Sunday, April 5, 2009

LOTRO Retrial Three Reloaded

Turbine ended up extending the retrial weekend into more like a retrial festival, due in part to some server instability and other issues. (Perhaps it would have made sense to wait a bit longer after the major patch before bringing in company?) I realized that this meant I could make the once per week rep items for the Jeweler's guild a second time, so I decided to sign on. A few notes:

Rewarding crafting Rep

I don't have access to the current expansion recipes, but taking a second pass through the three tiers that I do have was enough to qualify me for the lowest tier of rep rewards. Most of the rewards were recipes I would have used in my late 20's, but one was something relatively unique - a recipe with a cooldown that converts one freshly mined gem into five of the component I'd actually use in jewelcrafting. Not that low level gems were very expensive back when I leveled, but it's a nice little perk that probably helps make leveling more economical. I guess it's doubly useful for a player like myself who isn't really out in the field farming low level gems, since one or two of them would probably be enough to cover me for a long time coming. Similar recipes for higher level gems are available as you advance your rep.

I will say that I was a bit surprised to hit a rep reward so quickly. Progress would have been much slower if I was actually the appropriate level (I would have had one tier's worth of rep item recipes instead of three), but my gains show no slowing down. It's nice not to have to grind indefinitely (the game's old reps tended to require hundreds of solo mob kills for tokens, sometimes with nary a quest in sight), but it also looks like something I'm going to burn through pretty rapidly if I actually take a serious shot at it.

More Crafting notes
All the crafting exp from making the rep items was enough to finish the basic portion of the jeweler tier. I never worked on the final pre-expansion jeweler tier because they named the rare mineral required "Misty Mountain Silver" and therefore decided that it should only drop in the Misty Mountains zone (which was, at the time, half of its current size). This drove its value so high that I couldn't bring myself to waste it on crafting exp when I could sell it to buy top end crafted gear for myself instead. They renamed the mineral "ancient" silver and put it in all the zones that you would have expected it to drop in, and now prices are reasonable enough that I don't feel I'm wasting it anymore. Again, I'm a bit surprised that I hit this so easily during the retrial (even though basic proficiency is only 1/3 of the way to capping out exp for the tier). The good news is that I will now presumably qualify for the expansion recipes immediately when I purchase it.

One more tradeskill note, the superior workbench required for high level jewelcrafting is located in an out of the way town that did not have a bank, which was pretty irritating; I actually did some rep grinding with the Dwarves back in the day for access to their workbench (though it is located in an almost-as-inconvenient corner of their city). Anyway, Turbine redid the area to make a crafting hall that includes a banker, which was a huge step up.

The only quirk is that, as an indoor location, you have to zone into and out of the hall. I don't know why LOTRO's indoor locations are so limited on this point - you can ride from the Shire all the way to the footsteps of Moria without ever viewing a loading screen, but stepping into the bank for 30 seconds to grab something requires a loading screen on the way in and another one on the way out. It helps for a few indoor locations with NPC's (usually members of The Fellowship) who won't be there anymore once you complete the quest, but the rest of the time it seems irritating. Oh well.

Other tidbits
- I don't know when they made this change, but it's now possible to dismount without clicking a confirmation window by re-clicking your mount button. Having to confirm my desire to dismount every time I wanted to mine something or speak with an NPC had gotten really old, so huge step forward.

- I confirmed that my retrial account did NOT have access to the new expansion classes. I thought some of the various bloggers who were trying out the game's free trial for new players were allowed to roll up the new classes from the getgo, but perhaps their situation is less complicated than mine because the only way for them to obtain the game is by purchasing the all-in-one pack that includes the expansion. (I.e. either they become an expansion-enabled account or they cease to be, while I could technically resubscribe as a non-expansion account). Blizzard has figured out how to run an expansion trial that temporarily disables any expansion-only characters if you don't upgrade, but apparently Turbine felt this wasn't worth their time.

Overall, a bit more time with the retrial helped unearth some of the various little quality of life improvements that games tend to make when you're gone for a year and a half (albeit with return visits for three retrials). I don't know that I necessarily would have spent more time on it had I known it would last a week and a half, since Allarond is still stuck at the level cap. Regardless, my point is that a well-improved game is moderately effective at selling itself if given the chance. Having a time-limited - but not so limited that there's no chance to take advantage of it - retrial is a pretty good way of doing just that.

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