Archive for the ‘Lord of the Rings Online’ Category

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Battle Bards Episode 4: LOTRO With Special Guest Chance Thomas

May 30, 2013

Battle Bards

The newest episode of Battle Bards is up!

This week, Syp, Syl and I talk about a selection of songs from the Lord of the Rings Online soundtrack. As a very special treat, we also have Chance Thomas on board to share with us the stories behind the music. In addition to LOTRO, Chance has also composed and produced music for a whole bunch of other video games, many of which you will recognize. Be sure to visit his website, www.chancethomas.com!

Anyway, this was exciting for me; never would I have dreamed of one day being able to pick the brain of the composer responsible for quite possibly my favorite MMO track of all time — Hills of The Shire. I had a blast with my co-hosts and our guest recording this episode, so be sure to check it out — it’s awesome.

LISTEN NOW!

LOTRO banner

Episode 4 show notes
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Something’s Gotta Give

August 16, 2012

I feel both blessed and cursed that so many MMOs have caught my eye this year. On the one hand, I wouldn’t be playing them if I didn’t think I would enjoy myself, but on the other, my gaming schedule is already full enough as it is and my wallet is begging for mercy. Even Guild Wars 2 isn’t off the hook on this, because let’s face it — I want to support the game and there’s no better way to do it than to spend money. I know we all get excited over free-to-play, but I wouldn’t be doing it justice if I took full advantage of F2P and never spent a dime, while all my money went to subscription games.

What’s that old adage? It never rains but it pours? GW2 headstart for pre-purchasers on August 25, with the official launch on the 28thThe Secret World with its big Issue 2 update on August 28th. Huge World of Warcraft pre-expansion patch on August 28th, with Mists of Panderia rolling out on September 25th. Rift with a brand new expansion Storm Legion hitting stores later “this fall”. I think I’m set for the rest of the year. That is, if I manage to survive my head exploding at the end of August, of course.

I mean, summers always tend to be slower for gaming so it’s not exactly unexpected when things pick up again when fall rolls around, but here I thought last year was bad with its parade of single player games all coming out within a couple months of each other. This year is even worse — Fall 2012 is the Attack Of The MMOs, and online games generally require a fair bit more in terms of commitment and investment. It’s time to put my foot down, draw the line, insert whatever metaphor it takes as long as it ends up with me coming up with a viable MMO plan, one which involves:

1) No more than two subscriptions, as I have never maintained more than two concurrent MMO subs at any given time and I’m not going to start.

2) Finding a good combination of games that will “scratch all itches”, so to speak.

Here’s what I mean by the second part: TSW is a no brainer as it offers a very different environment and gameplay style, WoW has got the traditional PvE experience covered, and GW2 doesn’t require a subscription and reigns supreme when it comes to the dynamic events department. This last point does unfortunately mean Rift will have to take a backseat as its fantasy setting and features make it too similar to the games I’ll already be playing, though at this point I have to wonder if I’ll even get to its expansion before the end of the year.

The thing is, I still want to play Rift — quite badly actually, especially now that I know some really cool things like housing dimensions are coming to the game. Earlier this week I was very tempted by an offer from Trion: buy a full year of Rift, and get Storm Legion free, but it may be best to just pass on that and wait to subscribe until after the winter or after I’ve had my fill of WoW. It’s a great thing when new games come out and the existing ones I love add new content, but something’s gotta give. Right now I’m just breathing a sigh of relief that I don’t also have the Lord of the Rings Online expansion (September 5) to juggle too.

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SWTOR: Going Down A Path I Cannot Follow

August 1, 2012

(Yes, I made a prequel reference. I realize I deserve to be taken out back and beaten savagely now, but I could not resist.)

It’s official. Yesterday, the news broke that one of the biggest MMOs we’ve seen in years is going free-to-play later this fall, though not too many, least of all us current players, are surprised.

Disappointment abounds though, from EA execs to yours truly. I wish the best for the game, but it does appear — after being continuously subbed since its launch — that this is to be the beginning of the end of my time with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

It’s not that I think a free-to-play model isn’t a good move for SWTOR or that I’ve suddenly decided it’s a bad game or going to be a bad game — the same way I’ve never thought switching to a F2P hybrid model has been bad for Lord of the Rings Online or Star Trek Online. On the contrary, I think it has worked out smashingly for Turbine and Perfect World, respectively.

I’m simply going by history here. Looking back at past experiences, my play time in the two games mentioned above dropped dramatically and ceased completely very soon after the announcement and switch. Maybe things will be different this time, but the data is against me. I can only extrapolate from that and apply it to what I think might happen with me and SWTOR — that I will continue to sub and play as normal from now until the switch, but afterwards I can expect to see my play time taper and diminish.

I really have nothing against F2P. I think it’s a great system which allows for a great deal of freedom and flexibility. I also know that I can go back to SWTOR whenever I want — in fact, it’s an inevitability, if they continue to update the game. But it never fails; rather than draw me in, F2P just tends to make me drift away.

While I love free MMOs, my problem is never having enough time to play them. These days, when a couple hours of game time is all I can manage each night, priority rightly goes to the MMOs to which I pay a subscription fee. I realize the hybrid model means I can always maintain a SWTOR sub even after the switch, but while I’m sorely tempted, being currently neck-deep in The Secret World and having both the Rift and World of Warcraft expansions (all sub games) and their promise of fresh content on the horizon, my economic mind is urging me to save money where I can.

I also tend to be the all-or-nothing type of MMO player, which is probably why I don’t particularly mind forking over $15 each month if it will buy quality content and everything I need to enjoy a game. In the words of my friend and fellow blogger Belghast (whom, by the way, put thoughts to words far better and more coherently than I ever could in his latest blog post), a subscription model is upfront and honest. I know I will never have to worry about encountering a roadblock and having to hit up the item store for the solution. I personally cannot imagine myself playing SWTOR this way, paying piecemeal to get restrictions removed.

For an “all-in” person like me, it tends to be a sub or nothing. That doesn’t mean I won’t find myself resubbing to SWTOR at all, but if my past experience with LOTRO and STO are any indication, it’s questionable whether or not I’ll be able to dedicate myself to the game with the same fervor again (though apparently, my purchase of a Collector’s Edition and the many months of being subscribed adds up to a good number of Cartel points which should last me a while). And let’s face it, when it comes to allocating my limited game time to a free MMO this fall, if anything that privilege will likely go to Guild Wars 2.

That said (and I’m clearly speaking from a bias here), despite witnessing one of the most highly anticipated big-budget triple-A game announcing it’s F2P plans after only a mere 8 months, I don’t think this necessarily spells the end of the subscription MMO. We currently have sub games including niche MMOs that are still flourishing, underscoring a need to keep in mind that each and every situation is different. To me, the message behind this whole situation with SWTOR isn’t so much that F2P is inevitable; rather, it is simply a company doing what it is best for their game.

Who knows how much, how long, how often I’ll find myself in the Old Republic, but no matter what, I wish them the best of luck.

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Songs To Soothe

July 19, 2011

5 lovely game songs to soothe the mind, settle the stomach, fall asleep to when your  body’s on the mend.

Minecraft – Sweden

Back during my early days of playing Minecraft, I happened to chance upon a zombie pit while digging for coal in the side of a mountain. Because this was on Blue Kae’s multiplayer server back when all of us were still invincible, I was able to rid the place of the undead rather painlessly, plant my torches around the spawning pen and loot the treasure box at my leisure. Amidst its contents, I found a record.

Of course, it was another handful of days or so before I found the diamond block necessary for the (literal) centerpiece of my jukebox. I stuck it in, and the synthetic and upbeat “Cat” began to play. I think working on my in-game beachfront property to this tune is what made me fall in love with C418 and Minecraft music. When I bought the Volume Alpha soundtrack, this song “Sweden” was and remains one of my favorites.

It’s also my alarm because it’s such a beautiful song to wake up to.

Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer – Villages of Khitai

Thanks to composer Knut Avenstroup I think Age of Conan has the best soundtrack of any MMO. We had Helene Bøksle’s haunting vocals spicing up the soundtrack for Hyborian Adventures, but the Asian-themed expansion required something different. But the result is no less beautiful. I mean, my GOD, listen to this. If you’ve never listened to the whole thing, do yourself a favor or at least go to what in my opinion is the best part, which starts at approximately 1:39.

Oh, and a funny thing about the above video is, whoever made it actually grabbed one of the screenshots they used from this very blog. At 0:36, I was like, “Helloooooo, that’s familiar”. It’s my very own Khitan alt Xiaohuli.

Rift – Stillmoor

Inon Zur is another genius in the music composing business and he does a lot of games. Rift actually has a pretty good soundtrack all around, but the first time I set foot in Stillmoor and I heard this beautiful tune I was floored. Still patiently waiting for the day Trion decides to release the soundtrack separately, digital download would be nice.

But this might not actually be as soothing as I think it is, because really, only the intro is like that and even listening to that part actually gives me chills every single time.

Lord of the Rings Online – Red Stone and Golden Leaves

Same as I wrote last year, the song “Hills of the Shire” remains my favorite LOTRO track, even though the Tom Bombadil theme comes close (seriously, doesn’t that song just make you want to kick off your shoes, put on a floppy hat and prance around in a flowery field outside) but ever since I hit level 30-ish this “Red Stone and Golden Leaves” song has started growing on me. It’s probably not a coincidence that this is around the time you get to Rivendell, and that’s the song that plays when you enter the city.

Dragon Age: Origins – I Am The One

Another gem from Inon Zur. I think everything sounds infinitely more awesome when sung by a woman with a somber voice in an unintelligible language, in this case, the Dragon Age elven language. Heruamin lotirien. I don’t know what any of it means, but it doesn’t make me love it any less.

There is also a DJ Killa remix which if I remember correctly played during the end credits. I don’t know what it is, but when I heard it I just thought it was the perfect conclusion. Is a song still considered soothing if it makes you cry?

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Vanity Insanity

May 10, 2011

Gritty Kitty

I have a confession to make — I really dislike dailies. I don’t like the tedious, repetitive nature of them, and most of the time they drive me bonkers. So why, then, did I so diligently do the Rift “prelude to the Spoils of War” dailies every single night for the last week without fail?

Because of the rewards. And not just any kind of reward. They got me with the only thing that would make me give a crap — the promise of rare artifacts, and a shot at a new companion pet (which I still haven’t had any luck with so far, I might add). I swear, any kind of fluff or collectible but especially the vanity items like pets, they get me every single time. It’s getting a little embarrassing.

Still, this aspect of an MMO is like a side game that gives me a different kind of satisfaction. In World of Warcraft, I liked collecting vanity pets because of the wide variety of them in game as well as the achievements for obtaining them. In Lord of the Rings Online, I fell in love with all the pretty cosmetic outfits. In Rift, I like how finding artifacts, picking them up and slotting them into your collections feels like filling in the empty spaces in your display case. I suppose I have the Pokemon syndrome; whether it takes hours or days of farming, spending ridiculous amounts of gold on the auction house, jumping through the hoops, or yes, doing a bunch of pain-in-the-ass dailies, I just can’t fight the urge to collect “worthless” junk.

The way I see it, just because it’s fluff doesn’t make it less valuable than say, a fancy sword or a rare helm off some raid boss. If it takes me time and effort to obtain and item, then that item has value to me, simple as that. Sometimes I find that the collectibles are even more dear to me; the sentimental value is there because more often than not, these items are things I went out of my way to get, and not just an incidental reward or a means to an end. Things like vanity pets, for instance, also stay in my character’s record and don’t go away, and the meaning of the collection never changes from patch to patch, or expansion to expansion, even as I’ve gone through gear sets many times over. Oh, and they’re cute. Mustn’t forget that.

I know some people just don’t see a point, and that’s fair. But to me, there’s more to playing an MMO than simply doing things that will benefit your character directly. I like gear drops and loot too, but sometimes I like the fluff stuff even more — thus explaining my current motivations for getting off my butt and actually doing the dailies in Rift. The moral of the story is, I could care less about grinding for special badges or fancy stat-ridden epics, but offer me collectibles and vanity items and, Trion, I’m putty in your hands.

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Developer Appreciation Week (DAW): Saying My Thanks!

March 21, 2011

Last year, Scarybooster came up with a concept — one that I would love to see become a tradition — called Developer Appreciation Week (DAW) where for one week, gamers put aside all their criticism, gripes, and general negativity to show our devs some love.

I thought this was a wonderful idea. I mean, we all play the games we do for a reason, right? We play them because we like them, and because we find things we enjoy about them, and because they are fun. But too often when I look around the blogosphere, these reasons are overshadowed by even the smallest grievances and complaints. So how great would it be that for one week, we get to bury all that for a change, and just focus on the good things? To lavish praise where it is due? To be given leave to be as big a fanboy/fangirl as you please?

Last year I participated in DAW with a post that thanked entire teams and companies for making the MMOs I have enjoyed over the last twelve months, and I think I will continue with that format today. It’s too difficult for me to even pick one creative team to focus on, let alone an individual person! As Scary himself says, it is such a hard process to find a specific developer to praise because each of them deserves it. It takes a team to make a game, and they’ve all done such great work in my eyes.

To Funcom and the Age of Conan team – Thank you. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into improving AoC and for the Rise of the Godslayer expansion released last year. You brought to life the breathtaking world of Khitai and gave me the chance — even if it was only for a brief time — to experience the meaning of true beauty in an MMO. To this day, the time I spent in AoC remains one of my most immersive experiences. To Funcom, keep up the good work and I look forward to The Secret World.

To Cryptic and the Champions Online and Star Trek Online teams - Thank you. Thank you for being the company that works its butt off. Cryptic will always have a special place in my heart, for all the great memories their MMOs have given me and continues to give me every day. In making Champions free-to-play, I was able to jump right back into a game I never truly really wanted to leave in the first place (technical difficulties) and I never realized how much more fun it was in that game to play with other people. F2P makes that easy — I look forward to fighting villains with my friends Blue Kae, Talyn, Oakstout and others again soon.

To Daniel Stahl and the hardworking men and women developing STO, the good things I want to say can probably fill a book. I was so happy to be part of their one-year anniversary in-game celebrations. The game has had its ups and downs, that is true…but I have seen much passion and effort in the past year reflected in the updates and Q&As, and you listen to your fans, which I respect immensely. I still feel this game is one of the more underrated ones on the market; issues with ground combat and complaints about the awkwardness of ship maneuvering abound, but rarely have I seen real praise for what I truly believe is a unique and innovative crew system. And no appreciation post would be complete without a nod to their Feature Episodes — I am eagerly awaiting the next arc, as my weekends feel a little more empty now without them.

To ArenaNet and the Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 teams - Thank you. Thank you for daring to be different, and for giving gamers the gift of more choice — from offering us subscription-free business models to other innovative approaches in online gaming. I was glad for my opportunity to delve into Guild Wars this last year, and I am eagerly awaiting to see what Guild Wars 2 will bring. It is hard not to get excited, when each piece of news or information that comes out is filled to the brim with creativity and interesting ideas.

To Turbine and the Lord of the Rings Online team – Thank you. Thank you for giving me a home in Middle Earth and for the months of joy LOTRO has given me this past year. I’ve always thought of the game as my “MMO spa”, a place to which I can escape for a relaxing game session — and going free-to-play did not change that. My compliments to the developers, who have worked so hard in ensuring that when I log into LOTRO, I feel as if I’m entering a different world. They’ve done so much in creating an immersive experience and fostering a fantastic community, I can’t help but repeat a thought I had last year — that if J.R.R. Tolkien was alive to play the game today, I think he would be damn proud.

To Blizzard and the World of Warcraft team – Thank you. Thank you for still being willing to take risks even after more than six years of success. Despite what others may say, I did think Cataclysm was a gutsy move. I know I’ve complained enough times about my disdain for WoW endgame, but have rarely ever talked what I did like about the expansion — questing and leveling. Yes, I know I say that about practically every MMO I play, but the new quests in Cataclysm were really something. Even if it was only five levels, I personally enjoyed them for what they were. Questing my way through each zone was like working my way through a storybook, and for the first time in years, I actually felt interested and excited about what WoW quest text had to say again.

To BioWare and BioWare Austin – Thank you. Thank you for advocating a bigger focus on lore and character, for pushing the boundaries of video game writing, and for putting story first. Thank you for making groundbreaking RPGs in recent years like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and delighting me with choices, consequences, and interactions with the game environment and NPCs in ways I’ve never imagined. Thank you for the desire to bring those elements to MMOs. To the Star Wars: The Old Republic team, I appreciate all the weekly updates on the game, even the Fan Fridays and the tiniest lore reveals. Not too many companies do that for their fans.

To Trion and the Rift team - Thank you. Thank you for releasing a complete and polished MMO. And the more I play Rift, the more I find to like about it — from rifting to artifact collecting, from the soul system to running dungeons with my guild. I’ve seen for months people saying Rift is a fun game, but that Trion hasn’t really made any huge breakthroughs or done anything that new — but I tend to disagree. For one, the devs have bent over backwards in some cases to listen to their players. Yet they’ve also stuck to their goals, to bring about their vision for the game. And finally, they made full use of the beta process and managed to pull off an incredibly smooth launch. I feel Trion has in fact managed to do something very few MMO companies have done before. I know it’s a different argument, but it counts for something.

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My PAX East 2011 Recap

March 14, 2011

So PAX East weekend is at an end. I feel a little sadness at that, since I had such a great time, but there’s a bit of relief as well. For one thing, I am exhausted.

This is the first chance I’ve gotten in days to get online and give my blog some attention again. If there’s something I learned, is that PAX lines are the great leveler. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, how old you are, everywhere you look everyone is groaning, gasping, cringing as they shift on their tired feet and stretch their sore back and leg muscles.

Anyway, here are the highlights of my weekend, which included some hands on time with Star Wars: The Old Republic. Mission accomplished!

Friday

We arrived in Boston after about 9 grueling hours on the road. We were delayed earlier in the day by traffic and other complications, such as a 5-month old puppy with an overactive bladder. By the time we were settled in, it was already almost 9pm. I had wanted to hit up the Rift community meet-up, but even as the hours passed by as we were driving, I knew the chances of making it were pretty slim. We were just so tired by the end of our trip, I opted to crash early so we could wake up tomorrow refreshed. Such a shame, though; I heard afterward that the Trion crew threw a rockin’ party.

Saturday

So the real fun begins in earnest. My brother-in-law lives in the area, so he knew all the best places for cheap parking around the Convention Center. However, we arrived to find out he had forgotten his PAX pass at home! As a result, I was dropped off to enter the building on my own.

I waited in the line to get in, noticing I did pretty good for myself. The doors finally opened at 10am and we were released from our taped off corrals like cattle. You know me; I made straight for the EA booths, specifically 912 where Star Wars: The Old Republic is located. I stopped in my tracks as soon as I saw a wall of TV screens showing off the Taral V flashpoing gameplay and just stood there and watched. This was the first time I’ve ever come so up-close-and-personal with the game, and I think I just wanted to take a quiet minute to appreciate the moment.

It was kind of hard to do. There were so many people. It wasn’t long before there was an announcement on the stage, telling visitors that the lines for the demos were already capped for the day. And this was barely 10 minutes after the door opened! Crazy. I heard they weren’t going to let anyone get into the line anymore, but that was okay with me. I knew before coming that there was going to be an iffy chance whether or not I was going to be able to get some hands-on experience with the game, and I’d already come to terms with myself about that.

Imagine my surprise when someone from Bioware wearing an Old Republic shirt came up and told me and the group around me, “You guys are looking at about a 3-hour wait,” before moving down and counting heads again, then telling those people “4-hour wait”. Apparently, by wandering straight over with the crowds to ogle the TV screens, I had unwittingly and cluelessly queued up for the demo line. Hell, I wasn’t there on Friday, I didn’t know! I just followed everyone else and it turned out to be the right place! I couldn’t believe how lucky I got.

Of course, that meant I’d left my husband behind and he wasn’t very pleased. He hesitated to ask me to get out of the line though, even before I told him it would be like me pulling him out of a Superbowl game when his favorite team was playing. He said, “No, it wouldn’t!” but he was understanding and made me promise I would wait in line again with him tomorrow if he wanted to play the demo too. Hey, to try for another chance to play SWTOR? No complaints here! I have the best husband in the world.

The time went by quickly, especially after I got to know my neighbors in line and started talking to them about the game. In a bizarre twist of fate, the nice gentleman beside me I was chatting a lot with turned out to be none other than TheDarkKnight, creator of the epic thread on the SWTOR general discussion forum, “Information gathered on the Old Republic so far!” I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with him on the forums personally, but I see his posts so often that I almost feel like I know him. It really struck me then; people talk all the time about how fan expos and conventions are such great places to meet up with your online friends, but it didn’t hit me until that moment — you can literally run into anyone in the community here. I was so glad to be in line with someone I “know”, and like his forum thread, he was a wealth of SWTOR information.

Finally, the moment of truth — as I neared the front of the line, all of us were asked what we were interested in demoing. I’ll admit I was sorely tempted to play the Taral V flashpoint. But being more popular, the wait was going to be a little longer. I decided not to test my husband’s patience and decided to play an Origin demo. I was plucked from the line along with TheDarkKnight who also opted to do an Origin, and led to another cordoned off area to await my chance to play — and if you’ve been following my SWTOR posts, my choice won’t come as a surprise — the Bounty Hunter starting area.

Sorry to tease, but I’m afraid my hands-on experience will have to wait for another post. I just have so much to say, but my brain is so tired right now, I can’t promise I can communicate all I want to say in a coherent manner. And also, I want to write it together with the hands-on experience I got the next day, because as it turned out, I managed to play the demo for the Taral V flashpoint after all…

After I finished the demo, which was about half an hour long, I gathered up my SWTOR swag consisting of a poster and a couple shirts. I received one of the latter after playing the demo and TheDarkKnight offered me his since he already have some — he said so that I could have both a Republic version and a Sith version. I was so touched and thankful! Bless good people. Bless gamers.

I went in search of my husband and my brother-in-law, who had been walking around checking out the rest of the expo. I had originally wanted to check out the Guild Wars 2 panel at 3pm, but I got done just shy of 2pm and BAM! Twitter informs me that they were already 100% full. Like, as in don’t-even-linger full. I should have figured.

I found the guys finally; they had been exploring, checking the Warner Bros/Turbine booth. My brother-in-law discovered free-to-play Lord of the Rings Online and they’d grabbed a couple game discs. I met up with them in the Nvidia area, where they’d been playing some of the demos there in 3D, and my husband wanted me to give it a try as he was impressed enough that he was actually willing to consider getting a computer with 3D capabilities for his next rig.

Ugh, I don’t know. First of all, everything’s a lot darker with the glasses on. Bugged the hell out of me. Also, I have messed up eyes, my left eye being far-sighted while my right one is near-sighted. Things generally balance themselves out, so I’ve never actually required glasses — but you can imagine what weird things that can do with my depth perception at times.  Anyway, I learned something that day. My vision gets screwed up when I attempt to see through 3D glasses, to the point I actually wonder if I see the same thing as other people with normal vision. Even if I was wearing my contact (yes, I was only ever prescribed one contact lens, and I’m only advised to wear it while driving) I don’t think I could stand having something resting on my nose while I’m trying to play a game. It’s why I disdain glasses. I’m fussy like that. Sorry, 3D, no thanks for now.

I also wanted to check out some Guild Wars 2, but was surprised to see no booth for them. Instead, their demo stations were spread out around the exhibition hall. There was one at the Alienware booth, for example. I knew there was also on at the Nvidia booth, so I went and looked for it. There was quite a handful of people waiting to play, so all I was able to do was watch for a while. I was quite impressed with what I saw. The person playing was a Charr — and the movement and combat I saw was exceedingly smooth. Not being able to get some hands-on experience with Guild Wars 2 was probably my only regret for PAX East.

We took an hour or so afterward to eat and go home to check on the doggies. My brother-in-law has a dog too, so it’s been a madhouse here with three hyperactive dogs running around. After cleaning up the mess the little puppy made, my husband and I took off back to the convention center to attend MMORPG.com’s “The Future of Online Gaming” panel. It was my first and only panel at PAX East, and boy, was it a good one. Information was sort of missing from the program, so I’m trying to go by memory here — panelists included Craig Alexander from Turbine, Scott Hartsman from Trion, Curt Schilling from 38 Studios, Colin Johanson from ArenaNet, James Ohlen from BioWare and a couple other devs from big companies. It was fascinating, to say the least, being able to hear what these bigwigs had to say about the genre and to see what their visions are for their games.

Interesting thing happened at the end of the panel. I knew from the conversations on my feed that many of my Twitter pals also attended this panel. I tried to see if I could spot any of them…and lo and behold, I caught sight of someone I thought might be Pete from Dragonchasers, just from the description he provided me of himself earlier last week. But see, I wasn’t sure. How embarrassing would it be if I was wrong? But I saw a woman with him who I thought might be @g33kg0dd3ss, and just went, ah, screw it, I’m gonna go ask!

I go, “Hi, excuse me, are you…” then wondered what the heck should I say? If I said “pasmith” his Twitter handle and it turned out not to be him would I just look like some random whackjob? So I quickly finished with, “on Twitter?” And when he said “Yes, I am!” that was when I finally relaxed and realized I was right. It sure was Pete and @g33kg0dd3ss! I also got to meet @Scopique briefly before I had to go to dinner. But I knew I was going to have a chance later that night to get to chat more — I was going to the PAX East 2011 tweetup!

So glad I made it. It was so much fun, meeting with some of the people I’ve known on Twitter for what feels like ages — @Scopique, @girl_vs_mmo, @adarel, @sera_brennan, @kylehorner, , @Hawkinsa1, @_jwgoodson, @g33kg0dd3ss and @pasmith. I wonder what my husband and brother-in-law made of it. I think to a certain extent it might have amazed them that some of us are only meeting in real life for the first time, the conversation was so lively and cheerful. Everyone had such a great day and we were all sharing our experiences and stories, and I just couldn’t help but think wow, this is the spirit of PAX.

It was almost 1am when I left the meet-up. As reluctant as I was to go, I knew it was getting late. It was also the night to “Spring Forward” and we were going to lose an hour of sleep. I had to be rested, for I had a BIG day ahead of me tomorrow. My husband is going to make me get up bright and early to make it into the SWTOR line again, after all…

Sunday

Sunday was light compared to Saturday. I hadn’t even originally planned to do much on this day, before I got roped into my promise with my husband. Thought maybe I’d sleep in late, walk around the exhibition hall a little, visit the gift shop and just have a relaxing day.

So I was not a very happy camper when I was dragged up at 7am in the morning, after only 3 hours of sleep. I sat bleary-eyed in the passenger seat while we drove to the convention center once more. I fought the urge to curl up in a ball and fall asleep on the ground while we waited to be let in.

Long story short, as early as we showed up, we still ended up in the SWTOR line waaaaaay near the back, to the point we weren’t even sure we were going to get to play today. I turned to my husband and asked him what he wanted to do. It was his day, I promised him. So I was going to let him call the shots. He figured we could afford to wait a little and see what happens.

It turned out he was right to follow his instincts. Within half an hour, the line had shrunk and we were bumped up to only a few hours wait. Being a Sunday and the last day of PAX East probably had a lot to do with that, with people taking today to do everything they had missed and of course, those with day passes would be reluctant to spend half their day in a line.

I had wanted to save instance content for when the game is released, but you know, when you’ve waited hours in a line and you’re suddenly faced with the opportunity to play it, I was just like, ahh screw it, gimme flashpoint NAO! So that was how I ended up being able to play the Taral V demo.

Again, I’m just going to have to sit on the write-up of my experience for now. It’s going to take some time to gather my thoughts during that whole time while I was being bombarded with so much stimulation and information. It’s not just about my excitement and anticipation while I was playing the game; the atmosphere around me itself was just chaotic and insane. Imagine trying to play with your group without any effective way of communication, while hundreds of people are talking and shouting around you and watching and commenting on your performance being shown to the crowd on a big TV screen. Add to that, you’re thrown into this instance as a level 32 character you’ve never played before and know nothing about. And if that wasn’t enough, you literally only had seconds to familiarize yourself with the ability set up in the action bar, as well as the really clunky gaming mouse they provide you with.

We were given some time before we were seated to learn our abilities and decide on our class and discuss strategies, but it’s just barely enough. It’s no wonder we saw so many groups flounder on the boss. During our briefing, we were told only about 15 groups have made it, as in killed the boss, which is about 1 in 5 or 6 groups. However, the BioWare employee helping us out at our station told us it was probably less than that, closer to 1 in 7.

I am so proud to say that our group consisting of me, my husband, and a two guys that we got to know who were beside us in line, got to be in that minority and beat the boss! We didn’t exactly do it gracefully, as it was one of those really hectic encounters that leave you wondering, “Holy crap, did we seriously manage to survive that?” Actually, our tank died. Usually when that happens, it’s a wipe. I had no idea how we managed to hold out, but at the end, we were so shocked we actually made it that we didn’t cheer for victory until our booth assistant cried out, “You guys did it!” I think even our audience watching our TV screen was a little shocked. The instance was already awesome, but the way we ended it just made it EPIC.

All in all, we got 45 minutes to play. There are some people questioning why they just don’t decrease the amount of time the demos take, so more people get a chance to play. It’s a nice thought, one that I’d entertained many times myself while I was in the line, but at the end of the day, there was just no other way to get so immersed in the flashpoint experience. To be able to play through the content, utilize your abilities and enjoy the combat and story dialogue, you simply required that much time. I have to admit, any less wouldn’t do it justice.

We got kudos for being able to “complete” the flashpoint, and received posters as a reward. Since my husband and I were both in the group, plus the poster I got yesterday, I now have a set of Republic-side and Sith-side posters, plus an extra Sith poster. Methinks they will look good in the game room once we set it up in the new house.

After our demo, we went around and took some pictures, did some last-minute things. For example, I desperately wanted to look at a 3DS and see what this glasses-free thing is all about. Instead of heading for the Nintendo booth, I found a much smaller crowd at the Capcom booth, where some of their games were being demoed on 3DSs. I didn’t really want to play; I just wanted to look. And the effect I saw was sort of…underwhelming. After all the great stuff I heard about the 3D effect of the handheld, it wasn’t at all what I expected. But hey, maybe it’s just my screwed up eyes. I’m probably doomed to never be able to enjoy 3D technology, until I suck it up and wear my contact, or get laser eye surgery.

I didn’t stick around long after that. I was pretty exhausted. I went home and — what else? — fell into bed and took a nap. Like I said, this is the first time I’ve managed to power up my computer and get online. What a crazy weekend, but it was one to remember. I’ll definitely never ever ever forget my first ever PAX!

Now, I shall crash. I’ll try to post about my thoughts and experiences with the Bounty Hunter origin and Taral V flashpoint demos tomorrow, if I can. Good night!

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