The Old Comfortable

In Lord of the Rings Online: Siege of Mirkwood, my journey is over.  I have a smattering of small quests left to do on the Eastern side of the zone, but for the most part my leveling and errand-boy running are done.  Now my time with my main character has simplified drastically.  Instead of pushing from quest hub to quest hub and through the epic story, not quite sure what’s next in store, I have set goals with planned steps.  Signing on has become a comfortable chore that I was used to for months before the expansion jarred me from my oasis of calm with the rest of the herd.

This is not a bad thing, and for many MMO players this is how we actually play.  We sign on to craft a few items, check the auction house, do a few daily quests, and that’s about it.  These gaming chores are interrupted on busy or event nights by grouping up for a group instance.  The braver choose to make random connections through pick up groupings.  The best part is that everybody at this level is right there with me.  When I was journeying geographically and leveling, I was for all intents alone.  Sure there were clearings in the forest where my journey would intersect another’s, but for the most part everybody was either at the end or somewhere in the middle.

Is this another diseased symptom of MMOs following the DIKU/Everquest based ancestors?  Or is this a benefit of allowing so many gameplaying styles in MMOs?  For a “true” solo player, couple, or static group, the journey together can easily be the whole game.  Whatever sticky content exists at the end like being drunk for 10,000 minutes for a title or killing 10,000 rats for achievement points is irrelevant.  For those whose social groups are guild or alliance-based, the broader social net means a more heterogeneous place in the journey.  The so-called “end game” merely provides a place in the journey where broad social groups (like an entire server) are all on the same page.  It’s an old comfortable place to be in the herd until the devs tell the us to move to another watering hole.


10 thoughts on “The Old Comfortable”

  1. So, why isn’t the *whole game* a nice old comfortable place? Why even use leveling grinds to stratify your players? Why do we go along with the herding?

    1. That is the word that eluded me all morning! Stratification!

      I don;t know, Tesh, but that’s why, imho, people rush to the end cap as fast as funly possible when it gets raised.

      1. Aye, I think you’re right. I’m just saddened because of it, since I’d hope for the whole world to be useful, not just the lobby at the endgame.

        1. IMO Lotro is especially good about providing meaningful content from both a gameplay and story/rp perspective at all levels.

          Especially with the revamp that has gotten through the lone-lands and applied many lessons learned to providing a smooth gameplay progression flow.

          Those are also a good reason to alt! (I know it is anathema to Rav but I don’t know why… at least until lvl 35-40 he’d be virtually playing an ALL NEW GAME).

          There’s always grinding mats for $ and deeds for quest slots. ;-} and RP! oboy! well, and mpvp. if you’re capped, why not? that’s a whole different progression with it’s own rewards of many stripes.

          all in all a lovely musing article, Rav. The source of the lamentatious tone is, admittedly, not very clear to me however.

  2. I don’t know about LOTRO but I believe Guild Wars does have a title for being drunk for 10000 minutes. A very expensive title to get.

  3. What an odd analogy. I’ve never thought of the bubble of players at the level cap as being “the herd”. I’ve always thought the herd was the players still progressing through the levels below.

    The level cap is just the point at which a number ceases to increase. It’s a pause in the climb until an expansion allows further levelling for that character, not a plateau where the character settles down. Back when MMO companies released more information, I seem to remember that it was generally shown to be quite a small minority of players who even reached the level cap at all. Whether that’s still the case I’m not sure.

    Generally, once I reach the cap with a character, which doesn’t happen all that often, that character goes on doing all the things he or she was doing that don’t involve levelling,rather as you describe, but another character will move into levelling focus instead. The backbone of the game is almost always le levelling in some form.

    Of course, I generally play many characters concurrently, and several MMOs, so the need for an “end game” in any of them rarely arises. And I play in a contented, pottering kind of way all the time, whether I’m levelling or not.

  4. The daily Mirkwood routine is to do the two “Malledhrim Star Quests” and maybe kill the 25 spiders for a iXP rune or for the crafting relic material.

    Then you are hopefully a raider and do Barad Guldur, all others do Sammath Gûl for a few better items but mostly for the 2nd Age Weapon token or farm the Sword Halls of Dol Guldur for Medaillons of Dol Guldur, I have already an excess of them. The other two instances, Warg pens and Dungeons, could actually be shut down, I have not seen anyone playing them in a while.

    I see a bit WoW “daily quest” and “a new raid every 3 months” mentality replacing what made LOTRO so appealing. Many people loved the pre-Moria endgame of SoA which might have disappointed raiders, but I believe in the end it was healthier for the game and the gamers. Mirkwood does not have too much choice, even Moria had more options/raids, so this issue becomes more visible.

    Skirmishes are also made for the long haul, not for the short fun – they are the premium source of legacy upgrade scrolls, which requires you to quite a lot of them.

    Now I wonder when the next book update comes, and when they plan to release their next major expansion. Mirkwood was quite good, but it was not much.

  5. As much as I enjoy the leveling process in LotRO (aside from the reputation and deed grinds) I’m very much looking forward to getting my loremaster into the end-game comfort zone. I should be farming up my DN armor set by next weekend and hitting the Moors, good times.

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