Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Give Up the Funk

I am presently sick, which means that I'm trying unsuccessfully to get to sleep on an (early) Wednesday morning. Kind of hard to sleep when you cough every minute or so, and cold medication occasionally makes you think there are dancing LOTRO Hobbits in your room, moving to the beat of Parliament Funkadelic.*

From the archives. Kind of like this, only MORE lights.
And a disco ball.

But since I was perusing the internet instead, I stumbled across this little article about actor Kristen Bell and her husband Dax Shepard. It seems that after the Golden Globes awards, instead of going to an after party they went back home to play Settlers of Catan. Because, Game Night.

I know that we're all aware of some celebrities who play games, such as Salma Hayek and the late Robin Williams, but it's still a great thing to see geeky pursuits making themselves known in pop culture.

A photo posted by kristen bell (@kristenanniebell) on
I'm not known for dressing up for Game Night, but I think they can be forgiven 
to wanting to get the game rolling ASAP. Besides, older versions of Settlers 
used to take a while to get set up and going.

*It actually made sense at the time it was going on. I swear. I do think that the reason why P-Funk was in my head was because Bootsy Collins, the bassist for P-Funk, is a local musician.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Welcome back, Mr. Kotter, what happened?

I've been away from the internet and gaming/blogger space --with a precious few exceptions-- for the past few weeks.

As you can see from my previous entry, I was around enough to have taken note of Carrie Fisher's passing. For someone who had such an incredible impact on our geeky lives*, the outpouring of grief and sadness on her passing was therapeutic.

And SWTOR was no exception:

Aside from Carrie's passing, I've been totally out of the loop of the MMO and gaming circles to an extent that I've not been in years. Not even during the Grand College Tour this past year did I just drop off the face of the earth, gaming-wise.

I did take advantage of a Steam gift card to buy a few items --such as The Witcher Trilogy in my typical way of waiting until the hype subsided before I pulled the trigger-- but I made a deliberate choice to not peruse any gaming news.

In a very real sense, I needed that break. I've found it increasingly difficult to simply stop paying attention to gaming news, even in my down time. Recharging my batteries by disconnecting was a good thing, and it also gave me a chance to reflect on the best part of gaming: being with friends and family who share a common interest.

On a closing note, there's one game that we got over the holidays that I am really excited to play. But it isn't a video game at all.

This is the Z Man 2009 revision of the 1985 classic.

*And while I was the perfect age for thinking Carrie Fisher was hot in Return of the Jedi, she wasn't a big crush of mine. Sorry, Ross from Friends. If you had to push me into naming a name from that immediate era, I'd have to go with Katdarina Witt, the East German figure skater.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Farewell, Princess

(Yes, that's a real website.) were my favorite Skywalker.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In Other News...

...I'm likely the last person in the gamer universe to notice the cleverly-integrated-into-the-comic reveal that the face of Overwatch, Tracer, is gay.*

From Blizzard. And Polygon.

Here's the Polygon post on the subject.

I personally think it's a great idea, not strictly from a representation PoV, but also from a story angle. Having perused the comic itself, it just simply fits with the story. And Tracer herself, really. Not so much as a surprise (in my mind) as a feeling that everything clicks.

Which is as it should be.

*Or at the very least, bi.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bye Bye Turbine

Yes, that's right. Standing Stones Games, a new independent studio, has purchased both Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online from Turbine.

I guess that means that Warner Brothers won't be involved (directly) with either game's future.

Here's the release found on

As for what this means in the future, I guess we'll find out. But one thing is certain: corporate WB won't be dictating layoffs to the LOTRO staff. Of course, that means that if LOTRO doesn't continue with a decent revenue stream it'll have a direct impact to the staffing (small businesses feel that more acutely than large ones), but political shenanigans from WB corporate won't have a direct impact on the game(s).

I'm going to have to figure out what's up with my new "premier membership" or whatever it is. I suspect that since I'd bought some Turbine Points months and months ago to get some milestones (I was tired of taking upwards of 1/2 hour to ride from Rivendell to Forochel) that I suddenly got bumped up into a middle level tier where I have a lot more character slots per server. I'll see what other surprises await me going forward.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Oh look, another seasonal event!

I'm having flashbacks.

I just saw the YouTube clip for Overwatch's Winter Wonderland event, and I felt pulled in a couple of different directions.

It was a fun little clip, down to the Widowmaker part, but it felt like a mashup of Wildstar and WoW, wrapped up in a little bow provided by Blizzard.

The WoW part, not a surprise. After all, it is a fellow property of Blizzard's. But Wildstar? Well, it was just cartoonish and goofy enough to fit in the Wildstar universe, even though it's a completely different game. And Wildstar, like WoW, doesn't take itself entirely seriously. Finally, while Wildstar's graphics are rougher and far more Western influenced than Overwatch's, it does have a similar feel to the color and art design.

Or perhaps it's just me, having imbibed a bit tonight.

Friday, December 9, 2016

You'd Think I'd Know Better, Part XXVIII

Sometimes, it's better to just come right out and admit it.

I got smashed by a boss that's 29 levels lower than me.

You'd think that I'd know better, particularly since I've had this happen before with instance and heroic bosses (old SWTOR 4 man heroics and Age of Conan 6 person heroics), but nooo... I don't learn.

This is what I prefer to call The WoW Effect, where in WoW a non-raid boss simply stops being a threat once you get, oh, 15 levels or so higher than that boss. As any one of my top level WoW toons, I used to crash the low level instances I never got a chance to pop up on the LFG menu, such as Scholomance or Stratholme.* On Neve and Tomakan, I farmed Magister's Terrace until I finally got Exalted with the Shattered Sun. As Azshandra on L90, I farmed the Pit of Saron until that blasted Battered Hilt dropped so I could do the Quel'delar quest line.

But try to do that sort of thing with other MMOs, and you're likely to run into trouble.

There's a boss in the upper 20s area of Conall's Valley in Age of Conan that I've yet to beat. He's a Ymirish General, and in spite of the major level difference (I'm presently L56 and he is L28), he simply hits too hard for my Barbarian to take him out. I don't have any damage mitigation that a tank does, so I get the full effect of this Ymir's hits. Sorry, Charlie, but AoC doesn't allow me to simply outlevel a boss to the point where his hits don't cause damage. Regular enemies can still hit --at a greatly reduced rate-- but bosses don't get that treatment.

The thing is, I've known about the Age of Conan boss limitation for (primarily) solo players for a while now. But I wasn't expecting a similar situation on LOTRO.


The instance in question is The Tomb of Elendil in Annuminas** that I've had in my quest queue for a long time now. I'm starting Part III of the Epic Questline, and so when I reached Tinnudir to talk to a certain Ranger, I figured I really ought to do something about that questline. I'd read up on it and knew that the final boss takes forever and a day to beat down if you attempt it solo, so I figured my L69 Champion could handle it, as it's an instance for L40.

Well, the first thing I discovered is that yes, if enough mobs beat on you that you can die to them in the instance. If you've done the instance, the first main room straight ahead I got rid of one mob, then attempted to take out a single elite by the door.

That was my first mistake.

That elite runs into the middle of the room and then aggros everything left in the room on me. With about a half dozen DoTs on me plus about 15 enemies, I died fairly quickly. I respawned and reentered the instance, then spent about 5 minutes slowly beating up the individual mobs before tackling that elite again.

I shook my head, grumbled something, and continued onward.

Taking note of any of that type of elite throughout the rest of the dungeon crawl really slowed down my progression into the tomb, and made this instance into a full clear. I wasn't taking any chances, so that turned what I felt would be 1/2 hour run to the final boss into an hour, including resting to heal up and recharge my Power bar.

I reached the ending of the instance, which the questline said to find the maguffin, and I stealthed on over (I'm an Elf and can pull that off without being a Burglar) and kept trying to click on the maguffin.

No dice.

I unstealthed and let the intro to the final boss fight begin. "So much for being clever", I thought.

Then the final boss started hitting and drawing adds.

I went from full health to 50% in nothing flat, and I started cursing up a blue streak as I realized I was NOT going to be able to take this boss out.

The youngest mini-Red wandered over, looked over my shoulder, and said "Ooo... That's bad."

I unclenched the mouse and massaged my right hand. I hadn't realized I'd had the thing in a death grip. "No kidding. I'd figured that being 29 levels higher than this thing would be enough, but I guess not."

"Well, that explains the cussing."

"Gee, thanks."

At least my wife wasn't around, otherwise she'd think that I'd come down with a sudden case of Tourettes Syndrome.


Games such as LOTRO still surprise me, even though I've been playing MMOs for over seven years now. A lot of times they're good surprises, such as finding a twist in a storyline that really sucks you in, or the background scenery looking so majestic all by itself. But this, this is one of the nasty surprises. It's a kick in the pants that says, "You don't know everything, so you'd better stay cautious."

I'd better remember that about life, too.

*There was one memorable LFG run into Blackrock Depths that began in the intro area, and everybody decided to stick together to do a full run of the place. It took us about 1.5 to 2 hours, but it was an incredibly fun ride.

**For the Tolkien fanatics, yeah I know, Elendil isn't buried there. And yes, I know where he's actually buried (it's provided in Unfinished Tales). That is even referenced in the questline, so the devs definitely did their homework putting this in place.