Thursday, January 28, 2010

Quick Hits, January 2010 Edition

For reasons that are inexplicable to me, Cryptic chose to announce on the eve of the launch of Star Trek Online that the first major content update in Champions Online would be a paid mini expansion. Nerd rage is blistering across the net, whether justified or not is hard to say as an outsider. The move does make it seem as if Cryptic intends to offer less value for a $15 sub than is the norm for premium MMOs, which is pretty much the exact opposite impression you'd want to give on the eve of another major launch.

The next major content update coming in LoTRO is ...well a bit underwhelming to be honest. Hopefully we will get some substantive new content in between now and the next paid update (though I won't be holding my breath, to be sure). Two minor items that I am optimistic about are the revamp of crafted jewelry stats and the new recipes for farmers. The stats on crafted jewelry are really screwy in the current game. My maxed out jewlcrafter was using mid 20's jewelry for something like 15 levels. There simply weren't any decent craftable upgrades for a melee class until he hit 40. And farmers... it would be nice if there were any reason in the world to level a farmer. They make items that scholars, cooks, and even weapon smiths can use; but nothing remotely worth the insane tedium of leveling one. Hopefully the new recipes will blow my mind.

I've been playing up a Guardian in LoTRO, and I'm finding him to be a lot of fun. In fact much more fun than my Champion who is a bit higher. When in full offense mode with a good two hander he puts out nearly the offense of a Champ on a single target (if not a bit more), while still having much better defense. Being a rock solid tank in a party also is far from sucky. I especially enjoy the reactionary skill chains. On a block or a parry, chains open up that can lead to an AoE attack, very strong single target attacks, or a self heal depending on where I take them and which chain opens. It makes combat feel dynamic without demanding the technical skill of a say, a Warden or a DAoC melee class.

Turbine's other big MMO, DDO is getting a major patch soon. New high end content, a graphics upgrade to some areas, and a major revamp of the low end game to make it more accessible... all available whether you pay or not. Altogether it at least as impressive as the patch LoTRO is getting. The days of DDO being Turbine's red headed step child are now over it seems.


  1. I think I might give DDO a try considering that it's free and all.

  2. @Jaydub: it's a solid game imo. I don't play it much, but when I do I have quite a bit of fun. There's nothing else that plays much like among MMOs I've tried.

    On your first play through, I'd recommend that you use one of the character templates they provide. The systems of the game itself will give you plenty of fits, you don't want to be messing with the deepest character development system this side of EVE at the same time you are learning it.

  3. It was not really an announcement that Cryptic made, just a comment from a community manager in their forums.

    Which is a bit silly in itself - one does not really see much information make it out to the website itself. The timing is certainly bad, but probably mostly because there seem to be no or little marketing and PR people that help them with delivering their messages or gating that info that should not be communicated right now.

    In the old days Cryptic had NCSoft to do much of the front exposure work for them, since they were the publisher. They are now learning (hopefully) that the other pieces outside of developing a game might need a reasonable effort and good people as well.

  4. @Sente: that's an interesting analysis. If they don't have any good PR folks on the payroll it would explain a lot.

  5. I swear, Champions is drawing aggro away from STO. Just wait until paid content patches roll out for that. Everyone will say "That's just Cryptic again."

  6. @Anjin: and with the release of the new federation races in the Cryptic store today, your prescience is confirmed :-)