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  1. #1
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    Story order problem in the Stonedeans

    There are many times in LOTRO where it might be difficult to determine how (or if) the Epic Quests in an area interact with the landscape story quests. Most of those times I have been able to puzzle it out by quest level, use of the wiki, or even just after the fact when I see all the pieces in hindsight.

    The Epic that leads into Woodhurst in the Stonedeans of West Rohan, however, does not seem to have a good way to mesh with the Woodhurst story quests.

    SPOILERS AHEAD



    The problem has two parts.

    First, when running through the story in the Broadacres, the quest 'Assault on Bardh-dorám' warns that the Broadacres story can not be continued until the player has completed Epic Volume III Book 12 Chapter 8, 'Hill Tribes and Horse-lords'. This part of the Epic sends you out to the Stonedeans to contact Heremond or his wife Briant in Woodhurst and breaks the flow of the Broadacres story for what seems to be no good reason.

    Once I ran through Chapter 8 and went back to the Broadacres to continue, the reasoning became a bit clearer, but it had nothing to do with to story and instead was a way to make sure the player completed that chapter before the questgiver was removed. Had the player either not gotten or gotten and dropped VIII B12 C8 before the quest following 'Assault on Bardh-dorám' ('Celebration of Victory'), I assume it would no longer be available and could break the Epic questline.

    Which makes sense mechanically, but narratively I think it would have been better to add a quick hop over to another NPC in Stoke from the questgiver who could then direct the player on to Woodhurst if the player chose to go before finishing the Broadacres story.

    Second problem is in Woodhurst itself. Chapter 8 of the Epic starts right at the gate of the town and directs you to a character who is in hiding without giving you any reasoning for why you would know that hiding place. It says specifically "Briant is inside her son's hideout, in Woodhurst. You do not know where Reeve Heremond is." (emphasis mine)

    Now, if you do the landscape story quests for Woodhurst, they eventually lead you to that hideout in a more natural way, but you get that information only after discovering what had become of Reeve Heremond. So even if you switch up the order of quests the game seems to push toward, the two are not consistent.


    I know it is very unlikely anything will change at this point, but with the Legendary servers causing some ripples in the older content, maybe some small tweaks will find their way in at the LS "launch" of Helm's Deep. One can dream.
    Last edited by Thornglen; May 22 2019 at 02:26 PM.

  2. #2
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    I ran into the same confusion myself with the people hiding in Woodhurst. First I went and spoke to the person hiding, then later I was given a quest that sent me to several NPCs all in an effort to find the person who was hiding whom I had already spoken to.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzviden View Post
    I ran into the same confusion myself with the people hiding in Woodhurst. First I went and spoke to the person hiding, then later I was given a quest that sent me to several NPCs all in an effort to find the person who was hiding whom I had already spoken to.
    There are times in the game when it feels like the Epic and landscape quests don't know anything about each other. Which I understand to the extent that the Epic needs to be available independent of the zone quests, but it also means that when you do both it can be a little disorienting.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thornglen View Post
    There are times in the game when it feels like the Epic and landscape quests don't know anything about each other. Which I understand to the extent that the Epic needs to be available independent of the zone quests, but it also means that when you do both it can be a little disorienting.
    These quests demonstrate two sides of the same difficulty: in an effort to give different designers the most freedom to tell the stories they're interested in telling, sometimes we end up with confusion, especially when the story crosses paths with the Epic. For the Stonedeans, that story involved discovering Herubrand's secret hideout -- either the Epic ignores the characters in the hideout (which I didn't want to do, for obvious reasons), or we require you to do the region quests (which isn't always an option, and in cases where we have it's sometimes been unpopular), or we independently have a separate Epic quest where you discover the hideout (which means that when you do the Region quests you discover it again; what an incredibly short memory you have!); I don't find any of the options especially successful, but we learn something from every Region we design, and in the case of the Stonedeans we learned that sometimes the separation of Epic and Region is for the best after all.

    The Broadacres teaches that same lesson, but from the other side: making games is a long and complicated process, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. In this case what fell through the cracks was that the Region designer planned for an important character to die, and structured his storyline around it... but this was a character needed for the Epic, which means that she needed to be available at any time, whether or not you played through the Region quest. The Region designer wasn't happy, and I wasn't happy, and in the end really the only way we could solve it was to add prerequisites to ensure that you completed that stretch of the Epic before advancing the Region quest. It's not ideal, but it at least prevented people from getting blocked if they did things in the wrong order.

    And we added another lesson to the pile of things to remember.

    MoL

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadeOfLions View Post

    And we added another lesson to the pile of things to remember.

    MoL
    Thank you MoL for the wonderful explanation and for all the wonderful work you do crafting the world we play in.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadeOfLions View Post
    And we added another lesson to the pile of things to remember.
    Thanks for the info.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadeOfLions View Post
    These quests demonstrate two sides of the same difficulty: in an effort to give different designers the most freedom to tell the stories they're interested in telling, sometimes we end up with confusion, especially when the story crosses paths with the Epic. For the Stonedeans, that story involved discovering Herubrand's secret hideout -- either the Epic ignores the characters in the hideout (which I didn't want to do, for obvious reasons), or we require you to do the region quests (which isn't always an option, and in cases where we have it's sometimes been unpopular), or we independently have a separate Epic quest where you discover the hideout (which means that when you do the Region quests you discover it again; what an incredibly short memory you have!); I don't find any of the options especially successful, but we learn something from every Region we design, and in the case of the Stonedeans we learned that sometimes the separation of Epic and Region is for the best after all.

    The Broadacres teaches that same lesson, but from the other side: making games is a long and complicated process, and sometimes things fall through the cracks. In this case what fell through the cracks was that the Region designer planned for an important character to die, and structured his storyline around it... but this was a character needed for the Epic, which means that she needed to be available at any time, whether or not you played through the Region quest. The Region designer wasn't happy, and I wasn't happy, and in the end really the only way we could solve it was to add prerequisites to ensure that you completed that stretch of the Epic before advancing the Region quest. It's not ideal, but it at least prevented people from getting blocked if they did things in the wrong order.

    And we added another lesson to the pile of things to remember.

    MoL
    Thank you very much for the explanation. I appreciate the time you take on these forums to give us looks behind the game design curtain.

    The hideout issue does seem to be a tricky one. And yeah, it would not have made sense to block off those characters from either of the storylines.

    For the Broadacres one, if you find yourself back in this thread and are willing to give a tiny bit more behind-the-scenes on quest design, I am wondering if there would have been a design (or story) issue with adding an additional chapter in there. So Chapter 8 would send you to an intermediate NPC in Stoke who would not be affected by coming events and who could then give Chapter 9 to go to Woodhurst.

    Would that break anything in how quest chains work if it had to be added in later? Or something like a matter of when the issue was discovered and not having the time or resources to add in more than the prerequisite?

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
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    I found it impossible to even keep each side of the quests in order, and ended up doing Epic and the normal quest lines willy-nilly.

    When you are leaving for the next area, dont forget to go search out the bears cottage and check out the bowls of porridge.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarbro View Post
    I found it impossible to even keep each side of the quests in order, and ended up doing Epic and the normal quest lines willy-nilly.

    When you are leaving for the next area, dont forget to go search out the bears cottage and check out the bowls of porridge.
    In general, I end up trying to do the epic until it vectors off to another area, then clean up remaining zone quests where I am before moving on.

    Hmm. Bowls of porridge, huh? As a Beorning, I feel I must check this out now.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thornglen View Post
    In general, I end up trying to do the epic until it vectors off to another area, then clean up remaining zone quests where I am before moving on.

    Hmm. Bowls of porridge, huh? As a Beorning, I feel I must check this out now.
    As far as I can tell, this is the last area where the people doing the landscape had time for a sense of humour; I kept looking for a white rabbit with a pocket watch running through the woods, but never spotted one.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thornglen View Post
    I am wondering if there would have been a design (or story) issue with adding an additional chapter in there. So Chapter 8 would send you to an intermediate NPC in Stoke who would not be affected by coming events and who could then give Chapter 9 to go to Woodhurst.
    But that wouldn't solve the problem, would it? The Disappearing Questgiver is involved in three or four chapters of that Book, which means that the intermediate NPC would actually have to be involved for that whole stretch; otherwise you could still get stuck. It would mean changing the storyline to remove her entirely, which I'm not interested in doing. She was part of the original plan for the story, and because of her role in the region she's a much better point of contact than Mr. Newly-Created Problem Solver NPC would be. The other reason is maybe a little petty, but it's a good reminder that videogames are made by human beings and not by robots: I don't like that someone killed off my character without telling me, and in doing so created a bunch of bugs.

    There isn't an especially smooth way to fix it and keep everyone happy, so you get a less-than-ideal quest flow, and a resolve to do better in the future.

    MoL

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadeOfLions View Post
    The other reason is maybe a little petty, but it's a good reminder that videogames are made by human beings and not by robots: I don't like that someone killed off my character without telling me, and in doing so created a bunch of bugs.
    Ooof. And here I see where collaborative storytelling meets software engineering and looks pretty much the same in both cases . Don't kill off other people's owned characters without a big clear talk about it. Make sure when you take out some code you're sure of what the downstream effects will be.
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  13. #13
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    IMHO, Rohan was low point for all Lotro story and lore. Very weak storytelling, typical for MMO content without any interesting point. In visual terms, Rohan was great and we have feelings what we have in the past when we read books or watch films. But quests and NPC... All Rohan tans looks like same NPC, you quickly forget their names. And main problem it's order for quests. Imagine - you enter city, start duing quests, complete real life tasks for villagers. Sooner or later, you find out what orcs gathered around city and ready for siege. Rohan Tan don't belive it (why?), and with brave effort, he fight with orcs, lose and die. With sad emotions, we leave destroyed burned town, go to next town... and all people here pretend what nothing happens! Ok, some Rohan towns ready for siege and fight in first place, and have connection with other towns, but not all of them. It's understandable from side of game logic and story progression, but we whole puzzle fails. On other side, Gondor have more natural stories, better connections between NPC and storylines.

  14. #14
    I feel quite the contrary on the story side. I find the development of events in Rohan to have more depth than the old "good vs. evil" motif in earlier regions. We don't just have human settlements that are threatened by the Enemy, but there are also enemies within. It shows human nature, often the ugly side. It is our role to prepare Rohan for the eventual showdown with Saruman, culminating at the Battle of Helm's Deep. The East Rohan quests are also very worth completing for the story (even though I may not bother to do that on another character myself). Overall, Rohan is quite a nice primer to Gondor, which is already besieged by enemies (when we arrive) and is actively responding to threats.

    The ignorance to threats is actually quite reasonable. Rohan is a vast but sparsely populated country with few solid defences, communication between settlements is expected to be less frequent and effective, especially with enemies roaming all over. (The game world has greatly reduced the scale and West Rohan actually feels small to me.) And we can see from quests that many Rohirrim are still unaware (or just starting to be aware) of the treachery of Saruman.

    But I agree that some connection issues exist in the flow, for example the entry to East Rohan through the East Wall via the epic and from Great River via landscape quests, and the vector from Broadacres to Stonedeans (again discrepancies between epic and landscape). The Bingo Boffin quests just throw in even more confusion.

 

 

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