Monday, April 30, 2012

Lotro: Homesteads

When picking your house, there's always a few things to keep in mind and one of them is the Homestead.
There are 4 different homesteads in lotro.

1. Thorin's Hall Homesteads

The dwarven homesteads have a few things going for them. Those that like dwarven halls or fancy giant glowing crystals will feel right at home. There are 2 other points as well:
 * Proximity to stable: giving swift-travel to the other starter hubs
 * Proximity to Superior Forges: Very nice to have as a crafter

2. Falathlorn Homesteads

The elven homesteads sure look nice. Too bad they're not close to swift-travel stables or other convenient places. Then again, looks are everything, right? In the end, the distance ain't that bad.

3. Shire Homesteads

While some people don't like hobbits and others like them too much. The hobbit houses do have the benefit of being close to Superior Farmland, not too far from swift travel and on a convenient axis north to Evendim.

4. Bree-land Homesteads


The race of man sadly gets one of the lesser locations of their homestead. Too far from Bree to be useful. The port may be kinda useful before you get port to Bree and port to Ost Guruth, but quickly becomes redundant. Oh well, style I guess.

Choosing one:
If you gotta choose one, considering my above commentaries and, choosing functionality above looks/rp, I'd say consider this:

Try to get your kinship to pick one of these and pick the other yourself:
* Shire Homsteads 
* Thorin's Hall Homesteads.
Getting ports to these 2 ensures easy access to Superior forge and farmland, horseroutes and a nice short way to Evendim.



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lotro options you probably didn't even know existed

It baffles me how much people don't know some of these special little things that can really enhance your experience. I'm making this little cheat sheet as much for myself as for you guys.

(Note the keyboard keys are the standard ones on an azerty keyboard)

Keyboard shortcuts

Del: Select the nearest usable object. Need to find that runestone but it seems to be on a different level? If you select it, you can see it's name and quickly determine where it's at.

Alt + F10: Turn on your flashlight. Moria just got more awesome.

F1-F6: Select the members of your fellowship quickly.

F10: Select nearest npc

Insert: Toggles walk mode. Not to actually use it but to turn it off if you accidentally hit it during combat!

F12: Hide UI. Nice for taking pictures.

Ctrl + F: Displays fps on your screen

Other Options


ui ->  show connection status in alert panel: will show a small box with your connection status. If it's yellow, lag's on your side, if it's green, lag's on Turbine or your client. Red means no connection.

ui -> always loot all: Instead of looting stuff one at a time, you autoloot everything.

combat -> enable skill target forwarding: if you select the enemy, heals/buffs will go to whatever he's attacking; attacking a friend does the same with attacks. Good for healers to heal the tank and generally useful for everyone.

combat->directional selection indicator: shows a red dotted line from your character to your target. Also useful for tracking stuff.


Skirmishes: Archer Soldier

Last Lotro update as  of writing: 6.1


As most people skirmishing, I've chosen a Skirmish Soldier that fills in the empty parts of my class and complements it. For a captain this is dps.

An Archer Soldier. One mean machine.
There are multiple options you can take for this, but I've chosen the Archer. The Hunter's equivalent to a skirm soldier is a single-target dps unit.

This Soldier works, because while I grab the attention of most mobs, my Soldier and Herald (who is an archer as well) can pick them off one by one.

The main role being dps, we'll try to let the archer excel at it by boosting her dps, but not forgetting her morale (a dead unit is 0 dps).

The key traits I took on my own archer are as follows. If there are blanks, this means you can pick whatever you like.

Note that this isn't the only way to build your archer, it's a way. I mean this to be guidelines and not fixed rules.





Attribute: Archer (duh). Dress her out as whatever you like. These are just fluff.

Skill

  -Pinpoint shot: An attack with increased chance to crit and bonus damage on crit.

  -Deadly shot: Pure bonus damage attack.

  -Marking arrow: Bonus damage and a debuff on the enemy. The target will take increased range damage 
                            for a while.

  -Ultimate: Bold arrow: A self-buff that increases critical damage and rating for an amount of time.


Training:

  -Boundless morale: Increases the max morale of your archer, decreasing the odds to die. Makes it possible    
                                for her to tank a few enemies for a while if you're busy or more easily survive an aoe 
                                attack.

  -Battle-field finesse: Increases finesse. This decreases the enemy's resistance rating (against debuffs) and 
                                 his block/parry/evade chance.

  -Physical Potency: Increases the physical mastery rating which strangely enough includes ranged damage.

Personal: Really depends on your character and what you need at a specific point. You know this better 
                 than I do.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Dungeon Part 2 – Theme



Back again for some dungeon creation.
Last time, we looked at the goal of the dungeon. I chose to add in treasure (a set of weapons) and a minor story preview.
[As a sidenote, I hope you've chosen a goal as well for your own personal dungeon. This sort of thing works best when you follow along.]

In this part, I'll be talking about the theme of a dungeon. See the theme as something that makes the general feel of the dungeon. It ties into a lot of things that'll come later on and ties into the goal as well.
Let's get started with choosing one.

Choosing a theme
If you're choosing a theme, some people take a look at the surrounding area to make it fit in and while this isn't a bad approach, it's not what I do. While it might be interesting to tie the dungeon completely into the story and determine it like that, you usually have a lot more freedom in your side-dungeons.
Moral of the story:
 -for main quest dungeons, you usually want to have the story provide a theme.
 -for side-treks, do whatever you want and bend the lore to fit.

Whether your dungeon is an active volcano, a mining shaft or the floating fortress of the wizard-king, one thing that you'll find out is that it's usually better to make things more original.

Spicing things up
Having a basic theme is all nice and well but it's usually not that interesting. That's why I've broken up 2 methods that'll help us make our dungeons less forgettable.

1) Shifting the theme
 This is making your theme more interesting by slightly (or completely) shifting it. This might be difficult to grasp and kinda weird for me to explain so I'll just give an example.

    Volcanoes are more than lava if you think about it. You could swap out the lava for pools of boiling stuff                  
    (water, tar, whatever). This slightly shifts the focus of your dungeon. Instead of fire items/monsters/... you 
    have oil/tar/... versions. Or you could go all the way and change it into an ice volcano, though you'll have 
    to get the logic part right. How did the ice get under the crust? Or is the entire planet's core made of icy 
    stuff?

2) Mixing themes
Having multiple themes can be interesting. It's easy to just brainstorm and go wild. Make a list of themes and try combining them. Consider tar (from the previous method) and add ghosts to it. Tar ghosts. Haunted tar volcano. See how interesting it can be?
Technically, you could go and make one big super dungeon with all the themes, but unless your dungeon is the world or some elemental chaos, that doesn't make sense and might be silly. For a normal dungeon, I wouldn't go higher than 3 different themes.
As a note to a later post: Different themes sometimes means different factions. Tar monsters versus ghosts?

    Screw the surroundings, that volcano's going into the air. 'Sure why not?' But try to find a logical 
    explanation for your flying volcano. Question 1: Where does the lava come from? (Some ancient core 
    device?) Question 2: How is the shape affected? (A more orby shape with multiple craters?)

Example dungeon
Initial theme choice: ice
Shifting it: glass
Adding more themes: Ancient ruin
This means I can make my goals concrete:
Treasure: 
  -Ancient non-breaking glass weapons.
  -Potions and other stuff that is useful treasure and might've survived some time
  -Coinage (but not modern ones!)
Story event: A look at the history of the Daban kingdom.

Now I'll also tell you where my dungeon is situated as I have to make it fit into the story and logic.
It's a grass plain outside the major commerce city. 'Wait' I hear you ask 'How the hell did glass get into a place with no sand and no major heat?'
Well, here's what I say: 'A long time ago, a comet crashed down into the earth. By the heat generated from atmospheric friction, part of it turned into glass. After it crashed down, a tribe of Dabans built a small town into it and that's what our dungeon is!' I didn't really plan for all those details, but as you make dungeons, you'll have to fill in these details, making your world a bit more complex and interesting each time.

I'm getting some ideas towards the gimmick and monster factions, but that'll have to go into the next posts.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Dungeon Part 1 – Goal



When I start making  a dungeon, the first thing I think about is the goal.
I know some people start with other parts first, but I feel the goal deserves the first part, because it’s something people often forget.

Thesaurus tells us this about it:
Goal
aim, purpose

See the word I underlined? That’s right, the goal is what makes the player/character go inside.  It’s the reward that baits them into entering the dungeon, into your clutches. A dungeon without a goal is meaningless. If there’s no goal, there’s no incentive (or bait). And if people don’t enter it, your dungeon might as well not exist.

Goal is a broad term and while the first thought that might cross your mind is treasure, it certainly is more than that.

Here are some examples of what a goal can be:
       Treasure
        - Story advancement (be it main plot or side information)
       More world (if the dungeon is a tunnel towards a new part for example)
       Power (in the form of a good exp/time ratio or new skills)
        -  A new character (though usually tied into plot, it might just be a random character)
         - 

Usually, a dungeon will have more than one single goal. Most have treasure in some form or another, but having only treasure can be boring.

Doing it the other way

       -Consider a dungeon devoid of treasure. What would have caused this?
      A goal is what draws the player in. What if it turns out the goal isn’t true (either a lie, misunderstanding or trap,…)? It’s usually a good idea to add an alternate goal to not waste people’s time.

Consider the story

      -   Suppose you decide to add the +3 Flaming Club of Maldritus as the end goal. What could a character’s motive be for getting it and braving the dungeon’s danger? Usually, for special items, you’ll want at least some backstory. However, don’t overdo it. Sometimes, loot is just loot.

Example dungeon

In this section, I’m going to flesh out a dungeon from start to end. This will give you an example to see the growth of a dungeon and might give some inspiration for your own dungeon.
This dungeon will be optional to the main story, so I won’t be packing any key-items needed to progress.
I’m going to add 2 goals:
       -Treasure: Aside from the usual potions and what not, I’m going to add a set of weapons the characters might find useful in a later dungeon.
      Story advancement: I’ll add a room/location which will shed some light on history and might also foreshadow an optional character. The jury’s still out on the details, but I’ll decide once I get to just before implementing these.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Introduction to Dungeon

Introduction


This post marks the start of my a series about dungeon design.

A lot of times when I see dungeons from other developers, there are some points I have to remark repeatedly.

Sometimes, the dungeon hasn't been thought about enough. There goes a lot of work into them, and you often have to go back to previous steps or even rework them entirely.
A plot point changes, you rebalance the treasure found, a corridor is too long for your players to traverse. All these and more can be reasons to change a dungeon.

I'm going to be using rmxp to make mock-ups of maps both good and bad to explain the different points I'm trying to make. The reason being that the tilesets are varied and the mapping is intuitive yet quick enough to make decent mock-ups.
The 3 layers + an event layer are enough to make something decent, yet is low enough to make me be creative in my mapping.

Some remarks that work for all dungeons


-A dungeon is organic (sometimes literally). You usually start working from one point (be it the entrance, be it the goal, be it some room) and let it grow from there in multiple directions.
-Dungeons have a reason to exist in your game/story/... Just placing dungeons for the heck of it is not only weird, but also makes things harder for yourself.
-Dungeons have a history. You're not the first to enter it, nor will you be the last. Creatures use it as a lair or just live in it. It might be a place only few people go to or a lot.
-Think beyond the classic dungeon as depicted in the picture above. Dungeons can be anything. Dungeons are cities, caves, entire worlds. Everything can be a dungeon, as long as it's filled with challenges or danger.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Introduction to Pandimus



Pandimus is a browser-based multi-player rpg I moderate for. If you see me (Pherione) ingame, say hi!
The game takes place in a mythical world where the city of Imperia is fighting a losing war against assaults from all directions.

It's currently in open beta and the developers are currently working hard on what is going to be a total rework. Making the game more bug-free and generally better than ever before.
Important note: Don't worry about losing stuff as everyone will keep what they have.

There are currently 3 languages available: english, spanish and catalan. While the spanish community is currently the biggest, we are looking to make the english one grow.

Three of the things that make this game stand out from the others are:
-Its character building. Offering a lot of tweaking possibilities and choices.
-Its art. Completely hand-drawn environments make for interesting details.
-Good control during battles. Using the attack panel, you can generate a skill rotation and then add exceptions on the rotation. (Stuff like 'On low health', 'Blocking', 'Party member dies', ...)

Links:

homepage:

forums:

wiki:

youtube channel of the lead mod:

link to my character card:



Introduction to the Blog

As everyone seems to have their blog these days, so do I. In this first post, I will tell you about this blog, its content and why I made it.

The content


The most important part of a blog is its content. I have interests in IT and programming, games, game development and fantasy/sci-fi/horror. I'll start up a few series of posts, ranging from monster/dungeon design over reviews and thoughts about games to some small tutorials and hints about development.

The name


This was the hardest part for me. A name is usually one of the first things people see. It has to reflect a part of the interests of the blogger. Unknown Kadath is a part of Lovecraft's mythos of outer realms and weird tales, figuring prominently in the Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

Me


I guess I should introduce myself. My name's is Jonas Vergison, age 20 as of writing. I work as a programmer for Limotec. For the browser game Pandimus I'm a moderator by the name of Pherione.
 And that's about it, for starters. I always say, you can learn a lot more about people by their acts than by what they say about themselves.