The new house

9 05 2012

So in one of the crazier things  I have done recently I convinced herself to move house last week.

Now just to set the scene and lessen how weird I sound I should mention that moving had sort of been up for discussion for a while…..just not really in this fashion.

We had just been going through the motions really, you know how it is. A few minutes day dreaming on Daft.ie, a couple of visits to completely random houses. Nothing concrete.

Then boom! I saw my dream house.

I really, really didn’t think that C would be interested in it. Our tastes in property are normally wildly different, she likes trendy new houses and I like rambling country estates where you could set a remake of an Austin novel.

Still I decided to send her a link to it anyway just for a laugh. Next thing I know my mobile is ringing, “I’M IN LOVE! I have called the letting agents and we are going to look round it tonight at 5”

That was Tuesday 1st May…. somehow between then and Saturday we found ourselves handing over a stupidly large deposit and moving in, how is that for hasty!

So here in all it’s ridiculous Georgian glory is the house that has made two normally sane, rational adults go more than a little bit ga ga… Underhill House

Oh and yes, the nerd in me is stupidly pleased at the silly little reference to the Lord of the Rings in the house name 😀

 

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Martin Freeman to play Bilbo Baggins

1 11 2010

I am  a little behind the times on this as I have been up the walls recently and haven’t been looking at the entertainment news as much as I normally would so

But there it was in black and white Martin Freeman (no relation to Morgan) of The Office fame is to play Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hoobbit movie!!!.

Personally I think that he will be perfect for the role, not only is he English and I have always visualised Hobbits as being essentially fat little Englishmen, but he looks exactly like a Hobbit!

This is going to be a really big step in the right direction for Freeman, who has come a long, long way from his days as Tim in The Office or as John; the actor who is filming a sex scene with the oh so appealing Joanna Page of Gavin and Stacey fame in Love Actually.

I am now even more excited about these films then I was previously and that was fairly excited let me tell you! As much as I love the Lord of the Rings and have read it far more times then I should probably admit to the Hobbit has always held a special place in my heart.

I had always enjoyed reading, even as a small child but it was Tolkien’s story about a Hobbit that lived in a hole in the ground and the adventures that he had that really started my life long love of fantasy books.





Lord of the rings online…for FREE?!?!?!

8 06 2010

Well it turns out that the rumours  that have been rumbling away for a while now were true, Lord of the rings online (LOTRO) is going free to play (F2P).

Turbine dropped this not so unexpected bombshell on Friday and it would seem on the face of things that this is going to work out pretty much the same way that things did with Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO).

So why has this happened, well the population in LOTRO has never really hit the heights that it might of and on my recent visits to Middle Earth I have even found that it has dropped off a bit.

If DDO is anything to go by and it probably is, we can expect to see a big spike in the number of “subscribers” when F2P goes live and then for things to settle down a bit but still be a lot higher than current population levels in LOTRO.

Whilst I can see the big plus sides to going F2P I do remain a little bit skeptical of how it is going to work out in the long run. I worry that with the game suddenly being free there will be a vast influx of new players and the chat channels etc will suddenly be full of the sort of idiocy that you see so regularly in WOW etc, the reasonably mature standard of players in LOTRO has always been one of the big attractions for me (other than the hobbits of course) and I know it is a big factor for a lot of other players as well.

The biggest worry for me is that the standard of content that is released for the game is going to suffer as a result. Already we have seen Siege of Mirkwood released even though it wasn’t a patch on the original game or Mines of Moria and I can envisage a time down the line when we will look back fondly on SoM and long for the good old days.

Whilst I can see that from a numbers point of view F2P makes sense I jsut can’t see how it makes sense in the life of the game, this isn’t some tired old MMO that has been kicking around for far too long and needs to be put out to stud, Turbine have only taken us into a very small part of Middle Earth so far and there is plenty of scope not only for future expansions but even to give the game a bit of a mid-life overhaul.

One things for sure at least I won’t have to worry about having too many subscriptions now!





The beginning of the end

25 04 2010

So I was reading through a selection of different blogs that I happened to come across and this particular one here peaked my interest.

The writer is discussing what happens when a long established guild dies or falls apart, this is a subject that is actually pretty close to my own heart at the moment.

The reason for this is that our LOTRO (Lord of the rings online) Kin is dying. Let me set the scene for you; our kinship was founded when the first expansion pack, Mines of Moria, was released. It was made up of a core of players who had all been around for a while and had all been in other kins and weren’t particularly happy.

In other kins most of the emphasis had been on completing as many end game runs as possible and other than people who were twinking their alts there hadn’t been much help coming down the ladder to newer players.

We decided to change that, we wanted everyone to have equal access to loot, the guild bank, help with quests and runs etc and it worked. Boy did it work, by the middle of summer last year we had over 1300 members and were the largest guild on our server, Nimrodel.

We had a good group of officers who made sure that everything ran according to plan, we actively enforced our policy regarding levels of activity (in active for more than 30 days and your gone) and it looked like the world was our mollusc! Because of the high levels of help offered by more experienced members we were able to level new players very quickly, we had 24 hour officer coverage to make sure that there was always at least two high level toons online to help settle disputes or assist with runs, in short it was what we had wanted when the guild was founded.

Then it all suddenly seemed to go wrong; squabbles and arguments started breaking out more and more frequently, the levels of booting activity started to rise exponentionally, large amounts of high end items started to vanish from the kin chests and they had to be locked down to just officers, runs and raids that we could finish easilly started to go awry. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong.

Jump forward a little bit to February this year; because of the problems that had existed over the past few months a fairly large number of officers had left, so too had a very substantial number of other kin members – we now had just over 600, sure new members still joined up but it wasn’t the same. The original spirit and drive that had existed had gone and no matter what we tried it just wasn’t coming back.

As it stands at the moment the kin is dying on it’s feet, we keep trying and trying but we are fighting a losing battle, we all know it is going to happen at some point the only question that remains is when.

Do we keep on fighting the good fight until things fall apart by themselves or do we call it quits of our own accord?

Personally I have always been a fan of picking my own fate as much as possible.





Welcome to the world…of Warcraft

24 03 2010

Well after a two year break away from the digital crack that is WOW it looks like I am headed straight back into the most popular MMORPG known to man.

My reasons for leaving WOW in the first place are numerous; from the packs of annoying 12 year olds playing with Mum and Dad’s Mastercard through to the annoying gits corpse camping everywhere they can in order to gank noobs. To cut a long story short I vowed never to return and promptly threw myself into LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) with great gusto.

But times change and people change; my High Elf Guardian is now level 65, Moria has been thoroughly stomped into submission and Mirkwood has been torn a new one, in short I’m bored.

The Kinship that I helped start has matured to a point whereby it doesn’t need the constant fussing and maintenance anymore, the endless stream of new players looking for someone to run them through instances or join their group to help twink them has dried up to the occasional trickle.

So like an addict looking for his next fix I have been trying out everything and anything I can get my hands on; Baldurs Gate I & II, Never Winter Nights, Oblivion, Fable II and Spellforce I&II all have been chewed up and spat out again as I try to find something to fill the bottomless RPG void in my life. Likewise I have dabbled with some harder stuff; Perfect World International , Age of Conan and Dungeons and Dragons online, but none of them have managed to hold my attention for more than a few fleeting hours.

So what is it about WOW that sets it apart from the competition, there are certainly other games that are very enjoyable and equally immersive;  LOTRO is one game that springs instantly to mind.

I guess there are as many views on why WOW is top dog as there are players, but for me I think it isn’t one big thing that sets it apart, it’s a collection of many smaller things.

I think that unlike many other MMOs that are out there WOW has got the mix just right, for the avid PVPer there are whole servers set aside where you gank people to your hearts content, for the more player that doesn’t always want to be risking certain (virtual) death at the hands of a superhuman  Korean there are still designated places where you can melt faces and for those of us that would rather not vanquish our fellow players there is insane amounts of PVE content that mean you need never set foot in an area or battleground.

The classes are well worked out and by this stage in the game they all  feel more or less “right” there isn’t anyone class that is desperately in need of being tweaked to make it more powerful or toned down to make things fairer on everyone else, if I compare this to other games it is a vastly different situation; for a long while in LOTRO the Hunter class was basically a death dealing demon from the skies, yes it was squishy if you got in close, verrry squishy but that didn’t matter, the mobs were dead before they realised they were in a fight.

Sure it was corrected eventually but in the meanwhile things just felt a tad unbalanced, no slight on Turbine; they have done a fine job of turning the works of Tolkien into a very playable MMO, but at the same time I can’t imagine Blizzard taking as long to react, too many people would complain.

Maybe this brings me to the key point here, WOW is quite simply huge, not just in terms of the amount of content (which is monsterous) or the areas there are to explore (which are vast) but also in terms of the sheer number of players; last time I looked there are over 12 million of the buggers, to put this into context that more people then there are in Belgium (WOW is more exciting than Belgium as well).

When you have that many players all paying there monthly fees you are talking about a lot of pounds, shillings and pence each month, if you DON’T stay on top of your game you are shafted, if keeping 12 million people happy means that you take just an extra little bit of care with things, or pay just that extra 5% extra attention to detail, than that is a small price to pay! Plus when 12 million people talk you have to listen.

If you are running a MMO and have an in game population of say 300,000 if you do something that 2% of people don’t like you get 6000 complaints, if you dont act on that you might lose half of those people that complained so you might lose 3000 people.If Blizzard manage to piss of 2% of their in game population thats 240, 000 disgruntled customers, thats a figure that some games would bend over backwards to have as their entire subscription base.

So maybe thats why WOW is the best, maybe not at everything all of the time, but certainly overall.

They are the best because they have to be, 12 million payments of $14,99 a month say they have to be.

As for me going back maybe the biggest factor is that my girlfriend has finally said I can…








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