Mountains Discussion Continued

Sunday, April 19, 2009

So I was fairly accurate in my assessment of the reasons why we have what Scenario terms "valley-itis". However, I wasn't aware that in the beginning of LOTRO as a project, the technology of the game limited the zone transitions to choke-points rather than wide open movement. The technology has evolved to where we can see things like the Weather Hills in Breeland becoming passable, the ability to travel to the North Downs via the big lake in Breeland, etc. I'd like to see more however the caveat brought up by Scenario is one of content control. That is, choke points offer more control over what content the players experience when first entering a new zone. A valid point, however I'd like to offer a counter point:

Is it necessary to control the content experience that much? We're certainly playing in a content heavy PvE environment, but one of my most memorable and lasting experiences was running into elites trolls considerably higher level than me when going through one of these wide open zone borders (Breeland/North Downs). I certainly wasn't turned off by the encounter. On the contrary, I found I had a new goal. Level myself up properly so I can finally explore that area I knew existed but was too dangerous. This type of zone transition was new and fluid content in and of itself - it was self-created and highly invested into the player. I look at it this way: the quests are content I invest in because I take it from the game into myself. The goal I set above is content I take from myself and put into the game. And yet it all stems from how the world is designed. Both are good, but the latter is lacking in quantity.

Content gated by being too-low-level is just as formidable and solid as impassible terrain. Add in the fact that there are vector quests readily available and easily found to guide you through this boundary and you have a much more personal connection to the game and world around you. It is in human nature to rebel against "artificial" boundaries. A scenario like my experience above seems much more spontaneous and integrated - much more a part of my journey rather than a certain quest's journey. I think the intangible quality I'm dancing around here could be termed adventure. It is the adventure of discovering the boundaries rather than simply seeing them in front of you that compells one to move past them.

I certainly understand why the world is built in the manner it is and that the work to undo that now would be counter-productive to moving forward, but most MMOs revisit old content at some point. That would be the time to consider altering the landscape to be more conducive to the "adventure" talk about.

2 Responses to "Mountains Discussion Continued"

The LotRO Follower Says:

I would personally love to see some more huge wide-open areas popping up. And my idea of huge and wide-open is probably more extreme than most, but nonetheless I'm really looking forward to what they do with Rohan.

Thorn Says:

I like non-obstructing boundaries as well. I liked the way you cross from one zone to the other between Westfall and Elwynn Forest in that other game. You felt you were crossing a boundary, but it didn't hinder you. That way the world was made much more open.

Crossing the Brandywine doesn't really feel that way, because the two sides are much too similar. Of course, the world has been designed that way by Tolkien, so this is not a complaint, but I'd like to see more things like passing the Weather Hills to get somewhere else and feeling you have passed something.

We could need more of that in LOTRO