Tobold's Blog
Sunday, January 11, 2009
 
Open Sunday Thread

The open Sunday thread is actually a good example for necessary repetition: Although most of you know the rules, I have to repeat them every week for possible newcomers. So, this is the thread in which you can discuss what you like, or propose subjects for future blog posts, or ask questions, or just tell us what you think.
Comments:
Well, since nobody's posted anything yet I guess I'll start by soliciting opinions on LOTRO's PvE. I've been playing EvE for almost 18 months now, and while it's a great game I'd like to play something that's a bit more PvE oriented (EvE's PvE is terrible, as I'm sure just about anyone who has any experience with the game can tell you), as I'm a bit burned out paranoia and the slow pace of the game. I've got a lot of SPs though (18 million in a couple more days) so I'm for sure not canceling my sub since I'm sure I'll be back eventually and will play 'part time' anyways as the real-time nature of the game means I can still be productive even if I only log in once every couple days during my break.

I was thinking about going back to WoW and trying out WoTLK and starting up a new character (who would gear up and then just log in to raid, so I can be happy with my PvP in EvE and still get my themepark fun), but I've always been a healer in these kinds of games and the elimination of downranking seems like it takes the only thing I really liked about healing out of the game - the fact that it was something other than mashing the same 2-3 buttons all night, to be good you had to think on your feet and cast the appropriate ranks of your spells or else run out of mana (shortly followed by everyone dying and being legitimately pissed at you if you were being stupid). Plus the idea of going 1-70 AGAIN (I've done 1-60 twice and 1-70 once) is a bit of downer.

Anyway, so I'm looking to try something new (or at least, new to me) and I've heard nothing but positive stories about LOTRO after their Mines of Moria expansion so I'm thinking about giving it a go (when I get back to the US and a decent internet connection, anyway). Did a bit of research, their classes definitely aren't the typical fantasy archetypes (so as to fit with the lore) but the Minstrel seems like an interesting main heal class, and the Lore Master seems to be in demand as well, as a mostly CC oriented class with weak nukes and a pet. Anyone have any experiences / anything to contrast with WoW they can share?
 
At first I thought like you about downranking. But while downranking allowed you to use a big range of spells, it also dumbed down everything incredibly if you exceeded a certain gear level. You were basically able to spam a GH that was big enough for its task and so cheap that going oom was literally impossible. So many highlevel priests only used two spells: Downranked GH for tank healing and CoH for grouphealing. Mana became a nonissue and even some really bad DDs switched to holypriest because it was easier.
Eliminating downranking robbed us of some spells, but some other, rarely used spells stepped up a bit to compensate. And those switched DDs really have a hard time now ;)
 
The Burglar class in LOTRO is really a strange concept for a WoW player expecting a rogue type class. It's related to CC & debuffing. Personally it had me stumped, but it seemed pretty unique to me.

Tobold have you given any thought to trying out Football Manager Live live now that it's released? My Game world starts on Monday, and I'm hoping to have a good experince after 18 months of non-stop WoW, it might be refreshing for me to try it. Being a mac user, I'm limited in MMO choice, so this was a welcome change and I hope the 3 month minimum subscription does not go to waste.
 
I lately turned away from MMOs... why? Somehow I forgot about singe player games for years. And the industry has trouble selling them, they are cheaper than ever. Everything seems to be a online-multiplayer-yet-i-still-can-play-it-solo-game nowadays.

I am waiting for MMOs to mature away from quest, raid and achievement driven gameplay to sandbox games. Right now I am playing Mount & Blade and Medieval II, which excites me much more than nowadays highly sophisticated multi-player yet single-player mmo standard content. The only time people really group it is for dungeons and raids.
 
Kessiaan, I'm a former WoW player who is in LotRO right now, and even though I am rather new to the game I might be able to answer some of your questions.

The minstrel is indeed the healing class. Other classes, such as the captain and the lore-master, can aid in off-healing and even become the main healer should the minstrel go down; however, you'll find that the minstrel is definitely -the- healer in this game. I cannot really tell you how much lore-masters are in demand (from what I hear, they are less necessary in Moria than they used to be for CC), but they are masters at keeping things stunned/rooted and can solo some pretty crazy things.

The various classes are extremely interesting and quite well-done, in my opinion. When I play my hunter or captain or burglar or minstrel, they all bring something to the table when grouped -- DPS/bit of CC, buffs/off-healing/off-tanking, debuffs/CC, healing, etc. From my experience on the server I'm on (EU-RP Laurelin), groups are crazy-easy to find or create for group quests you have. I was shocked at just how easily I could get people for various group quests -- every single quest I ever did a LFF (Looking For Fellowship) for, I found people who were either on the same quest and eager to join or people who had already done the quest and wanted to help out just for the heck of it. I wasn't used to this at all from my WoW days, and it was a pleasant surprise.

There are some things that may feel a bit 'eh' like combat cooldowns / triggers / whatnot. It feels more sluggish than WoW, but you get used to it.

The best thing about LotRO, besides the awesomeness of the community (at least on my server, heh), is how there's this really relaxed, laid-back atmosphere and attitude about things. I don't know if it's different on a normal server but on an RP server at least, you don't feel any sort of pressure or desire to rush to the level cap in order to begin 'the true game' -- which, after leveling/raiding/whatnot in WoW, I find quite refreshing. Everyone always says to take your time and explore, and ... well, I don't know. I mean, I know you're able to take your time and explore in WoW too and there's nobody lighting a fire under your ass to get to the level cap, but I think you might agree with me that the lush environments in LotRO are in a sense more conducive and rewarding to exploration and meandering about. :)

Should you choose to play a hobbit and start in the Shire, all I can say is take a breath, relax, and adjust your mindset a tad from being one of the big folk. The Shire quests are ... well, some of them are rather different, and can elicit responses like, 'What in the hell am I doing this for?' I remember the Shire drove me a little crazy in the beginning, and being lost and confused and not knowing where anything or anyone was located didn't help matters, but I told myself to slow down -- which improved my experience immensely. I had to get used to a lot of things, of course, and I had to get out of the WoW mindset of grabbing all the quests and just burning through them (or at least, I needed to not expect things that were located 'north of Hobbiton' to be exactly JUST north of Hobbiton, but to realize that it might mean exploring a bit further because they were actually waaaay north).

YMMV on the game. I know there are some people who detest LotRO and find it a bore-fest, but it's one of the best gaming experiences I've had in a good long while. The people I've met are a big part of it, and I find myself getting into spontaneous RP conversations with lots of people I meet -- people readily respond, and take the time to interact. I guess when you're not rushing to the level cap to start raiding or whatever it is some people feel are 'the real game' you tend to find the time to be nicer to people around you. :P

(This is not of course to say LotRO is perfect, heh. There are features missing that I wish were there, and a lot of aspects could be improved, but overall it is a solid game and very deserving of a chance. If you don't feel like spending money to try it -- and since the US site's trial isn't yet up again -- you could go to www.trylotro.com and give the EU trial a spin for a couple of days to see how you feel about it.)
 
The recent post over at Massively concerning internet addiction over in China got me thinking of some of the age old questions regarding MMORPG additions, how bad they are, causes, that sorta thing. While I tried to go pretty indepth about it over on my website about it and my own personal experience with it, I'm curious of what the wise council of "Tobold's Cult" thinks about the subject.
 
LOTRO is a PvE game in the same sense that WoW is a PvE game. Most of the development resources are spent towards PvE, though there is a form of PvP but it really takes second seat to the PvE side of things. I personally feel the content is very well done in LOTRO and there are hours of enjoyment to be had. Like Mallika, I highly recommend "stopping to smell the roses" in this game. For me, that's because I'm a bit of a lore junkie and love all the little details Turbine put into the game. But for someone who doesn't know the lore as well, I think the details add to the richness of the game, and when you are paying attention to the details, the world becomes more alive.

The healing class again is a Minstrel, though the Runekeeper can heal as well. The RK has a dynamic class role where they can switch between healing and DPS, however focusing on one makes the other weaker. It's an interesting mechanic that you might like if you prefer to do more thinking in combat. I my experience, most classes in LOTRO do involve a nice portion of player attentiveness for successful combat. That's not to say you must be extremely skilled to succeed. It finds a nice middle ground in my opinion.

The "pinnacle" of the PvE experience is of course the raiding. However there are only three raids in the game because Turbine has put more resources into 6-man instances and even some 3-mans. I think the PvE is just as rewarding in whatever you do, whether that's soloing, grouping, or raiding. There's quality content to be had in all arenas.
 
@Danshir - IMHO, it makes for good headlines sorta like the urban legend of game violence = real violence, but the actual percentages I think are pretty low. Again, IMHO, disturbed people are disturbed regardless of what they're fixated on. If it wasn't MMO's, it'd be something else.
 
If you are looking for a healer specifically, Lore Master may not be your best bet. As jaxom92 said, runekeeper and minstrel are currently the only primary healers. Lore master has one heal that starts out at a 30 second timer with a 2-second or so induction, but using traits (kind of like talent points in WoW lingo...) it can be upgraded to a 20 second timer and near-instant cast. In no way can this keep a main tank alive, but on my level 60 lore master i consistently find myself using the heal in "oh shit" moments where the main tank and healer are both down to about 10% of their health. While my heal can't do much to save the tank, i can at least keep the minstrel alive who then can save the tank.

Aside from heals, what else does the LM do? Well, it essentially comes down to crowd control, debuffs, and distributing power. The debuffs are nice, but nothing really worth noting. You click a button every 30 seconds and that is about it. Crowd control is pretty fun + requires careful attention and thought. Lore masters have an area of effect root (up to 3 targets) that is on a 2 minute cool down and lasts 30 seconds. Not that this is a root, not a "sheep". So, one has to make sure to root melee classes or at least fight far enough away that rooted ranged classes cannot keep attacking. LM's also have an area of effect damage attack that will apply a root on monsters 10 seconds after being cast. Since the roots pretty much break on the first hit, it can be fun coordinating a group to attack up until 8 seconds or so and then back off. Other than roots, the main crowd control that a LM has is blinding flash. It is essentially the mage's sheep. The cooldown for this skill is always 15 seconds, and, depending on your traits, the monster will stay "sheeped" for 30, 15, or 5 seconds. This scenario would likely never happen, but to emphasize the utility and extent of the power that lore masters have, a single lore-master could theoretically have 10-15 monsters crowd-controlled at once.

The last main role of a LM in groups? Power distribution. Lore-masters can leech power from enemy monsters and distribute it to fellowship members, at a negative or positive sum, depending on traits. It is real simple, involving only two skills, but the tactics and strategy that go into deciding "who gets power" really makes the job fun.

Other interesting things about LM: At mid-high levels, you should rarely die when solo'ing. This is because LM get a full-heal on a 10 minute timer at a fairly early level. The lore master's pet will also "Flank!" enemies when it fights, allowing the lore master to execute a self-heal. Lastly, LM's are very good in melee, despite being a light armour wearer. LM's weild a staff (and a sword as well at higher levels) which actually can put out some good dps. Basically, figure the LM's overall dps is divided evenly between tactical (spell) damage, melee damage, and pet attacks.

Sorry about the length, but to put all of this in perspective, I played WoW from vanilla through Burning Crusade, quitting around the time LOTRO was released. I had a level 60 rogue during vanilla and then a 70 mage in Burning Crusade. Having played LOTRO for almost two years now, I have a level 50 guardian and burgler. And, in the months before Moria was released, I leveled up my Lore-Master who is now my current main at level 60. If you have any more questions about specific classes, I suggest you look to the class forums at the official lotro website. Hope this helped

-Ealthian
-Gladden Server
 
This is in reference to the Wikipedia thread a few days ago, but I imagine folks don't read comments on old posts much. Since this is an open thread, I thought I'd share it here. I finally had time to write up an article with the full details of the incident, from beginning to end (well, end at the time of the writing). You all might find it an interesting read:

http://www.brighthub.com/computing/windows-platform/articles/22166.aspx

Tobold: Thanks again for bringing attention to this issue.
 
Hmm...getting me interested in LoTRO....What is the time investment needed to run an instance in the game? I usually play for 30 min - 1 hour and that's one reason I play WAR right now over WoW. Not saying WoW is bad, though it is the same (if improved as it has been) but I just couldn't get the motivation to keep leveling up knowing that I would have a hard time getting the chance to do instances. In WAR, I can jump in and do a scenario or two or get in on some ORvR that's happening.
 
Full instance (as in dungeon) runs can take multiple hours in LOTRO. However, at the level cap some of the best gear is obtained doing just one boss in an instance, but under a time limit (10 minutes to get to the boss then factor in the time to defeat him). Also, closer to levels 50-60 there are lot of solo / 3-man instances that take roughly 30-60 minutes each.

However, you as you will be starting a new character at level 1, the "end-game" stuff probably isn't your highest concern at the moment. As, I mentioned before, full instance runs do take a hefty amount of time, even if you don't account for finding a full fellowship. The first real dungeon, The Great Barrows (around level 20), takes a few hours to complete every quest, and possible multiple trips.

The good news is, these instances are by no means necessary, oftentimes horrible for xp/leveling purposes, and replaceable in terms of gear rewards. Do not think that not running a full dungeon does not mean you will never group. I would say a good 25% of the open-world quests in LOTRO are small-fellowship (2-3 man) / fellowship quests (6-man). If you are looking for actual instancing though, that is where the Epic Questline comes into play. Throughout your entire PvE leveling experience there will be a an epic questline that progresses the story. It is organized into Volumes, Books, and Chapters. The quests (chapters) are usually soloable, but almost every book (about 10 chapters) contains at least one or two full fellowship "event" instances. An example event may be defending a bridge from an onslaught of orcs, or stopping a nazgul from ressurecting a dragon. These instances are immersive, efficient for leveling and xp, gear treasure troves, and best of all for you, relatively short (all come in at less than an hour, and most less than 30 minutes).

And if you are watching this discussion develop, Tobold, I hope you are starting to feel the urge to hop back on to that lifetime subscripton of yours ;)
 
Lotro does have a number of very long (5 hour) world instances but Turbine seems to have learned that these are not very popular with players. The more recent world instances are much shorter. If you are starting from scratch you may want to skip the likes of Fornost and Garth Argawen. As the previous commenter says the epic book quest line is the way to go. Plenty of short instance runs with good loot rewards. In many cases you even get to see the world instance dungeons in abbreviated form through the book quests.

Tobold, I am partly making this comment to test out the "subscribe via email" function on your blog. If this does what I think it does I will be asking you how to set it up.
 
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