I've been really busy at work lately so I haven't had a lot of time to make up stuff to post.
Without giving too much away, I completed the Book Fourteen Epic quest – it does get better and more interesting as things progress than my original experience. The final battle instance has some neat features in it such as taking the camera control from the player so the NPCs take over some drama in front of you. Overall I thought the Book 14 quest line could have used some tweaking. There is an instance in the first part of it which I thought was too difficult for an Epic Book quest. The Epic Books are something I'd like to see within reach of all players not just those used to raiding like the kinship I'm in. I thought the cut scene in the last battle was too long but the story line advancement was pretty cool.
One of the things I really enjoyed seeing in the Book quest and in the game in general is the use of session play to step into characters and to experience the story from their point of view. One example of session play that’s been in the game a while is the chicken session play where you can assume the role of a chicken and do some quests related to chickens (getting worms, talking to other animals, etc). The chicken play thing was a neat distraction but I always suspected there would be more to session play. I mean, technically, you could play a Nazgul flying around looking for the One Ring or Aragorn fighting in Helm’s Deep. By involving the gamer in the story, they can identify better with the characters and the storyline. Since the game is bound by its IP, player characters cannot, for example, actually take the Ring to the mountain for Frodo or beat up the Balrog of Morgoth or be Gandalf. Through session-play, however, you could be Gandalf or a Balrog or a Ring Wraith or whatever the devs can dream up. The session play section of Book 14 didn't have the player appearing as Gandalf, but you got to fight as an elven ranger-type guy and be a bad guy cleaning house for the arrival of the Book quest's chief baddie Amarthiel.
The Summer Festival has come and gone. It was the first festival which there have now been two of since the launch of LotRO! Just like the last Summer Festival, there were quests you can do to get various goodies, recipes and such, for each race: The Elves in Dulliond, the Hobbits by the Party Tree in Hobbiton, the Men at the Breeland Festival Grounds above Bree and the Dwarves in Thorin’s Hall. In addition to the old stuff, Turbine added a bunch of new stuff too. One big one is the fishing competition. After an initial quest, I was able to fish in the lake on a timed quest. The fish I caught could be used for tokens or special items from the vendor. Most of the items were housing related. In particular, I got a banner, an herb garden and hobbit and elvish wallpapers for my house. I got the elvish doormat too. It’s kind of neat to be able to put some new stuff in your house from time to time.
There were some new dances introduced as well. They actually had a patch today which fixed them - they were broken during the festival so they appeared the same as the old dances.
I'm not in any sort of beta nor am I getting the game at this time. Just reading up on it from some fellow blogger's sites and keeping an eye on things as they progress. From my view, not having played it, it seems like a neat game but a lot like others I've played. The public quests and siege play concepts certainly seem innovative, however. Hardcore Casual, The Ramblings of Jobildo and Tobold's blog (to name but a few) are following the release so you may want to check them out (see links at the right-hand-side of his page).
And that's what's going on.