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Positively Negative?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It has come to my attention through various means that perhaps Book 7 has caused the largest uproar about changes this game has ever seen. I have to mention here that I used to surf the official forums fairly regularly but haven't done so except to pick out particular dev comments for this blog. The reason? I didn't ever find anything I wanted to talk about, and when I posted a thread about something I did want to talk about, it quickly disappeared with very few posts. So ultimately I turned to an outlet that won't disappear, my own LOTRO blog. My point is that I cannot objectively evaluate the emotional state of the forums because I don't care to spend a great deal of time over there. A bit odd to hear from a blogger who wants to support the community but I feel I have more freedom of expression and community building here.

What I really want to do is ask a few questions: Has the community as a whole become more jaded to the game? Has Book 7 spurred the largest "outrage" over changes? Is Turbine going in the wrong direction with this game?

Let me tackle the last one first. It could be argued that they have always been going in the wrong direction with this game. The MMO project using the Lord of the Rings IP used to be called Middle-Earth Online and promised to be more freeform and sandboxy than the focused and steered LOTRO. I followed the development of MEO for a while and was excited about the sandbox type environemt that was talked about. I got distracted and lost track of the game and in that time the development switched to a different company with a different vision and LOTRO was born. I got a beta invite in August of 2006 and jumped in head first. I was hooked. It was Lord of the Rings. The game would be huge. I didn't care anymore about the sandbox that was never born - the fact that they managed to capture the magic of the lore made me a believer.

That belief has continued largely unabated since. There might be inklings, however, of a more mass commercialization of the game in the form of pleasing the masses at a cost to the integrity of the lore and even existing mechanics. It's never been a secret that Turbine would like LOTRO to be the second most sucessful MMO in North America (behind WoW of course) and to do that you might just need to make it more WoW like, even if it hurts some of the positive things that makes LOTRO unique. I agree that I'd like to see LOTRO succeed on that level. I don't agree that it needs to mold itself after WoW in every nook and craney. Are Turbine going in that direction? Maybe. I would have once said no but we'll have to see how things go in this second year and after the second expansion. This is when LOTRO will go through adolecence. It'll start to mature. Will we see LOTRO find it's own place in the MMO world or will it follow after it's "big brother"? Is Turbine going in the right direction? Right now, only time will tell, but I think there is a chance it could be not quite what some of us more endeared to the IP and original vision want.

As to the apparent sudden influx of complaints post Book 7, there might be truth in that if we look as sheer numbers of people voicing complaints. But are these the same people that have always voiced complaints or are they new? Are these people that have previously been postive about the game? Are the people who post positive feedback just not talking anymore? It's very possible, post the release of Mines of Moria and an assumed influx of new players, that the percentage of negative feedback hasn't changed, or has even gone down.

Ultimately, are we more jaded now to LOTRO than last year at this time? For me, there are new systems that didn't quite live up to expectations (housing, legendary items, reputation) but there are also gems (lore consciousness, world design, group play). Am I more jaded? I think I look at things more critically now that I write about LOTRO regularly and listen to more varied opinions. But I don't think I'm any less enthusiastic and I always, always try and keep my feed back thoughful, respectful, and positive. I do not complain without saying at least why I dislike what I do and will try my hardest to come up with a different idea. Sometimes the last part doesn't always work, but hopefully my overall attitude is contageous.

6 Responses to "Positively Negative?"

Rollstone Says:

They seem to have fallen a few months behind on their intended content roll out and that means a lot of people finished Moria soon after New Years and have no new content. The game is in desperate need of the new 12 man multi-boss raid for a segment of the player base. I expect when the new raid comes out many players will re-activate their subscriptions for a few months.

tony Says:

On some level I see this as unavoidable as a game gets more players. There's more people to upset.

95% of this seems to be focused on Hunters... And not to be a jerk, but they have always seemed like the most sensitive class to change lol.

Many non-Hunters have always felt the class was overpowered. I can't say how true that is or not because it's not something that really bothered me. But any attempt to bring that down to "normal" is not appreciated by them, like I imagine it wouldn't be by any class.

Every complaint has another side. I think they have some genuine issues that need to be fixed, but a lot of it is also hyperbole.

We'll see what happens. At the end of the day a lot of people aren't happy and something will have to be done about it.

Thallian Says:

I like it when a company has the guts to release a content update with a city, extra area to explore, a level curve changes, and almost no new dungeons or pvp things for the next six months. But that's only because I have intentionally avoided hitting the levelcap and am slowly exploring the mid content (lvl 55 ftw!)

A brick wall at the end of programming land hurts less if you hit it slower.

Developers cannot produce content at the speed we can consume it, unless they change their methodology which isn't likely to happen soon, or unless they allow user developed content, which would still require their play-testing and approval or something.

Anyways wall-of-text aside I this some people are more jaded now, about DIKUMUD MMO's in general (quest driven gameplay, etc...) My brothers wont even touch lotro because questing for another ten levels in abhorrent to them, they feel they are waiting for the next new thing whatever that is. I am still hopeful for the game, but it needs to realize that sandboxing (especially in pvmp) can be good and leading people by the hand all the time isn't always what they want, though newcomers need it certainly. If they add mounted combat with just more pve only areas it will be bland and soulless. Moria is beautiful but feels soulless.

AI is and has never been up to the task of challenging intelligent players. We either need to wait for improvement in AI or provide outlets for Monster PLayers to have fun and progress in Moria and other places (maybe in their own special area, I don;t care, but they need to be somewhere other than just the Moors. Enemies that don't play fair and don't act predictably are exactly what the more martial places in Middle Earth need and not just more Warg riders who stand around waiting to be pulled and tanked. Give the Creeps mounts already I say.

The Road Goes Ever On Says:

I do think that Turbine made the right decision in going with following the action of the books rather than a more sandbox-y style. I think with a sandbox style game it would have been difficult to fix the action at a point in Middle-earth's history, and I feel like it would be far easier for the lore to veer off track.

I have heard criticism that some of the epic storylines in LOTRO relegate the player to more of a spectator than a hero, and I agree, but I think this criticism is actually more true of the epic books that veer away from following the fellowship -- i.e., the second half of Shadows of Angmar.

Jaxom92 Says:

There's a lot to talk about with the comments I've gotten here so far. I have a post in the making which I think will be a better way at responding than an essay put here in the comments section. Thanks for your thoughts and insights.

Frankl Says:

Hi.

I am new to the game and found your blog the other day. Today, "working from home", I read it from the start. Keep up the good work!