Isengard Has Risen!

As I sit here watching the sham of Two and a Half Men with Ashton Kutcher (I’ll save that for another post), I decided I would check on my usual fallback game, Lord of the Rings Online. Then I figured I would probably write a new post because the newest expansion is out and live today!

Now, I’ve been playing LotRO for almost three years now, and I have got to tell you it’s pretty fantastic. Let’s get to the nuts and bolts about the game itself, and then I’ll talk about the fresh content.

As far as LotRO goes compared to other major MMORPGs, I think the two biggest factors to consider are a) the aesthetics of the game and b) the player community. Unlike other MMOs *cough cough* WoW *cough*, the major player base is not twelve years old. Sure, there are younger players, but I think the Tolkien lore has drawn a somewhat smarter gamer than its competitors. Speaking of the Tolkien lore, I have got to hand it to Turbine; these guys have done a bang-up job making Middle-Earth just as amazing as I always imagined it reading the books. Drawing from all of Tolkien’s major works (English nerd coming out here), LotRO has references and quests going through the Hobbit, all three of the Rings trilogy, and even bits and pieces of the Silmarillion. The game looks incredible, and every detail of the game, even on a low-grade machine like mine, create a full immersion into the story and characters of Middle-Earth.

Mechanically speaking, the game functions similarly to other MMOs. There are tank classes, DPS classes, and caster classes, as well as some further hybrids between the three. Last fall, Turbine sold the rights to WB Games and made the first major game change: LotRO was now free to play! The subscriber base (myself included) grumbled a bit at first, but I think it’s been a good change overall. New players are everywhere and I think, as the game continues to grow, that things will only get better from here on out.

This latest update, entitled Rise of Isengard, takes us all the way into Dunland and into the realm I’ve wanted to see the most since day one: Rohan. Those of you not familiar with the Tolkien-lore may remember this area from the movies… they had lots of horses and *SPOILER ALERT* save the day in the third movie. This update (which just finished downloading!!) raised the level cap to 75, changed up certain classes in some sweet new ways, and continues the quest to Mordor.

I’m off to check out the new content…. if you’d like to check it out, I play on the Brandywine server with Chester (yes, the Chester who writes on this blog!), my Dad, my brother, my girlfriend… and a shit ton of other people. If you’re interested, check out lotro.com and download the introduction. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

For Frodo!

Dunder Mifflin, Scranton Branch

I’d like to start off with a recent tweet, from a certain semi-famous actor:

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying, “Mike, The Office is still going on! They even got James Spader to come in and run the show now.” And I would acknowledge your argument, then slap you senseless. Michael Scott brought that show together, and without it, I can’t really stomach it anymore.

Regardless of the fact that Michael Scott hasn’t been on the show since April, his farewell episode still makes me emotional. I think the best part about Steve Carrell’s performance in that show was also the worst; the informal nature of the show was only ever accentuated by the awkward pauses and hilarious one-liners that we still mention to this day.

After all, who else could have come up with “that’s what she said?”

I hope that after all is said and done, the American version of the Office really shined when Michael Scott sat in that office. You might think I’m a bit biased (we do have the same name), or that the show really isn’t that good, but honestly, the show deserves recognition for making us all laugh for so many awesome seasons. He might have missed his final chance for an Emmy, but he’ll always have one in my heart.

DC Comics’ “New 52″ Reboot

I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for a week or so, but DC Comics made the announcement back in June that they were completely overhauling their lineup back to issue #1. While that may not mean a whole lot to you, that’s pretty crazy to me.

Imagine if Tolkien, driven by the idea that a newer story would reel in newer readers, re-released the Rings trilogy with no dwarves (not PC, after all) and instead of the One Ring of Power, Frodo was trying to destroy a 12gb iPod Touch.

Okay, so it’s not that crazy. But this is a pretty big move on DC’s part. They are re-establishing 52 separate storylines to have more current character origins and post-information age references to make it feel more current. Just look at some of the stuff that they’re doing.

Even the guys over at Penny Arcade had their take on the usefulness of the new Justice League. From a reader’s perspective, I’d say this move has made me both excited but skeptical. I was on the ropes for a while after the mess of Blackest Night, and DC wants to wipe the slate clean with this? Maybe I’m just being too cynical… Wonder Woman still looks great, Batman is still a badass, and Supes is still a big prick. If they can keep the feel of reading Justice League to the same old same old, maybe the updated setting won’t bother me too much.

I have to admit, the addition of an online, day-of subscription was a stroke of genius. DC can make a lot of money off of those poor unfortunate souls that live too far from a friendly neighborhood comic shop. I think the really brilliant idea would be to make the subscription pay-as-you-go and don’t ping us no matter how many online issues we order. We’re tired of paying out the ass for comics. Trade paperbacks already run me as much as a tank of gas nowadays.

All in all, if you’re into the comic scene or even if you’re just looking for a place to step in, check out DC’s newest arrivals. They hit stores on August 31st, so head out and grab an issue that steals your attention. Now if only we could figure out something to do with the new Spiderman…. *rubs chin thoughtfully*

Halo 4 Concept Art

This just in, fresh off the presses, stop everything; yadda, yadda, yadda… Good news Spartans everywhere. This afternoon I stumbled upon something that will make your day if you are a big Halo fan. You will find a link below that will direct you to a Youtube video for the up and coming Halo 4; HOWEVER it is only a concept art video so don’t come around complaining if you simply click the link and don’t see any gameplay.

Halo 4 Concept Art Video

~Echo

I Haven’t Got the Words.

We all know that life sucks.  There are things to wrestle with.  Relationships, money, jobs, friends, enemies, family, …your local sports team is underperforming. (again)

Whatever your personal hell contains.  We’ve all been there.

That doesn’t excuse you from smiling and spreading joy wherever you can! …never has

I was contacted by my mother this past weekend.  She was telling me about her coworker’s son. He seems like an overall good kid.   According to my mom, this kid was at daycare, school, or whatever.  While he was there, he was playing with his treasured Pokemon cards.  Shocking, I know, a kid with Pokemon cards.  Another child approaches and offers a trade.  My young friend’s cards for a few “really good cards.”

Now at our age, we know better, but this particular boy is rather young so the trade is made.  He was left empty handed. His prized Pokemon cards are gone.

My mom asked me if I still had any of my old cards and if I would be willing to part with them.

Why the hell wouldn’t I?

The next day, I gave my mom 95 “really good cards” to present to this boy.

Two days after that, I was given this hand-made card and a story about how I am being worshiped as a god by this child for my kindness and contributions to his card collection.

Some kid I don’t even know sees me as his hero.

My name is Robert…and I’m fucking awesome.

Only the Lonely

I’ve had a little extra free time on my hands as of late.

-Putting yourself on the personal bereavement list will do that.-

Finding things to occupy my time isn’t hard. I have video games, TV, work (which I was skipping Monday) sports and alcohol.  What lifts my spirits most, these days, is surfing the world of Revision3.

I know it’s not a new thing.  Their website, however, is organized.  Like a specialized Youtube where you can rely on scheduled web-shows and news to entertain yourself.  If you are new to things like “epic meal time” or “tekzilla,” I suggest you check this site out.

It’s essentially how digital TV should be.

If you don’t like to watch clever iProgramming…there’s always porn.

 

 

 

Virtue Needs Some Cheaper Thrills

For those of you who are not familiar with the almighty StumbleUpon application, it’s an incredible time-waster but occasionally you find something altogether wonderful.

This evening, as I trolled through Reddit and checked my Facebook, I hit that unassuming “Stumble!” button out of sheer instinct. THIS is what I found.

Watterson

So, I read Calvin & Hobbes pretty religiously as a kid, and when they took it out of the newspaper I was hard pressed to find any and all publications I could get my hands on. There was something so alluring about the imagination of that particular duo that has always held my fascination. Calvin is impulsive, bratty, hates school, and hates girls even more. Hobbes is clever, snarky, fun-loving, and just plain adorable. Whether they are flying F-14 tomcats or trying to survive another night of the babysitter, those two together hold a very special place in my heart.

What comic strips did you read? Are they any you still follow in the paper or online? Sometimes I wonder if web-comics (e.g. Penny Arcade) may have already replaced our old Sunday funnies as the advent of the blog follows the mighty fall of the ink and paper newspaper. Leave us a comment and let us know what you like to read (besides us, of course).

I’m off to play some Calvinball.