Tag Archives: mmorpg

Confessions of a Raid Leader – Death!

You can read part one of this series, and the general background here.  But in summary, I played EverQuest, I ended up being a co-leader of a most excellent raid alliance, and these posts are about remembering some of the madness that entailed.

EverQuest was brutal about death, right from the outset.  You lost XP, you had to go and find your corpse to get your gear back, and that meant getting to it, without any existing gear.  Eventually you could get resurrected, and over time they added ways to summon your corpse to you, but they never got rid of the XP penalty.  In groups, you could expect to die a couple of times per night if you were doing tough content, in raids, depending on your role, you could expect to die 10 or more times.  Over the course of an evening, that’s a reasonable amount of lost XP even if you are getting 96% resurrections.  But that was the job, if you were a tank, puller, healer or crowd controller you were going to die more than anyone else.  Of course, everyone else was going to die as well ….

The tanks on our raids had their own channel, and death was a common topic.  Our tanks were fearless in the face of death and gave it the respect it deserved.

Confident

[Sat May 05 21:03:27 2007] You tell tnftank:7, 'i'll take dref too for ramp in case I die?'
[Sat Jun 02 23:20:38 2007] You tell tnftank:7, 'i usually go to shit when i die'
[Sat Jun 02 23:47:38 2007] You tell tnftank:7, 'but at least let me die first'
[Sat Jun 30 21:02:43 2007] You tell tnftank:7, 'no furious, expect me to die ;)'
[Sat Feb 10 21:51:02 2007] Zorblag tells tnftank:6, 'This last fight is mean.  Aaddx will likely die.'
[Sat Mar 17 22:43:06 2007] Zerblag tells tnftank:6, 'But expect to die.'
[Sat May 05 21:52:55 2007] Tinyface tells tnftank:7, 'hehe i cant wait to give mine a shot but ill probably die :)'
[Sat Sep 22 22:20:39 2007] Zerblag tells tnftank:7, 'About to die.'
[Sat Oct 06 20:03:08 2007] Nevarna tells tnftank:7, 'I'll die anyway so it's all good'
[Sat Jan 26 19:57:51 2008] Glutious tells tnftank:7, 'a good day to die '

Callous

[Sat Mar 22 21:57:11 2008] You tell tnftank:7, 'if tinyface dies, just laugh at him and then step on his corpse to take over tanking'
[Sat Apr 28 21:31:23 2007] You tell tnftank:7, 'If Cheichn is still afk he's about to die'

Encouraging

[Sat Oct 13 19:41:04 2007] Sidyenai tells tnftank:7, 'ok, nev, you go to mirror and look yourself into your eyes and say: i wil not die this raid, i will not die this raid .. 20 times .. :D'
[Sat Jul 19 20:31:51 2008] Zerblag tells tnftank:7, 'AE ramp on Nightshade.  Don't die to it or you get laughed at.'
[Sat Mar 15 21:22:17 2008] Tinyface tells tnftank:7, 'Dont fall off the walkway, you will pop to the middle and die a horrible death'
[Sat Aug 04 21:39:58 2007] Zerblag tells tnftank:7, 'It'll be faster just to die Aaddx.'

Overly Confident

[Sat May 19 21:08:49 2007] Tinyface tells tnftank:7, 'hehe i NEVER die :)'
[Sat Apr 07 23:30:50 2007] Drefaen tells tnftank:6, 'whee, day off, Aaddx nevr dies'

Draefen was Always Ready

[Sat Jan 20 21:32:22 2007] Drefaen tells tnftank:7, 'sure, I haven't died yet, I'm starting to get worried'
[Sat Jan 20 22:50:14 2007] Drefaen tells tnftank:7, 'I haven't died yet, feels odd'
[Sat Jan 27 23:18:06 2007] Drefaen tells tnftank:7, 'should I be in NW corner? or only when Brich dies? I mean if Brich dies'
[Sun Jan 28 00:17:58 2007] Drefaen tells tnftank:7, 'I suspect I'll die here, I've only fell over once so far'
[Sat Feb 03 20:16:09 2007] Drefaen tells tnftank:6, 'I recon I shouldn't get one, I always die 8)'

And of course as co-leader of the raids, it was up to me to remind our most excellent raid force of the critical strategy regarding the stuff we were killing. This mainly revolved around not dying.

Basic Survival

[Sat Sep 22 22:15:31 2007] You tell your raid, 'the important thing - just don't die'
[Sat Sep 29 21:27:48 2007] You tell your raid, 'DO NOT DIE NOW NOT THIS CLOSE'
[Sat Oct 13 20:58:40 2007] You tell your raid, 'then we kill stuff, and don't die'
[Sat Oct 13 20:59:22 2007] You tell your raid, 'ok south - don't die this time :p'
[Sat Aug 09 22:12:05 2008] You tell your raid, 'DO NOT DIE'
[Sat Aug 09 22:39:01 2008] You tell your raid, '1. don't die'
[Sat Aug 09 22:39:10 2008] You tell your raid, '2. friends don't let friends die either'
[Sat Feb 05 21:32:24 2005] You tell your raid, 'nice - don't die while we do loot'
[Sat May 07 23:14:51 2005] You tell your raid, 'we WILL NOT DIE HERE TODAY'

As you can see, I really liked this ‘not dying’ as a strategy …

[Sat Sep 22 21:24:46 2007] You tell your raid, 'so everyone tanks, no one dies'
[Sat Jan 06 20:35:03 2007] You tell your raid, 'oh and don't die'
[Sat Sep 08 19:29:38 2007] You tell your raid, 'ok same deal - only this time we don't die'
[Sat Sep 08 23:24:46 2007] You tell your raid, 'Do NOT die'
[Sat May 28 20:26:22 2005] You tell your raid, 'follow Aaddx we're charging the arena - don't die'
[Sat Jun 11 20:22:10 2005] You tell your raid, 'don't die :p'
[Sat Nov 26 23:09:25 2005] You tell your raid, 'stay focussed don't die'
[Sat Dec 03 20:53:53 2005] You tell your raid, 'don't die'
[Sun Jan 29 00:42:41 2006] You tell your raid, 'oh key thing - don't die'
[Sat Feb 11 22:35:48 2006] You tell your raid, 'NO ONE dies'

It worked for our raid team, so I stuck to it, who would have thought ‘not dying’ was the most powerful weapon a raid team could have?

[Sat Mar 04 22:21:51 2006] You tell your raid, 'don't die'
[Sat Mar 04 23:10:20 2006] You tell your raid, 'and don't die'
[Sat Apr 01 21:28:47 2006] You tell your raid, 'don't die, it's a long fight'
[Sat Oct 21 22:24:20 2006] You tell your raid, 'groups 1-3 will kill it and they won't die'
[Sat Dec 09 20:59:23 2006] You tell your raid, 'stay focussed, don't die, and we can do this'
[Sat Dec 16 23:23:37 2006] You tell your raid, 'don't die that's silly'
[Sat Feb 17 22:52:24 2007] You tell your raid, 'here we go, no one dies'
[Sat Mar 10 22:50:19 2007] You tell your raid, 'we must not die'
[Sat Mar 24 19:57:47 2007] You tell your raid, 'do not let my 3rd favourite SK die'
[Sat Apr 07 23:19:28 2007] You tell your raid, 'DO NOT DIE HERE I WILL BE UPSET'
[Sat Jun 16 20:17:40 2007] You tell your raid, 'oh AE Rampage - don't die'
[Sat Jul 21 20:58:07 2007] You tell your raid, 'All you have to do now is NOT DIE'
[Sat Jul 28 22:47:13 2007] You tell your raid, '20 mobs at a time - don't die'
[Sat Jan 05 20:17:45 2008] You tell your raid, 'off-tank, don't die'
[Sat Jan 05 21:52:17 2008] You tell your raid, 'pull him - don't die'
[Tue Dec 11 20:25:29 2007] You tell your raid, 'no one die, everyone win, easy victory'
[Sat Dec 15 21:20:11 2007] You tell your raid, 'Hold on then - refuse to die'

Positive Thinking

[Sat Mar 08 22:14:40 2008] You tell your raid, 'try not to die, but it's an UGLY raid'
[Sat Jul 02 21:40:50 2005] You tell your raid, 'we have *not* tried this before, so we will probably all die horribly'
[Sat Sep 08 18:46:19 2007] You tell your raid, 'Ok - Oly gets to die later - thanks Oly'
[Thu Sep 07 23:30:54 2006] You tell your raid, 'tank order is - all tanks form a queue and die for your country - followed by weaponshield rangers'
[Sat Apr 21 21:59:12 2007] You tell your raid, 'we have to trigger these two mobs, normally we make Aonia die, but today it's Moone's turn, I need to talk her through it so it'll take a moment longer than normal'
[Wed Aug 22 22:26:26 2007] You tell your raid, 'that's the voice of a man who expects to die again'
[Sat Dec 15 22:39:49 2007] You tell your raid, 'each week someone thinks that, and they die'

Travel Tips

[Sat Oct 29 23:28:14 2005] You tell your raid, 'we're going to kill a Dragon - don't die on the way'
[Sat Feb 25 20:23:25 2006] You tell your raid, 'please don't die in BoT it makes me sad - get invis'
[Sat Nov 04 21:47:22 2006] You tell your raid, 'and die, at Noit's feet, to provide him something to stand on'

Complex Strategy

[Sat Dec 08 22:54:51 2007] You tell your raid, 'we assist Nlaokx, we mezz the snake pops, and we refuse to die'
[Sat Jul 29 20:29:12 2006] You tell your raid, 'Fake Rallos - AE Rampage - fight at max range, do not die'
[Sat Jul 29 20:29:23 2006] You tell your raid, 'Real Rallos - AE Rampage, adds, shit, etc. do not die'
[Sat Dec 03 20:43:20 2005] You tell your raid, 'on the next named - no swarm pets, no hammer pets, no sword pets, and don't die'
[Sat Dec 03 20:49:54 2005] You tell your raid, 'Named inc with adds - do not break mezz - do not die'
[Sat Jan 14 22:15:38 2006] You tell your raid, 'ok we're going left - follow - tank 3 mezz rest - assist aaddx easy - don't die'
[Sat Feb 10 20:53:53 2007] You tell your raid, 'next mob is archetype again - we do it the same only this time, we don't die'
[Sat Feb 10 22:34:01 2007] You tell your raid, 'biggest train of undead wins - go get some - don't die, don't bring anything that might be ugly'
[Sat Mar 31 21:02:17 2007] You tell your raid, 'aggro on the snake will bounce like hell - just kill her and don't die'
[Sat Apr 14 22:54:14 2007] You tell your raid, 'there'll be a load of mobs outside the instance - just zone in - don't die :p'
[Sat Jun 16 20:15:21 2007] You tell your raid, 'i can't remember what his AE's are, what cures them, how bad they are, or anything else :) so let's pretend they don't exist, try not to die'
[Sun Sep 02 00:11:03 2007] You tell your raid, 'everyone will be in south except 7 and 8, you will burn south, you won't die'
[Sat Jun 28 20:52:29 2008] You tell your raid, 'your job is to aggro your mob and bring it into the cubby and then not die'
[Sat Jun 28 23:36:41 2008] You tell your raid, 'going to do this the same way, but not die as much'
[Sat Jul 05 22:38:17 2008] You tell your raid, 'stay on your feet - too close to die now'

Positive Encouragement

[Sat Jul 19 22:41:25 2008] You tell your raid, 'you're not allowed to die until you have no mana, no endurance and then no hitpoints'
[Sat Jul 19 20:24:12 2008] You tell your raid, 'if tanks get out of range for heals, just let them die, /tell [tankname] laugh you were out of range'
[Sat Feb 09 20:49:05 2008] You tell your raid, 'don't die, it'll be embarassing'
[Sun Oct 28 00:04:54 2007] You tell your raid, 'if you die it's your own fault :p'
[Sat Jul 29 21:23:29 2006] You tell your raid, 'if you die because you're not invis i'm gonna be really unhappy - 2 people last time'
[Sat Nov 27 23:26:24 2004] You tell your raid, '500pp to let him die'
[Sat Jul 30 23:22:28 2005] You tell your raid, 'anyone in plate who dies including clerics gets laughed at ok'
[Sat Aug 06 13:03:39 2005] You tell your raid, 'if you die, we laugh at you'
[Sun Feb 12 00:28:37 2006] You tell your raid, 'Hail the PP - if you died we laugh at you'
[Sat May 20 23:10:43 2006] You tell your raid, 'don't die to enrage or I'll kill you right after we rez you'
[Sat Feb 03 20:07:46 2007] You tell your raid, 'if you die, it will trigger a chain reaction of death and we will wipe'
[Sat Apr 14 20:59:02 2007] You tell your raid, 'every mob in here ENRAGES - based on our new policy - anyone who dies to ENRAGE buys me something nice in the bazaar for 10kpp+'
[Sat Jul 28 20:23:30 2007] You tell your raid, 'if you die to ENRAGE today, you get to clean my toilet with your toothbrush tomorrow'
[Sat Aug 04 20:23:53 2007] You tell your raid, 'ok follow please - anyone who dies does the dishes'
[Sat Aug 11 20:08:58 2007] You tell your raid, 'don't die in WoS, or we point and laugh'
[Sat Mar 08 21:56:00 2008] You tell your raid, 'if you can't cancel magic, don't bother, you're probably just gonna have to die ;)'
[Sat Mar 22 21:22:40 2008] You tell your raid, 'aug mobs inc soon, don't die to them, it's embarassing :p'
[Fri May 26 20:35:54 2006] You tell your raid, 'Jae died, we can laugh later'
[Sat Jan 07 23:42:20 2006] You tell your raid, 'which tank didn't die?'

Exasperated Encouragement

[Sat Mar 10 21:52:58 2007] You tell your raid, 'WHY DO YOU DIE TO ENRAGE?'

Confessions of a Raid Leader – Burned!

Introduction

The guild I was a member of in EverQuest was a ‘family’ guild, as they were known.  It existed for social reasons and to allow us to enjoy the group/casual element of the game.  We were also friends with a few other guilds in a similar position.  The thing with EverQuest is that it sucked you in, and so a few of us, starting small, began raiding things with a small alliance of guilds.  Over time the raids grew, but we prided ourselves on casual raiding, we enforced as few rules as possible and we avoided big raid style loot management (DKP).

We ended up beating some of the toughest content in the game, and boy, did we have fun.  These posts are random memories I have about raiding in EverQuest, both with my own raid team and with other raid guilds and alliances.

Burn!

My first experience of large scale raiding in EverQuest was with the Blood & Guts guild.  They were in a raid team formed from two European guilds so they raided pretty much in my timezone.  I’d had almost no raid experience, joined them with my wizard, and went on a learning curve that looked more like a cliff.  As a wizard, my role was simple.

  • don’t die
  • don’t get anyone else killed
  • don’t break mezz
  • nuke the mobs until they’re dead

This should be pretty easy, and to be fair, it’s one of the easiest raid roles in EverQuest.  One of the most colourful raid leaders with Blood & Guts was Kasstou.  I was always amazed that one German guild and one French guild used English as the primary language in their raids, which certainly made it easier for me, but must have made it a nightmare for them.  Not only were they typing in a foreign language, but they were doing so in a high stress environment trying to convey critical information.

Anyway, Kasstou had a habit of shouting ‘burn’ into the raid channel.  Here’s a few examples,

[Sun Jul 11 23:17:37 2004] Kasstou tells the raid,  'BURN HIM'
[Sun Jul 11 23:56:41 2004] Kasstou tells the raid,  'BURN INNO DOWN'
[Sun Jul 18 20:17:30 2004] Kasstou tells the raid,  'ok disc burn'
[Sun Jul 18 21:11:01 2004] Kasstou tells the raid,  'BURN NOW'
[Sun Jul 18 23:23:43 2004] Kasstou tells the raid,  'BURN LIKE HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL'
[Sun Jul 25 20:56:40 2004] Kasstou tells the raid,  'DISC BURN KILL FASTTTTTT'

This used to frustrate me, because calling for burn suggested I hadn’t been trying to do as much DPS as I could have, the rest of the time.  I was a conscientious wizard, I was always trying to ride that line between aggro and DPS, I was always burning!  Once or twice I even complained about this to fellow group members.

When I started co-running my own raids, however, all that moaning went out of the window.  It became obvious very quickly that sometimes, you needed a single word to inspire greatness in your raid team, to elevate them to greater heights of damage.  At those times, BURN was the right choice, and so over time, I found myself using it more and more as we raided!

Reading back these log entries, even now, reminds me of the events, the mobs and the people involved in raiding in EverQuest, I miss you all, they were good times!

So, for your nostalgic pleasure, Grayhelm calls BURN!

Simple Burns

[Sat Jul 02 22:41:40 2005] You tell your raid, 'BURN NOW'
[Sat Jun 04 23:47:56 2005] You tell your raid, 'burninate'
[Sun Aug 14 00:03:55 2005] You tell your raid, 'burn dis nuke whatever'
[Thu Oct 20 21:08:39 2005] You tell your raid, 'BURN HIM ALL OUT'
[Wed Mar 22 20:39:59 2006] You tell your raid, 'WE CAN DO IT BURN BURN BURN'
[Wed Apr 05 20:28:33 2006] You tell your raid, 'DISC BURN NUKERISE'
[Thu Aug 24 22:13:13 2006] You tell your raid, 'BURN BURN BURN BURN'
[Sat Feb 02 22:51:35 2008] You tell your raid, 'more burn'
[Sat Jul 12 21:49:05 2008] You tell your raid, 'ok mini burn on Emperor Draygun, the Lich King'

Urgent Burns

[Sun Jan 28 00:27:06 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN COME ON YOU CAN DO IT'
[Sun Mar 26 02:46:07 2006] You tell your raid, 'BURN THE FUCKER'
[Sat Sep 08 20:22:42 2007] You tell your raid, 'ALL GO BURN KILL SHOUT THROW THINGS DIE DIE KITE DOOM DEATH GO'
[Sun Dec 11 00:06:25 2005] You tell your raid, 'OH NO UNIVERSAL CHAT DOWN - BURN Velitorkin'
[Sun Mar 11 00:09:10 2007] You tell your raid, '30 seconds MORE BURN'
[Sat May 20 23:10:59 2006] You tell your raid, 'DISC BURN - throw laundry'
[Thu Aug 24 22:14:30 2006] You tell your raid, 'burn him - use harsh words'
[Sat Jan 13 20:44:10 2007] You tell your raid, 'Full burn - all discs go go go'
[Sat Jun 09 23:34:53 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN with ANYTHING YOU HAVE'
[Sat Sep 01 21:51:08 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN clerics light on mana'
[Sat May 10 23:23:03 2008] You tell your raid, 'Burn hard, Burn early, Burn often'

Anatomical Burns

[Sat Aug 27 22:05:21 2005] You tell your raid, 'burn his ass'

Directional Burns

[Sat Sep 29 21:28:34 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN MY MOB'
[Sat Sep 29 21:29:04 2007] You tell your raid, 'burn east'
[Sat Sep 29 21:30:34 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN WEST'
[Sat Nov 10 21:03:01 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN SOUTH NOW'

Complex Burns

[Sat Aug 27 23:33:09 2005] You tell your raid, 'BURN TT - KITE ADDS'
[Sat Feb 10 22:02:59 2007] You tell your raid, 'GO GO BURN KITE KITE BURN KITE'
[Sat Mar 24 19:57:05 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN DO NOT PUSH BURN BURN BURN'
[Sat Jun 02 23:49:19 2007] You tell your raid, 'Full swarm pets - burn burn burn etc.'

Exasperated Burns

[Sat Aug 20 22:24:37 2005] You tell your raid, 'BURN FFS ARGH - when you see that, go full DPS'
[Sun Sep 11 00:44:02 2005] You tell your raid, 'for gods sake BURN'
[Sun Jan 28 00:24:40 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN Innoruuk ffs'
[Sat Jul 14 22:02:10 2007] You tell your raid, 'If you have Endurance left - WHY? BURN DISCS NOW'
[Sat Jul 21 22:15:06 2007] You tell your raid, 'If you have ENDURANCE LEFT - ask yourself WHY - BURN THIS MOB'
[Sat Oct 13 21:04:59 2007] You tell your raid, 'someone burn south ffs'
[Sat Dec 01 23:57:55 2007] You tell your raid, 'health going up? BURN'

Polite Burns

[Sat Mar 10 22:27:04 2007] You tell your raid, 'BURN Tqiv Araxt the Enraged please someone'
[Sat Sep 15 23:50:16 2007] You tell your raid, 'ok someone burn this thing to the ground please'

Inverted Burns

[Sat Oct 29 22:17:02 2005] You tell your raid, 'control your aggro this is not a burn competition'
[Sat Sep 29 21:21:50 2007] You tell your raid, 'slow burn'

Pre-emptive Burns

[Sat Aug 11 20:35:03 2007] You tell your raid, 'remember - full burn from the outset - dying with any mana or endurance is a waste'
[Sat May 21 20:38:49 2005] You tell your raid, 'and from 90% you go full burn and nuke the fucker into the ground without mercy'

Complacent Burns

[Mon Oct 29 20:38:21 2007] You tell your raid, 'Grats Burn - loot up'

Apocalyptic Burns

[Sat Nov 27 21:33:32 2004] You tell your raid, 'burn disc or it's all over'

Burns Which Could Be Misunderstood

[Sat Mar 15 20:31:09 2008] You tell your raid, 'burn the cat'

Wrong Burns

[Mon Apr 07 21:16:07 2008] You tell your raid, 'electrical burning smell here, if we go LD,send fire engines'
[Sat May 31 23:16:18 2008] You tell your raid, 'Burn SIDDHAYA'

And finally, When Burns Go Bad

[Sat Mar 15 22:02:19 2008] You tell your raid, 'there will be NO BURN call - we CONTROL this fight all the way through'
and then
[Sat Mar 15 23:27:53 2008] You tell your raid, 'FULL BURN Emperor Draygun, the Lich King DOTS and SWARM PETS GO'

Revamped Evendim

The Lord of the Rings Online is going through a lot of change at the moment.  The move to Free-to-Play (including the addition of the store) has driven a lot of those changes, often to include opportunities for Turbine/Codemasters to make more revenue.  It has also in some ways, made the game ‘easier’.  I’m aware that over time all MMO’s get ‘easier’ for various definitions of what that might mean.  What used to take weeks now takes days, and what used to take days can now take hours.  The driver is usually the result of additional content and a desire to allow new players to catch up with their longer-playing friends.  One of the newest and biggest changes is a revamp of Evendim.

Evendim always felt a little odd to me.  There was a long ride from Oatbarton to Ost Forod or Tinnudir through a lot of countryside that never really got used.  Sure, you got sent back to Barandalf from Tinnudir to kill some stuff, but generally it was wasted space.  On top of that, you sort of moved between Ost Forod, Tinnudir, Rantost and the other islands and tried to find quests of the right colour.  A lot of that time was spent swimming (which was somewhat alleviated by the introduction of one boat route some time back, you can see what I think of all that swimming here, at the end of that post).

The revamp has done several things,

  • Added a new quest hub on the bridge with the giant statue on it.  This quest hub covers the gap between Oatbarton and Tinnudir .  It has quests in Barandalf (the area between Oatbarton and Tinnudir), some of which are old and many of which are completely new.
  • Implemented another new quest hub west of Oatbarton, in which you must help a bunch of Hobbits prepare for a festival.  Those quests alone provide a single levels worth of experience, and give you a real sense of the Hobbit mentality.
  • Smoothed the overall level progression, I’m not sure if they changed any mob or quest levels, but I was never stuck with a mix of blue, white and red quests.  While some of the quests were challenging, I never felt like they were out of my league or totally beneath me.
  • Expanded the quest hub at Men Erain, using the crypts and tombs along that road.  This is a really good addition and provides a much better transition from Tinnudir to Annuminas.  Some of the early quests in Annuminas have changed as well, but I didn’t stick around to try them out.
  • Added two more boat routes, from Tinnudir to Tyl Ruinen and Men Erain.  This removes virtually all of the swimming until you get to the Blue Lady quests.
  • ‘Soloised’ most of the quests.  With the exception of one or two notable quests, everything is now designated solo and can be done alone.  This includes the instance on Rantost to defend it against Tomb Robbers.  Obviously, this is both good and bad, depending on your play style.
  • Added new Gauredain camps and opened up the general area around the Gauredain so you don’t have to travel through the entire camp to collect one item at the top.  This is a really welcome addition, and along with the new camps there are a couple of extra quests in Evespires.
  • Replaced the quest rewards with barter tokens, which you can use to purchase full sets of class specific armour.  I really liked this, I’ve completed Evendim on 4 characters (pre-change), 2 characters (after they added the boat to the Evespires) and now 2 more characters after all the changes.  One of the most frustrating things about the place was the apparently random rewards.  Some classes came out of it much better than others.  With the new system, you can build up tokens and get a full set of suitable, sensible gear.  There’s a second set of armour to work towards as well, with a mix of tokens and quest rewards.
  • The reputation has been changed so that it builds with The Wardens of Annuminas all the way through, and if you stay and complete the quests you’ll be Kindred by the time you move on.  I like that, it makes more sense than having to hang around for days afterwards trying to get reputation drops.
  • Ost Forod has seen the fewest changes to the actual quests (there’s a couple of new ones), but the way in which you get the quests has been refined to make more sense.  This is true of all the quests in Evendim now.  The best quest in the entire game is still present in Ost Forod, and no, I won’t spoil it for you.
  • The overall story arc makes more sense now, with clear goals and a clear reason for the Wardens to be asking for your help.  Old quests have new descriptions or angles, and the new quests are designed to tie the story to the location.

Overall, the Evendim revamp is a huge success in my view.  It’s just a much more enjoyable place to quest, without the hours of endless and pointless travel to get from your quest giver to the quest location.  Turbine haven’t lost any of the charm of the area, have worked hard to utilise locations that were wasted before, and have back filled some lore and story that was sorely lacking.

Mirkwood, Galadhrim reputation and Lord of the Rings Online

Mirkwood, the latest Lord of the Rings Online expansion has been released (on-time!) and the game servers are busier than ever.  I wrote a post a short while ago about Galadhrim reputation, and how to get enough to get into Caras Galadhon.  You can read it here.  At the end of that post I wondered how Mirkwood would affect the reputation process, knowing that access to that area would be through some part of Lothlórien.  I’m pleased to say that Turbine have done two things,

  1. You need access to Lothlórien wood in order to gain entry to Mirkwood, and they haven’t lifted the restriction on reputation to get into Lothlórien wood at all.
  2. They have added a bunch of new quests once you’re in the wood which all provide reputation.

The result is that once you’re in the wood, there are more choices about how to get enough reputation to get into Caras Galadhon, but the process takes just the same amount of time as it used to (just more choice).  Additionally there’s no ‘fast track’ to Mirkwood.  If you want to go there at the moment, you have to earn enough reputation with the Elves to be allowed into the Lothlórien wood, and that suits me fine.

Lord of the Rings Online – Mirkwood changes

Looks like there’s a lot of changes coming up with the Mirkwood expansion, to combat, weapons, skill and lots of other stuff.  I really hope they’ve been testing this stuff and have all the bugs ironed out.  The game sure is going to feel different.

Here’s some highlights, with all of these, click the links to go and find out more.

From the latest diary,

  • Critical Defence (Melee, Ranged, Tactical) – Players will now have three new statistics to help offset the changes to some creatures (see the Combat Dev Diary): Melee Critical Defence, Ranged Critical Defence, and Tactical Critical Defence.
  • Outgoing Healing – Players will now have a new rating statistic to help increase outgoing healing from skills. The bonus received from this statistic is capped at 30%.
  • Incoming Healing Changes – The Incoming Healing statistic has been converted to a rating. All incoming healing bonuses from items have been converted to rating values. Incoming healing bonuses and penalties from skills and traits have been left as percentages. The bonus received from this statistic is capped at 15%.

From the Combat changes diary,

  • Weapon Speed and Damage Changes – One change that you may notice immediately is that weapon speeds have disappeared from weapon tooltips. Weapons still have speeds, but the speeds and damage have been standardized for different classes of weaponry (one-handed, two-handed, bow/crossbow, javelin, staves and rune-stones) per weapon level.
  • Elite, Elite Master, Nemesis, and Arch-nemesis creatures above level 30 have been beefed up!
  • We have updated skill queue processing to ensure that the execution of auto-attack skills is much more consistent. Previously, it was possible to starve out the auto-attacks or have auto-attacks delay the execution of your chosen skills, depending on your play style. Further prioritisation and more aggressive management of combat animations makes it a lot more difficult to do either of these things so, overall, players should be a lot closer in terms of effectiveness.
  • We introduced a new skill timing which we’re calling “immediate.” These skills execute almost instantly when chosen, causing any prior skill to complete and make way for the “immediate” skill to proceed. These skills ignore the remaining “action duration” of the previously executed skill. We have added the “Immediate” key word to skill tooltips to make it easier for you to identify which skills use this new timing.

Of course, you should know by now, mounts are changing,

  • You’ll be able to carry out emotes while mounted
  • Mounts are now skills rather than items, so you don’t need to clutter up your inventory
  • You can move from one location to another while mounted!

Huge changes coming to Legendary Items,

  • Changes to earning XP
  • Item level changes
  • Legacy changes
  • A method for resetting legacy points after the items are at maximum level

Menu changes,

  • We’re getting a new menu
  • And the ability to customise the panels opened by all the icons on the existing menu bar

You can check out all the Developer Diaries here.

Quick guide to Lord of the Rings Online Galadhrim reputation

Introduction

A couple of friends are just about to enter the Lothlórien area in Lord of the Rings online so I thought I’d whack this quick guide together so they know what to expect.

The area beyond the Mines of Moria, in the Lord of the Rings online game, is Lothlórien.  Much like the Elves in the books and the films, the Elves of Lothlórien in the game are distrustful of outsiders and more than any other location in the game, this area absolutely requires you to do reputation work.

There are some mild spoilers in this article, including the map below, so if you want to explore and learn all of this for yourself, stop reading now.  You’ll have to forgive me if I use the word faction rather than reputation, I’m still too used to EverQuest terminology despite having not played for quite some time.

Continue reading Quick guide to Lord of the Rings Online Galadhrim reputation

Lord of the Rings Online – Outfits redux

Took the chance to take a few more screenshots and show you why outfits are good.  They’re good, because without them, your characters in LOTRO might end up looking like this.  First up, my Hobbit Warden wearing his actual equipment (click any of these images for larger versions),

Warden in real Equipment

The hat is terrible, the pants are bright red for heaven’s sake!  Here’s how he looks in his regular fighting garb, complete with a Warden’s Javelin Pack (cosmetic only item, which replaces the cloak),

costume36costume35

His third outfit isn’t much different, except he has no pack and it’s a more relaxing green, for maybe hanging out in taverns, which clearly he never does, being a Warden.

Warden outfit 2 front

Then there’s the Dwarven Rune Keeper, who looks even worse in his actual gear.  Who in their right mind would leave the house dressed like this?

RK real equipment

That’s a clear and defined reason for the existence of the outfit system, in my view.  Anyway, here’s his regular hunting garb (robe and backpack, the pack is again a cosmetic replacement for cloaks),

rk outfit 1 frontrk outfit 1 back

And finally, the Rune Keeper’s last outfit, for when he needs a more distinguished look, maybe while smoking some pipe weed with friends in a library somewhere,

rk outfit 2

I guess he could do with losing the gloves on that outfit.

Lord of the Rings Online – Outfits

Personalising your avatar in an on-line world is big business.  This is obvious to anyone who’s wandered around Second Life for more than 10 minutes and seen the millions of purchasable ‘looks’, or spent a few hours creating their own rock legend in Guitar Hero 5 (a huge collection of menu options for changing everything from how pointy your chin is to which way your nose curves).  In those games however, the look is purely cosmetic.  Those of us who play Massive Multi-player Online Roleplaying games (MMO’s, MMORPG’s, MMOG’s, whatever you want to call them) have different needs from our character’s equipment.

Traditionally your equipment both defines how you look and how you perform.  Armour provides protection from enemy damage and improves your innate abilities, weapons affect how much damage you deal, and accessories (jewellery, shields, and other esoteric items) provide magical benefits beyond your wildest dreams.  Sometimes, they also make you look good.

Wearing a newly acquired and hard won breastplate with pride because those around you can tell what it is and where you got it is fine, until the colour clashes with your hair or your choice of boots.  And should Hobbits be penalised for not wearing any shoes while other races benefit from run-speed enhancements or other funky abilities?

Lord of the Rings online offers a system which allows characters to both personalise their look, but also benefit from the best equipment they can acquire using the outfit system.  In my inaccurately named ‘short review of Lord of the Rings Online‘ I commented that I’d not had room to talk about the outfit system, and so this post is filling that gap.

When the system was first introduced it was only open to characters who had made level 20, until then, your appearance was decided by the equipment you were immediately wearing.  Now however, as long as you’ve had any one character reach level 20 or beyond, all of your characters can use outfits.  It’s a nice touch.  The outfit system basically gives you 2 extra inventory layouts (outfit 1, outfit 2) covering the visible items – head, shoulders, gloves, legs, feet, chest and back (cloak).  Weapons and shields are currently excluded, and since you can’t see jewellery that’s not included either.

The system lets you cosmetically equip items in the various slots, the item actually moves back into your general bag inventory, but the slot now retains the appearance of that item.  You can destroy / sell the item itself and still retain the look.  You then choose which of the three outfits you want to show to the world, your regular appearance based on equipped items, or outfit 1 / 2 from the cosmetically equipped items.

So you’re free to wear the most effective equipment even if it makes you look like a jester who’s done too much acid, while still maintaining some sense of style with one or other of the outfits.  Maybe you have a casual look for lounging around the Prancing Pony or your Kin House, or two different armour sets for looking mean and really mean.  You might like to look like a Pirate on Thursdays but have your regular hunting garb on the rest of the time.   Lord of the Rings online allows  you to hide / show various slots too (so you can turn off your hat indoors), and this works just as well for outfits.

If you kept the original item that you have cosmetically equipped, you can replace an outfit and get it back at a later stage, however if you sold / destroyed the item and replace it in the outfit system as well, you have to find another one before you can cosmetically equip it again in future.  To go with this system, Turbine have added a lot of purely cosmetic items to the game.  Hats, cloaks, and various pieces of clothing which offer no character benefits but which look pretty or high quality or unique.  Sometimes these are player crafted or reputation related purchases, and sometimes they are creature drops or quest items or special event rewards.  There are various NPC vendors around the world who also sell items such as backpacks (instead of cloaks), quivers, and other purely cosmetic items.

Overall the system is flexible enough to give you options, but restrictive enough that people don’t end up with 200 outfits and you’re never sure who is who.  It allows you to customise your appearance, wearing a matching set of armour which looks good but might not present the best stats, and allows roleplayers to engage in more realistic activity (you tend not to sit in the bar in full plate with a face visor unless you’re expecting it to be invaded by 200 orcs).

My previous experience of appearance was EverQuest where you were tied to how your gear looked, although you could tint the items (and you can dye items in Lord of the Rings Online), and people spent a lot of time and effort carrying around sets of gear so they could change how they looked.  It consumed bank / bag space and was a pain in the neck.  Lord of the Rings Online’s solution is much more preferable, allowing you to look how you like but not forcing you to waste bank space.  It’s easy to use, quick and fun.  I’m sure people would like further outfit slots, and I know I would be interested in allowing weapons and shields to be outfitted cosmetically, but despite those missing features, it does work.

Here’s three screenshots of one of my characters in his three different outfits.  The first screenshot is how the character looks wearing his actual gear (he has a full set of matching armour, so doesn’t look too bad at the moment),

actual equipment

The next shot is wearing the Heavy Armour set from Forochel (thanks to Grete, who worked to earn the reputation to make this armour in-game),

forochel set

And lastly, his previous look, using a faceplate helm (which his beard ruins) and a set of armour he crafted,

faceplate set

He doesn’t have a casual outfit at the moment – but then when you spend all your time killing orcs in Moria, who needs to wear a shirt.

XP from Kills or Quests – follow-up

A couple of folk were kind enough to read and comment on this post, and I’d been thinking about it some more as well.  There are some mitigating factors which I wanted to talk about.  Some of these are negatives about how EQ does it and some positives or ‘not as bad as it sounds’ stuff about LotRO.

Firstly, with EverQuest, helping your friends level is the same process as levelling yourself, any time, all the time.  While this makes it simple, it also makes it pretty tedious, in fact, much of EverQuest is pretty tedious (I can say this now, after not playing for a long time, although clearly at the time it was more engaging).  You go out, you kill stuff, you continue doing that until you level and then you do it some more.  So while it makes it easy to keep your friends at the same level, it doesn’t exactly provide much variability.

In line with that, although LotRO quest based XP means you might have to repeat the same quests a few times to keep your friends at the same levels, it’s essentially no different from EverQuest.  You get to run around killing stuff, while in the background your friends are completing quests and getting XP.  So the end result isn’t any different.  You might find you don’t get much XP, but the aim is to let your friends catch up, not keep the gap at the same distance so this isn’t an issue either.  Because the quests in LotRO cover a lot of locations, you’re more mobile than you would be in EverQuest and killing stuff is, after all, the same as killing stuff no matter where you are.  So it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Secondly, there is value in killing a lot of creatures in Lord of the Rings Online.  Each area has a number of deeds, those deeds give titles, XP and traits as rewards.  There are mob kill based deeds which tend to have two stages, the first gives a title, the second gives a trait.  If you only go to an area, complete the quests and move on it’s unlikely you’ll kill enough creatures to get both levels and you might not even achieve the first.  This is especially true of elite mobs (such as Trolls) or non-aggro mobs like crawlers.  However, if you keep going back to help out your friends, you will complete those deeds and end up with a more rounded character.  So there is absolutely some benefit to being in a place for longer periods killing the creatures, and helping your friends is just a bonus.

Thirdly, related to the above, there are quests from level 39 and up which require you to kill a lot of creatures to get rare pages (especially in Angmar and the Misty Mountains).  If you’re helping friends in those areas (which I am), then you’ll see your pages drop without having to go back later and just farm them.  Another bonus to being somewhere beyond completing the quests yourself.

There are numerous other things you can do, while helping friends level, which add value and which you would otherwise have to ‘farm’ or ‘grind’ out on your own.  As long as the mobs give some XP, you’ll earn skill-based deed increases (where you’re required to use the same skill over and over until you earn the trait).  Often in tough fights, you don’t get the chance to use less-useful skills but in trivial fights while helping friends you can use the same low-damage skill over and over until you complete the deed, without exposing your friends to a grisly death.  There’s always a need to collect crafting ingredients and recipes, even below your currently attained skill tier, which is why you’ll often find people helping out their friends leaving them to ‘handle’ some creatures for ‘just a moment’ while they mine an ore node or collecting some wood (before returning to revive their companions).

Turbine have added some specific rewards for repeating certain quests lines (mainly the Book based quests), since they’re fellowship quests and you always need people to repeat them unless you’re very lucky.  The rewards vary from the okay to the lacklustre but it’s still an option.

If you’ve done a lot of stuff solo, or in small groups, there’s a good chance you’ve missed a few fellowship or tougher-then-normal quests.  Going back and helping your friends while you’re slightly higher lets everyone complete these quests.  I had a perfect example of this a couple of nights ago in Angmar, there’s a bunch of elite quests inside a fort which I hadn’t done (neither had Grete or one of our other friends).  We were helping two friends level, and we went and did those quests.  With 5 of us they were fun, challenging and more interesting than the regular quests and we all got some XP.  Although the rewards weren’t really upgrades for 3 of us, it was still a good chance to do some of the harder content that we wouldn’t otherwise normally see.

Lastly of course, the real benefit, is that you get to spend time in a group with friends, having a laugh, some decent banter, and quoting nearly all of Aliens in the process.  Sure we chat in the Kin channel when we’re soloing or just mooching, but there’s something more social about being in the same fellowship, standing in the middle of Angmar cursing at the enemy and laughing when someone gets knocked off a horse on the run back to camp.

NB: All of this discussion excludes any element of swimming across Evendim.  There is never any good reason for repeating any action which involves swimming anywhere in Evendim.  Turbine need to add some swimming deeds.  Then and only then will I gleefully help out in Evendim.  Yes, adding the boat was a fantastic move, but by then I’d already spent half a lifetime swimming across that damn lake.  The boat doesn’t go to the Blue Lady’s cave does it?  Oh no.  And you still have to swim to Salamander Island don’t you?  Yes.  Too. Much. Swimming.

MMORPG / MMOG – xp from kills or quests?

This turned into a bit of a rambling piece – so I thought I’d add this paragraph at the top.  I wanted to write something to compare the difference between helping friends catch up in levels within EverQuest and Lord of the Rings Online.  This is it.  Oh, additionally I’m helping one or two friends level in LotRO at the moment (one new player, one player with a high level toon already).  This post is not a complaint, I’m happy helping them, this is just a comparison.

One of the major differences between the old guard of EverQuest and the new guard (if they can be called that now) in online gaming, WoW, Lord of the Rings Online etc. is the source of experience points, used to increase levels.  In EverQuest the primary source was and still is killing enemy creatures.  If you wanted to gain levels you went out and killed stuff.  There were quests in EQ (the name kind of implies it), but they had nothing like the structure or managed-activity that quests in more modern games possess.  And they didn’t give anything like the same amount of experience points.

If you had to collect some orc bracers for a quest, you got most of the experience from the killing, and a tiny amount from the quest itself.  Note: there were some variations to this, in some cases handing in rewards from quests gave you a nice little boost of XP, but as you levelled past the early teens that kind of thing vanished.

EverQuest finally evolved a task and quest system, which tried (but ultimately failed) to mirror that present in games like WoW and LotRO.  However even with that addition the primary source of XP was killing stuff; the quest might get you somewhere, might give you a reason to kill them, but grinding out levels and AA (alternate abilities) meant killing hundreds and thousands of creatures.  There was also a strong mantra of not rewarding risk-free actions.  If you could do something without risk, EverQuest either quickly added risk or removed the reward.

This is not the case with Lord of the Rings Online (I’m more familiar with that game than WoW).  Most of the XP you obtain while you’re levelling is from quest and deed rewards.  Killing a few creatures might net you a thousand XP, completing a single quest might net  you 4,000 XP.  That quest might include collecting flowers or defending someone from a few creatures.  The non-XP rewards (items, etc.) are more likely to be restricted to higher risk higher effort quests, but actual XP is given out pretty freely.    It scales of course, you get more XP later on than you do early on, and there are some long-ass quests which give out the same XP as some very quick quests.  But the point is, the killing is a side activity.  You don’t see people going out and grinding by just killing stuff to get levels.  You can do, but it takes longer than it would to go to a new area, get 15 quests and burn through them.  Quests in LotRO are level restricted, you need to be within 5 levels of them to pick them up (i.e. if you’re 37, you can see quests up to level 42).  This helps ensure people don’t leapfrog rewards.

These two primary levelling mechanisms affect how you help friends catch up in levels, or what happens when people play with different schedules / game-time.  In EverQuest if a friend was a few levels behind, or didn’t play as often you’d help them catch up by doing what you always did, find the best mobs in the game for giving XP and kill them until your eyes bled.  Everyone won.  If your friend was really downlevel you might have to pull some tricks to ‘powerlevel’ them because you might not be able to group, and you might have to burn through some non-XP giving mobs to help them, but once they were at a certain level (where they got XP with you in the group) then the best way to get them more levels, was kill the enemy.  If a few of you played at different times or with less or more frequency it didn’t really matter.  Quests (outside of progression quests, which I’m not going to cover) were generally a smaller part of the non-raiding game.

In Lord of the Rings Online however, the quickest way to help someone level, is help them complete level appropriate quests.  Anyone gets XP in the group regardless of what levels you are (if the creatures would normally give you XP), so level 60 characters can group with level 10 characters and the level 10 character will get XP from the kills.  There’s a reduction, but since kill XP is already the minor part of levelling it’s not such an issue.  The key is there’s no reduction in quest XP, regardless of the size of the group or the level of the characters involved.  But here’s the rub.  If people play at different rates, they get to different stages in the quests, and those quests may have pre-requisites beyond just levels for their acquisition.  As a result, you end up re-doing the same quests over and over if people log on with different frequency.

For example, friend A is on, and you help them complete 15 quests and they get a couple of levels.  They move on to a new area.  The next day, friend B is on, and you go through a few quests with them until friend A logs on again.  Now however, friend B can’t get the quests in the new area because they’re a level too low and they haven’t finished the pre-requisite quests in the old area.  So, friend A now has to go through the same content they did yesterday along with the person helping, to catch friend B up.  The next few days things are even, then friend B pulls ahead doing some stuff solo, and the following day you repeat this all again.

Add in that there may be 5 or 6 people, playing at different times, and with different levels, and you can see how this gets complex very quickly.

I love the LoTRO levelling mechanism.  I think being rewarded for exploring, finding things, and for activity which doesn’t always involve killing the enemy is the right option.  I think level restricting quests is the right option.  But it certainly makes it less trivial to help friends catch up than with EverQuests approach of ‘kill until you can’t kill any more’.

While LotRO is far more casual friendly than EverQuest, it also imposes some issues if people play at different times.  Someone is always going to be a level behind, going through quests you’ve already done trying to catch up.  Unless you all agree to only play those characters at the same time that you’re all on, but with a bunch of adults who have lives to live, it’s not a realistic option.

Maybe, if more than half the people in a group have completed the pre-requisite quests, then other people in the group can get the follow-on quests as long as they remain grouped.  Maybe the quests available to a person should be based on the highest group member up to a maximum of 10 levels rather than 5?  Not sure.  Maybe it doesn’t need to change.  Soon we’ll all be 60 (or 65) and grinding out deeds, virtues, access quests and legendary items and all this will be a misty dream.  But I thought I’d blog about it anyway.

NB: Yes, I know that the vast majority of quests in Lord of the Rings Online can be completed solo.  In fact, it’s more efficient to do some of them solo.  Only the small fellowship and fellowship quests really need more than one person.  However, it’s a social game, about being social.  More-over, you can complete much harder quests if you have some help (completing them while they’re red or orange) and hence get more XP for them as a % of your current level.  None of that is the point really, the point is that the quests are great, but they make helping friends level, or keeping a bunch of friends at the same level, much harder.