I have gotten many great e-mails from folks both supporting and knocking Star Wars Galaxies, while it is a fun game, the bug issues really makes a grown man cry. Today I had this experience that I thought I would share, it is a great testimat to how Sony’s Customer Service has been handling these issues.

CSR-TerryH: Greetings this is CSR-TerryH. Do you have a moment to discuss your ticket?

Flinch: Yes I do.

CSR-TerryH: I understand you lost many deeds [houses, mining factories, etc], I have gathered the list from your comment. Is there anything else you would like to discuss with me today?

Flinch: Well, you guys don’t support pet recovory and are unable to verify that the item Enhancement had what I said it had… so… this makes me really come of feeling like only a portion of the game is actually supported.

CSR-TerryH: I can understand your frustration.

Flinch: I can’t concievably see how a game can have so many features yet not actually support them.

This was met by a long pause.

CSR-TerryH: I am sorry you feel this way.

Flinch: Additionally, I reported that I found users running a strip club here on Naboo, and was mocked and insulted for expecting this game to be clean when i reported the issue on the Official Forums.

CSR-TerryH: At this time we are doing our best to address the issues that affect the greatest number of players.

Flinch: I can understand that.

CSR-TerryH: We will be addressing the inappropriate behaviors.

Flinch: My only response to that is will it be in time? How would mothers of these players feel if they knew that their children were being invited to watch Digital Avatars take off their clothing in exchange for in-game currency. How would Sony expect mothers to react to this?

This was met with no response whatsoever.

CSR-TerryH: I can either place your items in your home, or in your personal inventory.

Flinch: Inventory would work best.

CSR-TerryH: Please remember to delete your ticket when you are through with it.

Flinch: Could I possibly ask you about another issue while I have you? A good friend of mine has lost his entire in-game lifes work as his house containing a museum which we all put a great amount of time into just randomly went missing.

CSR-TerryH: I am sorry to tell you that we are not able to reimburse for lost pets. We are not authorized to address another players issues.

Flinch: Well it is my issue as well, though us only being able to open one customer service ticket at a time means I could not create an issue for this as well.

CSR-TerryH: Have you looked in your inventory to verify the deeds I placed?

Flinch: My original issue is solved yes, could you please speak with my friend about his problem if you will not speak to me?

CSR-TerryH: Thank you for your time. I would like to take this opportunity to once again apologize for the inconvenience.

CSR-TerryH: I hope you are able to enjoy the game as it was meant to be, a fun experience.

CSR-TerryH would not respond to any of my messages after this. My friend’s very expensive home is just missing, with several hundred thousand in-game credits worth in Bio Engineered Pets and Rare items. My friends issues and my own were only partially addressed and we cannot help but feel that our time in this game is wasted as even Sony who has every power to fix the issues that befall us, won’t even follow through and support their product.

Many of you have e-mailed me telling me that as you played Asheron’s Call you feel the service I am mentioning from Sony will be emulated by Vivendi. I can only say that I trust Chris Taylor, and respect him, and if it is possible to release an MMORPG smoothly into this gaming industry then he will find a way.

Again, only time will tell.

If you’ve had adverse experiences in a game, or on the off chance that you actually are ENJOYING Star Wars Galaxies, please e-mail me directly at Flinch@TheOneRing.net.

With War of the Ring on the Horizon, and Middle-earth Online following in late 2004, fans of online games will have all of Middle-earth at their fingertips. Is Star Wars Galaxies paving the way for another new generation of Online Titles, or is it a grim look into our own disgruntled futures? I, for one, am somewhat concerned.

A good friend of mine got me into Star Wars Galaxies. Naturally many fans of Tolkien’s mystical world also have a soft spot for that galaxy far far away. Even rings star Sean Astin has confessed that he has love for both universes and couldn’t lean towards one or the other. So Star Wars Galaxies was supposed to hold me over until Chris Taylor and his magicians over at Vivendi Universal would give us all a piece of Middle-earth to call our own. Unfortunately, what I found upon logging in is a depressed and deprived world filled with obvious bugs and Customer Service Reps who just don’t seem to give a damn.

My experiences started off on the planet of Corellia. My good friend Jaero who talked me into making the leap to Star Wars Galaxies is part of a Guild of Players who exist on Naboo [Avian Technology and Trade], and already the game was frustrating as it wouldn’t let me choose Naboo as my starting location. Something about overcrowding. So I piddled along doing delivery missions in a foreign world quite oblivious to the hours of tedium that stood before me. Well, needless to say I worked to get my Shuttle Ticket to Naboo and was soon running around with my pals in this lush beautiful environment.

Since that day one month ago I’ve seen many things, many disturbing things, and Customer Service Representatives and Developers alike carrying on as if it was the best game ever made. I guess the best example of this is a Tech Support Forum post in which a player had stated that he was having difficulty with his Imperial Trooper, well after he explained his problem a CSRRobyn comes on with a long response about Creature Handling and how it had recently been changed. That’s great, if he had asked anything about Creature Handling. I posted a response on the thread questioning why she answered his question with non-applicable information and they simply deleted the thread including the gentleman’s original complaint!

Is this the level of customer service we can expect when Vivendi makes their jump to MMORPGs? Some would say we could be walking into the same kind of chaos. Even after my experiences with Galaxies, I’m still optomistic that with the skilled guidance of Chris Taylor, an avid MMORPG player himself, Middle-earth Online will truly be the place to go to find out own little corner of Middle-earth. No one really knows, and no one will know until that fateful day rolls around towards the end of 2004.

…uhm…

…is it the end of 2004 yet?

…no huh?…

…how bout now?

With the release of Peter Jackson’s epic Trilogy fans of the Lord of the Rings have never had an easier time finding a collectible to suit their needs, but in this new found abundance of options it also becomes extremely confusing figuring out just what is available, when each item comes out, and what exclusive pieces will be available for each series. So, to help ease the confusion, we’ve written out this guide to let you know what is on the way, and what is already here!

ToyBiz

Among the first of the Lord of the Rings movie tie-ins, ToyBiz’ line of action figures will soon be releasing Sam in Orc Armor, and Frodo in Orc Armor as the first wave from their Return of the King line. Luckily our lives will soon be complete as the last of the Two Towers releases will include the much anticipated Shield Surfing Legolas figure.

Play Along Toys

Easily one of the most exciting of the new toy lines has to be Play Along Toys’ Armies of Middle-earth series. The first wave of these multi packed figures include Frodo, Sam & Ringwraith, Eowyn, Eomer & Rohan Soldier, Two Ringwraiths and Twilight Ringwraith, and a Moria Goblin 3-pack. The line also includes a mounted line with Aragorn on Horseback, Gandalf on Shadowfax, Ringwraith on Steed, and Sharku on a Warg. What makes this even cooler is KB Toy Stores are now running a special promotion giving away a Free Gollum figure [shown here] and a Free Moria Goblin 3-Pack for all orders of $40 or more of Armies of Middle-earth Product. I got a chance to see the Gollum figure up close at ComicCon, and it simply rocks. Fans attending the Conventions this summer will also have a chance to get their hands on a special Convention Edition Twilight Frodo with Ringwraiths 3-pack from the Play Along booth. You can order the first wave of 3-packs by clicking here and the first wave of Riders by clicking here.

Releases for Armies of Middle-earth

3-packs Wave 1 pre-order now
Frodo, Sam and Ringwraith
Ringwraith, Ringwraith, and Twilight Ringwraith
Eomer, Rohan Foot Solider, Eowyn
Goblin Bowman, Goblin Sneak, and Goblin Runner

3-packs Wave 2 pre-order now
Ugluk, Mauhur, and Uruk-Hai Warrior
Pippin, Merry, and Boromir
Haldir, Elven Soldier, and Elven Warrior
Grishnak, Snaga, and Orc Scout

Riders Wave 1 pre-order now
Dark Rider (Ring Wraith) #1 on Steed
Aragorn on Horseback
Sharku on a Warg
Gandalf the White on Shadowfax

Lord of the Rings Deluxe Helm’s Deep Environment
Coming Soon – pre-order now

Bridge at Khazad-Dum with Balrog, including Gandalf the Grey and Goblin marksman
Saruman’s Chambers and Balcony, including Saruman and Wormtongue
Coming Soon – pre-order now

That’s a question many Lord of the Rings fans asked about The Fellowship of the Ring film, which omitted this popular character from the first novel of the trilogy. But even though he didn’t appear on screen, he’ll be coming to The Lord of the Rings TCG – and you’ll be able to get an exclusive preview version of his card as a bonus when you complete the Countdown to the King! Here’s how it works.

Decipher has selected 18 rare cards, representing some of the most important characters, possessions, and artifacts from the Fellowship and Tower blocks – from The Balrog, Terror of Flame and Shadow, to Aragorn, Defender of Free Peoples – for reproduction with new lore and alternate template artwork. (There is no duplication with the Fellowship Anthology cards.) Each week of the Countdown to the King, you’ll be able to get one of these exclusive cards from participating retailers with a $10 (or €10) purchase of Fellowship or Tower block booster packs. With your first purchase, you’ll receive an oversized checklist card to track your progress toward earning these rewards

At the end of six weeks, after you have collected the first six cards, you will receive a Fellowship of the Ring poster depicting every card in the Fellowship block.

At the end of 12 weeks, after you have collected the second six cards, you will receive a Two Towers poster depicting every card in the Tower block.

After the full 18 weeks, when you have collected all 18 cards, you will earn an exclusive collector’s binder to house your 18 cards – plus four bonus preview cards depicting characters that did not appear in the motion pictures, including Tom Bombadil!

The countdown begins August 25th and runs through December 29, 2003. Offer available through participating retailers only, while supplies last. Talk to your local retailer today to make sure they’re on board, and watch www.decipher.com for weekly previews of the upcoming week’s new card.

Join us in the Countdown to the King, and get your very own answer to the question, “Where’s Tom Bombadil?”

Manelmacar wrote in to tell us that Wargames Workshop has officially closed down business. Wargames Workshop was a very popular online store allowing fans to purchase miniatures, and often times at pretty good prices. Fans have been e-mailing us since Games Workshop announced they were no longer going to permit online sites to sell their product, many of these fans were insulted, and confused, not sure why Games Workshop would close stores that have served them so well. I felt this was a good opportunity to explore the various sides of this story, and hopefully everyone will understand why the choice was made.

From the Consumers stand point, this change came as quite a shock. Many fans have relied on Online Retailers for their Hobby needs, especially fans who live in smaller towns and do not have Games Workshop Hobby Centers. These are the fans who truly loose from this change. Games Workshop Mail Order is of course the alternative for fans who live outside of the range of one of Games Workshop’s Hobby Centers, but many fans have been disapointed in the quality of service of Games Workshop’s Mail Order service. These smaller Online Retailers did not have the volume of orders as Games Workshop’s services, and thus were able to fill orders quickly and often times with a personal attention to each customer, something that you do find in GW Hobby Centers, but not through their automated services.

From the stand point of the Retailer, the Online Market Place has been consuming sales as items have been so readily available online, point, click, have. It was that simple. The question we have to ask ourselves is, where do we game? Across the country Retailers and Hobby Centers alike have been pouring money into making areas available for Wargamers to play. Terrain tables are not cheap, and setting aside an extra room to facilitate players is not something that is easily done for many places. Players then spend their money online, buy their hobby supplies online, and then take their armies into a Hobby Center to play. Thus taking advantage of the Gaming Tables in their local Hobby Centers, without spending a dime in the actual store.

The economy is hurting, money is not in abundance, so every way we gamers can save some money is a great thing, but at the same time by saving that money we are starving the profits of the gaming stores that house us. So in time, if we do not support those gaming stores, they will slowly disappear and take the Terrain Tables with them, leaving us players no where to play. Obviously, not every retailer hosts their gamers to the best of their abilities, and that unfortunate lack of customer service is why many gamers turned to the Online Marketplace for their Hobby needs in the first place.

So we’re in an odd place, while us gamers are trying to save money every way we can, the retailers suffer as our purchases are made outside of their establishments. So Games Workshop made the call of limiting Online Retailers in an attempt to bring sales back into the Game Stores, and hopefully revitalize the War-gaming Hobby. We here at Gaming Havens want to hear your thoughts on the subject, as I’m sure everyone has mixed feelings about this recent decision. So please feel free to e-mail us at Havens@TheOneRing.net and share your individual experiences, be it with an experience purchasing from an online retailer, an experience with a gaming store near you, or an experience purchasing through Games Workshop’s Mail Order. We want to hear what you have to say, and we will be sharing your comments here on Gaming Havens.

Screenshots, interviews, it’s a Middle-earth Online frenzy! Take a read through July’s letter from the MEO Team!

Hi all,

Close your eyes and picture Bag End. Chances are that you can see it almost as clearly as many of the places that you go every day. The homes that Tolkien visits throughout The Lord of the Rings are described in such vivid and loving detail that they are almost characters in and of themselves. One of the tasks of the MEO team is to recreate these dwellings so that players can live as well as adventure in Middle-earth. This month we’ll be sharing more information on the MEO housing system.

The first step with every aspect of MEO game development is to look at how a feature fits into the work of Tolkien. In this case one of the things that immediately springs to mind is that the races of Middle-earth live, for the most part, in distinct towns and regions, such as the Shire or Rivendell. At the same time, individuals of every race wander through the world, and frequently take up residence with new friends. To conform to this vision each race in MEO will have separate housing areas within the game, but any characters of any race will be able to stay close to their friends by purchasing housing in any town they can reach.

Another question that had to be addressed was the issue of who could claim a house. There had been some thought that only Kinships should be allowed to own housing. Ultimately, we thought that this system would be overly restrictive – after all Bilbo owned Bag End all by himself. So players in MEO will be able to inhabit individual houses, which they will have to pay individual rent on.

But there are some areas of the world where paying rent would conflict with our goal of staying true to Tolkien’s vision. For instance, gaining a house among the Elves will be based on proving your usefulness to their cause and your importance among your peers, as measured by Kinship size, not by paying rent!

Those are just some of the issues that we wrestled with in designing the housing system of MEO. Each week this month we’ll be releasing more info about the houses; their look and style, how they’ll be rented, and even some artwork. Stay tuned!

Namarie,
-The Middle-Earth Online Team

So who wants to come crash at Camp Flinch? Middle-earth Online is just going to be one awesome Tolkien Gaming Experience!