A Return to Lord of the Rings Online; cobwebs are swept

I’ve recently made more of a return to Lord of the Rings Online and have been slowly but surely making my way up through the levels with Lhach, my elven guardian. He is now level 73.

It’s been strange coming back. Since I last played properly there have been a couple of expansions, Rise of Isengard (yes it has been that long) and Riders of Rohan which introduced mounted combat (you get your war steed at level 75; 2 more levels to go for Lhach) and raised the level cap to 85.

They’ve also re-worked the legendary weapon system, changed some of the stat mechanics and names and tweaked a few skills and traits. All of which has left me a little bewildered. It’s not unusual for such changes to be made but normally they’re announced and explained in numerous patch notes, FAQs and developer interviews. Having been away from the game to a greater extent, has meant I’ve missed all of that. I play Lhach as a bit of a min/maxer; I like to make sure that all his equipment maximises his skills. I’ve spent ages trying out different combinations to get the best values. Now I’m very aware that he’s not optimised. A couple of hours in his vault with notes to hand will have to take place at some point.

Cobwebs on patch notes

State of game in Berath’s head

It all goes to show how much you need to know to play the average MMO, much of which MMO players take for granted. We had a thread about it on my kinship forum. There were comments about the complexity of the legendary item system and working out how stats build and fit together however there was an interesting post from someone who had just managed to get her husband to play, and he is a total non-gamer, it was this post that started the discussion off. So far, in her words (thanks Jesriel):

- he can only either walk/run or steer, he always runs into walls and doesn’t get out again.
- to move, steer and fight at the same time is totally impossible
- to move, steer and fight with skills in a sensible order is outright miraculous (her words). And he has only 4 of them so far
- his camera does the weirdest things. Like showing his char directly from above or below, or zooming into 1st person view.
- he doesn’t use skills. Only the one on shortcut 1 occasionally, and the concept of skill cooldowns, focus and other dependencies is absolutely alien to him.
- when he’s lost, he has no idea how to use the map and the minimap and that they essentially show the same thing. Not with all the symbols and colourful circles and arrows and stuff.
- when he has the choice between different quest rewards, he chooses the one with the nicer name.

And he is a very bright guy with a background in physics and mathematics and is a senior program developer

It’s funny how easy it is to forget, how hard gaming can be to someone completely new to the experience.

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About Berath

Interests: zombies, giant robots, kittens

Posted on February 9, 2013, in LoTRO, mmorpg and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Yay, hope to see you online. I’m quite enjoying my Runekeeper (the nice thing about playing a new alt is that — hopefully — you get to learn all the newly reimplemented stuff organically). I have a theory that MMOs are about 90% about the knowledge and maybe 10% about the twitch gameplay.

  2. Now you come to say it, I never thought of it like that. If I cast my mind back a good many years to one of my first WOW encounters. It would have been about the time “Burning Crusade” came out. I was having a miserable time trying to play a Paladin as my first character. I’ll be honest, I was hoping for a Jedi :) But the way the Paladin worked back then with seals, auras and unleashing seals was confusing as hell to me. I gave up on the character at level 12. I moved to a Hunter and had a load of fun :) A much more simple style of play. Pet goes in and offers a free cause in aggressive acupuncture. Meanwhile I provide a remote pin cushion experience. Buy this time I was getting the idea cool down on skills, the order of skill use and talent manipulation for a game play style that I liked. After a while I went on to a Rouge. And it was the way that the rouge skills worked with building up points to unleash a different skill effect that made the penny drop. For a giggle I went back to the Paladin and found that the character was a lot more playable now that I understood how the game “worked”.

    I’ve not played an MMO in a very long time. Very recently TERA went free to play. I downloaded it and logged in. I was a little surprised at how familiar the game play felt. Character classes / rolls. And game play mentality of things like range to target / skill range, skill cool down, skill sequence, Even daft things like the thumb button on the mouse to make you run. Pressing “I” for inventory & “K” for skills.

    Just took a peak at Lord Of The Rings Online. So it’s free to play. Drat! There goes all my free time :D

    • If you want to pick a server pick Laurelin…that’s where my kinship is based; drop me a friend request if you make it on :D. You’d be welcome in the kinship too….The Silent Minority

  3. Nice post. I love the quoted example about the husband. I got my Mum and Aunt hooked (they play together since they are twins), they’ve been playing for years now but to start with it was painful to watch. They still have trouble with adjusting the viewing angle as they travel around. But they have learned a lot, it is very easy for us to more experienced gamers to take the simplest things for granted.

  4. It’s not unusual for such changes to be made but normally they’re announced and explained in numerous patch notes, FAQs and developer interviews.

    Unfortunately, this is only too true, and Spinks’ comment about learning the implementation organically is only too true. Unfortunately, it’s not rigorous, and without delving into the numeric details you may never find out (indeed, there could be options you’ve simply never explored).

    In this case, there have been Dev Diaries, but they’re presented in fragmented form, as the developers have time to write them, and not collated afterwards. I’ve no objection to working out the implications of the system, but I *do* object to having to trawl through reams of pages to find out what the system is (because, for whatever reason, I didn’t read the diaries at the time).

    This is even worse whenever they revamp some existing content, and don’t explain the full details of the revamp (“We’ve adjusted the stats on the armour drops from an area you stopped visiting months ago”): I’m not going to go randomly exploring in the hoe of discovering the changes. That’s what I want *new* areas and content for.

  1. Pingback: [Thought of the Day] Difficulty isn’t always about difficulty. | Welcome to Spinksville!

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