Moving forward

Introducing my new blog, Wandering Through Digital Worlds!

If this is your first time visiting Wandering Through Middle Earth, please head on over to the new blog given it is the one that will be updated from now on.

Here are the RSS feeds for the new blog (email subscription can be found at the new blog). You can follow the blog in its entirety which will cover Lotro, GW2, and occasionally other games or only follow specifically Lotro or GW2 I hope I did this right.  It's my first time using feedburner!:
 Subscribe to all
 Subscribe to Lotro only
 Subscribe to GW2 only

For those of you who've been following this blog, I'm sure you noticed my latest Guild Wars 2 post and that there will be more to come.  In the past I've snuck in a post about other games a few times but it felt a little bit wrong as well, they had nothing to do with Middle Earth. ;)  When I first created Wandering Through Middle Earth, Lotro was the only game I had screenshots of and the only one I wanted to talk about.  During the past year there have been other games I've been playing and would like to talk about, but have mostly refrained due to this being a Lotro blog.  I'd like for that to change and to have a more general gaming blog, yet its focus will still be on Lotro and soon Guild Wars 2 as well.  So I've tweaked the title of the blog to reflect what I do:  wander through and explore games!

I could have changed the url for this blog, but that seemed like a huge hassle that could potentially lose followers.  In the end, I've decided to leave this blog here as it has a history and has become established on the web (reading up on feeds and google standings and how not to lose followers.. ugh, did my head in :P). Also I couldn't get the polished look I wanted here at blogger.  Wordpress isn't perfect but I'm much more happy with the final result.

I've imported the entirety of Wandering Through Middle Earth over, including comments and will be continuing with posting there, so this will be the last post at this blog.  I really hope everyone makes it over!

If you're a blogger that has been kind enough to have this blog in your blogroll, I'd be incredibly grateful if you could change the link to the new blog! :)

It's been fun here at Wandering Through Middle Earth but I look forward to an expanded topic list.  Not much will change though.  Just a new url, a few new subjects and what I think is a much prettier look!

See you over at Wandering Through Digital Worlds!

Saruman T2 complete!

My raiding alliance Innocent downed Saruman T2!  It was another server first as well.  It feels really good to have finally done this, especially since morale had been getting low.  I say We pulled it together, had some pep talks, and finally downed the old guy!  We had 3 deaths in the last phase so no challenge mode.  I still don't know how we're gonna get challenge mode done, but at one time T2 seemed pretty impossible, yet we've done it now.  So Saruman CM and Fire and Frost CM is all Innocent have remaining, plus going for the clear-in-one-go title. Congrats all!

First Foray into Guild Wars 2

Soooo.... can it be August 25th already?  Because I'm so ready to play Guild Wars 2!  I preordered too late to take part in the first two betas then was on holiday during the third, so I figured I'd just wait for the game to launch.  But this past Thursday they had a stress test (and a bonus one late Friday night!) and I couldn't resist.  I think I've fallen in love with this game.  I was oooohing and aaaahing the whole time and having loads of fun.  It's screenshot heaven as well.  The game is BEAUTIFUL.  I had been worried I might not be able to get over the skimpy female outfits, the way they run and how you can see their backsides a lot.. but it wasn't so bad.  It was a minor annoyance which was mostly forgotten about as I was blown away by the game world.  The attention to detail is incredible. 

The game play is also extremely fun, but I'm going to have to get used to mobs actually being difficult.  No taking on mobs 2-3 levels higher than me like I would in Lotro, because that's going to lead to death... very quickly! And no going back later to get things done when you're a higher level as you're downgraded to match the level of the area you're in.  That could be troublesome for any challenging quests.  I really liked the way they handled quests of new ones popping up when you entered and area and your map keeping track of them, instead of you having to manage your quest log manually.  The random events were super fun.  I even managed to start off a few myself by paying attention to what the NPCs were saying around me.  One of the events had us catching rabbits before they ate a farmer's watermelons.  So there is silly stuff and fighting.  It all felt a bit chaotic but I know I'll settle in soon.

The combat is going to take getting used to.  Luckily I'm used to playing on the move, but I'm not used to dodging attacks.  I also chose to try out an elementalists which looks like it will take a little while to learn the skills.  As with all classes, equipping  a different weapon type will change your skills.  But on top of that the elementalist also has 4 attunements (fire, water, air, earth) which all have new skills.  Add combos on top of that... the amount is a bit mind boggling!  The sheer amount of crafting materials I was picking up was intimidating.  Basically there is going to be A LOT to learn.  Sure I could get by with basics, but I'm the type who likes to become good at the classes I play.

Anyway, I first wanted to try a Sylvari given that I was thinking I'd prefer a human for a main, so I'd save that for later.  The Sylvari are.. interesting looking. Definitely not your typical elves.  They're pretty in their own way though.
Unfortunately the starter area boss was bugged and no one could get past it.  Quite a few of us stood waiting around for a while:
I wasn't going to waste any more time (the stress test was only 4 hours long) so left that character and went ahead and created a human elementalist.  She's quite pretty as well!
Immediately I went exploring as I was so taken with the world.  It was hard to not continually take screenshots. :P  Though one annoying thing is GW doesn't have a first person view which makes taking screenshots more difficult, especially when you want to take ones that look upward.  It was quite amazing seeing Divinity's Reach in the background for the first time.  It's one, proper huge city (I'll save pictures of the interior for later):
I ran into a random, pretty graveyard in which you could read all of the graves.  I also ran into a mysterious person suggesting ghosts are there at night, so I must remember to go back one night!
Whilst exploring I decided to go through a random Asura gate, I managed to get myself to some other city.  I don't recall the name and I'm too lazy to look it up. :P  I didn't do much looking around it as it's also huge and I had limited time.  I did run up to a view point nearby which had some goggles to put on.. which had the curious effect of changing my character into a bathing suit:
So I went for a swim.  Things are just as pretty underwater as they are above it!
That's enough screenshots for now.  Next up: inside Divinity's Reach.

August Update

So what's been happening in the world of Lothirieth?  Well, I've been renovating a house, finally moving into said house (yay for something newer and more space), went on a holiday to France (oh the lovely sun!) and will be wrapping up my second Dutch language course (maar ik kan nog steeds geen goed Nederlands spreken.  :/  Het is heel moeilijk voor mij.  Maar ik begrijp meer en dat is goed!) 

Oh wait, you mean what's been going on with game stuff? ;)  Well, the backlog of screenshots continues to grow due to some busy months, so I figured I'd do a concise update of some things I've won or obtained.  Other than that, I've not been playing Lotro all that much.  The combination of bugs, lag, Turbine blatantly displaying its greed and not feeling at all excited about the new expansion has left me with not so much interest.  I'm logging in for raids and a bit for the current festival, but that's really it.  I feel I mainly want to rant about the state of the game, but I'd rather not have my blog contain mainly that.  So I'm taking the approach of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" I guess!

Anyway, stuff! Stuff that's been going on! Well, I found one super ugly staff!  It just looks a bit too evil...

My warden won the Steed of Bright Days, which means I'm rarely going to see it as I have no intention on playing warden anytime soon. :P  It lives up to its name of being quite bright, but I like it. :)
My loremaster won the loremaster steed.  It's nice I actually won the class mount for my main, but I have mixed feelings about it.  When I first saw the preview pictures, my thoughts were "Yuck! That's hideous."  I wasn't alone.  It's been entertaining to read some of the comments on the official forums.  I quite enjoyed something Catburg said:
I can't decide whether it looks like it's wearing old lady's bloomers, busty barmaid's blouse, or a babygro.

I laughed when I saw I'd won it in a lottery as it seemed so ugly, but it's not so bad ingame.  The sheer number of scrolls is a bit over the top, the books have poor graphics and your cloak clips with all the stuff on the back (which you can see in the next picture)... but I don't know.  It's okay.  I'll ride it around for a bit, if only for all the stares I get. :P  It's entertaining to be sat in Galtrev and see people stop, stare and walk around you. :D  Oh, you can also see I have a new snazzy cloak. ;)  I got a broken cloak clasp a little while ago but was torn about what to do with it.  The necklaces are clearly the better upgrade, but I've gotten the clasp so late ingame that the necklace would be obsolete soon.  The cloak offers a small upgrade but a cool cosmetic that lasts until they pull the plug on the servers.  But my need for my character to be the best it can be is strong.  I finally bit the bullet and just got the darned cloak, even though I feel the need to explain to everyone that yes, I do realise the necklace is better!
Fuzzy books and cloak clippage. 

I joined an impromptu Barad Guldur run and somehow lucked out and won the chest and leg pieces which happily are now bound to account rather than character.  I've lusted after the minstrel armour in the past so went and got that, then immediately slapped it on my runekeeper!
Lastly, I finally got a chest piece I've been looking for!  It dropped in a T1 Saruman and everyone got a chuckle when I had to yell out for the raid leader to just not distribute all the junk as it wasn't all junk!  My hobbit loves his new outfit.  I think he looks quite dashing! (Though I forgot to put on the matching gloves I have when I took these screenshots. Doh!)

Double the fun

From Loading Artist :

A hopeful sign, on the state of Lotro's music

One of my beefs with Lotro has been the declining state of its music.  On a whole it's never been particularly stellar, especially when you compare it to Jeremy Soule's compositions (I've never played Guild Wars, yet I know all the soundtracks quite well.  And of course one can't forget The Elder Scrolls Series. <3), but it's certainly had its moments of greatness.  I think up until the Lothlorien area the music in Lotro was largely decent with some tracks being better than others.  But afterwards, especially with Rise of Isengard, the music took a turn for the worse.  I believe music should help immerse you in the environment and perhaps create memories or evoke feelings of that area, not jar you out of it. "Ugh, what on earth IS that? *quickly goes to UI Audio and promptly turns music volume to 0*"  It's the later that's been happening to me post-Moria (though I'm ambivalent about the Mirkwood area).  In my opinion, we've gone from music that actually had a regional feel that fit the region it was meant to represent, varied tunes, actual themes and a more complex harmonic structure and counter melodies to music that is bombastic (not in a good way), meandering, unfocused, simplistic and lacking form.

Lotro has rehired Chance Thomas to compose music for the game again which was news I welcomed as this meant the game music should at least be okay with moments of very good. :P  Today they've released a track called "Lotro Legacy":
Not a lot new there, but it's promising nonetheless in my opinion.  There's a reworked Tom Bombadil's theme and the theme I associate with the skirmish tutorial. :P  It's still infinitely better than this.... well... junk:
This is what we've been subjected to lately.  There are more examples such as the music from the Northcotton Farm instance or Lost Temple instance  It's cringeworthy to me when you compare it to other pieces in the collective Lotro score.  I've actually found it difficult to find post-Mirkwood music, especially RoI music, online.  I wonder why? [/sarcasm]

On the whole, I think I might like the Mines of Moria soundtrack the best, specifically what sound to be fleshed out, full orchestra tracks as opposed to the synthetic ones.  Since I've just assaulted your ears with some horrible music, here are what I think the better moments of Lotro music are:
  • My absolute favourite music of the game is the music that occurs in Walls of Moria area.  I always get excited when I begin that epic and go crank up the music volume. The Hollin Gate (love the all the arpeggios!) and Hour of Doom are simply gorgeous.  They both make me stop my gameplay, sit there and just listen.
  • I quite enjoy the Lothlorien music, yet I find it has low replayability.  If I'm questing in the area, I eventually have to turn it off.  Though for a while The Golden Wood, The Falls of Nimrodel, unreleased Caras Galadhon music are all very enjoyable.  
  • Tom Bombadil's Theme - it fits wonderfully to me.  It creates such a light and joyous atmosphere as you exit the Old Forest.  I can just picture Tom skipping around and singing.  Listening to the music makes me want to grab my hobbit, pay him a visit and skip along with him!
  • Hills of the Shire - I always hear this bit of music whenever I cross the Brandywine Bridge into Buckland.  So cheery and pastoral and hobbit-like!  There's also Silent Hope which is a soothing track that to me is reminiscent of the main theme of Hills of the Shire.
  • Lament for Oakenshield - suitably dwarfy with the male choir.  Moving music that fits its corresponding instance.
  • The better bits of the Moria region's music: A Journey in the Dark - this is what always plays first for me when I enter Moria.  It really sets the mood with its minor key and sounds heavy, a bit dark and ominous, yet at the same time grand and evoking a feeling of being in an old, enormous and important location.  Khazad-Dum - this track really brings the depths of Moria to life.  This is the track that's featured in what I find to be the most fun session play of the game yet, We Cannot Get Out, where you play the dwarf Ori.  Archers of the Galadrim - strange name for the track considering it only ever plays in the Morroval area of Moria for me.  I find it quite a fun track!
There's even more good music that hasn't been officially released.

Besides the quality of the music there are three things I wish they'd address, though I'm not holding my breath for any of this to happen:
  • A toggle on/off for combat music.  In the past I have avoided mobs when good music was playing.  It's immersion breaking to have a mob get your character into combat and have some brash combat music with bagpipes start up!
  • Keep regional music regional.  It's also immersion breaking to hear Lothlorien music in Eregion or music you normally hear in Bree city out in the wilds of Dunland.  I'm not quite sure when they started doing this (Enedwaith release perhaps?), but it was quite noticeable once it started.
  • Fix the ambient sound bug.  I highly recommend cranking up the ambient sound to max.  Aside from Angmar and the Nan Curunir area (I'm not sure what the person who made those sounds was smoking at the time), it's fantastic and brings the game to life for me.  But sometimes, the game will trigger the wrong sounds, such as Breeland birds chirping whilst you're in Moria.
Going through the soundtracks has been quite fun and has helped me remember how varied the soundtrack has been in the past and really highlighted how Turbine hasn't been doing the latest regions justice.  There's really nothing distinguishing about the music whatsoever.  Given what Thomas has done before, I'm really hoping that he'll bring back the regional, thematic flavour of the game's music.

Girly Girl

This is something I'm not.  I don't really do flowery clothing and certainly not pink!  But this year's spring cosmetics are strangely an exception. :)

I really like the new circlet.  I was never a fan of the previous flower circlet.  It just looked like a clump of flowers on your forehead. :P  This one is elegant, delicate and beautiful.

 Another variation with the hood from the store:

Pre-Order Drama Update

Whilst even with this news, I think Turbine is still charging far too much for the expansion, credit is due where it's due.  At least now I'm thinking "when" I'll buy the expansion and with cash or tp, rather than "if" I'll buy it.  Sapience on the official forums:

As most of you know, last week we launched the Riders of Rohan pre-purchase program. While initial sales have been strong and overall response has been positive, we have been paying very close attention to feedback from our community, where some concerns have been raised.

First, many of you shared how much you appreciated the inclusion of Turbine Points as part of last year’s offers. While we believe that the Rohan packs already offer an excellent value, we’ve heard your request and are now adding bonus points into all tiers of the Pre-purchase packs!
The updated editions will now include:
  • Base Edition: 1,000 Bonus Turbine Points
  • Heroic Edition: 1,000 Bonus Turbine Points
  • Legendary Edition: 2,000 Bonus Turbine Points
Are you one of the many players who already purchased Riders of Rohan? You get points too! Anyone who has already applied their Rohan key will see points credited directly to their account over the next few business days. You will not need to contact customer service to receive your points. They will be granted automatically.

Additionally, some players had questions about the instance cluster coming after the launch of RoR. While we are still not ready to talk about the details of the cluster we did want to confirm that we will be releasing a new instance cluster in an update after Rohan launches, and that the cluster will be free to all players who have purchased the Riders of Rohan expansion.
Thanks to everyone for your candid feedback about the pre-purchase offers and the Rohan expansion. At Turbine we have always made it a point to listen closely to our players and adjust when necessary to provide the best possible entertainment experience.

Note: There are a large number of accounts that will be receiving a points credit as part of this change. Please allow 3-5 business days for your points to arrive.

Instance News

Sapience on the official forums:

We are working on an instance cluster. Currently it is planned to be part of an update due to release after the Riders of Rohan expansion has shipped.

*sigh* Why? :/ I'm not fond of this method of supposedly giving us new content through the year.  It feels like they're purposefully stringing things out to make it look like they're updating more frequently.  To me that will be a faux update, one that should have come out with the new expansion.

So it looks like we're going to be in for the same problem as RoI.  Hit level cap in a couple of weeks and then have to wait around.  Lame.

My Thoughts on the Riders of Rohan Pre-Order

Mostly it can be summed up into:  What the heck are they thinking?

When I first looked at the different packages my first reaction was astonishment which then changed into disappointment and a bit of anger.  I'm not really disappointed with the game since I like it as a whole.  Sure it has some big problems (non-legendary Legendary weapons and the corresponding grind, boring and neglected pvp, watering down the game, and most importantly the lag and bugs that are becoming frequent) but no game is perfect.  When it comes down to it, I like running around Middle Earth. But, I've found it more and more difficult to enjoy the game in the face of Turbine's increasingly, glaringly obvious greed (or perhaps this is better directed towards WB).  I love Tolkien and his work so it upsets me to see it twisted and used by a greedy company.  A fair bit of what they do is antithetical to his work in my humble opinion.  Yes, I know companies exist to make money and that yes, they should make money.  But I suppose the better ones don't plainly display their greed and usually at least back up the price with a good product and/or customer service.  Turbine has always lacked in customer service but lately its product is becoming shoddier as well.  I feel they're being awfully bold to be charging the prices they are given the current state of bugs we've seen lately.

They released a video Riders of Rohan Teaser Trailer along with this pre-order announcement:

Okay, so there's some mounted combat, which I didn't find too exciting looking unfortunately, and a few shots of new areas.  And what else? What about endgame content? Instance clusters and raids?  Class updates?  New class skills? Crafting? How many quest hubs?  I've seen the arguments that Rohan will be three times the size of Moria!! Okay, so... that doesn't mean much?  Moria was vertical as well which made it feel even larger but this land will be flat.  Also I can look to areas such as Dunbog or Forochel and find a large area with lots of dead space.  When I look at that video I sure see a lot of space... a lot of open space with not a lot in it.  I'm thinking they need all this open space for the mounted combat.  And perhaps areas are not finished (yet with a September release date, I find that quite worrying in regards to polished content.) So size tells me nothing.

Aside from the lack of information, I'm struggling to see why the legendary edition is worth $70, which would buy you a whole new game such as Guild Wars 2.  They seem to be charging a lot more for a lot less  In the past we've had new game mechanics introduced:  Moria and its legendary weapons or Mirkwood and its skirmishes, shared storage and wardrobe. Yet those expansions weren't this expensive.  I believe RoI's top tier package was $50 and people got a lot more goodies.  Let's take a look at the extras on the legendary edition:
  •  Armour of the Eastemnet - It's sorta cool but I can do without it. Not paying $30 extra.
  • 6th Inventory Bag - I'd wanted this and was glad to hear of its arrival, but I can do without it. I honestly think this should have been in all pre-order versions as supposedly this was one of their incentives to get people to pre-order.  Instead this is just like the expanded wallet.  "Oh we're listening to our fans and what you've asked for is finally coming!" *a few weeks later*  "Here is it but you need to cough up money for it! Hurrah!"  Apparently you can buy this as a stand alone account-wide purchase for 995TP.  More about that later.
  • Crystal of Remembrance - It would be nice to have an extra major legacy, but this pay to win stuff turns me off.  You receive no extra points on your weapons to spend on this legacy, so really they're a glorified legacy replacement scroll or stat scroll. This will also be available in the store.  The store version will be per character though whilst if you buy the preorder, you get one per character I believe.
  • Exclusive Rohan Content - Now this is the only thing that makes me go hmmmmm, because this content eventually leaves you with a skill for your warhorse.  We've not heard what it will be and a lot of people are worried about it being a pay-to-win skill for our horses.
All  in all, this expensive edition doesn't look that exciting and has left quite a few people upset that Turbine is charging so much for even more in-game advantage.  But many of us are upset at the $40 for the basic version because at this point it seems we're being sold a glorified quest pack. 

So why is Turbine going against somewhat industry standard for expansion pricing?  How can they justify the increasing costs in the store? Jadzi on the official forums made some great points:
What bothers me is that here we have a pretty clear-cut comparison between RoI and RoR, which make many of the same kinds of offers. Yet, one is exponentially more expensive, despite giving comparatively less. It just feels like we're being charged a premium without getting much to show for it.

Moreover, how on earth is it justified to charge 495 for Bags 4 and 5, then suddenly double to 995 for Bag 6? Yes, vault upgrades get that high, but at least those are relatively consistent, and inch up by 100 TP per box. How did we just suddenly jump to 995?

And Crystals of Remembrance? 995 a pop? Why? Scrolls of Delving are 195, while Star-lit Crystals and Empowerment Scrolls are 495? What is the justification for these sorts of pricing jumps?
For all of the negative that I've ranted about, the one thing I'm positive about is Turbine's ability to make a great looking area with a good storyline.  They most definitely did that in the Great River area.  I was really pleased with it.  I think that's what makes this all so difficult.  I don't want to give in to their greed but I want to keep playing in Middle Earth.  So I'll wait.  I'll wait for more information.  It seems that's what most are doing.  Let's just hope it's forthcoming and that they can show us that this is all worth it.

Nearly Headless Hobbit

That's even worse than what my champ had. Poor guy.  (Not my hobbit, fyi, just someone I ran into and couldn't help but notice the air between his head and body.)

New blog

Through the New Blogger Initiative that Syp has been coordinating, I ran across a new blog I find quite enjoyable.  It's witty and funny and I like the way the screenshots turn out so I thought I'd point people in its direction.  So head on over to Hipsalotro!

Spring Festival 2012

 Turbine finally released the spring festival, so I decided to have a look at the new horse, see if the last maps for the Cartographile deed were there and see if there are any new cosmetics.  I was pleasantly surprised by the cosmetics!  I've been on a Lotro hiatus due to dissatisfaction with aspects of the game, but this will be enough to draw me back for a bit. :)

They've come out with a SimbelmynĂ« theme, which is appropriate as we head towards Rohan.  I'm a bit ambivalent about the horse but am pleased to see a proper saddle back.  The detailing is also quite nice.  Luckily I had some leftover leaf tokens so was able to buy the dress right away:
They also made a new flower circlet which I like quite a bit more than the old one.  I had to use Lotro's standard dressing room to get a screenshot so the quality isn't very good. (I really ought to stop being lazy and get a plug in for a larger dressing room window!)  Though taking screenies of cosmetics always makes me want a better computer and a bigger monitor as others out there get some really sharp pictures ingame. :P  There's also a matching tunic, cloak and floppy sun hat plus last year's spring cosmetics.

The final maps are there, so the Eriador Cartographile deed will finally come to an end, yay.  i've yet to check out any of the quests and see if there is anything new.  The shrew stomping has returned as well and I shall be spending a fair bit of time there, finishing out my deed.  There do not appear to be any new consumables thankfully so none of those to grind out!

Well done Turbine...

So Update 7 hit this past Monday.  You'd think an update would improve the game, right?  Well, not in Turbine's case. *sigh*

Introducing a new class: Super Invisible Loremaster!!  No Turbine Points necessary, it's free to all!

Anytime a Loremaster uses Light of the Rising Dawn or Cracked earth, the character disappears.  You can also see another bug in the 2nd picture.  Something has gone wrong with all legendary weapons across all classes. Firstly when you're running, it bounces all over your back and even more spectacularly the LI glow doesn't sync with the weapon.  Characters don't even hold their weapons properly anymore either.  I had to laugh when I first saw it because it's so bad.

Stealth characters now appear to have super stealth as well.  I heard players reporting that they could barely see their wargs, that basically they'd turned into floating names.  So I checked out my burg and it was affected too:
I'm really quite astonished at the amount of things Turbine broke and are now being classified bugs:
-Invisible LMs during two frequently used skills
-increased opacity on stealthed characters so that they nearly go invisible
-LI weapon placement and corresponding glow unsynced with the characters
-female hobbits suddenly gaining A LOT of weight overnight
-Ettens pots go from 10 pots per 125 commendations to 5 pots per 125 commendations
-Cosmetics changing colours
-Rep horses changing their look drastically
-Deleting physical masteries, crit ratings, morale and bleeds from already obtained crafted weapons
-Champion Swift Strike taking on the combat animation and speed of Blade Wall, rendering it neither swift or a strike.
-Release star-lit crystals knowing they do not work on champion runes or burglar tools.  Also said crystals drastically increase stats on 3rd/2nd agers (to the point that 2nd agers are nearly as good as 1st agers) yet 1st agers do not enjoy the same increases when crystals are applied.  Crystals are also not rare, so unless your group remembers to change the loot rule, the first person who opens the chest acquires the crystal.  If that member isn't honest or kind enough to let everyone roll, well, you're screwed. 

Oh you you rolled need on that because you needed it to sell it on the AH?
I'm sure I've missed bugs.  All the old ones are still there as well.  They've also made more changes that water down the game but more on that in another entry I think.  But seriously, I cannot fathom how these things came to be messed up... things that were fine before this update.  It seems like Turbine has this need to mess with stuff that isn't broken and in the meantime, break it, all the while there's real stuff that needs fixing.  Yes we got a new skirmish (though my boyfriend and I tried it on t2 and it was facerollingly easy. Granted we're geared about as good as you can get on a LM, but still...), the new maps are very pretty, but overall this was a fail of an update.  I don't understand how they couldn't catch this stuff, why they don't test more, why they need to rush out buggy material.  A kinnie said in game that he doesn't play the game for its graphics, but for the people.  Sure, but when a company can't professionally release a working product, that will drive people away.  Diablo III was just released, GW2 and Secret World are coming out soon.  I understand the need to keep up and give players new things to do, but releasing it in a bugged state and breaking things that were previously fine isn't going to keep people around and will only further damage their confidence in Turbine. [/rant]


After a fair few nights, lining up for a lot of tries at Shadow Challenge Mode,

many times purposefully wiping in order to preserve the challenge,
Innocent finally prevailed and conquered the challenge mode with a few seconds to spare!

For the first time I actually remembered to get a screenshot of the deed completion popping up on my screen. :P  We don't have a video unfortunately due to our camera man not raiding with us that night.  It was such a relief to finally get this done.  I was starting to feel like we were banging our heads on the wall.  It's quite the stressful fight for an LM as well.  Also your pet won't stay on the boss even when you take it off assist.  It makes me feel dumb when I notice my bear is sat in the middle of the room doing nothing!  The last thing I want to be paying attention to is if my pet is attacking the boss or not!  Anyway, Innocent is now 3/5 for the challenge modes, which is basically all that is possible until Turbine fixes the Fire and Frost and Saruman fights.

I also received my 3rd(!) first ager.  It's sorta weird to have what feels like so many to me as never before have I been lucky enough to receive a 1st age token while it's still currently the best in the game.  I decided to make my rk a new fire stone.  I lucked out with my legacies, but the base stats were a fair bit of a let down.  I don't get why the devs do this.  You can see the difference between my new stone and my 2nd ager.  It's going to be hard to give those passives up, but on the whole, the 1st ager is definitely better.  But seriously:  what rk wants agility or parry rating?  or how about might on an LM staff?  Why even bother having these useless things ingame, especially when it deflates players a bit after the elation of getting a new weapon?  Ah well, I'm certainly enjoying the higher dps and menacing tanks even more. ;)

We're running around in what??

 Hilarious quote from a poster named mrfigglesworth on the official forums:

And please never make "AHHH I have to press the space bar while dodging exploding puddles of orc pee" a requirement of challenge mode. Ever. Again.

Did I mention I think acid t2 challenge is a stupid, stupid challenge idea? 
Now Acid wing will never be the same. :P  I'll always think I'm running around in orc pee....

I definitely agree about the challenge.  It is one of the stupidest ideas ever.

Meet Tristadoc

Hallo there!
This is Tristadoc, my new hobbit burglar.  He's a nice guy, always willing to lend a hand whether it be deliveries:
or getting down to business and banishing some bad guys!:
Yet he also knows how to have some fun!
I've been having quite a lot of fun playing him.  At first I did have a female human burglar.  It would have been an elf one if I could have made one as I've been too stuck on them.  I only strayed from the female elf character when I was forced to, ie captain.  I of course identify with females so I've generally found them more enjoyable to play.  I do have a female hobbit minstrel, which really put me off hobbits.  All the screaming, the way they run, what is to me silly combat sounds and it being one of the more implausible race/gender combinations to be running around, adventuring in Middle Earth, made it tiresome to play.  I doubt I would have made it to the former level cap if I hadn't been leveling with someone.  It just wasn't for me, which is unfortunate as my minstrel is decently geared for 65 and the class I felt slightly more comfortable healing on (RK is a bit scary for me when the whole group is taking damage.)

I call this his "I'm sexy and I know it" look.
Luckily my boyfriend convinced me to give a hobbit burglar a try, since when you think about it, there really aren't many good human thief characters in stories.  Also Bilbo is what inspired the class, so a hobbit makes the most sense.  I rolled one as a test on another server to make sure I could deal with the combat sounds (which I adore on a male hobbit!.. well, non-warden ones :P) before I deleted my current human one and found that a male hobbit is quite entertaining.  The side effect of finally trying out a male character, plus my RK duoing with my boyfriend's male guardian, has been to make me want to reroll my female guardian.  But she's a Westfold Master of the Guild Metalsmith.  No way in hell I'm redoing that!  Sometimes, low level crafters aren't the best idea when you find you no longer want to play that race or gender. :P Yay for extra character slots I guess?

The burglar class in general is a blast as well.  It already felt powerful at the lowest levels and it's only getting better.  He's almost lvl 30 and hasn't died yet (*knocks on wood*).  I'm taking my time leveling him and enjoying the journey! :)

Acid T2 CM

Big congratulations to my raid alliance, Innocent, for completing challenge mode of the Acid Wing in the Tower of Orthanc.  I didn't sign up last night as I was pretty tired and knew I wouldn't have the patience for that wing.  (I really don't like it and I find the challenge so silly.)  Though on our site one of the leaders was kind enough to mention the suggestions and tips I gave in alliance chat, as I was able to watch everything on my boyfriend's screen. :D  Thanks Essy! :D *hugs*

I was present for our first T2 completion and we're quite proud of the fact that we don't burg stack.  I'm also continually amazed by the champ who main tanks a lot of the bosses for us.  This fight is always particularly hard for him given people really need to go all out on aggro.  I dunno how he does it!  Anyway, everyone worked hard and coordinated well and finally got it. Grats again all. :)

The video! 


Over on the official forums, someone started a fun thread.  It asks people to share their very first screenshot.  I shared mine there and also thought it was an excellent idea to expand upon here on my blog, especially given I have LOADS of old screenies that would never see the light of day otherwise.  Plus it's fun to look through them and experience the memories.  

So above is my very first screenshot (click for full size.)  I started Lotro off with a hunter.  Lotro was my very first mmo and after reading through the class descriptions, it seemed like it was one of the easiest classes.  I figured that was a good idea given I didn't have a clue what I was doing.  She was my main up until 65.  It was during the Barad Guldur raid that I switched my main to Loremaster.  Whilst my hunter is now a rarely-used woodworker, many deeds finished, and trophies collected, she now sits there unused in her full Great Bow set.  It's a bit sad but once I got into Loremaster, hunter wasn't interesting enough.  I'm glad I started on that class though.  It was a great one to learn how to play the game on.

I found it entertaining that most screenshots in that thread, everyone still had their UI on.  It seems it took a lot of us a bit of time before we learned that we could turn it off.  I also didn't seem to realise first-person view existed for taking pictures of the landscape.  Having my toon, standing in the shot, displaying her back was a common theme of my early screenshots. :D  Also my graphics weren't so great as I had no clue how to make them better.  My characters were quite jagged looking. (First Shire rainbow to the right!)

If you have a blog, how about sharing some of your first screenshots?  Or head on over to the official thread.  It would be fun to see! :)
One of the first Shire sunsets, UI dutifully cropped away! ;)