Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gimli cast his hood over his face.

The Company stood silent beside the tomb of Balin. Frodo thought of Bilbo and his long friendship with the dwarf, and of Balin's visit to the Shire long ago. In that dusty chamber in the mountains it seemed a thousand years ago and on the other side of the world.

At length they stirred and looked up, and began to search for anything that would give them tidings of Balin's fate ...

'I fear the book had ill tidings to record ...' said Gandalf. 'The first clear word is sorrow, but the rest of the line is lost, unless it ends in estre. Yes, it must be yestre followed by day being the tenth of novembre Balin lord of Moria fell in Dimrill Dale. He went alone to look in Mirror mere. an orc shot him from behind a stone. we slew the orc, but many more ... up from east up the Silverlode. ... Poor Balin! He seems to have kept the title that he took for less than five years.'
--from The Fellowship of the Ring

I'm a bit of a night owl. This admission is no surprise to people who know me, but it also means that I'm used to the night sky and darkness in general. There were days at a previous job when I'd go to work early (3 AM local time) and leave at 7 PM, and in the winter I'd never see the sun in the sky.*

But after a few weeks of Moria, I've started craving the sun.

Although I may play one on LOTRO, I'm no elf. I don't mind urban environments, and as a kid I wanted to be an astrophysicist**, so I was fine with staying up all night working on telescopes. Khazad-dum, however, is a completely different animal.

Sure, there are places where there are wide open caverns that give the impression of space, but you're still enclosed under a mountain of rock.***

At least somebody has a sense of humor in this Valar forsaken place.
There's plenty to enjoy about the Mines of Moria, however, I can't shake the sense of impending doom. Sure, I know what happened to Durin's Bane courtesy of The Fellowship of the Ring, but that doesn't mean that the devs don't have more tricks up their sleeves. After all, the last third of Shadows of Angmar was a case study in an increasingly futile attempt to stop Angmar's inevitable victory in the North.

Having just completed the Waterworks (minus the raid part), all I can think of is that Balin and Company certainly weren't unprepared, and Balin himself was a shrewd and wise Dwarf. Was he simply blind to the reality of Durin's Bane, or did he think he'd marshaled enough forces to overcome what the entire Dwarf city of Khazad-dum could not? Of course, the expedition in the Expac is fortuitous in that a major obstacle (the Balrog) is removed, but the Balrog itself didn't destroy Balin's expedition; it was everyone else who'd moved into the Mines since the Dwarves fled who did it in.

(One of these days I should just go look up Stephen Colbert and shoot the breeze with him about whether he thought that Moria was reclaimed in the Fourth Age.)

*I would get in early so I could actually, you know, get work done. the 4-5 hours of (almost) nobody around meant that nobody would stop by and talk to me about stuff, so it meant I could focus on my large pile of work to do.

**I figured that since I was nearsighted --and consequently unable to sign up to be a fighter pilot-- going the science route would be the best way to qualify for the astronaut corps. There's one family story about when my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said "An Astrophysicist!" A puzzled look crept across her face, and she turned to my mom. In a loud whisper, she asked "What IS that?" "I don't know!" my mom whispered back.

***I've visited a couple of artificial caverns created by mining limestone (and Detroit has underground salt mines that I've not visited but are similar in scope), and the spaces created are similar but on a smaller scale. The closest I can describe it is the 21st Hall in terms of columns preventing the ceiling from collapsing, as I doubt Tolkien had the mining knowledge to understand how to tie the ceiling into the bedrock above and prevent the ceiling from collapsing. Tolkien could understand columns, however.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Well, That's That

I was going to post about something else, but it seems that Blizzard is continuing its dominance of my posting cycle.

This time, it's a bit unexpected: Chris Metzen is retiring from Blizzard.

He's not leaving for another company, unlike some of the others in the industry, but actually jumping off of the train to spend time with his family.

While I didn't agree with every decision Blizz' WoW dev team made, I can respect his work. Best of luck, Chris.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Don't Click on the Random Item...

...just sayin'.

Why, you may ask?

If SWTOR's tendency to hide World Bosses behind clickable items won't deter you*, maybe this will:

Seriously, if you find a hidden puzzle without any explanation, don't start acting like the dwarves in Khazad-dum and delve too greedily and too deep. You just might unleash an Old God upon Azeroth.

*And really, I've done that several times on SWTOR before I finally got the hint and didn't click. Like, say, on Voss. "Oh look, a mysterious tablet. OHSHITOHSHITOHSHIT!!!!!!!"

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Now this is a bit more like it

With Legion's release imminent, this arrived in my INBOX:

Now this is what I kind of expected from Blizz. No mention of my previous mains, however.

Best of luck to WoW players on release day!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Now This is an Odd Gear Check

Silly me.

And here I thought I was going to proceed with the story for LOTRO's Mines of Moria expansion without running into a grind.

But a few days later, and I'm slaying Orcs and Angmarim and Dunlendings in Eregion, grinding away at getting a legendary weapon up to L10. Apparently a legendary weapon demands sacrifice, bathing in the blood of my enemies. (Who knew?)

The first five levels weren't so bad.

The next two as well.

But by the time you reach L8, you have to whack a bunch of orcs just to move up a level, and I dread what it's going to be like when I get to, oh, much farther downstream, such as L20 or so.

I had no idea that I would end up wielding Stormbringer in LOTRO.

This was what the cover of the first Elric book
I owned looked like. From

And maybe I ought to start getting concerned about LOTRO's endgame, given how the Elric Saga ended up.

(And no, I'm not going to spoil that one; the Moorcock books are very quick reads. But given that Michael Moorcock has rather publicly stated his dislike for Tolkien's works, I'm not sure what he'd think about my comparison.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"I'm going on an adventure!!"

Somewhere, up there, lies the Black Pit.

Courtesy of a lot of diligent grinding --and a major boost from the LOTRO 50% off sale-- I managed to accumulate enough Turbine Points to nab the entire expansion for the Mines of Moria.

Some thanks goes to the oldest mini-Red, who has one toon on my account on this server, and did some grinding for deeds herself a while back.

But if you'll excuse me, there's a world underneath those mountains to explore.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Shaken, Not Stirred

I've always wanted to play a spy, because it is the ultimate acting exercise. You are never what you seem. --Benedict Cumberbatch

The 60's era spy genre, as interpreted by the SWTOR Agent class story, has all of the classics covered: danger, double crossing, sex/romance, an insidious enemy, and a dashing, heroic character at the center.

And no easy choices.

Although it was before my time by several
years, I'm familiar with this tune by Johnny Rivers.

I'm about at the end of Chapter 2, and I recognize all of the signs for a big reveal and/or turning point that sends me on to Chapter 3.* But the more I've thought about the class story that I've seen so far, I've been impressed with how clever Bioware has been to humanize the story and get you on the agent's side.

(Spoilers after the break)