There's more than bit of wisdom in the original posting.
What I know - and that as a player -casual or whatever- is that I and the small circle of folk I played with weren't against fellowing. We'd never felt pressed into fellowing, but rather we'd wanted it. Even casually. Yet for the last few years it seems there were fewer and fewer players about when we'd wanted to dungeon.
What we'd wanted for the longest time was to have all of the other dungeons in the game scaled or balanced so they could be played by every sort of fellowship between two, and eleven players before being said a "raid." I never saw it in warcraft, nor lotro that for dungeoning we should have been held to five or only six players - when other games DAoC the last I recall from before had room for eight players in a fellowship.
To the early days when we still had kinships and others actually wanted to play it was a matter of someone being left out. Then, once we lost so many players from lotro it was fighting uphill to fill even one fellowship for the day- and sometimes -many times- never should the dungeon we wanted be one that wasn't done for being hated by what was left of the community.
Yes, there was skirmishing, but that was rubbish. Scarce loot, short of the twelves come Isengard, and those weren't fun dungeonings. Twelves were some of the worst where it was just standing about and everyone's got an herbalist and the only challenge was having all your settings to lowest and still hoping you'd never lose connexion. Shifting all the other dungeons over to skirmish currencies didn't help either as then it was having to choose between- do I save for better -"better"- arms or armours from the seller or do I keep my soldier/herbalist levelled. Or -once turbine added it to the sellers- do I save and save and save, give the arms, the armours, and the soldier a miss for a second or first age token- then have a weapon or class item crafted? And that, which even to the best of days it was a toss in a blind alley. And of course all that saving and saving and saving was being done from playing the same old contents - old contents where in many ways much of the fat, the random but fun loot, was cut out of them.
To my mind it's this cutting the fat that's ruined lotro. Cutting out what little joy of discovery there was in dungeons -having it so all you get for playing them is some markings or medals- is what's driven players off. And it isn't just skirmishing. It's all of it- having sets of coins or medals tied to each dungeon cluster wasn't good either. Running each bit of content, running each individual dungeon needed/needs to be its reward- right there and then. Is there a cloak, or an emblem, or a weapon, or a shield, or any other little thing your heart shoudl want for that comes from x and x or y a place? Then go there, fight it, even on easy or normal setting -if only to see what might come of it.
Yet when you have it so every dungeon you play grants the same thing -a bland coin or medal or seal- then it no more matters where or what you're playing. We could have a daily set of bland and thankless tasks, log in, have done, and then bugger off til we have what we "want," find there's nothing to do with those wants but the same old sh!te and never come in but once a week or even a month after. Oh wait...
Playing the same bits over- getting the same cheap sh!te, day after day after day doesn't keep players playing, and doesn't keep friends coming back. It cheapens adventuring so it feels less a heroic doing and more a punching in and out from work.
I'd given up on warcraft just as gearscoring -or whatever it was- was coming in, never raided much after. And yet, when I'd come to lotro - a game sold as massively multiplayer online- I'd never dreamed it would come so simple and so quickly after one or two years that I would feel so alone in the crowd. Yet that's what we're come to. I'm never so social as once I was, but I'm not a hermit, no. I want to want to play more again. I wish I had something to sell my friends so they would come back. I haven't and they aren't. Not even with "Helm's Deep" writ high and grand across the top.
I'm not saying we should have back to the good old bad old days of loot snobbery, but Lotro needs to change. Lotro needs to make me feel that *I* and *my friends* -need- to save Middle Earth again. Right now we're not saving much of anything or anybody. We're just circling the drain -floating down on a jobby with 'trademark of SZC under license to Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc' smeared on the side.