Now that we’re in the thick of Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor
(which I’m still enjoying very much), my mind has taken a turn back to look over 10 years of gameplay updates and expansions.
It’s bizarre to think back to a time when the entirety of the game was merely eight or nine zones crammed up in Eregion. While there’s still plenty of Middle-earth to uncover and explore, the ensuing decade vastly opened up the game world and took us on a journey that spanned from Bag End to Barad-dûr.
It all starts to blur together after a while, particularly after alternative leveling regions were added, the epic story was changed to be more solo accessible, and the studio experimented with different forms of content delivery. I felt like taking a quick trip through the expansions that brought us to where we are today. Because… why not, really?
The other day I was continuing on with my Bingo Boffin adventures in Lord of the Rings Online
when Mr. Boffin decided he was going to sneak his way across battle lines and into Mirkwood Forest. Like most of his encounters, I don’t think he ended up loving it quite as much as he anticipated, but you know what? I did.
You see, ever since Siege of Mirkwood came out with LOTRO’s second expansion, I’ve always been quite partial to this odd little zone in Middle-earth. Perhaps this makes me the odd man out among the community; I rarely see anyone speak highly of Mirkwood (or, these days, speak of it at all). It seems like it’s forgotten, this strange cul-de-sac of the game world that only exists to be a stopping point on the epic story before players have to turn around and go back the way they came.
Yet as I was running all over the place trying to secure first AND second breakfastses for Bingo Boffin, I was reminded of how much I love this zone. I’d even say that Mirkwood is in my top five zones of the game as a whole (alongside The Shire, Forochel, West Rohan, and North Ithilien). It’s time this forgotten land got some recognition, so here goes.
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!
isn’t the only place where you can get a good deal on MMOs this holiday season. Lord of the Rings Online
is holding its own sale in the LOTRO Market
where you can get many of the expansions for a pittance.
Helm’s Deep, the most recent expansion, has been discounted from $40 to $10. Riders of Rohan, Rise of Isengard, and Mines of Moria are all down to $5 apiece, while you can pick up Siege of Mirkwood for $2.50. Probably the best deal, however, is to pick up the expansion quad pack (all expansions save Helm’s Deep) for $10. So for $20 total, you can snap up every expansion in the game to date and get ready for next year’s trip to Mordor.
Don’t forget that even Saruman was on the lookout for a good deal: “Isengard bids five.”
I got sucked into Lord of the Rings Online last weekend and I’m not sure why. There’s no new Hobbit movie forthcoming (thank funk). I haven’t reread Tolkien’s books lately, either, so that’s not the reason. I guess it’s just that time of year when I look around at the MMO space, see a mass of uninspired grindparks, and think to myself, “Well, at least I can wander through Middle-earth!”
This pilgrimage happens once, if not twice annually, and while I don’t know how long my current sojourn will last, ultimately all that matters is that I’m having a great time with it.
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.