Comparative MMOlogy – LotRO

December 30, 2009 at 7:37 pm (Exile in DDOville, Misty Mountain Hop, Navel-Gazing)

So, having abandoned the DDO experiment, I figured I was probably done with MMOs.  Well, as I mentioned before, WoW isn’t quite done with me (though I’m not yet raiding, so I have to admit, I’m not all that excited about being back yet), and now, having gotten to play with it a bit (after a brief flirtation with it two years ago), it turns out Lord of the Rings Online isn’t quite done with me either.

I’ll be writing in more detail, but the short version – LotRO is a great example of a game where small, subtle tweaks can radically improve a gaming experience.  Two years of those little tweaks (and they are little – there was no doubt that, as I played around with it during the Christmas break, I was playing the same game, but it was a game with far fewer elements that frustrated me than was the case two years ago) have made a big difference.

It’s also a game that, in its RP-friendliness, does much of what I wish WoW would do.  Things like armor dyes, a music system (for your characters to play music – I kid you not), pipe-weed, costumes/appearance tabs, player housing, etc. give the world life – even as LotRO is less tongue-in-cheek than WoW – appropriately so, given Turbine’s enthusiasm for remaining faithful to the spirit of the subject matter –  the world feels more playful.   Among other things, its why LotRO draws, on average, an older, and (dare I say it) more mature player base than WoW does.  My guess is a higher proportion (for obvious reasons) of the player base are regular readers (no set of four letters so sears my soul as “TLDR”)

So, I’ll probably be running a bit of an ongoing series here, like my DDO experiment.  Understanding that my rather small (especially after the constant to-quit-or-not-to-quit drama) reader base is made up of WoW players, I’ll definitely confine my LotRO blogging to stuff I think WoW players would be interested in.

No, this won’t be turning into a LotRO blog.  For starters, once I resume raiding with my new guild (of almost all the same people – meet the new guild, same as the old guild) I suspect I’ll be a bit more enthusiastic for WoW that I am right now (though for raid-life balance issues I previously alluded to, I think I’ll be approaching it more casually than has been the case previously).  LotRO still has that new-car smell.  That will, eventually, fade.  But, a glance at what others are doing can shed light on what Blizzard should consider implementing (and I’m sure Blizzard has – the achievement system has a few things in common with the deeds system in LotRO, which preceeded it by quite a bit, though they may both be based on some other game’s system for all I know).

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