Daily Archives: May 17, 2023

An Anniversary Celebration Pig in Middle-earth

As I wrote yesterday, I am attempting to dive back into Lord of the Rings Online.  The game, however, was still in the midst of its 16th anniversary celebrations.

LOTRO turns 16 years old

That meant a whole bunch of things were going on in the game, including a few things for my new character.

Of course, there was a new title.

Been here like a day, already have a dozen plus titles…

And then there were some more gifts to fill up my bag space.

First Goal: Find the damn bank

There was also a pet Corgi, because Corgis are to fantasy MMORPGs what Shiba Inus were to the web in 2013.

Corpulent little fellow… also, a corgi

But the biggest surprise was the Anniversary Celebration Pig.

Where did this pig come from?

The pig was a surprise because, for whatever reason, it showed up with me already out and following when I started on the game tutorial.  So there I was, investigating dark riders in the Shire and assisting Strider and adventuring in and around Archet with this barrow pulling fireworks pig following me the whole way.

The pig in tow as we battle in Archet

Yes, fireworks.  That is the celebration aspect of the pig, in case a pig pulling a pony cart wasn’t celebratory enough for you.  It is an almost constant source of rockets and fountains and the like, along with the occasional grunt or oink, as it follow you around Middle-earth.  And its timing is impeccable.

We’re spying on some Blackwolds

My initial reaction to this pig was a bit disdainful, though I had to admire its determination to continue spewing fireworks no matter the situation.

The fireworks, they are water proof

But the absurdity of the whole thing sort of won me over.  When I logged out and back in later on I found that the pig was no longer with me… and then I found the skill to summon him in my list and brought the pig back again to continue with me through the tutorial.

And there was much rejoicing

And I am glad I did, because the pig did give me some insight into how the game is built.

The quest chains in the tutorial area appears to have been slimmed down quite a bit, no doubt to accommodate the quicker pace of leveling in a Middle-earth where the level cap has risen from 50 to 140.

It has also changed up a bit from my memories, with a dream sequence… here is a quest where the first step is “go take a nap”… that brings you before Galadriel.

Oh, she knows my name… but does not acknowledge the pig

I forget when this was added, but it is meant to explain, for those a little slow at keeping up, that your character’s story will be intertwined with that of the fellowship as they travel through Middle-earth.

Even from launch LOTRO‘s cut scenes were rendered with the game engine, the early ones, with voice over narration, looking pretty rough these days.  But later they started putting your character into these cut scenes, which is pretty much what this dream sequence is.  You can’t do anything, your character just sits there as things unfold around them.

What I did not know is that in these later cut scenes, your character is always there, even when the cut scene doesn’t involve you are show something where you couldn’t possibly be.

For example, in Galadirel’s dream sequence, a greatest hits run through of “here are cool Middle-earth places you’ll visit,” we see the fellowship in Moria.

They are not looking happy either

Everything is frozen in place, or seems to be.  But as the camera panned out to a wider view of the scene, I saw some fireworks go off.  The pig and I were IN MORIA with the fellowship, just off to the side behind some scenery.

The pig betrays our location again

And that was the selling point of the pig for me.  As Galadriel’s visions changed, the pig seemed determined to pump out fireworks to make sure I knew where we were hiding.

That moved me from, “WTH is this pig?” to “Haha, pig is ironic!” to “Pig now must travel with me  where ever I go!”

Sure, I get frowns from the occasional person in Bree because Landroval is the cool kids RP server, and sometimes I forget to get the pig out.  But I am now determined to see as much of Middle-earth as possible with the pig in tow.  I want to get screen shots of the pig and I in as many of the iconic LOTRO scenes as I can.

And one of the first for me is the confrontation with Amdir, something I have taken a screen shot of with every run through the game. (Here we are 16 years ago with Amdir.)

The pig is not affected by dread, and even lightens our spirits with a green rocket

We shall see how this works out.