Monday, 27 August 2012


A Rpg Classic

It was the time when personal computers were considered amazing if they had 10GB capacity and the games were spectacular even if they looked like funny figures full of large pixels. Baldur’s Gate belongs to that age.
 I recently had the fortune of replaying the game I hadn’t played in over 10 years. When my husband first discovered the CD in one of them forgotten boxes I couldn’t help but laugh. And then I decided to just play it for fun and reminisce the old times. Later I discovered that reminiscing the old times is not always as fun as you think it might be :))) I played for a few hours and then of course I quit and set it aside. But it reminded me of simpler times and simpler games. So simple that in the intro video you hear a knight speak in a complete yank accent as if he was ready to take off his armour and rush to the baseball field. It was hilarious.

Character creation then meant only the stats and the class. The avatar you had for the entirety of the game was but a frame on the right of your screen which you chose among the already prepared icons. The avatar you saw in the game was a standard, funny, pixel man or woman and the only modification you could do was the colour of what he/she was wearing. As said...simpler times :) 

When I say simple though, I do not mean easy. I laughed a lot when I died at my first attempt to fight some mobs. I also realized that my hand constantly went to the keyboard to move my character. I suppose I have pretty much forgotten how it was like to play a game only with the mouse. No F5 quicksave was possible of course so you have to click an awful lot of screens to save the game and yet I insisted on pressing F5 every time I wanted to save the game.  But these weren’t the only things that I kept doing wrong. Apparently in the old times we used to play the games with a notepad and a pen next to our screen, why? Because there are no quest indicators on the screen. It is pure role-play. You have a journal where you might find the whole history of your quests if you care to read it all and you have to remember (or write down) when you met the quest giver and where to find him or her. That was a pain in the neck I tell you :))) The sounds were primitive and repetitive, the landscape funny…

And yet…

We used to play that game over and over again with an awestruck expression on our faces and there was no other topic in our conversations except for Baldur’s Gate. We even had purchased the soundtrack CD to play it during our D&D on paper games. We were drooling over the keyboard to play the game and we used to sit for hours not realizing that the night had met the day.  
One cannot help but think what will be the face of gaming world in ten years from now. Maybe no computers will be necessary then. Maybe all you need will be a chip of some sort and you will only close your eyes to find yourself within the game, not as an avatar but as an actual character. It is not so farfetched when you think of the impossible improvements in games from the times of Baldur’s Gate (1998) to our days. Personally I both cannot wait and cannot help but fear.

So here is to good old Baldur’s Gate! *Raises her glass in salute* You may be old, and you may be outmoded. But we will never forget the fun we had with you :)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Delay due to an arm injury

Hello friends.
The doctor tells me that I cracked my elbow and severed the muscles of my right arm. Very prettily strapped (the doc took pity on me and did not put me in a cast) and ready to rock and roll, you can very well imagine that writing on computer in general is a little difficult for the time being. I might have to write a little less in the weeks to come but please stay tuned because I will still be posting reviews and videos and all that jazz :))

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

For Fun: Lotro style Bohemian Rhapsody

This is a video I watched a long time ago and since then every time I listen to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody my mind wanders there and it makes me smile. Even if you are not a LOTRO player you might be able to enjoy it. Well have a laugh :)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar

Now we are really getting into the gaming with this post. Online gaming was not my sort of thing until this very MMORPG. I had been urged to try a couple of online games, before and after LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) but none of them seemed interesting enough to capture my attention and yes in that list are WoW (World of Warcraft), AoC (Age of Conan), DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) as well.
But I am not here to discuss other games. I am here to discuss LOTRO: SoA aka Shadows of Angmar.
Bree at night
It launched in North America, Australia, Japan and Europe on April 24, 2007, although I first played it a couple of months later. My main concern was being sucked into the artificial world of online gaming and lose control over it, which I did but we will get there.
Shadows of Angmar or LOTRO as it was back then was a simplistic game (especially when compared to what it is now) with beautiful and yet somehow realistic graphics which depicted the Middle Earth from a romantic point of view. And when I say romantic I do not mean dinner in candle light with the orcs and goblins. I mean you will find the landscape mostly green (save for Angmar of course) with lovely sights of nature. Back then the best you got was dx9 -or maybe dx10, not sure- and even if it supported dx10 I did not have a computer which could take it so that was what I played anyway: dx9 Very High Resolution settings.  The map included a large scope different areas and cities. The starting areas were (and still are) Ered Luin for dwarves and elves and Bree-Land (Archet) for Hobbits and Men just for the intro after which hobbit players are sent to the Shire for their starting quests. In SoA every player visits Bree-Land, Lone-Lands, North Downs, Trollshaws, Evendim, Angmar, Misty Mountains and Forochel. Every single area is huge and who by passes opportunities to visit the famous places you read in the book or see in the movies such as Bree, Waethertop, Rivendell, Ford Bruinen and so much more?
So what was my story? Mainly I got sick and took a week off work during which time a friend of ours suggested that I should play LOTRO free trial to give it a go. If I liked it I could purchase the game and if not there wasn’t anything I would lose. And so I downloaded it and tried it. Made an elf and found myself in Celondim after intro...It took my breath away....!!! I had managed to level my character to 18 by the end of my trial and I just knew...there was no other mmorpg for me out there. After purchasing it, for almost a year I played it like a sick person and spent even my birthday online.

So what was it beyond the pretty graphics? Well lets see, the game play was pretty much like any other mmorpg out there:  1st or 3rd person view avatar with skills at the bottom of the screen and a levelling system through gaining experience points from quest completions or killing mobs. The highest level of character was 50 back then which we used to call the BIG DING.
Cooking in the Shire

Crafting system was good too and it still is: You can grind the materials on your own for your main crafting vocation but for your minor vocations you would have to trade or visit the AH (The Auction House). The prices back then were a little bit spicy as opposed to the impossibly insane prices you see now. Crafted items (especially weapons) meant something back then as they were the best items in the game save for (just) one or two sets which you could attain through a raid or pvp.   

The Eye of Sauron

 The questing was very enjoyable. Mainly soloable quests and sufficient fellowship ones in every area for those who chose to experience group play. There were really very few raids and most of them were for mainly the fun of it not for the amazingly rare equipments or the medallion drops and so on. The Rift of Nurz Ghashu was about the only raid with tangible drops and was the only raid which offered one of the two best sets of armour in SoA. The other set was a pvp one in Ettenmoors. 

The PVP was restricted to Ettenmoors (and still is) and I cannot say much on the subject since I am not a pvp player. All I know is that not many changes are made to the game on that score in 5 years save for a few minor modifications.
Rivendell overlooking at The Last Homely House

But back in the days of Shadows of Angmar the community of LOTRO made it the best online game. Everybody was helpful, responsive, kind and generous. Mature and friendly air filled the game everywhere. Ninjas were few in numbers and most players were out to introduce and teach the game rather than patronizing the newbies or those who are less skilled in games or those who cant be bothered to obsess about playing a game to the point of perfection.

But that was 5 years ago. The game has come a long way since then with enormous changes, some excellent, some awful, some included game play, some affected the community. LOTRO is not a simplistic game anymore nor fun to play in my opinion unless what you do is just role play which I will mention in later posts concerning the expansions.
Shadows of Angmar was the first and the best step into the world of Tolkien. The game play was simple and yet challenging should you wish it. There was minimum amount of material and trait grinding. The stories and quests were well organized and exciting. The grouping and raiding were unvaried (and I don’t mean it as a minus but as a plus) and the crafted items actually worked for players. The community (always played in Laurelin so, that comment concerns only this server) was at its best behaviour with loads of help and suggestions and the game was fun fun fun...

In later posts I will be introducing each expansion that came out and what changes were made to the game. Which ones I liked, which ones I disliked or hated and which ones still need working on in order for something to come out of it. I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading it.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus

An eighteen year old eccentric, a horror story competition and a masterpiece...

When Mary Shelley started to write the famous novel she was but eighteen years old. She kept company of the most illustrious poets of the 19th century romantics (among them was Lord Byron and Coleridge) . In their gatherings they liked sharing their works -among other things they were known to do- and they specifically enjoyed having private writing competitions. It was during one of those gatherings  where it dawned upon them to make a competition to write the best horror story. And that made way to one of the best horror stories I have ever read in my life and I do like horror stories.

So what made it best for me? The violence of Dr. Frankenstein's monster? The atmosphere of the book? The murders? The frailty of the victims? The chase? The sci-fi elements? While they were all very well written, it was not those points which made the book best for me. It was how unable I found myself as a reader to take sides. Unlike the puritan works of the contemporary American horror stories, here you will read the story of a made-evil not born-evil. And at many points you will have to sit back and ask to yourself: Is the creation really evil or is it the creator who is cruel?

Very few times do we read a horror story which bases its story upon philosophical dilemmas rather than the fight between the good and the villain or the evil. When the reader focuses the reading energy on his/her wishes for the good to win then many discussions to be had is lost in a book. This of course is a generalization but it goes that way especially for the horror stories. Here you will think you want one side to win only to change that perception in a little while when you see things from another light. The book is not a fight against evil unlike how it was projected in many works later on especially in the movies. It does seem like it but it is not. The book is a huge discussion, an unasked question which conveys itself in the narrative: Can every single person become a villain when put in the place of the 'fiend' by all and above all by his own creator?

When I first read that book I was seven months pregnant to our son and I chose the perfect place to read it: Our two-day vacation on the mountain top in a cabin. I was asked if it was wise to read horror stories in my condition which I lightly laughed away and I love being right... :) I couldnt let the book go although it gave me pregnancy nausea because of the tiny letters and I drank it rather than read it. It made the hair on my neck stand and not because I was terrified of an unknown monster but because I was in awe of how a 19 year old girl could know so much about human nature so as to write such a wonderfully horrific story.

 Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus will not cause insomnia because of fear and it will not procure little asian girl ghosts in your mind to make you check your back every now and then but you will find yourselves getting goose bumps over the depth of the story and how far it goes. If you like to get really impressed then read it in its original language not translations. Much is lost in translation.         

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Hobbit Trailer (Funny-ish)

The long awaited Hobbit movie is just around the corner. Of course what we will see wont be the book. We may get to see a part of it but Peter Jackson will be creating his own version. How he will make it into 3 parts is beyond my understanding so I am waiting in agony because I am not sure what I will be watching.

I watched this video before it was announced that the Hobbit movie was going to be broken down into 3 parts so the video itself is a little outdated at the very beginning and in the end but you can fill in those blanks anyway. Still I found it completely hilarious and wanted to share it here. Pay attention to the lyrics coz they aint dwarven :) Enjoy everyone :))