Sunday, 30 September 2012

LOTRO: Rohirrim in disguise

With only two weeks left before the expansion, I felt it really was time to pre-order Riders of Rohan. I had considered all the ins and outs already in an earlier post (Riders of Rohan Legendary Edition) and decided that it was okay for me to stick with the cheapest version - after all, I really just don't have that much money. The only thing I care about that I'd miss was the Rohan outfit, which looks okay, but I can live without it. I had enough TP to buy the sixth bag in-game after the expansion. 

I was about to buy it, but had to go buy groceries first before the shops would close. When I returned, I noticed an e-mail from the bank. A person called Tiger had gifted me the total amount needed for the Legendary Edition! I didn't really know what to say, apart from that my boyfriend really is too nice for me. I really was okay with the hobo pre-order package, but Tiger said that my captain should really have the Rohirric outfit, coming from Rohan originally. And of course I was really glad with the Legendary Edition, and had to roam the edges of Rohan wearing my new outfit!

I first checked up with my Rohirrim friends in Forthbrond. Can you detect Ravenwyn?

Here I am preparing for our trip. If you're a lucky Rohirrim, you apparently get someone else to scrub your horse for you. I'm jealous!

Then it was time to join the Rohirrim in their favourite activity: slaying Dunlendings.

After a half an hour photoshoot it was enough. I have completed everything I really wanted before the expansion by now, so I'm ready for Rohan. Bring it on!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Skyrim: I used to be an adventurer like you...

... then I took an arrow to the knee.

* Or well, almost to the knee, but I'm not planning to go and try to reproduce this!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Skyrim: Kill it off

I have met a new challenge in Skyrim: if you one-shot an enemy, or fire up a particularly powerful killing blow, you get this slow motion short movie, one of the few moments that you can actually get a nice shot of your character doing something different than just standing around! Only problem is, I find it hard to take a screenshot of this moment, because even though it's in slow motion, it goes pretty fast if you're not expecting it and your hands are at the wrong side of the keyboard, still in "fighting", not "take screenshots" mode. 

This is what I managed so far:

Warning: electrifying dwemer guardians may damage cultural heritage.

Ever since I invested in the sneak tree, my mage has become incredibly OP. It was fun to see this fireball on its way to one-shotting this living skeleton, though. 

This used to be a frost troll. Gosh, I'm such a hooligan when I look back at all these pictures.

There's also a nice slow motion movie of yourself aiming at the enemy if you're using bow and arrows. However, I keep failing to capture this moment and always end up with a shot of what happens next. Charming.

Meanwhile, the search for the perfect one-shot screenie continues. What is your best shot?

Friday, 21 September 2012

LOTRO: Bear tanking

Busy studies

As you may have noticed, my blog has been a bit more quiet lately than it used to be. This is not due to a lack of enthusiasm, but rather due to an overflow of study load. I've just started a new master in September, and I love it, but it does mean less frequent posts. Don't worry, I promise I won't disappear: a one post a week minimum should be doable.

Because I've been so busy studying, I haven't been able to play much either. At the same time, the "final days before the expansion" are very present in the general atmosphere in LotRO: not everyone is as enthusiastic about raiding ToO anymore, and we sometimes struggle for the right numbers or classes. In a weird way, this is actually positive for me: I wouldn't be able to keep up with raiding four days a week with the amount of homework I got. 

Bear tanking

Some failed raids resulted with very fun stuff, for instance the realization of an old dream of me: bear tanking the Twins fight in Barad Guldur ("BG"). As expected, six-manning BG wasn't that challenging, but it was a blast. We went right through the gauntlet, and after that I plus a captain had to "off-tank" Durchest. Lore-master tanks for the win! After that it was off to the Twins, probably the hardest of the three boss fights for over-leveled characters. Stress when it turned out my bear food stock was depleted! So I went out and quickly made some, and then the fun began. It was actually a bit challenging, and I had to be main DPS on Cargaraf (traited reds), while the captain was tanking it.

Advantages of bear tanking:
  • No tank player needed, so it opens up a spot in your raid, which can be filled with an extra DPS class (not relevant here in BG, as we were under-manning, but I guess we were actually effectively 7-manning instead of 6-manning it, if you include the bear)
  • The bear might not take all negative effects (in this case the Immolate effect from Morgaraf, so it didn't have to run away every so many seconds), which sometimes makes up for having inferior sturdyness compared to a real tank

How to bear tank:

To the right: Zwartje moaning about having the aggro of an imaginary fabricated nazgûl (he's such a whimp!).

With all these buffs, the bear should be able to tank sufficiently. You don't need its force taunt Roaring Challenge unless there's an emergency. This skill doesn't give the bear any aggro, but just forces the target to attack the bear for a set amount of time. It doesn't have much to do with actual (permanent) tanking.

A debated tactic

In the past, bear tanking has been looked at with mistrust. The tricky part is in the "bear might not take all negative effects" part. If the bear is able to avoid a total game mechanic and ridicules the fight, you might speak of an exploit. This happened in Moria times, when a lore-master and a minstrel were able to duo the Turtle with a bear tank. The bear didn't get the acid dot that would force real tanks to swap aggro. Thus a fight designed for twelve could be completed by two. 

It must've been a very long fight, mind you. They had no champions or burglars to give the bear aggro, so the players weren't able to deal much damage to the Turtle, otherwise it would loose it. The bear would be main DPS. Meanwhile, the lore-master would be pulling power to supply the minstrel, who had to heal the bear with an increasing intensity. Seriously, it must've taken ages!

In the case of the Turtle, I can can understand how this was considered an exploit and why they changed it so it cannot be done anymore: people were using this to farm for first age symbols without having to roll against many others. However, bear tanking is usually harmless, as most people take the bear with them as a tank to approach fights in a different way and have some fun. Bear tanking isn't something you can do mindlessly: you need to make up a tactic and people need to coordinate and put effort in to let the bear keep having aggro. Also, healers will have to heal the bear more than they would a normal tank, because it's just a bit more squishy. Bear tanking in BG doesn't make the fights easier, rather harder. It did make it faster, though. If done the right way, bear tanking can be very much fun, like it was for us.

Finally, hurray for Zwartje, proud tank of Morgaraf!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

SWTOR: Griffon again

Yesterday, SWTOR's servers were down for a considerably long time, and what I didn't know until I checked the notes of that day, was that they were going to merge some of the previously known "destination servers", among which my own server, Nightmare Lands. This time it wasn't a 'voluntary' transfer, as was the case when they merged my old server Frostclaw with Nightmare Lands: now you just end up at a destination server with all your characters.

It baffles me myself how little I care about these server merges. Had it been LotRO, I would have expressed screams of terror at the prospect of losing the small but nice community of the Gilrain server. I guess I mostly feel connected to my guild mates in SWTOR, there isn't that much interaction between others. In other words, I don't sense a strong community in SWTOR - but that could also just be due to my own perception or playstyle, or it could differ per server. I do get the feeling that people are pretty indifferent to yesterday's merges compared to the initial ones of a month ago. Back then it was shocking news and nobody knew how it was going to turn out; today we know the drill and accept that it is a necessary evil for a company losing customers that does want to keep its game alive. That said, there were also a couple of positive notes about yesterday's merges, both general and personal:
  • Everyone now has 12 character slots instead of 9
  • Legacy names no longer need to be universal
Some people believe this is a bad thing, fearing confusion of identity. I myself think this will rarely be a problem. If you think about it, names in real life aren't unique either. I'm particularly happy myself that I got rid of Gryffin and am now called Griffon again!

  • Nightmare Lands was merged with Red Eclipse
Back when SWTOR was launched, many players I knew from LotRO went to either Frostclaw or Red Eclipse. Although most of them have stopped playing, who knows who I'll find back on Red Eclipse!
My only victim of the merges was Yu'no, who's name was already taken on Red Eclipse. The poor thing will have to live on with a further encoded name as Y-u'no (a cookie if you get the reference).

As my guild was doing a late night Ops that we weren't able to attend due to early work/study the day after, we logged Imperial ('imp') side and created new characters. Tiger made a punk-like bounty hunter, I a chiss Imperial agent called Yuniper. I love her cute Leia-like knots, her nice-looking face - she is going to be the new Mata Hari! I might be wrong, though: when I asked the closest authority (Tiger) if Yuniper was indeed pretty, he answered that the red eyes turn him off. Being a chiss she'll have to live with that handicap, however, it was nice to explore the new (Imperial) world and storylines, and we logged out having achieved level 3.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

LOTRO: A wild perlino appears!

I must have been as baffled as Ravanel looks on the picture above when I opened my mail and found a code for a perlino steed from my friend Danania. After leaving jealous commentary about her beautiful perlino steed pictures on Raining Perlinos, she arranged to give away one to me, just like that! Thanks, Supergirl! It was a very kind thing of you to do, and it makes me double as happy with my steed.

After my initial cheers faded, the hard job began: what to wear when riding my new perlino? It had to be something cheerful, because 1. the horse looks happy and 2. for some weird reason "perlino" makes me think of "praline" easter eggs, and those make me happy as well (badly hidden pro-tip for Tiger). Shows how much I know about horses (not so much): apparently "perlino" is about the cream colour of the horse's coat...

I always make sure the colours of my outfit match those of the steed and I had none in stock that would do. So a lot of ctrl + left mouse click followed, combined with a lot of grumbling because no chest piece would dye the same colour as the fabric on the horse's butt. But then I found it: the elven faction dress dyed navy gave the correct colour on top! Combined with Twisttongue's Cloak dyed red and the Turquoise Summer Circlet (note how the drop of the circlet fits with the red drop decorations on the horse) I looked like the princess version of Supergirl!

     Princess Supergirl Outfit     

I'd like to give a special thanks for the knight in hunter's armour, Memyr, who returned from PAX 2012 with an extra steed that he kindly gave away... to a total stranger (me)! It is these nice actions by players or bloggers that brighten my day. I will ride my perlino through Middle-earth with pride.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Awarded a Beautiful Blogger

Now already a while ago, Robyn gave me the Beautiful Blogger award. Quite an honour, as she strives to design her own websites at Simply Creative, so she supposedly knows what to call beautiful! Accompanying the award were a set of "rules", among which some questions that I will gladly answer:

Why did you start a blog and why do you continue it?

I already wrote extensively about my reasons to start this blog in my post NBI: In the head of a newbie, but I'll tell a bit about why I'm still here. The most obvious reason would of course be: for you, kind reader! Indeed I think I don't think I would still write this blog if no one ever would read it. That's simply not motivating. I must admit that it's pretty cool to see that my amount of visitors per day has more than doubled since May, month of the NBI and about when I started this blog. However, I don't expect this blog to become very famous ever, for various reasons. I either don't play enough, or play too many games - big blogs cover very many games and gaming culture in general, or are restricted to one game and try to be "The Source" in that area. Writing such a blog would feel too much like work to me. Which brings us to the actual reason I blog, which is twofold: I have the need to write things down & I have an urge to create nice pictures and show them off somewhere. I guess it's the synergy between that need and reactions on this blog that keep me going (really, I wouldn't enjoy it without your comments!). That I sharpen my English skills as a non-native speaker is a nice side effect.

What does your average day look like?

I get up, get some vanilla yoghurt and tea and play a game or read my favorite blogs while I eat it. If I'm a good girl, I then open my agenda and make a plan of what to do. I'll do some chores, play some nyckelharpa, then grab the newspaper and jump on my bicycle to head off to university for a lecture of to the library to study. When I get back, I'll run for half an hour if I'm being a good girl with enough energy left. Then my beloved Tiger will come home, we cook and play some online games together. Crazy fact: I raid almost every day. During downtime (= if we need to wait on other people) I tab out to react on comments on my blog. I usually write my posts during the day, when I have inspiration. I often write on paper during a lunch break of if I'm traveling by bus or train.

What is your best and your worst collaboration with other bloggers?

I have been so lucky as to only have met and collaborated with nice bloggers. My little blog even has been spared from trolls (no, this is NOT an invitation!). My best collaboration, if you want to call it so, must be the one with Vaneeesa Blaylock and the other amazing authors of iRez. Starting as a Second Life blog, iRez developed into a blog about virtual life as a whole, and Vaneeesa invited bloggers from other disciplines over to broaden the community. And you can already guess, one of them was me! While I was invited over to just write a guest post, I suddenly had the positive surprise of finding myself listed as one of the blog's principal authors. Sneaky Vaneeesa did it again! iRez is the place for me to step out of character, take a step further away from gaming and get into discussion with the other authors. I simply love this virtual tearoom full of mysteries. I still haven't found out why the blog is called iRez and why you write Vaneeesa with three e's (psst, don't tell her that I'm such a noob!), but make sure to check out this blog!

What does this blog mean to you?

For me this blog is a place to tell about my experiences in the games I play. It's somewhere in between a public diary and a way of getting my opinion out there. Moreover, it's my own place where I can say whatever I like, which is a great freedom. Blogging - as in both in writing as with getting involved with the blogger community - is an awesome hobby. Just great fun.

The nomination

Yes, because receiving this award means you're allowed to give it away to other people, too! Originally, it said you have to give it away to five others. Now here's a problem: I don't really like chain mail constructions, and this smells like one. It's quite frankly the reason that I've been putting this off for so long. But now I've made a decision: I'm going to be a naughty girl and break with the rules. Not because I can't think of five beautiful bloggers (on the contrary, I can make up loads more), but because I think it's more meaningful to give it away with a bit more attention. So instead, I'll just nominate one blog and that is:

I admit that the first time I heard about her blog, I was like "what is this?!". Supergirl's humour, happy mood and positive posts are quite contagious, though, and I'm always curious to see what she's come up with. I guess she's like a little sun in the blogger world. Enough reason to get awarded as a Beautiful Blogger!

Have fun with your new title, Supergirl!

Edit: follow the trail and read Danania's beautiful blogger post here.

The six bullet points of this blog award: 1. Who gave you the award? 2. Why did you start a blog and why do you continue it? 3. What does your average day look like? 4. What is your best and your worst collaboration with other bloggers? 5. What does this blog mean to you? 6. Who would you like to nominate yourself?