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  1. #1
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    Massively on Epic Battles

    http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/03...re-a-big-bust/


    Posting this largely without comment, except to say that I generally agree with what was said here.

  2. #2
    Awesome read. Let's just hope that Aaron Campbell reads it too. /crossfingers

  3. #3
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    Not to disregard the actual content (still reading my way through as I type this) but when they call it Big Battles (which was the early beta name) instead of Epic Battles (the live and official name)... well, perhaps they are not professional reporters, but it seems like they should have used the official names.

    Similarly:

    My biggest beef with big battles after my having gone through all of them is just how long, boring, and uninteresting they are. Sure, this is subjective, but after polling some friends on the subject, I found that I wasn't alone in thinking so.
    Polling some friends? Not a reliable way to report something. Give your opinion, but the moment you start saying things like "all my friends think..." that's where credibility is lost. Obviously the opinion is shared (including by myself) but from a reporter standpoint, it's not reliable.

    Other than to create new systems for newness' sake and to give a larger sense of scale, I couldn't think of anything too revolutionary on display here.
    Lore. Plain and simple. Skirmishes have so far been used for far lesser battles. The very term skirmish should make that clear. And the Battle of the Hornburg was no where near skirmish-proportions. They required something bigger. Not for newness' sake or to merely increase the scale. Flawed or not, anything less could not have done justice.

    It just feels so very unnecessary for the resources and time that were spent creating it, especially for players like me who will go through them once for the epic story and then ignore them afterward due to a lackluster experience.
    As Turbine can't read the future, they had no way of knowing what the general population would do. They undoubtedly did not expect players to go through once and then put the EBs on the shelf. Hindsight is a nice thing, and a learning experience, but only after the fact.

    Finished reading it now. Some good points were made, and some of them I also agree with. I just didn't much care for the style of reporting parts of it.
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  4. #4
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    I think Big Battle are wonderful for what they are supposed to be. A way to experience the battle of Helms Deep. One thousand times better than it would have been using session play.

    Fun. Exciting. Hectic. Just what I wanted from my time at Helms Deep.

  5. #5
    who doesn't call them big battles this is partly turbine fault for giving it big battles the name then calling them epic regardless its the samething

  6. #6
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    Problem #1: Big battles are slow and reactionary
    I agree with this.


    Problem #2: Big battles are stingy with rewards
    I agree with this and it's the reason I'm not really running them anymore. There's no reason to. I have better things to do than get the same earring 50 times in a row with no hope of ever getting the item I need. At least Sambrog runs for gold items were short. BBs are minimum 15 min runs. So boring.

    Problem #3: Big battles make you feel small and ineffective
    Once you get to rank 4 - 6 I agree with this. You just set stuff up and wait for the 1 or maybe 2 side quests you are actually needed for.

    Problem #4: Big battles are preordained
    This doesn't bother me so much because the whole game is preordained, but it would be nice if you could fail the big battles much easier. At least there would be some challenge to them.

    Problem #5: Big battles aren't a significant iteration on skirmishes
    This is my biggest problem with the BBs. I personally hate defensive skirmishes and that's all they are is long, drawn out, boring defensive skirmishes that happen to have siege equipment.



    The only thing I didn't agree with was his comments about the landscape quests having nice pacing and being interesting. I took two toons through the landscape quests and I'm dreading ever having to do it again because I have yet to enjoy it. Go hear, talk to this person, run back over here, then go back and talk to them again. Or...clean these 3 tables...for the 10th time...

  7. #7
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    I have to agree on all points 1-5. That sums up my feeling in a nutshell. And I found the larger group battles no more entertaining than the smaller ones. All a bust for me.
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  8. #8
    The problem here folks, is that Epic Battles are here to stay. They put too much time and money into the system not to monetize it for the Gondor expansion. We all know they will be using BBs for the seige of Minas Tirith. And that makes me very, very sad.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen1981 View Post
    who doesn't call them big battles this is partly turbine fault for giving it big battles the name then calling them epic regardless its the samething
    Indeed, but in all seriousness does calling them Epic Battles or Big Battles actually make the slightest bit of difference given that on the whole for me they've been a very mediocre experience.

    Or to put it another way, when one's car has a flat tyre or a tyre that it flat, the car in question needs some attention.
    Because SOA was damn site better than what we have in today's LOTRO.
    (Well at least I can edit my signature!!)

  10. #10
    Just a few thoughts on BB's.

    Turbine had a hard choice on how to do the Battle of Helms Deep. If they had made it a Raid, Skirmish or PvP zone lots of people would have been extremely unhappy. So they should get some credit for trying something new.

    Visually BB's are quite impressive, and it was a fairly impressive technical feat to get the mechanics working.

    I actually enjoyed them as part of the epic quest line, as a system they work for getting the feeling of being part of a big fight.

    The downside of course is the lack of rewards for time invested & the anti-solo promotion mechanic.

    It doesn't help either to start off with a buggy Helms Dike (which is pretty easy to fail completely if you get unlucky) & a not-very-good training instance.

    We probably wont see any more BB's until the Siege of Gondor (though given the hostile opinion to them on the forums possibly not even then), but if we do lets hope Turbine rethink the flaws & correct them.

  11. #11
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    Given their recent aticles about a HP online mmo that turned out to be quite fake i would take anything massively says with a huge pinch of salt. It's like reading the Sun and taking their stories as gospel. Also given that the author of the article seems to have barely played the game past archet (maybe he has but its the way he comes across) i strongly suggest you dont take anyhing he says serious.
    Last edited by Ellemere; Mar 09 2014 at 06:49 AM.
    "The internet is a bubble dominated by the loudest, most unrepresentative voices; an infinitesimally small minority of a minority which, deaf to reason and the opinions of others, deludes itself that somehow it is the voice of the majority. An infinite echo chamber of shrieking, witless banality."

  12. #12
    The article was nicer about it than I would have been.

    But I take issue with the whole ohh boo hoo Turbine is in a tough spot HD is "pre-ordained" BS

    We have been FOLLOWING the fellowship for years; We have not been marching in lockstep with them

    Off the top of my head After the battle for HD someone has to come in cleanup retake it whatever. jeez ready made quest hub right there
    Or the caves of the dead
    Or the logistical train for the besieging orcs
    I'm not even a writer and I just came up with 3 better ideas than busted battles turned out to be; either as quest hubs or instance clusters.

    The ENTIRE Moria expansion was only tentively associated with the travels of the fellowship; odd that it was arguably the healthiest time period this game had. The creation team of that time used creativity to flesh out what Tolkien wrote in passing; then present it wrapped in a variety of different play styles. They did not blindly copy/paste the most heavily written about components and say PRE-ORDAINED; while simultaneously trying to cram it all under one big play style tent. Not to even mention SOA.

    It's said learning from the mistakes of the past can prevent one repeating them; hand in hand with that is the implied assertion that learning from the successes of the past can allow one TO repeat them.

    No imho, BB's were designed along with the revamps to require little to no dev time in the future so they can finish laying everyone off.
    Last edited by Skippa; Mar 09 2014 at 07:58 AM.

  13. #13
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    As a system to re-enforce the epic story narrative it is in my opinion excellent. BUT,

    As a system to replace end game content it is woeful and Turbine should take that on the chin and move on.
    There are things that happen in business and instead of compounding the mistake you make the best of it while looking at what can be done to improve.

    Big Battles should be continued to be used to promote the story of Lotr and be re-playable but not at the expense of real end game content. It seems to me that the people making decisions at Turbine are trying to give people what they think they want instead of what is clearly being asked for.

    There decision making reminds me of a group of people who want to paint a communal room and they decide to vote. They all have a primary vote and all have a secondary vote. They all vote for different colours on their primary vote but two people vote for the same colour on their secondary vote and therefore that is the colour chosen. HENCE, everybody gets what nobody really wants.

    I think in this instance it is either a very deluded head person/group making the decisions to put time and effort into this system instead of more traditional and very much wanted end game experiences OR There was a vote and we all ended up with what nobody really wanted.

    It staggers me the amount of threads pleading for traditional instance hubs at end game. Why won't you listen? Council members - why is this not at the top of your list every time you discuss anything? Players are leaving in droves, my kin and alliance kins are empty because there is no end game content. I bet the first council member to reply will say "it's not all about end game" but without the players who want end game, there wont be any game to go along with all the fluff you are concentrating on.

    Sorry for the wall of text.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mithelenthor View Post
    As a system to re-enforce the epic story narrative it is in my opinion excellent. BUT,

    As a system to replace end game content it is woeful and Turbine should take that on the chin and move on.
    There are things that happen in business and instead of compounding the mistake you make the best of it while looking at what can be done to improve.

    Big Battles should be continued to be used to promote the story of Lotr and be re-playable but not at the expense of real end game content. It seems to me that the people making decisions at Turbine are trying to give people what they think they want instead of what is clearly being asked for.

    There decision making reminds me of a group of people who want to paint a communal room and they decide to vote. They all have a primary vote and all have a secondary vote. They all vote for different colours on their primary vote but two people vote for the same colour on their secondary vote and therefore that is the colour chosen. HENCE, everybody gets what nobody really wants.

    I think in this instance it is either a very deluded head person/group making the decisions to put time and effort into this system instead of more traditional and very much wanted end game experiences OR There was a vote and we all ended up with what nobody really wanted.

    It staggers me the amount of threads pleading for traditional instance hubs at end game. Why won't you listen? Council members - why is this not at the top of your list every time you discuss anything? Players are leaving in droves, my kin and alliance kins are empty because there is no end game content. I bet the first council member to reply will say "it's not all about end game" but without the players who want end game, there wont be any game to go along with all the fluff you are concentrating on.

    Sorry for the wall of text.
    Short answer is, the PC aren't there to promote what players as a whole may or may not want.
    They will obviously put more emphasis on their individual preferences from a feedback perspective.

    I do not believe the PC should be painted with a negative brush as a result of the horrible Big Battles.. And no, I am most certainly not a PC fan, but for this abomination, they can be exempt

    The go ahead for BB's must've come from 'higher up', along with the silly trees.

  15. #15
    They should just have made the battles cutscenes, with the occasional pressing of a button.

    Worked for Dragon's Lair! And couldn't be any worse.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by trancejeremy View Post
    They should just have made the battles cutscenes, with the occasional pressing of a button.

    Worked for Dragon's Lair! And couldn't be any worse.
    Not a bad idea actually

    How could it be packaged as a sales gimmick however?

  17. #17
    Well we can hope that the general reaction to the battles will convince them that it is not the way to go in the future for primary end-game content. It feels like more of a side-activity or an enhancement, albeit a large scale one. Keep them as an extra activity next to the real end-game, and don't base the game around them in the future (crossing fingers).

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Mar-Evayave View Post
    Not to disregard the actual content (still reading my way through as I type this) but when they call it Big Battles (which was the early beta name) instead of Epic Battles (the live and official name)... well, perhaps they are not professional reporters, but it seems like they should have used the official names.
    Maybe they didn't call them "epic" because there is no conventional use of the word "epic" that can be applied to Big Battles, except perhaps Epic Fail.

    All The Best

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarooOstrich View Post
    Short answer is, the PC aren't there to promote what players as a whole may or may not want.
    They will obviously put more emphasis on their individual preferences from a feedback perspective.

    I do not believe the PC should be painted with a negative brush as a result of the horrible Big Battles.. And no, I am most certainly not a PC fan, but for this abomination, they can be exempt

    The go ahead for BB's must've come from 'higher up', along with the silly trees.
    I'm not sure where you got the players council being blamed for Big Battles from my post??

    Players council members should realize though that whatever they are championing (whether you think they are selfishly doing so or not) that the top of the list should be making sure the game is popular to the mass paying customer and all the other fluff like housing, mount of the <insert name here>, community events etc etc are important but not at the expense of the long term survivability of this game. This can only be achieved by putting in place end game content that players want.
    I don't blame Turbine for trying something different but when it is clear that it is not popular, admit your mistake... and then use it to spin to your advantage. Announce something like:

    We realize now that Epic battles were only really epic in our expectation and that we are going back to calling them big battles and they will be used in order to further our narrative. We can therefore announce that by the fall we will be releasing a multi boss raid cluster to compare to The Rift and Carn Dum. Details to follow but to all the players we have lost due to our silly decision making - welcome back...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mar-Evayave View Post
    Polling some friends? Not a reliable way to report something. Give your opinion, but the moment you start saying things like "all my friends think..." that's where credibility is lost. Obviously the opinion is shared (including by myself) but from a reporter standpoint, it's not reliable.
    Quick point in Justin's defense: He didn't say "all my friends think" he said 'I found I wasn't alone in thinking so". That's not the same thing as the blanket statement you implied that he said.

    Justin's in the Lonely Mountain Band kinship, and has access to lots of reliable, notable players. Some of the responses to his twitter question asking for feedback are from kin members, and also from people like Whiteberry, a well-respected community member.

    Justin's reporting history is solid, and he goes back quite a way with Turbine.

  21. #21
    I've played BB's a fair bit more than the author and experienced some of the same feelings early on, which I got over, but I've come to the same conclusion all the same.

    I dread grinding through a fixed duration BB with no way to speed it up through skill (unlike an offensive skraid or raid)
    I dread doing all that 'hard' work and getting a random jewelery piece at the end, usually one that I already have

    Once I have the jewelery pieces there is zero replayability for me. And TBH I only took some of those pieces because there are no PvE armor sets with set bonuses. Some of the BB jewelry bonuses are seriously not worth grinding for (hunter stance dancing for one).

    I think turbine had to throw the dice and see what would happen with BB's. LOTRO is an old game with an old engine that really creaks in some of the newer areas. Existing players are falling away and they aren't going to attract new players based on a shiny engine, so they had to try something different. They are in a hard place because most expansions cater for end-gamers, but that crowd is ever diminishing since the road from level 1 to cap gets ever longer. Making scaling instances was their best bet of including newer players in the current fad, but TBH for new f2p players there's plenty of lower level content that is cheaper than buying HD, and gives them lanscape quests as well as instances.

    BB's could be saved to a degree: change the reward system. Make it less random, add other rewards instead of just jewelery, add a metadeed with a title and a special mount, etc.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by mithelenthor View Post
    We realize now that Epic battles were only really epic in our expectation and that we are going back to calling them big battles and they will be used in order to further our narrative. We can therefore announce that by the fall we will be releasing a multi boss raid cluster to compare to The Rift and Carn Dum. Details to follow but to all the players we have lost due to our silly decision making - welcome back...
    That's probably one of the worst ways to admit mistakes... Think more in the line of:
    We have come to the conclusion that Epic Battles do not seem to give the correct feeling about the event, and does not incentive enough players to engage in these events, as a result we will make Epic Battles optional for the epic quest line, as well as work on several ways to improve this instance-type.

    More than making them optional for the epic line isn't needed, players with U13 are probably just gonna want to continue with the epic, and since that requires the HD expansion and this last book, it will allow players to skip these battles. They do need to create some solo endgame grind like hytbold, reuse some of the Chance Thomas music in the new regions (and please don't let 2 themes run at the same time.. *cough wildermore combat cough*). Adding something like Limlight Gorge would also be a rather cheap way to keep players busy (if mounted combat is disabled...).

    I do think Big Battles have a lot of potential, but I do think it needs quite a bit of changes to reach it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mithelenthor View Post
    We realize now that Epic battles were only really epic in our expectation and that we are going back to calling them big battles and they will be used in order to further our narrative. We can therefore announce that by the fall we will be releasing a multi boss raid cluster to compare to The Rift and Carn Dum. Details to follow but to all the players we have lost due to our silly decision making - welcome back...
    Quote Originally Posted by Vulcwen View Post
    That's probably one of the worst ways to admit mistakes...
    I forget that some people don't realize when ones tongue is firmly in cheek.

    One can still make valid points in jest

  24. #24
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    Problem #1: Big battles are slow and reactionary
    The mainly reactionary nature of the current implementation of BB's is an issue of taste to me. I like the offense better.

    Suggestion: replace some of the (less functional) defensive sidequests with offensively focussed side-quests.

    Problem #2: Big battles are stingy with rewards
    I think this is a big, major issue. Loot is much of what drives us to play content. We're gamers. I like the item set bonusses and would want them. Sadly, them being gated by the RNG is a dealbreaker to me.

    Suggestion: why not do BB's loot Hytbold style? Let the player buy the rewards they want with 'tokens'. Save the RNG for handing out the really really special items, like .. FA symbols?

    Problem #3: Big battles make you feel small and ineffective
    I agree about feeling ineffective. I still don't have rank 1 and if nothing changes I'll never get it.

    Suggestion: maybe you could start at rank 1 to begin with?

    Problem #4: Big battles are preordained
    Well that's a given really. Just don't let the story pigeonhole you into a mainly defensive game feature.

    Problem #5: Big battles aren't a significant iteration on skirmishes
    In some respects they are, in some they aren't. To be honest I think the whole comparison is flawed to begin with. While the BB's could use some "lessons learned" from skirmishes (Turbine: check which ones are played most and why, it should tell you something...), they are instanced LOTRO content and that's just about where it all ends being comparable.


    I think BB's have considerable room for improvement.

  25. #25
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    Problem #1: Big battles are slow and reactionary -- Yeah, war is like that sometimes, especially when you're on the defensive. The waiting seems painful but I bet it did for the men on top of the wall too. So yes, in the meantime, do what you can do to help out. Set up traps, barricades, get the troops ready. Every little bit of action on your part will contribute.

    Problem #2: Big battles are stingy with rewards -- I can agree somewhat. Sure I can get a bit annoyed when I get something that's inferior or the wrong type (tank vs dps). Most of the time, I just play for fun with friends. Not a huge deal breaker to me. Turbine could use a little more thought in itemization in total. The boring naming, the lack of actual teal captain gear (w/ tactical mastery), copious evade on warden gear, and imbalance of dps gear distribution among 'tank-able' classes are issues with me.

    Problem #3: Big battles make you feel small and ineffective -- The author just didn't understand that every little action there does count. There's a finite amount of orcs out there and each one you kill with a catapult, ladder, rock drop, etc counts toward the instance ending a little bit earlier. You can actually use that information to your advantage and speed up the starting of the side quests. By killing and sometimes not killing, you can throttle how some of the instances proceed.

    Problem #4: Big battles are preordained -- Well yeah. A lot of things that are based off another work are already determined. There are win/loss conditions as you can fail these. If you're lucky you can go afk and possibly squeak through with nothing to show for it except a "win" but these do require some effort to achieve highest marks.

    Problem #5: Big battles aren't a significant iteration on skirmishes -- No comment really. This is another type of instanced content. I think they've done a good job on telling the story. The hugeness of the spaces. The sight of the orcs running up and through the gates. The crises that pop up. Even the waiting. Not everything in war happens in quick succession.

    Where I think a lot of people miss the point is this: All throughout the game and instances therein, we've been playing as the main heroes. There's a long history of traditional MMO gameplay involving the player going in and being the the star attraction, saving the day, look at my awesomeness. All about me me me. Guess what? In the Helm's Deep battles, you're not top dog this time. You're not supposed to be. The main heroes are Theoden, Eomer, Gamling, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, etc. Suddenly you're feeling like you've just been demoted. I get that. Shame on Turbine for trying something different, right? However we're there to help their war effort. Part of it is helping them set up their defenses. Part of it is taking some offensive measures. Part of it is making sure they don't get themselves killed in the process. I do feel there's a decent balance of different types of action for myself. I might be messing with the clickables or I might be fighting (which contrary to popular belief, there is plenty of in most side quests). I don't mind the clickable items. Strategizing is part of our (friends and I) fun during these. Effectively using the tools we're given by placing barricades, knocking down ladders/hooks, dropping rocks, catapults and whatnot - it all helps bring their numbers down. And I do love bomf'ing orcs with the catapults.

    "Not feeling like my class" has never popped into my mind during a HD battle. My champion and hunter don't have a problem taking down mobs when the quest calls for it. My burglar so far is fairly effective using his own class abilities of debuffing and crowd control along with a smattering of bleeds. My captain is running these fine utilizing the tanking line to gather up mobs for the soldiers to take out while spot healing them. My warden I do admit is a bit lacking on being able to utilize his own class abilities so I do use the barricades and catapults to my advantage. I know where my weaknesses are and it doesn't bother me to use other methods and tools. I can see how some say they don't feel they're in their role, but again I do think a lot of people miss the point of our role in Helm's Deep and need to try a different perspective. It's not perfect and could use some improvement. I mostly want multiple group sizes for each space so our kin doesn't have to split off into pairs most of the time or if we have too many we cannot play any of them. That all said, I'm still enjoying the HD battles. It's a very nice tool they used to recreate this portion of the story.
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