Tag Archives: lord of the rings online

March To Minas Morgul + Stock Market Commentary

gladden fields


Lord of the Rings Online


Minas Morgul went to the LotRO store a few weeks ago, and that was enough to return to LotRO. My last attempts to play LotRO ran afoul of patching failures (unable to install the MM patch), and previous to that, no idea how to get the epic questline when the Vales of Anduin released. I thought it was bugged.

Let’s just say the returning player experience caused me to uninstall months ago, and this time it was still pretty bad. There was no quest popup or lead-in when I bought the Minas Morgul ex-pack, for example. I was a bit bewildered.

The good news is that Standing Stone is making “all Lotro quests, instances, and skirmishes, including those in expansion packs, open to everyone through April 30.”(Source.)

So if you want to jump back in without a subscription, now is the time. So far I’m having a fair bit of fun in this era of social isolation, and I feel like I’ll be able to stick with it to the new level cap of 130.

The spring festival also started today in Middle Earth. Per the announcement, we will also have some special events to cheer people up during these difficult times. Honestly the Landroval server is crammed with people right now, for whatever reason. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen such a player population in LotRO.


Pathfinder: Kingmaker


This is on 60% off sale this weekend on Steam. I’m going to highly recommend this game as a fantastic Baldur’s Gate style experience. I’ve been watching a Twitch streamer play it (HazVsRPG).

Personally, I find Keep and lands management to be a bit tedious, and I’m looking for more social online experiences that make me feel less lonely and depressed. So I might buy this, but I’m not sure I’ll play it over LotRO right now.


U.S. Stock Market


I was reading an article today about the stock market during the 1918 Spanish Flu. The market then sold down 30+% very early in that time, the same as now. That was also months before the worst of the flu hit the world.

The market never went below that point afterwards. These are very different times, in all kinds of ways. Nonetheless, some people are speculating this could be the bottom, or very near it.

I’ve legged into Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), Akamai (AKAM), Verizon (VZ), and Tencent (TCEHY) in the past week. This is all for the stay-at-home economy. I was on top of this before people started writing about and buying into these stocks, as well. So I’m still doing quite fine.

Akamai was up 10% yesterday on reports of various internet outages (Akamai serves to mitigate overloads with their server networks.) It’s down today though, and I haven’t researched why.

I am also legging into Silver (SLV). A soaring dollar has crushed silver and gold, among other things. During 2008, silver dropped as low as $8.50/OZ. So I’m prepared to double down at that point and triple down if even lower.

I was previously considering buying a PC manufacturer for the work-at-home economy. Articles this week have mentioned laptops disappearing from shelves in stores. It’s hard to buy a pure PC manufacturer, although Lenovo (Chinese) on the pink sheets is a possibility.

Today Logitech (LOGI) was soaring 10% on articles about the need for its products for working at home, as well as exposure to gaming. That’s a great pick. I wish I’d thought of it before the 10% up. Now it’s a little late for my taste.

Instead I pushed a bit into Tencent today. I don’t like buying a giant diversified company in general (i.e. Sony), but it’s a good global play on video game demand. Also, China has contained its virus for now. Who knows what could happen at Blizzard HQ in California, for example, possibly setting fire to your ATVI.

Let me be clear that all of my positions now are half-positions. Small stuff, so I can buy more if the markets do indeed go another 10%-20%.


Personal


My cough continues to be severe. I got tested for Covid-19, but my doctor didn’t do the test properly I think. In any case, the lab could not process it. So I still don’t know.

I do have some issues breathing at times. That could just be mucus buildup, or a panic attack since I’m having real issues with stress.

Anyway, if I stop posting you’ll know what happened to the kitty. Creative work on the game is on hold, for the most part, until I feel better both physically and emotionally.

The Cursed Tombs dungeon has been patched up a fair bit, however, and is still open for business here.

Stay safe, stay at home. I see pictures on Tumblr of everyone in 1918 wearing masks. Why are we still not wearing masks??? China, Hong Kong, and South Korea have all contained their virus. They are also all wearing masks. HMMMM.

Well, I’m still trying to get some masks delivered from Amazon. My first order still hasn’t shown up after 3+ weeks. Crossing my fingers on the second attempt. I bought a water filter. I bought a lot of food. I bought a very large bag of cough drops.


LotRO Mired In Gloom (And So Is The Market)

moria goat

Last week I was impressed with the LotRO writing. A Moria revamp resulted in more friendly dwarves deep in the murderous murk, and more connecting quest sequences.

Sometimes you get the impression that the devs don’t play their own game, or can’t see the forest for the trees. The revisions reflect the opposite, the perspective of a lot of time actually playing the content.

Strong characters were a dire weak point when I left the game a few years ago, but the current LotRO writers are bringing a good game with the Bingo Boffin quest line for example. If you see a character’s name mentioned frequently in World Chat, you’re probably on the right track.

I was questing with my Lore-Master in Ringlo Vale in Gondor. The characters were actually outstanding, especially Jajax. I hope I see that guy again down the road.

On the other hand, Ringlo Vale was dark, all the time. It’s the “Dawnless Day”, and inexplicably the world has no sunlight. So all last week I was in Moria and Mirkwood with one character, and in endless dark with another character. I logged into my third character hoping for a 50% chance of daytime in Rohan, and it was day, but actually pouring rain.

Over and over you hear people mired in Moria, tired of the dark. Just last night a kinmate expressed enormous relief at emerging from Moria, and another kinmate echoed him. This is on top of LotRO being 50% dark just from the day/night cycles. Sometimes I log out when it’s night, or take a break.

The point is that happy sunlight = happy games. Happy games = happy players. We all know what happy players bring.

LotRO needs a lot more sunlight, and more 100% daytime set areas, instead of 100% dark. I’ve always disagreed with the 50/50 day night cycle for reasons, so this isn’t a revelation. Darkness should be the dark side of the golden ratio, otherwise it isn’t special. It isn’t the deadly underdog.


Gaming Stocks


Last week I discovered a Youtube video game news series by a pro Wall Street analyst. It’s called the “Pachter Factor”. Here are the links from the last couple weeks (I didn’t mean to get the videos themselves – oh well? D:)


To follow the whole series at SIFTD:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFaBUWXO8o4jSfF6PhJOyZA

Pachter likes Zynga and Activision. He says if Zynga’s release of Dawn of Titans game is a success, the stock could double. He says Activision will make a lot more money off of King than people expect.

Pachter likes EA in the near term, noting it has great assets and some phenomenal games coming out. Battlefield is coming out without a lot of competition, for example.

Tuesday was a pivotal day last week. A higher inflation number came in, resulting in a big selloff. Many had written off an interest rate hike in June (including me), but inflation puts it back on the table.

The estimated chance of a rate hike went from 5% to something like 30% midweek, but by the end of the week, analysts were more skeptical. The market held steady.

T.J. Maxx (discount retailer) reported strong earnings on Tuesday, which I was looking for as a signal on Ross (ROST), but the stock went nowhere. It went down on Wednesday instead of up. So I didn’t buy Ross into their earnings on Thursday, even when Walmart also reported very strong earnings.

This was good. Ross ended up flat on its face, the disappointing result of the three.

NVidia (NVDA), Electronic Arts (EA), and Activision-Blizzard (ATVI) all made the CNBC coverage on Tuesday. NVidia was picked as a “final trade” by Guy Adami http://www.cnbc.com/guy-adami/ on Fast Money, and was surging for the rest of the week.

Electronic Arts was called overbought after its earnings surge, and at risk for a reversal, while Blizzard was smashed for over 3% on one day, rejected at its previous peak around $40. Blizzard received another vote of confidence, however, by Paulson & Co., a large hedge fund that reported taking a new stake of 3140000 shares of ATVI last month.

E3 hype hit on Wednesday with Sony announcing its plans for E3, and the stock was up almost 4%. Sony also announced a new beautiful Xperia Ultra smartphone.

Sony also announced a major push into AI (Artificial Intelligence), since they are lagging behind. This is the same AI that’s going to ruin the job market in coming years by replacing humans.

I was watching Yandex very closely this week. It has pulled back, but I noticed it had 19% short interest in April, which means the big move after earnings was in significant part a short covering rally. Volume also seems not particularly high. So I remain wary and watching for a more extended consolidation near the new level.

I was also watching ANET. The stock is surging strongly, more than my other picks last week, and is just about too high for a buying opportunity now.

Overall, the market is lurching forward with huge bearish sentiment, with lots of cash on sidelines. As many have noted, the high P/E ratio of the S&P, with earnings in modest decline, has a lid on the market.

Bulls nonetheless expect an upturn later this year, because that’s what bulls do, while a rate hike is expected to make things more difficult. The U.S. needs to hike, while other countries can still ease, and this is a problem for the U.S., which is has been already been squabbling with China and Japan over the currency issues.

This is so exciting. Yawn. Except wait, every time I abandon the market and don’t pay any attention, I seem to go along with the crowd. When the crowd abandons the market, it tanks, and then there is a buying opportunity. Ideally the market needs to go down to relieve the pressure from inflated P/E ratios (and other things).

So I can’t blink and fall asleep. This kitty must remain on guard in the dark, ready to pounce on any opportunity.


Love Is In The Air For LotRO

Female Beorning Face Tattoo

This week I re-installed LotRO. LotRO is receiving love from the bloggers this week on the heels of a new update and a ninth anniversary celebration.

When LotRO originally went F2P, I was disgusted at the cash shop tactic takeover of the game and interface. Now it’s the norm (unfortunately) and I hardly even notice.

Last week I was playing Ms. Pacman, the new SEGA release on Steam. I made fourth place on the leaderboards and started thinking: I could be playing an outdated MMO for the millionth time, and it would be more fun, and have a better story.

I had to buy the Beorning class and try it. A few years ago, I argued in the official forums for a tribal race, including face tattoos. Turbine provided them! I love my Beorning. I love her grunting she-bear attitude.

There is a wee deal-breaker: a rage mechanic.  For some reason, this mechanic frustrates me.  I quit trying to play Bear druid in WoW because of this.

So I’m playing a Warden. Today I watched some of the six-hour anniversary livestream from a few days ago, which was entertaining, offering a lot of candid dev interviews.

One highlight was the assertion that we will surely see the gates of Mordor within the next year. At least the black gates.

Another highlight was Edgecase’s emphatic assertion that Burglars were in a bad place, and they were a “high priority”.

I’ve never seen an MMO class more abandoned by the players. There are ten classes in LotRO, and about 1.5% of players are currently playing Burglars at cap at any given time, i.e. two players on Landroval.

This is what happens when you ignore a problem for so long, like updating your server software, which as of yesterday was super glitchy, rubber-bandy, and the worst ever. Today the servers are better, so maybe they fixed some issues.

A few years ago the Turbine organization was crass greed (to me), and now they are more like cute, clever, small-handed hobbits, underdogs. The livestream was nice.

Some players today are only now reaching the original conclusion of pure greed, of course, while others are just now discovering LotRO. For the latter, I’m trying to update my Newbie Guide To LotRO as I go along.  The guide still sees 10-20 views per day.


Gaming Stocks


This last week was a brutal week for corporate earnings in the U.S.. Google, Apple, and Microsoft all fell on their faces.

I sold $MSFT at break-even. I tried to buy Sony at chart support, but was forced out immediately when the Bank of Japan held fast on their policy, causing the Yen to skyrocket, and $SNE to break support.

The dollar is plunging, sending every Uncle Joe piling into spiking gold and silver prices. I rode that for a short while, but good grief people.

High Yen puts pressure on exports and revenue in Yen denomination. I guess. So I might be watching the Yen for another Sony entry point, or I might just forget getting into Sony before E3.

Sony is also now under some pressure as an iPhone sensor supplier, like all iPhone suppliers, after Apple’s disappointment, not to mention the work stoppage for the recent earthquake. So I was thinking buy the bad news, but I was too early. Now it looks like the U.S. markets could roll over, dragging down others with it.

With Sony’s supposed PS4.5, Playstation VR, and Sony’s VR games in the pipeline, which were heralded by the Gamestop CEO as something special, this is looking like Sony’s year to push forward after some recent impressive PS numbers.

Nintendo also mentioned this week a new console-type product for possible spring 2017 release, but that still seems to leave Sony in command of the hardware holidays.


Good Time To Revisit LotRO

I’ve been sort into helpful posts lately, and you don’t have to listen if you don’t have the time. But let me remind you in case you don’t already know– dining out can happen down below.

Down in Rohan that is–cookfires under the stars, fishing pools.

For a few more days (I think until 8/14?), the Helm’s Deep expansion is at a 50% discounted rate, and still offers store points for the purchase, so if you discount store points as well, you’re technically getting either the base or premium editions for around $10.

And then you’ve got a free 100% XP bonus going from 8/27 through 9/1 (labor day weekend in the U.S.).

And that’s all she wrote, except rest in peace Robin Williams.


Optional Progression: The New End Game?

This week I hit level 100 (the cap) in LotRO with my Lore-Master. I’m happy about this, but being an elf at heart, I continue to lament that the class I chose to keep as my “main” in my favorite ever MMO happens to be human and not a Warden.

Yes, my favorite race and class in LotRO is the elf Warden, but unfortunately she is on my second account, and I don’t have time for dual-boxing or otherwise keeping up with multiple accounts anymore. Of course, LotRO does not have race changes or account transfers like WoW.

LotRO does have optional progression, however. That is, there are tons of ways you can progress your character that don’t matter all that much, but they still seem significant: virtues, legendary items, legendary relic quality, and now the new armor slots and skill points.

That’s months and months of daily play to cap all those things out for one character, and yet none of them are necessary to play and be successful in the game. That’s a very well-designed endgame in my opinion.


Rift has a similar situation in the planar attunements, but those are inferior because it’s harder to think of those things as a real game activity, not like finishing an epic volume in LotRO for a skill point, or slaying 100 bandits for a little more Mercy.

Of course, these LotRO progressions are mostly sold out in the cash store, so that spoils the pie, unless you pretend like the free passes don’t exist.


This week I was listening to a lot of game soundtracks. I’ve realized that Fallout 3 might be technically my favorite soundtrack based on number of tracks I’ve repeat-listened, although the Neotokyo sound track is absolutely tremendous.

I’d never heard of Neotokyo, but a random guy on Steam comments said it’s possibly the best game soundtrack ever, and may have to agree on that.

So Fallout 3 OST and Neotokyo OST. Something for a listen on Youtube if you feel like some music. I have a fondness for ambient, smooth jazz, and trip hop, so your mileage may vary widely.


Last night I also purchased a new quality headset that won’t glitch or lose volume. It also looks like I’ll be working my full time job remotely from home soon, which means I could be in a game a lot more on my second computer.

Gosh, that brings back memories of camping rare monster spawns in Rift. Rift’s expansion is coming soon. I still need two more levels. Can I do it? Or should I keep the momentum in LotRO and go for some beautiful raven-themed Dol Amroth Lore-Master armor?

Meanwhile, I want to play Elder Scrolls. We’ll see how that goes. The cup is half full. Enjoy your ebola-free, terrorist-free gaming experience, and give your loved ones a hug.