Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Loosing heart

I must confess that I'm slowly but surely loosing heart for this game.
For me, the downfall started with Mines of Moria and the unsettling changes that the Devs decided to make to what seems the fundamentals of the game for me.
I have a hard time accepting the amount of grind that sneaked into Middle-Earth Online; in some cases grind with very non-optimistic odds...

The Journey, as leveling is often described in LotRO, is still worth playing, but I personally am all but an alter, so once I've finished mine, what's left out there?

Raiding has been compromised by instancing and the enforcement of radiance gathering. You can not anymore simply gather with friends and go have some high-end gameplay time, first you have to farm the instances to death to equip all those friends and only than you can have a go at boring and badly designed fights - or encounters - that Devs try to make pass as raids. I simply can't imagine why they keep on rejecting the fact that this approach is far too limiting for most players as too time-consuming and in the end simply boring.

Lets do some math to picture the situation better assuming that we have a dedicated static group of 12 people. This means 6 instance runs per player providing that they are all great players that never suffer from fkups and thus each and every run is succesful. This will give us:
Grand Stair: 6x30min = 3h
Skumfil: 6x20min = 2h + 1h to get the key
Forges: 6x40min = 4h
Fil Gashan: 6x1.5h = 9h
16th Hall: 6x1.5h = 9h
Dark Delvings: 6x1h = 6h
This gives 34 hours of initial instance grind per raid member to even get close to Sushi!!!

Turtle Encounter, promised as an encounter that's supposed to help people get geared up for Watcher, fails miserably as such. In this stupid damage race against time and huge acid dot, players that are already geared up have an insane advantage with their better weapons and radiance set offering big acid defense bonus along with all the other bonus stats. Those players don't need the Turtle anymore in the promised sense, they will just farm him for LIs.

And now, with b8 patch we will get more raids where we must counter more dread, which means we have to farm radiance gear anew. I'm thrilled.

I've played many games, starting with asian grindcore and slowly mowing to something more player-friendly. I'm an experienced MMO games, I even graduated and recieved my Master of Arts title for a work on ethics in MMOs. I've always read about declining numbers of players after some unfortunate nerfs, but truth be told I've never seen anything to support that observation: people on forums would write about how their kins are turning into ghost-kins. But in LotRO for the first time I've seen it with my own eyes: forget even my Kin (two actually). But our Raiding Alliance (RrU) used to have 30+ members on channel in the evenings! For few days already, I don't see much more than 10. Same for globallff which I remember scoring around 500 members in the evenings - it's around 200 recently as well.

I hoped to see LotRO as last step in my MMO journey, or at least one of the last. And I always rejected WoW as an ugly, 'jelly' game. But the insanely stupid movements Turbine are doing finally got me to try some WoWing, because I simply can't make myself log into lotRO anymore. What for? Doing 16th Hall for the 50th time? Or reading a book while grinding Fil Gashan for 30th time?

Monday, 25 May 2009

The Gates of Caras Galadhon

More from Andy Murray, this time - The gates of Caras Galadhon, home to Galadriel and all of the other fun-loving elves of Lothlorien.
One can play 'Find the differences' in here, the most obvious ones would be the lack of water (the space ended up populated by flower bushes) and statues at the stairs. The gate itself remained pretty close to the original design.

Original can be found here.

Moria Dwarf Design

Not too long ago I came across Andy Murray's weblog, where among other things I've stumbled upon the design for the dwarf from Mines of Moria loader. Andy doesn't spoil us with descriptions, writing only that this is Moria dwarf, made for marketing purposes.
His armor became a bit more goldish and his beard decorations a bit less elaborate, but there he is!

Original can be found here.

Monday, 11 May 2009

The numbers behind LIs - or how Turbine made our life hell.

There are many threads about the tediuos grind for T8 relics, but virtually none about the actual chance for decent legacies on legendary items (LIs). It has been shown that one T8 relic on average equals the deconstruction of less then 100 lvl2 items, and thus can be earned within a few days.

However, I've come to the conclusion that for some classes, the chance for getting a really good LI within a lifetime approaches zero. The LI system, promoted as character customization, is in essence a lottery with the delusion of customization, and with similar low chances like you favorite RL national lottery.

(Sidenote: Other classes automatically get their dream legacy (DPS), and don't need to care that much about other stuff. I guess for them it's at least 100-10k times easier to find a satisfying weapon...)

First, the basic numbers, taken from experience:
On identification of a LI, 2-4 legacies are completely randomly chosen from 15 possible legacies and 6 qualities (bronze-gold), giving a total of 90 possibilities. When reaching lvl 10, 30, and 50 you can "choose" one additional out of 2 random legacies. (I won't discuss upgrading one of two random legacies on lvl 20 and 40 by 2 tiers here; it doesn't matter much compared to other aspects.)

So what's up with this "customization" upon reforging? If you've been very, very lucky (see below) and got your nearly perfect LI with 4 initial legacies, you probably only need one special, additional legacy. The chances to get this are
up to lvl 10: 1-(10/11)*(9/10) = 2/11 = 18%
up to lvl 30: 4/11 = 36%
up to lvl 50: 6/11 = 54%.

However, we forgot quality. If you intend to max out this legacy and thus want it golden (5 or 6), chances are only
lvl 10: 1-(32/33)*(29/30) = approx. 2/33 = 6%
lvl 30: approx 13%
lvl 50: approx 22% (...and some 12% when heading for pure t6-gold)

Anyone having fun with spending 3 million xp on a blue or yellow item for a 20% chance of NOT being forced to throw it away in the end? I did it twice, failed twice, and lost 50 gold and 2 million xp twice.

That's why we need all of the crucial legacies right from the start. Let's calculate the chances of finding one (the maths are identical to a lottery):

3 legacies of random quality out of 15: 3!/(15*14*13) = 1/455 = 0.2% chance
(That's 500 tablets on average already; but of course we don't want bronze quality!)

3 T4/5/6 = 3 out of 30: 1/4060 = 0.02%
3 golden = 3 out of 45: 1/14190 = 0.007%
3 T6 = 3 out of 90....: 1/117480 = 8.5e-6

4 T4/5/6: 1/27405 = 0.004%
4 golden: 1/148,995 = 6.7e-6
4 T6....: 1/2,555,190 = 3.9e-7

Now for the Jackpot: On the US forum there's a screenie of a 2nd age runestone with exactly those 6 legacies everyone wants for dps, 5 of which are T6. Probability for this is approx.
3.9e-7 * 6% * 9% = 2e-9 = 1 to 475 million.
That's worse than the chance for the jackpot in most lotteries.

How many blue or yellow runestones are found each day per server? 10? 100?
If it's 100 per day, chances are 50% that no other one of similar quality will be found within the next 13000 years :P

Keep in mind that that jackpot-stone *could* have been better. And keep in mind that runekeepers also need a different stone for healing, and at least 2 different satchels.

Good luck people!

1. Chances are somewhat better due to upgrading legacies, maybe by a factor 5.
2. On lvl50 one of the proposed legacies is always T6.
3. First age items tend to have primarily golden legacies.
4. I'm no pro, so correct me if I'm wrong somewhere...

Article by cthun
posted on LotRO Europe forums

I must say I was afraid to do the math alone, and - as it comes out - on good grounds. The numbers are horrendous.
Now, adding to all that depressing number, please keep in mind that the Devs are planning to give us a lvl cap rise this year already!
This means that even if you win the 1/145 million lottery now, your dream item will be less that useless within half a year (as their plan goes).
Muahaha. No, not funny. Makes me want to quit.

Someone on the forums suggested that maybe this insane grind is aimed to attract grinder asian gamer community... Even though a joke, it might hold a seed of truth... Why would Turbine care if they lost couple of thousands of Western players, if they could attract million of Asians?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Bird and Baby Inn

Bird and Baby Inn

The Shire is probably the best and most rewarding place to explore for all and any Tolkien fans. A big, glittering Egg pops up for them right at the beggining of the journey - The Bird and Baby Inn. No, the name and the sign are not coincidence ;)

The Inklings was an Oxford writers' group which included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. From 1939 to 1962 they met at the Eagle and Child Friday before lunch, to drink and talk, usually in an area at the back of the pub, which was then a private sitting room and is now known as the Rabbit Room. Contrary to popular impression (and also contrary to the plaque posted in the pub), the Inklings did not read their manuscripts to each other in the pub: these readings took place at evening meetings usually in Lewis's college rooms. The Inklings changed allegiance in 1962 by moving across St Giles' to the Lamb & Flag pub, but it is the Eagle and Child's Rabbit Room that attracts visitors.

Bird and Baby Inn
The Sign
The pub's sign shows an eagle carrying a small child in a fold of cloth suspended from a claw, which was derived from the crest of the Earl of Derby. The image is said to refer to a story of a noble-born baby having been found in an eagle's nest. It is said to bear a resemblance to artistic representations of the abduction of Ganymede by Zeus in the guise of an eagle in Greek Mythology.

Alternative names
It is also known as the Bird and Baby. Other less common nicknames have included the "Bird and Brat", the "Bird and Bastard", the "Bustard and Bastard" and the "Fowl and Foetus".

(thank you, wikipedia)