I’ve been blogging about video games for a long time now.  Interests change, however, and both my interest in video games and in writing about them have declined quite a bit.  I still like playing video games now and then.  And every once-in-a-while something will impress me enough to think about writing about it.  But those days get fewer and fewer as other interests are taking time away from games.

So I’m fading this blog indefinitely.  There are many fine video game bloggers out there.  I have a bunch of them linked in my sidebar.

Farewell, readers, and thank you for your kind attention.

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


I’ve had some more time to play around with mounted combat in LotRO.  I like it.  I like riding along in the new zones and not have to dismount when I’m suddenly attacked – I can smush stuff from horse-back if I choose.

At first, I found the mount difficult to get used to.   Like I mentioned in my Rohan expansion post, the “w” key acts like an accelerator, not just a “forward” button.  So the longer you hold it down, the faster you’ll go up to your mount’s top speed.  Also, the faster you’re going, the wider your turn radius will be.  I found that a good speed for me is around 8.  (My mount’s top speed is around 14.)  At 8, I have enough “red” in the red bar to do some nice damage while still being able to go slow enough that I won’t take a whole zone to turn in.


Having raised $8250.00 for Child’s Play, the creators of the Fellowship Walk on Landroval held a special walk event which brought us all the way to the gates of Moria (which is as far as we could go with low levels in the group).  Due to the exceptional work on the part of the security team, everyone made it to Moria unharmed.

I have a few screenshots of the event but they’re all lousy.  Fortunately, A Casual Stroll to Mordor has many that rule.

Wonderful work, fellow Landrovalians!

I made it to Rohan! One of my favorite areas in both the LOTR books and movies was Rohan. I like the mythological Norse quality to the place as well as the simple stoicism of the rohirrim. I was eager to get my wee hobbit out there to see Turbine’s take on Rohan.

While Rohan launched earlier last week, I was tied up with work so I was a bit late to the party. This seems to have worked in my favor as the intro areas were relatively unpopulated. Also, as I understand it, there was a lot of instability during the early hours of the launch.  Other than the copious amounts of lag in the new areas, I didn’t crash and everything seemed to be OK with my inventory.

There were a fair number of kill-ten-x types of quests in the beginning. They also seem to have added some additional quest features. Much like WAR, you can end up getting some quests that will pop up just from being in a certain area. You’ll get a notice pop up in your sidebar which, when you click on it, will give you the new quest. I think there’s a way to turn off the notice so you automatically accept the quests and won’t get the notice. I heard about it in kinchat but haven’t looked into it too much.

After whomping some mobs and doing good deeds (including a pretty cool battle defending a town from the forces of evil) I ended up getting the much-talked-about mount for mounted combat. Overall, I like it. After running some of the tutorial stuff (run in circles, hit some targets, jump some stuff) I think I have a better handle on the horse system and am eager to try it out. The forward button, once pressed, will drive the horse forward until you hit back enough times to make it stop – it’s more of an accelerator than a simple forward command. You can hold forward until your horse is at max speed and then just let go. The horse will keep going. One caveat though: the faster it goes the harder it is to turn.

After the tutorial and some more goofing off I ended the quest line and got a bunch of class-specific mount abilities. I haven’t had the chance to go through them all yet but it looks pretty interesting. There’s a lot of jousting-type skills for a burglar, which makes sense as he’s not really a ranged character.

Overall, I’m liking the new areas and the new quest lines.

** Possible spoilers after the fold **


This weekend, I took part in a concert and march as part of several server-wide events in LotRO to support Child’s Play – they provide toys and games for sick kids in hospitals. I was thrilled to find out that my current kinship is playing a major role in organizing things on our server (including the party).

The idea is that as we advance in the amount of money donated, we go a little bit further on our way from the Shire all the way to Rivendell. This past Saturday’s march got us as far as Weathertop. In turn, many items are being auctioned off to support Child’s Play including player-created stuff, helpful in-game services, and even a gaming laptop!

I think it’s so cool that something like this could happen in a game world. I went to an event I saw posted on my guild calender, had fun with people I didn’t know in real life in a place that exists only on-line or in a story book (Tom Bombadil’s house), and marched to another non-existent place (Weathertop) using my avatar – all to get physical toys to real children with real illnesses.

It ruled.

You can find information about the Child’s Play initiatives in LotRO on A Casual Stroll to Mordor’s site. They also rule.

(A couple screen shots of the events below the fold.)


Pineleaf over at A Casual Stroll to Mordor has a great video showing mounted combat in Rohan.  He’s come up with some handy pointers for the mounted combat mechanics and made some neat observations.

I’m intrigued by the class-specific abilities in mounted combat.  Since my main is a burglar, I’m wondering what sorts of skills he’ll have available.  I also like the toolbar changes and mount customization options he hints at.

Once again, as per usual, there is a festival in LotRO.  And also, once again, A Casual Stroll to Mordor has created a kick-ass, awesome guide.

Fall Festival time again!

When last we left my batch of strawberry mead, it was ready for bottling.  Well it has been bottled now and wasn’t too bad drink-wise.  I have some left over which is still aging.  I’m planning on bringing some to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving.  Should be relatively decent by then.

The only oddity this time around: the strawberry mead doesn’t really taste like strawberries.  It’s not bad, mind you.  It just doesn’t have the taste of strawberries in it.  I suspect that the copious amount of honey in it is masking the strawberry flavor.

I’ll consider this batch a qualified success: it’s good to drink, but until I figure a way to get a better strawberry flavor, I’m going to hold off brewing it again.

I’m also gearing up for my next batch: blackberry.  I’ve made blackberry mead before and it was pretty good.  I’ve altered the recipe some this time around (different honey, different nutrient) and will probably be setting up for the first part of the brew cycle in the coming week.

The Ancient Gaming Noob has an interesting article discussing the pitfalls of creating an MMO around a well-known story IP. When you get to hold Legolas’ bow when he’s taking a leak or can interact with the world as a character that already has a predefined history it can hurt rather than help players’ interest and engagment.

TAGN from the comments:

Using Session Play to put you in the shoes of one of the main characters seems like a bad idea to me.

If you are allowed any freedom of action, you can screw things up. Boromir dances, makes rude gestures, and expends no effort at all in defending Merry and Pippin.

If you are not allowed any freedom of action, why bother putting you in that situation rather than just running a cut scene.

Job Done Well

LotRO is ever walking that perilous line. I thought the Amarthiel / Narmaleth quest line in Book 1 hit all the right notes for a parallel quest to that of the Fellowship. She wasn’t in the books and played no part in the story as done by Tolkien but it gave the players a threat to tackle which plausibly would have to be dealt with so the Fellowship could continue unimpeded.

I also enjoyed the cut scene / session play parts in the Mines of Moria where players could see through the eyes of a dwarf survivor all that happened upon the finding of the Balrog and the fall of Moria.

In both the Amarthiel line and in the Moria bits, players assumed the roles of minor characters or characters created expressly for the game and did not (usually) get into becoming a major factor in the Fellowship except as a helper.

Job Done OK

Most of the content thus far has been like that above. Sometimes, however, there was content that gave me pause. Like the walk with Frodo section prior to leaving Rivendell. When I did it, I thought it was awesome. My little hobbit would of course be thrilled to have a chat with a fellow adventurer so far from home. And the fact that he had helped Frodo indirectly since my character was a Bounder made it fairly exciting.

The only down-side was when I ran that same quest again on my alts. It was amusing as an RP device to consider what my different characters would say given the exact same events and dialog coming from Frodo. My burglar may have been supportive and glad to help, my hunter (who is the uncle to my burglar) might have had sterner advice though also more practical. My human guardian probably would have told him to train up in earnest and stay behind the large men with shields.

The problem I had with the walk with Frodo is that everyone does it. Several thousand characters have had their chat with Frodo. Knowing that put a bit of a damper on things, but what are you going to do. It’s an MMO.

Job … Done

While there were parts I liked, there were also some I thought went too far. The Rangers bit in Endewaith, I think it is, seemed a little off to me. These are rangers and members of the Grey Company. And they need the help of a hobbit cook / burglar because … why exactly? If they’re short on crispy bacon or need fishing pointers, my character would likely be a benefit. Other than that, I think, by lore reputation, my hobbit wouldn’t have much to contribute to the fighting. It was the same with the Dunedain parts in Evendim – just based on the lore I had a tough time imagining my hobbit adding anything to the battles.

Dunedain: “And now, setting aside our history as an epic fighting force equivalent to none, we have enlisted this hobbit to help with our battle.”

Me: “Remember, when fighting with a dagger, you grip the handle part and aim the pointy part away from you.”

Dunedain: “Er … yes. Thank you.”

Me: “Also, don’t run with scissors and be sure to pack a straw hat to keep the sun off your head while you’re farming.”

Dunedain: *sigh* “Ok, no running with scissors on the battlefield.”

I imagine they’d find a way to get him to guard the bee as quickly as possible.

Thus far, Turbine has steered clear of sticking the players directly at the controls of a major character (that I can recall, anyway). I’m looking forward to the Rohan expansion and hope Turbine will keep to what has worked in the past.

Back on 3/26 I started a batch of strawberry mead. It’s been close to four months and it’s coming along nicely. The fermentation process has completed, there’s no pressure in the airlock, and it’s time to start thinking about bottling it.

One issue that came up is the amount of strawberry debris and particulate matter in the mead. Sometimes a fruit mix will leave a lot of junk floating in the mead that isn’t exactly harmful, however it will mess up the texture while drinking and make the mead taste less awesome. To remedy the floating bits, I added bentonite – a negatively-charge clay which will drag the particulate bits to the bottom with the lees so I should end up with some nice, clear mead. I’ve also added potassium sorbate – a compound which won’t kill the yeast but will keep it from reproducing. If the mead continues to ferment after it’s been bottled, the pressure could build up until the bottles explode or the gasses push the corks out. Either way is a mess. Potassium sorbate should prevent that from happening.

The mead should be ready for bottling next weekend.