Since You’ve Been Gone

I finally returned like some prodigal son to Lord of the Rings Online last night.  Having a lifetime account is a blessing because entering credit card information to re-up when I am unsure about doing so could have been the unjumpable hurdle between me and Middle Earth.  There were a lot of changes in Book 8 that I have to get used to, most of which are positive.  I knew there was significant changes to the Scholar profession, which I have mastered.  My kinleader was sick of paying for potions in the Auction Hall, and I was happy to oblige.  The only problem was that I was clueless as to what the new crafting changes were.

A seasoned MMO player knows that reading patch notes for changes is crucial to skilled gameplay.  There are also wiki repositories for information.  The forums might have a decent guide or two.  Even the /advice channel might come in handy in extreme times.  Last night felt like an extreme time.

I really wanted the Potent Athelas Essence Recipe (heal potion), which I knew about only because my kinleader flashed the item across chat and I couldn’t make it.  Where could it be?  The obvious answer was somewhere in Lothlorien because players cannot induce morale from Potent Athelas Essences unless they are buds with the Galadhrim elves.  But, someone in the global grouping channel (one of the many quagmires on the internet) helpfully told me to look in to the Scholar’s Guild in Rivendell. Off I went.  The Scholar’s Guild had a few new recipes (like one that made black dye worthless), but they just shrugged their shoulders at the new morale booster I wanted.  Dungeons and Dragons Online players had brought down the wiki-like Lorebook, no one had updated the Scholar’s Guide in the forums after Book 8, and the advice channel in the hippy summer land of the elves was silent.  I was alone in my quest.

Now, I consider myself an intelligent player, but I could not get this piece of simple knowledge.  It wasn’t like I was trying to find some piece of a raid puzzle or an easter egg.  I was just trying to find which NPC sold the freakin’ recipe for the potent green goo.  If I had trouble catching up after taking a break from one Book update, I can only imagine what a non-blog-reading, non-forum-reading, non-patch-note-reading, small-kin-belonging player would be submitted to when the player wanted to come back from a couple month hiatus.

I think this information should be in game.  “Since you’ve been gone, we’ve had some great changes,” my imagined UI window would say.  “We see that you are a Captain and a Scholar.  Here are a few things you might want to know.  We also have a navigable menu below for a complete listing of changes.”  I can only dream of having this information at my fingertips… in-game.  I would not need anything more than some sort of tagged version of the patch notes.

My night ended well.  I finally found the recipe-bearing elf by the docks , of course by the legendary item bartering NPCs and not by the elves that barter other recipes.  I gave her a few twigs; she gave me the recipe.  I then went into the Black Pit to do two crafting instances to supply my soon-to-be-open Dale Lakeman’s Potion and other Curios business.  They were good quick fun, and it reminded me that I really do miss the game and my kinship.  Until Borderlands comes out, I think I will be back in Middle Earth.

I can’t know everything, pretend you’re an orphan

11 thoughts on “Since You’ve Been Gone”

  1. I’ve just started playing LoTRO a few days ago, currently a level 16 hobbit warden. It’s a nice departure from my usual MMO fare.

    I don’t really like that you have to get to 20 to unlock cosmetic choices (for the first time; after that it’s unlocked for every toon), although that’s probably just because I’m desperate for something that hides the general hobbit leg & walk shape from behind :P

  2. Agreed, I’m always annoyed by the lack of in-game information about stuff like this. Why not have a free text (like Google) interface to ask NPCs questions which acts as the front-end to a search engine. Depending on faction, class, and other criteria, the NPC could have varying levels of knowledge about a subject ranging from “I have no idea, you should ask an elf” to “Oh, you need to speak with Hobbit Bob over in Michael Delving in the crafting hall.”

  3. There is still so much information not available to the player while in game in front of the computer in many MMOs. Not many are going to spend hours and hours researching and testing and posting results.

    Of course my friend who doesn’t really know WoW enough or want to read, knew every version of ADnD inside and out, and always knew how to create the most powerful characters using the right combinations of rules. Of course you didn’t need to read Dragon magazine or blogs, just pick up a book (lots of books) but maybe that’s easier since extra rulebooks seem like part of the game, not external.

  4. (like one that made black dye worthless)

    Maybe “worth less” but not “worthless”. Black dyes sell for 120 to 200 silver per pot on my low population server if I am willing to stockpile a bit when supply is high; this means I make half to almost a full gold piece per day. Maybe they used to sell for more (since they were a crit of an ugly color), but they do have a worth to players.

    As for information, different strokes for different folks. I like trying to figure things out and looking a bit to find what I want. having everything spelled out in excruciating detail kind of ruins part of the game for me. So, careful about assuming your own tastes are universal.

    Too bad my Supreme scholar is only currently level 34 and won’t get that super potion recipe anytime soon, I guess. :P

  5. It’s a good point. I’ve been working on getting a friend into LOTRO because he’s a Tolkien lover but completely inexperienced at MMOs. He’s an older guy and no stranger to computer games but what the experience really shined a spotlight on for me was that MMOs have just insane quantities of information all over the damn place that the player needs to succeed but has no map or compass to find. His enjoyment level of the game just barely outweighs the frustration of his confusion and lack of access to information.

    MMOs really rely on the community to act as a search engine for the players. That’s cool for the most part since nothing searches more robustly and comprehensively as a human being (for now) but it’s problematic when you’re the only Supreme Master Scholar in your chat channel. :P

  6. @Psychochild: I didn’t mean to imply that “everything is spelled out in excruciating detail,” but for things like class changes, profession changes, etc., I think some notification in-game would be handy. They completely changed Scholar crit items, for instance, which have been the same since Vol. 2, Book 8. How was I supposed to know what these were? Are my old crit items good? They are now barter items. Can I exchange them? Etc. I believe that out-of-game information repositories are poor substitutes for notifying the entire population of such changes.

    Also, I take issue with your “universal” comment as I try extremely hard to make sure that my thoughts and opinions are clearly spelled as such and not some “fact.” In other words, I do not assume everybody everywhere agrees with me.

  7. Yeah, the lotro end-game changes entirely every update.

    Book 7 made it all about doing solo crafting instances for item xp and gold leaves. People would say, “You can get 190k rune if you do all 18 quests in all 6 crafting instances”. Wow!

    Book 8 made the game all about running the new 6 man and new 3-man instances for great item xp. People would say, “One run of Halls of Crafting alone could net you 190k if you’re lucky with the rolls” Wow!

    Book 8 patch 1 made it all about the bounties and crafting. “You can get about 190k just for killing one mob and turning the bounty. Heck, you can get 500k in an hour if you have a hunter.”

    It keeps changing, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, if you grinded a weapon to lvl 50 before book 7, or even during book 7… you might be ticked at how easy it’s become. However, the game would ultimately be pretty boring if we were always doing the exact same things all the time. The variety keeps the game fresh when we don’t have new content. Of course, new content is always king.

  8. I liked LOTRO the 3 times I have tried to stay in the game. My 57 Warden though will not get any more levels as I left due to disliking the lag that accompanies the game.

    It is a fun, great looking game though.

    1. Hmmm, I very VERY rarely experience lag. I wonder if your computer is not up to par? Or maybe your internet or something??

      I am not a computer person so I have no idea, but really, there has been virtually no lag when I play. Even in a large fellowship, killing many things…

  9. The european version has a channel that is called “advice”, it is very helpful. Interestingly I found many more good databases in German than in English, while the official Lorebook and the LOTRO Wiki are not really helpful.

    I think LOTRO hooks players early on, but I also discussed with a lot of people that many stop playing LOTRO around level 30. Was there not a Lone Lands revamp planned?

    Right now people level so quickly in Breeland that they are completely overlevelled and only have killstuff for traits to do there in an almost “greyish” mob area. Something about the flow is not right there, ideally you go directly to the North Downs and later Evendim at the moment and skip as much of the Lone Lands as possible except maybe Weathertop.

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