Checking Out Of Middle-earth

I hate when people post their long-winded rant on how they’re quitting a game, how the developers are ignorant clods, how all the fun and the magic and mystery is gone, and how they’re moving on to some other game. It smacks of self-absorbedness, a desperate, whining cry for pity or gnashing of teeth that doesn’t solve anything but gives the writer a momentary sense of smug satisfaction that passes within minutes.

But this is my blog, so I’ll be as self-absorbed, whiny, and smug as I want. Continue at your own peril.

Big, bad, and bugged

This is how last night’s Draigoch raid in The Lord of the Rings Online ended: not with the joyous dispensing of loot, but with my party staring at a bugged-out dragon at about 20% of his health. It wasn’t the first time. It’s happened plenty of times before, ever since the raid was introduced eight months (not nine, as I previously Tweeted) ago. One of the people in my party said the same thing happened last night, when they had gotten him down to 400,000 morale, from his starting total of about 6 million, and I’d experienced the same thing myself on more than one occasion, though not for a few months.

Taking eight months to (not) fix a raid-breaking bug in one of your major max-level raids is just more than I can handle. There are several other MMOs I want to play, chief among them Guild Wars 2, and if any of them were active now, I’d be dropping LOTRO like a hot potato. Even with those games not yet available, I’d rather not deal with the frustration of LOTRO than play it when I don’t have any other game I’d specifically like to play right now. That probably says something, and it’s not very good.

(For the few of you who watched my stream Saturday night, there’s another pretty egregious bug at the start of the new skirmish that makes progress impossible. If I hadn’t been streaming, that would have been a ragequit moment, too.)

Your not going to get a whole lot of credit if you’re proofreading team is this bad.

I won’t go into heavy detail about all the other issues I have with the game right now. I talked about the store a while back, but suffice to say that, in general, it doesn’t seem like the same quality of game it was when I started playing. I mean that less on a technical side — though bugs and performance issues are certainly annoying — and more on a polish side. From laughable misspellings to incomplete quest descriptions, it’s become clear to me that the development team has become, as Bilbo would put it, “thin and stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The lore itself seems less than what it once was, too. I’m not just talking about quest text, which everyone (except me) skips, but also the exclamations that pop up over characters’ heads, which are tougher to ignore. They’re mostly decent, but every now and then, you run across lines that don’t seem very… Tolkien-y. Much of what was written in the game’s first two or three years seemed like it could have been credibly penned by the professor himself, or at least someone seeking to emulate his work. More recently, though, it’s gotten a little too familiar.

There’s also a lot of “right hand, meet left hand” going on. Two and a half years ago, when Siege of Mirkwood released, the message we heard was that we only got five levels’ worth of leveling because Turbine wanted the focus to be on endgame, not leveling. Barad Guldur aside, I thought it was a solid approach, especially after grinding through 10 levels in Rise of Isengard — but hey, look, here’s another 10 levels coming in Riders of Rohan later this year! Yay? It makes you concerned about the game’s long-term planning and vision.

I just can’t muster up the “intrest” to keep playing

I’ve frequently wondered if my love for LOTRO was due to its being the first MMO I really, seriously got into. I played City of Heroes for six months back in 2004, then about two months of Guild Wars, and then I was basically out of MMOs for two years until LOTRO came out. It was the first “WoW-like” — I won’t go so far as to say “clone” — game I really played, even before any significant time in WoW, so I wonder if I’d have the same appreciation for it today that I did then.

Finally, there are just more options these days — or, as I mentioned, there soon will be. LOTRO needs to re-earn my respect for me to play it again, and it’s not off to a good start, not with all the competition it’s got. I’ll still log in every few weeks to pay for my house, check my mail, maybe even run on the Moors for an hour or so, but I can’t see my involvement being much more than that, at least until Riders of Rohan. And maybe not even then.

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6 Responses to Checking Out Of Middle-earth

  1. dndhatcher says:

    LotRO has one thing going for it, a beautiful rendering of middle earth.

    Turbine had the game fairly polished with a solid engame just before the Moria expansion. They raised the level cap with Moria and broke combat, class balance and game play and added the first major endgame grind system. Since then, every expansion and most updates have introduced changed combat mechanics, class balance problems, game play issues, environmental bugs and endgame grind systems. Patches are anticipated with suspicion because they often break more than they fix. The latest patch, for example, broke the main storyline quest chain. Everyone gets half way through and then has to send a service ticket to a GM to get the next quest so they can proceed. Will they fix it before Rohan? No player is making that bet.

    The quality assurance dept is non-existent or completely incompetent. Many major bugs are reported on the beta server and are still released and not patched for months. The client and network architecture staff is clearly weak as server side lag and disconnection issues are relatively common and load time when logging in is frequently 5 minutes. The gameplay mechanics staff is burdened with an engine that evolved, rather than was designed. Players frequently uncover problems with basic stats and abilities not working according to dev notes. Often these are side effects of one change doing something unexpected to another combat mechanic. The developers themselves dont really understand how their combat engine works.

    If it wasnt for the beautiful work the environmental art team does rendering and the good people you struggle with against the oppression of both Sauron and game glitches, this game would not be worth playing.

    disclaimer: I do harbor sour grapes because I became a lifetime subscriber before the Moria release when the end game was expanding and being more polished every release.

  2. I was recently considering giving this game a try just to see what it was like. I don’t think I’ll bother now, so thanks for saving me a couple hours of download time.

    Also, I read quest text. Always.

  3. Molotova says:

    “Taking eight months to (not) fix a raid-breaking bug in one of your major max-level raids is just more than I can handle.”– Well yeah in GW2 you for sure wont have to worry about max-level raids, a fortiori, bugs therin.

  4. Nikki aka Draewyn or take your pick of pseudonyms says:

    Part of me is glad that I’ve never been huge on raids (although it wasn’t until recently that I had a computer that could tolerate a raid on anything but the lowest settings). Then again, it’s a huge part of the game I haven’t explored much (save the PTSD from that one Helgorad run…four years ago?). However, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I paid the upkeep on my house (poor Trevor, languishing away on his wall alllllll alone). And man, I couldn’t use more parentheticals if I tried (or maybe I could). When rage/disappointement is greater than any enjoyment, it’s good to head to one of the other many options out there. Suppose I’ll have to wander in the Moors one of these days and see how long it is before I get squished. 🙂

    And I only don’t read the quest text because My does it for me.

  5. Pingback: 50 MMOs in 50 Days #28: The Lord of the Rings Online | Wintry Mix

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