Pandaren belong to WoW as much as orcs do!

As I’ve previously written here, I was sure that pandaren are a possibility in WoW because they are NOT forbidden in China.

So yesterday, Blizzard announced their next expansion Mists of Pandaria and that’s when the shit hit the fan… apparently. I’ve seen it, heard it, read it in so many places. How dare Blizzard turn an April Fool’s Day Joke into “reality” (in the game world, at least)? How dare they butcher their lore even further? And yes, while butchering of the lore has certainly happened, I don’t really see them doing it here.

Pandaren have been in Warcraft’s lore since Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne (released 2003). Together with the nagas (a race nobody has complained about so far ^^), the pandaren made their entry. Granted, it was only one – the brewmaster. But he was there. And he brought beer! Why is there so much hatred for this poor little soul now?

A quick look at WoWWiki’s Pandaren page* led me to a link about the “Manual of Monsters”, “source book for Warcraft The Roleplaying Game” which was published in 2003. Said book already had pandaren in it and bits of their world and their culture have been known for years.

Now, dislike the addition of pandaren and their world as much as you like. Fair enough and all that. But get your facts straight! There’s no lore butchering because it is part of the Warcraft lore.

* An interesting read if you want to know what Pandaren are about – they’re originally from Kalimdor, by the way, as opposed to the orcs which stem from Draenor.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (August 1)

Welcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place about LotRO, Guild Wars 2 and any other interesting news related to gaming.

First things first, I found it amusing to read a dispute between several players in the Warhammer Online forum. The short of it: Mythic was at GamesDay in the USA (I forgot which city it was in. Sorry). A (former?) player asked some questions and got some uncomfortable answers. The worst one would be:
Me Q: So what you’re saying is Mythic is gonna stand back and do nothing while the game is going to hell?

Prod A: The game will stay up for the hardcore dedicated players as long as we got them the game isn’t going anywhere. We still have Ultima Online and DAoC and we’re adding new content for them.

However, he apparently misunderstood when James Casey talked about Rift and how some former members of Mythic worked on that game. And there’s still the question whether Shadow Warriors will get more Crowd Control or not. So what I quoted above is also questioned. Is it true or not? If you ask me personally, I’d say that the patch history and how much was added to the game since its release (compared to what was taken out) speaks volumes.

Edit: Artiee published a recording of the Q&A. It’s hard to understand but what I could hear basically confirms the quoted answer above. Still not really a surprise, I guess. But they did confirm that there are no resources for new content like a new class etc.

Not an MMO, but still a game I’m interested in: Diablo 3. This game will offer an auction house where players can sell items for real money. You’ll be able to see items and also characters! Apart from that, another sentence stood out: It was also confirmed that the game will require an internet connection to play at all times. I love having games on my laptop that I can play wherever I take it without having to be online. Germany isn’t known for its wide access to WLAN hotspots or other cheap methods to go online when away from your home access. ;)

For interested readers who are capable of German, I’ll give you three more links: Diablo 3 im Hands-on-Test, Item-Handel gegen echtes Geld und Jay Wilson im Interview. – The following might be a “good to know” for concerned WoW players: “Ich glaube nicht, dass unser Echtgeld-Auktionshaus auch in World of Warcraft funktionieren könnte.” Translation: I do not think that a real-money auction house would also work in World of Warcraft. So hopefully, we will never see something like that in WoW.

Guild Wars 2 will hopefully bring us some cool information at GamesCom. On the list of things to show is the Charr starter region, mid-level play for Sylvari AND Asuras, all 7 professions (which means we will probably not see the last class revealed there), finally more information about PvP in Guild Wars 2 and last but not least, the character customization! The latter is probably the most exciting part for me. Call me odd but I usually spend a lot of time making sure my character looks the way I want it to. Of course, knowing more about the PvP systems is also high up on my priority list. I can’t wait to get into PvP again (preferrably without having to worry about item spirals and sucking not because I can’t play my class but because it’s horribly undergeared).

Last but not least, Lord of the Rings Online talked about itemization with the upcoming expansion, Rise of Isengard. When I read the first two paragraphs, my heart sank a little. Fortunately, it gets better when you keep reading. I am just not a fan of the whole item spirals. I also do not get why a character should become more and more and more powerful because of super awesome gear. But at least, they will offer some good items to everybody no matter their playstyle. I would assume that this also makes balancing content easier. If you need to balance quests around players that have super-awesome-über gear and players in regular-standard-unter gear, I’d assume that it’s either too hard for the latter or too easy for the first group (I’m looking at you, World of Warcraft!).

Rift vs. LotRO vs. World of Warcraft – a closer look at all three MMOs (Final part)

Part 1: How much do the games cost and which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
Part 2: What can I play (races and classes?)
Part 3: What do the games look like?
Part 4: What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
Part 5: Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
Part 6: Crafting
Part 7: I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
Part 8: Fluff

One thing I forgot yesterday is LotRO’s music system. Just a few days ago, Weatherstock took place. I haven’t been there, unfortunately, but here is a video (close to 4 hours long!). If you want to jump right in and play some music, The Fat Lute offers all you need (that is: songs).


Let’s get to the last part of my comparison: The conclusion.

This will be even more biased and subjective than the previous parts. So, if you don’t want to read it, here’s the short version: Whether any of those games is for you is dependent on what you want to get from a game. The easiest would be to start the trial version (for Rift, you need to find somebody with an active account that can invite you – shouldn’t be too hard to find, though. There are lots of players, after all. For WoW, you only need to register for a trial account on their website. LotRO is free to play anyway).


The longer version: For me, all 3 games are solid MMOs where I don’t regret spending money. All of them get updates – including content updates. Which game is best for you is mostly a matter of preference.

A lot of people criticising WoW concentrate on its graphics. I personally like them. No, they are not up-to-date. And they are most certainly not realistic! But I like comics and I don’t mind comic graphics. If the game got released today, I would probably scratch my head at the graphics, though. ;) All in all, they are coherent. The world doesn’t look empty and it all fits together. That is what I find most important about all graphics, no matter the game. And this is where I find that all three games do it well. Then again, I really am not too picky when it comes to graphics and whether they make me stay away from a game or not. ;)

When asking whether a certain game is for you, you always need to look at what you are expecting to find in a game. In other words: What do you want from it and how do you play an MMO?

Your personal play style is important! I am going to list a few “stereotypical” gamer types and try to answer the question which MMO is for you. I know that people might belong to different categories. So don’t take it too seriously. ;)

Raider: I would probably direct you to WoW. They add new raids quite fast and regularly. They come in normal and heroic versions and you can choose between 10 man and 25 man versions. LotRO has raids as well but the cycle between adding more is slower. Rift also has raids. So, there you go. ;) In the end, if you do not mind waiting a bit longer (but do mind WoW’s graphics, for example), then you will probably have fun in the other two games as well. Of course, it is hard to say how fast Rift will add new raid content. It is still quite new, after all. Another advantage of Rift might also be that there are more new players. WoW has been out so long that it could be hard to find a raid that accepts somebody who is totally new to the game.

Casual raider (“casual” as in: You don’t have much time and/or prefer to play different games as well etc. “Casual” is never meant in a negative way when I use this term): LotRO. The “item spiral” (getting better items to get better items to get…) is a LOT slower in LotRO. In fact, people went to level 65 raids with level 60 raid gear. Also, as said above, the feature of scaling a raid in level is also nice because if the max level is too hard, maybe you can start practicing with a lower level first.

Solo player: LotRO. It does give you skirmishes on top of quests. You can challenge yourself with these skirmishes by making them harder. You can also get quite good gear just by doing solo content (the epic quest chain in Enedwaith is great for that!) and you can also get really good weapons. Of course, you might not need that stuff when you are mainly playing solo but advancing your character is always nice, I think. Even if nobody is there to see your awesomeness. ;)

Collector: Depends on what you want to collect. If it’s non-combat pets, then stay away from LotRO. ;) If it’s furniture for your house, then only LotRO. If it’s titles, then probably LotRO although you will get them in the other games as well. ;)

Small-group player (no raids but group content): LotRO. 3 man instances and skirmishes for 2 or 3 people is something the other games do not have. Rift might also be nice, especially because of its open group system and its open world rifts. It is easy to find groups this way, so no hassle of waiting around until you have finally found enough group members to do something.

Roleplayer: LotRO. All three games offer roleplaying servers but I have heard so many good thing about roleplaying in LotRO. Especially when it comes to player made events. Then again, I don’t want to say the roleplay in WoW or Rift is bad! Not at all. It’s just what I have seen and noticed myself. I guess Tolkien’s world is just so easy to get you inspired and with all the choices of cosmetic gear, lots of emotes, housing, etc. it is easier to roleplay. What you will need either way is connections to like-minded people. Get a guild/kinship and join them. Sign up for roleplay events, etc. Don’t just stand around waiting for others to roleplay with you. :)

Discoverer (the one who reads every single quest text and/or wants to see every part of the world): All three games have lots to see and very nice quest chains! So no game “wins” here.

PvP player: Don’t choose LotRO. Rift and WoW both offer so much more when it comes to PvP. One open zone is nice and it may be fun to play there once in a while. But it does get repetitive when you do that every day and when there is no other PvP to do and apparently no changes on the horizon (well… Monster Play will be open for free players when Rise of Isengard launches in September. You will be able to play one class: the Reaver. Turbine might be working on another PvMP zone but that one won’t come with the addon in September, so I wouldn’t count on it in the foreseeable future).

As I said: It depends on your play style, what you want from a game, your personal preferences and so much more! So hopefully, this blog series has helped you with making a decision. And if not, all games offer trial versions (well, LotRO is freemium, so you can more than just try this game, of course). Also, Rift has only been out for about 3 months. While a lot is known about the game, it is still hard to say which direction it will take. LotRO and WoW have been out for several years, so it is easier to guess what they are going to do and what they are not going to do.

Rift vs. LotRO vs. World of Warcraft – a closer look at all three MMOs (Part 8)

Part 1: How much do the games cost and which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
Part 2: What can I play (races and classes?)
Part 3: What do the games look like?
Part 4: What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
Part 5: Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
Part 6: Crafting
Part 7: I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)

Today’s topic: Fluff (aka “other”)

Stuff to collect: Yep, all games have stuff you can collect. I have already mentioned the non-combat pets for Rift and WoW. LotRO does NOT have non-combat pets. If I remember correctly, I read somewhere that non-combat pets would cause too many issues with server performance. So only Loremasters can have them (they are LotRO’s pet class) – but when they have one of those little companions with them, they can’t have a regular combat pet out. So in this case, it probably doesn’t cause any extra stress on the poor servers. ;) The screenshot shows my dwarf in WoW with a little tree pet. It gets smaller and smaller the longer it’s out but once it gets into the water, it grows back to its regular size.

All three games offer a variety of mounts. “Unfortunately” for LotRO, they are bound to Tolkien’s lore. So there are no rideable dragons or unicorns (or sparkling ponies – although I do have a glittering pony). Only goats, horses and ponies are available. Rift has standard horses but also weird looking Yarnosaurs and turtles. They also have mechanical horses. I would say that WoW offers the biggest variety with flying and ground mounts: Horses, dragons, motorcycles, mammoths – you name it, they probably got it. ;) The screenshot on the left shows my warden on her summer festival mount. The next screenshot on the left (a bit further below) shows my character in WoW on her flying dragon. The one below that one, on the right, shows my goblin on her “mount” (well, trike, obviously).

Housing comes up sooner or later when people ask about MMOs. Unfortunately, most developers answer with: “Not in our game, no.” Only LotRO has housing. This, in itself, is very nice. And you can have a sweet little house. However, compared to how other games with houses solved this, I am sorry to say it but LotRO’s housing stinks! You have “hooks” which are predefined areas in a house where only certain items can go. For example: A rug can only go on two or three places in your house. No, you can’t put it in the corner. It’s either in the middle of the room or nowhere at all. You also can’t put a bed in the corner with a shelf next to it and a little stool. If there’s no hook for it, there is no way to put all the furniture next to each other. That’s especially fun when you have a table and a chair. Nope, don’t even think about putting them there next to each other where it’d make sense. ;) You also can’t give a different wall colour to every room. In some cases, two rooms only have one slot for the wall paint. So, it is very restricted! And even though players have been asking for changes over and over again, it doesn’t seem that Turbine sees this high on their priority list. Which is too bad but I guess I am in the minority when I say that I love housing and that’s a big part of what keeps me playing a game. If you want to decide between those three MMOs and you absolutely must have housing, then LotRO is the choice for you.

Also a nice thing for collectors: Titles. There are a ton of titles in LotRO. My hobbit is very proud to be the “Little Wonder” which she had gotten for finding different items in the newest zone Enedwaith. I don’t know if it is complete, but here is a list of titles. WoW has titles as well. Note that you can have a title in front of your name or at the end of your name here. Last but not least, titles in Rift.

WoW and LotRO also offer festivals that fall accordingly to our RL holidays like Christmas, Easter,… LotRO also has a summer festival, WoW has Children’s week and so on. The screenshot on the left shows the maze in LotRO. It’s quite fun to run through it and there are several quests, even timed ones, that lead you through the maze. During these festivals, you can also usually get a new mount or non-combat pets (the latter only in WoW and not in LotRO). Unfortunately, WoW is not friendly to low level players! During the first WoW Brewfest (yes, on time for Germany’s Oktoberfest ;) ), they had fun ram races where you could get a Brewfest Ram for levels 40+. The next year, those rams were not available anymore and you had to be at max level in order to get the faster version of this ram. There was no explanation as to why the low level ram was removed. It just was. Luckily, those who had already gotten the ram in the first year could keep it (and upgrade it to the faster version). LotRO placed all its festival areas into the low level regions. There’s usually no problem at all to participate as a low level character! I don’t know if Rift offers festivals like this. They had a special event some time ago, though, with special rifts taking place all over the world and there were some open world bosses to defeat. Participation in the rifts and doing some special dailies gave you a special currency which could be turned in for special rewards. I think I chose another non-combat pet.

WoW and LotRO offer addons. WoW has had them for a long time and thus, the addons are usually of a very good quality. It is also easy to install, maintain, load or unload addons. LotRO’s addons (or plugins, as they are called) are still in beta. If you have several plugins, you need to load them all manually by typing something like “load plugin XY”. Imagine what that is like when you have a ton of plugins. ;) Of course, plugin developers solved that problem by programming plugin managers. So you only need to load this plugin manager and can then load the other plugins easily without having to type any further commands. Plugins in LotRO are also heavily restricted in what they can do compared to WoW (no looking at the items in your alt’s bank while you are logged into your main character, for example). All in all, the current system leaves a lot to be desired especially when looking at the usability and the plugin interface. You also need to go to Turbine’s forum to the plugin section, find the appropriate thread with a specific download link and download some folders without which a lot of plugins would not work. Hopefully, Turbine can move that whole development out of beta soon and make it easier to use (it started last autumn, I think, when LotRO turned f2p). Still, there are a few addons that I’ve tested and really like. The screenshot on the left shows Palantir: the percentages on the left and the right show her health and power. The bar below my character has spaces to put pots in that are used to get rid of debuffs. The bar on the right shows a buff she’s just activated and how long it’s still active. This bar also shows debuffs if there are any on her. The screenshot on the right shows my character in Rift after she used some item that temporarily changed her appearance. The next two screenshots show mounts in Rift next to the mount vendor.

Plugins/addons are often criticised. Especially when they are made mandatory by your fellow gamers or used in a way to easily spot the “n00bs” and make fun of them – or kick them from your group. There is the infamous “Damage meter” in WoW which shows everybody how much damage you have done and if it is not enough, you are ridiculed (well, not by everybody, of course. But it has happened!). And then there is Gearscore which adds all your items’ item levels. This alone doesn’t say anything about your skill as a player. It just says how great your gear is. And players started to not invite other players who did not have a high gearscore – even for content where a high gearscore was not necessary. But some players think another player with better items means that they must be a good player. Or, to turn the argument around: A player with a low gearscore must be a new (and thus, bad – or not-good, player) and thus, they would not want to have them in their raid.

Trion is working on addons for Rift. So currently there are none in the game.

Cosmetic items: Both Rift and LotRO let you equip items “cosmetically”. You can wear your regular gear but have the appearance of other items. That is very nice if there is this one item that is SO much better than your current one but you don’t like its look at all. LotRO supports this system by having tons of cosmetic items that don’t have any stats on them but only have a nice appearance. If you want to see some examples, have a look at Lotro Stylist and Cosmetic Lotro, two blogs that show different outfits that you can put together. WoW has no such thing. Rift and LotRO also let you dye your gear in different colours. Again, WoW has no such thing.