"I still like Lord of the Rings Online, but I'm not quite that enthusiastic any more."
Zoso from MMOG Musings:
"After a bit of Lord of the Rings Online over the last few days, I'm not sure I'll spend much more time in Middle Earth. It's fun enough and all, but really just more of the same old MMOness."
and perhaps most damning Tipa from West Karana:
"Lord of the Rings Online being a bore (but a pretty one) — I didn’t even last through my free month"
I suspect this sense of ennui is fairly widespread. I have noticed that Throg's kinship channel has gone very quiet these days. The fact that we are approaching high Summer doesn't help. It is hard to justify locking yourself in a darkened room to squint at a PC monitor when the sun is shining outside.
At a personal level I still enjoy playing. Throg is questing away in the North downs, just a couple of kills away from level 34. He is looking forward to buying his very own pony to ride at level 35. I am finding it much harder to write about Throg's adventures however. The plain fact is that most of them aren't exciting enough to write about and since the newness of the game has worn off there is little point writing about mundane details of gameplay.
A great many lotro players have previously dabbled in other MMORPGs especially World of Warcraft. In my opinion this has been a blessing and a curse for Lotro. On the plus side Lotro benefitted from copying many of the best features in WOW making it very easy for players to get into the game. The launch of Lotro also coincided fortuitously with a time when many seasoned WOW players were getting bored and looking for something new. On the down side this influx of experienced MMORPG players has proven to be a hard audience to keep satisfied. They burn through content quickly and are quick to spot deficiencies. I also believe that the very similarities which made the game so approachable for former WOW players are now proving to be handicap when it comes to keeping players entertained.
Take the auction house as an example. My Night Elf was playing WOW for several weeks before he stumbled across the auction house in Ironforge. It took another while before I figured out how it worked and was confident at buying or selling. The same auction house went on to become a very important and enjoyable part of the game for me. In Lotro on the other hand Throg went straight to the auction house after completing the tutorial and I discovered that it worked very similarly to the WOW auction house. The Auction House interface is almost indistinguishable between the two games. Throg was able to start trading straight away. This was handy from the point of view of generating income but the whole experience lacked any novelty for me.
Is this the end of LOTRO? I hope not. Some players will leave, others will join. For me the expansions are the key. They have to introduce new and exciting content: new regions, new quests, new creatures and new game play features.
Jeff Anderson's Shack News interview gives me great hope. If Turbine introduce new content patches every few months as he indicates they are going to do then there should be plenty to keep me entertained. I hope they will not be too constrained by the license however. Every region Throg has visited so far has had a string of kill ten wargs, kill ten bears, kill ten orcs quests. The types of monster are the same just the level varies. These quests are getting pretty tedious.
I will shortly be taking a long Summer holiday with my family. No PC and no Lotro for over a month. In the past when I have taken that length of break from a game the urge to resume playing has dissappeared. The timing of the "Shore's of Evendim" expansion is particularly interesting because it comes out just before I head off. Enough time to get a tantalising glimpse of what is on offer but not enough time to experience it. If the expansion is good it could be the hook needed to get me playing again when I return.