For a little bit of context, I have been playing Lord of the Rings Online since its beta and pre-launch period back in 2007. In subsequent years, there have been stretches where I’ve been positively enthralled with this game, periods where I was only playing out of a sense of duty or routine, and times that I broke away entirely.
Actually read the quest text (and turn-ins!)
I’m sure that many veteran LOTRO players, like many veteran MMO players, have gotten used to ignoring quest text altogether. After all, we just need to know where to go, how many foozles to kill or collect, and what we’re getting out of this task, right? I’m guilty of doing this just as much as anyone else.
So here’s a thought: Why not start reading those again? You’ve probably forgotten most of the writing anyway at this point. In my current playthrough on Treebeard, I’m challenging myself to read all of the quest assignment and turn-in dialogue, and I’m finding that it can actually be pretty entertaining, informative, and immersive. It helps me see this game less as a generic MMO and more in the framework of its IP.
Pump up the sound
For a while now I’ve been all alone over here beating on a weird drum, and here that drum goes again: Your sound settings are usually adjusted wrong in MMOs. MMOs like to max out combat sounds and blare up the music and altogether make your games sound like arcade experiences rather than believable worlds.
What I’ve done in LOTRO and elsewhere is to prioritize ambient sounds over all else. Put ambient at 100%, and everything else at 25% or less, then crank up your speakers. Trust me. Suddenly, the audio landscape of the world around you comes alive. You hear the wind and creaks and footfalls and all the rest, much as you would if you were actually there. I think you’d be amazed how much it enhances your journey and makes you experience the game in a new light.
Participate in community events
If you’re often soloing it in the game — and, hey, no judgment here — you may have gotten out of practice of engaging in non-combat group events. The LOTRO community is often bristling with different player-run activities, from chicken runs to concerts to lectures on world lore. All you need to do is keep tabs on world chat, your server forums, or join up with an event-heavy kinship.
After all, when you hang out with people who are enthusiastic about the game you are and have fun with you in it, that sort of attitude gets infectious.
Read the books or watch the movies (even the cartoons!)
I have long since felt that LOTRO and the Lord of the Rings books established a positive feedback loop for many players. Their love of the books drove them to the MMO or vice-versa, and by bouncing back and forth between them, there’s an ever-increasing appreciation for the source material and the game that explores that. And hey, if you’re not a reader, there are always the Peter Jackson movies or the older animated adaptations that can be enjoyed through a new lens now that you know where all of these places actually are.
Follow #LOTROFamily and social media
Again, if we start with the presupposition that at least part of a person’s disconnect and disillusionment with an MMO stems from not being plugged into the community, taking steps to resolve that may well increase one’s interest. I’m saying so, at least, which is why I love to follow #LOTROFamily on Twitter, which broadcasts all sorts of observations, articles, videos, and events from the community.
There’s plenty of fan sites and YouTube channels to check out to keep your engagement high as well, and I like having those on the side to get a boost of shared excitement over the game.
Take generous breaks
Absence, as they say, makes the heart grow fonder. And it is generally true, especially when you’ve burned out a little too much on LOTRO. I’m of the firm opinion that when you start to feel a little toasty on a game, it’s a great time to announce loudly to anyone in the vicinity, “I am taking a break!” and step away from the game for a few weeks — or even a few months. I never feel guilty taking breaks from LOTRO, because I know it’ll benefit my recharging interest down the road.