Moving forward

Introducing my new blog, Wandering Through Digital Worlds!

If this is your first time visiting Wandering Through Middle Earth, please head on over to the new blog given it is the one that will be updated from now on.

Here are the RSS feeds for the new blog (email subscription can be found at the new blog). You can follow the blog in its entirety which will cover Lotro, GW2, and occasionally other games or only follow specifically Lotro or GW2 I hope I did this right.  It's my first time using feedburner!:
 Subscribe to all
 Subscribe to Lotro only
 Subscribe to GW2 only

For those of you who've been following this blog, I'm sure you noticed my latest Guild Wars 2 post and that there will be more to come.  In the past I've snuck in a post about other games a few times but it felt a little bit wrong as well, they had nothing to do with Middle Earth. ;)  When I first created Wandering Through Middle Earth, Lotro was the only game I had screenshots of and the only one I wanted to talk about.  During the past year there have been other games I've been playing and would like to talk about, but have mostly refrained due to this being a Lotro blog.  I'd like for that to change and to have a more general gaming blog, yet its focus will still be on Lotro and soon Guild Wars 2 as well.  So I've tweaked the title of the blog to reflect what I do:  wander through and explore games!

I could have changed the url for this blog, but that seemed like a huge hassle that could potentially lose followers.  In the end, I've decided to leave this blog here as it has a history and has become established on the web (reading up on feeds and google standings and how not to lose followers.. ugh, did my head in :P). Also I couldn't get the polished look I wanted here at blogger.  Wordpress isn't perfect but I'm much more happy with the final result.

I've imported the entirety of Wandering Through Middle Earth over, including comments and will be continuing with posting there, so this will be the last post at this blog.  I really hope everyone makes it over!

If you're a blogger that has been kind enough to have this blog in your blogroll, I'd be incredibly grateful if you could change the link to the new blog! :)

It's been fun here at Wandering Through Middle Earth but I look forward to an expanded topic list.  Not much will change though.  Just a new url, a few new subjects and what I think is a much prettier look!

See you over at Wandering Through Digital Worlds!

Saruman T2 complete!

My raiding alliance Innocent downed Saruman T2!  It was another server first as well.  It feels really good to have finally done this, especially since morale had been getting low.  I say We pulled it together, had some pep talks, and finally downed the old guy!  We had 3 deaths in the last phase so no challenge mode.  I still don't know how we're gonna get challenge mode done, but at one time T2 seemed pretty impossible, yet we've done it now.  So Saruman CM and Fire and Frost CM is all Innocent have remaining, plus going for the clear-in-one-go title. Congrats all!

First Foray into Guild Wars 2

Soooo.... can it be August 25th already?  Because I'm so ready to play Guild Wars 2!  I preordered too late to take part in the first two betas then was on holiday during the third, so I figured I'd just wait for the game to launch.  But this past Thursday they had a stress test (and a bonus one late Friday night!) and I couldn't resist.  I think I've fallen in love with this game.  I was oooohing and aaaahing the whole time and having loads of fun.  It's screenshot heaven as well.  The game is BEAUTIFUL.  I had been worried I might not be able to get over the skimpy female outfits, the way they run and how you can see their backsides a lot.. but it wasn't so bad.  It was a minor annoyance which was mostly forgotten about as I was blown away by the game world.  The attention to detail is incredible. 

The game play is also extremely fun, but I'm going to have to get used to mobs actually being difficult.  No taking on mobs 2-3 levels higher than me like I would in Lotro, because that's going to lead to death... very quickly! And no going back later to get things done when you're a higher level as you're downgraded to match the level of the area you're in.  That could be troublesome for any challenging quests.  I really liked the way they handled quests of new ones popping up when you entered and area and your map keeping track of them, instead of you having to manage your quest log manually.  The random events were super fun.  I even managed to start off a few myself by paying attention to what the NPCs were saying around me.  One of the events had us catching rabbits before they ate a farmer's watermelons.  So there is silly stuff and fighting.  It all felt a bit chaotic but I know I'll settle in soon.

The combat is going to take getting used to.  Luckily I'm used to playing on the move, but I'm not used to dodging attacks.  I also chose to try out an elementalists which looks like it will take a little while to learn the skills.  As with all classes, equipping  a different weapon type will change your skills.  But on top of that the elementalist also has 4 attunements (fire, water, air, earth) which all have new skills.  Add combos on top of that... the amount is a bit mind boggling!  The sheer amount of crafting materials I was picking up was intimidating.  Basically there is going to be A LOT to learn.  Sure I could get by with basics, but I'm the type who likes to become good at the classes I play.

Anyway, I first wanted to try a Sylvari given that I was thinking I'd prefer a human for a main, so I'd save that for later.  The Sylvari are.. interesting looking. Definitely not your typical elves.  They're pretty in their own way though.
Unfortunately the starter area boss was bugged and no one could get past it.  Quite a few of us stood waiting around for a while:
I wasn't going to waste any more time (the stress test was only 4 hours long) so left that character and went ahead and created a human elementalist.  She's quite pretty as well!
Immediately I went exploring as I was so taken with the world.  It was hard to not continually take screenshots. :P  Though one annoying thing is GW doesn't have a first person view which makes taking screenshots more difficult, especially when you want to take ones that look upward.  It was quite amazing seeing Divinity's Reach in the background for the first time.  It's one, proper huge city (I'll save pictures of the interior for later):
I ran into a random, pretty graveyard in which you could read all of the graves.  I also ran into a mysterious person suggesting ghosts are there at night, so I must remember to go back one night!
Whilst exploring I decided to go through a random Asura gate, I managed to get myself to some other city.  I don't recall the name and I'm too lazy to look it up. :P  I didn't do much looking around it as it's also huge and I had limited time.  I did run up to a view point nearby which had some goggles to put on.. which had the curious effect of changing my character into a bathing suit:
So I went for a swim.  Things are just as pretty underwater as they are above it!
That's enough screenshots for now.  Next up: inside Divinity's Reach.

August Update

So what's been happening in the world of Lothirieth?  Well, I've been renovating a house, finally moving into said house (yay for something newer and more space), went on a holiday to France (oh the lovely sun!) and will be wrapping up my second Dutch language course (maar ik kan nog steeds geen goed Nederlands spreken.  :/  Het is heel moeilijk voor mij.  Maar ik begrijp meer en dat is goed!) 

Oh wait, you mean what's been going on with game stuff? ;)  Well, the backlog of screenshots continues to grow due to some busy months, so I figured I'd do a concise update of some things I've won or obtained.  Other than that, I've not been playing Lotro all that much.  The combination of bugs, lag, Turbine blatantly displaying its greed and not feeling at all excited about the new expansion has left me with not so much interest.  I'm logging in for raids and a bit for the current festival, but that's really it.  I feel I mainly want to rant about the state of the game, but I'd rather not have my blog contain mainly that.  So I'm taking the approach of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" I guess!

Anyway, stuff! Stuff that's been going on! Well, I found one super ugly staff!  It just looks a bit too evil...

My warden won the Steed of Bright Days, which means I'm rarely going to see it as I have no intention on playing warden anytime soon. :P  It lives up to its name of being quite bright, but I like it. :)
My loremaster won the loremaster steed.  It's nice I actually won the class mount for my main, but I have mixed feelings about it.  When I first saw the preview pictures, my thoughts were "Yuck! That's hideous."  I wasn't alone.  It's been entertaining to read some of the comments on the official forums.  I quite enjoyed something Catburg said:
I can't decide whether it looks like it's wearing old lady's bloomers, busty barmaid's blouse, or a babygro.

I laughed when I saw I'd won it in a lottery as it seemed so ugly, but it's not so bad ingame.  The sheer number of scrolls is a bit over the top, the books have poor graphics and your cloak clips with all the stuff on the back (which you can see in the next picture)... but I don't know.  It's okay.  I'll ride it around for a bit, if only for all the stares I get. :P  It's entertaining to be sat in Galtrev and see people stop, stare and walk around you. :D  Oh, you can also see I have a new snazzy cloak. ;)  I got a broken cloak clasp a little while ago but was torn about what to do with it.  The necklaces are clearly the better upgrade, but I've gotten the clasp so late ingame that the necklace would be obsolete soon.  The cloak offers a small upgrade but a cool cosmetic that lasts until they pull the plug on the servers.  But my need for my character to be the best it can be is strong.  I finally bit the bullet and just got the darned cloak, even though I feel the need to explain to everyone that yes, I do realise the necklace is better!
Fuzzy books and cloak clippage. 

I joined an impromptu Barad Guldur run and somehow lucked out and won the chest and leg pieces which happily are now bound to account rather than character.  I've lusted after the minstrel armour in the past so went and got that, then immediately slapped it on my runekeeper!
Lastly, I finally got a chest piece I've been looking for!  It dropped in a T1 Saruman and everyone got a chuckle when I had to yell out for the raid leader to just not distribute all the junk as it wasn't all junk!  My hobbit loves his new outfit.  I think he looks quite dashing! (Though I forgot to put on the matching gloves I have when I took these screenshots. Doh!)

Double the fun

From Loading Artist :

A hopeful sign, on the state of Lotro's music

One of my beefs with Lotro has been the declining state of its music.  On a whole it's never been particularly stellar, especially when you compare it to Jeremy Soule's compositions (I've never played Guild Wars, yet I know all the soundtracks quite well.  And of course one can't forget The Elder Scrolls Series. <3), but it's certainly had its moments of greatness.  I think up until the Lothlorien area the music in Lotro was largely decent with some tracks being better than others.  But afterwards, especially with Rise of Isengard, the music took a turn for the worse.  I believe music should help immerse you in the environment and perhaps create memories or evoke feelings of that area, not jar you out of it. "Ugh, what on earth IS that? *quickly goes to UI Audio and promptly turns music volume to 0*"  It's the later that's been happening to me post-Moria (though I'm ambivalent about the Mirkwood area).  In my opinion, we've gone from music that actually had a regional feel that fit the region it was meant to represent, varied tunes, actual themes and a more complex harmonic structure and counter melodies to music that is bombastic (not in a good way), meandering, unfocused, simplistic and lacking form.

Lotro has rehired Chance Thomas to compose music for the game again which was news I welcomed as this meant the game music should at least be okay with moments of very good. :P  Today they've released a track called "Lotro Legacy":
Not a lot new there, but it's promising nonetheless in my opinion.  There's a reworked Tom Bombadil's theme and the theme I associate with the skirmish tutorial. :P  It's still infinitely better than this.... well... junk:
This is what we've been subjected to lately.  There are more examples such as the music from the Northcotton Farm instance or Lost Temple instance  It's cringeworthy to me when you compare it to other pieces in the collective Lotro score.  I've actually found it difficult to find post-Mirkwood music, especially RoI music, online.  I wonder why? [/sarcasm]

On the whole, I think I might like the Mines of Moria soundtrack the best, specifically what sound to be fleshed out, full orchestra tracks as opposed to the synthetic ones.  Since I've just assaulted your ears with some horrible music, here are what I think the better moments of Lotro music are:
  • My absolute favourite music of the game is the music that occurs in Walls of Moria area.  I always get excited when I begin that epic and go crank up the music volume. The Hollin Gate (love the all the arpeggios!) and Hour of Doom are simply gorgeous.  They both make me stop my gameplay, sit there and just listen.
  • I quite enjoy the Lothlorien music, yet I find it has low replayability.  If I'm questing in the area, I eventually have to turn it off.  Though for a while The Golden Wood, The Falls of Nimrodel, unreleased Caras Galadhon music are all very enjoyable.  
  • Tom Bombadil's Theme - it fits wonderfully to me.  It creates such a light and joyous atmosphere as you exit the Old Forest.  I can just picture Tom skipping around and singing.  Listening to the music makes me want to grab my hobbit, pay him a visit and skip along with him!
  • Hills of the Shire - I always hear this bit of music whenever I cross the Brandywine Bridge into Buckland.  So cheery and pastoral and hobbit-like!  There's also Silent Hope which is a soothing track that to me is reminiscent of the main theme of Hills of the Shire.
  • Lament for Oakenshield - suitably dwarfy with the male choir.  Moving music that fits its corresponding instance.
  • The better bits of the Moria region's music: A Journey in the Dark - this is what always plays first for me when I enter Moria.  It really sets the mood with its minor key and sounds heavy, a bit dark and ominous, yet at the same time grand and evoking a feeling of being in an old, enormous and important location.  Khazad-Dum - this track really brings the depths of Moria to life.  This is the track that's featured in what I find to be the most fun session play of the game yet, We Cannot Get Out, where you play the dwarf Ori.  Archers of the Galadrim - strange name for the track considering it only ever plays in the Morroval area of Moria for me.  I find it quite a fun track!
There's even more good music that hasn't been officially released.

Besides the quality of the music there are three things I wish they'd address, though I'm not holding my breath for any of this to happen:
  • A toggle on/off for combat music.  In the past I have avoided mobs when good music was playing.  It's immersion breaking to have a mob get your character into combat and have some brash combat music with bagpipes start up!
  • Keep regional music regional.  It's also immersion breaking to hear Lothlorien music in Eregion or music you normally hear in Bree city out in the wilds of Dunland.  I'm not quite sure when they started doing this (Enedwaith release perhaps?), but it was quite noticeable once it started.
  • Fix the ambient sound bug.  I highly recommend cranking up the ambient sound to max.  Aside from Angmar and the Nan Curunir area (I'm not sure what the person who made those sounds was smoking at the time), it's fantastic and brings the game to life for me.  But sometimes, the game will trigger the wrong sounds, such as Breeland birds chirping whilst you're in Moria.
Going through the soundtracks has been quite fun and has helped me remember how varied the soundtrack has been in the past and really highlighted how Turbine hasn't been doing the latest regions justice.  There's really nothing distinguishing about the music whatsoever.  Given what Thomas has done before, I'm really hoping that he'll bring back the regional, thematic flavour of the game's music.

Girly Girl

This is something I'm not.  I don't really do flowery clothing and certainly not pink!  But this year's spring cosmetics are strangely an exception. :)

I really like the new circlet.  I was never a fan of the previous flower circlet.  It just looked like a clump of flowers on your forehead. :P  This one is elegant, delicate and beautiful.

 Another variation with the hood from the store: