I’ll Take Your Silence To Mean Acceptance

This is a phrase I hear a few times a day from the leader of the project I’m on. I miss gaming a lot, but what I truly miss most is what I haven’t done in maybe 5 years – testing and tuning of games. Long ago, on a planet with two moons, I used to help in the creation of material in a wildly successful MMORPG. I did a fair amount, but nowhere near the level of some folks I knew, of which I was highly jealous. It was completely unpaid, but it was wildly fun. But it was not always creation of material that I got to work on, sometimes it was fixing bugs and locking out what we called ‘exploits’. To be fair, many of these exploits were simply patching out creative ways to do things that players had through up that the game company didn’t like. As a veteran DM of many a pen and paper RPG, I expected this – players will often find the fastest way from point A to point B lies through undefined area Q.

This somewhat meandering back-story brings me to tomorrow’s patch for LoTRO, Book 8.

Book 8 has a lot of nice stuff in it, not least of all more content. LoTRO is STARVING for content right now. Let me explain just how bad it is.

I travel for business 4-5 days a week. My work computer has a graphics chip made by the FritoLay company, and thus cannot be used for gaming. I get to play Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings; basically when the kids are asleep and wife is watching her shows. The expansion was released just before Thanksgiving. As of last week, I had two characters complete every quest in the expansion, except for a handful of ones in the instances (which I have trouble doing due to the random playtimes). My characters have obtained max faction with both of the new groups in Moria, and have more money than I truly know what to do with. They both have 4 adequate to good items in the badly-needs-fixing Legendary Item system. They also have at least a half set of the current top armor in the game. If an extremely part time player like me is at this level, imagine where the average or bleeding edge player is? Perhaps like one of my kinmates, who has 4 characters completely kitted out in the top-level gear. So, all that said, LoTRO needs this content badly.

The patch will also include badly needed fixes for the new classes, which should be expected, as they are new. The RuneKeepers, the most magicy-type class LoTRO, has numerous abilities that simply do not work for example, and have waited since November for them. Every class will see changes as well, as can be expected from such a long awaited patch, and the merits of each of these changes can be endlessly debated.

One change I would like to focus on that I think deserves a bit more attention is the many revamps to instances. First off, I have been playing these games for 10 years – I know change happens. However, what is being done to these instances seems, at this point, to be somewhat unfair to the player base. Many of the creative ways that players use to kill the boss monsters in the game are being removed. Now, I, personally, could care less if we’re talking about removing a place that completely negates damage and renders the fight so simple half the group goes afk. I was shown one of these yesterday, and found it boring (the boss fight itself isn’t even that hard, why use this?). The changes made will turn 30 minute runs into multi-hour runs, and if the only incentive is to get a piece that only one person can use and then you have no reason to ever go back, it only hurts the people still working their way up.

The easy retort to this is that it should never be so easy to get crazy good gear, and I’d agree on both points. Yes, it should never be this easy to get top, end game gear, and yes, the gear is, quite often, amazing. However, three full months have passed and no changes have been made, except for a very small, exploit-plugging change to one instance very early on. Three months is a bit over 1/8th of the life of this still very young MMOPRG. Three months without stopping the flow is implying that the flow is ok. Your silence in the matter becomes your acceptance, as the project leader would say. In kinchat last night, both the people with all the items in the set and those with partial pieces were upset. Another change, the alteration of the second best armor to be used only by the character that loots it, also upsets many people. This consolidation prize armor is nearly as good as the top-level equipment, and should have never been transferable, likely as not. However, it has allowed many people to gear up alts and friends, and the mechanic exists in the game to allow you to trade your unneeded gear in for gear for someone else, and thus someone, somewhere, thought this was a good idea. If it were decided to be undesirable, a simple hot fix perma-killing the NPCs that handle this would easily cure this. I know I’ve personally done that in another game; it works.

In closing, I’d just like to point out that Moria is probably the second best expansion I’ve ever seen released, behind Kunark for Everquest. And when I talk of the quality of the expansion, I mean how much of it was complete at release. Moria was released with a mountain, or perhaps better said a well stocked mine, of things to do. Turbine’s timing for this release is pretty close to their normal timing for release, and I can’t fault that, but the presence on the board about any number of things from woodworking materials completely failing to be in game, to a legendary item system that is more like a scratch off ticket, or comments on official forums other than the Warden and Runekeepers is annoying.

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Jaded old gamer, and father of gamers, who's been around long enough. Still, he's always up for giving the Next Big Thing a whirl.

5 thoughts on “I’ll Take Your Silence To Mean Acceptance”

  1. Actually, I’m glad Book 7 is getting rid of some of the exploits. I’ve run every one of the hardmode instances without them and at most I’d say they take 1 hour to run (and we have a group with no minstrel). In fact, the slowest is Fil Gashan and that’s just a lot of standing around where I browse the web or blog!

    I wish they’d done it sooner though, I agree, they waited a hell of a time to patch in exploit-fixes, and that is too long. It should have been as soon as the exploits became apparent. I just dispute that this has now meant these pieces are all that hard to get, and what’s more, we have yet to find out if there will be new ways to get radiance gear in the new Book, and at the moment only the Watcher fight needs the radiance gear.

    There’s other good high-end equipment but the radiance stuff all comes down to your desire to see the Watcher. I did, but now I’m not so sure. Of course, Book 8 will be bringing some more clustered content and we’ll have to see how that goes. But I didn’t find the gearing up process as horrific as it could have been.

    I agree though, we needed the content around a month ago for a seamless progression, but I also recognise I tend to devour content! I’m glad they delayed Lothlorien rather than the whole expansion, and I look forward to seeing it finally. I think it’s inevitable there won’t be enough instances and raid content in it to keep us all truly happy till Book 8, but it seems to me LotRO is that kind of episodic game, both storywise, and increasingly, pace-wise.

  2. OOps, maybe 16th Hall takes a little longer than 1h but I don’t really know the exploits there – I thought they were just for the final boss fight, which (in itself) doesn’t take more than 10 mins… if there’s a real way of shortcutting the content there, I don’t know it, so it didn’t factor into my thoughts about exploits.

  3. I was shown the FG one yesterday, and found it silly – the boss is not hard, and requires, honestly, a minimum of coordination. I’ve been told that other changes will be made to make this one much more painful. Not sure why, it’s a well scripted one, probably the one that makes the most story-type sense of any to have a Hard Mode achievement.

    I’ve yet to do a DD one without it, and unless the door trick negates damage (I always take damage, maybe I do it wrong, and I didn’t look at other’s health), it seems like you’re dragging the bosses to the light, which actually is in theme for the place. I’ve been repeatedly told that this one will become very nasty.

    If 16th has an exploit, I don’t know it, as I’ve only done it all the way through. It’s long, but eh, it’s not truly challenging otherwise.

    GS is just GS, and I don’t think it’s even being touched (if it is, I’m probably the only person on the server without boots anyway). Forges change is minor and will add time, nothing else. Like FG, if you have a modicum of skill, you can survive. But I hate the aspect of time being added. The general mood in my kin has been riding along this way for the past few weeks since it was announced. We’re all mature players with families, and gaming is our fun, relaxing activity. Adding time on essentially takes away time we can play.

    You are right that the new book may (and I actually have been hoping that this is true) have new ways to get rad gear. It has been highly implied that the new raid instance will also need the rad gear. A radiance cloak, at a minimum, seems very likely.

    The Lothlorien decision was, by all accounts, a good call. They took an extra three months to roll it out, and it’s going to have to deliver. I hope it does.

  4. Ah, I remember the one that will be made the worst – Skumfil. OOC, kinchat, and just about everywhere I went online seemed to be screaming about how bad this will be.

    Will we have a crisis of pants? Only the shadow knows…

  5. I don’t think silence was acceptance, on Turbine’s part, as much as they were hard pressed to give a good answer.

    They changed their end game dramatically into a grindfest. Whole dungeons were made only to be boiled down to hard mode, hard mode was exploited to be able to run it as fast as possible, etc. The problem is Turbine had a ton of dungeon content, but the radiance gear hard mode system completely borked it.

    So fans all around the world were screaming at how bad this system was, BUT by using some simple “exploits” you could get the gear a little easier. By Turbine not fixing all but the most extreme exploits until a content patch, I believe they were almost conceding that the system sucked and players exploits that further broke it was a concession they were going to make.

    Now they have a new faction to grind, a new book to play through, a new 12-man lair raid (which supposedly drops radiance gear), etc. So while the hard mode system remains (now more exploit free), there are other things to do. And maybe, just maybe, players will start to want to explore the dungeons that were so meticulously created…

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