Tuesday, April 17, 2007

First LotRO patch

No LotRO journal today, for the simple reason that I couldn't play last night. Tuesday is maintenance / patch day in Europe for LotRO. And this first maintenance / patch since the pre-order access started didn't go well. Apparently people were rubber-banding all over the place when they brought the servers up again, and so they had to do an emergency shutdown. Current estimate is that the servers might come back up at noon today, more than 24 hours late, and even that isn't certain. Not a good start. Especially as some of us paid extra for a pre-order box, basically paying for the 10-day head-start, and every day of downtime hits us extra hard.

I'm not sure if a patch broke something, Turbine is talking about "database hardware issues". There are no patch notes for Europe, but there *are* patch notes for the US, where a patch is due today:
The following changes have been made in the April 18 patch:

Item damage upon defeat will no longer occur until the player reaches level 10. Once you hit level 10 all bets are off, but you get a free ride til then! Keep in mind that item wear still occurs during combat.
The repair cost has been lowered on some uncommon/rare jewelry, weapons, shields, and clothing.
Signature, Elite, and Boss monsters drop more money.
Pipeweed seed processing recipes now only give out 1 seed instead of 3, like they were always supposed to. (Farmers, please drop the pitchforks! There are changes coming to better your plight. More details to follow.)
Yes, making profit with farming was declared to be a bug and was "fixed". As the US server pre-order access started 2 weeks earlier than the European one, the US has a level cap of 15, which the European servers don't have. And as many players already hit that level cap, they were all trying to advance their characters in the only possible way: making money. Somebody on the US forum calculated that farming bandits was already at level 15 exactly as profitable per hour than farming pipe-weed, but that is only the case if there is only one player farming them. Farming mobs has diminishing returns the more players are around, farming pipe-weed doesn't. And so hundreds of players were growing pipe-weed, and Turbine decided to stop them with this patch.

Of course this change throws out the baby with the bathwater. It doesn't just reduce profits, but makes growing anything unprofitable, even Sweet Galenas at master expert level. The profit you used to get per field was less than the new added cost of having to buy more seeds. Furthermore this "fix" totally breaks the only way to get past artisan level in farming. To get past artisan you need to "cross-breed" seeds. Remember me talking about the rare, non-buyable, Sweet Lobelia seeds I had troubles multiplying? To cross-breed and skill up past artisan apparently you need hundreds of these seeds. And with one field now needing 6 seeds to grow and returning between 0 and 6 seeds, you can never get more seeds than what you started with. With no way to multiply seeds, you'd need to find all these hundreds of seeds you need to advance in rare treasure chests, which is bloody impossible!

I can only hope that in a future patch they are adding some sort of new recipe to multiply seeds. That would make it possible again to make money, but with twice the work, first growing the seeds, then growing the pipe-weed. Thus profits per hour would be much lower than hunting mobs, but at least you wouldn't lose money with everything. Farming is officially defined by Turbine as a gathering skill, and at least gathering skills should be profitable. Imagine if repairing your mining tool after each ore node would cost you more than the value of the ore, that would pretty much kill all metalworking. This is currently the case with farming and cooking. Lots of vegetables can either be bought from a vendor or grown by farming. But somebody on the US forums calculated how growing mushrooms cost him more money per mushroom than buying them, which completely destroys the raison d'etre of farming.

Well, at least they relieved the situation with the repair costs. Me not having an income any more from farming, maybe I'll be more annoyed by repair costs now. Apparently repairing magic items cost so much, that some people preferred wearing non-magic armor, which isn't really in the intent of a MMORPG. But all in all the patch notes leave a distinct impression that the game economy isn't balanced yet, which is a bit disappointing.

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