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Hajile

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Everything posted by Hajile

  1. No problem, mate! We shall see what the future holds for TSW. Their model looks a bit more promising than the ones we have seen in the past, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed it works out for them. Top notch game, too.
  2. drul, If that happens, then TSW's B2P business model will have failed, and their store will immediately become rubbish, just like all the others. I thought my opinions on that matter were implicitly stated in my previous post, but I do apologise if they weren't. If TSW's model fails, it will be a shame. It's a good thing that different games are trying different models. Different models means different strategies, and not all of those strategies will default into dickish stores run by dicks. Of all the models we have seen, a B2P model that favours subscribers is at the very least less likely to be run dickishly. Which is why I hope TSW succeeds using this model. Because if it does, then more games will follow suit and hop on the bandwagon of undickish stores. The more undickish stores that flourish, the less room there will be in the market for dickish stores to prosper, and so Turbine's gouge-happy model invented by dicks will be finished. With that in mind, we should all be rooting for TSW's success.
  3. What's this? A F2P model that actually offers something to subscribers? Sounds like the right way to segue into a F2P model to me. It seems quite similar to the GW2 B2P model, but with an optional sub to 'future-proof' your game and to get big piles of goodies. It keeps the purchase of the original box essential. Good. I think that's a monumental error in all other F2P models. Mostly because you have to retain at least some barrier to play, otherwise you open your doors to an army of players who have nothing invested in your game, and no interest in it either beyond idle curiosity. It also keeps subs relevant, and dare I say, preferred. You might get to play for free, but by subbing you get more than the paltry allocation of store points you get elsewhere - you actually get stuff. Some of it could be called advantage, sure, but a sub is the right place to put advantages. By tying advantage to a sub instead of a store, you not only place that advantage out of reach of people with no interest in committing to your game, you also make the sub more attractive and players will be more likely to subscribe. People will see the advantage of subscribing and will want to subscribe to get the benefits, rather than subscribe and wonder why they are bothering when it doesn't get them anything worthwhile. It's a two-tier system similar to what is offered in Champions Online, where subscriber is the preferred status and the only other thing subscribers are asked to pay for is pointless tat. I'm hopeful this will lead to greater success for TSW - it deserves more than it's gotten so far. It's quite a breathtakingly good game, and so different in feel to other MMOs out there. I'm also hopeful because if it turns itself around we might actually see more research done into how to make F2P systems more palatable to all players. If that happens we can be guaranteed a greater variety in F2P systems beyond the smash and grab mentality of Turbine, which is regrettably spreading like wildfire.
  4. Yes. Mounted Combat turned out to be a bit boring and rubbish. All that work. All those hours and all that money spent planning and developing it. All that hype. And what did it turn out to be? A damp squib that it seems not even Turbine are prepared to delve further into, preferring to focus back on regular instances not two months after the expansion launched. That lasted a really long time, didn't it? Gotta love Turbine and their long-term goals. This should have been a game feature that was the backbone of the immediate future of the game. But they decided instead to divorce it from standard gameplay so thoroughly that it was inevitable that it would be relegated to the role of a gimmick and a side note. A gimmick from which they could, quelle surprise, hang a massive amount of store-bought form and function. Bah to them. Quite how anyone can show even a shred of faith in Turbine as a developer is by this stage beyond me.
  5. Wouldn't take the job in the first place. Only a madman would. When Kate Paiz steps aside, it will be because the last few cents have finally been squeezed out of the game and she's fleeing to another job before the game's imminent self-destruction tarnishes her reputation to the degree that she'll struggle to find a subsequent employer. She'll leave just before that point, add "led Turbine and LOTRO to F2P megabucks" to her resume and stroll into another Executive Producer role somewhere too naive or stupid to do a thorough background check. The person who takes over will inevitably be pilloried as the person who "killed" LOTRO and their name will be mud, both in the industry and with gamers. The only thing that would make me accept the job would be if Paiz makes the announcement of the game shutting down herself before she announces her exit, and that the official line would be that I was being brought in to make the closing of the game as smooth as possible and to ease the dev team and player base into LOTRO 2, vowing to start from scratch and make none of the same errors as Paiz herself.
  6. Nobody really asked for 'more useful' things or things with increased function on the store for that price. They said that for something to be worth 5000 TP it would have to be, well, less worthless. Which is not the same thing at all. Turbine, of course, conclude the former, because their only intent was to go fishing for an excuse to conclude the former. They had no interest in or intention of interpreting the feedback in the way that their customers intended it.
  7. Uh oh. "From what you appear to be saying, something with a high price would have to have more of a use to it." They did not conclude "You do not want things in the store that cost that much, and the hobby horse is a stupid idea anyway. Bad Turbine, bad!" They concluded that they need to make those expensive items 'more useful.' I don't think that was the conclusion the people really wanted them to draw. From that their intention is clear - they had already decided that they were definitely going to charge that much for something, anything, and just wanted to determine how much in-game function they would have to attach to that item. It looks like the people who have responded in that forum been had. Turbine once again reframed the question they were asking their customers in order to goad a specific response from them. Typical marketing bollocks. From the player response, Turbine have just been handed whatever excuse they needed to put powerful items up for sale for exorbitantly high prices. If I were cynical (and I am), I'd say that was their intention behind the entire episode - to create a false controversy and refuse to respond until it hoodwinked the desired reaction out of people, so they'd then have the catch-all get-out-of-jail-free card of "the players wanted it" for use at a later date and any time they want. Nah. Doesn't sound like they're desperately scrabbling for money making schemes at all, does it?
  8. Before F2P the game had the appearance of being a modest success, not excelling but not doing particularly badly either. More than anything else, it seemed ...comfortable. I still to this day don't believe that anything was required to correct that other than a more sustained and ubiquitous marketing campaign. Like it received when it went F2P, coincidentally. As an aside - You mention Mirkwood as being a point on the F2P graph. I don't think you're wrong. If you check the chronology of events (and I have) you will discover that Jeff Steefel, the former Executive Producer, was ousted and replaced by Kate Paiz before the launch of Mirkwood. It was done behind closed doors and was not mentioned until the F2P announcement, but Paiz had been holding the reigns of LOTRO for almost a year before the announcement. A period which saw an almost nine-month drought of new content while they secretly plotted to take the game F2P, while they reassured their customers they had no such intention. I recall there was controversy even that far back about Turbine charging for Mirkwood, most of which was misdirected at Steefel, who had for months born the brunt of all the radiance and Runekeeper complaints from the player base and by that point was long gone anyway. Turbine allowed their player base to kick against and blame Steefel, as if he was responsible for calling a content pack a "Mini-expansion" and charging for it, as well as not providing any new content for an extended period. Except the person responsible wasn't Steefel. It was Kate Paiz herself. So when Paiz officially appeared for the first time, it was heavily implied that she'd only just been handed the reigns. When she announced the F2P move, Enedwaith and the first new content the game had seen in ages, there was a collective gasp of "finally!" and she was hailed as some sort of heavenly saviour come to rescue the game from Steefel's satanic clutches, when it was Paiz herself that had given those players their main cause for complaint. I don't have a doubt in my mind that it was done that way intentionally as part of a concerted effort to make the F2P move more palatable to a highly dubious player base. The "aggressive monetisation" of the game began a lot earlier than most would believe. It's certainly suspiciously convenient that the Microtransaction brigade took over the game at the precise moment Turbine began charging their players for content patches as if they were expansions. I could easily believe that Steefel intended Mirkwood to be a patch, and the Paizes caught the ear of an important suit with their RMT talk and saw an opportunity to usurp him through corporate politics. Steefel got a bad rap. He wasn't the best salesman in the world, had a habit of putting his foot in his mouth and he made some foolish decisions regarding the direction of the game, but I think he was earnest and he meant well. The lore was a bone of contention while he was in charge, and the occasional in-game system too, but the actual quality of the game itself was never in question, just the manner of its execution. It always seemed to me that what followed his removal from the game was tantamount to character assassination, presumably in order to make things easier for the Paizes to get what they wanted. Which was to sacrifice the game on the altar of the Almighty Microtransactions, with Kate wielding the gilded dagger.
  9. A hobby horse that is more expensive than the entirety of Rohan, and all the real horses therein. Oh ho, chortle guffaw. At this point, I'm beyond being outraged by anything Turbine do. Their actions are so boneheaded, so utterly and bewlideringly inept I find everything they do hilarious. It's now obvious that the people making the decisions at Turbine don't have the slightest clue how to make games or satisfy a player base. The only thing about them that surprises me is that people continue to be surprised by them. When's the next quarter end? March? I anticipate that this sort of thing will get increasingly worse until then, because I have a theory that with Rohan Turbine fell short of their last quarterly target and are now in the Last Chance Saloon.
  10. So who else predicted that Turbine would conveniently slap what is essentially Hobbit-themed content into the middle of what would usually be considered a Rohan-themed content cycle? Some might call that a cynical cash-in. Some might call it rambling and unfocused. Some might accuse them of only doing so because they couldn't think of any Rohirric content to develop. Some would also retort that it's a fine opportunity, and not to do so would have been monumentally dimwitted of them. And anyone who says any of those things would probably be right. That being said, sharply changing course like this is ...odd, to say the least. Where they go after this will be very telling. If they generate content that is also more Hobbit-y than Rohan-y, I think it'll be safe to conclude that they're trying to distance themselves from the lame duck that turned out to be Mounted Combat, Hytbold and Rohan. Myself, I'm more interested in what it means for future development of MMOs in general. It's something that until now never occurred to me - Instance Finders, with their ability to insta-port you inside, allow developers to un-link instances and raids from any landscape that may exist in game, thus freeing them up to go pretty much wherever they like and not be bound by the constraints of the game world. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is, of course, debatable. On the minus side it's inconsistent, it further segregates group material from an increasingly solo-friendly overworld, and such separation makes it far more prone to being ignored. It's more difficult to give a hoot about the context of an instance if there hasn't been an entire zone's worth of questing leading you to its doors. Such disassociation does little to enhance the feel of a complete world. Not to mention a piecemeal approach like that makes it much easier to chop up and sell as microtransactions. On the plus side it's more convenient for the player, and more flexible for the developer. It allows for surprises, and for developers like Turbine that seem to have severe ADHD, it must be a godsend to be able to wander off on inexplicable tangents whenever they want. Greater flexibility means greater variety, and what you lose in cohesion you gain in sheer breadth of ideas.
  11. Heh. Turbine business practice 101: Step 1 - Establish European partners who will do all your work for you and provide a level of service that attracts an audience. Step 2 - Snatch that audience away from your European partners by ending said partnership, obtaining a large market you haven't lifted a finger to earn. Step 3 - Gradually phase out all the additional services that market has come to expect while relentlessly gouging them for as much cash as possible in the shortest possible timeframe. Step 4 - When that customer base is on the event horizon of total alienation from your company, drop any semblance of the support or service they used to receive from your former partners and just ignore them as a market. Step 5 - Move onto the next of your short-sighted, short-term goals, oblivious to the irreparable damage you are doing to the name of your company in the minds of potential future customers. All that's left is Step 6 - Act surprised when people no longer trust your company enough to actually give you any of their money. Update your C.V.s.
  12. A license granted to Turbine by Middle-earth Enterprises. And the Estate aren't just going after WB because they're abusing the licenses granted to them. They're also going after Middle-earth Enterprises because the Estate claim they had no grounds to grant certain licenses in the first place, because they never owned the rights to those things. They are claiming when Professor Tolkien originally sold the rights to United Artists, what was sold were the film/TV/stage rights and rights to 'tangible properties' like figurines, board games, etc. They claim that the rights to certain things such as content for new and future media and non-tangible properties like downloadable games were never sold, were therefore never relinquished by the Estate and have been illegally usurped by Middle-earth Enterprises and WB, who are not the true rights holders. It's a bold claim, and it's dependent on the precise wording and possibly interpretation of the original contract of sale between Tolkien and United Artists. If it stands up then the Estate would be able to pull the plug on a huge amount of LOTR-styled properties. Not the Hobbit films themselves, clearly. Those rights are not in dispute. But hilariously, the Estate could serve WB with cease and desist notices for using the IP without permission or license. As unlikely as that is, I think we can all agree it would be wonderfully poetic justice. Bottom line is, however, if a court decides that which was licensed to Turbine was not Middle-earth Enterprises' property to license, there's very little Turbine can do about it. They could contest it, of course, but they'd probably have to close the game until they could persuade a judge to find in their favour, and that could take years. I don't see them continuing development or keeping players' character data if something like that was going on. More likely they'd just cut their losses. Anyway, meh. It almost certainly won't happen that way. But a guy can dream.
  13. There's a good write up here: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/11/tolkien-lawsuit/ It seems that this was triggered by the slot machines, but now the Estate are going after digital downloadable games as a whole amongst other things. They've named Middle-earth Enterprises and WB as co-defendants, and you can bet that if a court finds in the Estate's favour, a blanket revokation of all of Middle-earth Enterprises' unlawfully granted licenses would take place. And as that covers their right to grant licenses for ALL digital video game content, then LOTRO would certainly be for the chop, at least in its current form. If it turns out that Middle-earth Enterprises never had the right to grant the licence for LOTRO to Turbine in the first place - or that Turbine never had the right to alter the terms of their license to make the game digital-only - it won't even be up for dispute. Everything unlawfully granted - LOTRO included - would doubtless be pulled back to the Estate, cutting Middle-earth Enterprises out of the decision-making. They'd be allowed to keep their legitimate rights, to the films and "tangible properties," but their knuckles would be badly rapped and they'd be told not to be so cheeky again. It's worthy of note that pretty much every time the Estate has directly butted heads with Middle-earth Enterprises and their licensees, they have won. They might have settled out of court, but the language used in this lawsuit suggests that this is a matter of principle and integrity, and will not be settled easily. And this time the Estate has HarperCollins and Allen & Unwin named as plaintiffs and fighting their corner, too. Any way you look at it, if a legal fist fight ensues, this is going to get messy and very interesting. I'm hoping for a brief but down and dirty scrap found ultimately in favour of old Chris and chums.
  14. So the Estate are claiming that Middle-earth Enterprises didn't even own the rights to certain things that they have licensed to WB? My sides hurt from laughing at the schadenfreude. All things aside, this could be very interesting. I smell an out of court settlement is looming to avoid any legal complications torpedoing the Hobbit films, but if this leads to more stringent controls over what may and may not be granted, we could conceivably, somewhere in the ethereal realm of possibility, see Turbine's license pulled. All because they decided to go F2P and downloadable. If they'd stayed boxed-game and sub-only, they wouldn't be vulnerable to this claim.
  15. Exactly. I hate to be a know it all (actually, that's not true, I love being a know it all) but I called this back when Turbine first announced the F2P transition. Before it was even implemented and they were talking about the store containing only 'convenience' items, I said that if they are going to sell convenience items in the store it will inevitably mean that ever increasing additional levels of INconvenience will be designed into the basic game to try to push the customer all the harder towards those transactions. As a result, it would directly contribute to Turbine knowingly and willfully making their game worse, just to hock a few extra scrolls. People laughed at me and said I was being too cynical.
  16. I actually took the plunge fairly recently. My morbid curiosity got the better of me, I reinstalled LOTRO and used the vast wealth of points my lifetime account has accumulated while it's been left untouched to buy Rohan. Handily, I could do so without giving Turbine a dime. I haven't reached the level cap and haven't collected all my thoughts on the matter yet, so I can't really offer a fully in-depth critique based on my experiences so far. What I can say is that it's often been a slog through the content, which I'm pretty sure something you're meant to be doing for fun is not supposed to be. I haven't played since the Enedwaith days, so I've had two Turbine-sized "expansions" to get through and it's not been a fantastic experience so far. I have to admit, it has had it's moments - if it had no redeeming features I would have given up on it by now - but all in all I've found the new content to be garbled, lacklustre and interminable. The sense of structure is confused and it makes the game feel messy and haphazard. It feels like there are aborted, half-implemented infrastructures and abandoned directions of progress all over the place that they just haven't bothered to tidy up. Stuff that should have been heavily streamlined the instant it stopped being the focus of an endgame or level cap. It means that the game is full of redundant busy work that accomplishes little except frustrates the player. The entirety of Dunland and Isengard feels like a pointless dead end. The fact that it ends with a literal one and does not link to Rohan at all makes the matter all the more glaring. The storytelling, once the game's strong point, has been shunted into obsolescence by the vastly superior execution in games like SWTOR, TSW and GW2. The session play hardly does the material justice because the dated engine is no longer capable of evoking any palpable sense of drama, and while the tale of Nona and chums is decent, the game just doesn't have the technology or the panache any more to tell stories as gripping as those found in its modern-day rivals. It doesn't help that what little voice acting is in the game is absolutely atrocious, with inconsistent accents and endlessly repeating phrases spouted by multiple NPCs shattering whatever illusion the worldbuilding and the musical score can struggle to muster. As for the world design, I'd say that what I've seen so far of Rohan and the Great River makes it clear that their art department are still very talented, but have either been hamstrung by management or have become so unmotivated they're now just phoning it in. A lot of their work has glimpses of their former excellence, seen through a thick layer of the uninspired. Even the iconic locations like The Argonath and Orthanc are underwhelmingly ordinary-looking. Basically it looks and feels a bit half-assed, and is a pretty tedious playing experience, which is your F2P dollars at work, I'd assume. I'm glad it cost me nothing. I'd be enormously pissed off if I'd spent the, what are they charging? £40 for each of these two expansions? They're having a laugh if they think this material is worth even half the asking price. I'm going to be so glad when the F2P bubble bursts and developers have to remember how to make good games again...
  17. Disney now is not really Disney as we remember them - Since the merger, they are comprised of mostly Pixar creative minds and executives. And since Pixar was originally created and hived off from Lucasfilm itself, this is really nothing more than a reunion, only now everyone's got much, much better jobs, there's a different name on the building and there's no George Lucas around to screw things up. I should also point out that since acquiring Marvel Comics, Disney have taken The Avengers; which was a collection of comic book also-rans that nobody read and fewer people liked; and turned them into one of the most sustained and successful franchises of the last ten years. The quality of their output has been relatively high, and in some cases the films have been exceptionally good. This is almost certainly a good thing for Star Wars. It's back in the hands of the people that made it good in the first place. They just happen to be wearing a rather unfortunate hat with mouse ears on it. Although I'm curious - does this mean that Leia is now a Disney Princess?
  18. Unsurprising. Most of Massively's articles about LOTRO are glorified puff pieces where they endlessly rave about how wonderful the game is. Compare and contrast the tone of those articles with those for, say, The Secret World or SWTOR. Their last article basically states that Rohan is the best expansion to any game ever. They may as well make their intentions clear and supplement every article with the "schlup schlup schlup" sound of them blowing their corporate masters. In fact Massively's extended agenda appears to be to heavily promote the F2P business model as if that's the only feasible future in which MMORPGs can be successful. They treat any publisher that doesn't adopt that model for their games as a relic of the past and they either at best bury their games and at worst smear them until they begin to struggle. At which point they begin the "I told you so"s. It's so transparent sometimes it makes me wonder who else is bankrolling them besides Warner Brothers...
  19. A terrible situation for those who are let go. Hoping they find their feet soon enough. Regarding Turbine, I will be following this with interest to see what further news is released. Layoffs can mean many things, and the hiring of new executives beforehand is probably not coincidental.
  20. Had a quick look and couldn't see this posted anywhere. Apologies if it is, it's late and I'm a bit spaced out. Link Four in total. New Director of Design is the old Kingdoms of Amalur guy. New Director of Engineering is from a company formed by ex-Westwood staff. These guys sound interesting, although it seems odd that they would be replacing people in these positions immediately after the launch of an expansion. Is this just innocuous turnover of staff or is it indicative of something more juicy? New VP of Technology has apparently been hired exclusively to drive further monetisation. Finally, guy number 4 is some bloke from Zynga. Oh deary deary me.
  21. I wonder - do we have any of these figures from before the F2P move? I would find it interesting (not to mention hilarious) if there were now fewer people logging in than when the game was subscription-only. Oh, how I would laugh and laugh...
  22. There was a definite change in their marketing campaign to ring in the F2P move, I know that much. Excepting that brief period LOTRO's marketing has always been subdued at best. For the F2P move it was enormous and sustained. Something that I suggested back in the day was the possibility that their big spike in registered users, active accounts and profit margins at the time of the F2P switch had more to do with the marketing campaign that coincided with it than it did with the F2P switch itself. And you know what? I never saw a convincing argument against that theory. Of course, there is the possibility that if they hadn't agreed to take the game F2P WB may not have agreed to give them such a massive marketing budget in the first place. But it's food for thought nonetheless.
  23. ...it will just make you yell at your TV. It's pretty poor. Stick with the audio or books, or if you have to see it live action, the old BBC TV series. The TV adaptation has the all-time best rendition of Ford Prefect. In his defence, Martin Freeman is one of the film's few positives. Him and Zooey Deschanel. Mmmm, Zooey Deschanel...
  24. Sounds like an alternative to endgame for people who don't like raiding to get similarly geared. If it was just that I dare say nobody would be complaining. It would fill that void perfectly. If it's the only endgame there is and there's nothing else on offer, it seems breathtakingly flimsy.
  25. Previous LOTR games were published by EA, not WB. The Total War mods etc were released in the EA days, and oddly they didn't mind. Funny, that. It sort of suggests that EA are actually not all that bad as far as large multinational companies go compared to their competitors, and all this demonising of them that is currently going on will turn round and bite gamers in the arse should companies like WB end up controlling everything. The games WB have published so far amount to Aragorn's Quest, War in the North and F2P LOTRO, with Guardians of Middle-Earth and Lego LOTR to come. That says it all about the quality of their output and the effort they are prepared to put in. Are they working on a MERP-type game? I doubt it, and even if they were it'd turn out to be about as good as the rest of their trash.
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