One Kinship to Rule Them All

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No, I'm not going to rant about the ill-thought-out kinship contest again. Actually, I am curious as to what that's looking like - if my predictions are true or it actually shaped up to how the devs envisioned. But anyway, I want to talk about the role of the kinship as a fun-inducing game mechanic.

I think one of the strongest parts of LOTRO is the community. Turbine has noted that our player base tends to have a more 1 to 1 ratio between males and females (not sure on the specific ratio, but guys still lead). It also tends to be older. Therefore, I think the LOTRO community is generally more mature. What does that mean for kinships? Well, a kinship is an integral unit to the community. Having the same group of people available to you and in close contact (via kinchat) is an invaluable tool towards enjoying the content. That's not to disembody the kinship as a group of real people, but like every game system, it's a means to your enjoyment.

Is the kinship necessary, however, to "getting the most" out of LOTRO? Many have argued indeed joining a kinship is the best (and maybe only) way to experience the game to its fullest. Why is that? We have to go back to the state of the community - it's excellent. So, by that logic, it's not necessarily the presence of a kinship in a player's experience that improves their gaming, but rather the presence of good people. I use that term losely to mean people who exhibit quality relationships with their fellow gamers. We can debate the precise definitions of all this elsewhere. Suffice to say, a kinship can be helpful or harmful, depending on the people within.

Here's where I really get into my point: what makes up a good kinship? I will be modeling much of my opinion based on my own wonderful kinship, but don't think what I say here is the only definition of a quality kinship.

First, the people need to be open. If you're not a people person, if you don't like talking, if you're not sociable, why bother with the social part of the gameplay? Just be the lone wolf out there, Turbine makes it easy to solo most of the game. And you can PUG when necessary, if you really want to. Then again, one might say go back to single player RPGs, but I don't want to be mean. Hehe. Seriously though, a good kinship is one that is accepting, open, friendly, etc. That doesn't mean the kinship has to take anybody into their ranks (lots of friendly kinships have recruitment requirments). It does mean that once within the group, the new player is as much a part of the team as the old.

Second, the people need to be sharing. This is another aspect of being open, but it goes one further. You're in a kinship to help each other with the game. It is a social group, but it's also part of an activity. If all your kinship does is chat, then you're not using the most of the tool, nor really giving each other any additional gameplay. Certainly there are purely social kinships out there that are a blast to hang out with, but I think the better kinship endeavors to help each other with quests, crafting, deeds, etc. You don't have to have a strict regimen of who helps whom and on what day, but it's the willingness that counts.

Third, the people need to have some semblance of organization. A good kinship needs, if it wants to participate in more organized content like raiding and instance runs, needs to have organization that reflects this desire. If the structure of the kinship is muddy, than chances are the same people aren't going to make a raid any clearer. When the kinship plays together, even in a less formal setting than raids, there should be a cohesiveness to their play - they ought to play well together, work off each other, communicate, etc.

I think these three things are a good starting point for a successful kinship. This is the type of kinship those that insist on joining one are members of. I think LOTRO is lucky to have a good number of these groups, but there's also lemons. No game is free of the leeches, the rude, the selfish. Take an average workplace and you will see the same general breakdown. People come in all shapes and sizes, so when picking a kinship, don't be afraid of floating from group to group, if it's possible. I got lucky on my first shot, but that's an exception. Be serious about your kinship scouting. These are real people, and a real group you're going to be associating with. And the key is fun. If the kinship is not fun, regardless of all other considerations, then it's time to find something new.

Good luck out there and happy adventuring!

1 Responses:

Anonymous Says:

As someone new to mmorpg's LOTRO is my first. I'm also on my first character and just hit lvl 60 yesterday. I found the higher I got the more I was "solicited" for a kin. Always turned them down as I really like to solo as much as I can. To be honest...I found kins to be a "crutch" for man. I can't count teh amount of times at low levels (Great barrows for example), if a person/group would fail at something once they "cried" to get a kin member at lvl 50+ to help. For god's sake...i can't tell you how many quests I tried either solo or, if I have to, in PUG's more than a dozen times to get it done. More people should "man up" and really try first. Some kins just, basically, well...piss me off. One for example (will just use their initials R.K.) I found to be generally obnoxious. Got booted out of a raid (only 2nd time I tried a raid) with not so mucha courtesy or explanation why. Was helping a member of the group on a quest (lower level member) when the kin leader joined (whom I was asked to invite) and each time I tried to make some conversation with never even gave me the courtesy of a reply. So, now that I'm at lvl 60, I may give some of the 'nicer' kins a second look if only to be able to offer others at lower levels help (which I do on my own anyway) and maybe to see about learning more and getting help with possible raids.