Autumn updates

Wow, it’s December (by the time I finish and post this, although I thought about writing it at the start of November).  Autumn turned up pretty quickly and then evaporated and turned into an early winter.  There’s snow on the ground outside, and more in the air.  Some parts of the country are really suffering but we’re not too bad around here.  Time has flown by.  Since I changed jobs at work I’ve been working harder than ever and have been much less interested in sitting behind the computer when I got home.

Speaking of which the new job is great, enjoying it much more than the last few years of the old one.  Change is always scary but it’s working out okay so far.  I’m lucky in that I’ve managed to hold onto my desk and so still sit with a great bunch of people from my previous team, and that’s made moving into the role a lot easier.  I’m pretty sure they want rid of me but I have the window seat and I’m keeping it as long as I can!

We’re staying in Nottingham this year for Christmas and New Year, so we’re not doing the whole country wide 800 mile round-trip to our families.  There are many reasons for that, but the greatest of them is that I want to have a nice, relaxing December where we don’t have to plan for two long trips, sort the cats, and squeeze the whole thing in around work and the holiday period.  Frankly – if this weather keeps up it might have been a moot point anyway.  Didn’t feel good telling our families, but we need a Christmas at home to recharge.

Just having a quick read back through my blog and it looks like I stopped posting The Guild episodes sometime around 6 or 7.  In fact, I may not have even watched them after that – because really I haven’t been sitting in front of this computer much.  I’ve been much more likely (as Grete will tell you) to be sitting in the lounge using the PS3 or the XBox.  The gaming diary thing is out the window as well though, just don’t have the enthusiasm to play a game and then write an update about it each time, especially since playing a game for me might mean a good few hours before bed, and then straight to bed.  On the subject of games, Fallout: New Vegas on the PS3.  Good game for the most part, nice update to the franchise, shockingly buggy both code-wise (crashes, bad clipping, falling through scenery) and logically (dodgy dialog options, broken quests).  A real shame and it’s totally killed any replayability for me (although I managed to actually finish the game despite the crashes every 3 hours or so).

We finally sorted out our sofas.  They’ve been bugging us for ages, we can’t afford new ones but the old ones are ratty and the cats have pretty much destroyed the arm on one of them.  We looked and looked for some huge throws to cover them but there wasn’t anything in the right size, so we ended up buying a bunch of small throws from Ikea and Grete made giant covers!  This link points to the picture Grete tweeted.  It doesn’t do them justice really, and while we still need to put the big sofa back together every week or so (the cushions slowly slide off), it’s a 1000% better than it was previously, and for a fraction of the cost of new ones.

We’ve bought new light fittings for the kitchen (simple ceiling roses with lamp shades) but haven’t gotten around yet to taking down the horrible 4-spotlight rail things in there at the moment.  Because one of the previous house owners loved DIY but was shockingly bad at it, I’m nervous because you never know what you’ll find.  Some of the things in the house truly terrify me and I wish I could afford to get it all fixed, but there you go.

Right, so ‘quick’ rambling Autumn update as if anyone cared.  See you in December!

Back to The Lord of the Rings Online

Quite some time ago now, we purchased lifetime subs to Lord of the Rings Online so that we could still play without paying the monthly sub.  At the time, the price was pretty good, it was a half price offer over the usual cost.  Within a few weeks, it became clear why they had been on sale – as Turbine announced Lord of the Rings online would go free-to-play.

At around the same time we just sort of stopped playing.  No clear decision to do so, we’d just done a lot of the stuff (this was after Mirkwood had been released), and a few toons, and although we’d not done everything (and in fact, were no where near to completing everything) it was getting a bit samey.

I suppose the good thing, was that we weren’t paying a monthly sub while not playing, but it still sucked a bit that we’d just spent quite a bit buying a lifetime subscription only to find the game was going free-to-play.  As the weeks went on, it became clear that I would be prepared to play Lord of the Rings Online without paying a sub of some sort anyway.

There’s more detail here (although it says beta in the link, so it may go away) covering what you get for free and what you need to pay for, or have a sub covering.  Killer features for me, believe it or not, are extra bags and the full set of traits.  Ultimately, we worked out we’d only keep playing by paying the sub (which gets you the VIP access) anyway, and the lifetime sub (which also gives you VIP) works out cheaper eventually.

So anyway, time passes and the free-to-play stuff finally goes live along with a new ‘free’ area.  Suddenly there’s new stuff to do again, so we’ve started logging in and it’s just as fun as I remember.  The store is okay, I have to accept that it’s okay for people to buy faster XP, faster deeds, more stats because that’s how Turbine have chosen to fund development.  If I want more content, and I do, then I accept that’s the price I have to pay.

But I won’t be buying those things myself – I’m restricting my purchases (with my thousands of free Turbine points) to cosmetic items such as hats, dance moves, juggling and emotes I’d been casually working towards but never achieved.

What was good, was seeing a lot of people in-game, and a few people talking about how they move from free-to-play to a subscription because they wanted the extra features – it sounded like a healthy conversation to me.

The new area is nice, it’s brighter than Mirkwood with a much happier feel (people I know dislike LOTRO because it’s so damn glum, and Mirkwood was glummer than anything before it).  I can see future expansions between equally dark and glum, it’s the nature of the War, but it’s nice to get out somewhere bright for a change.  We spent a few hours killing 20k elites at an appropriate level which is unusual for us, and we generally had a good time.

I feel the need to get my alts up to level 65 ready for the next level cap increase next year, and I really need to sit down and spend a lot of time working out traits, weapon legacies, skill sets and gear across all my toons.  That spark seems to be back – and I guess games on the PS3/XBOX360 will have to take a back seat while I work through it.

Edit: Better link for European players on the VIP vs. Free-to-Play benefits.