lord of the rings online

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Official Site: Lord of the Rings Online
Studio: Standing Stone Games, formerly Turbine/WB Interactive Entertainment; published by Daybreak Game Company
Launch Date: April 24, 2007
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Hybrid F2P (Optional Sub, Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

The Soapbox: The misguided quest for MMO stickiness

This guest Soapbox was commissioned through Massively Overpowered’s Kickstarter campaign and is authored by Tyler F.M. Edwards, who blogs at www.superior-realities.com. The opinions here represent the views of our guest author and not necessarily Massively OP itself. Enjoy!

The concept of “stickiness” is always a hot topic in the MMO community — stickiness being the sum of those game qualities that ensure player retention and keep people coming back. Fans and journalists talk about it often, and I don’t doubt that MMO developers devote an enormous amount of time and money to making their games sufficiently sticky.

But this obsession with stickiness can do more harm than good, and when developers focus on retention, they risk losing sight of what really matters: making games that are fun to play.

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Jukebox Heroes: Seven MMOs with player music systems

A few weeks ago I asked the Massively Overpowered community if all MMOs should come with player music systems. In my opinion, at least, the answer to this is “almost always, yes.” Giving players tools and freedom to express themselves creatively through music is such an immersive and socially bonding element to a game, and yet such systems are more rarities than commonplace.

Today in Jukebox Heroes I wanted to flit around between seven different MMOs to deliver examples of how each included a player music system into its world. From the obscure to the popular, we’ve got an MMO symphony awaiting you after the break!

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Elite releases 86-track OST while LOTRO buffs its music system

It’s a two-for-one music Monday here at Massively Overpowered! For starters, Elite: Dangerous is now selling its physical soundtrack as a 3-CD set. The OST contains 86 tracks divided into three sections: exploration, frameshift and starports, and menus and extras. The digital version of the soundtrack will come out on April 1st.

Over in Lord of the Rings Online, the game’s much-vaunted music system has been buffed up with the recent Update 15.3. “The player music system has been spruced up a bit,” the team posted. “There are new sounds for the bagpipe, clarinet, flute, horn, lute, pibgorn, and theorbo.”

[Source: Elite: Dangerous soundtrack, LOTRO patch notes]

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The Game Archaeologist: Middle-earth Online

Out of all of the MMOs that I’ve played over the years, I must have spent the most time in Lord of the Rings Online’s wonderfully realized vision of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world. An early magazine article in 2007 intrigued me with the mention of a “low-fantasy” MMO that skewed more to realism than the cartoony World of Warcraft. By the time the head start period had finished, I was in love with the Shire, Hobbits, and ordering my Lore-master’s raven to peck the eyes out of goblins.

Yet the MMO that I’ve played and enjoyed was a title born in the grave of a previous effort to bring Lord of the Rings to MMOs: Middle-earth Online. Turbine wasn’t the first MMO studio to take a crack at Tolkien’s license. No, for that we have to travel back to 1998 and revisit Sierra On-Line. It was this company that had a brief but memorable run designing Middle-earth Online with features such as permadeath. It’s a fascinating glimpse into an entirely different approach to the IP, and even though it fizzled out due to a number of factors, I think it’s important it be remembered. Frodo lives!

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The Daily Grind: Do you have a regular gaming group?

When you’re on a time budget and can’t always be in a game 24/7 to join spontaneous guild runs, it’s a blessing to be part of a committed gaming group that meets at a particular time every week to have a blast together.

I’ve been part of many such regular groups over the years, including one cheeky bunch that get together to do all manner of Lord of the Rings Online silliness. Sure, we love each other, but at the end of the day, we’re not ashamed at telling each other to take a flying leap off a portcullis when a run’s gone south.

Are you part of a regular gaming group? As a bonus, why not use the comments to connect players with groups that could use a new member or two!

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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This LotRO lore video made me reinstall the game

You know, I need another fantasy MMORPG in my life like I need another hole in my head. But thanks to a nifty lore-centric video published this week by Turbine, I’m (re)installing Lord of the Rings Online and dusting off my stable of alts.

The vid runs for about an hour, and it features lead world-builder and lore monkey Chris Pierson chatting with Mythgard’s Corey Olsen and Wheaton College English professor Michael Drout about Tolkien’s works and Turbine’s interpretations of them. Click past the cut for the full clip!

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LOTRO Legendarium: Ranking my favorite foes

It goes without saying that after eight years of continual development and expansion, Lord of the Rings Online’s Middle-earth holds quite the assortment of mobs to fight. It straddles an interesting line between mundane, Earth-like critters and far-out fantastic creations. Sometimes it hews close to your standard fantasy MMO line-up (which is understandable, as much fantasy derived from Tolkien), while other times it goes in an odd direction that is uniquely LOTRO.

Today I’m going to list 10 of my favorite foes from the game and rank them from least to most threatening! The author is not responsible for any gaming-related PTSD that may incur from reading this list.

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One Shots: A clear commute

Sometimes simple can be beautiful. I don’t know what it is, exactly, that attracts me to this week’s title pic, but I think its simplicity is a huge draw. If you’ll pardon the expression, it is what it is, and even though I don’t much care for dragons, I like the setup of this shot.

This comes to us courtesy of Evan, who took it while airborn in World of Warcraft. “During the end of an expansion lull, I usually wind up flying through old zones reminiscing with about three pairs of rose-colored glasses layered on top of one another,” he said. “Caught this at one such moment.”

Well it’s clear flying through our weekly screenshot commute, although someone may have spilled a truckload of reptiles on the expressway. Be warned!

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One Shots: The face of doom

What would you do if you went up against a giant face intent on bringing forth your personal doom? I don’t know about you, but I would finally use a wizard’s staff for its clear purpose as an oversized Q-Tip and make sure that the boss’ nasal passages were cleared out. Then we would become the best of friends and would never speak of the incident again.

Reader Wolfyseyes may have gone a different way with this confrontation from Final Fantasy XIV. “During the madness of fighting the Cloud of Darkness, I managed to snag a main tank position as well as this screenshot from the fight,” he said.” Not the cleanest shot I’ve ever snagged, but certainly one of the more thematic.”

We’ve got giant heads, great pictures, and a new surprise for you after the break!

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LOTRO Legendarium: Five off-the-beaten path locales you must visit

Lord of the Rings Online is a big, big game that has grown over the years to encompass a wide swath of Middle-earth. One of the first things any fan of the franchise does when getting into the game is see whether the devs have put in the places and details straight from the books or the movies. More often than not, they have.

Today I took a trip through my screenshot folder to jog my memories about places in this game that aren’t heavily visited but are pretty neat to see even so. There are several spots where nary a quest leads you there, but exist to reward the explorer and the dedicated lore-finder. Here are five of them!

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The Daily Grind: Should all MMOs come with player music systems?

While developing player music systems might seem like a superfluous effort, in my opinion it is a feature that should come standard in most all MMOs. Why? For starters, it’s a terrific outlet for player creativity, as it allows the community to generate entertainment for each other in infinite varieties. It adds to the feel of the world, is hard to twist into obscenity, and allows for the formation of groups to form bands and throw concerts.

But the real argument topper for the inclusion of such systems is that players go absolutely bananas for them. It’s one of the most-cited favorites of Lord of the Rings Online, even from haters of the game, and player concerts there have drawn so many listeners that it’s nearly crashed the server.

What do you think? Should all MMOs come with player music systems?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Former LOTRO employee dishes out behind-the-scenes secrets

There’s always more to every story than is often told, which is why it’s fascinating to come across accounts like this one by former Turbine Systems QA employee, who contributed to a multi-page thread about the “warts and all” of working on Lord of the Rings Online for 2.5 years.

The ex-employee, Aylwen, posted pictures from the company as well. Among his posts include tales of rivalry with the DDO staff, PvMP development, industry politics, obfuscation over internal failings, Blizzard’s “ferociously competitive nature” toward other studios, how Infinite Crisis was “hemorrhaging money,” and how Turbine took a stab at both a Harry Potter MMO and a console version of LOTRO.

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Global Chat: Business model first, game construction second

Welcome back to Global Chat, the column where we reach out and give props to interesting and well-written articles from the MMO blogosphere. Today we’re going to kick off with a positive piece about Crowfall, as Kill Ten Rats’ Ravious is particularly pleased with the decision to announce its business model up front.

“One of my favorite devs, Jeff Strain, wrote way back in 2007 some of the most important words for MMO creators,” Ravious posted. “He said, ‘Decide on your business model first, and then build your game around it.’ So simple.”

Was this a good move for Crowfall? Read the rest of this week’s entries and then debate it in the comments!

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