Thursday, May 7, 2009

Back in Middle Earth...

It was $10 so I couldn't resist. I still had a Champion left over from open beta, so I dusted him off and ran around for a bit with Corwin last week sometime. I've continued to pop in here and there to complete a few more quests.

And now I remember what bothered me the most about Lord of the Rings Online. The quests my Champion has require a whole lot of running around. Slowly.

Middle Earth feels very vast and expansive. It's very immersive - the mobs aren't all packed within inches of one another like they are in World of Warcraft or EverQuest II. This is both a strength and a weakness. It is easier to get lost in the beauty of the world and to feel like you are truly in another land. And that's an amazing feeling. Until you start receiving quests that tell you to go to the bandit camp clear on the opposite side of the map, and you return, only to be told to go right back to the same place you were and do something else.

This is still a game after all and perhaps too much immersion can be a bad thing. The people that clamor on and on about how they want their game to be immersive with meaningful travel usually aren't complaining that you can swim in plate mail, or demanding that it take an hour or two to change armor. Maybe we should give the immersion fans a Sims like function to manage their avatar's bowel movements as well. If they don't enjoy the idea of that, they should probably STFU about how they need "immersion."

Though perhaps the problem here is less that I was required to travel, but rather that by splitting the quest line into a series of fetch this and run back to me steps, that travel was made inherently less meaningful. I mean, if my quest is really that important, couldn't the quest giver get off his ass to accompany me there so he could tell me what I need to do next without wasting half a day coming back to him first?

So maybe this is what the quest givers should start doing: when we complete a step, they should show up out of nowhere in a cut scene (because they were hiding, what with us being the heroes and all), tell us the next step in the quest, which was only five feet away anyway, and let us go on our merry way saving the world, without having to travel the entire length of the map again and again and again.

Because the trip isn't that meaningful when we have to make it a dozen times.

But, alas, I doubt that's in our future. My guess: when we get to Mordor, we will have to help Frodo figure out which volcano is Mount Doom. There are, after all, a lot of volcanos in Mordor. So we'll remember there's a cartographer back in Bree. And we'll go all the way back to Bree to talk to him. Then he'll say: "oh, it's in this general area, but there are actually three volcanoes there that look very much alike... Mount Doom, Mount Gloom, and Mount Buttercup. There's a geographer here in town who can help you figure out which one is Mount Doom." And the geographer will send you back to Mordor to collect rock samples from each mountain. And you'll go back to Bree and he'll tell you which rock came from which mountain. And you'll to back to Mordor where Frodo is still waiting, patiently, not succumbing to the Ring's temptations or anything, and of course Gollum is just following Frodo, even though Frodo isn't actually going anywhere, because everyone is WAITING ON YOU but you have to go back and check in one more time with the geographer before you can conclusively figure out which damn volcano you need to climb so the One Ring ends up in the One Lava.


Scott said...

Perhaps it's just me and my memories of playing so many Alliance characters in WoW but as aggravating as the ping-pong travel quests are in LOTRO, they're nothing compared to those Alliance quests that sent me all over the continent(s) all the time. But still, they're annoying in LOTRO as well.

One design change in Moria was to "cluster" the quests, so most quests you'd get at the same time from the same hub can be completed in the same area. Back to the hub to turn them all in, get quests to go to another area. They've begun retrofitting some of the old content in the same manner, but it will be months before it's done so that won't be much consolation to you, at least not with your current character.

But I did always appreciated LOTRO for not having mobs every few paces like WoW did. Well, at least until Angmar... oh, and Moria...

Corwin.EoL said...

It was very fun running around with you that night. Sorry it was so short, as it was late for me.

After my computer woes are solved I hope to be playing more.

My brother in-law just bought the game also. He's been playing WoW for some time now and was looking for something different.

At a cost of $10 and with their promotion price of $10/mo. It's hard to beat it entertainment wise.

However I expect to drop it for Star Wars: The Old Republic when it comes out. :D