LOTRO Legendarium: Seven abandoned LOTRO features

One of the hallmarks and attractions of MMORPGs is growth. These games, much like the characters that inhabit them, grow and change over time. Every hotfix, patch, content update, and expansion adds or modifies something to the whole package (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse). And while that growth keeps things interesting and takes us on a long journey, there is always the very real danger of devs introducing features that, for one reason or another, get abandoned and left to rot inside this ever-expanding game.

After 10 years, five expansions, and hundreds of patches, the Lord of the Rings Online that we play today is by far larger, more complex, and different than the one that launched in 2007. It was inevitable that the team would introduce various systems and features that took off, became popular with the community, and have been heavily supported ever since. It was also inevitable that the opposite has happened too.

I polled some of my fellow LOTRO players about the subject of abandoned features in the game and received quite a few responses. Most of us agreed on a core seven features that the devs originally had grand plans for… and have since neglected and ignored. So let’s take a look at seven features that the team would probably rather you not pay attention to these days!

1. Hobbies

I’ve often joked that this was LOTRO’s greatest typo — that it should read “hobby,” not “hobbies,” since there has only been one of these ever made. Fishing is fishing, and at least it’s gotten a little bit of play with festival activities and giant fish trophies hanging on the wall of player houses.

But the devs have never created a second (or third or fourth) hobby to flesh out this category, so it feels like this was a placeholder that never received attention and further development. The hobby of golf was often bandied about, particularly back in the day, but chances are that the dev team of today doesn’t care nor has the resources to create such “frivolous” activities.

2. Looking for group tool

For all of the dungeons, skirmishes, and raids that are in LOTRO, it’s a crime that so few people seem to ever run them. And I place a lot of this blame on the neglected instance finder tool, which doesn’t work to find pick-up groups because no one uses it to find groups (a lovely catch-22). The tool is functional, but it honestly needs to be more prominently placed and more enticing rewards attached to it to get players to actually use it. It’s 2017 and players are primarily using the /LFF channel to assemble parties. What is this madness?

3. Skirmishes

Speaking of instanced content, skirmishes are by far one of the best forms of dungeons that the team has ever created. They’re accessible, flexible, variable, and offer useful rewards. And they’ve also been more or less abandoned following the expansion that saw their release (2009’s Siege of Mirkwood). Players continuously call on the team to create new skirmishes only to hear deafening silence on this front. Considering all of the possibilities in the content following Mirkwood, that is such a shame. Maybe one day… but probably not.

4. Fellowship maneuvers

Fellowship maneuvers — also called “FMs” and “conjunctions” — was a way for player groups to activate a group-based event during a fight to perform a special attack. By selecting different icons and assembling them into specific patterns, a FM could trigger a massive heal, power restoration, or various types of attacks. In short, they could turn the tide of battle, and some classes had the special ability to start up a FM, theoretically making them very desirable in a fellowship.

FMs was a launch feature, and to my knowledge, hasn’t really been updated ever since then. They still exist, but I don’t think they ever caught on the way the original dev team hoped. Some players have called for the current team to revisit and revise this system to make it current for the 2017 crowd, but so far that hasn’t happened.

5. Destiny points

Some features get abandoned while others are intentionally dismantled, and destiny points represent the latter. This used to be a special type of currency that you would accumulate via leveling and then could spend on special buffs or your monster play characters. Somewhere along the line, the team disabled the acquisition of destiny points, allowing the current supply in the game to gradually dwindle out and disappear forever. This wasn’t any sort of super-awesome system, but I liked it and felt that its death coincided with the rise of the in-game store (which, incidentally, sells a lot of the same buffs for real money).

6. PvMP

One could argue that monster play never was supported that strongly, even at the start of the game, and I could definitely see that point. Yet this was LOTRO’s answer to PvP, and it was definitely pushed into a corner and forgotten about for long stretches at a time. Oh sure, every so often one of the devs had pity of the small crowd of PvMPers and got some fixes shoehorned into a patch. And after years of whining for a second map, the PvMP community did receive Osgiliath. But this system has just not been that supported, and the game wasn’t really made for it. It’s never going to receive the love that PvMPers hope it will, and as a result, the game will always disappoint these players and stir up resentment.

7. Mounted combat

Mounted combat was a major selling point of the Riders of Rohan expansion, and one that I think a lot of us were anticipating strongly. It certainly fit well with the expansion theme and resulted in a much more wide-open countryside that lent a different feel than what we had before.

Unfortunately, LOTRO’s engine just couldn’t handle the faster pace of mounted combat very well, and the buggy system quickly fell out of favor with many players. It was, to excuse the pun, a one-trick pony, and that trick was used up by the time we got into Gondor. Every so often the devs made a weak stab at justifying the system with some sort of roaming warband, but nobody I know actually uses warhorses other than a faster mode of transportation, especially if they have ranged attacks.

Every two weeks, the LOTRO Legendarium goes on an adventure (horrid things, those) through the wondrous, terrifying, inspiring, and, well, legendary online world of Middle-earth. Justin has been playing LOTRO since its launch in 2007! If you have a topic for the column, send it to him at justin@massivelyop.com.
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31 Comments on "LOTRO Legendarium: Seven abandoned LOTRO features"

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Tobasco da Gama

I miss FMs. :(

They just completely failed to keep up with damage scaling past level 50 or so, and the self-rooting effect makes them dangerous to use outside of dungeons that actually require them, like Draigoch.

Such a unique idea, though! I’ve always wanted them to come back.

As for the Instance Finder tool, it was DOA not due to any technical limitation but just because the existing dungeon/raid community didn’t want it. The idea, of course, was that it would be a tool for kinless players to get into instance-running, but in practice it’s really, really easy for players who want to run instances to find a kin. So they just did that, and of course the instance-running kins prefer to recruit their fill slots from LFF chat rather than rely on the tool. There just aren’t enough kinless folks in LOTRO to make the tool work, I don’t think.

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Dividion

I hadn’t realized that destiny points didn’t accumulate anymore. You used to get some every time you leveled up.
I’m currently at 148,805.

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Dividion

After reading all the replies, it sounds like they accumulate for subscribers, which explains why I never noticed a difference.

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Melissa McDonald

Maybe “abandoned” wasn’t the right word here for features that still exist.
Monster Play remains a spectacularly good idea, one that solves the PvP issue for players. You can, of course, duel consensually as well.

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Alex Malone

Very good list, I’d agree with all of them. I haven’t played LotRO for years so wasn’t aware that a lot of this stuff had fallen out of favour. I’m glad they never bothered improving the group finder, I’ve never been a fan of such tools.

Fellowship maneuvers is the one I was surprised about. I left during the Isenguard expansion and the first raid boss, Draigoch, required immense co-ordination in order to pull off 12 unique FMs on the boss. In almost every raid previously, FMs were pretty critical to success even if it was just used as a way to replenish health / power during emergencies.

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Tobasco da Gama

The scaling on FMs just failed to keep up with player skills. Outside of Draigoch, there’s no FM good enough to be worth inflicting a self-stun and losing the DPS/HPS output of five players for ten seconds.

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odin valhalla

I recall a time in LOTRO when Burgs were critical to groups BECAUSE they could start conjunctions. You could do them (and still can I suppose) creep side as well. Good list, destiny points, lol I remember grinding stones in the tunnels under the moors to buy skills on my creep.

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Viktor Budusov

I wouldn’t say mounted combat is completely abandoned. Every update has new warbands.

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teppic

For a game so popular with role players I’m really surprised they didn’t expand the hobbies system. You could include playing musical instruments, though once you learn one there’s no progression there at all like there is with fishing.

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Castagere Shaikura

Man i forgot about Destiny points. That was pretty cool back in the early days of LOTRO.

styopa
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styopa

Mounted combat was terrible firstly, as mentioned, because the engine simply couldn’t smoothly keep up with the high-speed action and the lag/warping occasionally reached unplayable levels.
Secondly, I just felt it was too ‘boaty’ – while I could see the logic in the mechanic for long sweeping/slashing attacks representing the way cavalry combat worked, the acceleration/deceleration was WAY too slow at low speeds and turning speed stupidly slow as well. A quarter horse can turn pretty much as fast as a human.

Finally, the way certain attacks were delivered (particularly ranged attacks lacking directionality) was far too easy, taking away the necessity of close-quarters action. I think this was a concession to recognized shortcomings in the engine, but just made the whole thing stupid.

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Schmidt.Capela

For all of the dungeons, skirmishes, and raids that are in LOTRO, it’s a crime that so few people seem to ever run them. And I place a lot of this blame on the neglected instance finder tool, which doesn’t work to find pick-up groups because no one uses it to find groups (a lovely catch-22).

I didn’t follow the development of this tool on LotRO, but I did follow that of the equivalent WoW tool. Each version of WoW’s LFG tool — and there have been many — faced all the same issues LotRO’s tool has and was abandoned by players after a short while, until the WoW devs arrived at the current one: the version where you just select your role, the instance you want to run, and the tool does everything else for you, including grouping you with players from other servers if needed to keep the queue times down, while showering the players in rewards for using the tool.

Or, in other words, fixing LFG tools is one heck of a thorny problem, and particularly so if you don’t want to use WoW’s solution. WoW, after all, unsuccessfully tried most other solutions I can think of before arriving at its current one.