Monday, August 3, 2009

If Hell is Other People, then The Shire is Hell.

As has been established previously, I quite like Lord of the Rings Online. Great production values, interesting storylines for characters that aren't meant to be part of the main fellowship, etc. Last night, I ended with a bang, going nearly eleven hours straight just playing my Human Warden main and my Hobbit Guardian alt.

Except, I was mistaken.

You see, I had an extra day's worth of game time on the account, which basically meant that I miscalculated the date when the trial would end. So I played some more just now on the alt to preserve the awesome feeling on the main, and it was during these final hours of the game that I realized something: I absolutely loathe The Shire.

If what I know of the LOTR lore is true, then hobbits in general are supposed to be a very insular people, usually choosing not to go out of their lands, instead focusing on the little affairs they have in The Shire. I have to say, the quest designers captured that feeling of not exactly pettiness (more of being altogether concerned with their own world) to great effect, which I admire.

The thing is, the Shire quests, when compared to the quests of Man, are an altogether different creature. The impending sense of doom doesn't exist for them except as hints here and there in certain chains. Instead of fighting off the Blackwolds from their roost, you're tasked with fulfilling a fireworks order and delivering letters to other parts of the huge Hobbit starting area.

Did I mention that the Shire is huge and requires a certain amount of insane backtracking if you're there for the first time? Running back and forth is a pain, and probably a strain on my poor hobbit's little legs.

Anyone out there in blogland feel the same way about the Shire? How could the Shire chains be improved or streamlined perhaps, if it's even possible?

P.S. The Sackville-Bagginses are horrible, horrible people.


Alcasm said...

I finally got a chance to read through your blog's archives after having recovered from a modem failure and I must say I'll definitely be following more than just your comments on my site from now on.

I hope you do get the opportunity to continue to adventure in Middle-Earth, despite how cookie-cutter most of its systems are; the experience itself is really unmatched in the MMOscape. Well, once you get over the Lone Lands hump that is.

You mentioned in a comment on my blog that I should give the Shire a shot on a hobbit character in order to put my love for the zone to the test. What you should be aware of however is that I have indeed taken characters through the Shire as their main course of progression by skirting their own racial zones in favour of the Four Farthings.

The reason the Shire appeals to me so much is the same reason LotRO seems to appeal to you (as you touched on in the post preceding this one), and that is because it is relaxing. I can imagine that were I to be concerned merely with going through the MMOtions in the Shire, what with its tedious fetch quests and seemingly inconsequential threats, that I would find the experience to be less than pleasant. However, I prefer to just soak in the Shire's soothing rays of pleasantry and just take it for what it's worth: the single most faithful area ever to be created in a game. Of course I understand why you may not be able to appreciate the Shire in its full, leisurely splendour due to your trial time restriction but I encourage you to give the Shire the attention it deserves if you are given the opportunity to return to it.

It may have something to do with the server I'm on as well, as it is an unofficial RP server and the chat in the zone is usually quite enjoyable, filling in some of the travelling monotony. If you do return to the game and you aren't already on the Landroval server, I would encourage you to make the switch as I sincerely doubt you will ever encounter a more mature, welcoming community within a mainstream MMO. Furthermore, I would be honoured if you would consider joining my kinship (small though it may be at the moment, a mere 2 members: myself and a real life friend), the Delving Dungeon Company so I can share with you some of the joy I, myself experience in playing LotRO and so we can have fun sharing our experiences outside of our respective blogs.

If you do come to Landroval my character's name is Taleith. I'll also be attaching a kinship component to my blog soon as well. I hope to see you in Middle-Earth soon!

Alcasm said...

Oh, and as for streamlining the Shire goes, I'm sure that there are any number of ways that Turbine could enhance the Shire, making it easier for new players to navigate its expanse, and they have proven themselves quite capable in that regard what with their revamps of Ered Luin and Bree-land.

However, I have seen many MMO revamps in the past, and often times they cause the areas to lose their original spark in order to make way for levelling efficiency. While I am all for making the experience more accessible and enjoyable (Lone Lands is sorely in need of revamping) the Shire has, since the very beginning for me, been as close to perfect as I can imagine in capturing its own indelibe spirit. The Shire isn't a place that you should rush through on your way to the next levelling plateau, it's a place that begs to be lived in. Besides, there is already more than enough content in Bree-land and Ered Luin for people to grind through at those levels so I would petition for the Shire to remain basically as is with no large, sweeping changes such as those implemented in the other starter zones.

Victor Stillwater said...

Thanks for the compliment. :D

The shire isn't so bad really. I think any normal human being though, who is concerned with the affairs of the world beyond his borders, would find the Shire somewhat disconcerting for the general inability of the Shirefolk to see beyond their day-to-day lives.

As for me, I actually like the lonelands. There's this nice, secluded spot I always visit that no one ever goes to. I just have to kill 17 orcs to get to the top of the encampment, and then it's all mine for another 4 minutes of screenshot taking. :)

As for server location, I'm on Elendilmir, as I'm actually trying to get into the kinship of

Alcasm said...

I think it's probably the Shire-folk being the way they are that makes me appreciate the Shire so much. As for the Lone Lands, I actually enjoy it as well, until I hit Ost Guruth and the majority of the Book 2 quests that is. The North Downs was a nice improvement but I didn't really get back into the swing of things until I reached beautiful Evendim.

Too bad you're not on Landroval. Any reason in particular you're trying to get into that kinship? I've never heard of them before.

Victor Stillwater said...

Hi Alcasm.

Basically, I wanted to join The Older Gamers mostly because they're a big group that can help a newb out, plus, their forums are active and friendly, which was a great experience to have during my trial period. :)

As for meeting up with you on Landroval, that sounds like a good idea too. I have my main and alts on Elendilmir (Main's a warden, alts are a Hobbit guardian Metalsmith and elf Runekeeper).

If you have space for a Dwarven Champion, I wouldn't mind joining you every so often, though as I said, it wouldn't be my main preoccupation.

That said, I think we're fairly connected through blogging at the very least. :)

Alcasm said...

Sure thing! Be glad to have you. We're pretty laid back so there's absolutely no demands to be made on you or your time. Just message Taleith, my main, or Alcasm, my main alt, if you do decide to create a character on the server and I'll set you up.

Victor Stillwater said...

Alright. Cool. Unfortunately, that might still be a week or two in the making.

I'm waiting for my credit card to arrive so I can subscribe. Thing is, Ethic from KillTenRats has offered to sponsor me for a month, as he did with a referral because I liked the game. He's on vacation right now though, so I'll just wait for his email.

Whichever comes first, I suppose. :D

mbp said...

Lol Victor I think we are of like minds. A lot of people seem to love the Shire because it is so detailed and so homely but I much preferred starting my first character on the icy slopes of Ered Luin. I like the sense of desolation and wilderness.

Mind you I quite like the Lone Lands too and everyone else seems to hate it.

Victor Stillwater said...


I like the lone lands too, at least what I've been able to experience of it! We are of like mind on this!

By the way, I checked your blog out. Tad Williams released the sequel to Shadow March already? I waited years for that! I wish it would come out in my country.

Longasc said...

I recently started LOTRO and do not remember the "old Shire" and Breeland that much anymore.

Nowadays you are almost tempted to skip the lone lands completely in favor of the North Downs, as so many pointers lead there - but the next book/story quest is still in East Guruth in the lone lands.

I am level 26 with my non-trial char now (my Trial char on another server made it to 28 or 29, but was by far less well equipped and wealthy) and most mobs in the lone lands are simply by far too low level for me. I smack the elite spiders in the south of the first quest hub solo, so much about that.

I would second the notion that they have to revamp the Lone-Lands, too.

They revamped Breeland so that people level faster and have less running to do, and then they might lose their subscribers if they decide to go to the Lone Lands to continue the book quest, instead of going to the more enjoyable North Downs.