Upgrades and patches and crashes, oh my!

So last night, leaving work, I was like a kid the day before Christmas. Not one but TWO shiny new expansions awaited me at home. By the time I went to bed, I felt like a kid on Christmas afternoon who’d found that all those mysterious packages had held socks and underwear.

I first hit LOTRO to get Mines of Moria installed. I’d opted for the downloadable version of that, and had “pre-downloaded” and installed the expansion a few days earlier. When I got home, the servers were down for a hot fix, but I ran the client anyway and… it took two hours to convert the game to Moria! Urgh. Once that finished, I logged in (after sitting in a queue) and played “spot the differences” with the UI (which primarily seemed to surround traits). I’d read about the big combat changes but I didn’t really see anything markedly different, but then I’m no theorycrafter. I wanted to get EQ2 going so I logged out after a few moments.

Angela had run the updater for EQ2 for me in the afternoon, so no patching was necessary. I had to re-open my account, apply my key and off I went, back to Norrath. My Dire Bear was kind of cool, but not as cool as the higher level ones (my character is 38) and not as fast as my horse. And beyond that… nothing really. I can’t fault Sony; they’d made it clear that this expansion was for level 50+, but I figured I’d find *something* shiny and new to excite me, but not really. I did log in to find I had 153% of the experience I needed to level from some change made in the past. So as soon as I got a point of xp, I dinged to 39 and half-way to 40, so level 50 doesn’t seem out of reach.

But then I crashed. Silently and with no fanfare. The screen froze for a second and suddenly I was looking at my desktop. I rebooted the PC, just in case, and once Vista eventually lurched back to life I logged back in. Played for 20 or so minutes and bam! Another crash to desktop. No obvious cause…nothing that connected the two occurrences in my mind. When last I played EQ2 (this past summer) the game was rock-stable for me, so I dunno what’s up. I have updated my video drivers since then; maybe its the PhysX crap in the nVidia drivers? I started surfing the support forums, but by this time it was after 11 and I finally just said “To hell with it” and went to bed, dejected and rather cranky.

And woke up even crankier this morning. Tonight I get to check out the “New XBox Experience” which honestly doesn’t sound all that exciting, but we’ll see. I’m going to set EQ2 to use a totally default interface in case one/some of my mods are out of date and breaking that game. If that doesn’t fix it, I’m not sure what I’ll do. Probably let it set for a few days until I’m more in the mood to troubleshoot PC gaming. If it turns into a long-running diagnosis/fix attempt cycle I’ll just write off my return to the game as a bad idea and go back to Warhammer.

Ah well. At least its Ghost Hunters night!

Great Barrows to Rivendell

The three day weekend wound up being devoted pretty heavily to LOTRO. My Champion is up to level 28 now, and went through the Great Barrows three times (I think?) this weekend. Enough that I’m not anxious to go through there again, in any event!!

For all the hours I played, I didn’t advance much. Did some deed grinding (the trees in the Old Forest, Wargs and Crows in the Lone Lands) and helped guildies and others with some quest lines. It felt like every time I needed a fellowship for a quest, everyone was about 3 steps behind, so I’d have to catch ’em all up. I don’t normally mind this, but I was on my main and some of the people I was catching up were on their third alts. It’s hard to catch my main up to their main when I’m spinning my wheels killing grays and helping their #3 alts to level.

Finally read a post at Kill Ten Rats about leveling fast. Tried it a bit yesterday and it sure works. I might just skip the Fellowship quests and concentrate on soloing for a while, except at such times that a Fellowship quest reward is going to really help me, or a group is set to go and needs a bit ‘o extra DPS.

As the weekend drew to a close I got it in my head to ride to Rivendell, so I did, on my pokey freebie Bree Horse (from being a Founder). Things got hairy after I crossed the ford where Glorfindel/Arwen (depending on whether you read the books or watched the movies) turned back the Nine. The road peters out after that and everything was purple, but I made it. Coming upon Rivendell for the first time was truly breathtaking (and the Trollshaws were nice too, I look forward to hunting there). I spent a good hour running around Rivendell geekgasming all over the place.

My only regret is that I didn’t get there earlier. I understand it used to be the you could stumble upon members of The Fellowship wandering the roads of Rivendell, but now they’re all sequestered in housing in preparation for the Mines of Moria expansion. (They instance housing so you see different things inside a building/room based on where you are in the storyline.)

Good stuff. I was getting vaguely bored before heading to Rivendell, I have to admit. I kind of feel like LOTRO keeps you in a particular zone for much too long, if you’re anal like me and don’t like leaving unfinished quests behind. I need to let go of that and play in areas that I’m enjoying, rather than grinding through quests because I “should.” Visiting Rivendell refreshed my enthusiasm for the game; I need to level up so I’m ready to explore the Mines of Moria!

But WAR looms on the horizon…