I have spent some more time looking through the Lord of the Rings Online site and I am starting to soften a bit on the whole idea.
This is primarily because of the screen shots. They look very good. More importantly, they look very appropriate to the theme or flavor of Middle Earth. And I did not see a single elf with dramatically pointy ears, though in the one elf picture I can recall, the elf had long hair, so the pointy ears might have been hidden.
This has put to rest a recurring nightmare I have where Lord of the Rings Online ends up with the look and feel of the 1970’s animated film version of the story. (To understand the true horror of the animated movie, read this review.)
On the other hand, the whole “Monster Play” thing has me rolling my eyes. The game is attempting to place itself in the narrative of the books, which is a big mistake in my opinion, but that is what they have chosen. If they think it is a good idea, then they should stick with it! “Monster Play” is not sticking with it. At no point in the books did any member of the fellowship express a desire to switch sides and make chutney out of their co-belligerents in the interest of scratching a “competitive itch.”
To me, it sound like one of two ideas has taken hold at Turbine:
1. We need some end-game content to keep people who blow through the game paying while we get the first expansion out.
2. Nobody will play an MMO unless it has PVP.
I think it is most likely the second, but it could be both ideas at play. (Yes, I suppose it might not be either idea, but I cannot complete the logical fallacy of attacking somebody over words I put in their mouth if I go and admit that, now can I?)
On the bright side, it does sound like this will be optional content. To get to it in your normal persona you have to take a “subway” to get to the area where the monster player characters are “largely confined.” (So you could say that LOTRO is at least pro-public transit. And I like the phrase “largely confined,” since it brings up the mental image of a monster prison break!)
Anyway, you can get what the devs actually said about “Monster Play” and other issues from the House of Commons log on Stratics.
So I check the LOTRO site once in a while and then daydream about the Middle Earth MMO I really want but will likely never see.
[After I wrote this, I decided to double check the LOTRO site more thoroughly and, sure enough, there is an elf in there with big bat-like pointy ears. Gah! Well, the scenery is still nice.]