LoTRO – Confusion in Glittering Caves

The good news is Naerys made it through the Glittering Caves epic battle… except I’m not sure how since I failed the final scenario. However, as the failure text faded, success text took its place. Confusing indeed!

I’d post a screenshot or two, but they aren’t interesting and it was so dark there isn’t much to see.

It was a frustrating Epic Battle because as usual, there wasn’t much guidance on where to go. I spent the first 3-4 minutes of the scenario simply looking for where Gimli was, since he was the first to call out for help, and the battle fails if he (or Gamling or Éomer) dies. I think I wandered into every little canyon or dead end looking for him, and basically resigned myself to failing the initial foray just to be more familiar for the second attempt.

But then I stumbled upon Gimli mining some rocks while being attack. I jumped in and cleared out the straggler enemies – I believe my NPC allies helped defeat the rest – and saved the mission from certain doom.

Next up was Gamling needing assistance, and it took a ridiculously long time to find him as well. Half the time I tried to follow the mini-map, I was led to some banner or barricade I had clicked and thus highlighted. Argh!

I found Gamling as well, and was able to hurriedly speak to various captains and instruct them to heal or defend. As Orcs streamed in I hung in the back, dealing with sappers determined to burn down our banners, or orc captains (orange mobs) that I taunted to myself, sparing my NPC allies the brunt of their attacks.

Éomer then cried out for assistance defending the women and children. I knew where she was, since she’s in the camp I spawned in at the start. But after getting there and waiting for a few minutes, uncertain of where exactly the enemy would appear, a new message popped up about dismantling barricades, disabling traps, and defeating Uruk bosses.

More ominously, there was an attached 5 minute countdown timer. Ok then, off to deal it, since I couldn’t locate the attack on the camp.

Here is where I thought I failed the mission. Actually, I did fail it because I achieved none of the objectives.

What happened was this: I got to what I thought were the barricades to remove, but couldn’t do anything. They were glowing so I’d right click them, examine them, what have you, but they didn’t ever go away. I’d kneel and go through a countdown, but the barricade remained. I couldn’t get past them to disable the traps further up the ramp, or defeat the Uruks… so I just watched the timer tick down while getting frustrated about the whole thing.

When it hit zero, I got a failure message… which was replaced with a joyous cry from Éomer that we could begin an evacuation. Say what?!

I’m not demanding I fail the mission since I just want to get through these Epic Battles and get back to the normal content and quest progression, but it was strange. I did nothing towards defeating the Uruks (Preparing the Charge quest), never saw any trolls attack the center of camp where all the women and children were (Civilian Defence quest), but passed the mission. Somehow staving off the first 2/3rds was good enough (Gimli and Gamling)?

I’ll take it!

If I had to guess, I think the scenario had some “glitch detection” built in. I didn’t destroy a barricade or disarm a trap, didn’t even damage an Uruk since I never saw them, fought no trolls either… so the game decided something was broken with the battle and let me succeed. I can imagine some angry tickets from players in the same situation led to a GM override that ultimately led to devs adding in a catch-all for this situation.

That’s my guess at least.

Anyway, Naerys spoke to Aragorn and will at some point in the near future start the 5th and final (hurrah!) Epic Battle, The Hornburg. I am really looking forward to finishing Vol 3 Book 13.

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WoW – Flamebender

I took a break from computer games for a bit… I did manage to show up last Monday for the guild’s Blackrock Foundry raid, but that’s been it.

Blackrock Foundry

Overall it was a successful night. We downed 4 bosses: Gruul, Darmac, Hans & Frans (Hans’gar and Franzok), and Flamebender Ka’graz. I hadn’t seen Ka’graz before, so that was good – it is always fun to see a new boss fight!

Flamebender
Flamebender

As a healer my job was the usual keep the DoT’s going and avoid fire. I gather there was more to do as tank and DPS, since we would get occasional roving flame hounds (they looked pretty cool) and someone would call to “group up”. Hence the screenshot where we are all standing in some sort of bubble.

Glynneth’s item level remains at 665 – I am hoping to upgrade my pants as that item is currently my lowest (at 640).

The Culling

My WoW sub it up next week, but I’m going to renew for another 3 months. So in Aug I’ll be thinking about this again.

I let my EVE sub expire. It’s a great game and all, but I can’t play enough to make it worthwhile. Especially since there is certain fixed overhead as far as time spent in game goes – just getting from one place to another, scanning to exit the wormhole, dealing with PI and hauling goods to market.

Wildstar… well I extended another 3 months so I’m paid up until the end of Jul. It’s a fun game as well, and who knows, by then it might have dropped its sub or whatever the latest rumors are. If it doesn’t drop its sub, I will probably not extend.

This is not about the money. Really, I spend $15 a month at Starbucks every month. Or more. Just last week I went to see the Avengers with some friends and my ticket was $13. MMOs are pretty efficient as far as cost per hour of entertainment.

What it is about, for me, is comparing against equivalent goods. I’m not sure of the precise economics term, it would be some combination of utility and substitute goods, but WoW/EVE/WS are not in competition with me going to the movies, my Netflix subscription, or what have you. They are in competition with each other, any MMO that charges a subscription, and any MMO that is B2P or F2P.

I’m willing to throw in some money to an in-game store if I like a game, for cosmetic stuff or what have you. So for me, that ~$15 a month towards a sub game is money I could be funneling towards a game I enjoy more. Which in my case could be TSW, ESO, LoTRO, GW2, etc.

Actually, I haven’t been playing those much either lately – taking a break and all 😉 – but I do plan to reorganize and cull some games.

Basically, out of curiosity I keep a log of how many hours a week I play MMOs. The result was: I average about 6 hours a week these days. And 3 of those are WoW due to the raiding my guild does.

This ties back into my perceived value for time and so on tradeoff: at ~3 hours a week, playing EVE is pointless, that game needs more like 15+ hours a week just to keep an income flowing and take care of logistics that are forced on you, the player, so you can do other fun stuff. At 3 hours a week I could farm planets and sell goods to stockpile ISK I don’t have time to spend on ships to do other stuff.

While I do enjoy Wildstar, ~3 hours a week means me soloing to the end-game and then, well, not having time to do much of it. The chances of me finding another guild, semi-casual enough to be OK with me raiding one night a week, having a raid spot for me, doing it during convenient hours (8-11 pm, about as good as I can expect), etc. trends towards zero. If it happened, I would consider a switcheroo – unsub WoW in favor of WS. But again, it’s a ways to the level cap for my WS char, and I’d need to gear, attune, find a guild, etc. Not impossible but many structural roadblocks along the way.

Therefore, almost by default, WoW is filling that “group content” slot I have time for. Yeah, all the criticisms of the rest of the gameplay, from unused dungeons to repetitive quests to garrison tedium to dull class design – all valid, but I don’t worry about any of that stuff because it doesn’t affect me. I’ve slimmed down garrison time to sending followers on gold missions and cut out all the resource queuing/gathering/harvesting because I don’t need it. Well, I stopped that after I crafted myself a Stone of Fire.

I’m probably not typical in what I want out of WoW, but playing 3 hours a week and spending all of that doing end-game group stuff is essentially the best ratio of time to actual fun in a game I could have. I pop into my garrison twice a week for less than 15 mins each time (I round that down to zero) and get summoned everywhere else. Contrast that to EVE where it takes 45-90 mins just collecting PI goods and going to market to sell them. And any inattention is risk for getting killed.

The question then becomes, how to best spend the rest of my available time. I’ve got more games than I have time to play. Keep pecking away in TSW, play another game if I have some extra time available? That seems like the most realistic, and given my recent gaming, the two I would most likely play with spare time are TSW and ESO, with a smattering of LoTRO tossed in there. All are solo-friendly and enjoyable to me. And I will spend some money in each in-game store to vote with my wallet, as the saying goes.

I do feel a pull to check out new games, however. I see Marvel Heroes on Steam, and lots of good press about Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. The problem with FF14:ARR is that it is a sub game, so given my spare time it would be silly to take it up while I have a few months on WildStar already paid for.