Tag Archives: mmo

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.

An Everquest sized hole (or, Goodbye to the Orc Pawns)

… on my hard disk.

I deleted EverQuest today, from my hard disk.  I’d say ‘uninstalled’ but I haven’t installed EQ since the very first time, it was decent enough that you could just copy it anywhere and it would run (just about), so after the first time I installed it and through all my machine upgrades  I just copied it around as needed.

Today I deleted it.  Before that I logged my two main characters on one last time, and ran them to their home cities.  I even ran my dwarf along the route he used to run all the time when I first started playing, from Kelethin to Kaladim, when he was making banded armour.

I killed an orc pawn as I went by (as I always used to), and I was pleased to see my faction was still okay.

faction
Orc pawns, one of the first things I ever killed in EverQuest, and also the last.

Good times.

I shall spend the rest of my life checking my tail for the sign of the Crushbone orcs, but I fear they’re out classed and out numbered.

O Captain! My Captain!

Not done any painting this week, still going through a ‘why do I do this when the results are so bad’ phase, it’ll pass.   Instead, been playing Lord of the Rings Online and levelling my captain (46 now).  Captain and Champion makes an oddly good combo (Grete’s playing her Chamption), we’ve been thrashing everything before us and not really struggling to deal with even red Elites.  We don’t seem to be having anywhere near as much trouble as we did with Guardian and Loremaster which in theory is a good combo (I think), maybe we know the content better, but we’re certainly doing nearly all orange quests, and just chewing through them.  We got tired of Angmar (I find the quests really depressing), and headed to Forochel to do the entrance area quests.  Rather than move onto the next Forochel set I suggested Eregion but we weren’t sure we’d be able to cope (at 44) and so we went to do the quests in the Trollshaws.  They were light blue / blue and while riding around to complete one we ended up in Eregion anyway.  The quests were orange, we tried a couple and found them challenging but doable, so there we stayed.

We’ve completed the Gwingris stuff and Echad Eregion and are hanging out in Echad Dunann now.  We’ve got the starter quest for Moria access but are waiting for a friend to be online before we start those.

It’s the third / fourth time I’ve done the Eregion quests and they’re still really fun, and as I said, with the Champion DPS they’re pretty easy to finish (challenging but not deadly).