Daily Archives: August 6, 2010

Selling Middle-earth

For some of us in the instance group, Lord of the Rings Online is not a tough sell when we’re not playing it.

Certainly it seems that for myself, Potshot, and Gaff, Middle-earth is a serious feature of the game.

And it isn’t all about occasionally seeing Gandalf in action:

Take that, you fiend!

Or getting to hang out with him after the show:

Wait until my mom sees this!

There is the matter of simply being in Middle-earth, of seeing the places we’ve read about (no movie version worth mentioning having been around when we were young) and feeling like we are a part of that world.

Let us ride to Weathertop!

Things like that keep the game in our mind even when we’re not playing.

But others in the instance group are less keen on the subject.

Earl, for example, does not seem to be a fan.

And so, LOTRO is just a game.  A game that competes directly with World of Warcraft.  A game that, in many ways, offers up a comparable experience.

And since he enjoys WoW very much and has played it for years, in coming to LOTRO he immediately sees the ways in which Turbine has been less apt at creating a smooth and polished game.

So last Saturday night, much of the evening in Middle-earth was spent on the “Why aren’t we playing WoW?” question.

WoW is polished, fun, familiar, and the need for certain things, like a group of a given size, is taken care of via the Dungeon Finder interface.  WoW is a well oiled machine.

And LOTRO is… different.  When you are used to one thing, even different can be viewed as a negative.  And then when some details are both different and arguably worse, well….

Our goals for the night were:

  • Have fun
  • Get Earl closer to the level range of the rest of the group
  • Show Earl that LOTRO isn’t that bad

The first is always our goal.

The second was a manageable goal.  The main character for the group sat at about level 18, he was level 12.

The third item though.  That wasn’t going to be easy, and we got off to a bad start right away when these questions came up:

  • How do I get bigger bags?
  • Why is every building an instance?
  • Why can’t I sell things to a vendor straight from my bag where I have things organized?
  • Why can’t I sort things in the Sell tab at a vendor?
  • What is the sorting criteria in the Sell tab at a vendor?

Now, smarter people than I might have been able to come up with good, game selling answers to these questions, but I was left with.

  • You can’t
  • No idea
  • Because you can’t
  • Because you can’t
  • No idea

Fortunately, not every question was like that, but enough were early on that Earl began talking about taking a break from the Saturday night group until Cataclysm ships.

It was time to get out in the field and play together.  We pulled out some alts in the right level range and headed out towards Thorin’s Hall where Earl was running some quests by himself.

We were all able to pick up the dwarf prologue to the Epic Quest line.  That one has a couple of nice instanced missions to run through.

We ran through To Avert a War pretty quickly.  But there were four of us and it is now a pretty much a solo event.

Then we went to Rescue by Moonlight.

He's on a boat!

That instance seemed to have been toned down quite a bit.  I seem to recall the battle on the boat being quite a fight, but this time it was over before I could recover from taking that screen shot.

After that Gaff called it a night.  Earl, in what I took as a good sign, stuck around to finish up the prologue chain.

We did face a challenge with the next segment in the quest chain, Preparations for the Assault, as we took a wrong turn while finishing up the sub quest and ended up fighting our way into an area full of elite mobs.  Potshot’s Rune Keeper, who was healing, ended up dying twice during that little mis-adventure, but at least it was a challenge.

Then we were actually able to return to that very same area where we battled the elite in the final instance of the prologue, Assault on Rath Teraig.  Here, the aptly named elf, Cardavor (cadaver?) was able to utter the best line of the night.

It made Admiral Akbar famous, why not me?

Ironically, getting to the point where Cardavor lay was much more difficult outside of the instance than inside.

That done, we picked up the final stage of the prologue, which pointed us to the Prancing Pony in Bree, to speak to Barliman Butterbur about that unwanted guest we were working with just the previous weekend.

So we got our characters settled into Bree, went to our respective class trainers, emptied our bags, and generally wrapped up for the night.

We had fun.  At least I think we did.  We did not have the usual killer of fun occur, the lack of things to do.  And I had fun.

But I suppose, for Earl, the real test will be this coming Saturday.  Will he be back for Book 1 of the epic quest line?  Or will he decide it is time for a break from the weekly group and take off until Cataclysm ships?