Root of the Consternation

Thursday, July 30, 2009

There's tumultuous waters out there in the LOTRO community. Gear gating, hard mode instances, nerfed skills in boss fights, single-path progression. It's hard to sort out what people are really frustrated over and what are minor annoyances usually ignored but now blow out of proportion because of general angst.

Well, Orion, as an aside to his latest series of blogs, answers that question. First off, I want to link to the posts thus far. You can access any of the subsequent entries from the Day 1 post. I highly recommend reading these. In fact, if I would consider it required reading for all LOTRO players active in the community and interested in how this game develops.

Okay, onto the problem. Player Shibi commented on Day 1's post and had this to say:

"I am just suggesting that maybe, just maybe Turbine are going in a direction some of us don’t want and Turbine don’t seem to have spotted... Before you redesign the instance, why not actually ask people what they want, especially as Turbine seem have it so wrong right now... Some of us don’t want gating, we definitely don’t want hard mode, we want things to be accessible and FUN... [Y]ou are forgetting us and only thinking of the uber-elite fat-lewt WoW influx and sucking all the fun out."

That pretty much sums up the general argument from the players about our perceptions of the design direction. Orion had this to say:

"Some of you don’t want hard mode - certainly. Some of you don’t want gating - definitely. Some of you want things to be accessible - yep. All of you want things to be fun. A-ha! What is fun!? ...The answer is, it is subjective."

"It has become clear over the past weeks that the core of the gating issue is tied to the one way and one way only to acquire radiance loot - which is a necessity to participate in new raids. It is a combination of symptoms that combine to form the issue not a single case of “gear gating is stupid and horrible and damn you devs!”"

Creating content on the sole basis of an undefined, intangible, and as Orion puts it, subjective "fun" is a slippery slope. We have to define fun first, but again we run into the subjectivity wall. Still, I think it's possible if a majority of the players are clear on what isn't fun. And what isn't fun is exactly what Shibi is saying. Well, not exactly, and that's part of the problem, as Orion sees it. I think I might have said something to the same effect before.

The limited options present in the gear gating and radiance raid system limits fun. I greatly appreciated, and was sold to this game based on Turbine's commitment to giving players different options for completing the same or similar content. Before those options were seen in the different end-game gear. Now, however, we have only one type of gear that can be used in a raid. So, without destroying the radiance system, what do we do? We put the options in the methods of acquiring the one type of gear. Currently we have one option: hard mode. What about something to do with crafting , or monster play, or lesser raids? It's not any one of the systems that Shibi points out, but rather the limits that went along with those systems. And Orion sees this. And that makes me happy. And the next quote (from Day 2) should be proof enough:

"When you deal with a mass of people all spouting opinions and everyone keeps harping on one point or another it can be very difficult to drill through to the core of the issue. This has been the case with Radiance Gear. At first, it appeared that radiance gating was the only part of the issue because that was the breadth of the complaints. After drilling deeper and reading more and more from folks it became apparent that there were many symptoms to the problem.
  1. Radiance gear is now required to enter raids.
  2. The only way to acquire radiance gear is to complete hard modes.
  3. Hard modes objectives are obtuse.

All good points, all taken to heart and all actively in the pipe for some form of retrofit to address the core issues. No time frame yet. Just and admission that we hear you, we understand you and we are committed to rectifying the issue."

Obviously this problem will take a while to rectify, but seeing Orion's journals gives me hope. Before now, I agreed with most of the griping, although not the incessant whining. I had given up posting on the issue further until something more substantial than the same complaining could be found. And at last I've found it. I do hope those of you who take issue with this... well, issue can see the same optimism I do.

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