Monday, July 27, 2009

Taken from LOTRO's Forums: My plea to Turbine to let me play the game.

Sigh... been wondering if I should post this since I started reading the information available here on the forums, and I thought, "I really have everything to gain if I can figure out how to subscribe to the game."

Here's the situation:

I live in the Philippines, and the only retailer here that sells original games not only has no stock left for LOTRO, but also doesn't sell the prepaid cards.

I received a founder's referral from a twitter buddy who lives in one of the territories that is supported by Turbine.

I found a post at ( http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?t=281296 ) which mentions that credit card subscriptions can only be done if you live in the US, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia.

I freak out internally. I check the My Account page, and try the Buy now Button, and it's true.

Then I remembered the PayByCash option. Well, just checked PayByCash's site, and attempted to purchase 90 days of play... and apparently, my IP address or something indicates to the site that I'm in a restricted country.

Below is the text from the error message:

The Lord of The Rings Online Restricted Country
We're sorry! The Lord of The Rings Online has asked PayByCash not to accept payments from your country. We provide The Lord of The Rings Online information about how often and from what countries their potential customers have this problem.
Thank you for considering PayByCash.


Given all this information, I'm running out of hope that I can play the game beyond the ten day trial. As I can see it, the only way I can find to play this game is if I use Western Union or some other service to send money to my uncle in the States so he can buy prepaid cards for me en masse, if LOTRO prepaid cards are still being sold on the cheap.

Thing is, I don't think he'll accede to my request seeing as his family's also strapped for cash because of the recession.

I could try calling up customer support to setup a subscription, but if they give me a "no" answer, then I'll have made a long distance call at some odd hour of the morning just to be rejected again.

I don't want to give up on LOTRO, but unless, by some miracle, the Community manager for LOTRO steps in (she contacted me via Twitter) and finds some loophole for me to play the game, I think I'm out of options.

I know it's silly to want to play a game this badly, but I really think it's a great game based on some astounding literature, and I'd like to be a part of it.

Within the past three days, I've managed to learn how persevering I am and patient with regard to setbacks, mostly because Turbine is having issues of its own with its Trial account and subscription systems. I can understand that.

I can even accept the fact that my connection or some part of the connection between my router and gls.lotro.com is pinging back asterisks: that's the nature of the internet connection that people face sometimes.

What I can't accept is going through all these hoops to get into a game just to be pushed back at this very last, and perhaps most important, turn.

In any event, it's 3:32 am where I'm at now. I'm drained, both physically and mentally, and I hope that, when I wake up in five to eight hours' time, something will have changed. Maybe something small, or something miraculous, but just something...

Perhaps something as preordained as a young hobbit picking up a ring that could save or damn the world.

Godspeed to you all.

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I woke up this morning to a direct message from Meghan Rodberg, Senior Community Manager at Turbine. She forwarded my post to the Account Supervisor to see if he could help and told me she would get back to me after a day or so.

I don't know if it was my persistence that did the trick, or luck, or whatnot, but I learned the value of knowing when to keep a cool head and analyze the situation and when to let your emotion guide the way. As I see it, I had exhausted all logical and hypothetical options, so a plea based on the experience I'd gone through seemed like the only course of action left: a mild, tired rant, so to speak.

Honestly, even if I don't get into LOTRO at this point, this is the kind of customer service experience that really makes me feel like I'm valued as a consumer. I doubt they can do this for every customer, and I doubt anyone can logistically pull off such a task as to make the customer service experience a positive one despite experiencing setbacks, but one thing I will say is this: for all its issues at the moment, Turbine has earned my respect and support for trying.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Twitter, apparently a very useful resource.

Apparently, Twitter can be a very useful resource, as I've come to realize. So I think I should make a post thanking two specific people with my LOTRO issues.

When I couldn't create a trial account the normal way, someone with Founder's Status sent me a referral and we coordinated through DM Twittering.

Ethic of KillTenRats, thank you for your gracious assistance.

Now, when I find myself plagued with connection issues and frequent disconnects, a Turbine representative attempted to contact me through Twitter to see if she could help. I don't know if I'll be able to resolve my issue, but a community manager trying to contact me to help resolve my issue brings me much joy.

Meghan Rodberg of Turbine, thank you sending me a tweet. :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A day's Worth of Lord of the Rings Online Impressions

Through the good-natured assistance of one of the members of the Kill Ten Rats blog, I managed to get myself into Lord of the Rings Online as a Founding member's referral. Before anything else, I'd like to thank Ethic for his graciousness in helping a fellow gamer out.

The impressions are below. Just note that I'm making comparisons as I go along, so please be informed that it is not my intention to bash another game, but to reference it for my own explanation.

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Impressions of Gameplay/Combat:

Now, I've played a couple of MMOs in my time, with each one having their own set of good and bad points, but this is the first time where I've found a MMO that, I feel, combines the good points of another game and adapts it for use in its own world.

I find this little nugget of adaptation everytime I play my Warden (who is currently Level 16). It seems that the Warden, which, if my mental timeline serves me right, came out after Age of Conan, took the one good thing out of AOC and adapted it to great effect. The Warden, like it or not, uses combination attacks to take down his foes.

Basically, instead of skill mashing, LOTRO's Warden has basic attacks that you can string together to create Gambits, or combination attacks. Better still, the Gambits have different uses, so you can use a healing gambit in battle to replenish your morale as well as a threat generation gambit to keep aggro on you instead of your mates.

What's nice about this system is that it encourages using different gambits based on the situation, as well as strategic thought to get the job done. I found this a refreshing way to look at melee back in AOC, and to see shades of it in another game is a good sign for me.

Graphics:

As you can see here, I haven't talked about graphics yet, and I don't think I will expound on that much. Needless to say, I think the graphics are nice, and if you're looking for something that isn't cartoony-looking, LOTRO is definitely a place you can visit.

Sound:

Ah, sound. I love it when you're there, but I get weirded out when you aren't. I love listening to the music in the game as it adds a nice ambience without being too obtrusive. Imagine a peaceful flute playing while you're fighting for your life, and the general idea is there.

The sound effects are crisp, though I have noticed that they don't always play. I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it can be frustrating sometimes to fight, as I like hearing the clash of spears and swords instead of silence.

Connectivity:

My biggest gripe about LOTRO is what I call "relativity syndrome." You see, if things in my world and in the server are relative, then one has to be able to dominate the other so as to create a harmonious whole for the game. In this case, the server dominates, and thus makes the rules as to what people are seeing, even if they don't understand it.

In WoW, I could understand the lag or disconnection issues, because there'd be a freezing of my screen, followed by a disconnection notice, and during the interim between the notice and the freezing, something may be killling you.

In LOTRO, it isn't the case. Instead, you can watch the massacre of your perfect "undefeated" record happen while you flail helplessly about trying to understand what is happening.

What's happening is this: You freeze in place unable to move other than to spin around doing nothing. All the while, your enemy is stabbing you with his dagger and you're fully cognizant of this because IT'S HAPPENING ON YOUR SCREEN IN REAL TIME. To the server, it's probably looks as if I'm still "In" the game, but there's no way for the server to know that I've been disconnected until it's too late and I'm dead.

Oh, and I've noticed this happens somewhat often, usually after an hour or two of play. Sigh...

Maybe it's different if you're not on trial mode, I don't know. It can be frustrating, though not enough that it makes me want to stop playing.

Overall:

As it stands at the moment, I quite like LOTRO, even with that connection issue. I like how the game guides me through an epic questline, and at the same time, doesn't force it upon me. I also like the gameplay style of the Warden I'm playing, as well as the nice little touches like the Hobbit Houses.

Now all I need is 1 gold to buy a house, but that's an entirely different adventure in and of itself.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Unbearable Longing for LOTRO Part 2: Utter Desperation



I think the music video above explains more or less what I feel in a couple of ways. Obviously, "I want Nobody but you" refers to my need to acquire a copy of LOTRO at the moment or a game key at least.

Furthermore, the uncontrollable desire I have for the game is much like the guy with loose bowel movements in the video.To be utterly crass about it, I can't control my desire much like his bowel movements, and the universe keeps conspiring to take away the means by which I can make everything right in my little gaming world (reference to Toilet Paper).

Anyway, what's happened since the last post?

I did some more digging and found some information on the Free Trial Assistance Forums. Basically, Turbine seems to have been having issues with the Trial Account system for a little bit now, and it hasn't been publicized yet. I think that my inability to purchase the game digitally through their online store is also due to this issue they're having.

It's annoying to have such bad timing on my part, but there's not much I can do there. What I CAN do, however, is become even more desperate.

Which is why I was lucky enough to stumble upon MMeOw.net. The site's author may actually be having a contest for game keys soon, and therefore, it seems like my final option at the moment. While informing people of this fact hurts my chances somewhat, it seems like common courtesy to note that he's awesome for putting out contests at least.

I just hope I can win a key.

The Unbearable Longing for LOTRO

video


Have you ever gotten this urge to play a game so badly that there was this utter longing for that specific game? I've felt it many times over the years, whether it was Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Fallout 3, but this is the first time I've ever felt the longing for a game so badly that not being able to play is actually depressing me.

So, a night or two ago, I decided to visit random blogs online in the hopes of finding something new to occupy my mind and I eventually found myself inextricably drawn to Massively.com. I decided to check out Massively's coverage of Lord of the Rings Online and my interest grew in the game. So much so that two days later, which is today, I decided to go out and pick up a copy of the full game and its expansion just to try it out.

Now, in my country, there's only one store chain that sells original PC games en masse, and it's called Data Blitz. I went there at 10 am, sleepless and hungry for LOTRO action, only to find out that the game was out of stock in the branch I went to. They mentioned a rumor to me that basically states that someone bought ALL the remaining copies of the game from all the stores.

"That's obvioiusly preposterous," I thought. A phone call later to a nearby neighboring branch revealed that it also had no copies in stock. Upon going home, I called up three of their other branches, and each one had nothing to offer me.

Fast forward to earlier this evening. The game was in my head, taunting me to go and find a way.

It was enough to drive me to do something drastic: I went online and applied for a free 10-day trial and the subsequent digital download.

Except, I couldn't.

When I tried to cre­ate the trial account through Fire­fox, it said that an error has occurred. When I tried to create the trial account through IE8, it redi­rected me back to Turbine’s Gen­eral Free Trial Area for LOTRO and DDO… it’s as if the sub­mit but­ton was the wrong link or some­thing.

Fazed, but undeterred, I resorted to the last possible option: buying a digital copy and enduring the horrendously slow download speeds of my connection.

Except, I couldn't, yet again.

I tried using Fire­fox and IE8 to buy the game from the link posted on the LOTRO ad page that comes up prior to load­ing the LOTRO site. Thing is, every time I tried, after submitting the payment infor­ma­tion, it said that it was unable to process the request, that I should ver­ify my infor­ma­tion, and then try again.

The proper term here now, is SIGH...

It's been six hours since I began my attempts to get an online version of the game to no avail. Perhaps the LOTRO site is borked, or maybe I'm just in the wrong region to download the game. I only wish I had an answer, not only to the question of why I can't get a digital copy of the game, but also to the strange, uncontrollable desire to play a game I barely know and whose source material I never fully read.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I think it's about time...

I think it's about time I resurrected this blog and added some content. Expect a post about gaming and metacognition in the next few days. :)