the Chamber of Mazarbul.

Finally with regards to the rewards, we will get a new Campaign Token (shocking I know) which also will bring the Sage of Moria barter items into the Skirmish Vendors.  These items will still be available on the Sage but they’re expanding them to the Skirmish Vendor as well.

Overall a great change and nothing earth shattering in the diary but as always a good read to get their take on the changes.

LOTRO Developer Diary – Solofication of Volume 2

A new voice for today’s diary, Bob “Maurath” Hess walks us through the process of re-working Volume 2 in a similar fashion as Volume 1 such that these first two volumes of the epic line can be solo’d.  Where this gets stickier with Volume 2 is that many of the spaces are also key for group content and quite close to current end-game instances.  As an aside to the diary itself, Bob does give a quick intro which is always nice to get a better feel for who’s doing what and how they work together.

On to the meat of the diary he walks us through the team and the designation of method of breaking up the work into more digestible pieces.

For the entire process they mainly wanted to accomplish the following:

  • Allow for Volume 2 to be completely soloable
  • Allow those same solo players to still experience some of the instances and encounters
  • Smooth out the Volume with regards to difficulty and travel time

In order to do this there’s quite a vast overhaul of all the quest levels for the various pieces of the Volume with it starting at level 53 for Book 2 and ending with volume 9 Chapters 10 and 11 at level 64.

Quest objectives were also tweaked quite a bit in order to accomplish these to resolve the following issues:

  • low mob drop rates
  • poor quest tracker guidance
  • just plain difficult based on the landscape
  • too difficult based on the mobs in the area
  • reworking the travel between objectives

The other big portion of the diary is focusing on the re-vamping of the various instances included in the Volume.  Not only do they want to bring folks into those spaces they also were very concerned with making sure the item drops were appropriate for the group versus solo experience.  Probably the biggest item is that the Cloak of Shadow and Flame will be included in the Book 6 Chapter 8 loot table, even if you run that quest in the solo configuration.

  • 2.4.7 – Drowned Treasury will see little re-work and will utilize Inspired Greatness.
  • 2.6.8 – New Devilry has been tweaked quite a bit to differentiate between the solo/duo experience and the full group experience.
  • 2.8.3/4 – These were kept fairly intact with the addition of inspired greatness (I’m assuming) with the only major change being the removal of the Barter Items in the chest loot.
  • 2.8.6 – another tough one to re-work as this happens inside the Halls of Crafting instance that has been reworked for a solo/duo experience such that it is different from the full group experience.

And don’t forget this diary doesn’t address the changes made to make Volume 2 Book 5 Chapter 5 a series of skirmishes.

Sally Forth in LOTRO – Episode 3

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This episode is a little late due to just being swamped this week, but I should have next week’s episode out on Thursday back on schedule.  As for the length, it is a little longer but that’s mainly due to trying to cover quite a bit of material.

  • News
  • My Week in LOTRO
  • [youtube uV7Y8MqzjyI]
  • Starting to Raid and Group
    • Skirmishes starting at level 20
    • (GB) Great Barrows – 22 (Scalable)
    • (GA) Garth Agarwen – 32
    • Fornost 38+
    • Angmar Instances (50ish)
      • (Uru) Urugarth
      • (CD) Carn Dum
      • (BG) Barad Gularan
    • Annuminas Instances (50ish) (Scalable)
      • Glinghant
      • Ost Elendil
      • Haudh Valandil (Tombs)
    • Volume 2 of the Epic Line
      • 2.4.7
      • 2.5.5
      • 2.6.8
    • Moria Instances
      • (GS) The Grand Stair
      • Forges of Khazad Dum
      • Fil Gashan
      • Skumfil
      • 16th Hall
      • Dark Delvings
    • Lorien Instances
      • (HoC) Halls of Crafting
      • Volume 2 book 8 small fellowship instances
    • Mirkwood Instances
      • Sammuth Gul (6-man)
      • Sword Halls (3-man)
      • Dungeons of Dol Guldur (3-man)
      • Warg Pens (3-man)
    • Raids
      • The Rift of Nurz Ghashu
      • Helegrod
      • Filikul (Turtle Raid)
      • The Vile Maw (Watcher)
      • Dar Narbugud
      • Barad Guldur
  • Starting to Raid and Group
    • Skirmishes starting at level 20
    • (GB) Great Barrows – 22 (Scalable)
    • (GA) Garth Agarwen – 32
    • Fornost 38+
    • Angmar Instances (50ish)
      • (Uru) Urugarth
      • (CD) Carn Dum
      • (BG) Barad Gularan
    • Annuminas Instances (50ish) (Scalable)
      • Glinghant
      • Ost Elendil
      • Haudh Valandil (Tombs)
    • Volume 2 of the Epic Line
      • 2.4.7
      • 2.5.5
      • 2.6.8
    • Moria Instances
      • (GS) The Grand Stair
      • Forges of Khazad Dum
      • Fil Gashan
      • Skumfil
      • 16th Hall
      • Dark Delvings
    • Lorien Instances
      • (HoC) Halls of Crafting
      • Volume 2 book 8 small fellowship instances
    • Mirkwood Instances
      • Sammuth Gul (6-man)
      • Sword Halls (3-man)
      • Dungeons of Dol Guldur (3-man)
      • Warg Pens (3-man)
    • Raids
      • The Rift of Nurz Ghashu
      • Helegrod
      • Filikul (Turtle Raid)
      • The Vile Maw (Watcher)
      • Dar Narbugud
      • Barad Guldur
  • Thanks for the 5-star reviews from Douglas, “Doesn’t seem ad based”, and Gregg!

I also realize that I did leave out a few instances like the School and Library in Eregion and some of the public areas like Goblin Town, Sarnur, and the other reputation areas.

Most likely next week (unless I decide to do something else, and this topic will just slide a week) I’ll talk about the various rewards from these dungeons and what you should be on the lookout for.

LOTRO Holiday Store Sales

First off they’re having a one day 50% sale on stat tomes, so I wouldn’t delay if you want to grab those as that ends at 3AM tomorrow.

They’ve also announced the next two weeks of the 20% items.

Sales items running from 12/23 until 12/30:

  • Shared Wardrobe – 796 Turbine Points
  • Select Clothing – 120+ Turbine Points
  • All Trait Slots – 76+ Turbine Points
  • All Skirmishes – 396 Turbine Points
  • House Decorations – 120 Turbine Points
  • Hope Buffs – 76 Turbine Points
  • Red and Green Dyes – 40+ Turbine Points

Sales Items running from 12/31 until 1/6/2011

  • Evendim Quest Pack – 476 Turbine Points
  • Evendim Map – 40+ Turbine Points
  • Currency Cap – 396 Turbine Points
  • Character Rename – 796 Turbine Points
  • Legendary Item Service – 32+ Turbine Points
  • Ceremonial Ajokoira Garb – 236 Turbine Points

So good stuff in there and quite a number of items that are making me consider carefully what I want and/or need to buy.

LOTRO Store Sales Starting Tuesday Dec. 14th

Just a quick post to let folks know about the latest set of items up for sale on the LOTRO store.

First up, the daily 50% off one item per day continues with the following:

  • Tuesday 12/14 – Tomes of Continuing Experience – 45+ Turbine Points
  • Wednesday 12/15 – Currency Cap increase – 248 Turbine Points
  • Thursday 12/16 – North Downs Quest pack – 298 Turbine Points
  • Friday 12/17 – Valour Virtues – 148 Turbine Points
  • Saturday 12/18 –  Tomes of Continuing Skirmish Marks – 45+ Turbine Points
  • Sunday 12/19 – Evendim Quest Pack – 298 Turbine Points
  • Monday 12/20 – Inventory Bags – 248 Turbine Points

For VIPs, the Valour virtue sticks out for me and for those of you F2P players, I’d highly suggest the North Downs as that will take you quite a ways in the game, well into the mid 30s now that the Lone Lands are free.  Check out the link for the details, but some nice bonuses in there.

Also today (Tuesday) at midnight some of the Yule festival items are also available in the store.  A couple of interesting emotes, a store exclusive mount, and some nice cloaks:

Cloak of Winter Nights – 195 Turbine Points

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Bearskin Winter Cloak – 195 Turbine Points

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Fancy Snow Cloak – 195 Turbine Points

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There are also some other items that are still 20% off until the 16th at midnight Eastern including:

  • Shared Storage – 796 Turbine Points
  • Inventory – 396 Turbine Points
  • Instant Port Maps – 40+ Turbine Points
  • Summon Skirmish Soldier – 52+ Turbine Points
  • Standard Mounts – 396+ Turbine Points
  • Robes and Hauberks – 120+ Turbine Points

More Raid Content on the Horizon?

There’s been a bunch of hype swirling around the F2P launch and in addition, Turbine is slowly leaking out what their game plan is for the upcoming couple of releases.  I’ve pieced this information together from a few sources, but since it hasn’t shown up as an official post of sorts this is certainly subject to change.

The first good source of information was the Massive Online Gamer podcast interview with Kate Paiz talking about LOTRO’s future as well as various F2P tidbits.  Also, Merric from a Casual Stroll to Mordor has posted some of the various links and dev comments.  I’ll also splice in some other forum blue-name posts talking about this as well.

Our first update will come later this year, and I’m guessing it will be late November or early December to try and keep a couple people from the WoW exodus.  Plus that is a pretty popular time for Turbine over the past years with LOTRO.  This will most likely be a similar update to the Enedwaith region with the next book in the Epic Line and hopefully into the Dunland region.  I’m not sure about the region, but I’m pretty confident there will be a content update of some sort around this timeline and not just a book quest line.  I also expect another new skirmish or the possible revamp of the Volume 2 quest line in a similar fashion to what they did with Volume 1.  This also wouldn’t be a bad place to start rolling out the class updates from all the feedback threads, as they’ve talked about spreading those over a few updates.  Certainly not all of this will make it in, but if I toss out enough ideas, one is sure to be right.

The big news for me is the confirmation of the new raid content that will be another instance cluster.  We do know a few things about it as it has been confirmed to be back in Eriador and not story based and completely separate from the Rift, Carn Dum, or Urugarth.  The “not story based” means that it won’t be like the instances added with Enedwaith that were only accessible during the Epic Story Quest line.  This content is slated for the first part of next year (February is my guess), and during the interview it was mentioned that this would be the second update after F2P, which is why I’m slating the first one when I am.  The other big portion of this update is the removal of Radiance, also mentioned in the interview.  I’m thinking that old raids will still have radiance requirements, but the new cluster will have some other mechanism as I talked about previously.  I also expect this cluster to be very similar to the BG cluster with a couple 3-man instances, a 6-man, and a 12-man raid.  And from what has been mentioned, this area should prove to be quite challenging!  I’m pretty sure they’ll continue to have both skirmishes and instances as the skirmish system allows them to do all the instance scaling but the new instances need to have the cool fun loot we all crave.

Overall, I’m pretty excited about all this as it does get us back onto a nice routine of content updates and new raid content.  It also shows that Turbine is planning to maintain a similar update schedule that they’ve done with DDO, which should also be something along the lines of what we saw back in the Shadows of Angmar days.

I’m expecting to start seeing some news in the next week or so since we have the Fall Festival starting tomorrow.

Getting Back on the Leveling Horse

I actually haven’t been able to get in game all that much lately, but over the past week or so that has actually changed and I’ve gotten in some good time on both my Champion and my Warden.

I’ve spent most of my time lately leveling up my Champ, and she’s now almost 39.  For some thoughts on the 15-30 range, make sure to check out my latest post over on LOTRO Reporter.  I still make bad pulls and have not quite gotten used to the champion “oh poop” buttons but I’m slowly but surely getting better.  I do find leveling and questing pretty quick on the Champion as stuff just dies so darn fast!  I’ve mainly been trying to keep my pulls down to just two, only braving three when they’re well below me in levels.  I’m quite enjoying my leveling process as I’ve been bouncing between zones based on the quests trying to cover all the dark blue and white quests where-ever they may be.  I also sprinkle in skirmishes as I’ve been using those to improve my weapons as my Captain has been making my armor so far.  I’ve also been leveling up on Scholar and finally decided that I would join the Scholar’s guild and not worry about Weaponsmith for now.  I figured one painful grind was enough for now.

As for my Warden, I’m still working my way through Enedwaith and really enjoying it.  I’m trying to read everything and pay attention to the quests as there’s some really good stories in there.  Not to mention, the zone just looks gorgeous!  I’m making my way through the epic line, but also trying to make sure I keep pace with what quest hub I’m at such that I don’t get too far ahead.  I did get into an SG run last night (videos coming), but really haven’t done much grouping due to time restrictions and just not feeling all that hot lately.  I do feel quite behind as many are farming Samborg and I’ve yet to clear any of the wings of that instance nor have I done anything in Helegrod or Annuminas.  Although with the announcement about radiance going away, I’m not too terribly stressed about radiance gear – I’m more just wanting to run fun group content.

I have been dabbling a bit in the LOTRO Store, but actually figured I’d save an entire post for that as it does seem to be a bit of a hot topic for many.