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?

11 thoughts on “Selling Middle-earth

  1. Toldain

    It’s clear to me that Turbine has far fewer programmer resources to throw at LOTRO than Blizzard has to work on WoW. This shows up in certain clunky bits. But some of the designs actually have beneficial consequences.

    However, I like the fact that they got rid of the great bag chase. Really, does anyone enjoy having the task of finding larger bags and equipping them? Does that add anything to the game? You CAN get extra space in your bank, however.

    As to selling, the best and fastest way to sell is to mark the stuff you want to keep, and then gang sell everything else. I forget the exact UI, but there’s a button that sells everything that isn’t marked as “keep”.

    Every building is an instance because otherwise the number of gfx resources that would have to be loaded into your video card at any one time would be unmanageable. Wow, by design, has very low-res geometry and textures. LOTRO does not, hence more work to keep the game humming along at a good frame rate is necessary.

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  2. Thomas

    Yeah LOTRO can be a tough sell to most WOW fans. Its more about adventure & seeing the locations from the books rather than a ton of dungeon crawling. I would like my WOW friends to give the game a try but they have no interest in it.

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  3. TheRemedy

    Earl sounds like a troublemaker, keep your eye on him.

    To be slightly more serious but come on Earl, take one for the team. If everyone else in the group is having fun why even bring up the discussion to go back to WoW, a game you guys seemed universally bored with if I read your posts right.

    And I’m gonna do what no one else wants to do, bring up the points against Cataclysm. All you are basically getting is new quests, the ability to fly in Azeroth and more homogenizing of all the classes. Cataclysm isn’t going to be the massive game changer that it’s being made out to be. At least with Lotro you have a whole game’s worth of content to explore. In Cataclysm you are getting 5 levels and possibly an excuse to roll an alt. If Lotro isn’t clicking that’s cool, but I’m not sure WoW’s new expansion will be providing enough of the type of content you guys are looking for, unless you plan to turn into end game raiders or something.

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  4. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Toldain – The LOTRO bag thing cuts both ways. It is great that you get five 15 slot bags right out of the shoot. On the other hand, as was mentioned elsewhere, I am a charter member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Role Play Game Packrats. I always want more bag space.

    And those bank slots… the first one is cheap, but after that the prices jump up pretty steeply. I don’t have any characters with three extra bank slots, none of my characters can afford it. So color me inventory constrained.

    As for selling. That is a nice idea, but you still have to go through stuff in the sell tab which gets put in a sort order only the programmer can explain.

    @TheRemedy – Well, I have to cut Earl some slack. If you’re on the team, you’re allowed to ask questions like, “What the hell is this crap?” And, if the game is worth playing, it is worth selling.

    Plus, LOTRO is a game where it is the lore selling the game. If you’re not into the lore, what is there? If LOTRO was a generic fantasy MMORPG with some never-before-seen made up history and legends, I’m not sure we’d be talking about playing the game.

    As for how Cataclysm will turn out, well, we’ll be there to see what it is all about.

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  5. Vok

    I’ve always considered WoW to be kind of Harry Potter. Easy to pick up, there is lots of it and it seems like everyone is into it. LotRO is more like, dare I say it, Lord of the Rings. It’s epic, inspiring and awesome – but it’s not for everyone.

    I play both and love both for different reasons.

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  6. coppertopper

    “There is the matter of simply being in Middle-earth, of seeing the places we’ve read about and feeling like we are a part of that world.”

    They just nailed the Shire IMO, and several other locales from the book. Heck just the architecture in general. WoW too has some beautiful atmosphere and impressive areas, but then you see a motorized vehicle drive up stairs into a building and it just makes you go meh.

    And then there is the pub crawl quest, which I still get a chuckle out of when I think back to the first time I walked into the last inn and saw the final guy in the quest chain.

    The crafting too is pretty well done. I’d put it way above WoW, but still below EQ2.

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  7. Bhagpuss

    Oh please take the crew to FFXIV when it launches and tell us how Earl gets on there! That could be comedy gold.

    As for Toldain’s comment (“Really, does anyone enjoy having the task of finding larger bags and equipping them? Does that add anything to the game?”) erm, that would be me. Managing inventory is close to my favorite part of every MMO and I really like a progression in bags that takes work to achieve.

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  8. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Furrere – I put these little references in all the time just waiting for somebody to get them.

    In the 5th Edition Tunnels & Trolls manual (second printing, January 1980), “Take That, You Fiend” is a level 1 spell. From the book:

    “Uses IQ as a weapon against foes, inflicting hits equal to the IQ of the caster. On [sic] higher levels, multiply the IQ rating by the level of the spell to get total hits inflicted. It is a singular spell and must be directed against a single foe. It has no effect upon inanimate objects.”

    At level 9 it would be a fearsome spell indeed for a Wizard of high IQ.

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  9. PaulB

    I have faced this situation recently, my wow group is on another ‘bored to tears’ phase waiting on Cata which I’m not that excited about. I play lotro very casually, would love to play more but they keep dragging me back to wow. Sadly they weren’t that impressed with lotro – the usual comments of ‘it is so like wow’ or ‘that’s not as good as it is in wow’ etc. But for me story is very important and lotro’s is better than wow’s by a good margin IMHO.

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