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  1. #1

    First Time MMORPGer's First Impressions

    First off, I am a huge Tolkien fan, on the edge of being an amateur scholar on the Good Professor, and an old and once avid computer gamer...who retired from computer games around the time that Infocom was...er...subsumed. So I wanted to take another dip back in the old computer gaming waters and try and see what the whole MMORPG thing was, and what better one to choose than LoTRO?! I was keeping an eye out for not just rote fidelity to the source material, but whether or not the creative team could flesh out the sketchier parts of the world in a manner showing that they had "grokked" Tolkien on a deeper level than required for mere mimicry.

    I am playing solo, and it seems like this is what almost everyone else is doing, but I couldn't say for sure. I am about two-thirds of the way through what I expect to be a year in this game world, hanging about at level 75, and this is what I've thought so far:

    The Good
    The Good far outweighs the bad, but requires less writing to explain. Yes, the creative team at Turbine really has done a heroic job of augmenting and realizing what the source material says about Middle Earth. It plays well, at least for someone who has absolutely no other MMORPG experience to compare it to. The attention to the languages is exemplary! The artwork is just stunning. Moria is a masterpiece, really. And I really loved Lothlorien. Each region is suitably distinct. Transition zones are seamless. Kudos, all around.

    The Bad
    I think false notes can be divided into two categories: those required by the project (an entertaining MMORPG) and those that are geniune gaffes. The prevalance of Loremasters and Runekeepers and magic that feels a bit more D&D than LoTR is really to be expected for the game. I really don't consider that an issue.

    But I was (very slightly) dismayed by the exaggerated vertical terrain in the Shire... I realize it is to "bound" areas, but I find the "walls" of areas off-putting. I don't know if it could be done another way, but I wish it were.

    Finnish for the language of Forochel strikes me as wrong. Even though Tolkien studied it, and it influenced some of his invented languages, the form it shows up in around the Ice Bay really pulls me out of Middle Earth.

    Southern Mirkwood is the one area where the terrain seems completely wrong. The quests and gameplay of the area are fine, but it is just an ordinary forest in the rain...okay, with a spooky swamp. From the descriptions in The Hobbit, Mirkwood should have been so claustrophobic, it should be designed like a tree-bounded version of Moria: you should practically feel like you are indoors beneath an impenetrable canopy with trees nearly as big as the Mallorns (but their evil opposite) creating tight corridors everywhere. The scale of the trees just seemed too small. (But maybe that will be Northern Mirkwood...?)

    Rohan and Isengard are the two areas I have yet to visit.

    ============================== ==

    But these are minor quips compared to the overwhelming awe I have discovering/playing this game.

    I'll likely cash out after a year, because I'm not that addictive of a personality -- or rather, I am hyperaddictive for short spans. Plus, I'm old, and I tend move on from things. But it will have been a nice diversion for the year. MMOPRGs aren't so bad. Won't replace face-to-face RPGs for folks of my generation, but not bad at all.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    MA, USA
    Posts
    5,104
    Welcome to LOTRO! Sounds like you've been having a good time playing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Duxx741 View Post
    First off, I am a huge Tolkien fan, on the edge of being an amateur scholar on the Good Professor, and an old and once avid computer gamer...who retired from computer games around the time that Infocom was...er...subsumed. So I wanted to take another dip back in the old computer gaming waters and try and see what the whole MMORPG thing was, and what better one to choose than LoTRO?! I was keeping an eye out for not just rote fidelity to the source material, but whether or not the creative team could flesh out the sketchier parts of the world in a manner showing that they had "grokked" Tolkien on a deeper level than required for mere mimicry.

    I am playing solo, and it seems like this is what almost everyone else is doing, but I couldn't say for sure. I am about two-thirds of the way through what I expect to be a year in this game world, hanging about at level 75, and this is what I've thought so far:

    The Good
    The Good far outweighs the bad, but requires less writing to explain. Yes, the creative team at Turbine really has done a heroic job of augmenting and realizing what the source material says about Middle Earth. It plays well, at least for someone who has absolutely no other MMORPG experience to compare it to. The attention to the languages is exemplary! The artwork is just stunning. Moria is a masterpiece, really. And I really loved Lothlorien. Each region is suitably distinct. Transition zones are seamless. Kudos, all around.
    The landscape is indeed the highest quality that the game engine can support. It does a good job of following the lore. I recall the first time I took a character into The Shire and realized that I knew exactly where everything was located. All those years re-reading the books and poring over the maps since 5th grade really paid off.

    The Bad
    I think false notes can be divided into two categories: those required by the project (an entertaining MMORPG) and those that are geniune gaffes. The prevalance of Loremasters and Runekeepers and magic that feels a bit more D&D than LoTR is really to be expected for the game. I really don't consider that an issue.
    Both of these classes resulted in much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the forums. Really boiled down to a need to attract typical MMO players who expected "magic user" type classes.

    But I was (very slightly) dismayed by the exaggerated vertical terrain in the Shire... I realize it is to "bound" areas, but I find the "walls" of areas off-putting. I don't know if it could be done another way, but I wish it were.
    This is a difficult area in game design. They either have to create invisible walls or fake terrain walls to block off the areas that have not been created. Invisible walls let you "see" the land beyond them, but you can't get there. Cliffs or walls of trees are considered to be less immersion breaking in that you can't go there because you can't see it. Design choice. I prefer the cliffs and tree walls, but then I'm more used to this as I've played several MMOs.


    Finnish for the language of Forochel strikes me as wrong. Even though Tolkien studied it, and it influenced some of his invented languages, the form it shows up in around the Ice Bay really pulls me out of Middle Earth.
    I felt quite the opposite, except for the Monty Python joke in Suri Kyla, but I found that to be coffee-spewingly funny. Still chuckle at it.


    Southern Mirkwood is the one area where the terrain seems completely wrong. The quests and gameplay of the area are fine, but it is just an ordinary forest in the rain...okay, with a spooky swamp. From the descriptions in The Hobbit, Mirkwood should have been so claustrophobic, it should be designed like a tree-bounded version of Moria: you should practically feel like you are indoors beneath an impenetrable canopy with trees nearly as big as the Mallorns (but their evil opposite) creating tight corridors everywhere. The scale of the trees just seemed too small. (But maybe that will be Northern Mirkwood...?)
    I always felt southern Mirkwood was less dense than northern. Amon Lanc is a bald hill, after all. It is still a fairly dark and dense area compared to most of Eriador. Not as dense as The Old Forest, but gloomier than all the other wooded areas.

    Rohan and Isengard are the two areas I have yet to visit.
    Rohan is the start of the new, more detailed, landscape areas. It's pretty. It's pretty full of orcs, too. Isengard looks right to me. Meduseld has a beautiful carved interior with cool tapestries.


    ============================== ==

    But these are minor quips compared to the overwhelming awe I have discovering/playing this game.

    I'll likely cash out after a year, because I'm not that addictive of a personality -- or rather, I am hyperaddictive for short spans. Plus, I'm old, and I tend move on from things. But it will have been a nice diversion for the year. MMOPRGs aren't so bad. Won't replace face-to-face RPGs for folks of my generation, but not bad at all.
    Nothing can match the dynamics of pen and paper role playing games, but I think that Turbine has done a great job at portraying the world of Middle Earth on the computer.

    One thing I'd suggest to you is that when you get to the end of your allotted playing time, don't delete the game, or at least save a copy of the game files. At some point on or before 2017 this great game will likely come to a close. You might find it worthwhile to reload/restore LOTRO and play for the last month or so. All the designed content will be complete at that point and you'll have a chance to see the final areas and muck around in them a bit. One last look.

    Have fun!
    The Lag is so bad I saw Sara Oakheart outrun someone - kickman77

    Cener, Ingo, Rilibald, Hesred, Halras, Belegthelion, Ingoror, Gloringo
    Arkenstone (ex-Elendilmir) - The Osgiliath Guard - http://www.theoldergamers.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    3,679
    Welcome to Middle Earth! Speaking as someone who still is concerned about being eaten by a grue when stepping into a dark area, I'm glad to have another old gamer join our ranks!

    I think you will like Rohan. The weather and sky effects are even better than in other areas. Gallop your warhorse across the plains and you really feel like a Horselord! Make sure to leave plenty of time for ogling things when you get to Edoras (the Helm's Deep expansion).

    You may take more than a year... I know that I'm always eager for the next chapter of the story. But of course it's up to you when you feel it's time to move along.
    <<Insert clever sig here>>

  4. #4
    I agree. I am an avid Tolklien fan myself, and i play lotro soley for its connections to my favouritepiece fo literature. There are NO mountains in the shire. DO THY HOMEWORK TURBINE!


    ( Just look at the map lol)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    MA, USA
    Posts
    5,104
    Quote Originally Posted by Vealderin View Post
    I agree. I am an avid Tolklien fan myself, and i play lotro soley for its connections to my favouritepiece fo literature. There are NO mountains in the shire. DO THY HOMEWORK TURBINE!


    ( Just look at the map lol)
    In my heart, I agree, but...

    There's also no wolves, shrews, spiders, goblins, giant slugs, brigands, etc. scattered all over The Shire. It takes a lot longer than 25-30 minutes to run from Michel Delving to Rivendell. There are no dwarves occupying Moria nor stupid orcs letting you run around as a prisoner in the dungeons of Isengard.

    I have to just shut all of that out of my mind. I utilize enough willful suspension of disbelief to construct the Golden Gate Bridge ten times over.

    It's the only way I can see and "experience" something that's fairly close to Middle Earth on a computer. My only alternative is to drag out my ancient MERP rules and modules, rustle up some players, and build my own.
    The Lag is so bad I saw Sara Oakheart outrun someone - kickman77

    Cener, Ingo, Rilibald, Hesred, Halras, Belegthelion, Ingoror, Gloringo
    Arkenstone (ex-Elendilmir) - The Osgiliath Guard - http://www.theoldergamers.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Posts
    26
    The shire area doesn't even look like the shire at all, in fact all the unique houses and hills and barrels are not even there. In fact the shire area look like any typical mmorpg out there unless I'm mistaken and I'm not actually in the shire.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    3,679
    Quote Originally Posted by benqcrv View Post
    The shire area doesn't even look like the shire at all, in fact all the unique houses and hills and barrels are not even there. In fact the shire area look like any typical mmorpg out there unless I'm mistaken and I'm not actually in the shire.
    Did you just start a new Hobbit character and you are less than level 6? You're in the public instance for new hobbit and human characters... and it isn't in the Shire. Finish up in there and you'll be transported to Little Delving, just outside of Michel Delving, and you'll notice the hobbit architecture almost immediately. The round doors are a dead giveaway.
    <<Insert clever sig here>>

 

 

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