As the title implies, I am a VERY casual player. Supposedly, I belong to the demographic that Turbine has been more and more targeting over the years.
What disturbs me is Turbine's misconception of what a casual player is. Apparently, they think a casual player is a hermit who hates people and wants to pay, pay, pay to play solo in a massively multiplayer online game. Where they got this bizarre idea, I don't know. All I know is that the content over the past few years has increasingly disposed of any interesting group content in favor of solo players.
First of all, let's discuss what a casual player truly is. It may be a solo player, true. However, I would imagine most "casual" players going into an MMO realize that one of the M's stands for multiplayer, not singleplayer. Turbine, if I wanted to play a single player game, I'd just buy a single player game. LOTRO isn't that good, given its age, to where I'd drop so much money to solo my way to level cap and shun all social interaction, rather than simply buy a much cheaper single-player game.
What a casual player truly is is one who doesn't have a lot of time to spend gaming. We have day jobs, family, friends, responsibilities, or even other hobbies. When we do log in, yes, we might solo quite a bit depending on how much time we have available. But what about when we have a nice chunk of time? Many of us, like myself, actually like grouping and interacting with other players. We want to explore challenging group content--whether they be epic book lines, various instances, or even, on the rare night we have a block of 5 hours available, raids.
No, we don't often step foot in raids, favoring shorter instances. But if you feel that makes raids not worth the investment, then you're wrong.
An MMO needs a variety of things to do, especially at level cap, so as to not induce boredom. Bored players log off. I've never logged off so much until Rohan. And bored players who are logged off aren't spending money on the game, no matter how many hobbit presents you entice them with. When the slot machine that is hobbit presents becomes the central draw to your game, you know you have a problem.
I long ago ditched my player house, but I don't begrudge other players housing updates. I rarely play raids, but I certainly don't begrudge resources being dedicated to creating them. I do enjoy instances when I have the time on weekends, so I definitely don't mind challenging, thoughtful ones being created. I don't really craft anymore, because it's like watching paint dry, but I know other players like it, and I sure like buying the stuff they make.
Turbine, you've really blown it. You've made the PvE leveling experience so easy that I can randomly click buttons and still win. And if I group with someone, I can kill NPCs on autoattack while watching TV. How is that fun to a casual player? It isn't! Games are supposed to be challenging! If I want something this easy I can go get a Fischer Price tool for toddlers and play with that. You've also ripped out instances over the years, bolstering solo players for the epic book quests. It's made leveling a lonely experience for this casual player. Nobody has any reason to group anymore! We haven't since Mirkwood. I remember even the skirmishes in Mirkwood would award solo players with more drops than grouped ones. I never once saw an LFF for a skirmish because of that!
Finally, you practically done away with any interesting raid content. I don't raid much. Last time I raided was SOA in the Rift. Yup. But that doesn't mean I don't want the option. These instances you have now are a joke. They're so dull and uncreative. What happened to your ingenuity? The Rift and so many instances in SOA and Moria were a great adventure for this casual player. They were wonderful places to explore. Now it's just run in, beat a boss, and done. Worse is seeing so many raiders driven away from LOTRO. Many of these were my kinmates. They were great folks to play with, and now there's that many fewer players with whom I can interact. So many 1 in 10 players or less ever even touches a raid. But that doesn't mean that the 1 in 10 doesn't enrich the community and give a positive experience to the casual players.
Turbine, on behalf of all casual players, please put back the creative and challenging group content you once gave us. We casual players don't want to be complete hermits.