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Lord of the Rings Online

The Daily Grind: What's your favorite holiday event?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

Lord of the Rings Online's Winter-home theatre
I don't typically do MMO holiday events, but last weekend I was roped into checking out Lord of the Rings Online's Winter-home shindig. Most of it was standard grind-for-reward-tokens stuff, but there was one bit set inside a theatre that was pretty memorable.

Members from the audience were plucked at random to participate in a dev-scripted stage play, and depending upon how well you engaged the NPC audience with various character emotes, you could expect to be showered with either flower petals or rotten fruit courtesy of the player characters in the crowd.

What about you, Massively readers? Do you do MMO holiday events, and if so, what's your favorite?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

LotRO players put on Winterstock 2014

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Player-Generated Content

LOTRO
A new player event is coming to Lord of the Rings Online this month: Winterstock!

To fit the season, Winterstock will take place at the frigid (yet welcoming) Thorin's Gate on the Landroval server from January 17th through the 20th. The four-day event will showcase 19 bands playing in one-hour blocks during the afternoons and evenings for entertainment and amusement. Winterstock could be seen as the counterpart to summer's Weatherstock, which has been going on for years now.

The event is hosted by the Lonely Mountain Band and is available to all. A full schedule of the band times is up on the LOTRO Players site.

The Stream Team: Battling Thievery and Mischief in LotRO's skirmishes

Fantasy, Video, Lord of the Rings Online, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

The Stream Team:  Battling Thievery and Mischief in LotRO's skirmishes
The quest to run every Lord of the Rings Online skirmish has barely begun! With so many different skirmishes available, Massively's MJ has just scratched the surface, so she's diving back into Middle-earth in order to experience yet another. And wouldn't you know it, Bree is in trouble again! Brigands and ruffians have seized control of the city and MJ will fight to reclaim it. Join us live at 7:00 p.m. for a fight against the everyday evil that threatens Middle-earth in Thievery and Mischief.

Game: Lord of the Rings Online
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Daily Grind: Do you gather your own crafting materials?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Crafting

Lord of the Rings Online - Gathering black ash
I've been doing a bunch of gathering in Lord of the Rings Online lately. I'm trying to raise a couple of my crafting professions, see, and the auction house prices for the necessary materials are -- in a word -- ridiculous.

Not only that, but LotRO's gathering is a low-stress activity that I've always enjoyed, since it requires traveling throughout Turbine's ever-expanding version of Middle-earth and it's a great excuse to see the sights and snap a bunch of screenshots. Gathering's probably not for everyone, though. What about you? Assuming you craft in your MMO of choice, do you gather your own mats or do you acquire them some other way?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Jukebox Heroes: Reader request 3

Aion, Final Fantasy XI, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, RuneScape, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

jukebox heroes
Since it's our very last Jukebox Heroes column of the year on the very last day of the year, I thought it would be most appropriate to open up the reader request lines once again and feature MMO tunes that are your favorites. If you'd like to put in your own request for the next time I run one of these columns, please list your favorite MMO music track in the comments along with an explanation as to what you love about it!

So check out what your fellow soundtrackophiles appreciate and stay tuned for a totally rockin' 2014!

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The Daily Grind: Do you consume all available leveling content?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

LotRO's Oathbreakers
I've been dabbling in Lord of the Rings Online again lately, and much to my surprise, I've managed to go from level 58 to level 71 in fairly short order doing nothing but the now-soloable epic quest line. On one hand this is fantastic because I dislike themepark level grinds and am only playing the game again in order to get my character "home" to Rohan.

On the other hand, I feel a little bit guilty about speed-rushing through Eregion, Enedwaith, Dunland, etc., because the devs have filled these and other post-Moria areas with what appears to be a lot of quest content. In fact, I think I'm pretty much talking myself into slowing down and enjoying more of the Tolkien-flavored locales and quest text, since that stuff is really the only reason to play LotRO at all.

What about you, Massively readers? Do you take the time to consume all of the available leveling content, or do you save some for alts or otherwise power on through?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Road to Mordor: Lord of the Ring Online's roadmap for 2014

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Previews, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

LotRO
It's time for our final Lord of the Rings Online column of the year, so it's quite fitting that we use this space to discuss Executive Producer Kate Paiz's letter outlining what the LotRO community should expect come next year.

Before we begin, I want to mention that I have a mixed reaction to these letters from Turbine. On one hand, I love knowing what's coming and appreciate the attempt made to inform. On the other, these letters can be maddeningly vague on specifics (Turbine likes its "broad strokes" when releasing future info to fans), giving a "trust us, everything's going to be OK, but we're not going to say exactly how right now" vibe. I've grown weary of that. This letter in particular should have been as specific as possible.

There's been a huge swirl of discussion surrounding the letter, moreso than in previous years, due to the "bombshell" that there will be no expansion in 2014. I've been talking with friends about it and listening to what folks are saying, and I could make a case for this being the worst thing for the game and the best. But you don't come here for other people's opinions; you come for mine. Bring it on, 2014. I'm nothing but opinionated about this game.

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Jukebox Heroes: MMO holiday tunes

Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes
Last year I celebrated Christmas with y'all by sharing several holiday music tracks from MMOs, and this year I thought I'd keep the tradition alive. It's not always the easiest thing to find holiday-specific music from these games, as not every game bothers to make new tunes for time-limited events. Still, there are a few that have been sitting in my folders for a while that I'd like to share, including one very special piece of music that pretty much nobody's ever heard before.

So as we wind down the year and relax with friends and family, I'm volunteering myself to be the DJ at your abode. Just put these tunes on and mix up a batch of your best egg nog because the two will be a combination that will make your relatives rave about your refined taste.

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One Shots: Parking the Enterprise

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, RIFT, Miscellaneous

One Shots
Another week, another gorgeous Star Trek Online screenshot from reader Mark. Mark sent us in this picture of the Enterprise looking for a parking spot around Deep Space Nine, perhaps endlessly circling the lot while the husband's waiting for someone close to the door to pull out and the wife is arguing that they should just park a little further away and hoof it in with EVA suits.

Fun fact: This was just one of dozens of screenshots that Mark sent in February 2013 when we put out the Great One Shots Call for more pictures. A less-fun fact: We're starting to run out of community-submitted screenshots to share with you, and our well might be dry by the end of January. Remember, it's you who keeps One Shots alive!

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Lord of the Rings Online forgoes expansions in 2014

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

Hey LotRO -- no expansion for you! In a letter to players today, Lord of the Rings Online's Executive Producer Kate Paiz announced that the game would not have any expansions in 2014. That doesn't mean that the game won't have any additional content, however; instead of one big avalanche of content at once, the goal is to "focus on a steady flow of content throughout the year." The content that rolls in over the coming months will be free for VIP subscribers.

Paiz continues on to ask for suggestions about inventory and festivals as well as touches on housing, noting that that particular conversation will be continued throughout the year.

Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's reputation systems for the new player

Sci-Fi, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Guides

STO Tholian EV
One thing new MMO players will learn is that games that have levels inevitably also have a level cap, meaning that when a character reaches the highest level, there's not often much left to do other than to wait for a new expansion. This conundrum has left many developers trying to find ways to keep players in the game while they worked on new, larger content pushes. Many accomplish the task by creating repeatable quests or missions.

Some games, Star Trek Online included, have integrated what are known as reputation systems into their games. Reputation systems are meant to keep players participating in repeatable content, allowing them to apply the currency received from that play to obtain select items and unique rewards.

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The Road to Mordor: Still waiting for (better) housing in LotRO

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor, Housing

LOTRO
In all of the excitement of Helm's Deep and the changes that it brought, it was pretty easy to forget that we are running out the clock on 2013 and the devs have yet to do anything about housing other than evict a lot of bums and fiddle with the chests. Remember that promise? One of Executive Producer Kate Paiz's four big initiatives for the year? Let me refresh your memory, as Paiz said in January 2013: "I am extremely pleased to say that this year we will be tackling a major revision to the Housing system."

Well, bad news folks: It's not coming this year. I pinged Turbine for a comment about this, and Producer Hannah Foell responded by saying, "After some excellent feedback from the Player's Council we elected to spend more time on it and push the housing update back to next year."

This is disappointing though not surprising. I've had the feeling that Turbine's been "behind" with Lord of the Rings Online this year, especially considering the expansion testing and release, and the studio's been visibly reluctant to get moving on a housing revamp, going so far as to downplay expectations by the community. So if we're not getting any improvements to housing in 2013, then I have time to ponder what this system needs. And since I'm not on this super-secretive and super-mysterious player council, you can hear what my thoughts are right now.

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LotRO begins selling instant level 50 characters

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Free-to-Play, Promotions

LotRO
After testing the waters of the beta server, Lord of the Rings Online has decided that the waters of level-booster sales are inviting enough to try out a limited-time sale of instant-level 50 characters.

The new Gift of the Valar package is on sale in the LotRO store for 4995 Turbine Points. It not only raises a character to level 50 in a flash but will provide that character with level 50 gear, one gold, four ranks of each virtue, the riding skill, a goat mount, 25 mithril coins, and several other boosters.

This pack will be available through December 19th in its initial run.

[Thanks to Fredelas for the tip!]

Lord of the Rings Online offers a two-week VIP bonus for subscriptions

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, News Items, Free-to-Play, Promotions

If you can't get anyone but animals to come to your parties, you probably aren't as big a deal as you think.
You are very important. We don't need to tell you that; you probably already know and think that on a regular basis anyway. But do games properly acknowledge how important you are? If not, perhaps you'd like to try out a bit of Lord of the Rings Online, which is offering two free weeks of VIP treatment for everyone who purchases a recurring subscription plan. It's not quite as good as having a velvet carpet rolled out when you arrive at a club, but you take what you get.

The promotion runs until January 5th. If you want to try but don't want to feel pressured by the subscription fee, you don't have to worry; anyone who cancels during the two-week period will not be billed and will still be flagged as a Premium player. The only people ineligible are existing VIPs. So why not take the opportunity to be slaughtering orcs in style for a couple of weeks?

One Shots: Find the chicken

Screenshots, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Warhammer Online, One Shots, Miscellaneous

Glitch
Will there ever be a game as visually distinctive and memorable as Glitch? Considering that I'm still getting screenshots in from a game that was canned almost a year ago, I doubt it.

Reader Phinneas gave me this maddening puzzle that has consumed my days as I pore over it looking for the chicken. Where? Where? Where could it be? Under that tentacle-plant-thing? Under the next? Lurking beyond the frame? Oh, what trickery is this?

"This picture is of my favorites of the game's last few days," Phinneas said with an implied taunt in his voice. "I still hold out hope that it will be resurrected someday."

As I continue to look for the chicken, you can move on to the rest of our week's submissions!

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