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  1. #1

    Landscape difficulty, a true shame

    Why do we no longer have the option to venture out with a fellowship and tackle difficult small fellowship/fellowship quests?

    This was a true strength of lotro at its beginning. The most fun times I can remember having are looking for people to venture into Garth Argwen with, or likewise needing help in Angmar.

    This along with the neglect of fellowship maneuvers is a real shame. There is nothing more central to LOTR lore than the idea of a fellowship and teamwork, and for awhile LOTRO paid tribute to that feature of the lore. I miss this and I hope you guys (the devs) will consider bringing these features back, but I am a little discouraged as I saw nothing in the producers letter even touching on the matter, except that you are considering making the landscape even easier.

  2. #2
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    This is one hundred percent speculation, but I'm guessing maybe they data mined player behavior over the years, and made the content to match it. Or maybe they have a manpower shortage and regular solo content is easier and cheaper to make.

    I'm guessing on all of this, I have no education in programming.

    Sometimes companies totally blow it on what they think customers will like. New Coke in the 80s is an excellent example. It may be the same with making solo only landscape content.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check

  3. #3
    As primarily a Burg, I do agree with you 100% on fellowship maneuvers. I remember how they were key in some early fellowship quests.

    But I do not agree with the complaint about landscape quests in general. That ship sailed long ago.

    Not everyone can or wants to group up for landscape. But there is plenty of group content outside of that for those who want it. Far more than I could ever play.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Occum View Post

    Not everyone can or wants to group up for landscape. But there is plenty of group content outside of that for those who want it. Far more than I could ever play.
    I'm not suggesting every player be forced to do fellowship quests-- the case would be the same with instances, they're there if you want to do them.

    Personally I'd rather experience a challenge on the continuous landscape, because you actually feel like you're in middle earth, and not some arena simulation , which is the feeling that instances provide unfortuantely. That's my main issue-- that actual middle earth feels completely un-immersive.

  5. #5
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    Unless it's a call for a T3 raid/instance I'm increasing looking at grouping up calls as just for those who aren't capable of trying to do stuff solo.

    Probably done a couple of hundred craft instances now and only the scourges solo added any interest for me, grouping for them would just be pure tedium if a tiny bit quicker. Once my champ got them sussed out and gear progressed sufficiently I'm only inclined to do 2/3 a week for a couple of shards each. Third box con still annoys me.

  6. #6
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    Great post OP.

    Fellowship areas are a great way to introduce players that are not used to grouping, to grouping up. I know plenty of players that never went into instances, mainly because they were not familiar with it or how it worked. But fellowship areas out on landscape, which formed naturally, within the physical areas, got them involved. There's not much to really go wrong in these type of groups, nothing crucial to carry out, not much chance of letting the side down, all these things being the main fears for people that have never grouped up before.

    Sure, some will do the areas, then never bother grouping up for instances after it, but some do, and they find that they like it.

    A big yes to fellowship areas from me. Optional of course, and not at the expense of solo content, but as extra.

    Limlight made Gt River great. Tarlangs made W Gondor more fun than it would have been without it. Even WBs and RTs contribute to the grouping up of random players out on landscape, and it all works to bring people together.
    Treat others as you do your best pictures, and place them in their best light.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnenna View Post
    Limlight made Gt River great. Tarlangs made W Gondor more fun than it would have been without it. Even WBs and RTs contribute to the grouping up of random players out on landscape, and it all works to bring people together.
    All those were awesome, especially Limelight. Agreed 100%.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check

  8. #8
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    I liked these area not just to group up with kin mates, all long departed now, but for the chance to test my metal with the challenge of soloing them. Does no one push their limits any more?

    It maybe you fail at first but you re-evaluate your strat and try again... maybe some better gear, different virtues, at least making you think about your choices and what works best for you. I remember on my hunter the 15 second fear was vital on LL trolls to recoup enough and reposition and a passing "helper" breaking the fear too early spelled doom.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Arnenna View Post
    Great post OP.

    Fellowship areas are a great way to introduce players that are not used to grouping, to grouping up. I know plenty of players that never went into instances, mainly because they were not familiar with it or how it worked. But fellowship areas out on landscape, which formed naturally, within the physical areas, got them involved. There's not much to really go wrong in these type of groups, nothing crucial to carry out, not much chance of letting the side down, all these things being the main fears for people that have never grouped up before.

    Sure, some will do the areas, then never bother grouping up for instances after it, but some do, and they find that they like it.

    A big yes to fellowship areas from me. Optional of course, and not at the expense of solo content, but as extra.

    Limlight made Gt River great. Tarlangs made W Gondor more fun than it would have been without it. Even WBs and RTs contribute to the grouping up of random players out on landscape, and it all works to bring people together.
    If it's optional like Limlight and Tarlangs were, I'm all for it, as well. I enjoy grouping for areas on my main and second, but as I get down the alts, I'm not so avid, so I opt out on them. For my mains, though, it's a boatload of fun! Main landscape/storyline, though, should be accessible to all.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadJuju View Post
    Why do we no longer have the option to venture out with a fellowship and tackle difficult small fellowship/fellowship quests?

    This was a true strength of lotro at its beginning. The most fun times I can remember having are looking for people to venture into Garth Argwen with, or likewise needing help in Angmar.

    This along with the neglect of fellowship maneuvers is a real shame. There is nothing more central to LOTR lore than the idea of a fellowship and teamwork, and for awhile LOTRO paid tribute to that feature of the lore. I miss this and I hope you guys (the devs) will consider bringing these features back, but I am a little discouraged as I saw nothing in the producers letter even touching on the matter, except that you are considering making the landscape even easier.
    Most of all MMOs made this step because the developement team has tons of data which shows that the most cancelled quests are group quests. And unfinished content is destroying fun for many players (also for me). So they made them easier to complete. So you can run them solo OR with fellowship. It's less challenging but you can do it. It's the same cause why the bree tour was taken out of the game. One of the devs said in the forums, it was one of the most cancelled quest in the bree lands (something like that).

    The developement team has to guide as much players as they can to the endgame because there is the most time consuming content and there are the most players.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Thurinuor View Post
    Most of all MMOs made this step because the developement team has tons of data which shows that the most cancelled quests are group quests. And unfinished content is destroying fun for many players (also for me). So they made them easier to complete. So you can run them solo OR with fellowship. It's less challenging but you can do it. It's the same cause why the bree tour was taken out of the game. One of the devs said in the forums, it was one of the most cancelled quest in the bree lands (something like that).

    The developement team has to guide as much players as they can to the endgame because there is the most time consuming content and there are the most players.
    Its a good point-- if you look at the past decade, the trend across all MMO's seems to be reliant on this same meta-data. This is strategy is also inextricably linked to free-to-play models however-- the scheme is that you send the solo-player-whales to the end of the game where they spend all of their money. It doesn't really account for games that are isolated to a subscription model, which generally attract players who are more committed to the idea of an MMO.

    Their extrapolation from all this data is incredibly short-sighted. There's a reason the most valuable public company in the world said NO to the generalist, theme-park MMO, and said YES instead to the hardcore, brutalist sandbox structure instead. This says a lot about how much of a failure the speculations and projections of older developers turned out to be, and what gamers really expect from an MMO.

    My theory is that they tried cleverly to act on this data, and at once drove away massive portions of their players. Those who remained gave them a reason to continue with the decision to dumb down the game. This describes the now predictable, almost mechanical evolution from a subsciption model to a free-to-play model and can be observed in just about any game that attempts it. Who's to say what would have happened to any of the older traditional MMO's (including LOTRO) had they never gone down this route in the first place.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by BadJuju View Post
    ///There's a reason the most valuable public company in the world said NO to the generalist, theme-park MMO, and said YES instead to the hardcore, brutalist sandbox structure instead.
    Amazon? Google?

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Occum View Post
    Amazon? Google?
    Amazon, and their upcoming MMO "New World".

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by BadJuju View Post
    Amazon, and their upcoming MMO "New World".
    If it's upcoming, perhaps we should wait to see if it goes anywhere before holding it up us something to mimic.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by BadJuju View Post
    Amazon, and their upcoming MMO "New World".
    Ah, OK. Thanks, I hadn't heard of that. Looks cool.

    I guess we'll see if the hardcore theme works for them.

    LOTRO started that way, then they went the other way for a reason. I was part of that reason... I left for 2 or so years due to unavoidable group landscape content before they fixed it.

    I did like many of the game's original hardcore elements, and think that they did perhaps go a bit too far the other way, but I understand why it was necessary.
    Last edited by Occum; Feb 24 2019 at 06:29 PM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Moln View Post
    If it's upcoming, perhaps we should wait to see if it goes anywhere before holding it up us something to mimic.
    That wasn't really my point,

    1. Its already been done before. I dont need to see Amazon's version of a challenging sandbox MMO to know that its what I prefer. EVE is hugely popular, and is pure danger everytime you play it. Games like Guild Wars offered a difficulty few mmo players today could imagine, like needing a full group just to travel from point A. to B. And now games like Rust and Atlas have adopted the same difficulty level. While Lotro used to be more difficult than it is now, it was never truly difficult, same goes for WoW. And then you have smaller MMO's like darkfall. City of Heroes is a decent example as well.

    2. Publicly traded companies don't appropriate their resources that way- they make speculations based on statistical modelling, algorithims, and non-quantifiable data (creative). They are certainly not saying "well we'll see what happens".

    3. Whether its a success or not has no effect on the preferences of the millions of gamers who've left MMO's for something more challenging. You can't disprove a subjective preference.

    Nor am I saying it should or even could be mimiced, and it certainly couldn't in lotro's case. Asking for more difficulty in lotro in the form of fellowship quests is not a mimicry of New World, whose structure is fundamentally different in almost every way than this game.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Occum View Post
    LOTRO started that way, then they went the other way for a reason. I was part of that reason... I left for 2 or so years due to unavoidable group landscape content before they fixed it.

    I did like many of the game's original hardcore elements, and think that they did perhaps go a bit too far the other way, but I understand why it was necessary.
    I was almost entirely a solo player until recently. I agree with the choice to make mandatory content all solo-able, though I think it's often too easy even solo (lots of debate about this I know). I've been having so much fun discovering group content after so long as a solo player that now I am frustrated at how often it can be difficult to get quests on the legendary server without mandatory inspiration unless you have a full fellowship. Often I don't have a full fellowship but still enough to have a shot at the content anyway.

    I love seeing quests that have solo and fellowship alternatives.

    I'd also really like to see a Fellowship Maneuver overhaul. Sounds like it's not in the roadmap for 2019, but LOTRO just keeps on trucking, so someday .

    BTW: I've solved the landscape challenge issue by playing without armor or jewelry. It's a surprisingly balanced challenge for those who like challenge.
    Last edited by Echoweaver; Feb 24 2019 at 09:21 PM.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadJuju View Post
    Amazon, and their upcoming MMO "New World".

    Amazon is making an MMO? Dang, they’re gonna have a real life space station before you know it...
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming "WOW, what a ride!"
    Continuing the never ending battle to keep Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in check

  19. #19
    Discussing solo/grouping in the context of other MMOs (past, present of future) makes the same mistake Turbine made when the game first released with a LOT of group content, including mandatory grouping for core story quests.

    That mistake is to assume that LOTRO is an MMO and as such predominantly attracts MMO players. In fact LOTRO attracted (and continues to attract) a lot of players who do not play any other games, who have never played another MMO and who have zero interest in playing a challenging "game" or learning to play skillfully. These are people who grew up with LOTR (the books, not the movies) and who may well be older, with less time to play and other demands making grouping difficult.

    The collisions between such pure setting-focused players and those coming to LOTRO with MMO experience and expectations is at the heart of over a decade's debate about solo/grouping/difficulty.

    Speaking personally, I did not know what "MMO" even meant when I first started in LOTRO. I had no experience whatsoever of games. No understanding of grouping mechanics. No idea that there was such a thing as PvP. I went on a huge journey that ended up in a serious raiding kin and a purple Ettenmoors badge. It was fascinating talking to the players in my kins and understanding their gaming worlds. They could not comprehend that I played no other games. They had expectations and understandings of what an MMO entailed which bore no relation to mine. They used language and shorthands that I sometimes had to write down and Google.

    The demands of life (work, family etc) have now forced my return to the world of the more casual, setting-driven player. I have no time for grouping because my game time is fractured and unpredictable. I will never earn another point of renown. But here on the forums I still see two worlds talking past each other, often barely understanding that the other has such a different view of what LOTRO even is.
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  20. #20
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    I believe Tarmas hit things essentially on the nose.

    Perhaps the ideal approach would be to worry less about balance in landscape and let the casual players, what is the slang term these days, faceroll the content. So they can explore and see Tolkien's world as they enjoy.

    Make dungeons harder so that players that want a challenge will get one.

    It will not hurt the most serious players if they can do landscape quests too easily - they probably have done them 10 times already and care mostly about dungeons and raids.

    From the producer's letter I think we are heading in this direction. As someone that plays many hours most days but is married to someone that is among the most casual players in the game and has been since release I welcome that.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Tarmas_Eldar View Post
    Discussing solo/grouping in the context of other MMOs (past, present of future) makes the same mistake Turbine made when the game first released with a LOT of group content, including mandatory grouping for core story quests.

    That mistake is to assume that LOTRO is an MMO and as such predominantly attracts MMO players. In fact LOTRO attracted (and continues to attract) a lot of players who do not play any other games, who have never played another MMO and who have zero interest in playing a challenging "game" or learning to play skillfully. These are people who grew up with LOTR (the books, not the movies) and who may well be older, with less time to play and other demands making grouping difficult.

    The collisions between such pure setting-focused players and those coming to LOTRO with MMO experience and expectations is at the heart of over a decade's debate about solo/grouping/difficulty.

    Speaking personally, I did not know what "MMO" even meant when I first started in LOTRO. I had no experience whatsoever of games. No understanding of grouping mechanics. No idea that there was such a thing as PvP. I went on a huge journey that ended up in a serious raiding kin and a purple Ettenmoors badge. It was fascinating talking to the players in my kins and understanding their gaming worlds. They could not comprehend that I played no other games. They had expectations and understandings of what an MMO entailed which bore no relation to mine. They used language and shorthands that I sometimes had to write down and Google.

    The demands of life (work, family etc) have now forced my return to the world of the more casual, setting-driven player. I have no time for grouping because my game time is fractured and unpredictable. I will never earn another point of renown. But here on the forums I still see two worlds talking past each other, often barely understanding that the other has such a different view of what LOTRO even is.
    If I could give you rep for this post I'd pile it on. This is EXACTLY what's going on. Funny, your journey nearly describes mine, down to the raiding kin/pvmp (second marshall for me!). I did have a little experience in UO (they bake bread!), but only for crafting/pets. When I first grouped in Lotro, I was so immersed, and thought others were, too, that I was half-surprised and disappointed they didn't talk like their characters, lol. I'm also back to a more casual play style.

    Having played both ways, my only wish is that people accept that others have playstyles different than their own. If they are making raids and instances and optional difficult side zones for you hard core players, why begrudge easier landscapes for the more casual player? It's annoying when maxed out min-maxers say the landscape is faceroll. If it's too easy, take off some of that uber armour. Oh wait, then you couldn't brag it's too easy, lol. Someone said if they made landscape easier as described in the Producer's letter, that people will leave in droves. I think it's the opposite.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarmas_Eldar View Post
    Discussing solo/grouping in the context of other MMOs (past, present of future) makes the same mistake Turbine made when the game first released with a LOT of group content, including mandatory grouping for core story quests.

    That mistake is to assume that LOTRO is an MMO and as such predominantly attracts MMO players. In fact LOTRO attracted (and continues to attract) a lot of players who do not play any other games, who have never played another MMO and who have zero interest in playing a challenging "game" or learning to play skillfully. These are people who grew up with LOTR (the books, not the movies) and who may well be older, with less time to play and other demands making grouping difficult.

    The collisions between such pure setting-focused players and those coming to LOTRO with MMO experience and expectations is at the heart of over a decade's debate about solo/grouping/difficulty.

    Speaking personally, I did not know what "MMO" even meant when I first started in LOTRO. I had no experience whatsoever of games. No understanding of grouping mechanics. No idea that there was such a thing as PvP. I went on a huge journey that ended up in a serious raiding kin and a purple Ettenmoors badge. It was fascinating talking to the players in my kins and understanding their gaming worlds. They could not comprehend that I played no other games. They had expectations and understandings of what an MMO entailed which bore no relation to mine. They used language and shorthands that I sometimes had to write down and Google.

    The demands of life (work, family etc) have now forced my return to the world of the more casual, setting-driven player. I have no time for grouping because my game time is fractured and unpredictable. I will never earn another point of renown. But here on the forums I still see two worlds talking past each other, often barely understanding that the other has such a different view of what LOTRO even is.
    you're exactly part of what makes lotro a great game, and the reason that this game continues to live even past the life expectancy of any normal mmo. personally, in this thread i think is already the answer, i find myself agreeing that optional fellowship content could really encourage many parts of the game. What's the point of picking a class with specific roles if you'll probably never make it to end game, and will not be able to use those roles. but having the option to find such things midgame, would be great.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by hfe View Post
    you're exactly part of what makes lotro a great game, and the reason that this game continues to live even past the life expectancy of any normal mmo. personally, in this thread i think is already the answer, i find myself agreeing that optional fellowship content could really encourage many parts of the game. What's the point of picking a class with specific roles if you'll probably never make it to end game, and will not be able to use those roles. but having the option to find such things midgame, would be great.
    I totally agree with this! I think SSG handled it very well in Where Dragons Dwell. You can do Glimmerdeep and T-G solo or group with multiple number options. (Now if they only gave the Anvil a solo/small group-sight seeing version, lol. Guess I'll have to wait until we out level it. And before you say, suck it up and group, no one wants to wait while you study the tapestries... )

  24. #24
    Thank you for the kind words.

    I would just add that the responsibility for recognising the disparate desires and approaches to the game cuts both ways.

    Casual, setting-based players should acknowledge that they are stepping into a gaming world which has certain conventions and expectations which those more immersed in the MMO genre are justified in expecting to find in LOTRO. Difficult, time-consuming group instances and raids with unique, bespoke, best-in-slot rewards are pivotal to that. So is some form of PvP. These have been integral to the full LOTRO experience since the start and Raiders/PvMPers bring a huge amount to the game.

    MMO veterans bringing those MMO-based expectations to LOTRO should recognise that they are entering a unique world with a history and lore which is the sole or major reason why many people play. Protectiveness, even touchiness, towards the setting often reflects an attachment to it going back decades (I first read LOTR nearly 40 ... yes, 40 ... years ago). Demanding that such players adhere to MMO conventions derived from other games is absurd.

    The best way to balance these sets of needs is an easy landscape and difficult group instances. Raiders moaning about landscape faceroll are picking a hopeless fight. Casual players bemoaning effort put into instance content they will never run, giving rewards they will never get, are being similarly unreasonable.
    Tarmas Elf Champion R13 120
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  25. #25
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    I love those areas in the game. Being the old EQ veteran, there are plenty of open areas where people could have it rather easy, and certain classes could solo. But it was dungeons where the real fun action was, with groups forming and operating organically.

    And I definitely loved going into those elite areas in LotRO and pushing myself. Best thing was they were optional, any time I wanted to go back to easy mode main line questing, I could do so.

    But there is a problem with such areas.
    When part of current endgame content, they get a lot of player traffic. You go in there are people there and even without forming fellowships, people can team up. If there are desirable drops, or ability to earn currency for desired rewards, people will do it.

    But when level cap raises, endgame shifts. As long as game has steady influx of new players, these areas continue getting healthy traffic, but if no, it is mostly solo stragglers who can't do those areas alone, so they stay empty. And by the time a soloer is overlevelled enough to do them, they yield no reward except for some deeds.

    And that is exactly what I been seeing, especially at mid-upper levels. Nearly all time I spent in Limlight Gorge and Tarlang Crown, I was the only one there.

    Solo friendly areas are getting decent traffic, while fellowship spots are deserted once they are no longer endgame.

    These days, EQ has something called 'Hardcore Heritage' events which I would love to see in LotRO. Basically, some old dungeon is bumped up to cap level for a couple weeks and rewards from there are in line with other endgame rewards. Not instances, but actual public access areas where people can just go and tackle content together at cap level.

 

 
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