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Lord of the Rings Online

The Road to Mordor: Why nothing stacks up to Shadows of Angmar

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

I'm putting all of my cards out on the table here: I am in a massive Lord of the Rings Online slump right now. It's perhaps one of the biggest that I've had in years, which is made baffling by the fact that it was triggered by a new patch. I was pretty psyched about Update 13 until it came out, at which point I felt my enthusiasm drain away as I picked at the remainders of the epic story and a frustratingly boring Fangorn zone.

I tried not to swing into bitter burnout mode and calmly backed away to give myself a sabbatical from the game. Hey, it happens to all of us no matter how much we love a game, right? But during this time off from LotRO, I've been wondering a lot why for all of the improvements to story, questing, and art in the recent expansions, when I think of what I love about the game it's always everything pre-Moria.

So I'm going to start today's column with a bold hypothesis and then see if I can back it up: Nothing in this game can stack up to Shadows of Angmar content. Nothing feels as right as it does and did in those zones.

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One Shots: Mount up!

Screenshots, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, One Shots, RIFT, TERA, Miscellaneous

Whether it's a real-world or fantasy version, we apparently can't resist showing off a sweet, sweet ride. This week's edition of One Shots is dedicated to all of your spiffy-looking mounts and the paint jobs that you had done to them while they were asleep.

The first one comes from The Lurker, who might become one with his horse in EverQuest II: "Arriving at the magical teleportation spires in the Commonlands. Stepping into the magical wortex will dissolve even a Deathknight and restructure him in a distant land. Is it really safe? If I ride into it on my horse, will we arrive as a centaur? And must I then join the Centaur Herds in the Thundering Steppes? Is that how they came to be?"

Get the picture in full Technicolor as well as several additional ones -- at no extra charge! -- all after the break.

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The Daily Grind: Do you make small-talk while grinding?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

LotRO
I've stomped my share of shrews in this week's Lord of the Rings Online Spring Festival, and while I'm content to semi-AFK my way through a token grind to get a couple of the spiffier rewards, it strikes me as odd to see a dozen players doing the same activity in close proximity and basically ignoring one another.

Sure, there's that one guy who's always spamming the emote with the most over-the-top animation in the game, but apart from that, this might as well be a slice from a single-player RPG. So, how about it Massively readers? Do make small-talk in situations like this, or do you just go about your business?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

One Shots: Weather forecast

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

One Shots
We've got a lot of great player-submitted screenshots revolving around weather and the environment in-game, starting off with this fantastic picture by Star Trek Online player Chris.

"Here is Captain Hannah Welch and the senior staff of the USS Aurora on the surface of an alien world at dusk," Chris writes. "This is one of my favorite screenshots -- it captures what Star Trek has meant to me since I was a kid. A tight group of friends in a universe filled with wonders we've yet to see. One of my favorite quotes from the series (from the pen of Maurice Hurley) comes from Q at the end of the episode that introduces the Borg; 'It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's NOT for the timid.'"

If you're adventurous and without timidity, continue reading to see what our community conjured up for this week's weather forecast One Shots!

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LotRO's Spring Festival returns with mushy romance and smooshy shrews

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play

LOTRO
Were you wondering if Lord of the Rings Online forgot about its Spring Festival? Well, it didn't; the festivities have begun anew today and will continue through June 3rd.

LotRO's Spring Festival includes the notorious hedge maze, the manic shrew-stomping event, horse races, romance-themed quests, and the continuing rivalry between the Ale Association and the Inn League. It's a good time of the year to stock up on cosmetic items, reputation points, and general tomfoolery, so get to it!

The Road to Mordor: What would Lord of the Rings Online 2 look like?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor

LOTRO
It's safe to say that I've been around the block a time or two in this column, and as such I've grown quite familiar with a few of the war chants that some players like to spout in every single comment section. Yes, the character visuals are off-putting and a travesty that should be investigated by the United Nations. Yes, Turbine is a sinister money-grubbing organization with no love for the game, only for your wallet. Oh, it's not enough to say it once; there's a comment quota to be had!

But the one that both makes me roll my eyes the most and makes me think a bit is the comment that states that the franchise should be given to some other studio to make, I dunno, Lord of the Rings Online II: Shire Reckoning.

It's an interesting thought exercise that I feel has very little possibility of ever happening. Turbine has the license for at least a few more years, and anything past that would require Warner Bros. and the Tolkien estate to be convinced that a Lord of the Rings MMO could be done better and made more profitable elsewhere. Wishful thinking is one thing, but practical reality is another. However, let's say for the sake of argument that the commenters got their way and Brandybuck Studios was commissioned to make a new MMO for Middle-earth. What would it look like?

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The Daily Grind: Would you like more client-side customization options?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

LotRO Gandalf
Lord of the Rings Online's latest patch brings some interesting client-side changes to the long-running fantasy MMO. Namely, the update gives you the ability to turn off other players' cosmetic pets. Turbine's announcement post mentions that this will help if you're having performance problems, but it'll also help with immersion if, like me, you're one of those crazy Tolkien nutters who wants a Tolkien-based MMO to look like Tolkien's Middle-earth.

In fact, I'd love to see the option expanded to include Loremaster combat pets, Runekeeper spell effects, and heck, even an ignore list that filters annoying players out of the game visually instead of just removing their chat. That last one may be technically impossible, but I can dream!

What about you, Massively readers? Would you like to see more client-side customization options in your MMOs? If so, what sorts?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

One Shots: Dance like nobody's watching

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous, WildStar

Boy howdy, my screenshot challenge from a couple of weeks ago for you folks to take pictures of your characters dancing was pretty popular! I received a slew of entries, so why not dedicate an entire column to Massively readers shaking what their developers gave them?

First up is reader Duncan, who wins the internet (for a minute at least) with this picture: "Hey Massively! Here is a snapshot of my Chua character BuzzCracker in WildStar taking time off from his adventures on Nexus to get down and funky on the dance floor at 'Wild William's Tiki Bar' in the tree tops of Wilderrun. Don't ask me why the Mechari and the two Loppi are dancing with no clothes behind Buzz; it must be something in the drinks being served by old Bill at the bar. Next stop for BuzzCracker is a spring break beach party ongoing in Malgrave!"

Really, this should go to show that the world is primed and ready for an all-dancing MMO. Let's shake our groove thang with the rest of this week's entries!

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Perfect Ten: Great MMO time travel adventures

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, RuneScape, The Secret World, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

BTTF
Writers and geeks alike can't seem to get enough of time travel, although the ratio of horribly crafted time travel tales to fun and smart ones is pretty lopsided. I've come to realize that MMOs are positively littered with ways that players are invited to jump around the internal timeline of the game, and I wanted to share a few of them in this week's countdown.

When you think about it, the proliferation of time travel quests makes a lot of sense from a developer viewpoint. There is a ton of lore that goes into each one of these virtual worlds, but for the most part the players are affixed to a very specific (and unmoving) point in time. Hopping about in time is a great way to experience other eras and actually see history instead of just reading it in a quest box. Plus, if done right, these quests can be quite memorable.

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Chicken hockey returns to Lord of the Rings Online

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Humor

LOTRO
Even Hobbits need to pick on something smaller than they are, which is why the little folk (and the big 'uns too) are glad that they now can smack chickens across a field with a stick in Lord of the Rings Online.

Hobnanigans, also known as "chicken ball" and "chicken hockey," is returning to LotRO for a limited time event. Teams can take to a special field in Bree-land to attempt to knock chickens through the opposing side's goal. The two teams at play are the Flying Feathers and the Steel Beaks.

The current Hobnanigans event will take place from May 9th through 11th. The mini-game previously appeared in LotRO only once back in 2007.

Lord of the Rings Online patch offers more cosmetic pet options

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Free-to-Play

LOTRO
Lord of the Rings Online's Update 13.1 is on its way, and with it comes several refinements to the new cosmetic pet system.

The devs have made the huorn pets "stand out a bit more" with the patch and hinted that there are now other pets that can be obtained. The big change here is that pets will live on the client instead of the server, allowing players to turn off others' cosmetic pet visuals if so desired to improve graphical performance. Also, the lil' pets can now be renamed.

Other changes with 13.1 include a fix for Quickbeam's quieting quests (say that five times fast!), an auto-fellowship feature for friends, an option to automatically add tasks to the quest tracker, and a new inventory sort button.

One Shots: Reflection perfection

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, One Shots, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online

LOTRO
"Take a picture of a picture in an MMO," I said to you guys a couple of weeks ago, and darn it if you awesome folks didn't come through! We have two entries from that screenshot challenge this week, starting with reader Chiara taking a look at her good looks in Lord of the Rings Online.

"One of the things that impressed me the most when Riders of Rohan launched was the furniture," Chiara wrote. "I spent the whole day breaking into NPCs' houses uninvited (they weren't amused). The first time I saw a mirror, I squealed."

I'm squealing right now myself, but that's mostly because a mouse just ran across the ceiling tiles. I need to throw a cat up between the floors one of these days to solve that problem. Anyway, let's take a gander at the other great entires from players' screenshot folders!

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The Road to Mordor: Birthdays and Beornings in LotRO

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Classes, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Road to Mordor, Anniversaries, Housing

This month Lord of the Rings Online will be hitting its seventh anniversary. That's right: Seven years ago, LotRO opened the doors to Middle-earth in a way that we never had before. Some took cheap shots by calling it a World of Warcraft clone, but the less inflammatory and more intelligent in the crowd realized that there was something more to this MMO than a Hobbit-infested Azeroth.

We've had ups and downs in LotRO since 2007, but one continuing testimony that I see mentioned on a regular basis is how welcoming and wonderful it is to return to this game. There's something special -- almost magical -- about Turbine's version of Middle-earth that has entranced many players and continues to do so. Heck, in my very first Road to Mordor back in 2010 I tried to articulate why I felt that this game was set apart from the pack in significant ways.

Today we have much to discuss about the future of the game, but I want to start with one overriding factor that so much of the game connects to: its sense of cohesiveness. This is not a scattered playground full of discordant toys but a unified world with intricate bonds that we are still exploring.

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Day-long player carnival slated for May 17 in Lord of the Rings Online

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Player-Generated Content

LotRO warsteed in Snowbourn
Do you play Lord of the Rings Online? Do you play on Landroval? If so, you'll want to mark May 17th on your calendar and plan to stop by The Lonely Mountain Band's day-long Spring Racing Carnival.

SRC is a player-run event which includes "nine horse races, a horse parade, a mounted fashion contest, barrel racing, rodeo clown comedy acts, a demonstration by the formation riding team, name-that-breed and name-that-song contests, eight musical performances, and a final concert and fireworks show."

[Thanks Chris!]

The Daily Grind: What's the silliest thing you've done for an MMO achievement?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Anniversaries

LotRO Grindaversary fireworks
It's festival time in Lord of the Rings Online, which means that it's time to do all manner of inane activities in order to collect tokens and trade them for mounts, clothing, etc.

I'm actually more amenable to this sort of thing than I used to be, probably because I'm maxed out and looking for any sort of excuse to visit Middle-earth. And what better excuse is there than a series of achievements that grants the title of Master Blaster, provided you have the patience (and the silver) to stand around and fire off 300 vendor-purchased fireworks?

Yep, that's my what's-the-silliest-thing-you've-done-for-an-MMO-achievement story. What's yours?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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