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Posted: Jun 29th 2010 1:34PM Enaris said

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I've never played EQ2 (though, I do think about it from time to time). Yet, I can see your comments on Lore fairly strongly in the two games I do play. City of Heroes, and LOTRO.

I can't compare CoH to EQ2 (or WoW or most other MMOs) in terms of Lore, simply because I have no basis to compare them on. That said, I think that CoH did a very good job of integrating their own Lore into the universe. While much of the Lore has gotten long in the tooth, especially because of the repetition, it really does drag you into the overall feel of the Universe very well, especially as you get further into it.

It may be a cliche, but there are more than a few times where the line "It's all a Nemesis Plot" seems like a good rule of thumb for the game! The revelations about the Old Prussion as the game develops add a great deal of depth to the overall game.

More to the point though, what the Lore in CoH always did for me was give a great deal of room for good RP. It's easy to see how your characters could find their own corner of the larger Universe to fit into. You could relate your characters to certain bits of game canon to give them flesh and substance very easily. (Incidentally, while the AES has gotten a great deal of grief, it is incredibly useful in this, allowing you to also carve out a unique bit of turf for you and your friends.)

On the other hand, I've always had trouble RPing in LOTRO, at any level beyond friendships and relationships. The Lore in LOTR is well defined, and very much focused on the Nine. For your characters to have a "niche" in that, you need to run around and do stuff that's "off to one side". "Oh, the Fellowship is off working their way down the Anduin, so why don't you go defend some people in Angmar!" I mean, it fits. We know there were lots of other things going on during the books, but it still makes your characters feel like bit players.

So, to relate this back to EQ2. I agree, that a new and unique canon or lore makes it much easier to feel that your own characters are part of the warp and woof of that world. You don't get quite the same sense of intruding there, that I do when running around in Middle Earth.

Posted: Jun 29th 2010 2:17PM Jef Reahard said

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CoH has always struck me as a great game for immersion, and I keep meaning to go back to it. I've played it off and on but usually solo, so I've never quite managed to make it long term.

Great example though, thanks for bringing it up.

Posted: Jun 29th 2010 2:45PM Seffrid said

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EQ2 is hugely rich in lore, but of course someone who hasn't played EQ and/or only skims the surface of EQ2 in terms of not reading all the text on offer wouldn't know that, and certainly wouldn't appreciate the quality of it.

In all other respects, however, you don't need to have played, or indeed to know anything about, EQ in order to play EQ2 as they are very different games.

Posted: Jun 29th 2010 4:32PM Saker said

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Current EQ is not at all like EQ was back-in-the-day (it's succumbed to what happens with all these class/level based games. They inevitably become more and more mutated over the years by endless expansions that distort the original game-play design). So you may be forgiven... You would need to log onto one of the Alternate EQ varieties like Project 1999, or Shards of Dalaya to get a feel for what it was like back-in-the-day.

Posted: Jun 29th 2010 6:25PM (Unverified) said

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Curious about EQ2, I picked it up on STEAM during their $5 holiday sale but didn't really sink enough time in to it over the holiday to get hooked. From the small glimpse I had it reminded me of playing Morrowind, deep backstory and lots of different things to do. Are there any solid resources within the EQ2 community for newcommers, I'm familiar with a lot of the standard MMO conventions, but specific game guides written near release are rapidly outdated. Not looking to min/max so much as just get my bearings.

Posted: Jun 29th 2010 6:36PM Jef Reahard said

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This is where I was told to start, and frankly there's so much info that I can't see myself going anywhere else anytime soon. It's a great resource.

http://eq2.wikia.com
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Posted: Jun 29th 2010 8:36PM ScottishViking said

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"LotRO gets so many basic things wrong that it would take an entire column to list them all."

Try me.

Sorry, this is a bad introduction to your column, alienating readers who play what is generally considered to be a game (LOTRO) that is generally considered to have a "lore surplus." I know it's not your assignment, but please, humour us, and argue against most of the prevailing opinions on the subject, because as it stands, you're coming across like a blowhard.

Posted: Jun 29th 2010 9:03PM Jef Reahard said

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Off the top of my head in regards to LotRO: hobbit guardians (running around in armor no less, lol), magic use by non-Istari including the obvious Runekeeper and Loremaster classes, use of pets by the Loremaster class (hundreds of giant bears, eagles, and snow kitties following people around is very Tolkien-like, don't you know!), millions of elves running around Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age, people plunking down ancient statues and war banners on the front lawn of their Shire mansions, etc, etc. Should I go on?

As I said, LotRO isn't a bad game. In fact, its lore faults are more due to genre convention and lack of creativity than any intentional malice on Turbine's part. They took the easy road because of financial considerations, which, while utterly predictable, is also understandable. MMO devs continually choose to avoid stretching their craft enough to be faithful to established IPs, and LotRO is just another example of this, which was the point of the piece.

Honestly though, this column is about EQ2. If I had any interest in LotRO (other than as a throw-away example), I'd be playing it. If my line got your knickers in a bunch, well, that's really too bad, but as you pointed out, there's no shortage of LotRO lovers elsewhere in the blogosphere.
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Posted: Jun 29th 2010 10:41PM ScottishViking said

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Thanks for responding.

"hobbit guardians (running around in armor no less, lol)"

Not sure how this contravenes lore. There is plenty of lore about warrior hobbits in Tolkien. See esp. the battles of the Greenfields, Fornost, etc. That this is a class-specific violation of lore, well, I'm not sure how that works.

"magic use by non-Istari including the obvious Runekeeper and Loremaster classes"

Fair enough. But there are only a few Loremaster "spells" which would qualify for this.

"use of pets by the Loremaster class (hundreds of giant bears, eagles, and snow kitties following people around is very Tolkien-like, don't you know!)"

There's plenty of evidence in Tolkien to suggest that wise folk used animals to do their bidding, even among non-Istari.

"millions of elves running around Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age"

Millions? What server you on? o_O Would you have preferred that they not be made available as a race? And there's little information about exactly how many were left at the end of the Third Age anyways, especially in places like Lindon and Mirkwood. Really, other than Rivendell and Lothlorien, the main books give few mentions of them in any one area, though we know they are there in some thousands in those two places at the very least.

"people plunking down ancient statues and war banners on the front lawn of their Shire mansions, etc, etc."

Pretty weak. Housing is really wrecking your Tolkien immersion?

"Should I go on?"

Not really. As you say, this is a column about EQII. I don't disagree that LOTRO devs made some concessions to generic MMO expectations. But were those truly in the realm of lore, or engine/process/systems? From what I can see, LOTRO is jam-packed to the brim with lore. Almost overflowing with it. The mission texts alone give a remarkable background to Tolkien for a beginner, or even an old hand like me. The stuff about the history of the Kingdom of Arnor -- its sundering into the realms of Arthedain, Cardolan, Rhudaur -- is quite exceptional, for example.

I have never played EQII, so I cannot comment or make an accurate comparison. I will say that the only MMO I have played that comes close to being as good in lore is EVE -- seriously, if you haven't checked it out, read up on the lore archive on the main site, it's remarkable -- and only a tiny tiny miniscule fraction of EVE players give a flying sh*t about the lore there for all the effort that gets put into it, so LOTRO has a leg up on it in that respect.
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Posted: Jun 29th 2010 11:00PM TheGreatMachine said

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I'm a fan of both games and it's pretty clear LOTRO takes it's lore far more seriously.

Lotro for example won't throw in a sailor's outfit or cram santy claus themed stuff into their game.

And as far as player housing goes, you can do some pretty ridiculous stuff with EQ2's. Giant badgers, sharks etc taking up an entire room?
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Posted: Jun 29th 2010 11:28PM Jef Reahard said

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I guess it depends on how you define 'seriously.' Is EQ2 more whimsical in places? Sure, but I can't agree that Turbine takes Tolkien 'seriously' when they allow players to fling fireballs or fight dragons with their plate-wearing hobbits.

Immersion is subjective, granted. As I said above, all the garbage that people can junk up their lawns with was pretty awful in my opinion, and killed any desire I had to roleplay, or even hang out, near the housing areas. That kind of virtual redneck decor doesn't bother me in EQ2 because it's not based on anything that I know to be otherwise. ScottishViking (and I'm sure a lot of others) disagree, which is fine, to each his own.

Yeah LotRO incorporates the lore into the quests very well, but as far as being immersive? Nah, absolutely not. My character did the same heroic quests and ground the same gear that yours did, and ultimately the whole enterprise feels very disconnected from Tolkien's stories. Don't even get me started on the housing. LotRO's is so bare-bones and lacking in customization options as to be little more than a marketing bullet point. EQ2's, on the other hand, is the most customizable themepark-game housing to date, and really second only to SWG in the history of the genre.

EQ2 may have Santa Claus or whatever, but at least they're not pretending to be faithful to something that is very clearly spelled out.

Posted: Jun 30th 2010 6:16AM (Unverified) said

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Really going to have to agree to disagree on the LOTRO point as well, to be honest. Personally I found it to be the most immersive and engaging MMO I've ever played - a lot of that coming from the connections that I perceive to Tolkien's own work.

A case of horses for courses, I suppose.

Posted: Jun 30th 2010 11:53AM Valdamar said

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I love lore (but I don't RP) so I just wanted to agree with everyone saying both EverQuests and City of Heroes have really deep immersive lore - of the dozens upon dozens of MMOs I've played those titles always stood out as having lore that obviously had a lot of time and a lot of love poured into it. When you hear CoH's Devs in particular talking about lore in interviews it's just clear that they love this world and its characters that they have created, and even their Devs who aren't in charge of the story still know a lot about the lore and it affects the decisions they make.

Sadly a lot of MMOs just seem to bolt on lore as an afterthought and I still cringe at what WoW is doing to Warcraft's previously quite interesting/deep lore (from WC3 and vanilla WoW especially) - they just seem to be getting so confused.

I have high hopes for the Warhammer 40K MMO - I doubt it will be too lore-heavy, but that universe is so rich and dense with story possibilities that Vigil would have to be terrible developers if the lore didn't drip richly from every encounter, every piece of architecture, and every character. The World of Darkness MMO should be drenched with deep lore as well when CCP get around to it - although I'm not overly familiar with the 2nd Edition WoD that they'll probably use for it, just original WoD.

Likewise I wouldn't say Bioware had it easy, working with an established world rather than the Developer-created worlds like EverQuest and CoH has. But at least they have their own time period to stamp their own vision upon. They're lucky to have such a rich source of lore to draw from and even luckier being able to add to this universe and even create the first impressions of peoples, places and other stuff that we've heard about but never seen.

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