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Reader Comments (29)

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 5:29PM BigAndShiny said

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LOTR strikes me as a great world prebuilt for a SW:TOR style MMORPG complete with great personal stories. I know it's a long shot, but this would really bring a lot of players back. Turbine built an excellent world, but a voice acted story would make the game feel so much like LOTR.

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 5:33PM Celtar said

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I feel due to the quality and what draws most long term LotRO players that LotRO will be fine shape for the near future. They really have put out a quality product that shows they care about the IP and what they have their name attached to as well.

The two new games you mention coming out really as time goes on don't do much for me for a variety of reasons that I won't go into here. Will I check them out? Sure most likely like I have other games but I always end up staying semi active to fully focused on LotRO.

I tend to keep two or three game subscriptions active at anyone time and I don't see this changing. It keeps me fresh for the game that really holds my attention and gives me reasons to compare and go "oh yeah thats why I like that".

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 5:41PM Lenn said

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Great post. Agree with it all.

It's funny, but on message boards for other games (and even here) I see the "LotRO is a failed game" comment thrown around a lot. Every time I play (which is pretty much every day), every zone I go to has players running around. The game must be doing not so bad after all.

As for a Hobbit tie-in, I have a feeling they're already working on that. When Siege of Mirkwood came out, a lot of people were confused as to why only the southern part of it was included. It would make sense to expand Mirkwood for a Hobbit tie-in expansion/content patch, including the areas north of it with the Lonely Mountain. Some sort of session play could even be included (since the game takes place several decades after the events in The Hobbit). Either way, I think it's safe to assume that the movies will give the game a new injection of players.

Even though I am anxious to get to Mordor, the downside of it finally happening would be that we'll all get the overwhelming sense of "... ok, now what?" There's nothing to do once the ring is destroyed, other than maybe mopping up some left-over orc presence here and there.

I wonder if Turbine's roadmap for the game, if they even have one, has anything concerning post-Third Age included. Perhaps they could go back to some of the early Middle-earth Online ideas.

Posted: Aug 20th 2011 2:06PM EdmundDante said

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@Lenn I imagine once they got to Mordor - they could develop horizontally ... i.e. the main line would be over but they could enrich the game with higher level dungeons, additonal unexplored areas etc.
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Posted: Aug 19th 2011 5:44PM Khalus said

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"Middle-earth will grow significantly"

Uhm, no it won't. They're adding only 1 new major zone, granted it appears to be the size of Breeland, with a new town thats about the size of Bree, and then the very smallish area around Isengard.

I don't get how you can call that significant. If and when Turbine ever decides to make another expansion the size of say Moria, only then may I agree with the word significant!

Isengard Maps:
http://www.betacake.net/2011/08/lotro-rise-of-isengard-maps.html

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 8:18PM Nandini said

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@Khalus I agree. Eriador is already HUGE. Dunland might add another 5% to 10% of total area, not counting the impassible mountainous parts.

Adding a region the size of Bree-land just doesn't feel like an expansion. It's something we might have expected as a free content update in the past, even if it's technically larger than Mirkwood.
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Posted: Aug 20th 2011 1:14AM aurickle said

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@Nandini
Actually, Moria really isn't particularly big. In terms of distance from one end to the other it's no bigger than North Downs. In terms of space that you can actually traverse, it's on a par with Trollshaws or Misty Mountains. It only feels big because you have limited line of sight everywhere, combined with the fact that to get even a short lateral distance you often have to take a convoluted route that makes the journey seem longer.

In order to make MoM feel like a significant expansion you have to add Eregion and Lothlorien as parts of the expansion. The thing is, Lothlorien was added a few months after MoM had gone live. Eregion was released as a free update for everyone, before MoM went live.

This is one of the reasons why I feel that LotRO is never going to reach the end of the story. Take the world map -- even after Isengard -- and then remove everything that pre-dates the game's first year and a half. What you're left with are Mirkwood, Enedwaith and the new stuff for RoI. The vast majority of the game's content comes from the first 1/3 of its lifespan.

Now compare that to EverQuest 2. Its first 18 months were actually the slowest period of growth for the game, with Bloodline Chronicles, Splitpaw Saga and Desert of Flames. The first two of those were insignificant. DoF, on the other hand, dwarfed MoM. Since then, they have released a MAJOR expansion on average of once every 9 months.

When LotRO went Freemium, Turbine claimed that they expected to then be able to start bringing out content at a faster pace than ever before. Not too long after that, they bragged about how profits had soared. Ever since, we've heard about how great the game is doing financially. So I have to ask: where is that accelerated release of content? At best it's limping along at the same pace as before the switch to Freemium. It's certainly nowhere close to what it was up to and including Moria.
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Posted: Aug 20th 2011 8:53AM Lenn said

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@Nandini Regarding Dunland: it's one of the few things that really annoy me, for some reason. The entire region west of the southern part of the Misty Mountains is called Enedwaith, and Dunland is only a small part of that, much like a province. But in the game it's as if they've switched the two around.
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Posted: Aug 19th 2011 5:46PM (Unverified) said

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LOTRO has replaced WoW as my "home MMO" purely on the strength of the now soloable epic questline (my mind is blown when people tell me it wasn't always so! I'd leave a game that tells me to find 5 people to continue the core story... it's why I left WoW, only WoW's number was 9/24) and skirmishes: sweet, sweet *optionally* groupable instancing. I haven't done a single non-epic (or non class-based) quest since level 19, and it's glorious.... ok, there was a little bit of rep grinding for muster abilities ;) .

Turbine "gets" that the game, on the player's end, belongs to the singular player first, and their circle of friends second. If WoW wants to deal a blow, their next expansion will observe this. I know SWTOR and GW2 are capitalizing on this, and it's vitally important in this day and age where the novelty of playing with other people, that made the MMO originally take off, isn't so novel anymore as a core selling point.

Everyone logs on alone. The games of the future will get that, and I'm glad that there are games like LOTRO that get that now. You can't get a group together if no one stays online because they are not singularly engaged.

Posted: Aug 20th 2011 3:11AM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)

Um... you quit WoW, which has relatively few group quests, and almost none in the new expansion, for LoTRO, which has group quests thrown at you every five minutes?
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Posted: Aug 20th 2011 5:45AM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified) If you're talking about the epic line, it's now 99.9% soloable. ;)
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Posted: Aug 20th 2011 2:49PM Celtar said

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@(Unverified)

Really the only reason I kept semi active on WoW was for the ease of getting my pvp fix. Pvp was one of the few things that I never cared for from LotRo. I finally just out grew the need and stopped playing WoW totally because I just found it lacking and doing nothing for me anymore.

I tend to keep two to three subscriptions active at anyone time and I just noted this is the first time in a long time that I only have one active account and that is with LotRo. Gave up on Rift, AoC, EQII etc.

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Posted: Aug 19th 2011 6:04PM Yukon Sam said

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TOR and GW2 are certainly pegging the hype meter, and I expect initial sales will refect that.

LOTRO is an older game with little hype that seems to be plowing straight on ahead under the radar. I've recently started playing again, and it's taken very little to get sucked right back into the sheer loving craftsmanship of this underappreciated game world.

LOTRO has got legs, and I'm not at all sure that's true of TOR or GW2.

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 6:43PM (Unverified) said

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Personally, I think TOR is being wildly overhyped. I am sure it will sell well, but I have zero interest in a game that basically shepards me through a scripted storyline then spits me out at the end with - what? - left to do. Space combat? On rails? I think not.

If the Star Wars draw was enough to grab gazillions of players, SWG would have had a lot more players in the beginning than it actually did. And how many non-Bioware fans even know what The Old Republic is? Do you think every movie fan is going to flock to Old Republic, when it has zero to do with the movie franchise?

Meh - they are advertising the hell out of it and I am sure it will sell well initially, but I really do not believe it poses any long term threat to other MMOs out there; at least, to those MMOs of a more sandbox variety. Plus, they lost a lot of potential players when they killed SWG. No reason for that - none at all.

I must say, though. I am really looking forward to TOR's launch, because maybe then I can finally stop hearing about it.

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 6:55PM Dril said

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@(Unverified)

"Plus, they lost a lot of potential players when they killed SWG. No reason for that - none at all."

Frankly, if people are stupid enough to believe BioWare had anything to do with shutting down SWG (other than making their own game) I doubt they'd be a real asset to TOR anyway.

I dread to think what general chat is going to be like in the first month: "OMFG THEY KILLED SWG"
"**** BIOWARE, **** TEH NGE"
"SRSLY SWG WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS WOW CLONE"
"LOL SWG WAS TEH GAME, THIS IS JUST TEH FAIL LOL"
etc etc etc
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Posted: Aug 20th 2011 7:19PM (Unverified) said

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@Dril

No one believes BioWare had anything to do with killing SWG. Everyone with a functioning brain cell knows LucasArts had everything to do with killing it because they have acknowledged that they would not extend the license to SOE. Is that clear enough for you?
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Posted: Aug 19th 2011 7:02PM aurickle said

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LotRO is in great shape for the near future, but there are some fundamental problems for its long-term viability.

First, let's look at the crafting system. With the various tiers we have now gone through Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert, Artisan, Master and Supreme. There is literally nothing left unless they just want to start making up meaningless names and abandoning the realism that is dictated by the IP. Supreme was already stretching it! With the storyline now only 1/3 of the way complete, that spells trouble.

Skills are in a similar situation with new ones having come VERY sparingly over the last couple of expansions. Most of the more recent skills have been modifications of earlier ones rather than genuinely new items. Why? Because they're having trouble coming up with new stuff that is both true to the lore and useful. Again, with the storyline just coming out of its youth, this presents a problem.

Which brings me to the second issue. The game launched 4 1/2 years ago. This expansion will bring us basically to the cusp of the second book without actually entering the content of Two Towers. I say this because the ents are not marching to war and we're not even entering Rohan yet. So what we're seeing in this expansion sets the stage for the events from the second book without actually starting them.

At that rate, we are basically 9 years from completion of the epic story. That will make LotRO a good 13 or more years old before we see Mount Doom. I think it's ridiculously optimistic to think that the game can be sustained for that long, no matter how good it might be.

As you add the various items like this up, what I see is a development team that has boxed itself -- and the game -- into a corner. On the one hand, there is precious little room left for meaningful character advancement. On the other hand, there is SO much story left to tell.

I'm just starting to feel like the devs have decided to milk the IP rather than advance it. I will be very surprised if we ever get to Mordor. With an IP like WoW where they make the story up as they go along the devs can bounce around all they want and the players will never be the wiser. But with one like LotRO where the end is known ahead of time the fact that they are taking so incredibly long to advance toward that point is actually rather worrisome.

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 8:13PM Nandini said

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@aurickle This expansion will see crafting more closely tied to the region of the expansion. There's no longer a need to worry about running out of superlatives.

It looks like every class will be getting 4 or 5 improved skills. I think this is okay, because LOTRO already has way more skills than most players ever use. Plus they can reuse animations and visual effects, so it's cheap. The improved skills are noticeably more powerful, and still give a sense of progression without having to relearn your class.

As far as pacing, I agree that it seems like we'll never reach Mordor. However, I don't think that's a bad thing. For me, the journey is often more enjoyable than the destination.

I'm certain this expansion will have several disappointments, but for me, these aren't any of them.
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Posted: Aug 19th 2011 7:02PM Stormwaltz said

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Turbine's defining strength has always been the creativity and industry of their live teams. The first Asheron's Call enjoyed >90% player retention for a long time, IMO because there was a new patch every month or two that added new quests and dungeons to advance the story of the world.

I don't know what their staffing is at present. They *COULD* have an "A team" working on boxed expansions, and a "B team" doing monthly support. But based purely on what I can see from the outside, they don't seem to be doing that.

Instead, it looks like they converted the Live Team into the Expansion Pack team. Now that's *good* for the quality of the Expansion - we'll get content made by devs who have practical, hands-on experience with the game, who know how to integrate new systems and stories harmoniously into the existing game. But that's *bad* for health of the Live world. It means we've suffered a long content drought and bugs have sat unfixed for months. (Remember the DX10 long-distance landscape lighting error introduced in Enedwaith? nearly a year later, it's *still* ruining all my screenshots.)

Posted: Aug 19th 2011 7:29PM shirtntie said

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I like Lotro and I believe its greatest strength is it's lore. The environment, races, and classes are all based on one of the greatest stories ever written. Unlike other MMOs (or other game genres) this world was created by a professor of literature at Oxford university. He was a poet and philologist (study of languages) and friend of another great writer C.S. Lewis. What other MMO has credentials like that?

Turbine must know this because they give the appearance of staying true to the story. No flying mounts, no wolf or giant chicken mounts, etc. They stick to what works and that is the story. Now I'm no fan boy. I have a lot of critiques about the game (as in there isn't anything revolutionary about the UI, basic mechanics or character animations to name a few).

I raise my glass to them. They have the integrity to stay true to what makes the game good (lore) and the business smarts to make it profitable.

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