LoTRO Cancelled: CS and Tech Support Matters!

My wife and I have ended our time in Middle Earth.   Sadly, we were really enjoying ourselves, and would have easily made the level cap, but after Book 10, I started to experience some very bad technical problems running the game, and despite numerous attempts to get the problem fixed through all of the available tech support channels offered by Turbine, I hit brick wall after brick wall, and simply called it quits.

Developers grab a sticky note and a pen, because here is a tip just for you:  CS and Tech Support matters! 

It isn’t enough to design a good game, and hire quality staff to run the top of house operations such as Meghan “Patience” Rodberg.   She really is amazing, and is one of the best in the industry, but all of her good impressions are erased when tech support can’t help the customer get their game playable.

The problem started the day I patched Book 10.  I started getting complete visual freezes, but the UI, sound, and chat functions continued to work.   I was forced to exit the game and restart to fix the problem.   Less than five minutes later, I would be frozen again.   My wife runs a very similar CPU right next to me on the same network, and was having NO problems at all…

I contacted an in-game GM…  7 minute response time…  VERY good.   After a lengthy discussion of the issue (while frozen I might add) the GM informed me that it was a technical issue and I needed to contact tech support.  Sadly, tech support is outside of the game.   8:50 pm EST I open the live tech support help program, and wait for the person to come on with me…  I wait until 9:15pm and then realize that it ends at 9:00…  hmmm NOT so good…

So I submit my problem through their email channel, and resign myself to watching reruns of CSI and Heroes.  My wife logs off too, because we always level together.   The next day, I contact the live team again because no one has responded to my email yet (That is not such a good response rate) and the helpful tech can’t seem to comprehend what LOTRO is.

Helpful Tech: Good evening.  What Turbine game are you having problems with, and what seems to be the issue?

Cyndre: LOTRO, Book 10.  I am having issues freezing, though its not a connection issue because my wife isn’t having the same problem, maybe a compatibility issue or corrupt file?

Helpful Tech: Ok, for what game are you freezing?

Cyndre: umm…  LOTRO?  You know, your companies flagship MMO? 

I kid you not…   that was the start of my contact with tech support.  It got worse from there.  The tech has me run a dxdiag after a few more questions and determines that my video driver is out of date.  He instructs me to update it and my problems will be solved.   So I dutifully update that and my sound cards as well, just in case and log back in…  to freeze a minute later.   Quickly logging off and back onto the live support… damnit…  9:01pm….

The next day I get an email from Tech Support in response to my email inquiry.   They assure me it is a corrupt file in the patching process and I need to completely reinstall LotRO.  I do so, and re-patch and log on…   oops, freezes galore….

Later I tried getting help on the forums, but after close to a week, I just didn’t feel the desire to fight for the game.   Its fun.   Its well designed.  But I was enjoying not playing just as much as I would have enjoyed playing.  Also, in a moment of weakness I bought two copies of Starcraft and gave my soul back to Blizzard…  at least for now.

To make a long story short…   CS and Tech Support will win or lose customers for your studio.  Heed or ignore this warning at your own peril, but most people will not be willing to wade through the many layers of the abyss to figure out what is wrong with their game, and frankly it isn’t our job to do so.   If all you’ve got for answers is ‘old drivers, and reinstall’ you could have just hired my two year old to manage your tech department.


32 thoughts on “LoTRO Cancelled: CS and Tech Support Matters!”

  1. I agree with your assessement of their tech support. Absolutely miserable. I’m fairly sure, although I didn’t check, that it is outsourced to some mega group. The people who have responded to me were obviously working strictly from a script.

    I’m trying hard to give LOTRO a chance myself, but it’s not really working out.

  2. Well, well..I was NOT crazy..
    I also was a canceller…and maybe you might know me on the forums by my moniker if you read them….. Openedge1.

    I was a 1000 post puppy on their forums due to my many complaints about how the game was running. I was even threatened to stop posting about the issues or be banned.
    Basically the game has an problem with newer hardware and USB devices…is what it all boiled down to. And SOOooo many people also had the same issues with the same types of setups.
    Constant hiccups, stuttering, hitching…
    The content ended up being too dry, the interface not well made…just so many issues.
    I wanted to love it simply for being in Middle Earth…but, my affair died when the issues still existed since closed beta (I was in the 2nd Closed Beta), and the support on the forums is some of the worst you will ever see, with canned responses, answers that are 100% incorrect (one tech person..Karch…stated a user needed to change Vista to make sure it was not using so much memory on his video card…WHAT!@#$…this is not possible)…and then when I finally had a conversation with Bunsen, one of the Dev’s through email…he admitted to the game not being multi-threaded, and to unplug ALL my USB devices…not when I had a $99 G7 laser mouse that works 100% in every other game…but not LOTRO.
    Sorry for the rant on your post…but, I agree that this will come to bite them on the butt eventually, and Turbine should have listened to us in Closed Beta and even in Open..
    Did you know the servers are not even on site? So, they push updates through a Virtual Client…they do not lay their hands on the machines at all…how is that anyway to run a business.

    I play EQ2 now…go figure…that game is so hard on your computer, yet runs WAY better than LOTRO…

    So…good for YOU!…Enjoy Starcraft!

  3. Thankfully in almost all the games i played i was able to get decent tech support, but not so much in other tech related areas. It’s like there is a script they give them to go through and won’t vary it at all. “Yes, i do what a button is. I have tried turning it off and on. I have replaced all cables.” This was for a blown dsl modem, and i knew i would need a tech to see if it was the modem or the line, but even though i have 20 years working on computers, the support line took me almost an hour to get them to send someone. That got long, but it seems like they never hire those who actually know and care about the product, just people who needed work and are about the level of telemarketers.

  4. I have the same “freezing” problem, I know a few other people that do as well. Though before it was happening only once a week or so and only for a few seconds. Right after book 10 came out the game became unplayable and that lasted about a week. I also could almost never connect to the “default data server”, so even logging in took about 30 minutes, then I couldn’t play when I finally did log in.

    But since then it’s gotten better and I was able to play all weekend with no problems. Nothing’s changed since then so I don’t know what happened.

  5. I left out that I did get the amazngly insightful suggestion that I “play without the sound” to fix the freezing problem…

    I’d rather watch reruns of M.A.S.H. than play an MMO without sound (especially when it has a built-in voice chat client)

  6. I have seen on the forums

    “Update your drivers” – Why, when it was working fine before?
    “Turn off sound” – Then why play? It’s like going to a Rock Concert, and wearing the sound limiter headphones…
    “Computer or Vid Card overheating” – Ok…but it means you did something recently to make it do that

    The answers got quite lame..and of course, I got the “Remove all USB devices”, then I knew I was done after that..

    No…they have made some mistakes here, and hopefully they get them corrected (performance in DDO took about a year to fix…and is still sometimes choppy)

    Btter games to play, that play well…anyone tried Tabula Rasa?..WOOT on that one!

  7. I played EQ Test for 7 years, so I’m used to playing without sound (they were constantly fiddling with the sound files, and running with sound on would make you crash most of the time), but to have that as a canned response is foolish.

    I’m really curious on subscriber numbers for this game. Counting characters, and then limiting what market you’re counting them in, is the most bizarre metric I’ve seen since trying to explain to my wife how a bottle of pop is 2.5 servings. Even I, someone in trial period and not a paying subscriber yet, have 3 characters. I have tons on CoH, 5 or so in AO, dozens in EQ1, and 12 or so in WoW. I’m making several human portions of those metrics all by myself!

  8. Funny thing is I have 4 USB devices plugged in at all times on my rig, and my wife has none… that could have been the issue I suppose, but none of their tech people bothered to ask me about that/ mention it, so it never came up.

    I mean that doesn’t excuse a problem like that, but I would have been willing to use a work-around for the time being to continue playing, if a sane one had been presented.

  9. I quit LoTRO for a similar issue, although in my case LoTRO would simply reset my computer without warning. I always thought it was a heat issue related to my computer, yet oddly every other game worked without a hitch. I’m hoping in 6 months or so they figure this all out. At its base, LoTRO is a fun game, and if it ran 100% fine, I would love to give it another go. Good thing they have trail accounts to test how it runs in 6 months, so I don’t waste $15 in case it still refuses to work.

  10. Didn’t have any experiences like that however for some reason LOTRO ran worse when I put XP back on my system after removing VISTA. Have no idea why it was like that. In VISTA it ran great, on XP it was sluggish and skippy. However I did not play long enough to get to Update 10 so I cant compare there

  11. I’m sorry it had to end on their terms and not yours, Cyn. Hate it when it happens. There’s always all the stuff left undone.


  12. There is only so much work a player will go through to play a game and if a company is not willing to put in the effort to ensure that those players receive the the best in service, then they get whats coming to them.
    Its sad, and I’m pretty sure Sanya Weathers would drop the Smiting Hammer of CS on that jerk who didn’t even recognize the acronym for his company’s largest product.

  13. Great. My plan was to start LotRO in October. Now I hear of serious tech problems. Nothing kills a game for me faster. I’m glad they’re offering a free trial now, then I can check out how the game performs before I buy the box and subscribe. Thanks for the info.

  14. @Link: For what it’s worth, I have two accounts on two computers with zero problems and I have about 6 friends currently playing with zero problems as well. So it’s at least not an epidemic here.

  15. I can concur with Ethic. In my 12 months (alpha beta release) with the game, I never had an issue with performance that wasn’t related to bad internet connection.

    The tech problems you see reported here, shouldn’t be indicative of the whole populace. My time in Middle-earth was mostly lag and bug free. :)

  16. I didn’t mean my post as a “DON’T PLAY THIS GAME” because in fact, I think it is a tremendous MMO and deserves to be played…

    However, I also believe that game companies have a responsibility to assist their customers in correcting problms that do arise.

    I had more suggestions of likly problems in this post than two weeks of using the designated channels for their tech support.

    Most players didn’t have any bug or playability issues with LotRO, but sadly I did and I have a soapbox from which to complain about it, and I do because I demand more from the industry than shiny pixels and fancy IPs I expect best-in-class service and solid tech teams. LOTRO has excellent CS from top of house to their GM response times in-game, but damn is their tech support just awful.

  17. And I for one have seen their responses, have had discussions with the Dev’s…and to be honest…the game needs time to germinate.

    A lot of it has to do with your PC (the older the PC, the better the game runs…WTF??!#) so it is not optimized for the latest hardware (the fact that EQ2 runs better at full settings than LOTRO at just HIGH is a dead giveaway)

    The support on the forums was given to some guys who just do this as a hobby it looks like, as the answers have either been ridiculous or downright “Did not read the post”…One tech for example asked the OP a question…which was the OP’s question…HUH?

    So, I know some people have had luck with the game…but, I would still like to see how it runs on their systems really…is it all that good?

    Various weird bugs, floating in the air, missing items, quests bugged…no, it is not as bad as Vanguard thats for sure…but, maybe in 6 months or a year it will be good…took EQ2 that long.


  18. I feel I have to say it isn’t completely fair to pit everything on Turbine’s CS department. PCs are highly diverse machines between users, and often the slightest difference can cause great complications (down to programs interfering with each other, or some difference in design between two processor revisions). From the insight you have posted forth, so far it seems like CS was covering their bases with what they could find as the problem (MMO clients are usually built around the most recent drivers out, and a miswrite to a file can be nigh undetectable, at least not worth searching it out and replacing over reinstalling and patching. Sound devices have been known to interfere with other devices and programs; my card shared the same IRQ with my USB. Not at all pretty). They did DETERMINE that you lacked up-to-date drivers, so they aren’t incompetent, they’re just working with what information, theories, and experience they have to work with.

    What I’m trying to say is to consider that diagnosis is in fact nigh indeterminable without a lot of similar cases arising, thus allowing for the dev team to find a common factor in the problem and fixing it. In short, it may not be a problem in the CS division, who has worked to help you overcome these problems, albeit unsuccessfully, but a misfortune of circumstance.

    There’s just some things people can’t find over a phone line, dude.

  19. I’m a lifetime sub/founder, started way back in beta, etc.

    I do not recommend that anyone purchase or start to play LOTRO at this point, in its current state.

    I feel my money and time has been to some extent wasted, but that to abandon it at this point would be to completely waste it.

    The fact is we’re dealing with what is essentially an extended, paid, public beta.

    Some people have no problems with the game, technically.


    A lot of other people, DO.

    Those problems range from complete freezes/hangs/crashes, to persistent performance glitches. Audio/video twitching, stuttering, hitching, and lag are all common problems that as of this writing DO NOT GO AWAY WITH SYSTEM TUNING AND DEVICE DRIVER UPDATES.

    A lot of people with solid skills and experience tweaking their PCs for games have tried to “fix” their systems so they get clean gameplay with LOTRO and FAILED.

    At this point Turbine’s lack of acknowledgement and communication is also a serious issue.

  20. To Age’s point, yeah. The CS guys don’t deserve to be hated on. They’re trying, and sometimes some of them don’t “get it”, but they’re working pretty much blind most of the time, and honestly, their jobs are made harder by the real (IMO) problem, which is a lack of sufficient QA in the development and release pipelines.

    That’s Turbine’s fault. But not something you can hang the CS team(s) for.

    A lot of early founders had really high hopes for LOTRO, and were concerned early on about it due to Turbine’s recent track record with DDO:Stormreach. It is turning out those concerns were well placed, rather unfortunately.

    LOTRO has met with success, and there are a lot of good things in the works for it, but its too bad an apparently significant number of people who put early and extended effort into being part of the founding player base, aren’t going to be able to enjoy it fully — not at this point in time.

    Getting into Book 10 and (soon) 11 only to discover that performance problems which have been lurking for months are still not addressed, has to be a pretty big bummer.

  21. @ Age & Zeef: I do blame CS specifically. I have since uninstalling and writing about it, gotten a few emails from readers and friends that have suggested well over 25 possible problems related to this issue, and ways to abate the problem.

    CS, the people being paid to do this for a very profitible game, had exactly three possible suggestions, and lacked any drive to fix the problem. I don’t expect them to magically fix it instantly, but I do expect some form of outreach, follow-through and creativity in solving the problems. If you are quoting the Network Admin for Dummies handbook at me, and you expect me to feel good about that, you are mistaken.

    In the end, its not about blame or quality… its about my presceptions as a customer and meeting my minimum expectations. Fail to meet those exceptions and you lose a customer. Thats just business 101, and they haven’t learned that lesson yet as a company/ division within the company.

  22. @Zeef : You are truly on target…
    And go to the mmorpg forums to see so many delusional people who believe the game runs top notch on their systems. It makes me wonder if they have even played an MMO before.

    I was one of the posters on the lotro forums…and I had a rather LONG thread on the “hitching” issues to show the myriad number of things I did…to no avail…from different cpu’s, hard drives, vid cards, memory…you name it…even a complete OS wipe..they still blamed drivers or my PC…which now runs EQ2 admirably..
    Example here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjesCY0JB20

    At one point a Dev admitted to the issue, but could not track it down…and guess what? It still exists and I just up an quit..(after being shutdown as well…almost banned for working on the issue,,,but was blamed for using the word “hitch” too many times…reason why it comes up on search engines like google…hehe)

    Anyways…other games play so much better, and have the mechanics down pat as well..I will probably never return.

  23. The hitching problem is the only one I have with the game, but it happens on all three of my PCs. From average to high end, they all have the same hitching problem. Asheron’s Call 2 had the same problem, I think it is related to the engine they use.

  24. I have recently gone through a very expensive process of QA for LOTRO becuase of the following:
    This problem may not be initially hardware related, but related to Server-side corruption of a character/object data. It has been noted on some WOW Forums that the same effect was seen and the only solution the players could come up with was to completely delete the character/items that may have been the cause. The problem did not appear after the deletion when new characters were created.

  25. As a follow-up to earlier posts here, now that Book 11 is out, I should point out that at there has been significant improvement in gameplay/performance on two fronts with the b11 patch:

    1. a/v hitching

    2. client crashes in instances

    Much of what was done appears to have been glossed over in the “patch notes”, but the changes had a significant positive effect on my system; sufficient to make the game playable again.

  26. Just this past weekend I made the purchase of LOTRO online and the site appeared to freeze just after I placed the order. It said processing order and just stayed on that creen for 20 minutes minimum. So, I decided to try and place the order again, only to come to the same result. About 4 hours later in the day I recieve and email with my game key. Great! An hour later I recieve another email and another game key. Ok I goofed, so I’ll sent account support an email and they will reverse one of the charges. No reply. Here it is Wednsday. I very much enjoyed the demo but I must concur that the support and customer service leaves much to be desired. Fortunately in a free marketplace these things have a way of handling themselves. They will either improve and thrive or fall short on subscriptions. Their choice, as it is mine to not support them.

  27. I cancelled myself although I was really into the game by the time I hit level 20.

    The reason is mainly the game randomly ‘freezing’ on me and having to reboot my pc.

    The reasons I got when I contacted support was that there must be some fault with my hardware or my card overheating, or my PSU not being up to job.

    My pc ran a stress test for 8 hours straight, not once locking up/overheating/crashing.

    They also told me to run the game on lower settings. Yea right, I blew 300 quid on a 9800gtx to see a game on medium texture settings.

    Anyway long story short, great game, too bad I can’t enjoy it due to its crap/buggy engine.

    Back to Vanguard for me.

  28. Same game on your computer and your wife’s, but probably not the same hardware, or software for that matter. You insist on blaming Tech Support; They are there to support the game, not your PC. Get a grip, blame your POS box, update your drivers (oh, and to reply to your, ‘but why when they worked before?’ — because, that’s why updates exist :P)

    So, stop being an idiot; stop expecting Turbine to fix your PC.

  29. Totally disagree with that ihateidiots guy, i have freezing problems as well, the game stops every 4-5minutes for 3sec. didnt happen before, i have updated drivers and all, but LOTRO have some serious programming problems, i am sure about it. Nothing to do with PC, i just bought a new one

  30. I think it notable to point out that the customer service person was not being a complete idiot as you automatically assume. You were being the jerk by assuming that LOTRO was Turbine’s first MMO just because you haven’t heard of Asheron’s Call that has been running since 1999.

  31. I am so annoyed with this game.I love the heck out of it but it is a lag monster right now on my computer.I had to uninstall and when I went to reinstall it quit on me and I had to restart the download.I was continually getting the message server could not be connected or it did a time out.I an seriously doubting the competence of these people and their helpfulness when I can’t even get a tech support rep.I will give it one more shot then I will go play D&D with the dice since they are more reliable.

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